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When I first read Koli‘s interview, I couldn’t stop thinking about a line from our Sweet Tea Society manifesto: “We believe that there is nothing on this earth more important than family.” From Koli’s lifelong dream of wearing her mother’s wedding dress, to the reception held at the barn her older brother built, Koli and Dylan’s wedding was a family affair in every way. The celebration and value of family is one of my absolute favorite things about the South (and I’m sure yours too!), and seeing all of Koli’s family’s gifts and talents come together to create this beautiful country wedding just warms my heart!

Big hugs to Leah Savage Photography for sharing Koli and Dylan’s day with us!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. My best friend told me about this guy that he had been hanging out with that he thought I would really like. One night, we were having a bonfire in the pasture at my house and my best friend invited him. That was the first time we had saw each other. We never spoke that night, but we definitely noticed each other. The next time we saw each other and the first time we spoke was at my high school graduation, when he came to watch my best friend graduate. He didn’t ask for my number then, but later got it from my best friend, who was one of his best friends now too. He texted me that night and the rest is history.

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to wear my mother’s dress, but unfortunately, it was too small for me. I looked in boutique after boutique and never found anything that I liked or hadn’t seen a hundred times. Because I am a thrift store junkie, I knew I could find something there that I could make my own. I already had three dresses I was planning to take apart and make into a new one when my mom brought home this gorgeous Givenchy dress she found at the thrift store for $30. It fit PERFECTLY! I wanted to incorporate my mom’s dress somehow, so we decided we would take the lace off of her dress and attach it to the thrift store Givenchy. We started taking the lace off of her dress when she insisted that I try it on one last time before we ripped it apart, so I did. It zipped right up. I had been exercising and eating healthy, but it fitting was a big surprise to me. I was so excited and we immediately stopped taking it apart. The only thing I wanted to change were the sleeves in her dress, so I took them out and my grandmother sewed the sleeve holes up. We had it cleaned and it was absolutely perfect.

Because my mother was a photographer and I had helped her with countless weddings, I knew that I didn’t want to make all of our guests wait for us to do photos after the ceremony. Instead of having the first look at the ceremony, my great photographer, Leah Savage, suggested that we do a private first look before the ceremony. That turned out to be the best and most stress-free option for us.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I think the most memorable moment was when the ceremony had just ended. Dylan and I were finally married, and we got to kiss and talk to each other as husband and wife.

I love this sweet picture of Koli with her parents. It captures their close relationship so perfectly!

The wedding cake was a simple tiered cake with “messy” icing, as I call it. It had different flowers cascading down the front. I didn’t want my cake to be fancy and smooth, but rather, I wanted something that was simple, beautiful, and delicious, and our cake was definitely all three. For dessert, we had my mother’s from-scratch bread pudding that she had made that morning, four of my grandmother’s delicious homemade red velvet cakes, and my famous chocolate chip cookies I made from scratch the day before. We also had pies from Twix-n-Tween in Centreville, AL, as well as Dylan’s favorite Lemon Pie from the Downtowner Restaurant in Selma, AL. I think more love was poured into the desert table than any other detail.

Tell us all about the proposal! I had the feeling that it was coming soon, but I wasn’t sure exactly when it was going to happen. On January 31, I had just gone to get my hair done when he called me to stop by his house for a second. I got there and found a note on the door that sent me somewhere else. After the fourth note, he sent me to where he was waiting with the ring. Needless to say, I was so excited! After calling all of our families and getting all the excitement out, I went home and immediately painted my nails because I knew I would be showing the gorgeous ring to EVERYONE in the upcoming days.
When did y’all get married? June 22, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Our preacher, who is also Dylan’s grandfather, read a few verses of 1st Corinthians.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. My mom always was a fan of Van Morrison and I grew to love his music as well, so for a long time, I knew that I wanted “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison to be my wedding song. Dylan left that decision up to me.
Describe your wedding flowers. My wedding flowers were a complete surprise to me. Before the pictures were taken, my mom showed me the two options. One was a more woodsy looking bouquet with hydrangeas and greenery and the other was a solid peony bouquet. I immediately fell in love with them both, but the peonies were so sweet and simple, I chose that one. As far as the flowers we decorated with goes, we used beautiful hydrangeas my sister-in-law cut out of her mother’s garden a few days before the wedding.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It is so hard to pick only one detail, but I think the thing that made the night so fun was the band, Over the Mountain. They were so good and everyone, especially the kids, had fun dancing to their music. The whole reception area was fit around the stage and it gave the reception such a laid-back, fun vibe.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We had the wedding on my family’s farm at my oldest brother’s barn he built, with the cattle grazing in the pasture that we used as the ceremony background. We had bread pudding made from my mothers from scratch biscuits. The band played country, bluegrass, folk and oldies music. My second oldest brother made the bench seating, as well as the arbor we stood in front of. There were also touches of the South all throughout the decor. It definitely had southern charm.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? Less than $10,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Every single one of the vendors we used was absolutely perfect, from the photographer to the caterer, band, and, of course, my personal decorator, my mother. It all worked together perfectly to make the day a special one that Dylan and I will never forget.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t get so caught up in planning that you don’t have fun.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Right now, we are just enjoying each other. After I graduate college and become a Home Ec. teacher, we plan on starting a family.

Photographer: Leah Savage Photography | Planner: Mother of the Bride | Ceremony & Reception Venue: Brother of the Bride’s barn | Florist: Tina Sibley | Wedding Cake Baker & Caterer: Labbe’s Cakes and Catering | Rentals: ABZ Rental & Beauty Mark | Band: Over the Mountain | Bride’s Gown & Veil: Mother of the Bride’s | Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas | Hair Stylist & Makeup Artist: Bride | Groom’s Attire: Thrift Store Finds

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar La Jolla Wedding reply

    Stunning venue!

  2. avatar Madi Reid Sanders reply

    Love love love the sweetness in this post!
    Koli- If you’re reading this 1) Best wishes to you and your groom! You were a stunning bride!!!! 2) I’m such a nerd and I have to ask where the sheep skin rug in one of the first few photos is from!

  3. avatar Ashley @ Details Nashville reply

    I really love these photos! What a simple and elegant southern wedding. My two favorite aspects is her train on her dress and the invitations (black, with pink roses). Looks like it was a great event!

  4. avatar Dana reply

    love the wedding cake and her engagement ring! it is perfect!

  5. avatar Koli Nichols reply

    Madi, thank you so much!!!! The rug came from Costco! I think it was around $100…

    Thank you everyone for your kind words!

  6. avatar Taylor reply

    Koli if your family ever decides to rent the barn out for a wedding I would be very interested! It is gorgeous! Get in touch with me if it is even a remote possibility.. [email protected]

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Caitlyn’s advice to decorate in the style you like, choose food that you find delicious, and play songs that you love, even if they’re not “cool” at the moment, is a great reminder for all of us planning a wedding! Using that mantra as a guideline, Caitlyn + John’s Arkansas wedding at the Pratt Place Barn came together beautifully and joyfully, on what appears to be a gorgeous spring day. Make sure you scroll down to see their chair decor — my favorite detail! — photographed to perfection by Daniel Kim.

Isn’t Caitlyn’s lace gown gorgeous? It was my mother’s dress, and after I got engaged, she mentioned that it was still in the closet. I was more than willing to put it on, and in the first fitting I knew it was perfect. No alterations needed to be done except for taking off the sleeves and adding a “capped sleeve” look to the dress — otherwise, it fit like a glove!

Did you write your own vows? Yes, we used a mix of traditional vows and our own vows. My favorite line was when we promised to sacrifice ourselves for each other’s joy.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? John’s dad read Psalm 16.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. I walked down the aisle to “Sea of Love” by Cat Powers. Our first dance was to “Living of Love” by the Avett Brothers and the father-daughter dance was to “You got a Friend” by James Taylor. We also played “Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole.

This photo and the one below it are so jubilant! Love.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. John and I met our first month of college. His friend (who ended up our best man) had a crush on my roommate, and so they would find excuses to hang out with us. We were friends for a year before we started dating, and then were together all through college and got engaged the year after graduating. We were long distance when John was in graduate school in Massachusetts and I worked in Arkansas, and then we got married the following year.
Describe the proposal. For the proposal, John took me on a tour of our relationship. We had dinner where we said I love you, danced in the field where we danced for the first time, painted a picture in the office where we spent our time in college, and then he proposed where he asked me out and we had our first kiss.
In what month did you get married? May
How many guests attended your wedding? 170
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Yes. We felt as though we would be less nervous if we saw each other before the wedding, and we wanted keep the amount of pictures after the ceremony minimal so that guests would not be waiting for us.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: My favorite detail was the Mexican banners that were hanging from the ceiling.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was that we were planning our wedding long distance. John was living in Massachusetts, and I was in Arkansas. Our goal was to make a lot of the decisions together, and the distance made that difficult.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000 – $25,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? My splurge was our photographer, Daniel Kim. He was amazing, and really captured the memories of our wedding.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The thing that we remember most was simply having all of our friends and family in one spot.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Our advice is to enjoy the process, and don’t let planning your wedding get in the way of enjoying your engagement and the days leading up to your wedding. Also, decorate, have food, and play songs that you enjoy, even if they aren’t “cool” at the moment.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are moving up north to Massachusetts, where John will finish his graduate degree. We plan on enjoying the New England area, especially in the fall.

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Caroline D reply

    such lovely pictures, john and caitlyn! glad you’re up in NE to enjoy the fall now… :-)

  2. avatar Jennifer reply

    I adore the groom’s look! Any information on the shirt?

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  7. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    Great advice, Caitlyn! At the end of the day the wedding will be your memories. Make it what you want them to be!

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  9. avatar Tessi Adams reply

    Absolutely in love with the Mr. & Mrs. Chair cover. Where can I purchase them for my wedding?

  10. avatar Jackie reply

    Looks like a wonderful wedding! intrigued by the gorgeous Mr & Mrs Chair Banners, are they ivory and gold color, and any indication where i might buy? kind regards, Jackie

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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