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For these high school sweethearts, growing up in the same small town in East Tennessee was full of 4H, FFA, sheep showing, and countless memories of growing up together and falling in love! After Matthew left for the Navy, he wrote love letters to Jessica promising he’d come home and marry her one day–y’all, can we stop and swoon for a second? Delivering on his promise, Matthew married Jessica on a day rich with the history of their love story and the South at the Museum of Appalachia. With the help of beautiful blooms arranged by their family friend Whimsical Gatherings, Jessica and Matthew threw a wedding day that was the perfectly Southern, vintage-feeling, and naturally beautiful. And exactly what they had hoped for!

Big SW hugs to Dixie Pixel for sending along the sweet day!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in high school. He was a Southern born-and-bred farm boy. His family raised sheep and lives on a beautiful farm on the Clinch River in East Tennessee. He and I were involved with agriculture together in high school, so I spent a lot of time with his family learning the basics of 4H, FFA, and, of course, sheep showing. We have countless memories growing up together and falling in love. During college, he left for the Navy. I still have his old love letters from the military, in which he always promised he’d come back home and marry me one day.

I am totally inspired by all things vintage, so I knew I wanted a simple, lace dress. I found the perfect dress at White Lace and Promises in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was from the Stella York collection, and featured a sweetheart neckline and trumpet silhouette.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our wedding crest and invitations designed by Lydia Sellers of The Darling Type. They laid the groundwork for our overall theme, vision, and color palette, which helped inspire the design for the entire event.

Matthew is very traditional, which I absolutely adore. He wanted to save that first look moment for our wedding ceremony when I walked down the aisle. It was captured by Dixel Pixel, and the photos turned out to be some of most spectacular ones of the entire day.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We were both raised in the same small town of Clinton in East Tennessee, so we knew we wanted to get married in a place that captured the essence and history of the area. The Museum of Appalachia was perfectly fitting and beautifully displayed the heritage of the South, while also capturing the incredible landscape of our hometown area.

Our flowers came from Whimsical Gatherings of Alcoa, Tennessee. The owner, Leah McCall, is a long-time family friend, and her lead designer, Colby West, is brilliantly gifted. Matthew and I shared our inspirations with their team, and they made our dreams come to life. The wedding flowers were lush, colorful arrangements of garden roses, peonies, clematis, cosmos, hydrangea, and ranunculus, mixed with foraged lavender, pears, willow, and honeysuckle. My favorite details were the blue jay feathers, antlers, and bird nests throughout the centerpiece arrangements. It was perfectly Southern, vintage, and natural. The overall design plan was inspired by our wedding crest, designed by Lydia Sellers of The Darling Type.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Matt and I share a love of entertaining others. We were raised in homes with big arms, open doors, and full tables. Coming from the same small hometown, we sincerely wanted to invite everyone we knew to share in this celebration with us. The biggest challenge was finding the balance between inviting everyone we knew (which we both wanted to do), while, at the same time, maintaining an intimate enough setting with those who share life with us.

Tell us all about the proposal! It was Easter weekend in April 2015 and we were sharing a Bible study and coffee in our sun room. It’s one of our favorite things to do on Saturday mornings. At the end, Matthew prayed over our relationship. It was the most sincere prayer, asking God to give us guidance and wisdom in the days and years to come. I felt a comfort and peace like I’ve never felt before. It was an unforgettable moment. A few minutes later, I got up to take our coffee back to the kitchen, when he asked me to come to the front porch. As I opened the door, I noticed a chalkboard where he had written, “Will you marry me?” I turned around to the front steps and he was down on one knee. It was the best surprise of my life.
When did y’all get married? August 22, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes. From me to Matthew: “I vow to submit myself unto Jesus and unto you as we are one, because a strand of three chords is not easily broken. I choose to encourage you joyfully, forgive you freely, and love you unconditionally, possibly only by the power of God’s grace in me.” Matthew to me: “I will faithfully and courageously pursue you with a Christ-centered heart as our Shepherd with faith and love.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My brother represented my dad by reading a letter from him, since it wasn’t possible for him to be present on this day. Matthew’s niece also read scripture from Isaiah 61:10-11.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Oh, of course! My something “new” was my wedding dress and shoes my mother bought me. Something borrowed was my matron of honor’s jewelry. Something old was a ring which my mom had specially designed at Markman’s Jewelers. It includes two princess cut sapphires, my birthstone, on either side of the center stone, which is my grandmother’s wedding diamond. Something blue was the fun part! I wrote a cute poem to each of my closest girlfriends which read, “So, now is the time to share and celebrate. My wedding day is near, I simply can’t wait! I have something old and my something new. I even borrowed something, but not something blue. I just have one thing to ask, to be a part of our special day with one small task. Please, please be my beautiful ‘something blue!’ Just wear the dress that inspires you.”
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Premarital counseling was really awesome for us. It was a neutral ground for us to share about our strengths as well as our differences. It was great for us to have an older couple walk with us through the real aspects of marriage and to give us advice on how to love each other through our differences.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We wanted to celebrate at our reception, so we opted to cut out the timeline of events, such as the cake cutting and bouquet toss, to focus on fun! We saved big bucks by not having wedding cakes, and opted for a dessert bar designed by Echo Bistro instead.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Dream about the day. Create a vision together. Set a planned budget. Stay organized (your vendors will appreciate that!). At the end of the day, stay focused on the purpose of the marriage, not the day of the wedding. Plan for fun and fellowship at your ceremony and forget the details. You’re getting married!!!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We look forward to having children, growing a farm, raising sheep and building a home on his family’s land. Most importantly, we want to serve our church and give back to the organizations that impacted our childhood, such as FFA and local 4H groups.

Photographer: Dixie Pixel | Videographer: Kati Baird | Venue and Planning: Museum of Appalachia | Florist: Whimsical Gatherings | Caterer and Baker: Echo Bistro | Rentals: All Occasions | Lighting: Tennessee Lighting | Band: Pink Cadillac | Paper Products and Makeup Artist: The Darling Type | Bride’s Gown: Stella York | Bridal Salon: White Lace and Promises | Bride’s Jewelry: Stella and Dot | Hair Stylist: Amy Anderson | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Daria reply

    Beautiful wedding! Love the little details, especially the framed reserved card; so pretty! The foliage table runner is to die for !

  2. avatar Victoria Chris reply

    Love these, such a clean pure look!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    What a great place to have your wedding!

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Ashley and Matt fell in love in the Southern Weddings hometown of Chapel Hill, but for their May wedding, they chose the special place where both of their families have vacationed for years: Charleston. To match the old Southern elegance of Lowndes Grove Plantation, Ashley and Matt loved filling their wedding with meaningful, classic details, their favorite being a custom crest that combined the coats of arms of both of their families. Just like their crest, their wedding joined their families together in the loveliest way!

Thanks so much to Ellis Photo Studio for sharing Ashley and Matt’s wedding with us!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed my veil from my mom–she had the most gorgeous veil with scalloped lace edges, that we layered over a cathedral-length raw satin-trimmed veil. The lace on my mom’s veil nearly matched the lace on my dress perfectly, and having a piece of her at the altar with me meant the world. For blue, since Matt and I are both Tar Heels, you could say that we are always bleeding blue! Everything else was new–the dress, my shoes, and my earrings, but the best new thing was my new husband that I was on the arm of walking back up the aisle!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes, and it was one of our favorite parts of our day! Matt and I wanted to have a chance to see each other and have a moment to ourselves to really relish in our wedding day together. It gave us a chance to share our last single moment together; not to mention, keep us from kissing right when I got to the end of the aisle!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own vows, but I wrote the whole ceremony. It felt so amazing to come up with everything from beginning to end, and it was something I truly enjoyed. We got to interject how we felt about each other, while still keeping it traditional.

We wanted to keep our flowers simple and elegant with lots of white, some pops of blush, and greenery. I’m a big believer in a clean aesthetic and didn’t want any over-the-top colors jumping out. My bridesmaids carried graceful stems of white phalaenopsis orchids, and my bouquet was made up of several flowers, including peonies and gardenias. Gardenia is my mom’s signature scent, and every time I smell it, it makes me think of her! For the tables, we had a mixture of high and low arrangements, echoing a French aesthetic, with a mixtures of herbs in navy cachepots and love knots painted in white, complemented by sweeping orchids.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We worked with a graphic designer in my dad’s office who created a custom family crest for us. It united the Travis and Peterson coats of arms into a gorgeous detail that graved everything from the top of the cotton printed napkin menu, to the stamp on the invitations, to the custom pillows on the couches in the lounge area.

They say that you learn a lot about each other while planning a wedding, and one thing we learned was that we don’t like any of the same cake flavors except the traditional ones! We each kept vetoing each other’s options until we landed on chocolate and vanilla, but hey, who doesn’t love a traditional cake? We ended up going with a white cake layered with chocolate ganache and fresh raspberries, covered in buttercream. We kept the design very simple with swiss dots and rosette swirls throughout the layers.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Matt and I have known of each other since we were in elementary school, but it wasn’t until high school that we became friends. Matt left for UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall of 2005, and we talked every now and then, just to keep up with one another. When I got to Chapel Hill the following fall, he invited me to one of his fraternity’s parties the first week I was there. We started dating the following spring and haven’t looked back since!
Tell us all about the proposal! I’m the hardest person in the world to surprise, but somehow, this man pulled it off! We were out skiing for a long weekend in Park City, Utah at Deer Valley. We got in Thursday night, and my birthday was on Saturday. My mom mentioned that we should get some professional pictures done while we were there, and on Saturday morning on our first chairlift up for the day, Matt mentioned that we should get pictures taken at the top of the mountain before skiing down. Once we were at the summit, we realized the photographer was a little trek over. Matt took off quickly, and my first thought was “That is so out of character that he’s not waiting for me!” I figured he must really want to take these pictures and get to skiing. I caught up and we began our photo shoot, when the photographer told Matt to kneel on one knee and for me lean over and hug him from behind. We took that shot and I straightened back up, but then Matt paused and swiveled around. I didn’t think anything of it, but as he unzipped his jacket, I knew! He told me how much he loved me and how he couldn’t imagine his life without me, and he asked me to marry him! I immediately said YES!
When did y’all get married? May 31, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Charleston is our home away from home. Both of our families have been vacationing there for years, so it was a natural choice for our wedding. About a month after getting engaged, we started researching places in Charleston that included what we wanted: outside, in Charleston proper, and available for spring. The minute we saw Lowndes Grove, we knew this was it!
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had both of Matt’s sisters do a reading, and my brother, Chase, led everyone in the Lord’s Prayer. Maggie, Matt’s younger sister, read Ruth 1:16-17 and Matt’s older sister, Jessica, read an anonymous love poem.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We were very traditional in our processionals and used a lot of the music that my parents had used in their wedding. A string quartet brought everything to life and gave a romantic feel to the opening of the ceremony. Matt and I decided on Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” for our first dance. We both love to dance and wanted something we could move around to!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My aunt is a master seamstress and helped to sew things like our custom pillows and the cake table skirt.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy it! You’re only going to get to do this once, so soak up everything and be present throughout the process. Surround yourself with a great team and have fun with it!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Being married has been nothing short of amazing and we are just having fun with this crazy life. We have been watching our wedding video on repeat, so hopefully that doesn’t die down anytime soon!

Photographer: Ellis Photo Studio / Videographer: KLC Video Productions / Planner: Lizz Akerman of Southern Protocol / Venue, Catering, and Cake: Lowndes Grove Plantation / Florist: Charleston Stems / Rentals: Snyder Events and EventWorks / Lighting: AV Connections / Band: Groovetown of East Coast Entertainment / Paper Products: Ancesserie / Bride’s Gown: “BO53″ by CB Couture” / Bridal Salon: Lily Rose Bridal / Hair Stylist: Hunter Johnson of Updo Charleston / Makeup Artist: Pamela Lesch Makeup / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaid Dresses: Ann Taylor / Menswear: Berlin’s

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Gillian reply

    Thank you so much for featuring our photography today! We absolutely loved shooting this sweet blue + white wedding!

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Gracious alive, I think we hit the Southern wedding jackpot with Jennifer and Justin’s Virginia wedding! I could literally list each and every one of their details as the best part–I know Kristin would agree, considering their wedding is like a smorgasbord of our combined favorite things! While you must scroll down to completely understand, humor my list-making heart and let me share a few: monogrammed Jacks, pineapple centerpieces with magnolias, seersucker LulaKate dresses, hush puppies, and did I mention monograms galore? Yes, these two included so much Southern goodness in their wedding, and they did so with the best frame of mind: making their friends and family feel at home through sweet Southern hospitality and gracious love.

Hugs to Nikki Santerre for sending us this lovely day!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed was the pair of David Yurman pearl earrings my sweet new sister in-law lent me to wear on the wedding day. My something blue was my shoes, a pair of navy blue monogrammed Jack Rogers. My something old was my late grandmother’s handkerchief, which I carried around my bouquet. My something new kept up with our celebratory koozie theme. I asked all the girls to be bridesmaids with monogrammed koozies embroidered with “Will you be my bridesmaid?” so for my something new, my bridesmaid Heather, who does all my monogramming, surprised me with a matching monogrammed bride koozie. It was such a sweet keepsake and it fit perfectly in the pocket of my dress to save for the reception!

Describe your wedding flowers. The bouquets had pink peonies, which are my absolute favorite flowers, and white and green hydrangeas to go with our pink, green, and navy color scheme. We had the same flowers in half the centerpieces, and the other tables had pineapples with magnolias and Spanish moss on them.

Dear Sweet Tea Monograms, can WE be friends?

I am a huge history buff and loved the idea of having our wedding reception at one of the oldest and most historic plantation homes in Virginia. It was a great way to show our family and friends all the wonderful things the South has to offer. The Cathedral was important to us because the Monsignor that does weddings there also did my First Communion and First Reconciliation, so it was very fitting to have him marry us as well. It is also a historical landmark with beautiful architecture and intricate design.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It’s tough to narrow it down to just one because we tried to reflect our personalities and who we are as a couple in almost every aspect of the wedding, but we both agree the location and the weather really helped make the day. The Plantation’s view of the James River and the magnolia and weeping willow-lined walkways made quite the picturesque setting. We could not have asked for better weather–being outdoors in the summer in the South is always a gamble, but we lucked out with sunshine and low humidity, which made for a beautiful day.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We wanted our family and friends to experience a taste of Southern hospitality at our wedding. We served some of our favorite Southern foods including mac and cheese, chicken biscuits, Old Bay shrimp, and my personal favorite, hush puppies. We incorporated the Southern symbol of hospitality, the pineapple, along with magnolias in many of our decorations and details. Every Southern girl loves her monograms, and one of my bridesmaids has a monogramming company, so we put monograms on everything from our favors (koozies, of course), to our cups, to our corn hole boards. We utilized several Southern companies for our wedding party attire and our Firefly and lemonade signature cocktail. Plus, we rocked the dance floor with some of our favorite country and Southern rock songs.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in the summer of 2003. I was finishing up my freshman year of high school and got my first job working as a lifeguard at my neighborhood pool. Justin was finishing up his junior year at a neighboring high school, and was a veteran lifeguard who was assigned to the same pool. After a couple of dates, one of which included dinner at Arby’s and a movie, we have been together ever since! We dated all through college while we were both at James Madison University, stayed together when Justin went to grad school in Florida, then both ended up getting jobs back in Richmond, Virginia.
Tell us all about the proposal! Two of my best friends (and bridesmaids) live around Charleston. We love Charleston, so we could not wait to visit them. While we were down there for a long weekend, we planned a beach day on Sullivan’s Island. We were laying out on the beach looking out at Ft. Sumter and the Charleston skyline when my friends said they had to go back to the car real quick. Justin then asked me if I needed another drink from the cooler. When I turned around, he was on one knee with a koozie embroidered with “Will you marry me?” and my new married monogram on it. He had stuck the ring box in the koozie! Our friends were hiding getting pictures of it all. It was the perfect proposal for me because he made sure to incorporate all of my favorite things: monograms, koozies, the beach, my favorite Southern city, and even some Civil War history!
When did y’all get married? June 28, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I went dress shopping with my mom, my future mother-in-law, and my future sister-in-law in Richmond. A few friends had recommended their bridal consultant from Bella Rosa, so I made an appointment with her. She was so helpful in working with what I knew I didn’t want, and helped me realize what I did want. We ended up narrowing it down to three dresses and I was so indecisive. However, I knew I had found the one when I tried it on and someone in my group mentioned it reminded them of something from “Gone with the Wind.” Extra bonus: it had pockets!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did not do a first look. We are pretty traditional when it came to wedding details and I always knew I wanted the first time Justin saw me on our wedding day to be when my father walked me down the aisle. I love a good surprise!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows. Again, in keeping with tradition, we thought there was something special about using the same wedding vows that have been used for generations!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? One of the biggest challenges of planning a wedding is staying focused and within budget. In this age of technology, there are so many distractions; with all of those ideas, it is easy to get wrapped up in all the little details and stress about having a “perfect” wedding. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you are married to the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Our advice to couples currently planning a wedding is to TRY to relax and enjoy it. It all goes by so quickly, and the next thing you know, you’ll be back at work after the honeymoon wishing you could re-live it all again!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are looking forward to settling into married life in the Richmond area and enjoying the rest of the summer with our dog, Stonewall. We recently built a house and can’t wait to finish decorating it.

Photographer: Nikki Santerre / Ceremony Venue: Cathedral of the Sacred Heart / Reception Venue: Berkeley Plantation / Florist: Petals & Twigs / Cake Baker: Candy Valley Cake Company / Caterer: David Watson / Rentals and Lighting: Party Perfect Event & Party Rentals / DJ: Greg Haynes / Paper Products: Collins Printing / Bridal Salon: Bella Rosa / Hair and Makeup: Bombshell Salon / Bride’s Shoes: Jack Rogers / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Zoe” by LulaKate / Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaid Richmond / Men’s Attire: Southern Proper / Men’s Attire Store: Natty Beau Richmond / Monogramming: Sweet Tea Monograms / Bridesmaids’ Earrings: Kate Spade

marissa Written with love by Marissa
11 Comments
  1. avatar Loverly reply

    Swooning over those seersucker bridesmaids dresses!

  2. avatar Nikki Santerre reply

    Thank you so much for featuring Jen & Justin’s wedding day! xoxo!

  3. avatar Heather reply

    Loved seeing this gorgeous wedding featured on the blog today! As one of Jennifer’s bridesmaids and good friends, this was such a special day for all of us! And YES let’s be friends! :) xo Heather from Sweet Tea Monograms

  4. avatar Caught My Eye, Volume 25 reply

    […] and I are in full-on wedding planning mode.  I’m loving the bridesmaids dresses in this Pineapple and Seersucker wedding.  What do you think, […]

  5. avatar AC reply

    I LOVE Jennifer’s dress!! Is there any way you could share the name of the designer or collection?

    • avatar Marissa reply

      Hi AC! Of course, we tracked down the dress info for you. It’s “Diana” Dress by Kathy Ireland Weddings in ivory, but Jennifer did have a few custom alterations made. Best of luck! xx

  6. avatar Southern Weddings Weekly Round-Up – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] Madison and Brady fell in love with their charming farm venue from the first photo they saw of it. Jennifer and Justin filled their wedding with meaningful details that are oh so Southern. We couldn’t stop […]

  7. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

    The church is stunning and the monogram details on everything are an adorable idea! It really makes the pieces special for that day.

  8. avatar Mer reply

    In love with the pineapple centerpieces – such a brilliant idea. And Stonewall is just a perfect name for a dog!! :)

  9. avatar Pineapple Dreaming | Ses & Jen Stylefiles reply

    […] centrepiece, simple scoop out the flesh, fill with oasis and style your arrangement. Click here for more […]

  10. avatar KMD reply

    Hi! Love love love the Virginia monogram koozies! Any chance y’all know where the couple got them? Thanks!

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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