If it’s one thing we know about weather in the South, it’s that Mother Nature is unpredictable. We’re basking in the warmth of our 80 degree weather this week, when just a few days ago it was sleeting! That’s why we absolutely understand why Melissa + Corey’s biggest challenge for their November wedding was the weather. Just a week before their “I do’s,” their wedding site was covered in snow! As these sunny images from Katelyn James show us, their dream wedding weather came to fruition, allowing the couple and their friends and family to celebrate outdoors, with the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains in the background. We’re all positively loving Melissa’s big, joyful smile and the little ways she and Corey symbolized their bond in marriage.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Four days after we got engaged, I helped Corey move to New York. That weekend I was totally excited yet also totally bummed to have just said goodbye to my fiancé until I would move to New York with him after the wedding. As a way of getting my mind off missing him, my mom suggested we try on dresses. I thought I would want to shop around more, but the first boutique and the fifth dress in, I knew I had found the one. Not to mention — it was on sale. All of its perfect, ivory, laciness.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Corey and I did decide to do a first look and could not have been happier with the decision. I was influenced to have a first look by our photographer, Katelyn James. Katelyn was my roommate in college and I had been stalking her blog since the beginning of her business. I had seen the special, intimate moments she was able to capture in such spectacular images, and I knew I wanted that moment too. Now, five months after our wedding, that is one of the clearest moments of the day — those few moments to pause and take in each other and what would lie before us in the hours to come.
Describe your wedding flowers. My wedding flowers contained many fall colors that I used as my “pops” of color since the bridal party suits and dresses were all neutral tones. There was deep yellow from the sunflowers, burnt orange in cockscomb and amber red from dahlias. Some of my favorite texture pieces were green tric and hypericum berries.
Oh, y’all! I just love the look the father of the bride and the groom are sharing below!
Did you write your own vows? We did write our own vows and my favorite line Corey said to me was, “I promise to talk to you, to draw you into my life and vision, and to wash you with my words of praise, affirmation and gratitude, that you might live securely in my love.” My favorite that I said to him was, “I promise to talk openly to you, to confide in you first, before all others. I promise to be your best friend.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? During our ceremony, we had Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 which explains that a cord of three strands, including me, Corey and the Lord, shall not be broken. We then braided three strands of rope together to signify our unity together through Jesus.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. To honor my mom, I walked down the aisle to Pachabel’s “Canon in D.” My bridesmaids entered to “Ashokan Farewell” from a Civil War soundtrack by Evan Stover, Jay Ungar, Matt Glasser, Molly Mason, Russ Barenberg. One of my bridesmaids sang “Lead me to the Cross” by Hillsong while we took communion. And we exited to “Lover of the Light” by Mumford and Sons. We entered our reception to “D Bag Rag” by the Avett Brothers and our first dance was Matt Hires’ “You Are the One” sung and played by a bridesmaid and her husband.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our favorite detail of the wedding was the location at Khimaira Farm in Luray, Virginia. Our ceremony had the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains and then our reception was in the event barn on the same property. We loved that our guests did not have to travel between sites and had the beautiful scenery to compliment the perfect warmth inside the barn and cool November evening as the sun set outside.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. My wedding cake was beautifully crafted by a family friend. It had a simple ivory white cream cheese frosting with hand crafted icing flowers and was set on a wooden base. We also had authentic, homemade Amish pies made by another family friend.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Corey and I met as Ropes Interns at a Young Life camp in New York the summer of 2010. We spent the summer operating high ropes courses, zip lines, rock climbing walls, and giant swings and became great friends. I would swear that I did not have feelings beyond friendship for him throughout the summer (although he did for me!), but by the end of the summer, I was a smitten kitten. We are both originally from Virginia, however, he had to return to college at ASU in North Carolina and I had to return to CNU near Virginia Beach. We dated long distance for two years until we both began working and living in Richmond, VA.
Describe the proposal. While living in Richmond, Corey was offered a full time position on staff at the camp we met at in New York. The opportunity to manage the Ropes and Mountain Bike Department there was a dream come true for him and I fully supported it, but his acceptance of the job further pressed the question in my mind: “When is he going to propose?!” We only had two weeks from his acceptance to his moving to New York, and he had planned EVERY minute of every day for us to say goodbye to friends and family before he moved. I was so mad. I wondered when I was going to get time with him?! But, he had the whole thing planned. On our way to our goodbye day with his parents, Corey surprised me by taking me on a hike to one of our favorite spots. I honestly had no clue — I was just elated to get time alone with him! But once we reached the top (and once the lingering Boy Scouts left) Corey pulled his laptop out of his backpack. He played a video of him asking my father’s permission, and then got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. Between the tears and squeals I managed to get out a “Yes!” but then he had me quickly moving back down the mountain. When we reached the trail head, both of our families and closest friends were waiting to celebrate with us!
In what month did you get married? November
How many guests attended your wedding? 200
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? One of my favorite Southern details of our wedding was that it was outside in a field. We didn’t need elaborate decorations, we just trusted nature to give us the perfect backdrop. We also incorporated Southern tradition as my bridesmaids and I wore cowgirl boots. I let all of my girls use their own boots they already owned and let them select their own neutral toned dresses to give a soft, more casual, Southern look. The guys did not wear jackets over their vests to achieve the same look. We also kept with the Southern tradition by serving sweet tea, smoked barbeque, and a variety of pies.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was not having control over the weather for our outdoor, November wedding in the mountains. Two weeks before our wedding, the site was covered in snow, so I knew our rain plan would be fine — but I desperately wanted the dream outdoor wedding. We needn’t have worried. Our whole wedding day was in the 70s!
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Our ceremony and reception site really was our biggest splurge and I am SO happy that we picked it! It was the first place we visited and I knew from the first moment I got out of the car that it was the place for us.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? My most memorable moment was during our first look and then at the reception when Corey and I got a moment to step away alone. Both times we made each other pause and take mental snapshots of the day, made each other soak it all in. The whole day goes so fast — but both of those times were truly memorable and helped us to capture the feeling of both before and after we were Mr. and Mrs.!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy the process. Wedding planning can go by almost as quickly as the wedding day itself, but there is no need to rush through it. One thing that helped me to do this was to invite friends or family along for whatever I needed to do. It was way more fun and so much less stressful than doing it by myself! I also think being willing to ask for help and involving those people who you care so much about makes the whole experience that much sweeter too. Lastly, be deeply thankful. We were blown away by the love and generosity of all our friends and family throughout the process and still don’t think we could thank everyone enough.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? As a couple, we are looking forward to our present future on Young Life staff in New York and seeing where else God may lead us from here.