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One of the “job hazards” of working at Southern Weddings is suffering from an occasional bout of wedding guest envy, and I could definitely say that today about Liz and Jim’s lucky loved ones! First of all, they seem like such a fun couple–just read about how they met (“As it turns out, if you ask the internet for an attractive, nice guy who likes the outdoors and wouldn’t mind dating a girl in the Army, you get Jim Perkins.”) or Jim’s equally sweet and amusing recount of his proposal. Second, their ceremony looks like it was so touching, from Liz being walked down the aisle by both her parents, to the personal vows she and Jim exchanged. And last but not least? Brunch, y’all. Any wedding with a biscuit bar, a waffle bar, AND syrup that was made by the groom’s family is alright by me!

Thanks so much to Elizabeth Fogarty for sharing Liz and Jim’s lovely celebration with us!

One of my bridesmaids allowed me to borrow the veil that her mother had made for her when she got married in 2013. As my something blue, I wore my mother’s diamond and sapphire earrings. For my something old, I wore a diamond cross that has been passed down through three generations of my family as a 16th birthday gift (first to my grandmother, then my mother, then me). Just before the ceremony, I gave gifts to my bridesmaids and my mother. My mom received a small David Yurman ring, and it turned out that she had called Jim ahead of time to find out what gift I was planning to give her. Just before the ceremony, she gave me a matching ring to wear on my right hand.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did! We had a very brief ceremony, but it certainly embodied our personalities and our love for each other. Jim’s favorite line from my vows was when I declared in front of everyone “You know me better than anyone else…even Mom.” My favorite line from his vows was when he used a phrase he says almost daily: “I will keep you safe, protected, and loved.”

Did you pull any wedding inspiration from memories you have together? Tell us about it! The trail mix bar was a symbol of our love of the outdoors. The idea for corn hole came up on one of our dates after we got engaged, when we played corn hole with some of Jim’s friends before a Seattle Sounders game. We have spent lots of time with family and friends and their children, so we chose to have a “kid parade” instead of flower girls and a ring bearer, in order to incorporate all the children who attended the wedding–there were 14 of them!

We chose to get married in DC because it was halfway between our families–mine is in North Carolina and Jim’s is in Connecticut. We knew we wanted to be outside, and the venue we chose was an Audubon Naturalist Society sanctuary. It was lovely for our May wedding–green and lush.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We kept our flowers simple, and did big signs written in calligraphy instead of programs and menus for every guest.

Our favorite detail was incorporating our parents’ recipes into the reception meal. We had both a biscuit and a waffle bar for our brunch reception. The biscuits were a North Carolina recipe perfected by my parents, and the syrup for the waffles was made by Jim’s parents in Connecticut. They also made maple leaf bottle favors of the syrup that served double duty as escort cards.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I have a thing for French macarons. Our caterer was able to make pink, white, and blue macarons for our wedding, along with a ceremonial cutting cake. We love that we got that classic cake cutting picture without having a real wedding cake.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. As it turns out, if you ask the internet for an attractive, nice guy who likes the outdoors and wouldn’t mind dating a girl in the Army, you get Jim Perkins. In other words, Match.com helped us find each other.
Tell us all about the proposal! From Jim: It’s not often that a man meets a woman and knows within six months that he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. It’s possibly even rarer that this happens in long distance relationships. My company was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in late April and my block leave was scheduled for late March. We planned a trip to Kentucky during that time to combine two things that we both, especially I, enjoy: rock climbing at the Red River Gorge and bourbon craft distilling around Lexington. This trip was set to be our last chance to see each other before Liz began her pediatrics residency and I started business school, so unless I wanted to propose to her at a nice brunch in Bethesda, this was my only chance to do it right. We planned to spend a few days in Raleigh en route to Lexington so that I could meet more of her friends and family, and this itinerary meant that we wouldn’t be able to drive to Lexington in a single day. We made the obvious choice to stop in Asheville for a night and I immediately knew that the Biltmore Estate would be the perfect spot to ask her to marry me. This likelihood must have been obvious to her as well, so I took extra care to act disinterested in the forced “lay-over.” As we pulled up to the Inn at Biltmore Estate, Liz began to sense that something was up. She was clearly expecting something as we rode the elevator to our floor and then opened the door to find an elegant room with a balcony, and even a bottle of wine waiting for us. Seeing this, I seized the opportunity to tease her–I poured some wine, handed her a glass, took a knee, and…helped her take off her boots. From that moment, I was dubbed “the boy who cried wolf.” I had fooled her enough and she wasn’t going to fall for it again. The next day, I slipped the ring box into my camera case and we drove over to the estate to begin the tour. As we passed through the garden, there were photographers taking pictures of all of the visitors. We finished our tour and went to pick up our picture. Liz thought it was nice, but I asked if we could get a photographer to take our picture with the house in the background. It “just so happened” that they had a “roving photographer” who could do it. We walked with him along the lawn and up the carriage ramps to a spot and chatted. As we got ready for the picture, Liz set down her purse. Pretending to set down my camera case, I knelt down and pulled out the ring. Before I could say anything, Liz looked down at me and told me to “Stop messing around, this guy is trying to take our picture!” I told her that this time, finally, I was serious, and asked her to marry me while our private photographer captured the moment.
When did y’all get married? May 16, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 115
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No first look for us. Not only did our morning wedding schedule not really allow time for it, we also wanted that moment seeing each other as I walked down the aisle. It definitely changed the time we had for portraits, but our photographer was amazing and she made it work.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My cousin became a Universal Life minister for the occasion. She wrote the ceremony and recommended a reading from E.E. Cummings, “I Carry Your Heart With Me.” One of Jim’s closest friends, who traveled all the way from Seattle for the wedding, did the reading. It was a very special moment for us.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Jim’s best man gave a really awesome speech–he created a PowerPoint similar to an Army mission briefing. It was funny, insightful, and truly touching.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are both Army officers. I am a pediatrics resident at Walter Reed hospital. Jim is an engineer officer currently earning his MBA at Georgetown. We have one more year in DC together before the Army takes Jim away for his next assignment. We plan to enjoy every minute.

Photographer: Elizabeth Fogarty / Planner: Natalie Schlosser of Atrendy Wedding / Venue: Woodend Sanctuary / Florist: Toulies / Caterer and Dessert Baker: Corcoran Caterers / Rentals: Paisely and Jade / Band: Brad Kolodner / Special Details: Just Write Studios / Paper Products: Dandelion Patch / Bride’s Gown: “Violet” by Matthew Christopher / Bridal Salon: Love Couture Bridal / Hair Stylist: DryBar / Makeup Artist: Lauren Jaber / Bride’s Shoes: Nine West / Groom’s Attire: Hugo Boss / Rings: Tiffany & Co.

The Dandelion Patch, Paisley & Jade, and Atrendy Wedding are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Dana reply

    biscuits, waffles, and syrup <3 <3 <3

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When I hear a bride say she wants a dress “big and dramatic enough for Scarlett O’Hara,” my ears instantly perk up! So of course, I was already excited to see this stunning wedding from Blue Ribbon Vendor (and personal friend of mine!), Desiree Dawn Events, and, y’all, it did not disappoint! Mary Grace and Jason incorporated meaningful traditions into their wedding to honor the past, while also celebrating their future. There was plenty of sweet Southern hospitality and lots of special details, including hosting their reception in the same ballroom at The Biltmore that held their law school orientation dinner seven years prior! Jason even had an armadillo-shaped groom’s cake in honor of their favorite movie, Steel Magnolias. So fun!

Big hugs to Flora + Fauna for capturing this beautiful day!

I wanted a dress that was big and dramatic enough for Scarlett O’Hara–something that was Southern chic, with lace, a statement back, and a classic bow. I started my search by browsing images of dresses online, and came across Sheridan by Hayley Paige. When a dress takes your breath away, like when you have your first kiss with your husband-to-be, it must be the one!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, even though I’m very superstitious! We wanted to be able to savor that first moment of seeing one another on our wedding day–just the two of us, without all of our guests watching–and having that instant reaction and tender moment documented. A first look is a unique experience for each couple, so the way we saw each other for the first time on the most important day of our lives only added to our love story.


The Biltmore Hotel is the most storied landmark in Florida, and it holds special meaning to both of us. During orientation, our law school held a dinner at the Biltmore’s Country Club Ballroom. That dinner was one of the first times Jason and I crossed paths. Our reception took place in the same ballroom seven years later!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The moment that stands out the most was our ride to and from the ceremony. Since our ride was a vintage car, the mirrors weren’t tinted, so everyone driving by could see us clearly through the glass. They tooted, waved, and hollered at us as they passed by, rolling down their windows to congratulate us. That moment, of seeing perfect strangers being joyful and genuinely excited for us on our day, has stayed fresh in our minds.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Goodness gracious! Where do I begin? I wanted to incorporate meaningful traditions with my family to honor the past while celebrating our future, so I did a first look with my daddy and presented him with his gift–an embroidered handkerchief that can be passed down for generations. We gave miniature bottles of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and mini jars of delicious Southern honey (for our youngest guests) as favors, which also doubled as escort cards. We served our signature drinks in mason jars with colorful striped straws that guests could take home. We had a family-style layout with long farmhouse tables and mismatched chairs, surrounded by round tables with lace overlays, which gave a sense of warmth and family. Our table names were common Southern sayings, which filled our wedding with nods to the South. To give our guests a taste of good ol’ fashion Southern hospitality, we served classic Southern staples during cocktail hour, including a whole hog that was served with mac and cheese and honey cornbread. And we couldn’t do without everyone’s favorite Southern tradition: the groom’s cake. Our groom’s cake was in the shape of an armadillo because we (and especially Jason) love Steel Magnolias. During cake cutting, we even gave ourselves the tail piece, just like what Ouiser served to Drum! At the end of the night, we were certain our guests felt truly hosted, and not just entertained, because through the details, our wedding was an outpouring of genuine love for our friends and family.

Our flowers were reminiscent of fall in the South, thanks to an overgrown/organic look with lots of greenery, purple and wine tones, burgundy, palest peach and blush, and pops of coral. We also incorporated blackberries into the bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces for that extra touch of Southern charm!

Check out their wedding film by Flora + Fauna here!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Jason and I started law school at the University of Miami at the same time. We lived around the corner from each other, but we didn’t meet until October. My roommates and I threw a Halloween party (we dressed up as characters from The Wizard of Oz and I was the Scarecrow). Jason came and noticed me in my costume, which was enough to light a spark!
Tell us all about the proposal! One sunny morning, Jason took me back to the UM campus. We walked by our law school and stopped at a fountain. He proposed there, and told me that was the spot where he had first seen me.
When did y’all get married? We were married on November 9, 2014, seven years from the day we went on our first date. Our Canes were on a bye week that weekend, so it was meant to be!
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
Describe your wedding cake. The inspiration for our wedding cake was Southern elegance. The bottom tier was light gold with textured buttercream icing and the other tiers had smoother icing with some texture and were a similar shade of ivory to my dress. Our florist incorporated fresh flowers, red berries, and blackberries around the cake. The top tier of our cake was spice cake with apple cheesecake filling–perfectly appropriate for a fall wedding! The second tier was marble cake with chocolate Godiva filling, and the third was half chocolate and half vanilla cake with cappuccino filling. The bottom tier was Jason’s favorite: vanilla rum. We tried each flavor during our tasting, and they were all slices of heaven!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes, to all of the above! My something old was my pearl necklace, which Jason helped me pick out when we were dating. My something new was my pearl bracelet, a wedding gift from my parents. My something borrowed was my sister’s Tory Burch perfume, which was literally and figuratively near and dear to my heart! My something blue was a sparkling blue crystal on the sole of my shoes. To complete my look, The White Magnolia sent me a sixpence for my shoe.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? When you’re planning your wedding, YOGMO–you only get married once! If you’re on a budget, but there is something that tugs at your heartstrings, do it and figure out where you can save money in other places. After the cake is cut and the last guest leaves, you’ll look back on your day without any regrets.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We were so busy planning our wedding that we didn’t have time to plan our honeymoon! Waiting until after we said “I do” turned out for the best because we both had the post-wedding blues, and planning our honeymoon has filled that void. We’ll be glamping in Montana in a honeymoon tent at The Resort at Paws Up this September.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? A little rain became a downpour. We got wet, and so did our guests, but it didn’t put a damper on our day, and actually added a bit of romance to the air. So brides, have no fear of some rain, because there’s something about it that’ll make your day beyond magical!

Photographer and Videographer: Flora + Fauna / Planner: Desiree Dawn Events / Ceremony Venue: St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church / Reception Venue and Caterer: The Biltmore Hotel / Personal Flowers: Julia Rohde Designs / Reception Flowers: Petal Productions / Cake Baker: Elegant Temptations / Rentals: Hitched Event Rentals / Vintage Rentals and Table Runners: Unearthed Vintage / Lighting and Band: AAMusicians / Linens & Overlays: Petal Productions / Chargers: Tastebuds Catering / Cake Stand: BHLDN / Paper Products: Make Merry! / Bride’s Gown: “Sheridan” by Hayley Paige / Veil: Cynthia Kay from The White Magnolia / Jewelry: Tiffany & Co. / Hair and Makeup: Amy Palma of South Beach Makeup Studio / Bride’s Shoes: “Conrad” by Something Bleu / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Lacey” by Joanna August / Photo Booth: Sideshow Booth Co. / Late-Night Snacks: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar / Groom’s Cake Baker: Todo Dulces / Menswear: The Black Tux / Groom’s Bow Tie & Pocket Square: Everett K Handcrafted Ties & Bow Ties / Groomsmen’s Ties: The Tie Bar / Flower Girls’ Dresses: “43312” in Oatmeal by Seahorse / Choreographer: Luis Lopez of Arthur Murray Dance Center / Vintage Car: Florian’s Classics

Desiree Dawn Events and Make Merry! are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Mary-Grace and Jason | Biltmore Hotel | Miami Wedding Cakes | Elegant Temptations reply

    […] Published: Southern Weddings […]

  2. avatar Friday Fresh Squeeze #185 – Floridian Social reply

    […] involved in Mary-Grace and Jason's wedding was a dream! Their entire day was filled with Southern charm at the Biltmore Hotel. Every detail […]

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