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Though the majority of their relationship was long distance, Meredith and Ben were forever connected, starting from their very first lunch date. These two would travel to one another whenever they could, even if that was only once a month. While being away from your loved one can be challenging, these two used their dating relationship as a building block for their marriage and turned their engagement into a time of intentional planning and preparation. Their joyful celebration at Fearrington Village was filled with beautiful bright sunflowers and sweet family-inspired details, like the photo display that Meredith made with her dad. Filled with family members’ photos, it was a lovely symbol of two sides becoming one.

Big SW hugs to our friend and Blue Ribbon Vendor Graham Terhune for sharing this sweet day with us!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Oh yes! I love this special tradition. My something borrowed was my grandmother’s ring. I was so honored to wear it. My something blue was my garter and my shoes. My something old were the forks with “his” and “hers” inscriptions on them that we used to eat our cake. My something new was a pearl beaded clutch that was given to me as a gift the day before the wedding.

Fearrington Village had everything we could ever imagine in a venue. We wanted an outdoor ceremony, and I wanted a barn setting for the reception. We also wanted our wedding to be close to Raleigh, near most of our family and friends. I have slowly fallen in love with the little village in Pittsboro, North Carolina.

Ben and I are very traditional and decided to see each other for the first time when I walked down the aisle with my dad. We did talk to each other back to back before the ceremony though. I loved being able to hear Ben’s voice and hold his hand. We talked, laughed, and prayed together. It was a moment of our wedding day I will never forget.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Ben and I chose to write our own vows. We wanted to say some of the same things to each other, so we brainstormed ideas and came up with our lifelong commitments to each other together. My favorite phrase was, “I vow to love you unconditionally and sacrificially as Christ has loved me. I vow to be your faithful wife, your biggest encourager, and your best friend.” Ben’s favorite phrase was, “I vow to be your faithful husband and the humble leader of our family.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Ben and I wanted our ceremony to reflect Christ’s love and how thankful we are for Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Walking down the aisle, we had the song “It Is Well” by Bethel Music played. The song “Lord, I Need You” was also played as Ben and I took communion and prayed together. It was a powerful moment as we prayed and asked the Lord to be with us and to help us remember that above all else, we desperately need Him.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food we served was a homestyle Southern meal–we had fried chicken, pulled pork, potato salad, cornbread, peach cobbler, and much more. Our venue added to the Southern style of our wedding as well, since we had the ceremony outside under the pecan trees and the reception was in a barn.

I loved the special display of pictures we had of our family members, showing the different sides now becoming one. This was a project I made with my dad, and it was so nice to see it come to life.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Ben and I were friends in high school, but we were two years apart in age. We reconnected over Christmas break during my sophomore year at East Carolina University and Ben’s senior year at Auburn. As Ben was getting ready to leave to finish his final semester of college, he told me after our very first lunch date at Panera that we would stay in touch! I have talked to Ben every single day since and we have always and will forever be connected with each other.
Tell us all about the proposal! The majority of our relationship was long distance, and Ben and I would travel to one another whenever we could. We saw each other once a month, at most. After finishing my junior year at ECU, Ben came home for Memorial Day weekend. I was very excited because it had been a little over a month since we had seen each other. Little did I know, it was about to be the best date night of my life! We tried a new restaurant in downtown Raleigh and then went for a walk around town afterward. We made it to the Capitol building, where we stopped, and Ben asked me to marry him right there in the very place where our love began. His sister was nearby and captured the moment on camera. We went back to his house and then mine to celebrate with our families. It was by far the most special date night we have ever had!
When did y’all get married? May 23, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I knew exactly what I wanted in a wedding dress, and that was lace. When I added the pearl belt with a bow in the back, I knew my dress was the right choice for me.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Ben and I planned for our marriage just as much, if not more, than our wedding day. We met with spiritual leaders in both of our lives for several weeks prior to our wedding. It was a learning experience that was difficult, but rewarding. We are currently reading the book, “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Do not focus too much on the specifics; instead, enjoy and celebrate the special commitment that you have chosen to make. It will be a perfect wedding day because it will be unique to you!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Ben and I just moved into our new apartment in Atlanta. We are loving decorating our home and filling our walls with many of our wedding pictures to help us remember our very special day! We are hoping to travel as much as possible in the next few years.

Photographer: Graham Terhune Photography / Videographer: Josh Sliffe Videography / Planner: Gilda McDaniel of Fearrington Village / Venue and Caterer: Fearrington Village / Florist: Mary Stevens / Cake Baker: Fearrington Village / DJ: Joe Bunn DJ Company / Special Details: Paisley & Jade / Paper Products: Val Marie Paper / Bride’s Gown: “8627” by Justin Alexander / Bride’s Veil and Belt: Alfred Angelo / Hair Stylist: J & F Gemelli / Makeup Artist: Bobbi Brown / Bride’s Shoes and Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew / Menswear: Tommy Hilfiger

Graham Terhune, Joe Bunn DJ Company, and Paisley & Jade are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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    Friends, there is so much to love about today’s home tour, our kick-off of 2015! My first impression of Val and Tyler’s bungalow was that it was simple, calming, and clutter-free, so I wasn’t surprised to read that that’s the look they’re going for: “Having a peaceful, simple home is super important to us. We have places in our home that look bare and probably unfinished to others, but to us, it is perfect. It is so easy to outgrow a house, simply by filling it with too much stuff.” Read on for much more wisdom from this sweet and creative pair, and an exciting discount from Val’s shop!

    Big hugs to Ashleigh Jayne for these lovely photos!

    The couple: Valerie (29) and Tyler (30)
    Years married: 4 1/2
    Where they live: Lafayette, Louisiana
    Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Valerie is the owner of Val Marie Paper and designs wedding stationery and prayer journals. Tyler is owner of Pixelbrush Studios and develops websites. Two business owners means date nights involve trying to figure out how many tables a restaurant has to seat to turn a profit or daydreaming about our goals.

    Tell us your love story in one sentence. We became best friends and stayed that way for a year and a half, tried to start a business together (!), and finally realized we wanted to be best friends for life.
    What is your favorite part of being married? The laughter. We are so silly and weird together. That feeling that you are totally accepted just as you are is amazing.
    What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? You hear people talk about getting comfortable and the relationship changing from puppy love to becoming an old married couple, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are incredible perks to being an “old married couple.” You learn to communicate, so big fights are now short “discussions,” and once you learn how to be a “we,” you are more laid back with things.

    Tell us a little bit about where you live. We just bought our first home this past summer. We live in traditional neighborhood development and are surrounded by family. There is always something fun happening here!
    Tell us about the process of moving in together. This was pretty easy. Tyler tells everyone his life was definitely upgraded when he got married–sheets on the mattress, purified water filters, and everything! ;) Our style has developed and changed over the years, especially as we’ve both had to hone in on our business brands. It has influenced our home life tremendously, and we are much more confident with our style now!

    Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Our living room. We have almost two walls completely covered in windows that overlook a bunch of big oaks and our porches.
    What most makes your house feel like home? Our house was prayed for for so long. Being here is a constant reminder of how God’s plan is so much bigger (and better) than ours. We were originally going to build a house somewhere else several years ago, but Tyler got cold feet. I was devastated and tired of waiting, but didn’t want to push it if God was leading him in this decision. Had I forced it, we never would be where we are now! There are days when I’ll start the “I wish our house had…” and I have to snap back to reality and gratitude for the many blessings we have.
    Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? We splurged on the house, which has great bones, so we’ve been able to save on actual items. We have tons of Ikea furniture, World Market pieces, and hand-me-downs.

    What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Two moments really stand out for me. We wrote our own vows and shared them with each other for the first time during our first look. Also, when we got to the front of the aisle, I took a deep breath and looked out at all the faces in the crowd. This was my way of switching gears and slowing down to enjoy the celebration.
    How do you remember your wedding in your home? We have our favorite print from our wedding hanging in our bedroom and a shelf in our living room with our wedding album and polaroids.

    Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? The dishes. We got simple ivory dishes from Bed, Bath & Beyond. They definitely seemed like a boring choice at the time, but we still love them!
    What different decisions, if any, would you make for your registry if you knew then what you knew now? A nicer knife set. We got one of the least expensive ones because we thought knives were knives. It’s already time to invest in a new set!
    Who cooks dinner? Tyler does! This started when I was nauseous while pregnant with Vivi. I never really took the kitchen back over once we realized he was the better cook!
    What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? Tyler gets so creative, we rarely have the same meal twice, but he does indulge me by serving a lemon chicken pasta from The Pioneer Woman every few weeks. In the winter on weekends, it’s a chicken and sausage gumbo.

    What’s your favorite place to find recipes? Tyler loves going to YouTube for cooking techniques. I hear a lot about a “Chef John.” ;)
    How does your family handle finances? Do you use a set budget? I handle the daily finances and Tyler is in charge of big picture finances (like retirement and taxes).
    What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? We just started doing a family meeting on Sunday mornings during a big, relaxing breakfast before church. We go over each other’s schedules and any special things we need to know. I also talk about un-fun topics like health insurance and other things that I don’t like to bog our weeknights down with.

    Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Our favorite at-home date nights involve what we call the “super couch.” We move our mattress into the living room and eat take out in bed and watch a movie! After a long work day, it’s the perfect way to relax.
    What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? I tidy the house before he gets home and always try to greet him at the door with a smile and a kiss!

    Do you have children? What are your hopes and plans for the future in this area? Yes! One sweet 16-month-old named Vivi Mae. We are hoping to add to our family soon!
    Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… more of the positives and less of the negatives. I know it’s good to be prepared, and I don’t think we need to hide the hard stuff, but I remember being engaged and burnt out hearing about how hard things were going to be for the first week/month/year.

    Is there anything else about your home or family life that you think our readers would be interested in? Having a peaceful, simple home is super important to us. We have places in our home that look bare and probably unfinished to others, but to us, it is perfect. It is so easy to outgrow a house, simply by filling it with too much stuff. Living in a two-bedroom, 800-square-foot apartment with a newborn and a stationery shop taught us so much about simplifying our things. Our mission when we doubled our space with our new home was to not lose the white space, and instead, to embrace it.

    We’re so grateful to Val and Tyler for sharing their hearts and home with us! Be sure to follow along with Val on her blog and on instagram. And be sure to stop by her shop – Val just released her “Marriage Field Guide,” a conversation-starter and guide for married and engaged couples. She’s offering 10% off to y’all with code ILOVESWMAG!

    A little reminder: we’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – not just folks who write blogs (though we love them, too!), but also your inspiring friend, super talented cousin, or neighbor with the cutest house – the kind of person everyone would love to “e-meet.” If that sounds like you or someone you know, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!

    emily Written with love by Emily
    6 Comments
    1. avatar Emily reply

      Your house is adorable, and I love your thoughts on keeping it clutter free! And I am super jealous of you living so close to so much family! :)

    2. avatar Valerie reply

      Thanks so much for having me!! I have absolutely loved this series and so honored to be a part of it! :)

    3. avatar Valerie reply

      Yes! Emily, it is so nice. I think we both were a little nervous at first but it’s been a great thing!

    4. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

      Oh I love Val! She has such a sweet spirit :)

    5. avatar Mackenzie reply

      What brand are the shades on the bedroom windows?

    6. avatar Melissa Joynson reply

      Love the simplicity of this home! It is beautiful. If you do not mind me asking, what is the name of the blue paint color you used in the bedroom? It is lovely.

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    Alex may not be a born and raised Southerner, but if she isn’t a Southern belle at heart, then I don’t know who is! As she and Andrew planned their Louisiana wedding, their minds were never far from their goal of making their guests feel cared for and part of the celebration. As a result, everything about this chic day, from Alex’s gorgeous Amsale dress, to the late-night passed doughnuts, to the bridesmaid cake pull, helped guests get to know their love story and personalities even more. We were overjoyed to learn that Alex and Andrew found their talented photographer, Kelly of Spindle Photography, through our very own Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory, and we think she did a fabulous job of capturing every sweet moment and gorgeous black and white detail!

    My something new was my dress, veil, and Kate Spade shoes! Originally, my something old, borrowed, and blue was going to be my mother’s garter, but 30 years did not yield a usable option. She had one made with the same silks and a blue pearl that had our initials and wedding date, which was even more perfect. I also had the sixpence in my shoe that all the women in my family since my great-grandmother have worn.

    Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Believe it or not, this was probably the easiest part of my wedding planning journey! My mother, grandmother, and matron of honor accompanied me to Mia Bridal Couture in Houston days before Christmas. I told our wonderful consultant, Tina, about my traditional-with-a twist-style, love of horsehair-trimmed veils, and that I wanted a full skirt with “twirlability”–a very important dressing term I coined in my toddler years. I put on her first selection (an Amsale dress I had pined over–and pinned!) and instantly knew it was the one. I was hesitant to say “Let’s pop the champagne!” after only one gown, so I asked to try on everything I said I did not envision: fitted skirts, strapless, lace, beading… just to make sure that I was positive. Finally, I put on the first gown with a double horsehair-trimmed veil and triumphantly announced that we were done! The stars truly aligned when we found out the name of the dress: “Newport”–the name of my mother’s hometown in Rhode Island, where my parents were married almost 30 years ago. The whole experience felt surreal!

    Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes! While Andrew was a little hesitant in the beginning, we eventually decided it was the best way to try to prolong a day that everyone had told us would end in a flash. We are forever grateful we made this decision. We were able to savor the day together, and the photos are just divine. One of our favorite memories of the day was when Alex’s father accidentally crashed our first look. We forgave him since he was looking so dashing in his uniform!

    We said traditional Catholic vows used during the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It was such a powerful moment to repeat the words that entered us into the same covenant as so many couples before us. During our vows, we experienced what a sacrament truly is–a physical sign of God’s grace. It was the most impactful feeling we have ever experienced.

    Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Choosing one favorite detail is simply too hard! All of the details that reflected us as a couple were our favorites because our guests saw our personalities throughout the day. Andrew wanted me to point out the “snack tables,” meaning the oyster bar, antipasti bar, Meche’s donut display, and the Maryland favor table of Berger cookies, Fischer’s Popcorn, and Utz Crab Chips. We loved watching our guests enjoy all of our favorite treats!

    During our first meeting with our florist, Mia from Root Floral Design, we told her we wanted an effortless garden look without too much symmetry. She used a neutral color palette of garden roses, jasmine, anemones, scabiosa, ranunculus, lisianthus, and astilbe to bring the vision to life. My mother and I used our silver collections for all the flowers (an idea that came from SW’s own Emily Thomas’ wedding!). The entire wedding’s inspiration started with an image I found of a boxwood garland draping a cocktail bar. Mia recreated the bar swag, miniature boxwood wreaths were used at the church as pew markers, and large wreaths were placed on the historic home’s doors. The boxwood garland now sits on our fireplace mantel, and we have a wreath hung in our home as well.

    “Southern” in our eyes is a mindset that embodies hospitality, love, and celebration. I did not grow up surrounded by magnolias or eating grits, but I’ve always identified with Southern values and charm. The entire day was designed to feel like the perfect Southern fête, honoring us, family, and the friends that feel like family. A large clear-top tent with bistro lighting was pitched in front of one of A. Hays Town’s historic, Southern homes (the architect is one of the area’s most famous). Bridesmaids received well wishes through cake pulls. A soul band with an excellent horn section resulted in a packed dance floor the entire evening.

    What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? At one point, Andrew led me off the dance floor to the lawn space in front of our tent, and we stood hand in hand, watching our reception. He said, “You’re my wife! This is our wedding!” The twinkling bistro lights, clinking of glasses, laughter of family, and seeing dance moves galore is a sight we will never forget.

    How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Alex: I moved a lot as a military child, but our adventure to the Gulf Coast would eventually lead me to Andrew. After moving back to Annapolis, Maryland, I knew I would return to Louisiana for college. I received my LSU acceptance letter not only on my birthday, but also on the night that the Tigers won the 2007 National Championship. It was fate! From Andrew: I was born and raised in South Louisiana, but I grew up in a wonderful combination of Polish (my mother is a Polish immigrant), German, and Cajun cultures. This diverse (and entertaining) upbringing is probably the reason I was rather accepting of Alex’s northeastern roots when we first met. We formally met when a group of fraternity and sorority presidents came together to design and facilitate leadership development programming for the Greek community. We became fast friends–the type of friends that suddenly shared everything with each other very easily. We laugh now because this was in large part due to us thinking we would NEVER become more than friends. Within months, that friendship took us both by surprise and evolved into a great love of true understanding, compassion, and FUN.
    Tell us all about the proposal! I am very much hoping that my little sister will follow in my footsteps and attend LSU, so a college visit was planned for the whole family during Homecoming Weekend. Andrew thought that weekend was the perfect time to propose, but if we’re being honest, so did I! I was slightly perturbed when I arrived at Andrew’s house to discover he was not yet ready to leave for the trip, making us late for our dinner reservations with my family. After storming up the stairs, I found Andrew standing in his living room holding a very small box. After tears and laughter and the slowest proposal ever (I made him pause and repeat everything so I wouldn’t forget any of his words), we heard knocking on the door. It was our dearest friends, who sent us off to Baton Rouge with cupcakes and wedding magazines! Those few hours were so special. We took time to soak in the moment and call some of our loved ones. We were supposed to pick up my best friend in Lafayette on the way, and when we exited, Andrew took the scenic route and drove by the historic home (now a museum) that I had always said would be the perfect wedding reception site. He wanted to get out of the car so we could have a moment, and when we walked up to the museum, he handed me an envelope with the date “October 17, 2014” inside. He had already secured the museum and the church! When I turned around, both of our immediate families were there. I was told that we were not actually going to Baton Rouge that night, but would be having dinner with our families in Lafayette instead. When we walked into Andrew’s family’s house, a beautiful engagement party was in full swing!
    When did y’all get married? October 17, 2014
    How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 275
    What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was learning to understand and compromise on our own list of wedding “normalcies.” With a born and raised Southern gent and a military child raised on the East Coast planning a wedding, we quickly realized we had grown up with different experiences regarding everything from the size of the guest list to the reception dinner service. We exercised more patience, listened more intently, and sought clearer understanding. In the end, compromises were made, and new traditions were embraced.
    What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Our biggest cost savings was having the talented people in our lives share their talents with us rather than ordering items from a rental company or the endless possibilities of Etsy. All of our table runners were sewn by a family friend, others were always on the lookout for extra pieces of silver to use, and our signage was crafted by one of our supper club ladies. This made the day increasingly more special.
    What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our remarkable photographer, Kelly! I looked at Southern Weddings’ Blue Ribbon Vendors in Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama for options that were still relatively close. Within seconds of being on the Spindle Photography website, we knew the creative genius behind these photographs was it. I am also grateful for finding someone who loves dresses that twirl as much as I do.
    What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? This was a big year for us! After getting engaged, I finished graduate school and started work, Andrew began a new work assignment that takes him away from home half of each month, we built a house, and we got married! We are now welcoming the holiday season with rest and enjoying waking up on Saturday mornings with nowhere to be. I also hope we will have a dog by the time you read our story!

    Photographer: Spindle Photography / Planner: Southern Fete / Ceremony Venue: St. Genevieve Catholic Church / Reception Venue: Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum / Florist: Root Floral Design / Cake Baker: Crystal Weddings / Catering: Sam Trahan / Rentals and Lighting: Event Rental, Lafayette / Band: Phat Hat / Chalkboard Signage: Amber Hicks / Donut Table Signage: Anna Broussard / Paper Products: Val Marie Paper / Bride’s Gown: “Newport” by Amsale / Bridal Salon and Veil: Mia Bridal Couture / Bouquet Ribbon: Hyman Hendler & Sons / Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Heather Veillon of Bleu Coiffure / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “G837U” in black by Amsale / Menswear: Mary Ellen’s Tux Shop / Bow Ties and Cummerbund: High Cotton Ties / Cups, Koozies, and Coffee Cups: Inkling Design Studio / Calligrapher: Patricia Leith

    lisa Written with love by Lisa
    9 Comments
    1. avatar Robyn Van Dyke reply

      LOVE this wedding! Especially all the striped accents, and polka-dotted bow tie and cummerbund!!! :D

    2. avatar Kelly Cummings (Spindle Photography) reply

      Thank you so much for sharing Alex and Andrew’s gorgeous wedding! Since Alex found me through Southern Weddings I am thrilled to see their beautiful love story shared here! Hooray for kindred spirits!

    3. avatar lena reply

      L O V E this gorgeous celebration!

    4. avatar Amy reply

      It’s an absolutely gorgeous wedding to behold!

    5. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

      Such a beautiful wedding and a radiant bride! I especially love the striped ribbon bouquet wrap and the personal touches that were put on the foods served.

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