Mountain settings have always played a special role in Brigitte and Terry’s relationship, from their first date (hiking in wild and wonderful West Virginia) to their engagement (at the Biltmore in Asheville). It was only natural, then, that they needed a beautiful mountain setting for their spring wedding, and after a long search, Pleasant Hill Vineyards in East Tennessee ended up being the perfect fit. With the help of Jennifer Laraia, Brigitte and Terry brought their vision of an elegant, Southern-inspired, family-focused celebration to life, giving these two yet another beautiful mountainside memory!
Thank you so much to Watson Studios for sharing this beautiful day with us!
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. After looking at tons of bridal magazines, I was fairly confident that I wanted a lace, strapless, trumpet-style gown, but was open to trying on anything. My future sister-in-law came dress shopping with me, and although I liked every gown I tried on, none of them were quite right. Then I tried on the last gown, a lace, strapless, trumpet gown, and it was perfect! I teared up, my future sister-in-law teared up, and I knew that my dream dress was exactly what I had imagined!
We both love singer-songwriter music and I have always loved the banjo. After debating between a string quartet, a harp, or other traditional ceremony music, we chose to have a bluegrass band, Bluebilly Grit, play for our wedding ceremony. They were phenomenal! They played some traditional music, as well as some contemporary music, in a romantic, gentle bluegrass style. The wedding party processional was a version of “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, and I walked down the aisle to “Canon in D.” Bluebilly Grit also played during our cocktail hour, and of course, played our home state anthem, “Country Roads.”
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We both grew up in the beautiful, mountainous state of West Virginia, and we enjoy hiking, camping, and most outdoor activities. Our first date was even a hike through the mountains! We knew we wanted an outdoor wedding with a view of the mountains and a reception under a big tent, and it was important to us to be able to choose each vendor and aspect of our wedding. After traveling all over East Tennessee, we finally decided on Pleasant Hill Vineyards. The venue sits in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, and there was plenty of space for a big tent! Pleasant Hill Vineyards was very flexible with our use of the space and had minimal restrictions on outside vendors. We had a perfect April day for our outdoor wedding!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Since we had a difficult time deciding on a ceremony and reception venue, we planned most of the rest of the wedding in a little over three months. It was very busy and each week had a long list of to-dos. I could have never done it without the help, inspiration, and ideas of my amazing wedding planner and stylist, Jennifer Laraia! She took our vision and gave us our dream wedding!
Our wedding theme, rustic elegance, embraces all that is Southern. Invitations and welcome gifts were packaged in cotton muslin bags. The decorations were rustic, yet refined and romantic. We had church pews for seating and a chandelier in the trees at our outdoor ceremony. A bluegrass band provided music inspired by Appalachia for the ceremony and cocktail hour. We had a warm, welcoming reception with elegant wire chandeliers. Tables were named after our favorite mountain peaks in the Smoky Mountains and West Virginia, tying in our love of the mountains and our outdoor location. Dinner was served family style and condiments were served in mini mason jars. We loved the idea of guests passing dinner around the table, sharing conversation, and getting to know each other.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It is hard to pick one detail of the wedding that was our favorite, but what stands out most is the beautiful mountain scenery and the starry sky!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Terry and I met while working together in our hometown. A mutual friend introduced us and separately encouraged us to go out. I was planning on moving in a few months and Terry had recently become single after a serious relationship, so neither of us was all that interested. Since we were both hesitant to start a relationship, our friend arranged for a small group of us to spend a day on the lake together. Despite both mine and Terry’s resistance, we really enjoyed each other’s company. The next week, we had our first date, hiking at a nearby state park in the mountains of West Virginia. Our second and third dates came the following two days, and we’ve been together ever since!
Tell us all about the proposal! While spending the weekend at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville to celebrate Terry’s birthday, we planned to experience as much of the Biltmore as possible. We spent the first day touring the inside of the home, leaving the second day for touring the exterior, grounds, and gardens. Midway through our tour of the house exterior, it started to sprinkle and we could see dark clouds in the distance. Terry kept saying, “I can’t believe it’s going to rain.” I kept telling him it was fine, and there were plenty of other things to see and do, but he kept on worrying about the rain. After waiting out the rain showers in the greenhouse, the skies cleared and we headed to the gardens and pond. While strolling around the pond, we stopped and sat on a bench to enjoy the beautiful views. Terry began telling me how happy he has been throughout our five years of dating, then asked me to spend forever with him! Of course, I said, yes! Later that afternoon I realized this was why Terry had gotten so worked up about the rain. :)
When did y’all get married? April 12, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 115
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We thought long and hard about whether or not to do a first look, and ultimately decided to keep that part of our wedding traditional. Although we loved the moment that our eyes caught each other as I walked down the aisle, we both agree that if we had it to do all over again, we would do a first look. We would have liked to have that personal, private moment–just the two of us–to enjoy each other and have quiet time together to embrace all that the day represented.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We wrote our vows together, borrowing from various examples we found online, and adding our own touches. My favorite phrase from our vows was, “I choose you. To be joy to your heart and food for your soul. To learn with you and grow with you, even as time and life change us both.”
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Terry and I were engaged for almost three years and dated for almost five before that. We had lived in four different cities during that time and worked through most of the issues couples encounter when they start sharing a home and household responsibilities. We found, however, that planning our vows and ceremony prompted heartfelt discussions about faith, family, children, and our future. It really helped to solidify our commitment to each other.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? We would encourage others to strongly consider a first look and a videographer. The day goes by so fast and is so busy. Both a first look and a video of the day give you chance to pause and cherish every detail.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We have spent most of our relationship up until now sacrificing in our personal lives in order to progress in our professional lives. Now that we have achieved most of our professional goals, we are looking forward to traveling and spending time enjoying our hobbies together. We plan to travel, hike, and enjoy all that East Tennessee has to offer, and hopefully, start a family in the next few years.
Photographer: Watson Studios / Planning and Design: Jennifer Laraia / Venue: Pleasant Hill Vineyards / Florist: Whimsical Gatherings / Cake Baker: Cheryl McMillan / Caterer: Northshore Brasserie / Rentals: All Occasions Party Rentals and Anderson Rental / Band: BlueBilly Grit / DJ: Ogle Entertainment / Paper Products: Ali-G Design / Bride’s Gown: “9102” by Alvina Valenta / Hair and Makeup: Bangs and Blush / Bridesmaid Dresses: Alfred Angelo / Menswear: Calvin Klein / Getaway Car: A Regal Carriage Company
Rustic elegance–what a perfect way to describe this wedding. I love how they maximize the natural beauty of their location. The trees, the moss, even the grass looks like it was picked out and placed perfectly to go with their decor!
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