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We believe that preparing for your marriage is an incredibly important aspect of wedding planning, so I love how Karina and John used their time of engagement to do just that. Throughout the process, they practiced compromise, balanced priorities, and threw in a whole lot of fun along the way, all while keeping their focus on creating a strong marriage. With the help of their planner, Ashley Huffman Sanders of LFF Designs, Karina and John threw a wedding that felt like “a fun, Southern shindig,” inspired by their summers spent on the Carolina Coast!

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Anna Routh for sharing this sweet day with us!

Wedding dress shopping was one of my favorite parts of wedding planning. My mom and I had scheduled an appointment at one of the larger wedding dress shops in town, but about a month before the appointment, I saw on Instagram that a new shop in town was having a trunk show that weekend. I called, and on a whim, my mom, two friends, and I went in for an appointment. I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted and picked my dress out right off the rack. It was the third wedding dress I tried on and I knew it was the one. We bought it that day.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We had our ceremony and reception at a private home along the Intracoastal Waterway. Some friends of ours were also married there and we knew it was a very special place. It meant a lot to us to get married and celebrate right along the water where we’ve made so many memories together over the years.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we used a traditional Episcopal wedding service. My uncle married us, which was extra special because he also married my parents.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We hired a ukulele player for our ceremony, which was so much fun. He played traditional wedding ceremony music with an island vibe. Our first dance was to “Magnolia Wind” by Guy Clark. That song seemed to capture our relationship perfectly and we both loved it.

We chose not to do a first look. My husband is pretty traditional and really wanted to see me for the first time when I was walking down the aisle. I’m so glad we made that decision because when our eyes met for the first time, it was such a magical moment!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We both grew up in North Carolina and wanted the wedding to feel like a fun, Southern shindig. We served all Southern foods: deviled eggs, fried chicken, bourbon-glazed pork, mac and cheese, shrimp and grits, collards, hoppin john, and cornbread. We also had boiled peanuts, mini Moon Pies, and Pepsi for a late night snack. John and his groomsmen wore seersucker suits with bow ties, and part of the groomsmen gift included an NC flag Freeker (knit koozies made here in Wilmington).

We had a four-tiered cake with textured white buttercream frosting. Each layer was a different flavor and so delicious! The cake was decorated with flowers and greenery.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I knew when we started planning an outdoor wedding that the weather would be a huge factor. The forecast looked pretty promising for our big day–just a slight chance of storms. All throughout the ceremony and cocktail hour, the weather was perfect. Just as we sat down to eat dinner though, the sky turned black and the wind really picked up. A few cocktail tables blew over and a tablecloth caught on fire! The cake almost blew over, but was saved by my quick thinking cousins! The radar showed a crazy storm headed our way. We rushed to cut the cake and prepare for the rain to come when suddenly, the sky cleared. It never rained. The light coming through the clouds as the storm passed was absolutely beautiful. Our photographer captured a picture of that sky over our tent, and it is my absolute favorite photo of the night. Once the threat of pouring rain was over, the band cranked up and we danced the night away!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. John and I met through mutual friends on July 4, 2009 at Wrightsville Beach. We spent such a fun day boating with friends, and we really hit it off. We exchanged numbers that night and spent the next day together. He cooked me dinner the following week and I was sold! We dated for close to seven years before getting married–part of that time was long distance while I attended graduate school. John was so supportive and drove to Durham nearly every weekend so we could be together. We both knew if we could survive that separation, we could survive anything together. After school, I moved home to Wilmington and we got engaged the following year.
Tell us all about the proposal! We got engaged in November 2014 at Wrightsville Beach–where we met and where we spend most weekends in the summer. It was the day after my 30th birthday, and John woke up extra early to suggest we go to breakfast and then for a walk on the beach. I could tell he was a little nervous while we were walking along the water and thought something was up. A few minutes later, he was down on one knee. Later that night, we surprised all of our friends with the news at a party. It was a perfect day.
When did y’all get married? April 23, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Around 175
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed a pearl bracelet from my mother-in-law, which served as my something borrowed and old. I wore Duke blue nail polish on my toes for my something blue. My dress, veil, shoes, and earrings were all new.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Wedding planning, in many ways, was good practice for married life. There was lots of compromising, budget discussing, and balancing of priorities. We managed to have a lot of fun throughout the process, and constantly reminded ourselves that our marriage was much more important than the wedding.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Right now, we’re enjoying a low-key summer with family and friends and saving for our first home.

Photographer: Anna Routh Photography | Planner: Ashley Huffman Sanders of LFF Designs | Venue: Private residence | Florist: Fiore Fine Flowers | Wedding Cake: One Belle Bakery | Caterer: Gibbs Catering | Rentals: L&L Tent and Party Rentals | Lighting: High Performance Lighting and Power | Band: Mr. Potato Head Band | Ukulele: Kent Knorr of North Carolina Ukulele Academy | Paper Products: Reeves Engraving | Bride’s Gown: “MJ101” by Madison James | Bridal Salon and Veil: Coastal Knot Bridal | Hair Stylist: Kelli Kuperus and Megan Gregory from Sea Grass Salon and Day Spa | Makeup Artist: Amy Kennison | Bride’s Shoes: “Danya” by Naturalizer | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Joanna August | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank | Trolley: Azalea Limo

Anna Routh, Fiore Fine Flowers, One Belle Bakery, and Coastal Knot Bridal are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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  1. avatar Karina + John » Anna Routh Photography reply

    […] Thanks also to Southern Weddings for featuring this sweet wedding recently. Check it out here. […]

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Y’all know all about the Sweet Tea Society, but you may be slightly less familiar with the Southern Weddings mission statement. It’s posted all over our office, so it’s something that’s always at the forefront of our minds. It goes like this: “Our mission is to inspire brides to cultivate a life full of love–celebrating their families, the culture of the South, and what matters most to them–and then to draw from that rich well to create a meaningful beginning to married life.” Reading through Toree and Forrest’s interview, I could hardly believe how much they brought this exact mission to life. From the farm-turned-venue that has been in Torree’s family for generations, to the “call to community” Forrest’s father made during their ceremony, to the oh-so-Southern “front porch” of their reception tent, and more, every moment and detail celebrated their families and overflowed with love.

Thank you so much to Mary Rosenbaum for sharing Toree and Forrest’s beautiful wedding with us!

When I started looking for wedding dresses, I wanted lace, a keyhole back, and straps or sleeves. We went to several different shops and found a few dresses that I liked, but none that screamed “That’s it!” My mom and I made a couple more appointments for the next weekend, and in the meantime I tried on her wedding dress. I loved the lace bolero she wore! We wound up going back to Olia Zavozina, where I had tried on a simple dress. I fell in love with it when I learned they would be able to incorporate the lace from my mom’s wedding dress onto mine.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes, we did! Forrest and I wanted to have some time alone together before the ceremony. It was a sweet time to calm our nerves and reflect on what the whole day was about. Also, seeing each other first allowed us to take most of the pictures before the ceremony. We wanted to make sure we didn’t miss any part of the reception we had been planning for so long.

We got married on my family’s farm, so it was very special to us! I grew up going to the farm, and in the recent years, I had often thought about how pretty it would be to get married out there. The part of the farm where we got married came through my dad’s paternal grandmother. She was born there and the ceremony took place in the orchard where she played as a little girl. My grandfather was the only child of four who stayed and carried on the farming tradition. My grandfather passed away in 1987 and the farm was rented out because no one lived there at that time. My dad purchased the farm back in 2011, in less than pristine condition. I didn’t know if it would be a possible venue, because the only structures on the farm were a century-old barn and my great-grandmother’s house that had not been occupied since 1940, but my parents embraced the idea of a farm wedding, and from then on, it was a team effort. The countless weekends and hours my parents, brothers, and friends spent working on the farm made the idea possible. Being married on the family farm embodied the ideas of legacy and community that we wanted to emphasize on our wedding day.

We didn’t have a specific Scripture reading, but Forrest’s dad led a charge to community. He explained the importance of community and how each guest at the wedding played a part in shaping who each of us is. He made statements such as “If you were at the hospital when Toree or Forrest was born, please stand up” or “If you went to school with Toree or Forrest, please stand up.” By the end of the statements, every guest was was standing and we sang a congregational hymn, “In Christ Alone.” It was a beautiful testimony to how blessed we are by the people in our lives.

Oh y’all…the next two pictures make my heart leap! So beautiful.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I think the whole wedding was Southern! The wedding took place on the family farm. Our love story was written (in short) on barn wood leading up to the wedding site. The guests were brought up to the ceremony site by hay trailers covered in quilts and pulled by my dad’s antique Ford tractor. The drink bar was made out of barn wood and we served lavender lemonade and sweet tea. Passed hors d’oeuvres included mini BLTs and sweet potato biscuits with country ham. There was a “front porch” on the tent. Dinner was a buffet of Southern fare, including squash casserole, farmer’s green salad, homegrown tomato and mozzarella, fresh seasonal fruits and berries, an assortment of homemade breads, and more. At each place setting, there was a monogrammed napkin in a burlap and lace silverware holder. The tablescapes included linen, burlap, lanterns, and family silver.

The wedding cake was white with buttercream icing. It was a round three-tiered cake, and each tier had a different pattern in the icing. We had to consider the weather when making cake decisions, and although fondant might have been the best option for the warm temperatures, I was not a fan, so the cake was the very last thing set up before the wedding began! The groom’s cake was a square, two-tiered chocolate cake with chocolate icing, covered in chocolate-covered strawberries, and it was placed on an American flag table. We also had cookies and milk as a post-dancing snack, which guests could also take them home as a favor.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We loved having a live band. They played a variety of music that kept all of the guests entertained on and off the dance floor. From easy listening music during dinner to songs that had our college friends and grandparents on the dance floor, the band really made the party.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The Chinese wish lanterns! After dinner and cake, all of the guests came out into the field to light the wish lanterns. Guests worked together to light and send off the lanterns into the night sky. We watched them float up and across the farm until they blended in with the stars. It was a beautiful sight!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in middle school and even “dated” for a week in eighth grade! We went to different high schools, but remained friends and kept in touch. We eventually wound up at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville together, and during November of our sophomore year, we officially became a couple. I left to study abroad that January (2010), and we were not able to talk, or even email, that often, so we kept journals. When I got home in May, we read the journals to each other, and it was amazing how similar our thoughts and entries to each other were! In the fall of 2010, Forrest and I found ourselves talking about getting married. A year later, I left for Memphis to begin pharmacy school while Forrest stayed in Knoxville. It was a hard year apart, but enduring the long distance proved our commitment to one another. In May 2012, the week after I got back from Memphis, we took a trip to the beach and he proposed!
Tell us all about the proposal! We were headed to Florida with friends for our annual May beach trip. Forrest and I got there before the other couple arrived and he asked if I wanted to go for a walk on the beach. While we were walking, I noticed he was being extra sweet. Right as I realized what was happening, he turned to me and told me how much he loved me. The next thing I knew, he was down on one knee asking me to marry him! I said “YES!!” Then, he told me to look up at the boardwalk and wave to the photographer (little did I know, it was one of my best friends), because we were going to meet him at the sailboat to take pictures. We went back to the house and got dressed for “engagement pictures,” and when we returned to the beach, both of our parents were at the sailboat! I had no clue they were in Florida! We went to the house Forrest’s parents were staying at to celebrate, and there on the porch were a dozen of our college friends and the rest of our families. I will never forget that day and week with our closest friends at the beach celebrating our engagement!
When did y’all get married? June 8, 2013
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, we wrote our own vows. Our favorite phrase was “I will pursue you with a love that bears all things, believes all things, and hopes all things until we return to the garden in Christ’s promised covenant.” Christ is the foundation of our lives and marriage. Our prayer is to fiercely pursue one another with love that endures the hardships of marriage. Until the day that we walk with God, Forrest and I will strive to put one another before ourselves.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. It was very important to us that our entire ceremony was Christ-centered, so all of the songs were instrumental hymns. The moms and grandmother were seated to “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” was played while the bridal party walked down the aisle. I walked down the aisle to “Before the Throne of God Above.” “Be Thou My Vision” was played after we exchanged rings and while the congregation prayed silently for us. We walked out to “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. We felt like it was a good transition song from the seriousness of the ceremony to the party of the reception.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! I had my monogram and wedding date in blue on a patch inside my dress. My Jimmy Choo shoes were new. My grandmother’s rings were tied to my bouquet as my something borrowed, and the lace on my dress from my mom’s dress was my something old.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest challenge was our venue. While it had lots of character and meaning to us, there were so many basic things that had to be meticulously planned to make it all work. From bathrooms to lighting to power to parking to food preparation, every detail had to be thought out.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We made several things ourselves and called in help from our friends! We made the silverware holders, the flower boxes for the aisles, and the favors, and we took old Starbucks Frappaccino bottles and turned them into personalized milk bottles. A friend monogrammed all of the dinner napkins. One friend made the chocolate chip cookies. Another friend split buying the table cloths with us so that we had enough for our wedding and then theirs. A church friend let us borrow mercury glass and another friend let us borrow burlap table toppers she had made. Many of my mom’s friends were there to help set up and decorate on the morning of the wedding.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Remember that at the end of the wedding, you will be married, and that is the most important part of the entire event!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We look forward to writing our own story through shared hobbies, outdoor adventures, and having out best friend as our roommate! Forrest is looking to start his career as an intern architect and I will be finishing my last year of pharmacy school at the University of Tennessee.

Photographer: Mary Rosenbaum / Videographer: Bryant Bural / Planner: Marcia Husband / Venue: Private residence / Florist: Cathy Miller and Jimm Wright of Spring Hill Florist and Gift Shop / Cake Baker: Barbara Owen / Cookies: Sandy’s Cookies / Caterer: Kristen Winston Catering / Rentals: Stewart’s Special Events / Lighting: Tech Works Decorative Lighting / Band: The Craig Duncan Band / Bride’s Gown: “Elegant Dream” by Olia Zavozina / Paper Products Printing: Coleman’s Printing / Hair Stylist: Premier Haircuts Cool Springs / Makeup Artist: Fern Lawson / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Rhea” in Grey Ridge by Donna Morgan / Men’s Attire: “Traveler’s Suit” in Navy by Jos A. Bank / Ties: The Tie Bar / Bathrooms: Royal Restrooms

lisa Written with love by Lisa
12 Comments
  1. avatar Lindsay Colvin reply

    Oh my GOODNESS those purple bridesmaid dresses, swoon swoon swoon! Also, such a sweet line she shared from their vows, so touching!

  2. avatar Rachael reply

    Wow my heart is melting – the photography i just gorgeous – way to go mary! Each photo is so intimate you really captured the emotion behind this day!

  3. avatar Catherine Grace reply

    Oh My Heart !!! That Bolero is gorgeous.

  4. avatar Emily reply

    There are so many lovely details, but the groom’s cake table might be my favorite – so perfectly Americana! And I love the late night cookies and milk :)

  5. avatar Rachel Nordgren reply

    Those lanterns! That lace bolero! The vintage tub for the drinks! Marvelous details, and that line from their vows is richly beautiful.

  6. avatar Joyce reply

    This is one of the best thought out weddings I have seen in SW. If I ever get married again I want a beautiful lace bolero like the one this bride borrowed from her mother. Getting married on the family farm…wonderful….and the music they chose! Just right! And I so liked how the family and friends worked together to prepare. May they have just as lovely life together.

  7. avatar Steph reply

    That’s my best friend!!!! You chose the most beautiful couple and wedding to feature. Just perfect :)

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