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Emily and I are on our way back to the South after four days of admiring hundreds of beautiful wedding gowns at Bridal Market (check out #SWBridalMarket on Instagram for pictures from our trip!). Throughout it all, it was surprisingly easy to identify dresses that you, our lovely readers, would love as much as we did. Like us at Southern Weddings, we know that you value tradition and love all things classic, but you’re also not afraid to be yourself and do things your own way, both in your dress and in your wedding. Brooke and Carlos are a perfect example of this balance–they honored tradition through elements like their ceremony music and having their first look while Brooke was walking down the aisle, but they also embraced a unique, super fun “swingin’ Sixties” theme through their black and white decor.

We’re so grateful to Akil Bennett for sharing this fabulous wedding with us!

I was looking for a dress that was unique and modern, but still romantic and sweet. When I found the Contessa dress from BHLDN, I knew I had found my dress! I was immediately drawn to the innovative screen-printed lace and the fit and flaire silhouette that was that perfect mixture of traditional and mod.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We were both enchanted with the idea of having that moment when the church doors opened, our eyes locked, and we lost our breath for a moment. We thought it too good to not share with our friends and family!

For the ceremony, we chose All Saints Catholic Church, not only because of it’s 100+ year old history in the Houston Heights, but also for its simply stunning interior. Its Byzantine-style ceiling and images whisk you away to another time. For the reception, we knew that using a standard ballroom would simply not work for our vision, so we set out to find the perfect raw venue. After countless tours, calls, and drive-bys, we stumbled upon Silver Street Studios, the oversized warehouse of our dreams!

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We fashioned some of our own custom linens. We decided on family-style tables with long black and white striped runners (all made by my mom with fabric from Ikea). For each place setting, I folded 200 black napkins that we purchased online into bow ties.

Once we had our larger than life venue, we knew we needed a few details that could hold their own in such a big space. That’s where the marquee letters came in! I passed along my oversized marquee letter idea to my uncle, a talented carpenter, to see if he would be willing to create a 5-foot “B+C.” The finished product was beyond my expectations! This project was a labor of love–Carlos and I painted the letters with a total of six coats of metallic paint in order to get that golden finish, popped in several strands of outdoor lights from Target, and voila!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Classic/cool was the name of the game, so I went with a retro four-tiered cake from Alphorn Bakery, complete with a vintage bride and groom figurine on top that I found on Etsy. Finding a couple that looked like us was tricky, so I was over the moon when I found a gent with a dashing stache! Carlos loves the Rollings Stones, so there was no better groom’s cake than one modeled after the cover of Let it Bleed, flawlessly executed by Jodi Fernandez of Silver Cake Studios. We were blown away by the amount of attention she paid to the details!

Music has always connected Carlos and I, from the first time we had a conversation to when we carefully curated a soundtrack to our wedding. During the reception, we chose music that not only had meaning to us, but that fit the theme of the swinging sixties–music that people of all generations could boogie to! Our first dance was a combination of Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell,” where we did our own version of the Pulp Fiction dance, and the Lou Reed love song “Perfect Day,” which has been a song of significance throughout our relationship. Music was such a big factor at our wedding that our favor for our guests was a soundtrack to commemorate the evening.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met through a mutual friend in high school in 2002. We made an instant connection through our sense of humor and kept each other laughing until Carlos went off to college later that summer. The distance could not keep our friendship from blossoming. Of course, every tale has two sides, and this love story is no exception–I knew Carlos was the one shortly after meeting him! It took Carlos a bit longer to realize I was the perfect girl for him. As the universe brought us both to Austin, Carlos realized I was the one for him.
Tell us all about the proposal! On November 1, we took a trip to Marfa, a small town in West Texas, 10 hours away from Houston where we reside. I surprised Carlos with the trip in honor of his 30th birthday in June, but little did I know, I would soon receive a surprise of my own. We ended the first day of our trip with a sunset tour of the Chinati Foundation, 330 acres of land. The tour consisted of just Carlos and I and one other couple. It began with Donald Judd’s 100 Untitled Works in Mill Aluminum. As we approached the end, I saw a miniature version of the aluminum boxes. I said, “Aw, look! A little one!” Carolos said, “Oh, that’s cool! It looks like it has a lid. You think I can touch it?” “NO! Don’t touch it!! You cannot touch the art! You’re going to get in trouble!!!” In total disregard of my warnings, he bent down on one knee and proceeded to carefully pull the lid off the perfectly polished box. Nestled inside was a dainty ring box. He pulled it out and turned around to reveal a glistening diamond ring, and I watched as my one and only love asked, “Brooke Joanna Manning, will you marry me?” Fighting back tears, I said, “YES!” I soon found out that EVERYONE was in on it! The “other couple” turned out to be photographers Carlos had hired to capture this wonderful moment. The docent, who had placed the box, brought out wine and gave a toast to our engagement. It was truly a perfect day.
When did y’all get married? November 9, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 185
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We went traditional, as we wanted vows that could truly withstand the test of time.
Describe your wedding flowers. I decided to alternate succulents in white tulip vases, gold candles, and gold vases with exotic flowers like mink protea (a flower that looks like it doubles as a man eater). For the bouquets, I wanted something fun and a little funky, but still soft. My lovely best friend, owner of Sweet Sunday Events and Rentals, chose mink protea, white ranunculus, white dahlias, and eucalyptus.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? My most memorable moment was ending the night next to my husband on the dance floor while “Buddy Holly” by Weezer was playing in the background, everyone was dancing around us, and a confetti cannon went off, letting metallic confetti/streamers slowly drift down onto the people we care about most in the world!

Photographer: Akil Bennett / Planner: Two Be Wed / Ceremony Venue: All Saints Catholic Church / Reception Venue: Silver Street Studios / Florist: Flowers for Olivia, Sweet Sunday Events & Rentals / Cake Baker: Alphorn Bakery / Catering: A La Carte / Rentals: Aztec, Swift & Co. / Lighting: Bright Star Productions / DJ: Jose Diaz from LG Entertainment / Floor Decal: Sign Guys Houston / Paper Products: The Stationery Bakery / Favors: Night Owls Print / Bride’s Gown: “Contessa” by BHLDN / Bride’s Hair Accessories: BHLDN / Hair and Makeup: Southern & Adorn / Bride’s Shoes: Seychelles / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Nordstrom / Groom’s Attire: J.Crew / Photobooth: PhotoMoto

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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Chrissy + Tate’s wedding was one of the very first that we accepted to feature in V5, which gave us plenty of time to get to know their big day. Trust me when I say there is a lot to take in. There isn’t any detail of their big day that escapes without a story behind it, which is how we like it in the South. These two know just how to celebrate a marriage — with plenty of “them” infused in the details and an unplugged ceremony, in which guests were asked to completely turn off their cell phone and refrain from taking photos. It helped guests focus on the vows being said and allowed their photographer to take plenty of unblocked and beautiful shots.

We are so grateful for Courtney Dellafiora who shared this wedding with us and for C + T for sharing their adorable love story (Really, y’all, their proposal story is a must read!). Stay tuned for more sweet photos in Part 2!

Tell me all the basics of your wedding!  I am from North Carolina, Tate is from Mississippi, we met in New York, and live in California, so we decided to split the difference and get married just outside of Shreveport, Louisiana. Tate has a larger family, and I wanted to have our wedding close enough for his grandparents to attend.  Why Shreveport?  The venue.  When researching locations online close to his family, I came across a wedding at the Dixie Gin and was instantly smitten. It had so much beauty and character, and my gut told me it was the place. After talking to Lauren, one of the owners (and nicest people in the WORLD), I was even more convinced. We got the chance to visit Shreveport the November prior to the wedding, and as soon as we pulled up to the Gin, we both agreed it was just perfect. Everyone thought we were nuts to get married in a city where neither of us had been or lived (and I have to admit it was quite a leap of faith) but it was well worth the risk.  We chose mid-May because it fell in a time on the calendar when the entertainment industry has a lull, the weather wouldn’t be too painfully hot, and because the date was available.

Groom’s favorite detail of the wedding: (From the groom) Our shoes! I bought a vintage pair of bowling shoes online, and Chrissy had a custom pair of heels designed to look like mine. It was a nice reminder of where it all started for our relationship.

Describe your bouquet. One of my friends took up floral arranging as a hobby and as luck would have it, she’s a total natural. She made all of the bouquets and boutonnieres for the wedding party, as well as my bouquet.  She lives in NYC and I was in LA, so we exchanged a bunch of emails with links and pictures to make sure we both had the same vision. My bouquet was a mix of cotton, succulents, dusty miller, seeded eucalyptus, ranunculus, hydrangeas, and craspedia. The bouquet was wrapped with a doily made by my fraternal grandmother. The cotton used in my bouquet and throughout the wedding was hand picked by my Mom! She scoured North Carolina during harvest season and asked farms if they wouldn’t mind her picking some of their cotton. Thank goodness for Southern hospitality, because everyone said yes!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress.  I wore a full-length lace gown with cap sleeves and a keyhole back by Paloma Blanca. It was the fourth dress I tried on, and the whole store sighed “aww!” when I walked out of the dressing room.  I thought it was a setup! I ended up trying on about 50 gowns over a few months, but kept thinking of that one. It was surprising how emotional gown shopping was, I just didn’t expect to react so strongly to a piece of clothing, you know? Looking at my reflection I suddenly realized “oh wow, I’m a grown woman!”

Describe the proposal: On our first date, we met up for drinks and then went to a party thrown by two of our friends at a loft in Brooklyn. The hosts are two really creative people and at the end of the night, they had everyone write their name and address on an envelope and put it in a hat. The hat was then passed around and we all drew out an envelope with the name and address of another person at the party, and we were all instructed to send that person a letter. The following year, we were back in New York City for a friends’ wedding, and Tate blocked off an evening for just the two of us. I didn’t know the agenda, but it turned out to be a night of “greatest hits.” We went to dinner at the first restaurant at which we dined together, then grabbed a drink at the bar in which we met on our first date, and then headed to The Gutter for a round of bowling. We were having a great evening together, and coincidentally had the whole place to ourselves. Just before the last frame, Tate darted away saying he was going to get something from the bar. He came back, bowled his turn (he won), and the music suddenly switched from 80’s hair band music to a song called “Terrible Love” by our favorite band, The National. I joked; “well, you beat me but at least now they’re playing The National,” to which he replied, “I know, because I asked them to.”  He then said he had something for me, and pulled it out of his pocket.  I stared in total disbelief — it was the envelope from the party on our first date with my name and address.  Inside was a letter he read aloud, explaining how he excited he was that night to finally be out on a date together, and that he was thrilled when he pulled my envelope out of the hat. At first he was going to write a letter asking me on a second date, but finally decided to hang onto it for a rainy day, saying, “I think I knew even then that this day would come.” He continued reading as the music swelled, concluding with “you are my life and my love and I hope and pray you always will be.” He then got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was the definition of romantic.

Chrissy’s bridesmaids’ dresses are some of my favorites! I was thrilled when she shared where she found them.

“I came across Sohomode one night when browsing Etsy, and loved the designs. They all had the same flattering retro silhouette but were made with a vintage fabric of your choice. Each bridesmaid selected fabric within a certain color family, and I thought everyone looked smashing!”

The ceremony was really powerful. We had a playlist of Vitamin String Quartet playing covers of modern music leading up to the ceremony, and that helped set the mood that ours would be a traditional wedding with a twist. Rather than a more customary song for the processional, we both agreed on “Terrible Love,” as it’s kind of an anthem for our relationship. Plus it has a nice rhythm, great lyrics, and eventually gets so loud you feel it in your gut. The entire wedding party walked out individually as it played, and I followed. Both of my parents escorted me down the aisle, and having them both by my side was really special. Before the three of us walked out, all of a sudden it just hit me “Whoa, this is our wedding!” and the next thing I knew I was standing next to Tate. The ceremony itself is one of the few things that felt happened in real time. Tate has a childhood friend who is a Pastor and he led the ceremony. We had two friends who gave lovely and touching speeches, and said traditional vows as well as our own. We’re pretty open with our emotions, whatever they may be, and were both alternating between crying and laughing the whole time. There was a funny moment when we almost kissed, and both of us said “Oh no! I can’t kiss you yet!” and everyone laughed. I know it sounds cheesy, but something special was in the air that day, and everyone could feel it. The ceremony was a series of very profound, honest moments. It was just lovely.

Did you try anything new or untraditional? In the months leading up to the wedding, I decided I wanted to surprise Tate with something unique during our ceremony. When he was little, he was in the hospital and a puppet came in to visit and entertain him.  Ever since, he’s been a fan of puppets and his face lights up like a kid when he sees them. With this in mind, I decided to make sock puppets for each guest attending the wedding to wear on their hand as they cheered and clapped at the end of the ceremony as we made our exit. I locked myself in our spare bedroom for a number of weekends and made over 100 puppets by hand. Half were grooms that looked like Tate, and half were brides that looked like me. They were really detailed so it was quite an undertaking! At the end of the ceremony, our pastor instructed everyone to open the paper bag in front of them and put the item inside on their hand to welcome the happy couple. As all of this was happening, Tate looked over with a smile and said “What did you do?” and I just giggled and shrugged. Suddenly, bride and groom puppets started popping up throughout the crowd, and everyone cheered—it was a really sweet and funny moment, and I loved seeing him so happy.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.  We met a few times through work before actually meeting in the real world. The first time was in the spring of 2008. I was working at a network during pilot season, and Tate came in to audition. I remember noticing a cute floppy-haired guy sitting in the waiting area eavesdropping on one of my conversations (he later admitted this was true). A year later, Tate was in The Philanthropist on Broadway, and a friend of mine from college was an understudy in the same show. She and Tate lived in the same neighborhood and became buddies. Tate and I direct met at her birthday party one night in Brooklyn. We continued to hang out with groups, but were both totally oblivious to the fact that we were interested in each other for about a year. (Yes, a year!) At that time, I was working on The Good Wife for CBS, and Tate starred in one of the episodes. In the spring of 2010, we both attended the wrap party for the first season, and afterward, went bowling with friends at this amazing vintage bowling alley our friends own in Brooklyn called The Gutter. The whole night, we kept high-fiving each other — like, excessively high-fiving — and it finally dawned on both of us that our crushes were mutual. Our first date was a week later, nine months later we moved to Los Angeles, and here we are today!
What is a time together you will always remember? Tate’s apartment had a bad habit of flooding in heavy rains (gotta love New York!). One day, we came home to his place after grabbing lunch during a downpour and sure enough, water was everywhere. We immediately went to the store and bought supplies to clean up the mess and spent about six hours cleaning while singing along to music, laughing, and telling stories. At the end of it all, we were covered in mud and grime but still smiling. Later, we both admitted to falling in love that day. If we could still have fun and work well together when things weren’t so great, then it was meant to be.
Tell us about your beautiful engagement ring and how/why your husband (or the two of you!) chose it: Tate proposed with his mother’s engagement ring, but knew I also had diamonds belonging to one of my grandmothers that I wanted to incorporate. On the recommendation of a friend, we had a custom ring designed at this amazing little jewelry shop in Brooklyn called Elleven.  It’s truly special as it symbolizes the blending of our lives and families: the center stone from his mother, side stones from my grandmother, and additional new diamonds symbolizing the life we’re making together.
How many guests attended your wedding? About 115. We had an extra table for “anyone else who shows up” and people did!
Tell us about your invitations. One of Tate’s friends does branding and design, and he helped us create a really unique logo and layout for the invitations. I then used the same fonts and logo to design and word the rest of our invitation suite, as well as the Mad Libs and wedding programs. The invitations became a larger DIY project than either of us anticipated. Tate has the patience of a saint, and spent hours printing, cutting, gluing, and labeling — he was a one-man assembly line!
How did you spend the morning or afternoon before your big day? (From the bride) I spent the day getting ready with my friends and bridesmaids. Another of my closest friends is ridiculously talented with makeup, and she did both that and my hair.  It was so nice having someone I trusted and knew well there with me all day, rather than a total stranger. In one corner I was getting ready, in another corner the bouquets were being finished, in another corner friends were laughing and telling stories, family and friends flowed in and out of the room — it was really lovely and relaxed. (From the groom) The morning of the wedding, I discovered someone had ran into my Mom’s car in the middle of the night. It was parked on the street in downtown Shreveport and they completely bashed in the trunk – and we had planned on driving away in it at the end of the night. I spent the morning talking to the police, then ran some last-minute errands, had lunch with friends, and started getting ready. We actually ended up driving away in it anyway at the end of the night, and it was pretty hilarious seeing everyone gasp as they saw the trunk!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? To Tate, I said, “When we had our second date, you expressed some concerns about starting a relationship. You said ‘I’m really bad at dating’ to which I replied ‘well, that’s all right because I’m a DISASTER!’ I’m happy to say we were both wrong” Tate said to me, “You’re the perfect height for me to rest my chin on your head. We fit like the two leftover puzzle pieces in the box. We don’t fit the puzzle, but we fit together.”
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? My sister had a ring passing ceremony during her wedding and I found it very touching. We included that as a part of our day as well.
Did you do a first look? Yes, and I am so thankful we did! Having a few minutes with just the two of us was really special. It all goes by so fast, and having some time together before everything started helped keep us grounded.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
2 Comments
  1. avatar Jessica B reply

    What a beautiful, fun, personal wedding! Vintage and natural… love it! And I was so excited to read about Chrissy’s bridesmaids’ dresses! This is one detail I’d had no luck figuring out, but after checking out Sohomode, I think I may have found my solution! Can’t wait to see what my girls think.

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Can y’all believe it? V5 is on it’s way! Pre-order your copy here.

As far as pink weddings go, I am always a fan. However, I love that Sarah + Keith juxtaposed the pretty pink blooms and soft details throughout their wedding with the rustic McKinney Cotton Mill. Those giant planters overflowing with hydrangeas set in front of the distressed brick wall of S + K’s ceremony just kill me! I’m sure that for guests, however, the pretty decor was overshadowed by Sarah’s sweet processional (as it should). Her dad, in his military best, walked Sarah down the aisle to Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” and I bet there was nary a dry eye in the place! Big hugs to Krystal Akin for sharing this wedding with us!

I LOVE the lotus pods that were included in Sarah’s bouquet — they’re a pretty but graphic pop of green in her romantic blooms.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: Since the surprise was busted and I was moving to Houston from my hometown in McKinney in November, my mom and I decided to do a little “pre-shopping.” I’d always heard how hard it was to find a dress, so I certainly didn’t expect to find it on my first trip. I tried on three dresses before the shop owner suggested I try the beautiful dress they had on display in the front. When I came out of the changing room, my seven-year-old brother goes, “WOW!” and he hadn’t even said anything all afternoon. It was great having my little brother and mom there!

Who else is a fan of Keith’s cotton boll boutonniere? Dapper, indeed.

For Keith, an Aggie, a Texas A&M groom’s cake was a must! We think it would make a fine addition to our SEC Wedding Round-Up!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: We went against tradition and I had a chocolate bridal cake and he had a vanilla groom’s cake. Although I only got a bite of each one, the chocolate with chocolate buttercream and raspberry filling was delicious. It was beautiful, with the light pink sugar roses on white fondant. I loved Keith’s because it had the Texas A&M logo on it in maroon and white. I can’t wait for our one year anniversary so that we can get our topper! Luckily, the bakery we chose makes us a fresh topper for our one year.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Keith and I met the first day of tenth grade. The first class we had together was a computer class and we had to do a “first day of class” activity requiring us to go around and find out different things about our classmates. I found out that Keith was from Canada and he had just gotten back from living overseas in Paris. I had a huge crush on him from day one! Turns out, we had a lot of classes together and started going out at the end of that year!
Describe the proposal. It was Keith’s last year of college. I had graduated early, nine months before. Being old fashion as we both are, he asked my dad for permission. Unfortunately my dad didn’t get the message that it was that special time and he certainly wasn’t ready for it. Keith called several times to no avail. Finally, my dad asked me if I knew why Keith kept calling him and my mom and I had to spell it out for him, that it was probably Keith asking for permission! After finally getting my dad to call back, set up a day to meet and eventually asking my dad, my dad actually ruined the “surprise.” He wanted to pray over this proposal and union with my entire family. Fast forward two weeks. I went down for a weekend to see Keith in College Station (home of the Texas A&M Aggies). A&M has a cute tradition that if you walk under the century tree on campus with someone, you will marry them. If you propose under the tree, you will be married for a lifetime. On November 4th, 2011, Keith told me he left something on campus and he needed to go get it. I didn’t understand that he was going to propose or why he wanted to go to campus right then. As we neared the tree, I finally understood and it was a wonderful proposal!
In what month did you get married? June
How many guests attended your wedding? Approximately 150 people
Did you decide to do a “first look”? No, I am very old fashioned and didn’t want to ruin the surprise of the first look. Keith agreed and definitely didn’t want the first look down the aisle to be ruined, either.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Our parents walked down the aisle to “Have I Told You Lately” played by Vitamin String Quartet. Our bridal party walked down to “Here Comes the Sun” played by Vitamin String Quartet (as you can see, I was a little obsessed). I walked down with my dad to “Wonderful Tonight” played by Vitamin String Quartet. “Wonderful Tonight” is one of my favorite songs by Eric Clapton because Keith was always trying to get me to like his music and this one I really loved. Our first dance was “Falling in Love in a Coffee Shop” by Landon Pigg.
Describe your wedding flowers: I loved the pastel, romantic flowers with lots of texture. My florist captured all that I wanted and more! There were soft pink peonies, green lotus pods, green lisianthus, ivory ranunculus, soft pink spray roses, ivory sweet peas and seeded eucalyptus. In contrast to the dark browns and rustic theme of the Cotton Mill, I think the flowers looked beautiful with their light colors and blooms.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Everyone’s different expectations was the hardest thing for us to overcome, including our own.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000 – $25,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The venue, for sure.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? When the officiant went to announce us, he accidentally announced us as “Mr. & Mr. Driedger.” There is a really funny picture of us laughing really hard at this announcement.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Relax and realize that the most important thing is that at the end of all the planning, you will be a Mrs. despite any of the hang-ups and bang-ups.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Right now we are both working jobs that we love and we look forward to buying a house soon!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
4 Comments
  1. avatar Anna reply

    I love the floral arrangements for this wedding! Also, the bride’s bouquet is stunning. The lotus pods really make it. The cotton boll the groom wore, too, added a down-to-earth vibe. It really shows the roots of the couple.

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