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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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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

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Claire reply

    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!

  2. avatar Jennifer Laraia Designs | Design, Planning, and Styling | Knoxville, TN reply

    […] You can see the entire feature and more photos in Southern Weddings HERE. […]

  3. avatar Victoria Kokenge reply

    do you know where the guest book map is from?

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