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My two favorite wedding details are almost always the bride’s dress and her bouquet. In my experience, finding my dress and seeing my bouquet were the two moments when “being a bride” really hit me, and that only made these two details even more special to me in every wedding I see! From those details alone, I’m sure it’s easy to see why we fell head over heels in love with Emily and Jim’s black-tie farm wedding–her Oscar de la Renta gown is so striking, and that bouquet by Victoria Clausen Floral Events is one for the books! That’s not all that captured our hearts about their celebration though–we also loved seeing their joyful ceremony moments, the creative ways they showed hospitality to their guests, and the two incredibly meaningful places where they hosted their loved ones for their big day.

Thank you so much to Kate Headley for sharing this stunning day with us for V8!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? I am obsessed with my wedding dress. I tried on many dresses, but could not stop thinking about this dress. I loved the texture of the flowers embroidered on the Chantilly lace, and the seed pearls helped to give it a sweetness and elegance that I had never seen before. The veil was gorgeous – it was embroidered with the same flowers and seed pearls. I did not want to take it off!
Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? When it came to the bridesmaids’ dresses, I was looking for something different…something that did not look like the typical bridesmaid dress. I spotted this Lela Rose dress and immediately knew it would be perfect. The embroidered flowers on the bodice echoed the embroidery on my dress, and complemented the garden feel of the wedding. We chose navy to contrast with the bright flowers, but also at the request of my maid of honor, my sister.

Tell us all the basics of your wedding! Why did you choose these things? Did any of these details hold special meaning for you as a couple? We were inspired by springtime on my farm – it is incredibly lush and verdant, with flowers blooming everywhere. I wanted our wedding to capture that “English garden” atmosphere. The service was at our church, St. John’s, at 4:30 p.m., and the reception followed at the farm. Due to the size of the church, we had a small ceremony, and then a much larger reception. St. John’s was where I was raised, and also where Jim proposed, so it was really special to share it with our closest family and friends. The farm could not have been more beautiful that day. Having the reception at my family home helped to make the black-tie party that much more warm and joyful. We essentially got the best of both worlds, as we had both an intimate ceremony and a huge party!

Jim and I loved that, due to the small size of the church, we could see every single face when we looked out over the audience. Even though it was a bit of a blur, you could feel the love and joy emanating from every corner of the church. I barely held it together when walking down the aisle, whereas Jim was calm and beaming. Our officiant could sense my nerves, so during the opening exhortation when Jim and I each took turns responding, “I will,” to her questions, she paused during the question. I jumped the gun and eagerly said, “I will!” before she had even finished asking the question, and Jim and the entire audience erupted into laughter. The gaff helped break the ice and my nerves disappeared. After the ceremony, she admitted that she planned the pause to help me relax, and it definitely worked!

What was the design inspiration for your wedding? Why was this design special to you as a couple? We were inspired by the natural beauty of my parents’ farm, which has rolling hills and beautiful flowers. I love flowers, so the idea was to create an “English garden” atmosphere that was teeming with blooms and greenery. We used brightly colored flowers and lush greenery, with textured linens and lanterns everywhere. Everything was glowing, from the illuminated trees to the incandescent clear tent. We were also always aware that we were inviting people to my family’s home, so every detail was designed to make the reception welcoming and intimate.

The reception was a glowing, joyful, and elegant party. It was black-tie, but warm and exuberant, as it was at my family home. The cocktail hour was in the front of the house, and then we invited everyone into the house to pass into the backyard for the reception. To continue the intimate feeling, guests were greeted at their seats by thank you notes from Jim and me. Even though it was a big wedding, it was very important to us that our guests knew that they were the most special part of our celebration.

The flowers were key to the entire event. I wanted them to be lush, abundant and bright. Each part of the wedding had the most incredible flowers, from the beautiful floral arch at the church, to the flower-covered arbor and escort card display, to the stunning azaleas, roses, hydrangeas and more planted throughout the grounds. Both the wedding flowers and the landscaping came together to create a verdant landscape that looked like something from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Tell us about your wedding cake or sweets. The wedding cake and groom’s cake were absolutely delicious – I’m still dreaming of them. The wedding cake was made of layers of coconut and strawberry cake, and was covered in little flowers that matched my wedding dress. The groom’s cake was red velvet and was an architectural feat. In honor of UVA, the cake was designed to look like the famous Rotunda, complete with columns, porticos and a domed roof.

Our first dance was to “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke. It was one of the first songs Jim had played for me when we first began dating. In the months leading up to the wedding, Jim and I took dance lessons (but I think we canceled more than we attended). Needless to say, we improvised our first dance, rather than sticking to the fancy routine our instructor had attempted to teach us!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Jim and I met as students at the University of Virginia School of Law. Jim, a third-year at the time, was (and still is) very close to several of my good friends from Princeton. We were introduced during the first week of my first year and began dating shortly thereafter. During our first date, we discovered that my parents and Jim’s father were all members of the class of 1982 at the Law School. They had not kept in touch, but remembered each other very well. The following May was their 30th Reunion – needless to say, their classmates loved the idea that the children of members of the Class of ’82 were now dating.
Describe the proposal: During the fall of my third year, Jim’s family joined my family for Thanksgiving at my parents’ farm. I knew that Jim had asked my father for my hand, but I had no idea when he would propose. On Thanksgiving Day, after attending the traditional blessing of the hounds, Jim asked if I would go for a drive with him. We drove to my small, country church, where I had always dreamed of getting married. The church is a beautiful 19th century stone church, located right in the middle of horse country. We walked around the gardens until we arrived to the front of the church, where Jim got down on one knee. After I said “yes,” we sat for fifteen minutes in the gardens, taking in what had just happened. We then drove back to my parents’ house (and almost ran out of gas on our way!), and were met by our families and a champagne toast. It could not have been more perfect.
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? We met with our officiant, the Reverend Tracy A. Bruce, for marriage counseling sessions during the months preceding the wedding. Tracy is the Rector of St. John’s, our church, and she is absolutely wonderful. Although we were a little apprehensive before beginning, the sessions turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the wedding planning process.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Elegant, radiant, and intimate
How many guests attended your wedding? We had about 120 at the ceremony and 325 at the reception.
Groom’s favorite detail of the wedding: Everyone involved with planning and putting on the wedding was incredible, which makes it hard to pick out one detail. If I have to choose, whenever I look back at the photographs from the weekend, my eyes stay a little longer on how incredible the church looked and how happy Emily looked during the ceremony.
What songs did you use for your ceremony? My mother led the charge on the music selection, and her suggestions were thoughtful and created the perfect atmosphere. We had an amazing trumpeter and organist, as well as a soloist who performed throughout the ceremony. The processional was Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary in D Major.” We sang one of my favorite hymns, “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” and then the soloist sang “The Wedding Song” by Peeters. After the blessing of the marriage, the soloist sang “A Nuptial Blessing” by Joncas as the benediction. We walked out to “Hornpipe” from Handel’s Water Music, followed by his “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba.”
Tell us about your grand exit. For the last song of the night, the band invited us on stage to dance and sing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” They then parted the crowd and sent us off into the night, where Jim and I stood and watched our friends dance during the last few bars of the song. We did not do a sparkler sendoff, instead opting to hold an after-party by our pool. We had blankets and Adirondack chairs, fire pits with s’mores ingredients and delicious snacks – mini pizzas, pigs-in-a-blanket, and grilled short rib and cheese sandwiches. It was the perfect way to end the night, and amazingly, no one ended up in the pool!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Find the best, most reliable vendors possible and RELAX. It will be amazing, no matter what happens.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We’re settling into married life in Washington, D.C. and look forward to relaxing after the wedding. We are most excited for the puppy that will be joining us this spring!

Photographer: Kate Headley | Planner: Pineapple Productions | Designer and Florals: Victoria Clausen Floral Events | Ceremony Venue: St. John’s Church, Western Run Parish | Reception Venue: Private Residence | Caterer: Linwoods | Cake Baker: Sugarbakers | Bride’s Gown and Veil: Oscar de la Renta | Bridal Salon: Saks Fifth Avenue | Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik | Bridesmaid Dresses: Lela Rose | Hair Stylist: Judy Messina and Dana Smith of Public Image | Makeup Artist: Leah Margosis | Groomsmen Fashion: The Tuxedo House | Save the Dates: Mr. Boddington | Paper Goods: Pleasure of Your Company | Linens: Table Toppers | Tents: Loane Bros., Inc. | Transportation: American Limo | Lighting/Fireworks: Digital Lightning | Calligraphy: Arney Walker Calligraphy

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    Love how the cake matched her dress!!

  2. avatar Brook Paris reply

    That glass tent and gold iron chairs- WOW.

  3. avatar Jay reply

    Such intricate embroidery! The bride’s choice is truly classy.

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I’m convinced that deciding where to get married is either one of the easiest or one of the hardest wedding planning decisions. I relate so much to Erin and Sean’s decision to marry in Raleigh, where they would be starting their newlywed life, because Dave and I did the exact same thing! For their classic Southern celebration, Erin and Sean brought a little bit of their hometowns to Raleigh by filling their downtown venues with nautical touches that nodded to their childhoods spent on the coast. My favorite detail of Erin and Sean’s big day? While they were introducing loved ones to their new hometown, they were also giving family and friends mementos for their own homes: “We have our oyster shell place cards displayed on our coffee table, and we’ve visited with friends who kept their place cards and have them displayed in their homes, too!”

Thank you so much to Julie Livingston for sharing this lovely day with us!

My mom, grandmother, and mother-in-law were all with me when I found my dress. I had two appointments in Raleigh and ultimately found my dress at the last place we went, Maggi Bridal. I had no clue what I wanted, so I tried on quite a few dresses, but it ended up being so easy for me to pick the dress. My dress was just so elegant, timeless, and Southern, which is what I wanted our entire wedding day to exude! My favorite part of the whole day was seeing the reactions every time I came out of the dressing room. Of course, they loved every dress I tried on!

Describe your wedding flowers. We started out with the idea of using driftwood and oyster shells as part of our arrangements and decor, as both Sean and I grew up near the coast. Our florist was so on board with our ideas, and had so many ideas of her own. It was so much fun to collaborate with her and watch her bring our vision to life in ways we couldn’t have imagined! Our flowers had a coastal theme and were all shades of creams, ivories, and whites with lots of greenery. Anna, our florist, was also able to source snowball viburnum, which was used in our bouquets and floral arrangements. This was especially important to me, as my late grandmother had a snowball bush that she was so proud of, so including the snowball viburnum was such a special way to honor her. There was even a huge vase filled with it near the entrance to the Merrimon-Wynne House–it was one of my favorite pieces!

Everything from our venue, to the food we served, to some of the traditions we kept was Southern! We buried a bottle of bourbon, which Sean and his groomsmen dug up the morning of our wedding while getting ready. To keep Sean and I from seeing each other, my brother brought me a glass of the bourbon! In addition to the tradition, the food we served was very Southern: mini chicken and waffles, fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese, and shrimp and grits!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Sean and I decided we wanted to get married in Raleigh. We loved Raleigh and it was where we would be starting our lives together as husband and wife, so we wanted to choose a venue that would show all of our guests just how great Raleigh and North Carolina are. We started going to Edenton Street United Methodist Church in downtown Raleigh during the summer we were engaged and we loved it. We instantly felt like we were part of a family at EUMC, so there was no question that we wanted to get married there. Our reception was at the Merrimon-Wynne House in downtown Raleigh. My mother and I went to visit the venue and as soon we we walked through the front door, we knew this was where we wanted the reception to be. The Merrimon-Wynne House was everything I could have dreamed of for our wedding–Southern, classic, gorgeous light…and the icing on the cake was that it was only a few blocks from our church and had plenty of room for all of our guests. We were able to get ready there too, and it was so fun to hang out at the house all day with some of my favorite women!

We used driftwood that my mother collected from the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia on the dinner tables, with larger pieces on the porch and the mantle. Anna did an amazing job in incorporating the driftwood into our floral arrangements. There was also a large piece of driftwood draped with greenery, flowers, oyster shells, and candles that hung over our sweetheart table–it was stunning, and now hangs over our couch in our home! We saved oyster shells from an engagement party that my aunt and uncle hosted for us, and from other oyster roasts we had as a family, and used those as place cards for our guests and throughout the decor. One and Only Stationers, who created our programs and other details, wrote each guest’s name on an oyster shell in navy ink. We have our oyster shell place cards displayed on our coffee table, and we’ve visited with friends who kept their place cards and have them displayed in their homes, too! I just loved how all of these pieces were gathered by my family and turned into special pieces that Sean and I have kept and incorporated into our home.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Time management! I work for a public accounting firm and my schedule at work is not light! Some days, I felt like I would never be able to plan a wedding because I just didn’t have time. Luckily, I was able to lean on my mom for a lot of help. I know she sacrificed a lot of time to help me plan the wedding of my dreams–but I don’t think either of us would have had it any other way!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t sweat the small stuff, because on the day of your wedding, you will forget all about the small stuff! Something will definitely happen or go wrong (like the electricity going out at church, in our case!), but at the end of the day, you will still be married and it will still be the best day ever!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Sean: Erin and I met at a JV football game in high school through mutual friends. I was playing for the varsity team at the time, but decided to stick around after practice to see some of the underclassmen play. I remember being introduced to Erin and immediately having this feeling that I knew she was the one. We started dating shortly after that memorable Thursday night some nine years ago. After enduring a few years in a somewhat-long distance relationship, with Erin at NC State and myself at East Carolina, I made the decision to move to Raleigh, where we call home today.
Tell us all about the proposal! I had just finished my Masters in Accounting at NC State University and was spending all summer studying for the CPA exam. I had just finished taking one of the exams and was meeting Sean for lunch at Player’s Retreat, near NC State’s campus. It was a gorgeous day, so after eating lunch, Sean suggested we go for a walk. We walked down Hillsborough Street towards NC State’s campus and ended up in the Court of Carolinas. As we walked out into the Court of Carolinas, I saw this little puppy next to the sidewalk sitting in a basket. I turned to Sean, a bit worried, and asked, “Is that a dog? Who would leave a puppy out here by itself in the middle of July?” Sean then proceeded to walk over to the puppy, picked him up, and said, “Erin, I’d like you to meet Murphy,” and put him in my arms. I was speechless! While I stood there wide-eyed over my new puppy, Sean turned around, grabbed the ring box out of the basket, got down on one knee, and proposed! We were both shaking and tearing up, we were so excited! It was one of the happiest days of my life–I got a fiancé and a puppy!
When did y’all get married? August 1, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows. Instead, we opted for the traditional vows, which still hold so much meaning to us and the commitment we made to each other.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My uncle Billy J read 1 Corinthians 13 and my Uncle Bill read Philippians 4:4-9. I love 1 Corinthians 13 because it not only tells how important love is in all aspects of our lives, but it also reminds us how to love one another. Philippians 4:4-9 is just a joyful passage and it was so wonderful to be reminded that the Lord was near, surrounding Sean and I, our families, and our friends with His love and grace. It was so special to have my uncles read these passages during our ceremony because I am so close to each of them, and Sean and I really look up to them!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I ended up with a multitude of borrowed, blue, old, and new items on my wedding day! I had a gold pin that my grandmother, her sister, my aunt, and my mother all wore when they were married. I also carried a handkerchief embroidered in blue given to me by a cousin on my mother’s side, who explained that all the women in our family had carried it, and I was to pass it on to the next cousin to get married. My mom and dad gave me a beautiful silver and diamond bracelet.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We attended a few marriage counseling sessions at Edenton St. United Methodist and with our pastor. Through these sessions, I realized more and more how ready and happy I was to be marrying this man.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are living and working in Raleigh with our dog, Murphy. So far, we have just enjoyed coming home to each other, running errands together, cooking dinner together, and enjoying all that Raleigh has to offer. Being big college football fans, we frequent the NC State and ECU football games, cheer for the Panthers, and can be found hanging out with each other or our dear friends and family every weekend. We are looking forward to sharing new experiences together–we’d love to travel around the US and abroad and have a few long weekend trips planned in the coming months!

Photographer: Julie Livingston Photography | Videographer: Jared Cook Films | Coordinator: Gather Together Events | Ceremony Venue: Edenton Street United Methodist Church | Reception Venue: The Merrimon-Wynne House | Florist: Simply Elegant Floral Designs | Dessert Baker: The Cupcake Shoppe | Caterer: Catering Works | Rentals: Party Reflections | Band: The Magic Pipers | Paper Products: One and Only Stationers | Bride’s Gown: Maggi Bridal | Hair Stylist: Parlor Blow Dry Bar | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Mary” Top and “Tulip” Skirt in Umber by LulaKate | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids | Menswear: VIP Formal Wear | Koozies: Pink House Press | Transportation: Ecostyle and Classy Transportation

Gather Together Events is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Ashlee Little reply

    Thank you so much for sharing Erin + Sean’s wedding! We’re glad you loved the driftwood chandelier as much as we loved making it. :)

  2. avatar Brenda Parker reply

    This was one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever seen. I was not at the wedding but have seen all the photos. It is obvious a lot of attention was paid to every detail to achieve an elegant southern wedding with a very personal touch. I enjoyed reading the back story of all the details of their story.

  3. avatar Dana reply

    a puppy and a proposal! not bad!!!

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