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Y’all, I am so excited to share today’s beautiful wedding with you!! As you may remember, Ashlyn was our Southern Bride of the Summer, and she generously shared her super Southern, magnolia-filled, Alabama wedding plans with us a few months ago. We have been waiting on eggshells to see how her and Wes’ day played out, and as you can easily see in their photos by Holland Williams Photography, it was just as lovely as we know Ashlyn hoped it would be. Even more than that, their day was focused on what matters most to them–their faiths, their families, and starting their marriage on the firmest footing possible. Be sure to read Ashlyn’s interview below to learn about the heart and intention she and Wes poured into this sweet day!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I’m a girly girl, but I’ll be honest, the food and band seemed like more fun decisions to plan! The dress was too much pressure. Mama, my sister Kristen, and I made four appointments in Atlanta one Saturday. You think you don’t care until you turn around and see yourself in the mirror in “the one.” Changes everything! I loved my dress–it was all lace and had hook-and-eye buttons down the entire back. I was also staunch on a bow or a sash–funny enough, that pretty shade of ivory on the bow is called “magnolia!”

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As soon as we started planning, one of the only things Wes was really vocal on was not seeing me before the ceremony! I loved that. Our photographer, Holland, was so fantastic, it didn’t hinder the day or put a hitch in timing one bit. We prayed together without seeing each other, and then we both got that “church doors swing open” moment. I’ll never forget it!

I saw my florist, Melissa Kendall, write “Southern elegance” on her worksheet–if there was a theme, I told her the theme could be magnolias! Charming and gracious, they’ve always said “home” better than any other flower or tree to me. I love their scent, glamour, and beauty. I even had a blog when I traveled for ADPi called Miss Magnolia! Gardenias weren’t plentiful in August, but loads of other white flowers and roses complemented all the greenery. We also wanted a magnolia-covered cross at the ceremony. My sweet daddy built it, and it was one of my favorite touches! The bridesmaids’ bouquets were wrapped in monogrammed hankies.

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Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I had a running iPhone list for a year of hymns that struck me! I pieced those together for the ceremony. The prelude included “In Christ Alone” and “The Power of the Cross.” My grandfather was a Southern Baptist music minister, and I had the grandfathers be seated to his favorite hymn, “Crown Him with Many Crowns”–he teared up telling me that surprise made him so happy! I gave Wes a couple of options, and after playing it, he said he wanted me to come down the aisle to “Trumpet Voluntary.” We sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness” as a congregation.

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I loved the vows we used. They’re updated, traditional, Biblical vows that Pastor David Platt wrote. Many people kindly let us know they really enjoyed that part of the ceremony. We found them in “The Christ Centered Wedding” by Catherine Parks. My favorite line is “I will join with you in the mission God has entrusted to us.” We’re a few short weeks into marriage, and already see how life’s challenges do not stop just because you get your fairy tale wedding, cute little house, and some pretty crystal! We were thrown curveballs early, and partner in encouraging each other to fight the good fight.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? It was fairly easy: First Baptist is the church I grew up in, and my parents are tremendously involved. We wanted a Christ-exalting ceremony, but I don’t necessarily believe that can ONLY happen in a church! I’m just the type of girl who gets rain on her birthday every year, so we needed something indoors. I also wanted to respect my parents and pay homage to nostalgia–I have so many sweet memories in that gorgeous building. It’s a beautiful, old, Southern church. Montgomery Country Club ended up being the winner for a reception. I have a lot of memories from growing up going there–plus, I’m the biggest Zelda Fitzgerald fan you’ll meet. I have about 18 books about the Montgomery girl who won F. Scott Fitzgerald’s heart, and they met at Montgomery Country Club in 1918. Only fitting, right?

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With a Montgomery wedding, there isn’t much that won’t end up covered in Southern-ness! I wore pearls, and magnolias were everywhere. Family keepsakes like silver goblets, mint julep cups, and old wedding photos made appearances. My sorority sisters wanted to sing, of course. And then that menu, gracious. We had shrimp and grits, pimento cheese finger sandwiches, fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, and Arnold Palmers–you know, health food. And as an Auburn fan, I had to salute the plains: Momma G’s nachos came out for “late night!”

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How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Samford University is a small school tucked away in the hills of Birmingham. I was a junior when Wes waltzed in as this cute former-high-school-QB freshman and joined Sigma Chi, which happened to be the guys I hung out with. I confessed my crush to my close friend Ryan, his fraternity brother. Ryan told me he’d “endorse me like Nike” to Wes. Fast forward, and my best friend and I were walking toward Wes and Ryan one day after class. Paths crossed, and there was a brief hi-and-shake-hands moment. We walked off, and Ryan turned around and yelled “Like Nike, Ash!” Embarrassing for me. Fortunately, Wes took it as “game on.” We were fire and dynamite from that time on!
Tell us all about the proposal! Wes wrestled my type-A planner habit away from me by staking claim to a January Saturday as his date to plan. Kindly, he let me make the brunch reservation, so naturally, I still thought I was planning things. What a guy. He picked me up Saturday morning, and we laughed and chatted over coffee, eggs, and gravy-covered biscuits at no. 246 off the Decatur square. Side note–I had the stomach bug the night before, y’all. Poor Wes didn’t sleep a wink as me and my germs almost wrecked his plans! After brunch, he wouldn’t tell me what was next as we drove down Peachtree Street toward Buckhead. ANY notion I had of “maybe this is it” was null and void–surely he wouldn’t ask me since I was sick! Wes’ nerves set in and he got quiet as he pulled over to Duck Pond Park. He led me to a bench and told me he wanted to talk about something important. God washed a peace over us, and we had the sweetest next few moments together worshiping: Wes led us in a time of prayer, and then read from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (chapter 5) about biblical marriage, and said he wanted this with me. Next thing I knew, he was grinning on one knee while–duh–I cried. Wes drove us back to my little Buckhead townhouse, where my three roommates and about 25 friends and family members had the Veuve Clicquot ready to pop! He thought of everything, and having dear ones there to celebrate was so special. Wes is the most thoughtful man I’ve ever met.
When did y’all get married? August 15, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 325
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Everyone knows Peggy McKinney’s desserts in Montgomery. She’s the best! I don’t adore traditional wedding cake, so I opted for strawberry cake with white icing. Wes went with Miss Peggy’s good ol’ chocolate cake! We have a crystal cake stand that was cut around 1890 and belonged to my great-great-grandmother. It’s been used in weddings and at family parties for generations, so it had to make an appearance at ours, too.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Wes and I read through “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller and were counseled through our church. Wes also had us both read Francis Chan’s “You and Me Forever.” I think we stayed the course throughout planning, knowing that the day we woke up after our wedding, THAT was really day one!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My mama was the best, free wedding planner I could have ever “hired.” :) My family did a lot of crafty, DIY things, from baking sugar cookies in the shapes of Alabama and Georgia to asking the Visitor’s Bureau for hotel bag goodies. We opted for the country club as it offered an all-in-one event space–rental fees rack up! Third, I have said it before and I’ll say it again: you CAN spend only $1,000 on a wedding dress and get it ordered during your six-and-a-half month engagement, regardless of what the industry or experts tell you.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I had a “first look” with my daddy, which was really special. I was having a lot of anxiety issues that day, and mama’s two best friends came and put hands on me and prayed over me–that was a precious gift. Other then that, the whole blur of standing in the MCC ballroom right next to my best friend as an endless string of family and friends came to hug us was my favorite memory. They flew in from all over! It’s so humbling to know people love you, but maybe more humbling to see people love on your spouse–it made me fall more in love with Wes to see all his fraternity brothers and family friends drive all the way to my hometown because they love him.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? A HONEYMOON! Halfway through planning, Wes scored a dream job at Delta Air Lines. Tremendous blessing–but training started the Monday after our wedding! Those flight benefits will behoove us well into the future though. ‘Til then, we’re two of a kind working on a full house. I have the handiest husband, and our cute little Decatur home by East Lake Country Club is enjoying its facelift–and Wes is enjoying learning about things like my fall decoration, pumpkin, and mum budget.

Photographer: Holland Williams / Ceremony Venue: First Baptist Church of Montgomery / Reception Venue: Montgomery Country Club / Florist: Melissa Kendall / Cake Baker: Peggy McKinney / Band: Bobby Moore and the Rhythm Aces / Paper Products: Virginia Noblin / Bridal Salon: Bel Fiore / Hair Stylist: Amplify Salon / Makeup Artist: Hope Wallace / Bride’s Shoes: Jack Rogers / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Style 8472 in Navy by Sorella Vita / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse / Getting Ready Venue: PARISH by Ashley Gilbreath

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Caroline Nelson reply

    Can you please tell me where the adorable floral romper she is getting ready in is from? Also, where the cute Alabama cookie with the gorgeous AW monogram welcome tag came from?

    Thank you!
    Caroline

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I think that all weddings are filled with joy (as they should be!), but sometimes, we feature weddings of couples so bubbling over with joy, one can’t help but smile while looking through the photos! That’s how I feel about Caroline and Will. I swear, Caroline has the biggest, most contagious smile in almost every photo Robyn Van Dyke captured! After years of long distance dating, deployments, and many moves, it’s no wonder these two are all smiles on their wedding day. Throw in perfectly classic details and boys in their military uniforms, and you’ve got the recipe for one sweet Southern soirée!

With Memorial Day right around the corner, we’re so honored to share this wedding made up of just a few of the brave men and women who protect and serve our great country. Big hugs to our friend Robyn for sharing it with us!

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Girls after my own heart! I spy a few pairs of Jack Rogers to go with their monogrammed robes!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? One of our dearest friends and groomsmen read Revelation 19:5-9 right before they opened the doors and I walked down the aisle with my dad. Our other sweet friend read Ephesians 4:32-5:2 later in the service. Both the scriptures and the readers made our ceremony very special, and we couldn’t have loved it more. Our pastor, Russ Andrews, did an amazing job of keeping our ceremony focused on Jesus Christ. Russ gave a small sermon to make sure our families and friends knew Will and I weren’t taking any credit for finding each other, and that our marriage was going to be based on our faith in the Lord.

Describe your wedding flowers. Our florist was Kelly Odom, and his work is absolutely flawless. I told him my colors and asked for white and very pale pink flowers. I told him as long as the bouquets were round and full with those colors, he could choose the rest. The flowers were breathtaking and exactly what I wanted.

Since Will is in the military as a Navy pilot, we had all military attendees wear their military uniforms, and we had a sword arch out of the church, announcing Will and I as husband and wife for the first time. We had a pretty large wedding party with eight bridesmaids, seven groomsmen, and eight flower girls/ring bearers. We served lots of Southern food at our reception, including shrimp and grits, chicken tenders, and BBQ sandwich sliders. The most important thing to both Will and I are our families and friends, which I like to think comes from us being from the South. We could not have been happier having all the people we love the most under one roof, dancing the night away.

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Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Will and I decided that we wanted that moment of seeing each other for the first time to be when I was walking down the aisle to him to become his wife. There is something so special and amazing about seeing each other in that moment after a long day of preparation and chaos, and knowing that your future starts right there.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Will and I knew we wanted to get married in a church, but my parents’ church was in transition and was meeting at my old high school auditorium at the time. I knew there was absolutely no way Will would get married at his rival high school, so that was out. Will’s family are members at Edenton Street United Methodist church in downtown Raleigh, and once I walked into the empty sanctuary with the gorgeous chandeliers, tall ceilings, and stained glass everywhere, I knew that was it. I had been to a service there before, but seeing it empty and imagining our wedding there was perfect. The reception venue was the Carolina Country Club, where I grew up going with my family. We had made so many memories there in the past that it seemed fitting to make one of our biggest memories there as well.

LOVE Caroline’s face in this shot!!

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge during our ten months of engagement was planning our wedding while I was in North Carolina and Will was in Texas. We were both in school, and trying to find time to plan was a little harder then we had expected.

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Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. The church where we got married has an amazing organ with the most talented organist. He helped me choose the music for the seating of the guests, grandmothers and mothers. I didn’t really have a preference on those songs as long as it was played by him. I walked down the aisle to “Love Never Fails.” When I first listened to the words of this song, I got chills everywhere. It seemed so appropriate for a bride walking to her groom to be bound in love through Jesus Christ. Our first dance song wasn’t really up for discussion because we both knew what it would be. Coming from oldies-loving families, we decided on “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green. It was perfect.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It’s hard to choose a most memorable moment, but Will and I think it was the dancing and gathering of our friends. Being a part of the military, most of our friends are spread out all over the country or deployed overseas. Getting to see everyone at the same time is very rare, and even though we still had some dear friends missing, sharing our wedding with those who could make it was so special. Our military friends have no problem starting the dance party!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Will and I met our senior year in high school in 2007. My best friend was dating his best friend, and after being introduced by them one night, I decided he wasn’t going to get away. Will played soccer for his school, and for the last few games of the season, I made sure I was at every one. I don’t think it took Will too long to notice, so he asked me if we could hang out after school one day so I could give him a haircut…very smooth of him. That afternoon led to more after-school get-togethers, movie nights with our friends, and both of our senior proms. After high school, Will was going to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland while I was staying at Meredith College in our hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. We knew this was going to mean a lot of long distance and an unknown future, but being without each other would be harder then any of that. We decided to give it a chance. From June-August while he was at boot camp, all we could do was write letters to stay in contact, and that’s exactly what we did. It was a hard summer for both of us but we know it made us so much stronger in the end.
Tell us all about the proposal! Will was in flight school to become an F-18 pilot in Kingsville, Texas at the time. We had been doing long distance for about five years at this point. During my fall break from school in October 2012, I flew to Texas. There isn’t a whole lot to do in the small town of Kingsville, so we drove to Fredericksburg, a little German town with vineyards everywhere. Neither Will nor I had ever been to a vineyard, so that Saturday, we had the best time doing tours and wine tastings. After we were ready to go to dinner, Will started driving up a hill, the opposite direction from town. He kept telling me he just wanted to see if we could see the sunset from the top, and of course, I was fine with that. As we drove to the top, all we could see were construction signs and tape and we couldn’t drive any further. Thinking about it now, I know Will’s stomach must have dropped because he didn’t really have a plan B. He had also taken the ring out of the box and placed it by itself in his pocket, so we drove on to dinner and Will spent the whole night clenching his right jean pocket! That night, we got back to our place, and as we stood on the porch about to walk inside, Will pulled me close and began to tell me how much he loved me and some other things I can’t remember, because he got down on one knee and I’m pretty sure I blacked out. Once I caught my breath, I had to ask him if I had even told him yes–I was so shocked and so overwhelmed with joy and love! I had been waiting for this moment for five long years and it couldn’t have been more perfect.
When did y’all get married? August 24, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 350
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Finding my dress was probably the thing I was looking forward to the most during wedding planning. My mom and my aunt drove with me to Nitsa’s in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I am in love with any kind of shopping, so we prepared ourselves for what we thought was going to be a full day of me trying on every dress in the store. As I was looking through the racks, one dress in particular caught my eye. I had to try it on and I wanted it to be the first one. I had never understood why girls cry when they try on wedding dresses or find the dress of their dreams, but I became that girl that day. I saw myself in the mirror and it was so surreal. It was the exact dress I had pictured myself in and I knew Will was going to love it too. I tried on a few more dresses to see if any compared, but none did.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Will and I were very excited about the wedding cake! Cinda’s Creative Cakes gave us amazing cake design and flavor options. Our cake was four tiers high and round. Cinda copied the look of the beaded band around my wedding dress on each tier on the cake, and used all white frosting and flowers on the top tier. The end result was beautiful and absolutely delicious. The flavors we chose were strawberry, funfetti (with pink sprinkles), chocolate, and cinnamon swirl. We can’t wait until our anniversary so we can eat it all over again!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Having the sword arch as a part of our wedding was probably my favorite detail. I have seen it done at many other military weddings, but seeing it from the bride’s view walking out with her new husband is indescribable.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We couldn’t have been happier with our pictures taken by Robyn Van Dyke and her husband Jordan. Because of their amazing talent, we will never forget one detail of our special day. The other vendor that played a huge part in our wedding day was our band, Black & Blue. My parents had heard them for the first time at a friend’s wedding a year before, and she knew right away that we would love them too. To say we had a dance party is an understatement. Will and I still talk about how much fun we had and how we wish we could have our reception all over again!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Always remember the real reason you are having the wedding. Planning a wedding can be stressful, even when you think it’s going to be a breeze, so don’t let the little things cause issues in your relationships. Enjoy every second because it goes by so fast, including the planning!!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are stationed in Virginia Beach for now. It is going to be a huge change for me because I have never left Raleigh or my family, but after six years of distance, I would have gone anywhere to finally start our lives together. We have waited so long for this and could not feel more blessed to be close to home and finally have each other in the same time zone!

Photographer: Robyn Van Dyke / Ceremony Venue: Edenton Street United Methodist Church / Reception Venue: Carolina Country Club / Florist: Kelly Odom / Cake Baker: Cinda’s Creative Cakes / Band: Black & Blue / Bride’s Gown: “Mackenzie” by Amsale / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale / Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Images by Denise / Bride’s Shoes: Toms / Groomsmen’s Suits: and Suits by Mantoni from Ticknors

Robyn Van Dyke is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    What a beautiful couple!! All of the military traditions they included are so special–loved reading about her going through the sword arch from a bride’s point of view!

  2. avatar featured: southern weddings » Robyn Van Dyke Photography Blog reply

    […] happy day, y’all! It’s always such an incredible honor to be featured on Southern Weddings, and we’re soo excited to have Caroline & Will‘s gorgeous military wedding featured […]

  3. avatar Rachel Nordgren reply

    “Russ gave a small sermon to make sure our families and friends knew Will and I weren’t taking any credit for finding each other, and that our marriage was going to be based on our faith in the Lord.” – I love that! I think basing your marriage on Christ from the very beginning is a beautiful and hugely important thing.

    Also, using a sword to cut the cake? Epic.

  4. avatar Julianne Bussey reply

    This whole article is flawless! I love every part of the wedding from the scripture readings and prayers to the sword arch! I love that you really tried to keep it focused around Jesus Christ :) What’s funny is that I live in Virginia Beach and totally didn’t expect to see that you are stationed here!

  5. avatar The Sweetest Father-Daughter Wedding Moments – Wedding Party reply

    […] Robyn van Dyke via Southern Weddings […]

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While I know the state of Alabama is quite large, I always feel a kindred spirit to our sweet Alabama couples. I can especially relate to Rachel + Carl with their long distance relationship stints. While planning from afar can be a challenge, they chose to focus on sweet and meaningful details that truly reflected the importance of family and community. I love how they chose the same cake maker Rachel’s parent used at their wedding. While I could go on over Rachel + Carl carefully planned details, Rachel’s advice to future brides is so wise. She said “It amazingly all works out. As your wedding gets closer and closer, you realize that what is most important is getting married to the love of your life and being surrounded by family and friends as you do so.” Isn’t that the truth?!

Big thanks to White Rabbit Studios for capturing this lovely day!

Our venue was a beautiful Southern plantation in the middle of cotton fields, which set the perfect mood for a vintage, Southern wedding. The use of decorations like peaches and milk glass brought some of the Southern charm, while the community was filled with Southern hospitality and warmth.

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Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Finding my wedding dress was quite an adventure. On our first trip shopping, I took my mom, my maid of honor, and my matron of honor. We went through about four different stores and tons of dresses. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. After looking back over pictures later, one dress seemed to stand out to everyone, except for my mom. She wasn’t willing to commit and wasn’t going to be satisfied until we tried on every dress we could find. I found myself constantly comparing every dress to the one I found the first day. Finally, my mom agreed to let me go try on the original dress again, and I brought along another bridesmaid this time. Once I slipped on the dress and stepped out for everyone to see, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that it was the one. My mom ended up being obsessed with the dress and will admit she doesn’t understand why she didn’t like it at first.

Seeing couples opt out of a “first look” for a moment of prayer still remains one of my favorite moments in a wedding day!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Carl and I debated over this many times. We ended up deciding to not do a “first look” and have the first time he saw me to be walking down the aisle. We felt like there was something sweet and special about that moment. We were also used to not seeing each other very often, so waiting didn’t seem like a huge deal. We did decide to pray with each other before the ceremony began, though. Our photographer and videographer led the two of us to a tree near our ceremony site with our eyes closed. They placed us on two different sides of the tree and made us face forward. We were able to hold hands and spend some time in prayer together. It was a perfect moment. It was nice to know what was going on in his head and finally be able to praise the Lord together for all his goodness. I just remember being overwhelmed with how good the Lord is. He had taken care of everything that day: the weather, the silly little details, and he had brought me the most amazing husband. I’m so glad we got that little bit of time to share together.

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Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did write our own vows. We wanted them to truly reflect the metaphor of how Christ loves his church and how that drives our relationship. One of my favorite parts was that we both ended up using the same phrase: “Knowing that God’s glory comes before all else.” I think if we can both really live by that phrase, knowing our relationship is not about ourselves, but about the glory of God, we can make it through any stage of life that comes our way.What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We did not have readings at our ceremony. Instead of readings or a special song, we invited our wedding party and parents to surround us in prayer. They all gathered around and prayed, as one groomsmen and one bridesmaid led a prayer aloud. Our community is something that is extremely important to us, and to know they were supporting us was a really meaningful portion of our ceremony.

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Wedding flowers were an adventure for us. My mom had expressed interest in trying to do flowers ourselves because of the price, and I guess for fun. This made me really nervous. Where were we going to get the flowers, how do you make a bouquet, how do you keep flowers? So many questions made me worried. However, by doing it ourselves, they were able to be exactly how I had pictured them. We were able to get the flowers I desired, like peonies, and even at cheaper prices. The arrangements were filled with beautiful peachy, pinky flowers that really created the soft, romantic look I was aiming for. A family friend who had experience being a florist created all of the arrangements and boutonnieres. The morning of the wedding, the bridesmaids and I met with another family friend, who helped us create our own bouquets. I think the girls were really nervous about it at first, but they seemed like they really enjoyed doing it themselves, and the bouquets turned out beautifully.

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Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was actually made by the same person who made my parents’ wedding cake. We decided to go with a classic white cake, but had it mimic the milk glass that was a large part of our decorations. We had originally decided we would just have it plain with no flowers, but about two weeks before the wedding, we realized having sugar flowers would make it so pretty. We had found a picture for inspiration, but our cake decorator did not think she would be able to make them. My mom found a Youtube video of how to go about making sugar flowers and showed it to a friend. With no cake decorating experience, our friend created stunning sugar flowers to add to the cake. I’m so glad she did, because I think it’s what really made the cake!

I didn’t work super hard to make sure it would happen, but kind of hoped it would just come together. My something borrowed was my mom’s garter that her grandmother had made her for her wedding day. My something blue was the one I realized I didn’t have anything for the night before, so I ended up deciding to wear blue panties the day of so it would all be complete. My something old was my uncle’s vintage MG that we used for our getaway car. It was a car he and my grandfather had bought and worked on. It was also really special because my mom and dad left in another MG that my uncle and grandfather had worked on as their getaway car at their wedding. My something new were these beautiful opal earrings my parents gave me for graduation. I have always loved opals, especially since my grandfather gave me a pair when I was a little girl. Unfortunately that exact pair was nowhere to be found, so a new pair worked just as well.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Carl and I met in high school while on a mission trip to Honduras with our youth group, where it was easy to see each other’s true selves and hearts. We were both extremely involved in our church and had a strong passion for the Lord and others. Not long after we started dating, Carl began college at Auburn University. For two years, we navigated the ups and downs of a long distance relationship, getting by with many letters and four-hour drives. Eventually, I joined Carl at Auburn. We were finally able to enjoy the presence of each other and a true community of common friends. After graduating in psychology and interning for a year, Carl received a job in North Carolina as a youth pastor. We were obviously excited for the Lord’s blessing, but once again found ourselves in a long distance relationship.
Tell us all about the proposal! One weekend when we returned to Madison, Carl surprised me with a special date. On the hour drive there, I struggled with an internal battle over whether or not the proposal was happening. When we finally arrived I was excited to discover that we were at a county fair. I love the rides, atmosphere, and sweet charm of fairs. He knows me very well. My suspicion still snuck up as he offered to go all out on fair food, and even ride the dizzy rides that make him sick. However, I once again convinced myself it was not happening, because it would be too dangerous to have a ring in your pocket on those rides. Little did I know, the surprise was waiting for me at home. When we got back to my house, after forcing me to stay awake, he proposed at the same spot where he had once asked me to be his girlfriend over five years before.
When did y’all get married? May 26, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 250-275
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our ceremony and reception music was one of our favorite parts of the wedding. For our ceremony music, we decided to do all Christian worship songs by artists like Bethel, Hillsong United, and United Pursuit Band. We used “Like Incense/Sometimes By Step” by Hillsong United for the bridal party and I to walk down the aisle. The way the song builds made a perfect, dramatic, and worshipful entrance. For leaving back down the aisle, we picked a more upbeat song called “This is What You Do” by Bethel. It was a perfect song to joyfully walk down the aisle to as husband and wife, and even caused my mom to dance back down the aisle. Our first dance and father-daughter dance were very special to us as well. Our bridal party included three of our friends who we had really wanted to sing, but knew it would be complicated for them to do so in the ceremony. We decided we would have them sing those first two songs instead. It was very sweet to not only be dancing with loved ones, but have loved ones singing, as well. For our first dance, we used an acoustic version of “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson, which was one of my favorite songs as a kid. Our father-daughter dance was an acoustic version of “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder, which was the perfect song for my dad and I to shag dance to.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It’s really hard to pick a favorite detail because overall, everything came together so perfectly. Although it was out of our control, we were so thankful and excited about the weather. It wasn’t raining, which was a huge plus, but it was also just the right temperature and lighting. Out of the details we could control, I think it would be a tough battle to choose between the flowers and the music. They both played such a vital role in creating the atmosphere that we desired.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? One of the biggest challenges for me was Carl and I being long distance while trying to plan the wedding. It was hard to make decisions together, since he could not be there to view the venue or the cake or other decorations. A lot of the decisions, I had to make on my own. I really wanted the wedding to be a good representation of the two of us, so I was worried it wouldn’t all come together. However, I think he probably enjoyed not having to be quite so involved.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We were extremely happy with our photographer and videographer, White Rabbit Studios. They were a dream to work with. Not only were they pleasant to be with all day, but the photos capture the day exactly how I remember it to be. We had such a wide variety of photos, from the decorative details to the candid emotions of the day.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I think one of the most memorable parts of our wedding day was going through the Burger King drive-through for icees with one of my maids of honor and the best man after leaving the reception. It was nice to finally sit down and enjoy a semi-normal moment with our best friends right before we headed off to the honeymoon.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? It amazingly all works out. As your wedding gets closer and closer, you realize that what is most important is getting married to the love of your life and being surrounded by family and friends as you do so. Many details I fretted over before, I didn’t even notice or think about come the day of the wedding. Enjoy the day being surrounded by those you love and those who love you.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? After our honeymoon, I joined Carl in North Carolina, where we have really enjoyed just getting to be together and enjoy one life together instead of two lives apart. I have been working on starting a wedding invitation line, while Carl has continued to work in youth ministry. I think one of the things we are most enjoying in our marriage is doing ministry together. This summer, I’ve been able to help Carl out with his youth group through retreats, fun trips, and bible studies. It’s really neat to partner together in that and truly serve each other while serving the youth. We can’t wait to see what adventures come our way!

Photographer: Ashley Vaughn from White Rabbit Studios | Videographer: Dustin Timbrook from White Rabbit Studios | Ceremony and Reception Venue: The Cedars 1859 | Kathy Grissom, Family Friend | Wedding Cake: Connie’s Creations | Caterer: Endless Catering | Rentals: All Needz Rentals | Band: The Purple Ravens | Bride’s Gown: Bella Couture, Allure Gown | Paper Products: Rachel Botts Design | Bride’s Earrings: Kohls | Bride’s Veil: Renaissance Consignment | Hair Stylist: Bridesmaid Ivy Tidwell | Makeup Artist: Bridesmaid Stephanie Kearns | Bride’s Shoes: Seychelles I Do Pump | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan Donna Dress from Weddington Way | Groom’s and Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Hand Painted Signs and Cake Topper: Emily Edwards | Guestbook: First Snowfall | Robes: Just Cottons 

marissa Written with love by Marissa
17 Comments
  1. avatar Shannon reply

    Her flowers are beautiful! Any idea where she ordered them through before putting them together DIY? (Such as an online retailer or a flower wholesaler)

  2. avatar Emily reply

    I love the little banner (that changed throughout the day!) on their getaway car! So cute!

  3. avatar Stephanie reply

    WOW!! Perfection. Loved being a part of this beautiful, God-filled and fun wedding :)

  4. avatar Mary Lynn reply

    Here is the scoop on the flowers. We purchased our peonies from a local grower that was listed on the Cut Flower Association website. You can search by flower and by state for local growers. The association website is: http://ascfg.org/2011/buyers_guide/choose2.php?alphachoice=3
    We bought the peonies from a grower in Kentucky, Ella King of Kings Country Gardens. They were beautiful and so much less expensive. The remainder we bought from a floral wholesale business; Davis Flowers. Even though they sell primary wholesale they sell to the public also. They got us fabulous garden roses at a great price. We consider buying from Fifty Flowers online, they are another good DIY source. If you have a particular flower in mind you need to check if it is available during the time of year of your wedding.

  5. avatar kathy grissom reply

    what a beautiful wedding.everything was perfect.only God knew how long you nana would live and it was just long enough to see her granddaughter get married and see the smile on nana face will always be one of my favorite memories,because we don,t know if we will be so blessed.she said after that beautiful night what a beautiful bride racheal was over and over the most beautiful bride i will never forget the look on her face when she told everybody that called .over and over the love you could see in her face and her voice.thanks for letting me share the love ,see yall soon love kathy grissom.

  6. avatar White Rabbit Studios » Fine Art Film Photography » Rachel & Carl: Southern Wedding reply

    […] Congrats to Rachel and Carl and thank you so much for entrusting the White Rabbit team to capture your wedding! Also, huge thanks to Southern Weddings for featuring Rachel and Carl’s extraordinary day! Read all about it here! […]

  7. avatar Jamie reply

    where did you find your bridesmaid dresses? I love the color!

  8. avatar Rachel reply

    The bridesmaid dresses were bought from weddingtonway.com and they are Donna Morgan dresses I believed called “Donna”.

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  11. avatar Magaly reply

    I am currently looking for peach bridesmaids dresses and I cannot find any! Could you please tell me where your bridesmaid’s dresses are from? Thank you so much in advance!

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi Magaly! These adorable dresses are Donna Morgan via Weddington Way: http://www.weddingtonway.com/all/bridesmaid-dresses#color-modal

  12. avatar Lucy reply

    Marissa,

    Such a beautiful wedding! Can you share where you picked up the groom’s bowtie? My cousin has the same exact color scheme as you, and I am struggling to help her find the bowtie.

    Thank you!

    • avatar Lisa reply

      Hi Lucy! We’re not sure where Rachel and Carl picked up their bow ties, but we just launched a bow tie collection with High Cotton Ties that includes a peach chambray bow tie that could be perfect! You can find it here: http://highcottonties.com/collections/southern-weddings-collection/products/sweet-as-a-peach-bow-tie

    • avatar Lucy reply

      Thank you Lisa! I will be checking out your collection!

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