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Wedding planning is filled with so many decisions, some more stressful than others. But, of course, the biggest choice you’re making is to spend your life with one another! Diane’s favorite part of the ceremony she and Mark crafted themselves was “You fell in love by chance, but you’re here today because you’re making a choice. You both are choosing each other.” Another wedding decision that fell in the easy-to-make category was their venue–Diane and Mark never looked at any other places, but knew The Bleckley Inn was they one for them. They personalized the beautiful space with DIY pieces created by Diane and her maid of honor, including that amazing ceremony backdrop–they handmade it to be over seven feet tall!

Thanks to Ryan & Alyssa for sharing Diane and Mark’s wedding with us!

I had tried on over 50 dresses and couldn’t find a dress that reflected my personality. I finally decided to try on dresses that were over my budget and came across a designer named Leanne Marshall. I tried on my dress and instantly fell in love. As I tried on more and more dresses, I found myself comparing every one to this dress. It was the perfect mix of romantic and fun, but best of all, IT HAD POCKETS!! It was unlike any dress I have ever seen. When people saw it, they all said the same thing: “That is such a Diane dress.” I felt like it was made for me.

Describe your wedding flowers. I love greenery and bouquets that look like you just walked through a garden and picked up flowers to bring home to your mother. My florist took my vision and ran with it. We used white spray roses, pale pink stock, seeded eucalyptus, silver dollar eucalyptus, dusty miller, hypericum berries, baby’s breath, wax flower, and spirea.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We decided to write the majority of our ceremony script, and while we were doing research, we came across some sweet lines to incorporate into the script. A personal favorite was, “You fell in love by chance, but you’re here today because you’re making a choice. You both are choosing each other. You’ve chosen to be with someone who enhances you, who makes you think, makes you smile, and makes every day brighter”.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Five years ago, I was a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding, which took place at The Bleckley, and I fell in love with it! When we got engaged, we did not look at any other venue. This was our first and only choice.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed a bracelet from a bridesmaid. Another bridesmaid brought a blue garter that she had been worn at her wedding (which I was a part of and caught the bouquet at). My something old was a pair of antique earrings given to me by Mark’s mother, which had been worn by his grandmother. The new item I wore was a wedding gift from Mark. He surprised me with a Clemson class ring, which I have always wanted.

My matron of honor is the most amazing baker and cake artist. She came up with a remarkable design based off of my love of Aztec and geometrical design. There were three separate cakes, and each tier differed in size, texture, and technique. My favorite feature was the way she hand-painted a beautiful watercolor design on wafer paper, which she then transferred to the bottom tier of one cake. The cake we cut in to was a vanilla cake with fresh strawberries and strawberry Swiss meringue buttercream, topped with a white chocolate drip. The other cakes were a mix of vanilla cake with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream and chocolate cake with dark chocolate fudge buttercream.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. It all started in the summer of 2007. Mark and I were both students at Clemson University and applied for a bartending position at a bar/restaurant that was opening up in downtown. We worked side by side for two years and casually hung out with the same crowd. One day, a coworker jokingly sent a flirtatious text to me from Mark’s phone, which sparked an exchange of messages and funny conversations. Over the course of a few weeks, we started seeing each other in a different light. We began dating in early 2009 and became inseparable. We maintained a long distance relationship while I finished my last semester in Clemson. After graduation, I had a big decision to make: move back home to Charleston, or head up North to Virginia with no job and no friends and take a chance on this relationship. It was the best decision I ever made. After six years of dating, two years of living together and raising a stubborn but adorable little French bulldog, Mark popped the question!
Tell us about the proposal! On a random Sunday afternoon, I had been out photographing a maternity shoot. When I arrived home, I gathered my equipment and walked towards the door leading into the kitchen. As soon as I grabbed the handle, something caught my eye–there was a note stuck to the door. It read: “10 Reasons I Love You. Please take your time and read each one before proceeding. I love you! -Mark.” I opened the kitchen door to find a bunch of rose petals creating a path for me to follow. As I made my way into the kitchen, I found the next note: “You are naturally beautiful. You look gorgeous with or without makeup. I love you!” As I continued to follow the path, the notes just kept getting better, and I started to realize that this was not just a sweet gesture–it was much more. The last note was at the opening to the living room. I turned the corner and the world around me melted away. There was Mark down on one knee. He started speaking, and I started crying. I dropped my camera equipment, and the words he had gone over and over in his head didn’t even sound like English to me. All I heard was “Will you marry me?” I fell to the floor and into Mark’s arms. I was so surprised and in shock. What went from an ordinary day of photography turned in to the most memorable day of my life. We popped a bottle of champagne and celebrated at an amazing dinner on the water.
When did y’all get married? April 23, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 160
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No, we did not do a first look. We wanted to wait until that perfect moment when our eyes met for the first time as I walked down the aisle. It was magical. He did not take his eyes off of me.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The triangle backdrop. My matron of honor and I came up with a design that would be the focal point of our ceremony backdrop. We measured, cut, nailed, painted, and screwed each triangle so that the whole thing would stand over seven feet tall. It was the largest puzzle I have ever done!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our food. We had shrimp and grits, pulled pork, BBQ pulled chicken, cornbread, and smoked gouda macaroni and cheese.
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 saved money in many different ways. I am a graphic designer and DIY junkie, so between my creative MOH and me, we designed, created, and implemented every detail, from the invitations, to the koozies, to the table runners, to the triangle paper garland. We may have saved money, but we didn’t save time.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t procrastinate. Stay organized.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Starting a family.

Photographer: Ryan & Alyssa Photography | Planner: Kellie Conner of Jubliee Wedding and Events | Venue: The Bleckley Inn | Florist: Kimberly Cabe | Cake Baker: Jennifer Grove | Caterer: Sullivans Metropolitan Grill | Rentals: Event Rentals Anderson | Band: Six Stylez | Bride’s Gown: Leanne Marshall | Bride’s Shoes: Steve Madden | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan and Adrianna Papell | Menswear: Jos A. Bank | Cake Topper: Touch Of Clay by Dawn Stubitsch

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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    The South is chock-full of beautiful venues, so I always love when we see a wedding at a stunning, new-to-me space! With its dreamy, architectural details, and manicured grounds, Harwelden Mansion could not have made a lovelier setting for Lauren and Tony’s wedding. Originally a private home, the mansion provided an elegant, yet cozy, atmosphere where Lauren and Tony could celebrate with the ones they love. Ever Something‘s naturally beautiful blooms perfectly accentuated the romantic space with a freshly-picked-from-the-garden feel. In addition, Lauren’s mother and grandfather lovingly tended to rosemary and lavender plants all summer so they could supplement the table arrangements with their aromatic leaves–such a sweet touch that smelled just as pretty as it looked!

    Big SW hugs to Fleckography for sharing Lauren and Tony’s wedding with us!

    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I’ve never been a girly girl, so although I admire fashion, I wasn’t very into the whole process. I did a lot of research online before ever setting foot in a store, and, even when I did, I was still considering non-traditional options in the back of my mind. I went to three stores in all, once with my mom, another time with my aunt, and the last solo. I’m glad I went to the final shop because I knew when I found my dress, it was the one for me. When the dress arrived, it needed some minor alterations, so I took it to Miss Jackson’s, a Tulsa landmark and one of the only department stores in Oklahoma specializing in high-end fashion. The process was so glamorous and the attention to detail was exquisite. I’m so glad I had the experience because only one week after our wedding, the store announced it was closing its doors after “105 years of style.”

    Natural beauty was a big part of our aesthetic. I knew that Ever Something here in Tulsa would create arrangements that looked freshly picked from a garden, so I was not too concerned with the specific blooms. After giving Taylor and Katie the color palette, I mentioned I would like to incorporate fresh herbs, like lavender and rosemary. They did the rest! My bouquet was lush, complex, and smelled amazing. We also envisioned a greenery garland to hang over the entrance to the mansion, which was the backdrop to the outdoor ceremony. Another garland hung gracefully from a chandelier over the buffet table. On tables, we had small arrangements that were similar to my bouquet. My sweet family asked to help with decorations, so I suggested they help supplement table arrangements. My mom knew about my love of fresh herbs, so she and my grandfather lovingly tended rosemary and lavender plants all summer, just so we could use the leaves of those plants in votive candles throughout the reception area. It was such a nice touch and, like my bouquet, smelled wonderful.

    What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Harwelden Mansion in midtown Tulsa was built in the 1920s and is a gothic tudor-style home on the National Register of Historic Places. The original architectural details are still in beautiful condition, and the house and grounds lend themselves to a dreamy, vintage setting. Harwelden was originally a private home, so we loved the idea of having a wedding that felt simultaneously elegant and cozy.

    What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? This was my favorite part of the ceremony. We chose several quotes and readings from Carl Sagan, Ekhart Tolle, Mark Twain, and Jim Henson. We created our own concept around how rare it is to find your soulmate, the person you love most, in the midst of such a vast universe. Our friend performed the ceremony and he wove them together so beautifully that people asked us for copies.

    Our families and friends were so generous with their time. Having their help with everything from moving chairs and tables to solving a pre-ceremony sewing emergency was vital. It wouldn’t have been the same without them, and those are the gifts we’ll remember.

    What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We are lucky enough to be involved professionally with a lot of vendors. The nonprofit organization I work for owns the venue we used, and Tony’s company (that same restaurant where we met) catered the reception. A friend sold us wine at a discount, and our beer was donated by a local brewery who worked with Tony frequently. Being able to craft a beautiful day with vendors we knew personally was amazing, not only because it saved us a lot of money, but because we got to work with our friends!

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met at work! I was making ends meet during my time at the University of Tulsa by waitressing at an Irish pub downtown. Tony was bartending at the bar next door, but he moonlighted once a week at the pub. My first day happened to be on the day of his weekly shift. The first thing he said to me was, “Don’t bother remembering my name, you won’t see much of me.” We managed to get to know each other regardless! I was drawn to Tony’s charm, his sense of humor, and his love of music and books. We spent the next several years in Virginia, ultimately returning to Oklahoma. We clicked immediately and have been filling each other’s lives with laughter ever since.
    Tell us all about the proposal! He always surprises me on my birthday, December 23, and I celebrated my 30th in 2014. I knew we were going to a nice dinner, and when we arrived at the restaurant, there were my best friend and her husband from out of town! I thought the surprise ended there, but after dinner, we walked a few blocks to a city park that has beautiful lights around the holiday season. My best friend’s husband, Todd (an amateur photographer), wanted to “test out his new camera” on the lights. We posed for a few photos, and the next thing I knew, Tony was down on one knee and Todd was snapping away. After spending eight years together, It turned out to be the best Christmas gift we could have given our friends and family, and my favorite birthday yet!
    When did y’all get married? October 24, 2015
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 50 at the ceremony and 150 at the reception
    Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We fell in love over music, so it was important to us to incorporate it into our day. It ended up being one of my favorite details! Tony was in charge and chose a 1960s-themed soundtrack. At the ceremony, we played all Beatles and Beach Boys songs. I walked down the aisle to M. Ward’s instrumental cover of “You Still Believe in Me,” a Beach Boys original. The reception was a party from the start–we played all 1960s R&B. People loved it, especially our parents’ generation! Our first dance was to Sam Cooke’s “Nothing Can Change This Love.” I danced with my dad to Buddy Holly’s “True Love Ways.” Music was also the theme for our party favors. Keeping with a DIY sensibility, Tony curated a mixtape, and I designed the cover art. We made and printed every detail. During those long days of wedding projects, we found that listening to and talking about possible tracks was a great way to relax and spend time together.
    How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? After being together for eight years, we started the wedding planning process with a firm commitment to each other. Advice from family and friends kept us grounded, but planning the wedding together taught us a lot about our shared vision. Our friend married us and was great about pre-wedding sessions, so it was a fun experience to relive our relationship as we discussed the ceremony with him.
    What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? We both have family members with physical limitations, so our timeline had to accommodate people who may not be able to stand for long periods of time, or who needed to leave early. We made it work by communicating with specific vendors and making the plans for group photos and other moments early in the planning process.
    What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Stick to your guns, but be graceful. If you have a difference of opinion, you’ll most likely be disagreeing with someone you love very much. It’s important to honor them and listen, but to be fair to yourself. If someone wants to help, delegate! Most of all, remember to have fun. At the end of the day, the details fade in comparison to the feeling of being surrounded by so much love all at once.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? For now, we are enjoying our time as newlyweds, cooking each other extravagant dinners and spending time together. We are also looking forward to future travels as a married couple!

    Photographer: Fleckography | Venue: Harwelden Mansion | Florist: Ever Something | Cake Baker: Ann’s Bakery | Caterer: McNellie’s Group Catering | Rentals: ABCO Rents Tulsa | DJ: Hank Hanewinkel III | Paper Products: Tortoise Belly | Bride’s Gown: “Rosemary” by Sottero & Midgley | Bride’s Hair Accessories: Kathy Johnson | Hair Stylist: First Ward | Bride’s Shoes: “Sofia” in Blue by Betsey Johnson | Groom’s Attire: Beshara’s Formal Wear

    marissa Written with love by Marissa
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      I have a little bit of a habit of calling dibs on introducing y’all to Texas weddings–from ranch celebrations to stylish downtown soirées, I love them all! Melissa and John’s wedding is certainly no exception, especially when I spotted Melissa’s gorgeous Amsale gown and read about the Tex Mex-inspired details she and John included in their day (a nod to the Cinco de Mayo party that kicked off their relationship). I love that, as a result, their wedding day was completely elegant, but undeniably fun–surely, a perfect fit for these Texan sweethearts!

      Thanks so much to Elisabeth Carol for sharing this gorgeous day with us!

      My something borrowed was a pair of Jude Francis earrings from one of my best friends. My something blue was my monogram stitched on a garter that also included the monogram of a best friend who was married in April 2014. We will continue this tradition until all our friends are married! My something old were pictures of my grandparents in framed charms. Both sets of my grandparents are no longer with me, and these charms were pinned to my bouquet. Lastly, my something new was my Jimmy Choo shoes. I can’t wait to wear them again on anniversaries and special occasions.

      Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My sister-in-law sent me a picture of a dress she saw, and I instantly fell in love. My mom, sister, and I had plans to go dress shopping in Dallas the weekend before Thanksgiving, when we would all be together. The bridal department in Neiman Marcus agreed to ship the dress from their Chicago store, so we started there. It was the first dress I tried on, but I knew I wanted to try on lots more in various styles. After trying on twenty or so, I put the first dress back on and knew it was the one. We purchased the dress and cancelled the rest of my bridal appointments. Ironically, it was November 21, 2014 when I said “yes” to my dress. It was so fun knowing that in exactly one year, I would be wearing this dress down the aisle!

      Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? This was one of the hardest decisions for me while wedding planning. I had always imagined the church doors opening and seeing my husband for the first time, but after a lot of thought, we decided to do a first look. The sun was going to set early on our November wedding date and I knew I wanted pictures together outside! Additionally, I wanted to remember our vows at the altar–I knew I would be too nervous if I waited until the ceremony to see John. The first look allowed us to spend a good amount of time together on our wedding day and share the true emotion with each other when seeing one another for the first time.

      What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My childhood friend read Colossians 3:12-14. It was so special to include her in our ceremony, because we grew up together, attending the same church and church camp. She and her husband will be a special part of our marriage going forward, and a couple who will hold us accountable to the reading we selected for our ceremony.

      We decided to get married in Houston because it was such a special part of our relationship over our four years of dating! It also simplified the wedding planning process to get married in the city we were living in. We got married at the church John grew up in because it was important to us to get married in the church we would eventually raise a family in. Because my family is not from Houston, I wanted all our venues to be close by, to make it easier on our guests. I loved the traditional setting and classic decor of the Houston Country Club.

      Describe your wedding flowers. We had all shades of white and ivory with dark green and touches of lime. I chose loose and airy, garden-style arrangements with lots of texture. I also wanted flowers that went with the season. The flowers included hydrangeas, eskimo roses, polo roses, majolica spray roses, and tulips. For the touch of green, the florist added trick dianthus, viburnum, and magnolia leaves. She also included seasonal blooming branches and curly willow for some texture.

      My wedding cake was a four-tiered classic white cake with fresh flowers in between each layer. John’s groom’s cake was a chocolate square base with a replica of Texas A&M’s football helmets. The SEC logo was even included on his cake!

      Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The Mexican fiesta flair we incorporated into our reception was a fun reminder of John’s first trip to Austin for my Cinco De Mayo party back in 2011. I got ready in a white Mi Golondrina dress, which was hand-stitched in Mexico. John and his wedding party wore colorful suspenders made in Mexico and South America. A mariachi band entertained guests during the cocktail hour of our reception. John’s signature drink was a Cuba Libra: rum and Coke with fresh lime. Colorful flower crowns and maracas were brought out to the dance floor when the dance party started–even the band’s female saxophonist grabbed one! Guests launched colorful confetti before John and I left in a golf cart decorated in bright Mexican paper flowers.

      How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. John and I attended rival colleges. When we met, he had just graduated from Texas A&M and I had another year and a half at The University of Texas. John’s high school friend was dating my college best friend, and they invited us both to Galveston, Texas for a beach weekend! I can still remember the first time I saw John. We had such a great weekend with friends, but parted ways on Sunday. A year later, the same friends invited us both back to Galveston again, and this time, we really hit it off. Before parting ways on Sunday, John asked for my number and I don’t think we have gone a day without speaking since. John was living in his hometown of Houston, and I still had a semester left of college in Austin. We were unsure if anything would come of our relationship, due to the distance. My best friends devised a plan that I would host a Cinco de Mayo party at my house and we would invite John to Austin to visit. John accepted the invitation and came in for the weekend. We continued to visit each other, and eventually agreed to date long distance. I graduated in December 2011 and accepted a job in Houston. Both John and Houston became very special to me as I settled into adult life.
      Tell us all about the proposal! John had planned to surprise me after work on one particular Friday night in October 2014. I almost ruined his entire proposal plan when I, unexpectedly, finished work early that day. John usually leaves the office an hour before me on Fridays, so I’m sure he was in full-on panic mode when I told him I was heading home. Once home, I decided to go for a run around my neighborhood. When I got back, John’s car was parked outside. I opened the front door, and there was John on one knee. I was so sweaty and so surprised! We spent some time soaking in the moment before calling our family and friends to share the good news. John had made reservations for us at a restaurant I was dying to try, and told me we would meet up with friends at our favorite bar afterwards to celebrate. After dinner, John insisted we go home and drop off the flowers that he surprised me with at dinner. I was anxious to meet up with my best friends, but agreed. We turned onto the street, and in the middle of it, our closest friends and family were standing there holding a huge sign that said, “Congrats John and Mel!” He had a planned an engagement party and thought to invite our closest friends and family. The next day, we headed to the beach with the couple that introduced us. It was so fun being back where it all started!
      When did y’all get married? November 21, 2015
      How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
      How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? John and I instituted weekly date nights, which is something we want to have in our marriage too! Some weeks, it was just a quick, weeknight meal, while other weeks, it was a planned outing. We set a rule that we couldn’t talk about the wedding during this time. This was hard for me! Life will get busy and we hope weekly dates will help us slow down and enjoy time with just each other and no other distractions.
      What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? The sweetest detail from our wedding was incorporating a special moment during our ceremony to honor John’s late father. When John and his brother walked their mother down the aisle to seat her, they first went up to the altar and lit a candle in his memory, which burned throughout our ceremony. John’s family could look past John and his brother, who was his best man, and see the candle burning behind them. It was a sweet reminder that his father was with us on our wedding day. We gifted John’s mother with a lantern to hold the candle after the wedding as a keepsake.
      What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? So many to choose from! John and I would have to agree that our last dance of the night was the most memorable moment of our wedding day (probably because we were on the biggest high from the night)! While the guests were lining up for our reception exit, John and I shared a private dance together. I don’t think I have ever been so happy in my life or felt so loved. We had just danced the night away surrounded by our family and friends, and then having one last moment for just the two of us for a dance to the band’s encore was unforgettable.
      What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We loved that the holidays fell right after our wedding. It was so fun making new traditions and holiday memories together. We plan to squeeze in as many weekend getaways we can throughout the year, but our calendar is packed full with engagement celebrations and weddings. We are looking forward to celebrating these wonderful friends in 2016.

      Photographer: Elisabeth Carol | Videographer: Philip Harbuck | Planner: Sarah Bett | Ceremony Venue: Chapelwood United Methodist Church | Reception Venue, Florist, and Caterer: Houston Country Club | Cake Baker: Susie’s Cakes | Linen Rentals: Aztec | Chair Rentals: A Finer Event | Lighting: Intelligent Lighting Design | Band: Password Band | Save the Dates: Clara Doyle Designs | Custom Stamps: Zazzle | Invitations: October Ink | Calligraphy: The Southern Inkwell | Reception Signage: Little Carbao Studio | Monogram Designs: Mallory Hope | Bride’s Gown: “Lenox” by Amsale | Bridal Salon and Veil: Neiman Marcus Dallas | Hair Stylist: Albert Dominguez of The Hairdressers | Makeup Artist: Jennifer Aronson | Bride’s Shoes: “Isabel” in Champagne Glitter by Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Elena” in Silver Bells by Joanna August | Menswear: Jos. A Bank | Photo Booth: Texas Party Booth | Custom Water Bottles: Papellerie | Confetti Launcher Sticks: Flutterfetti | Wedding Programs and Welcome Boxes: Well Wish Tree Paper Goods | Favors: DGZ Chocolates

      lisa Written with love by Lisa
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