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When a wedding planner and a chef tie the knot, you might expect beautiful styling, gorgeous details, and delicious food. And in the case of Elyse and Jack, you’d be right! Their wedding day at Stella Plantation had all of those things and more. Mixing together sweet details from their love story (yummy mini pizzas) with romantic decor (tons of dreamy candles, plus 13 different crystal chandeliers!), they created a celebration that was just as lovely as it was meaningful. I also love the way they weaved Elyse’s signature “xoxo” throughout their day, and right on into their newlywed home!

P.S. If you’re thinking the only way these photos could be prettier is if they were printed on glossy paper and surrounded by other wedding goodness, you’re in luck! We’re so glad Greer Gattuso was on hand to capture this beautiful wedding, and we were proud to feature it in Southern Weddings V8. If you don’t have your copy yet, look for it on news stands across the Southeast, or order it before we sell out here!

Since I’ve signed all of my letters to Jack with “xoxo” for years, we fell in love with the idea of having “xoxo” accents throughout the design! As guests were first introduced to the wedding through the save the dates, they noticed my handwritten “xoxo” at the top. We then commissioned one of the best local calligraphers to design our “xoxo” logo, which we used as a dance floor vinyl, had laser cut for our wedding cake topper, gold foiled on our napkins, printed on our koozies, and more! We even used “elysexoxojack” as our wedding hashtag! The “xoxo” has since carried over into our home decor, which continues to make me smile and think of our wedding.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Having shopped through New Orleans with my clients, I knew I’d have to travel to find my dress, so my mother, bridesmaids, and aunts joined me in Houston for a long weekend. Ironically, the bridal attendant had to force me to try my dress on! After removing the one-shoulder strap and some floral appliqués, it was exactly what I had envisioned myself wearing.

As the guests arrived for our wedding ceremony, they were greeted by my six honorary bridesmaids at our confetti bar! They were instructed to make their own mix of navy and metallic confetti to toss at us as we walked back up the aisle as husband and wife. Our immediate family members were given wedding bells to ring after our kiss, and my sorority sisters were each handed a Killarney rose–my sorority’s signature flower.

Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. My dad walked me down a long, tree-lined aisle as a cello and violin played. Once the celebrant greeted the guests, my aunt delivered an original ode to love. This was followed by the reading of the poem “Love” by Roy Croft, a poem read during recruitment in Delta Zeta Sorority, by my maid of honor, and a contemporary version of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” sung by a dear friend. Thank goodness I had gifted Jack a “Mr.” hanky because I needed it a few times myself!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We wrote an original set of vows for both of us to repeat during the ceremony. These vows were a little more traditional, but still so meaningful to us.

Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? The cocktail party started outside of the tent at our champagne table, where we had rows of pre-poured champagne, each glass adorned with either a gold pom, a rock candy stick, or a rim of edible gold sugar. Our family and friends enjoyed cocktails around highboys with floral ties by the glow of our three 10-foot walls of candles.

New Orleans thrives on a buffet-style reception–they keep people moving, mingling, and dancing! Food was really important to Jack, as he’s a chef, but I am a picky eater, so we wanted to have food that could could represent us both. We offered elegant food like oysters bordelaise, turtle soup, red snapper filet with crawfish ravigot, cajun duck breast, and marsala mushroom-topped tenderloin to suit Jack’s sophisticated palate. Then, to represent my favorite foods, we served miniature Margherita pizzas and had a french fry and mac and cheese bar that guests could top with their favorite accoutrements!

Did you try anything new or nontraditional? Our guest book was a nod to the hopeless romantic in each of us! Like the Parisian love lock bridge, we asked guests to sign and add their well wishes for our relationship to a padlock, then lock in their love by attaching it to a trellis, which we continue to enjoy in the landscaping in our backyard!

What was your reception like? As cocktail hour came to an end, the drapes of the tent were pulled back to reveal the reception inside. A golden-draped tent with 13 different crystal chandeliers added the backdrop and lighting for our perfect night! Our tables were a mix of round and square tables, the chairs were a mix of gold chiavari, gold estate, and ghost chairs, and our three different specialty table linens added various navy textures to the room. The whole room twinkled!

Our cakes added some wow factor! The wedding cake was a four-tiered fondant cake accented with gold leafing and topped with our xoxo wooden cake topper! It sat on a gold bar cart–a gift from my aunts for my bridal shower–adorned with candles on the bottom shelf and on the floor around the base. The backdrop was a custom painted and gold-leafed wall that our florist created. After we cut our cake, we asked the ladies of the bridal party to join us for a cake pulls–a Southern tradition where each girl pulls a charm out of the cake that is said to predict their fate. The groom’s cake was four stacked king cakes, a New Orleans speciality, with a fleur de lis topper and purple, green, and gold Mardi Gras beads scattered on the table!

Don’t miss Elyse and Jack’s wedding film by our Blue Ribbon Vendor Bride Film below!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. In eighth grade, my parents moved to a new city right outside of New Orleans, where I made many new friends! One afternoon, I had joined my new girlfriends at the ballpark to watch their friends play baseball. After a foul ball was hit towards the stands, I scooped it up and chucked it back to the boys. Let’s just say that I didn’t throw like a girl! Impressed by my athleticism, Jack came to chat with me after the game. We spent many afternoons together at the ballpark after that, and the rest is history!
Tell us about a date you’ll always remember. For our one-year dating anniversary (keep in mind that we were 16 years old), Jack told me that he was going to cook pizza, my favorite meal, from scratch. He surprised me by writing “I <3 U” in pepperonis! He had already discovered his love for cooking (he's now a chef) and had gotten pretty good at it, so the fact that he simplified his dinner plans to cook this simple dish showed that he really understood and loved me. I’ve always told him just how special that meal made me feel! Describe the proposal: After the weather forced Jack to change his plans of proposing in the park in front of a photographer, the ring must have been burning a hole in his pocket. The very next day, he surprised me with another hand-tossed pizza, this one reading “Marry Me?” in pepperonis– a nod to our one-year anniversary date! Needless to say, we were too excited to eat the proposal pizza!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Elegant, custom, lively
How many guests attended your wedding? 200
What did the groom and groomsmen wear? Jack had purchased a light navy suit months before the wedding, but three weeks before the big day, an editorial arrived in the mail with a velvet, navy tux blazer that he had to have! It arrived just in time! He also wore my late grandfather’s Rolex watch that my father asked him to wear. During my dad’s rehearsal dinner speech, he said, “Jack, I would like you to wear this watch this weekend so that Elyse’s grandfather can be a part of his granddaughter’s wedding. Keep it on your wrist so he can feel your pulse quicken as you watch Elyse walk up the aisle in her beautiful wedding dress.” It meant so much to me to have my Dide there in spirit! The groomsmen all wore matching black suits with navy skinny ties. We also gifted them polka dot socks for a fun touch.
Tell us about your wedding flowers. I really wanted my bouquet to have a hand-picked, natural feel, so we used lush blooms in whites, ivories, and blush mixed with loose, cascading foliage to give it lots of movement. We applied gold leafing to a few leaves for a gilded touch! We used Frou Frou Chic hand-dyed ribbon to tie it all together. As a finishing touch, I had “Mrs. Jennings” in my handwriting turned into a gold bracelet, which we wrapped around the stems. Just as the bridesmaids’ dresses were different, I wanted their bouquets to be different as well. Each had the same filler flowers and foliage, but a unique focal flower! I also made each of the ladies a handwritten gold bracelet with their names to wrap around their bouquets.
Tell us a bit about your first dance. We danced to “Amazed” by Lonestar, which has been “our song” since we first started dating in 2003–the year the song became most popular. We sang every word of the song to each other while we danced! So romantic and nostalgic!
Tell us about your grand exit. In true dramatic fashion, we ended our reception with fireworks over the Mississippi River to celebrate not only our love, but all of the love that surrounds us each and every day! It was a truly magical ending to the most incredible weekend of our lives, and the perfect start to our forever!

Planning and Design: Elyse Jennings Weddings | Venue: Stella Plantation | Photographer: Greer Gattuso Photography | Videographer: Bride Film | Candles and Lighting: Luminous Events | Florist: Bee’s Wedding and Event Designs | Rentals: Perrier Rentals | Vintage Rentals: Distressed Rentals | Hair Stylist: Ginger Dickey | Makeup Artist: Ashley Sievert | Band: Groovy 7 | Catering: New Orleans Catering | Ceremony Musicians: New Orleans Finest Musicians | Officiant: Rev. Johnny Adams | Transportation: Bonomolo and Hotard | Save the Dates and Invitations: Tupelo Honey | Invitation and Envelope Calligraphy and Signage: Ebb and Flow | Cake Baker: Royal Cakery | Champagne Flutes: Anthropologie | Bride’s Gown: Ines Di Santo | Bridal Salon: Ivory Bridal Atelier | Bride’s Veil: Wedding Belles | Bride’s Earrings: Kendra Scott | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bride’s Robe: Flora Nikrooz | Menswear: Express | Bridesmaid Dresses: Adrianna Papell and Badgley Mischka | Tinsel Stirrers: Em for Marvelous | XOXO Cake Topper: My Girl Josephine | Bouquet Ribbon: Frou Frou Chic | Name Bracelets: Yvonne Boutique | XOXO Floor Decal: Off the Wall Expression | Confetti: Inside My Nest | Frosted Go Cups and Napkins: For Your Party | Koozies: Discount Mugs

Greer Gattuso, Bride Film, and Stella Plantation are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Brittany reply

    By far one of my favorite weddings. It is the perfect mix of elegant and fun. I might be using some of these ideas :-)

  2. avatar Champagne bar with tinsel stirrers – Em for Marvelous – reply

    […] of my very favorite weddings from the latest issue of Southern Weddings is on their blog today! Elyse and Jack, who began dating when they were 16, blew me away with all of the thoughtful and […]

  3. avatar Elyse reply

    Our wedding was the very best day of my life and it’s made me smile from ear to ear to relive it through the magazine and the blog! You ladies are just the sweetest! XOXO

  4. avatar Sybil reply

    Beautiful wedding! I love alll the detail and how special it seems for the couple.

  5. avatar Nicole reply

    Beautiful…so this is what a wedding looks like when a super talented wedding planner makes the dream of her wedding day come to life. Details, Details, Details, Love, Love, Love!!!

  6. avatar Brooke reply

    This was one of my favorite weddings from the new magazine! Seeing even more pictures on the blog is just so exciting! I absolutely love the confetti bar and the mini chicken and waffles!

  7. avatar 5 Southern Wedding Traditions Any Couple Can Incorporate reply

    […] See the full wedding here! […]

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I watched one of my all-time favorite movies, Steel Magnolias, over the weekend, and was reminded of a particularly wonderful line: “Laughing through tears is my favorite emotion.” While there is so much joy that comes with a wedding, it can also bring up some sadness, especially when a loved one can’t be there. Megan and Ryan did the most beautiful job celebrating their love and all they had to be grateful for at their wedding, while at the same time, paying touching tribute to Megan’s late father. Don’t miss Megan’s heartwarming substitute to her father-daughter dance–it brought on a few tears in the Southern Weddings office. The emotions in everyone’s faces, captured by Happy Everything Co., show so clearly how meaningful and special this day was to everyone involved!

Ryan proposed at sunset on April 27, 2013 at our favorite beach spot. He pretended to lose his ID to get me back on the beach later that day, and while searching for it, we came upon a beautiful bottle with a message in it for me! The message was a list of reasons why Ryan loved me. It was so sweet, and when I read the last reason, he got down on one knee and proposed! I had never been more excited or felt so special!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We decided not to do a first look because we wanted to keep with tradition.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our pastor read scriptures from Hebrews 13:4, Genesis 2:18, Proverbs 2:17, and my favorite, Song of Solomon 2:10.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I wanted all of the music to contribute to the intimate feel of our wedding. I love The Piano Guys, especially their version of Christina Perry’s “A Thousand Years,” so it was important to me to have a live pianist and cellist present.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The decor was our favorite. We mixed in lots of colors and things I loved. My mom collected most of it from yard sales and thrift stores, which was so meaningful and special. We also had family and friends help with specific projects that related to their gifts of painting or building things, etc. We tried to keep everything local, because we wanted to support the community I grew up in.

My dad recently passed away, and he had always talked about looking forward to my wedding day. In place of a father-daughter dance, I chose eight men that knew my daddy and loved Jesus like daddy. I wrote them each a letter several weeks before the wedding, asking them to be a part of my day. In the letters, I wrote about things I remembered about them and how they influenced me while I was growing up. They all agreed, and I chose the song “I Loved Her First,” which was sung by my daddy’s favorite cousin. The men had asked if they could pray a blessing over me and Ryan, and so they laid their hands on us and prayed for us and our marriage. My daddy would’ve been so happy!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Ryan and I were introduced through mutual friends in August 2011, and at first, we were not impressed with each other at all! Several months later, we reconnected with the help of our friends. Our official first date was in December 2011 and we have been together ever since! For a lot of our relationship, he was at Fort Rucker, AL, going to school to obtain his Apache pilot license, which has been his dream since childhood. I was working for a fashion designer in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. Ryan would come visit me on the weekends, and our relationship blossomed.
When did y’all get married? March 29, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
Describe your wedding flowers. We wanted the flowers to be shabby chic and vintage-inspired. We used peonies, English roses, and tulips. My bouquet also included a red rose in memory of my daddy. The bridesmaid bouquets were all white, and my bouquet was a combination of pastel pinks, peaches, and mints.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had three different cakes: almond, key lime, and strawberry. I wanted a vintage look with lots of pretty textures and colors, and we used different cake stands and all different cake toppers. We also had homemade ice cream and a groom’s cake that my grandparents made. The ice cream especially was a huge hit!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My new was my dress, my blue was my shoes, and my borrowed and old were my parents’ wedding bands, which were tied around my bouquet.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Since this wedding was an “away game” for Ryan and his friends and family, our goal was to show them our Southern hospitality and our love for Jesus. Since it was chilly, we offered shawls and blankets for people to use. We also played bluegrass music during cocktail hour!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? We planned the whole wedding from a distance. I lived in Missouri, while my mom lived in Georgia, where the wedding was held. We worked together though, and had a great time planning. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We bought all of the decor and details at yard sales and thrift stores to create the look we were going for.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Have fun with it and don’t stress over the little things. It will all come together.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are just looking forward to being one family, and we’re excited for this next adventure in our lives!

Photographer: Happy Everything Co. / Videographer: Remedy Wedding Films / Planner: Cyndi Durham and Lindsey Watson Haynes / Venue: White Oaks Barn / Florist: Randall Adams / Wedding Cakes: Sweet Startt’s / Caterer: Du Monde’s Catering / Band: The Park Band / Bride’s Gown: Allure Bridal / Paper Products: Occasional Ink / Bride’s Earrings: BaubleBar / Hair and Makeup: The Studio at 120 / Bride’s Shoes: BHLDN / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alfred Sung / Men’s Attire: The Tuxedo Shop

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Dana reply

    such a beautiful dress!

  2. avatar Lara reply

    What a special father-daughter dance. Just beautiful.

  3. avatar Tomasz reply

    Fantastic :-)

  4. avatar Jessica reply

    Megan’s father-daughter dance was the perfect tribute to her dad. So, so touching!

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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