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I first discovered fine art wedding photography almost four years ago, when a friend of mine left a Facebook comment on someone’s wedding pictures. Being the wedding picture-stalker I tend to be, I checked out the wedding album and was floored by how gorgeous and cinematic the photography was. Their photographer? None other than Tim Willoughby of Tim Will, who photographed today’s real wedding! Since Tim could be credited with the start of my love for amazing wedding photography, I’m especially honored to be sharing Rachel and Daniel’s beautiful Chattanooga wedding today. Their wedding is overflowing with Southern elegance, and you won’t want to miss their adorable proposal story—I definitely got tears in my eyes when I read it!

Tell us all about the proposal! Daniel and I have an affinity for bluegrass music. I just listen to it, but he plays the mandolin and guitar, and suffers from a banjo addiction. The song that we have always considered “ours” is “Ocean of Diamonds” by Jimmy Martin. One Sunday night last June, I returned to Charleston from out of town. Daniel had cooked dinner since I had been traveling all day. He told me he heard a great new band that I just had to hear. I was exhausted and stuffing my face when he started playing it. It took about five seconds for me to realize that it was him singing and playing guitar, mandolin and banjo. He had recorded it for me on Garage Band. Still not convinced he was proposing, we started dancing in the kitchen, and with our chests together I could feel his heart racing… that’s when I knew what was up! He got down on one knee and I was crying so hard, I can barely remember what he said. I said yes, and he gave me his grandmother’s diamond filigree ring.

The flowers were romantic and ethereal. The pale soft roses and peonies contrasted so well with the sharp blue thistle and dark blue anemone centers. My florist also wrapped some gold wire around my bouquet and the boys’ boutonnieres. It added a fairytale whimsy to the pastels!

Cami, my bridesmaid and best friend, sang “Be Thou My Vision,” a Gaelic hymn, right before I walked down the aisle. It is so hauntingly beautiful and her voice is so angelic, I don’t think there was a dry eye in the building. It meant so much to have her sing at my wedding. She has been in my life since the beginning!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had a few. My favorite was Song of Solomon 8:6-7. It speaks of an unquenchable love. That’s exactly how I feel about my groom.

Tim Willoughby is a photographer I found in Charleston. His ability to capture timeless, breathtaking images sold me immediately. Having him in Chattanooga for the weekend made me so calm. I didn’t have to worry if he was getting all of the right images because I knew he was. He was able to see all of the things I couldn’t. Over time, memories fade, and it gave me peace of mind knowing I would have his photos to look at forever.

Seriously, y’all, I could look at pictures of Rachel’s dreamy Vera Wang gown all day. If it looks familiar to you, it might be because our very own Emily tried it on during one of her dress shopping trips almost two years ago, at the same salon where Rachel bought her dress!

One of the most Southern things about our wedding was my dad’s bluegrass band playing for our cocktail hour. They also played our first dance, which happened to be “Ocean of Diamonds,” the song Daniel proposed to me with! I think the juxtaposition of the bluegrass band in a modern art museum was such a funky twist on what “Southern” can be. Who says Southern has to be at a plantation or in a barn?

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. My cake had a subtle floral pattern inset into the buttercream icing. The roses and blue thistle floral accents really stood out against the simple design. Daniel’s cake was a real work of art. I mentioned his banjo addiction right? Well his cake was a chocolate, to scale model of a Gibson banjo. It was insanely realistic…and delicious.

You know how much we love a gentleman in seersucker! This adorable duo is actually Daniel’s grandmother and her twin brother. Aren’t they the cutest?

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Gosh, how can I pick one moment? I guess the most memorable would be the dance floor, because I spent the majority of the night there. The dance floor was packed from start to finish. Everyone was dancing like maniacs! I am a super awkward dancer, but being with old and new friends, my family and Daniel’s family all together was kind of mind blowing. I kept looking over and seeing two people from two completely separate parts of my life breaking it down together like fools. It was a once in a lifetime thing.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Daniel and I met at a football game during our junior year of high school in 2005. We dated all through the rest of high school. When college came, I was going to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and he was headed to join the crew team at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. We thought it was over from the horror stories people told us about long-distance relationships. Over those four LONG years of dating 650 miles away, we realized that no matter how hard a long-distance relationship was, it wouldn’t even be close to the pain that would come from not being in each others’ lives. Luckily we survived, and I was able to move to Charleston, SC after graduation to be with him when he started medical school.
When did y’all get married? May 25, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 325, give or take.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My mom, two sisters and future mother-in-law came to Charleston one August weekend for a day of dress shopping. We started in the morning at Maddison Row in downtown Charleston. My dress was the third one I tried on, and I just knew. I tried on a few others, but kept going back to the Vera Wang Emmeline. I told them when I first walked in that I loved tulle, and this dress has TONS of tulle. I ended up buying it that morning and canceling my other dress appointments that day. My mom was disappointed that the shopping ended so quickly!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did not do a first look. Since I was a little girl, I have been looking forward to having my church doors swing open and my groom seeing me with the rest of my guests.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No way! I can’t write to save my life. Daniel and I wrote each other letters before the wedding. My words are best kept on a private piece of paper.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Something borrowed was a hair barrette my mother had gotten as a gift from her parents when they vacationed in Mexico. My something blue was a blue stone bracelet of my mother’s. New was a delicate lace handkerchief wrapped around my bouquet that a family friend wove on her loom! For my something old, I had my late grandmother’s costume turtle brooch peeking out of my bouquet.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge for me was narrowing down my ideas. Between reading wedding magazines and being on Pinterest all day, it is so hard to decide which direction you want to go! There are so many amazing ideas out there. Eventually I had to just close my eyes and imagine my ideal wedding. Things started to fall into place.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy it. Your engagement is a time to savor. It only lasts a short while! Don’t stress the little things. It’s easy to get wrapped up in planning a “dream wedding” and to forget that you are marrying the man of your dreams.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Daniel and I are settling into our new house in Charleston. He is continuing medical school, and I have an awesome interior design job. We just got a sweet new doggy, and we’re enjoying everyday life as a happy little family.

lisa Written with love by Lisa
20 Comments
  1. avatar Laura reply

    Love these beautiful pictures! Chattanooga holds a special place in my heart so I loved that they incorporated some of the city’s best known landmarks into the photos.

  2. avatar Emily reply

    I ADORE her gown! Tulle perfection!!

  3. avatar Wedding 101 Greenville reply

    Everything about this wedding is stunning! Beautiful photography, insanely gorgeous gown, and the texture of the flowers = to die for!!! Love this one!

  4. avatar Kat reply

    Every time I see that gown I die just a little!!!! LOVE it!

  5. avatar Kristin reply

    Transportation via bright yellow school bus AND a dress that is something straight from a fairytale? Yes, please!! Love!!

  6. avatar Lauren reply

    The pictures are gorgeous and those cookies? Amazing!

  7. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    What a beautiful dress and bride! I love the groom’s cake! Just pinned it on our Western Wedding Board.

  8. avatar Christina reply

    Love, love, love this wedding!! Does anyone know who she used for the koozies? Random, I know. But every Southern wedding needs koozies! ;)

    • avatar Rachel reply

      Christina and Jay:
      Hi from the Bride! I used Totally Koozies. My friend Emily illustrated that logo and uploaded the image in their custom section

  9. avatar Carey reply

    As a wedding guest and mother of one of the bridesmaids, I can say that this was the most beautiful and meaningful weddings I have ever attended. I have known Rachel since she was a child and Daniel since they began dating. This wedding was a celebration of two beautiful people that love each other and two special families that bring together many people who love them and who were honored to celebrate, with abandon, this special day with them. It was not only a celebration of the couple, but of their amazing love of family and our love for them and their families! We love you, Rachel & Daniel!

  10. avatar Jay reply

    Lovely wedding!! Where are the zoozies from!?

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  12. avatar Taylor reply

    LOVE this! Where are the personalized drink stirrers from? I am obsessed with those!

  13. avatar Emily reply

    That dress!!!! And all of these pictures are AMAZING. I love the one of them on the dance floor with their heads together, totally perfect.

  14. avatar Sapphire Events Blog » Wedding Inspiration Board: Oh My Darling, Dixie | Sapphire Events New Orleans Wedding Planner reply

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Yippee!! Just a few more weeks until V5 arrives!

Erin + Brian might have shared their first kiss on a fifth grade class field trip to the planetarium, but they had no idea they would reconnect years later. Brian even brought Erin back to the same planetarium to get down on one knee and ask her to marry him. (Aww!) Though the two were so ready to get married that they considered tying the knot at city hall, they stuck it out and used their seven-month engagement to create a barn-side wedding full of DIY details and family heirlooms. We love the combination of soft cotton and succulent plants throughout their big day and the fun projection they played against their tent at the reception. Big thanks to Morgan Trinker for sharing this one with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My mom and I planned an entire weekend in Birmingham to find my dress and had dress fittings scheduled at 3 different stores. I knew what type of dress I was looking for, so that helped as we walked into our first appointment at The White Room. We were both shocked when I picked the second dress I tried on. I put on a third dress, but I was dying to put the second one back on. That was the easiest part of planning our wedding!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? We did not do a first look. It was very important to Brian that we see each other for the first time as I was walking down the aisle. The expression on his face as I was walking toward him was so worth the wait.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had two groomsmen and two bridesmaids read a passage from “This Momentary Marriage” by John Piper as Brian and I “planted” a tree. They read pages 55-57. It was long, but filled with great words every new couple should hear!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. We had string instruments and a pianist playing for the ceremony. It was beautiful! I walked down the aisle to “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri and walked back up the aisle to “Love Story” by Taylor Swift. Our first dance was to”You and I” by Michael Buble

One of my favorite Southern details from the wedding was the actual venue! Hampstead Farms was the perfect location to celebrate our marriage. I loved how naturally beautiful the growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers looked around our tent, and the gorgeous red barn was the perfect background to every photo. I am also obsessed with crafting and creating, so I love that many Southern weddings now include DIY aspects, which helped me add personal details to our big day. I handmade our save-the-dates, invitations and RSVP cards using paper from Paper Source and custom made stamps from Antiquaria. I also put together the aisle markers using burlap bows and twig wreaths, made the ring bearer pillow, and put together the wedding favors with the help of incredible friends and family. My sweet groom and his brother also made the tree candle holders which were used on the reception tables. Throughout our engagement, I was collecting lanterns and cake plates. I also had many sentimental items used that day, like my baby bonnet which was wrapped around my bouquet, and my grandmother’s doilies, which were used on several different tables.

I am terrible when it comes to flower names, but that’s where pinterest and my incredible florist came in handy. I showed them several pictures of succulents, garden roses, and ranunculus, and asked them to make wild bouquets with similar flowers and add lots of greenery. I was blown away! We had a great mix of succulents, lambs ear (my favorite), branches, and several other flowers. They also built our centerpiece flower boxes for the reception, and they turned out even better than I imagined!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: We actually had five cakes and some Greek desserts. Peggy McKinney made our two-tiered white wedding cake with buttercream frosting, and our one-tiered cakes in peanut butter fudge, strawberry, and key lime. My Aunt Jeana made her homemade pineapple upside down cake (Brian’s favorite). Brian’s mother (who is Greek) and some of the Greek women from church made some other desserts like traditional wedding cookies and baklava.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. In the fifth grade, my family decided to send me to Forest Avenue Academic Magnet School. I was assigned to Mrs. Rodopoulos’ class which just so happens to be the same class Brian was in that year. I didn’t notice Brian right away — It wasn’t until a little friend of mine leaned over in math class one day and asked if I liked Brian as a boyfriend. I said no at first, but once I found out that Brian liked me, I quickly changed my mind! We became boyfriend/girlfriend that day and permanent four-square buddies. Later on that year, our class took a fieldtrip right down the street to the Gayle Planetarium. I was so excited to sit next to Brian and watch the show. Finally, right before the show was over, Brian planted a big kiss on my left temple, and HARD! It almost knocked me out of my seat! We walked around Oak Park after the show with the rest of the class, and I could not stop smiling. My first kiss! :) We lost touch after middle school, but we would run into each other occasionally throughout high school and college. In December of 2010, Brian texted me saying, “I had a dream that we went on a date last night.” I had no idea who it was because I didn’t have Brian’s number in my phone anymore. We talked back and forth for a while until I finally said yes to a date. A few nights later, Brian pulled up to my house having no idea what to expect of the night. I was shocked at how handsome Brian had become, and even more shocked at how perfectly that night went. We laughed a lot, talked about the past, and couldn’t believe that after all this time, we were hanging out again. We have been inseparable ever since then.
Describe the proposal. (From the groom) As Erin was getting ready for a “family photo shoot” with her grandmother, a vintage Studebaker pulled up at the front of the house. A chauffeur knocked on the door and whisked Erin away to the Gayle Planetarium, where I first kissed her 14 years ago. I heard the car door shut and my heart stopped. What were my lines? Where is the ring? She found her way to me and my heart began beating hard. “It’s for her, it’s always been for her,” I thought, “Every beat, every breath. I need this in my life forever.” I dropped to one knee and said, “Under these stars is where I first kissed you, and under these stars is where I want to start the rest of our lives.” It was as easy as that. We took our old seats and just stared at the stars reminiscing on things past and things to come.
In what month did you get married? September
How many guests attended your wedding? About 125
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Patience! Brian and I were so ready to be married that our 7 month engagement felt more like 2 years. We mentioned city hall several times during our engagement, but we stuck it out and it was so worth the wait. Having our wonderful family and friends there to celebrate the beginning of our lives together was the best part of our wedding day.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Our photographer! Our wedding pictures are the only thing we get to physically keep from that day, and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to capture those sweet moments. Morgan Trinker is creative, talented, and just a genuinely happy person to be around. I highly recommend her to any bride!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Walking down the aisle. The look on Brian’s face was more than words could ever describe. The love he feels for me and shows me every single day was displayed in front of all of our family and friends in that moment. It felt like we were the only two people there, and I couldn’t stop looking at him. All of time, money, planning and crafting. that went into the wedding doesn’t even compare to that one moment that we will remember for the rest of our lives.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy it. The planning process can be so tedious at times, but some of the sweetest moments come during your engagement. The bridal showers, engagement parties, and gifts from family and friends are such a fun part of planning a wedding. Live in the moment and celebrate this exciting time with the people who mean the most to you.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Buying a house! We are currently looking for our first home together, which is both exciting and exhausting at the same time. We are eager to find a place of our own and start our own little family down the road.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
14 Comments
  1. avatar Ashleigh reply

    I love love love everything about your wedding, Erin! Just charming!

  2. avatar Kelly C. reply

    I love the details! Beautiful work as always, Morgan!

  3. avatar Lerissa reply

    Wow! This is such a beautiful wedding! & that proposal story was beautiful!

    Every other week my fiance and I talk seriously about pushing up our date. Why wait a year? We’ve been strong so far to keep with our October 2013 date!

  4. avatar kelly @ honor courage commitment reply

    Who are the bridesmaids dresses and bride’s dress by? Love them!

    -kelly

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