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Bride Sonia’s joyful Kentucky wedding at the Winchester Opera House.

I am delighted to introduce y’all to today’s bride, Sonia! Though not a Southern gal by birth, her Winchester Opera House wedding to “Kentucky Nate” embodies all the aspects I think a good Southern wedding should have; including, but not limited to, being steeped in tradition, honoring family, and sharing Southern culture and hospitality. One of the sweetest details of their wedding is Sonia’s “something old!” Sonia chose to honor her family by wearing her paternal grandmother’s wedding gown (with a little redesign help from Donna Beth Creations!).

Another thing I can’t help but love? Their joyful ceremony! Sonia said, “Looking back at the photos, I have never seen either of us so happy. It was sheer bliss.” That’s exactly what we wish for each one of our couples! Keep reading to learn about Nate’s nickname and how wedding planning inspired where they’ll raise their future babies.

Thanks to On A Whim Photography for sharing this lovely Kentucky wedding with us!

I had the honor of wearing my Granny Doris’s (my dad’s mom’s) wedding gown. She purchased the gown in 1954 when she married my PaPa in Virginia. My Aunt Lori, her daughter, wore the gown in 1976 for her Colorado wedding. It created such an amazing bond between the three of us ladies, and my dad was so proud. He fetched the gown from the cedar chest my Granny stored it in in her basement the day I first asked about it! I knew immediately that it was the dress for me. I had been searching for a way to bring my family into our Kentucky wedding and it was the perfect way to do so. In the foyer of the Opera House we had displayed photos of my Granny and Aunt Lori in the gown on their wedding days. It was so sweet to hear and see folks’ reaction when they realized it was the same one!

Nate’s father, Barry Bainum, was our officiant, and that was such an amazing experience. He is a Certified Lay Pastor in the Presbyterian Church and put so much thought and sincerity into our ceremony. It was very traditional, and we loved that it encouraged participation from our guests. He asked them, “Do you give your blessing to Nathan and Sonia and promise to do everything in your power to uphold them in their marriage?” It was so important to us that they knew they were invited for that reason: to help us, guide us, and love us in our marriage together. They were a part of it with us by being our witnesses. It was beautiful and joyful and we will never forget when Nate forgot “of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” when saying his vows! Barry was happy to help him along through it. Our nephews who were at the wedding were our ring bearers. We had them carry a gold horseshoe for good luck! Nate’s nieces, Genna and Gabby (who helped with the proposal), walked Nate down the aisle to his spot to wait for me. My dad walked me down the aisle, of course! We had to walk down a flight of stairs to make it there! I was so nervous to do so in my heels, but he did the perfect job guiding me down. Looking back at the photos, I have never seen either of us so happy. It was sheer bliss.

As mentioned before, Nate was born and raised in Kentucky. He grew up in a cabin built by his father on the land his grandparents owned in Fleming County. His upbringing was so unique and the reason he is the man he is today! We determined that our wedding was the best opportunity to share this amazing place that we both love with my family and the people closest to us. I researched every venue in Kentucky before we found The Winchester Opera House. The location was perfect – easy for folks to travel to from local airports and centralized for our wedding week activities. But more than that, it fit our vision perfectly. Southern, regal, and much more “derby” than “country.” After meeting with the venue owner, Vanessa Ziembroski, we were so impressed by her knowledge and experience. Her business offered so many services, and that was such a comfort to us since we were planning the wedding out of state.

Did you decide to do a first look? Yes, we did! At first, our reasoning was for logistics. We wanted to enjoy every moment of our reception with guests and thought it would be nice to get the pictures done during the day with good lighting. As our wedding planning progressed we were so grateful we had made that decision! We both looked forward to that moment of pause.

The ’61 Mercedes Benz in the photos (named Josephine) originally belonged to my Papa, who bought Josephine while he was in the Airforce. My Papa and Granny drove their four children all over Europe and the US in that car! In the 80s, my Papa gave the car to my dad who loved it just the same. He restored Josephine to her original blue color, white wall tires, and red interior. She looked like new! He drove her in a trailer to Kentucky all the way from Colorado just to have her as my “something blue.” I have so many great memories of that car, and this one tops them all.

Our vision for the decor was simple and elegant. We wanted greenery to be most prevalent in our flower arrangements to represent Kentucky’s beautiful green scenery. We chose to have garlands and wreaths of greenery throughout the decor to represent the culture of the horse races in the area. Nate’s custom tux jacket had “Kentucky Nate” embroidered in it. That is what his buddies call him. His vest had our wedding date embroidered in it.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We chose to have white garden chairs rather than gold chiavari and to have standard silverware rather than gold. We also chose not to have a videographer, and I learned to do the calligraphy on all of our personalized items: invitations, escort cards, table numbers, signs, etc. And Nate and I made all of the tassels on the 75+ champagne confetti poppers for the ceremony. Mostly me, but he helped ;)

We had a simple wedding cake, just two layers of white cake with white buttercream. In addition to this, we served carrot cake. While we wanted the tradition of cutting the cake, this wasn’t the most important thing to us. We wanted most of all for our guests to have a great seated dinner and an open bar. At the bar we served three signature drinks: The Winchester – Ale81 (Kentucky’s own soft drink) and bourbon, Le Petit Chou – named after our pug and Sonia’s preferred cocktail, vodka, sprite, and soda water with lemon, and The Augustus McCrae -named after our German Shorthair Pointer (who is named after the Lonesome Dove character, Gus) and Nate’s preferred cocktail, double Eagle Rare bourbon on the rocks.

As our guests arrived to the ceremony and when we walked back up the aisle, my brother-in-law played acoustic guitar. He played the tune from the movie Crazy Heart, “The Weary Kind.” Nate and I are big Ryan Bingham fans! The lyrics aren’t extremely romantic, but instrumentally it is so beautiful. We liked the imperfections in its story and thought it was fitting for us. Walking down the aisle, Jarrod played the instrumental version of our first dance. The song is “Diamonds and Gasoline” by the Turnpike Troubadours. I knew Nate would immediately recognize the tune and know I was on my way! Again, the lyrics weren’t typical for a wedding, but it was a song that we loved when we were discovering our love for each other. My dad picked out the song for our father-daughter dance, “I love you Because,” which is a duet between Lisa Marie Presley and her father, Elvis. My dad and I LOVE Elvis and he does the best impersonation. He sang to me in his Elvis voice while we danced. So many emotions! Nate chose to surprise his mom with the song for their mother-son dance, “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead. This song is loved by her whole family. It was played at both her parents’ funerals. It was such a sweet moment for all of the “Montana Hippies,” the DeWeese side of the family. My mom and I had a special dance together to “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard. She sings this song to me a little too often ;)

Tell us your love story in one sentence. You fall in love with the most unexpected person at the most unexpected time.
Tell us all about the proposal! Nate was born and raised in Kentucky, and I was born and raised in Colorado. In August 2015, Nate’s parents, sisters and nieces, Genna (10) and Gabby (6), visited us from Kentucky for a weekend of Colorado fun and celebration. My family hosted a barbecue for the families to meet on my 23rd birthday. The little girls made made me a special gift: a fairytale storybook, written by Genna and illustrated by Gabby. The story featured me as a princess and told of all those who traveled to see me on my birthday and how much they loved me. It then read, “One person loved her the most. His name was Nate. He had a very important question to ask her…” The story ended with Nate on one knee and me in shaky tears as he popped the big question!
When did y’all get married? October 8, 2016.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 84. It was the perfect number for us to feel connected to our guests and still have a full dance floor!
What was your favorite detail from your wedding? In lieu of a guestbook, we created bourbon cocktail-themed postcards. We asked our guests to write us a note, kind thought, or marriage advice during our wedding reception. Throughout the first year of our marriage, Nate’s mom has been sending us the postcards randomly. It has been the most amazing reminder of our love and the support they promised us! The postcards always seem to arrive at the perfect time and are so meaningful to us. We read them together every time we receive one.
What was Southern about your wedding? My dress! The lace sleeves, off-the-shoulder neckline, and the train! It was so Southern and so perfect. Also, having the wedding in Kentucky exuded the hospitality and celebration of the South. We so enjoyed sharing Kentucky’s charm with our guests. Nate’s parents and sisters hosted a welcome dinner on their farm the Wednesday before the wedding where we ate a traditional Kentucky meal with hot brown casserole, BBQ, and bourbon. On Thursday, our guests had lunch in the little town of Midway, KY before touring the Buffalo Trace Bourbon Distillery. On Friday, we attended the opening day of the Fall Horse Race Meet at Keeneland followed by our rehearsal dinner at the Jefferson Davis Inn. It was exactly what we had hoped for in sharing Nate’s home.
What was your favorite thing about wedding planning? The life planning that developed with our wedding planning was our favorite thing about it all. Dreaming of our wedding week spent in Kentucky and discussing the things we loved about it most brought it into a different perspective for us. Ultimately, it lead to our realization that Nate’s “Old Kentucky Home” was where we want to be and to raise our future family. We plan to move to his family farm this fall to plant our roots!
What was the hardest part about planning your wedding? Planning from afar! It was difficult to book vendors and trust their judgment and reliability from a different state. We were so blessed to find the Winchester Opera House – they offered so many services that it really reduced our workload.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment from your wedding day? We both agree that our first look was the most memorable moment. Nate remembers the note and gift I had delivered to him just before. It referenced his grandparents and our goal to love the way they loved each other. And for me, I never felt more treasured by him. We cherished that moment of pause to embrace the impact of the day.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? Have a day-of coordinator! We were so grateful for ours! It allowed us to truly enjoy the day. I didn’t worry about what the groomsmen were up to, and Nate knew they were right on schedule. The staff of the Winchester Opera House made the perfect environment for our wedding day, and that is so important!

Photographer: Brooke Bailey of On A Whim Photography | Planner: Vanessa Ziembroski and Natalie Johnson of The Winchester Opera House | Ceremony and Reception Venue, Caterer, Rentals, and Lighting: The Winchester Opera House | Florist: Neal Linville of The Winchester Opera House | Wedding Cake Baker: Stacey Maslin, The Cake Lady | DJ: DJ Kevin Croucher, Wed Laugh Love | Paper Products: Minted | Bride’s Gown: Vintage Redesign by Donna Beth Creations | Bride’s Veil: Donna Beth Creations | Jewelry: Kendra Scott Earrings | Hair Stylist: Erika Evans, Something Blu Lexington | Makeup Artist: Tamika Holifield, Something Blu Lexington | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade New York | Groom’s Attire: Custom Joseph Abboud | Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Champagne poppers: Oriental Trading Company | Garter: made by bride and sister | Handkerchief: embroidered by bride | Bride’s Rings: Tacori | Groom’s Ring: Sather’s Jewelers, Fort Collins, CO

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Kara B reply

    LOVE that dress! The shoes are pretty awesome too!

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This. Wedding. Rocks! Mariangelix + Steven look like such a fun couple, don’t they? Their outdoor wedding was inspired by the 1940s Southern plantation style that we all know and love from The Notebook. M + S even asked their guests to come dressed in WWII-era garb! In addition to the fun theme, M + S’s wedding was full of amazing color and fun surprises! Their bowling alley reception was kept a surprise until right after the ceremony and guests were treated to adorably-wrapped socks. Love! Biggest thanks to Michelle March who shared this wedding with us.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: Finding my wedding dress was a tricky adventure. I began the search with my mom, knowing exactly what I wanted: a mermaid shape, ivory lace, cap sleeves and a key hole back. Monique Lhuillier’s “Scarlet” has always been my favorite dress, but it was not in my budget. After weeks and weeks of searching, my best friend was in town and we just decided to stop by a shop where I found my dress! I didn’t have that “Aha,” crying moment that people describe, but I just knew that it was meant for me. It couldn’t have been more perfect!
Describe your wedding flowers: COLOR! This was one of the most important details of my wedding. I treated my flowers as if they were a part of my outfit. I did my own flowers and I used all of my favorite ones, including purple tulips, blush pink peonies, red ranunculus, billy balls, black & white anemones, purple anemones, white hydrangeas, and red pin cushions. I tied it with black and white striped ribbon and finished with a light pink cameo brooch given to me by my mother-in-law. It really was spectacular, the colors were breathtaking!

How much do you love these dapper little gents and their fun sign?

Did you decide to do a “first look”? No, we didn’t do a first look mainly because Steven wanted to keep things more traditional. He wanted to look forward to seeing me walk down the aisle for the first time. I was happy with the decision, it was really sweet!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Our wedding was 1920s-1940s-themed and very inspired by The Notebook, therefore our song choices were connected to our theme in some way, as well as a reflection of us. We had an amazing pianist, Adlan Cruz, playing our songs on a grand piano. It was incredible! Before the bridal party walked down the aisle, he played “I’ll Be Seeing You.” The bridal party walked down the aisle to The Notebook’s theme song and then my dad and I walked down to “What a Wonderful World.” For the father-daughter dance, we played “Unforgettable”

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I feel like our ceremony had a Southern plantation feel to it, especially since it was inspired by The Notebook. I always wanted an outside wedding, so we held it on a piece of land that was on the property of our church. It was perfect! A blue vintage car dropped me off at the end of the aisle, which was elevated just enough so everyone could see. We had benches for our guests to sit on and purple rose petals mixed in with the green grass gave the aisle a nice touch! We gave everyone glass Coke bottles as favors after the ceremony and we played old jazz in the open air, while the wind blew and the sun was shining brightly. It was magical! Another Southern detail, which I treasure dearly, is my 1920s art deco estate ring!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: I had two wedding cakes. We designed both sets of cakes to fit the theme and reflect us in different ways. The first one was at the small reception right after our ceremony. It was a set of three Puerto Rican cakes with sweet mint green frosting. It was delicious! They were displayed on a red vintage desk with wooden hearts as toppers. The second cake was a bit more artsy. The five-tier masterpiece was the same style of cake as the first one, but with black, mustard, plum and mint colored fondant. The base and top tiers were black and white striped and the middle tier had a beautiful lace design. It was topped off by a set of wooden figurines that I made to resemble drawings that I make of us. Both cakes were made by my aunt, who is an amazing baker and artist in the Central Florida area.

How did the two of you meet? We met in high school. We had similar friends and knew of each other for a while before we started dating. We ended up having the same class my last year of high school and got to know each other. The last day of class before Christmas break, I happened to be leaving school early and he was skipping class. So, that was the first time we officially hung out and after that, it was a wrap! 8 years later, here we are!
Describe the proposal. Our proposal was magical! Michelle March actually had something to do with that as well. She had asked to shoot us a few times before, whenever she was in town, but it never seemed to work out, especially because Steven is not really the most photo-loving guy out there. This time, though, he ended up saying yes! “Just to get me off his back!” So, he ends up contacting my best friend and Michelle and they come up with this grandiose plan. We get some really nice shots in France and then Michelle says, “I want some ice cream,” their code word for the proposal. Of course I had no idea, so I say “Ooh, I want some ice cream!!” However, Michelle goes back to her position and keeps snapping away. About a few seconds later, Steven starts saying all these nice things to me and I think he’s joking (because he’s a jokester) so I tell him to stop playing! Then he gets on one knee and says, “This is real! Will you marry me?” I was so surprised, I started bawling like a little baby! As soon as I said yes, all I heard was clapping from all of the people that were around. It was the most beautiful thing ever! The pictures were beyond amazing and I was just so surprised! The night ended with a private view of the fireworks show on a balcony in the Italy pavilion. Disney really is where dreams come true — it was surreal!
In what month did you get married? March
How many guests attended your wedding? 200+
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I have to pick three!
1. Since it was a themed wedding, we asked our guests to wear attire from the 20s, 30s, or 40s. We didn’t think that so many of our guests would actually participate and it was a great turnout. It was such an amazing feeling when I saw all of those people dressed up right before I walked down the aisle. It was exactly as I imagined it! I felt like I was on a movie set!
2. Our reception! We had our reception at a bowling alley and it was a surprise to everyone! We kept our reception details a secret until the actual wedding day. All of the guests received the details right after the ceremony. They were so surprised and had a blast. It was really awesome to see them enjoy themselves! We wanted our wedding to be FUN as well as a reflection of us entirely. Plus, what’s better than taking your guests bowling?! Our favors were socks, because, of course, we knew they wouldn’t be ready!
3. Balloons and confetti! As we were walking back up the aisle, our guests threw confetti at us from little bags that were placed on the benches. Right before we departed to the reception, we gave everyone a red balloon and they let them go as we drove away. It was phenomenal to see the clear blue sky filled with red balloons as a celebration of our marriage!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge was keeping the bowling alley reception a secret. The only people that knew about it were our parents. We really didn’t think that we could do it, but we did! It was a great surprise!
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Steven’s custom-made suit! He is a pretty fashionable guy, so he always said he wanted a double-breasted suit. The only problem was finding it. We found a custom tailor in town to help us, which allowed Steven to be able to pick everything from the buttons to the lining and the pattern of the suit. It really was a neat experience. Steven always said that if there is any time when a man should splurge on his outfit, it should be on his wedding day! His whole entire combination was brilliant and he looked so dapper! I did not get to see the suit until the day-of and it was a really nice surprise!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The most memorable moment was walking back up the aisle with my husband as everyone was throwing confetti at us. It was like a dream!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be you! Think outside the box and don’t worry about what everyone else is going to think. Our wedding was truly a reflection of us and we didn’t have to break the bank for it. Sometimes wedding visions are way bigger than your budget, so be realistic and think of every possible way that you can do everything you want with the amount that you have. Prioritize your wants and it will all fall into place. Do as many DIY projects as possible. Additionally, don’t get caught up in so many traditions. You can do things your way if you want to! We wanted fun, so we went to a bowling alley! It was memorable for us and for our guests. Don’t let the planning stress get to you. Try to embrace every moment. This day is about you and your groom, so do as you please!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? That’s a really exciting question! We are recently taking my event design business to the next level and we are ecstatic! Finally we are doing something greater with my passion with Peplum Events & Design. We are excited for the opportunities, dreams and goals that we have for this business. I look forward to growing as partners and building a stronger marriage each day. Kids and those will show up someday! In the meantime, we are passionate about each other’s dreams and desires.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
23 Comments
  1. avatar Amber Lewter reply

    Very original! I love how each member of the wedding party has their own look, so personal and well thought out. Beautiful wedding!

  2. avatar Adeline reply

    These photos are beyond gorgeous! What a beautiful couple with an amazing concept!

  3. avatar Nine Photography | Dallas Wedding Photographers reply

    This wedding stopped me in my tracks! Best bridesmaid outfits ever!!!! Love this couple for being so creative and fun with their details. :)

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  5. avatar mandy reply

    Where did those fabulous garters come from?!

  6. avatar Kristin Hubbard reply

    This wedding is fabulous! From the outfits, to te decor, and even the bowling alley at the reception– this wedding rocks!!

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  22. avatar Photo Booth Rental Florida reply

    Wow! Really like the picture with the socks and the guys very very cool. And also like your picture with the car in the background.

  23. avatar Uplighting Rental reply

    Wow, love the pictures some really great moments on your blog. Thanks for sharing!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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