You know when you meet someone and you become instant friends? Well, that’s exactly how I feel about this bride! Y’all, I am SO excited that I get to introduce today’s Real Wedding because not only is it an absolutely gorgeous soiree, but the bride is our very own Blue Ribbon Vendor Director (and my personal virtual BFF – we work in different states!), Mrs. Kristin Winchester.
Kristin + Kyle are not only a good lookin’ couple (dying over KNW’s Southern bump!), but they have the best hearts. I know that Kristin worked to create a wedding that was not only beautiful, but a celebration of their marriage. And, I’m sure the food wasn’t bad either: K + K served Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey, mashed potatoes and dressing according to the bride’s special family recipe. As Kristin says, “Thanksgiving is one of our favorite meals, and represents a time when we gather around people we love and celebrate all that we are thankful for, which is exactly what we wanted to do on our wedding day.” Yes, ma’am!
Big thank yous to Martha Manning for being there to capturing all the joy that I know surrounded this day.
Custom monogrammed Jack Rogers, come on now, you know KNW is a girl after my own heart!
I may or may not have gone to (what felt like) 100 stores the first three weeks post-engagement. I may or may not have tried on at least 1,000 dresses. I was on quite the warpath trying to balance my timetable and my vision. Everyone said that I must find a dress and find one fast so that I could get it ordered and back by May. I tried on lots of pretty dresses in cities all across North Carolina. At the end of January, with the clock running out, my mama convinced me to take a day off and drive home to Gastonia to look at Poffie Girls. Since I knew we were getting married in Chapel Hill, it seemed fitting that I would find my dress in Gastonia, so that I could have a little piece of my childhood with me on the BIG day. As I walked out of the dressing room with what would soon be my dress, there was soft music playing over the loud speaker. I started humming along before I realized it was Josh Groban. The very song that Kyle played right after we got engaged, when we danced in the middle of the living room, was playing in the middle of Poffie Girls. I should have stopped right there, handed them the credit card and called it a day. Instead, I tried a few more dresses, managing to re-try on my dress four more times in-between the others. Decision made. Mama, Sissy and I all got a little weepy when I put on mama’s veil and completed the look. It was so special to be able to wear her veil on my wedding day. They made a few modifications to the original design (making the neckline a more defined sweetheart, adding pockets and extending the buttons the length of the train) in the process creating my dream dress. Upon leaving the salon, I promptly called Kyle to warn him that there was a GOOD chance that he might come home for many months following our wedding to find me sitting on our sofa, wearing my wedding dress. I loved it that much.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Oh my stars, as you can probably guess, there were Southern details woven throughout our entire wedding day. The bridal party wrapped their bouquets in sweet handkerchiefs, monogrammed with each bridesmaid’s initials, that were anonymously delivered to the house where we were getting ready. I wrapped two somethings blue, embroidered handkerchiefs, one from each of my grandmothers, around my bouquet. And of course the groomsmen were dashing in their handmade coral, madras bow ties and khaki seersucker suits. And those were just our duds!
My heart literally leaps for the image above, and the one below! Such sweet moments.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? No. Since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of the moment that those church doors would open and I would see my groom for the first time. Kyle was on the same page, so we decided to forgo the “first look.” We did have a brief moment to exchange gifts and squeeze hands around the church parlor door before the ceremony. While we didn’t get to see one other, this simple moment and chance to hold hands and silently pray was just what I needed to calm my nerves. Happily when those beautiful church doors opened and I caught my first glimpse of my handsome groom, I knew we had made the right decision for us. That one moment is imprinted on my brain, and I know I will never, ever forget it.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? The ceremony was by far the most important part of our day. We spent a lot of time planning it to ensure it reflected our personalities, both individually and as a couple, our faith, and the future of our family. We decided to recite traditional vows, just like our parents and grandparents. However, we felt strongly that adding personal touches throughout our day was important, so we decided to write promise statements to one another. My favorite line of my promise statement to Kyle was, “Today is a celebration of the miracle of love and the blessings of family. Today, we declare our commitment to one another, before God and our loved ones. Today we become a family.” Kyle promised to take me to as many sporting events as I wanted (note: he works in college sports), which garnered a chuckle from the congregation. He concluded his promise to me by saying, “I will have no fear – I will lay my life down for you, and for our children, in the name of Christ and for His glory. I will be your best friend and love you more every day until the end of time. Pinky promise.” Yes, we locked pinkies and sealed the deal.
Soon after we got engaged, we found over 150 mason jars in my late grandmother’s basement and used them everywhere at the reception, which made it feel like she was there celebrating with us. Some of those mason jars were the same ones that had contained delicacies from my grandparents’ vegetable garden, which I helped tend in the summers when I was growing up. My grandmother gave Kyle and me a white family Bible as a wedding present. It lay on the altar during the service, open to our favorite scripture, which made us feel connected to our Southern roots. As a tribute to my childhood and the peach trees in our backyard in Gastonia, NC, there were fresh peaches piled on all the reception tables. I actually witnessed guests (not to mention the groom) grabbing peaches and eating them straight from the centerpieces. Guests were served Arnold Palmers during the cocktail hour and biscuits with honey butter during dinner. And, I slipped out of my wedding shoes into newly monogrammed Jack Rogers sandals to dance the night away. If that doesn’t shout “Southern charm,” then my initials aren’t KNW.
Y’all might recognize that happy face on the left – that image actually became the back cover of Southern Weddings V5!
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Kyle and I aren’t really big fans of cake but we come from a family of cake lovers so we wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out on this wedding tradition. Our cake was a simple three-tiered beauty; each layer was a different flavor. We had original white cake and buttercream frosting, white cake with fresh strawberry filling and chocolate with chocolate ganache (a crowd favorite). Admittedly, my favorite dessert is a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Baking is also that tangible way that I love on people, especially Kyle. When we were dating, I would spend Thursday evenings baking, in anticipation of our weekend visits. I am rarely without the supplies to make a fresh batch of cookies or Rice Krispy treats, so we decided to incorporate this sweet expression of love into our wedding day. My amazing family spent hours the week of the wedding making dozens upon dozens of chocolate chip cookies, Rice Krispy treats, peanut butter cookies and shortbread. The guests nibbled at the sweets table all night and then were able to make a treat bag to take home for a midnight snack! Apparently, my father-in-law never got to the wedding cake because he snagged a cookie every time he passed the table — he lost count at seven.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Good heavens, I can’t pick just one. We served Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey, mashed potatoes and dressing according to my family’s special recipe. It is one of our favorite meals and represents a time when we gather around people we love and celebrate all that we are thankful for, which is exactly what we wanted to do on our wedding day. We included an assortment of self-addressed Chapel Hill landmark postcards on every table at the reception, with instructions for our family and friends to craft a note to us – sharing advice, love, thoughts and wishes. At the end of the evening the postcards were collected by my dear friend Kate, and she has been mailing a batch to us each month around the 23. Reading the hand-written notes from our dearest friends and family has been such a joy each month; funny, thoughtful, gracious memories that we will treasure for a long time. My other favorite detail was our candle-light departure. We decided to do a staged exit around 9:45 to allow everyone to participate in the departure festivities. We left behind a beautiful scene of our family and friends surrounded by the warm glow of candles. We rode up through campus and were dropped off on Franklin Street, which gave us a chance to walk, hand-in-hand, through UNC-CH’s campus, just as we did when we first starting dating. It was the first time we had really been alone that day, and we spent some sweet moments discussing our most perfect day. Kyle also used this as the time to tell me where we were going on our honeymoon (the Dominican Republic!), which up until that moment, had been a big, well-kept secret. After a lovely little walk, still in our wedding day finest, we headed back to the reception and danced the rest of the night away!
How did the two of you meet? (From the groom) It took 7+ years to get to this point. Here’s the (abbreviated) love story: Three years at Carolina were full of fun times and great friends for both of us. So many times our paths crossed – through classes (always for Kristin; sometimes for me), games (always for me; sometimes for Kristin), church, campus organizations – and we didn’t know it. For three years, we lived both perfectly content college-kid lives, never knowing the other one existed, until August 24, 2004. We were both Communication Studies majors and were set to take back-to-back upper-level Comm classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays the first semester of our senior year. Kristin entered the first of those classes with her usual pep and zeal, ready to take on the world. I was, surprisingly, already in class, but (not surprisingly) half asleep in the back row with my hat pulled down over my eyes. In fact, I barely lifted an eye when my roommate of four years said hello to the cute blonde in the bright green shirt and white skirt. After somehow staying awake through the first class, we headed to our next stop. After settling in near the back with a couple of friends, I began to take in the scene around me when that same cute blonde dropped her pen two seats in front of me. “Awww, sad face,” she said aloud as she reached down to pick up the pen. For the first time, I really took notice of the girl who would, one day, become my wife. After some time getting to know one another in class, our friendship started to grow. I planned a ‘first official’ date to the NC State Fair, but a serious case of strep throat prevented Kristin from going. (From the bride) We wound up spending that evening at my house. He came over to check on me and brought me diet coke, gummy worms and cotton candy from the fair. Yes, he sent someone to Raleigh to buy cotton candy so he could bring it to me. Needless to say, even though I was terribly ill, I was smitten. (From the groom) Our official, official first date would turn out to be a Friday night dinner at Chili’s (come on, we were on a budget here) and a Haunted House trip for a sorority function. Senior year was filled with many more special memories: meeting the parents, meeting “the sissy” (Hi, Kimberly), attending formals, winning a National Championship in basketball, and, of course, graduating. Little did we know that this would be the only time in our dating relationship that we would live in the same city.
Describe the proposal. My sweet husband proposed juuuust after the ball dropped on NYE. He asked. I said yes. Simple and sweet; the rest is history. I would be remiss, however, (and totally unlike myself), if I didn’t take a sweet, simple story and gussy it up with all the yummy details. We were at the beach. After getting back to the house from a busy day and sitting around dressed up for a few minutes, I decided it was perfectly acceptable to put on my pajamas and curl up on the sofa for the remaining 83 minutes of 2011. A few minutes after midnight, the groom managed to drag me outside to the deck of the beach house as everyone was shooting off fireworks. I was freezing and had no plans to actually go outside. It took a little coaxing + an afghan + a faked ‘step on a nail’ injury to get me outside. Alas, as I turned to go inside, IT happened. Down on one knee + lots of sweet words + a ring, and poof, it was official. We headed inside because it was freezing; he proceeded to scoop me up and started to pray for us (our relationship, our marriage, our future children, grandchildren, etc.), which would be the point of the blessed event where I sprung a leak. I hadn’t shed a single tear before that point of the evening. Then, there in the dark of the living room, all by ourselves, we danced. It is exactly what we did on our very first NYE back in 2004. This time it wasn’t quite so calculated on my part to sneakily have a cheesy country CD in the stereo system. Instead, he had Josh Groban on pause, ready to belt out one of my favorite songs of all time. Be still my heart. Then all the fun started with calling both of our parents and my little sister around 12:30 a.m. (Imagine my surprise; my parents that are normally in bed by 9pm sharp were wide awake and sitting by the phone. I think it made to half a ring). I called my mama the moment I woke up on Sunday to tell her that I was not, in fact, dreaming, but that there was a sparkly little diamond sitting on my left hand, and I was ready to officially start planning.
In what month did you get married? June
How many guests attended your wedding? 225
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Colossians 3:12-17 and a very beautiful Love reading. It was a back-and-forth interpretation (gracefully read by two of my dear friends from college) that incorporated many special scripture verses about love. It was definitely a highlight of our ceremony, and I am so glad we decided to include it.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Music was an important part of the ceremony experience. I was bound and determined to have more than just a ceremony; I wanted to have a worship service. My aunt and uncle sang Amazing Grace during the prelude. I could hear them as I was standing just outside the church doors. They also sang “Surely the Presence” during the ceremony. We were blessed to have one of my favorite singers from the church I attended in Cary sing two solos as well. I always joked that when we got engaged, I was going to figure out how to meet Autumn (note: my church in Cary is 9,000+ people) and ask her to sing at our wedding. After a little digging and networking, I managed to track down her email address and wrote her a lengthy note that included asking her to sing at our wedding. She graciously agreed and I couldn’t have been more thankful. She sang Be Thou My Vision as an interlude and Twila’ Paris’ “How Beautiful” during the lighting of our unity candle. There was something special about including a few traditional songs for the processionals and recessionals. Kyle’s mama played the organ for the local church while he was growing up, so she had played at many weddings and had a few favorites. The mothers and grandmothers processed in to Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” the bridal party processed in to Pachelbel’s “Cannon in D,” my daddy and I walked down the aisle to Clark’s “Trumpet Voluntary” and Kyle and I processed out, as husband and wife (yay!), to Mendelssohn’s “The Wedding March.”
Describe your wedding flowers: Simple perfection. My bouquet consisted of several Southern delicacies: ivory roses, white peonies, white hydrangeas and white freesia. They were even able to turn the bonnet that Kyle wore home from the hospital into a flower and tuck it into my bouquet. Kyle’s mama had saved it to give to her daughter-in-law; she even has a sweet poem that accompanied the bonnet to talk about its significance. My bridesmaids carried similar bouquets, composed of roses, peonies, hydragenas and hypericum berries in pinks and coral, wrapped in the same fabric as the guys’ bow ties. For the groomsmen, we tried for something a little heartier that could withstand the pre-ceremony hugs from the wedding guests and the late June afternoon humidity. The florist crafted lovely peach hypericum berries, tied with raffia. I think that the groomsmen looked dashing, and their boutonnières stayed intact all night!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Time — or a lack thereof. After becoming engaged on New Year’s Eve, I knew that I wanted to get married in June, leaving a little over five months for everything to fall into place. We ran into a few scheduling challenges with some potential vendors but managed to enlist just the right ones to help make our day magical. Oh, and budget. But isn’t budget always a challenge? Having a vision is one thing. Making your vision match your budget is a totally different story. I was very deliberate in prioritizing what was most important and had to be comfortable letting a few other things go. It was also a great and constant reminder that, at the end of the day, the most important thing was the fact that Kyle and I were getting married. When I focused on that piece, the budget just didn’t seem to matter as much.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Absolutely, a videographer. Every time I watch our wedding highlights film, I cry. It immediately transports me back to that day. I am so grateful to have live footage of both sets of parents and my grandmother. It is something I will treasure forever, and I am already anticipating watching it with our children and grandchildren!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Well, they say that nothing ever goes exactly as you planned. As someone who tends to be a tad type-A and a bit of an over-planner, I promised Kyle that I would just “be” on our wedding day. After all, the most important thing was that we were getting married. So, when our departure candles could not be located mere minutes before our planned departure, I took a deep breath, grabbed a glass of champagne and sent the wedding party on a reconnaissance mission. The result was one of my most favorite moments of that day. The guests went outside, the wedding party went hunting for the candles and Kyle and I wound up all alone (with our favorite DJ) in the reception hall. Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” started pouring out of the speakers, and Kyle took my hand and led me to the dance floor. For the next few minutes, we danced in the candlelight, causing me forget about what was going on outside. The song ended, and I noticed my baby sister, standing at the edge of the dance floor with happy tears streaming down her cheeks. She didn’t want to interrupt our moment, so she had waited to happily share the news that the candles had been located, and we could proceed with our planned departure. What a special, albeit totally unplanned, moment!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Oh mercy! I have so many things I would love to share. Constantly remind yourself that you are planning your wedding to celebrate your marriage. When you feel yourself over-extended or stressed, remind yourself WHY you are planning a wedding. And be true to yourselves. As Kyle likes to say, “do you.” There are traditions and etiquette rules that are important, but it is equally important to make sure the day reflects you, the couple. Thanksgiving in June? Four solos during the ceremony? Thirty-one members in the wedding party? Yes, please! One of the biggest compliments that someone paid to us during the reception was how much they felt “us” throughout the whole day – in all the details. Finally – and I feel most importantly – remember to stop and smell the (proverbial) roses. Remember to take the time to stop, take a deep breath and take it all in. Then, do it a second time. And a third. It is a very special day, a day that you have put your heart and soul into making happen. Look around, make memories, and enjoy each and every moment!!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? After dating long-distance for nearly six years, we are happily settled into newlywed life, which includes weeknight meals around the dinner table, afternoon naps on Sundays, and day-dreaming about our first family dog, who will be named Murphy, in honor of the building where we first met!
Oh my, this was beautiful beyond belief! I LOVE the Forest Theater as a ceremony spot and now, the Horace Williams House is on my dream reception list. ;) What a gorgeous celebration. Thank you for sharing your special day with us, Hanna and Grant!