It has been just over three months since my wedding, and what I think I’ll always remember most about that day is how gosh darn happy I felt. Looking through these images of Jenica and Dylan’s celebration, it’s so clear that they could say the same! They look so full of joy, from Jenica’s time getting ready with her girls, right down to their fabulous reception. I especially loved reading about their most memorable moments, because they’re probably ones that they didn’t anticipate being favorites. The unexpected moments are what make every wedding totally unique, and the ones Jenica and Dylan experienced are sweet as can be!
Thanks so much to Robert J Hill for sharing this special day with us!
I had gone to about four appointments at different bridal salons in Georgia, Florida, and Virginia, always with multiple friends and family. I finally found what I was looking for on a solo outing. Dylan was working that Saturday and I was new to the area and didn’t have many friends, so I went exploring on my own. When I saw the adorable bridal shop in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, I thought, “Why not, I’m engaged and still in need of a dress.” Without an appointment, I found a classic satin, a-line dress with lace details, a big bow, no sweetheart neckline, and in ivory–just what I wanted! With my mother-in-law-to-be in tow and my mom FaceTimed in, I returned a few weeks later to buy the dress.
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes! As progressive as we may be, we really value tradition, so this was not an easy decision. But we knew that as soon as we were married, we would be ready to celebrate with our friends and family. We did not want to miss any part of our day, including the cocktail hour. I also wanted taking our wedding pictures to be a great experience–calm and not rushed. It was very relaxing and romantic to have had that quiet time alone to share our excitement and focus on what the day was really about, without the dozens of eyes that were on us at any other point of the day.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? As required by the church, we attended marriage prep courses that covered every subject you can imagine and led to constructive conversations that are always fun to have. We liked the class, and we dedicated time the night after each course to go over what we had talked about in the privacy of our home.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Focus on a few major things–the details that are must. Budget for them first and make sure there is someone, like a planner, there to execute them. Then, let the rest go! Put yourself in a position to just show up at your wedding and be grateful for what your family, friends, and vendors have done for you. Enjoy your day and cherish your groom, let go of your dreams, and live in the moment. In true Southern spirit, be a host with a gracious heart.
All of our dinner food was Southern: fried catfish, oysters, shrimp, a po-boy station, a grits bar, collards, and cornbread. We also had lots of Southern desserts! Our wedding logo featured our monogram, which we put on as many things as we could: the invitations, cups, napkins, fans, the advice sheet, etc. We had sweet tea with the sign “The South, where love and family are the sugar in our tea” next to it. We decorated with magnolias leaves in all of the arrangements and garlands. And of course, the venue itself was Southern–an old lumber mill on a bayou complete with Spanish moss, rocking chairs on the front porch, and mosquitoes!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Dylan: I wanted a second to myself to try and let the day sink in, so at one point, I walked out beyond the glow of the tent and stood alone under the willow tree. As I started to light the cigar my new mother-in-law had given me, everyone suddenly fell quiet. I looked up and saw the band leader reach out and help Jenica onto the stage. I knew, we all knew, that this was it, what everyone was waiting for and what I was hoping for: my wife was about to sing! Her “too good to be true” voice rang out into the night, “At last, my love has come along…” My friends finally noticed me in the back and pulled me to the dance floor. My lonely days were over, and in that moment, my life was a song. From Jenica: Honestly, probably leaving our wedding! A family friend let us use his red convertible Mustang as our getaway car. As we drove off, the driver turned up one of our favorite songs. Sitting on the back of the car while driving down the pitch black, windy road felt magnificent after sweating all day. The venue is very secluded and the sky was completely clear; we could see thousands of stars, something we don’t see in the city where we live now. We gazed up at the stars while singing at the top of our lungs, grinning ear-to-ear. We reflected on how perfectly our wedding day had gone and how happy we were to finally be married. It was so magical, and I’ll never forget it!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in graduate school at Florida State University at a mutual friend’s birthday party. I actually had a first date planned for later that night, but was having such a good time with Dylan that I called it off. Best decision ever!
Tell us all about the proposal! He proposed on Christmas day 2013. He led me to believe that he was going to pop the question on a trip to St. Thomas that we had planned for after the holidays, but instead, he surprised me while I was in my gym clothes at Fort Washington Park as we overlooked a beautiful sunset on the Potomac River. This is a very special place for me, as I always go running there and love to explore the area with my family when I visit my grandparents. He knows that I am very close to my family, and he wanted them to be able to share in our special occasion.
When did y’all get married? May 16, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 160
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our first dance was to Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me.” This was a very easy selection for me. It is one of my grandfather’s favorites, so it has always reminded me of my grandparents and the love they shared for 60 years. This song speaks to the central truth about a strong marriage, that not if, but when, hardship comes, as long as we stand by each other, we have nothing to fear. Dylan and I danced to this song many times in our kitchen while cooking dinner together prior to our wedding day, so it also evokes some of our favorite memories. We surprised Dylan’s mother by having them dance to R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly,” a song that Mrs. Conley has told Dylan his whole life reminded her of him. She was beside herself on the dance floor when it came on, and all the guests joined in by waving their arms and candles.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Every detail of our wedding day was pretty perfect, but our favorite component of our wedding was that we celebrated for multiple days. Instead of having only the one day to say a few words to each guest, we rented a huge house in Watercolor, Florida for our families and bridal party. We also arranged other rentals within walking distance for extended family and friends. We celebrated from Wednesday through Monday with pool parties, personal chefs, catering, and games. The neighborhood is truly stunning, and is a place that Dylan and I love very much. Turing our wedding into a huge vacation made our year and half of planning all worth it!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? I moved to Rhode Island after graduate school and we recently bought a house! We are looking forward to settling into our new life in Rhode Island. We love to travel, so we look forward to many great trips before we start a family.
Photographer: Robert J Hill / Videographer: Garrett Dollar / Planner: Kaley Wells / Ceremony Venue: St. Rita Catholic Church / Reception Venue: Eden Gardens State Park / Florist: Events by Nouvea / Dessert Baker: Fatty Patty’s / Caterer: Dee’s Catering / Band: True Soul / Bride’s Gown: Tara Keely / Bridal Salon: The Bridal Garden / Hair Stylist: Misty Lemire / Makeup Artist: Christina Engman / Bride’s Shoes: Betsey Johnson / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Ann” in Melon by Little Borrowed Dresses / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse