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In reading through the details Kelly and Richard sent our way, one word that stood out to me over and over was “hope:” their hopes for beautiful weather (they even jumped their venue’s fence after hours to bury a bottle of bourbon!) and their hopes for a beautiful garden ceremony space (they booked Yew Dell after only seeing it in the dead of winter), but mostly, their hopes for a beautiful wedding day that was about more than just them, and a truly beautiful marriage. For most of us, the wedding planning process involves compromises along the way, but one thing I think we should never compromise on is the hope for a beautiful future, together. Kelly and Richard are such a sweet example of that!

Big hugs to Nina + Wes for these photos!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met on a blind date! I was living with four of my best friends, and one night, my friend’s fiancé told me they had the perfect guy for me. A little reluctant and very apprehensive, I went with it, so he texted Richard. Apparently, in his text, he said to Richard “Whenever you’re ready, I’ve found your wife.” Who knew he was right! After Richard and I both agreed to this blind date, it took two months for the date to actually happen. I tried to cancel at least half a dozen times–luckily, my roommate wouldn’t let me. Eventually, the four of us went bowling and to dinner one Saturday night, and the rest is history!

I was so nervous to go dress shopping–I had heard horror stories about how stressful it was. My experience was the absolute opposite! I loved trying on wedding dresses–you feel like a princess for a day. I didn’t know what I wanted in a dress, so we searched high and low and tried on dozens. My options were all over the place. After looking all over Louisville (my hometown) and in numerous stores in Cincinnati, my mom and I finally decided to go to Twirl in Lexington, where I live now. I tried on two dresses before trying on the most beautiful Tara Keely gown. I knew it was my dress! It was sweet and delicate, but so lovely. We had our seamstress add sleeves with extra lace we ordered.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did do a first look. I knew I was going to be too nervous to go the whole day without seeing him until the ceremony! We decided that it was our wedding day and we wanted to enjoy one another. We wanted time before the ceremony to pray for the day and our marriage, and calm the nerves before saying our vows. We wanted to soak up the joy of the day as much as we could together. It was the best decision we could have made!

We had the bridal party walk down the aisle to “Jesus We Love You” by Bethel Music. Once they were down the aisle, my dad and I walked down to an excerpt from “Come to Me” from Bethel’s Without Words album. We chose these songs because we wanted the focus of our day to be about the beauty of the Lord bringing us together and inviting us into this covenant with him.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? The day Richard proposed, we got on our knees along with our families and prayed for our marriage and our future. We knew that though weddings are beautiful and exciting celebrations, we didn’t want the one day to be our main focus. With every decision, we asked the question “Is this going to bring glory and attention to the covenant we are making with the Lord?” At the end of the day, it is the marriage we were celebrating, not the wedding. Throughout our engagement, we met up with with an amazing couple full of wisdom for marriage counseling. We also read Timothy Kellers book, “The Meaning of Marriage.”

My heart has always been bent toward the beauty of nature, especially the loveliness of flowers. As soon as Richard proposed, we knew we wanted an outdoor wedding, and my heart was set on a celebration among the trees or in a garden. As it turns out, I was blessed with both! Richard proposed in November, so we were venue hunting in the dead of winter. We found Yew Dell in December, and did a walk-through with frost on the ground and barren trees. Though we had pictures from the website to reference, it took a pretty strong imagination to picture the garden in full bloom. We booked Yew Dell on faith, hoping and praying it would be as beautiful as we imagined. When we visited the gardens about a month before the wedding, I cried. It was a wonderland! I knew our venue was going to be the enchanted garden nestled in the woodland that I had dreamed of since I was a little girl.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our florist outdid herself. Our head table was a work of art. We decided to use five beautiful farm tables to make one giant head table for our 20 bridesmaids and groomsmen, plus their guests. Our florist had a lush garland running the length of the table, all 30 feet of it! Our menus, beautifully designed by a friend, were resting on top of the golden chargers, tucked inside a napkin with sprigs of greenery resting on top. It made such a statement when you walked into the reception tent.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Several months before our wedding, Richard and I decided to get dance lessons for our first dance. We didn’t want anything special–just enough so we could do more than the middle school shuffle on the dance floor. To be honest, I wasn’t even excited to do the first dance! As it turns out, our dance instructor taught us the basic rumba and then threw in a variety of spins and twirls. Though I was hesitant at the beginning, our first dance was one of our favorite moments of the day. There is no better way to feel like a princess than to have your prince spin you around the dance floor in a lovely gown!

Tell us all about the proposal! Apparently, I am a difficult girl to surprise. Richard knew the element of surprise was important to me, so he made me believe it wasn’t going to happen until March at the earliest. The day after Thanksgiving, my parents told everyone they wanted to get a family picture for that year’s Christmas card. Later that afternoon, as the girls were getting ready (taking longer than usual, as girls do), Richard and the guys decided to run out for some Black Friday shopping. While the guys were gone, my mom suggested I take my sister and sister-in-law to one of my favorite gardens in Louisville (a location we had thought about as a wedding venue someday). The three of us arrived, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a stuffed bear to my left. I assumed a family had a Thanksgiving event there the day before and some child had left their stuffed toy, but as we got closer, I saw a note propped up against the bear with my name on it. I looked up and saw that Richard had strung twinkle lights among the trees in the loveliest part of the garden, and he stood waiting for me at the end of the path. It was simply magical.
When did y’all get married? July 18, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 260
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own. Richard is a pastor, so speaking in front of people is his forte–I, on the other hand, am not a public speaker. I knew I was going to be nervous enough repeating the vows after our minister. I didn’t think I would be able to say my own vows on top of it!
Describe your wedding flowers. Our florist made the most beautiful bouquets for us! She made lush full bouquets of ranunculus and garden roses and used a single garden rose for Richard’s boutonniere. My mom had gardenias on her wedding day, and every time she smells them, she said it brings her right back. I knew I wanted a distinctly fragrant flower, so even 30 years down the road, the scent would bring me back to our fairy tale day.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? A few weeks into our engagement, we learned about the burying the bourbon tradition! So, on June 18, Richard and I, along with my family, hopped in the car to discreetly bury the goods on Yew Dell’s property. Unfortunately, that day was dreary and rainy, and Yew Dell was closing their gates as we arrived. I was satisfied with burying the bourbon right outside the gate on the perimeter of their property, but Richard wanted it to be closer to our venue site! We drove around to the rear of the property, hopped the fence, and buried the bourbon adjacent to both the reception location and the ceremony location. We had full sunshine on our wedding day!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Know that the day is a celebration of the lifelong commitment you are making to one another. It brought Richard and I such peace to rest in the knowledge that the day was about more than just ourselves. It was about our promise to one another and our promise to the Lord. Your attitude and focus and make or break the day for you. So it was 95 degrees outside and humid? We had the privilege of starting our marriage joyfully overcoming the circumstances of our surroundings. So the ceremony music didn’t start out correctly? The sweet imperfection of the ceremony let our friends and family rest at ease. So there was a fly in the communion cup? Richard and I got a little extra protein! Your attitude and focus sets the mood for the rest of your guests. Just remember, regardless, at the end of the day you will be married. Isn’t that more important than who gets chicken or beef?
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? That is a great question! We don’t know. Richard and I feel settled in Lexington for now, but we both have a heart for missions and for serving. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up in another country within the next several years. Or perhaps we will stay in Lexington, Kentucky and expand our family here! We are both dreamers, so in our heads, we have about a hundred dreams for where our future could go, but who knows where the Lord will take us next! In the meantime, we are basking in the joy of living life with the other at our side. We are making sweet memories sharing our home together and fellowshipping with friends.

Photographer: Nina and Wes Photography / Videographer: Summit Stone Creations / Planner: Devanny Kuhn of Essential Details / Venue: Yew Dell Gardens / Florist: Country Squire Florist / Cake Baker: Merts Cakes / Caterer: Masterson’s Catering / Rentals: Essential Details / DJ: Complete Weddings + Events / Invitations: Julie Diamond Calligraphy and Invitations / Program and Menu: Melody Thoburn / Bride’s Gown: Tara Keely / Bridal Salon: Twirl Boutique/a> / Hair Stylist: Hayley Gleason/ Makeup Artist: Ashley Meadows Makeup Artistry / Menswear: J. Crew

Twirl Boutique is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
3 Comments
  1. avatar Nina reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful wedding! We loved this day!

  2. avatar Liz Cox reply

    Goodness gracious I love this precious bride! Helping her find her dress was such a joy and to her in it on her wedding day is so sweet. Thanks for the sharing their gorgeous wedding & their beautiful love.

  3. avatar Kat Forsyth reply

    What a stunning location! Those lines of trees…wow.

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Talented, professional, compassionate vendors are the backbone of every smoothly running wedding day. When you hire people who are great at what they do AND good people to boot, your only job on your wedding day will be to act as a gracious hostess, love your family and friends well, and say “I do.” What a blessing! That’s why we’re passionate about our Blue Ribbon Vendors – because we want y’all to be worrying about those three things, and nothing else. Here are a few we’d love to introduce you to!

Name: Anna Kerns, Anna Kerns Photography
Where you call home: Frederick, Maryland
Favorite part of a wedding day? The quiet moment the bride and groom share together during portraits! As much as I love spending time with family and friends, I remember on my wedding day how refreshing and romantic it was to have some alone time as newlyweds. It’s a chance to take in all the excitement and joy of becoming husband and wife! Plus, your photographers will get some really sweet photographs for you to treasure for years to come.

Name: Christopher and Nancy Nolan, Weddings by Christopher & Nancy
Where you call home: Little Rock, Arkansas
Things you’d write home to your Momma about: We have been featured in a number of national and local wedding blogs and magazines like Style Me Pretty, Ruffled, Southern Brides Magazine, and Arkansas Bride Magazine, and have even photographed weddings in Hawaii, Boston, and Florida, but we are most proud of the relationships we have made with our couples. A lot of them have turned into longtime friends, and that’s the best thing.

Name: Mariah Diehl, Diehl Farms Events
Where you call home: Wimauma, Florida
How I got into weddings: Diehl Farms Events was created four years ago after Frank and Ora hosted their granddaughter’s wedding at the ranch. Ever since then we have opened our doors to public. All we ask is that you bring your imagination.

Name: Erica Luttmann, Hey Lovely Makeup
Where you call home: Deep in the heart of Houston (Texas, of course)
Favorite part of a wedding day? The prettifying part. The camaraderie between bride, her best friends, and relatives is special. And when the bride puts on her gown… Disney princess moment for sure!

Name: Julie Bunkley, Invision Events
Where you call home: Auburn, Alabama
How I got into weddings: After working with a sweet group of girls in college directing weddings on the side, I decided to turn it into a business for our area. It’s been non-stop ever since!

Name: Max LeBlanc, Sun in My Belly
Where you call home: Atlanta, Georgia
Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? The best piece of advice we can provide to any couple is provide your guests with menu items that you love and want them to experience. Your guests all love you and they will love what you provide. The sky’s the limit.

Name: Mary Louise Kennedy, The Event Group
Where you call home: Auburn, Alabama
How I got into weddings: ​Honestly, as a company founded by a couple of guys, we never expected to get into weddings. However, we have never accepted anything less than perfection in the execution of an event, which naturally pulled us into the wedding business! We’ve always loved bringing a unique feel to every event and that has only grown for each wedding we’ve been a part of. The individuality that our team has been able to bring to each wedding has certainly played a big part in the growth of our wedding business.

Name: Ty McBrayer, Twirl Boutique
Where you call home: Lexington, Kentucky
Favorite part of a wedding day? The groom’s face when he sees his bride at the end of the aisle is an all time favorite moment of ours. It doesn’t matter if they’ve already shared a first look or not, his expression when he sees his soon to be wife in her gorgeous dress is one of pure delight and joy. That moment never ceases to send our hearts soaring!

Name: Tori Austin, Victoria Austin Designs
Where you call home: Fairhope, Alabama
Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? Don’t sweat the small stuff. Always remember this day is about you, your fiancé, and the Lord. Do your research when booking vendors, sleep on it, and don’t hire on a whim!

Name: Angela Mazanti, Angela Mazanti Event Design
Where you call home: Memphis, Tennessee
Favorite part of a wedding day? That moment when what I have created specifically for the bride and groom is unveiled. I am a giver by nature. I give more than is expected and I give more than I promise. I just can’t help it – it’s the way that I’m wired.

Check out all of our favorite vendors in the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory! I also wanted to mention that we’re working particularly hard to expand some of our areas of slim pickings – namely, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. If you would like to recommend someone (or nominate yourself!) for any of these states, please email emily at southernweddings.com!

emily Written with love by Emily
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    I think it’s safe to say that every bride dreams of a wedding dress shopping experience that is a little bit magical–a time when she feel confident, beautiful, supported, and most of all, excited about being a bride! Two of the biggest factors that contribute to that experience are who you bring with you and where you go to shop. We share our advice for choosing who to bring here, but in order to better address where to go, I’m delighted to introduce our new Shop Spotlight series, where we’ll be introducing y’all to some of the loveliest bridal salons in the South.

    Kicking things off is the adorable Twirl in Lexington, Kentucky–a cute yellow house-turned-bridal salon, thanks to the passion and hard work of owner Ty McBrayer. Ty and Twirl’s Marketing Director, Liz, were sweet enough to share the story behind this darling Kentucky bridal salon, as well as a few tips for brides on the hunt for their dream dress!

    Thank you to Rachael McCall for these lovely photos!

    Tell us about the beginnings of Twirl–why did you want to open a bridal boutique, and how did you get started?
    Ty: I opened Twirl to offer the ladies of Kentucky a small, boutique shopping experience. I had been in nine (!!) weddings at that point and realized that the area needed a charming place to shop that catered to women wanting more than rows and rows of the same old dresses. I was also frustrated in the corporate world and longed for a more meaningful career. Owning my own business in a cozy old home had always been a dream of mine, and I know it sounds crazy, but I really just woke up one day and decided I needed to open a bridal boutique! I did lots of research and decided to take the leap and make it happen when I was 29 years old. I haven’t looked back since! Twirl is such a blessing in my life.

    Tell us about what y’all offer to brides and gals.
    Liz: Our little boutique currently holds 120 bridal gowns and over 200 bridesmaid dresses! Currently, we carry nine different bridal designers, including Hayley Paige, Blush by Hayley Paige, Tara Keely, Justin Alexander, and Stella York. For bridesmaids, we currently carry LulaKate, Jenny Yoo, Amsale, Lynn Lugo, and the Dessy group. Nothing makes us happier than a total Twirl wedding–gorgeous brides and their beautiful bridesmaids decked out in Twirl dresses just sends our hearts soaring!

    What is your current favorite wedding dress in the store? If you were getting married tomorrow, what dress would you wear?
    Liz: If I absolutely had to choose, it would be Londyn by Hayley Paige. Londyn’s beautiful silk radzmir sweetheart bodice and the horsehair-trim layered skirt create the perfect combination of simplicity, elegance, and an element of modern chic that I adore. Plus, it’s a ball gown, and let’s be real, when else in your life can you get away with wearing a big, beautiful dress like that?!

    What sets the Twirl experience apart from other bridal salons?
    Liz: We do our best to offer brides a wonderful, personal, and memorable experience. Helping a bride pick out the dress she’s going to become a wife in is a big deal to us, and our top priority is to make that process as enjoyable as we can. When a bride comes to Twirl, she will have the entire bridal suite to herself for around an hour and will work one on one with our amazing consultants to find that perfect dress. Our consultants listen to the bride’s vision and work with her to make it come to life! We believe that the cozy and cute atmosphere of Twirl, paired with the quality, one-on-one attention each bride receives, is the perfect combination for a bride as she searches for her dream dress!

    What is your single best tip for a bride about to start shopping for her wedding gown?
    Liz: Have an open mind and a hopeful attitude. I can’t tell you how many times the unexpected pick has been “the one.” Having a vision, but also allowing for some flexibility, can lead a bride to the very best dress for her. Additionally, attitude is everything, and having an optimistic one can be what makes an appointment a total success. Having the hope in your heart that your wedding dress could be in the store you just walked into is one of the greatest gifts a bride can give herself!

    What is your favorite memory from your own wedding day?
    Ty: My husband and I were married just six months after I opened Twirl. Our outdoor wedding took place on a warm, sunny day in May 2010 at The Carrick House in Lexington. My dad and I stood at the back of the ceremony and watched the bridal party and everyone be seated, as our favorite acoustic guitar versions of The Beatles’ songs were played. Standing there with him, seeing my soon-to-be husband, and watching it all come together was very surreal. “Here Comes the Sun” began to play and I walked down the aisle to the man of my dreams on the arm of the man that helped mold me into the woman I am today. It was hard to hold it together!

    Do you have a favorite Twirl memory?
    Ty: It is hard to name just one favorite memory, but one of my favorites may be my first trip to Bridal Fashion Week in New York! The energy buzzing amongst all of the buyers is amazing and the passion each designer puts forth to make each season more memorable is unbelievable.

    What is the single greatest lesson you’ve learned in business?
    Ty: Be kind, be kind, be kind. My mother taught me that long ago, and it is always a good reminder. You never know what battle someone is facing that day. We all have our own struggles, and sometimes, it is hard to put forth your best foot when nothing is going quite the way you had hoped. We do our very best to give every bride and bridesmaid a warm fuzzy feeling while they are here with us. It is our chance to put a burst of sunshine into their day!

    Name three items every gal should have in her closet.
    Ty and Liz: The perfect little black dress, a classic set of pearls, and a rocking pair of heels!

    Thank you so much, Ty and Liz! Lexington ladies, be sure to follow along with Twirl here:

    Website: Twirl | Blog: Twirl | Facebook: Twirl Lexington | Twitter: @TwirlLex | Instagram: @TwirlLex

    This post is brought to you by Twirl–thanks for your support of the brands that make Southern Weddings possible!

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
    3 Comments
    1. avatar Liz Cox reply

      This is just so exciting! Thank you all so much for letting us be a part of the SouthernWeddings family and featuring our little shop! This is a joy & honor for us!! XOXO

    2. avatar Lucy Cox reply

      What a great article about Twirl- the best bridal shop in Lexington! The care and attention they share with brides is outstanding!

    3. avatar Bren & Lon Watts reply

      Very impressive Ty! We are so very proud of what you have done with the business. Maybe we will get married again and get the dress from Twirl, ha, ha.

      Love you,
      BrenLon

    Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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