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There are many things that can make a wedding Southern: the locale, the details, the traditions, you name it! I particularly love how Jennifer and Zachary chose to focus on sweet Southern hospitality! Vital to the heartbeat of the South, hospitality can turn any event into a meaningful celebration. With welcome boxes, wool shawls, hot hands, handkerchiefs, and more, I know that guests felt welcome and completely at home, just like Jennifer and Zachary had hoped. With friends and sorority sisters-turned-wedding vendors on hand, community is one more great aspect of the South that these two embraced on their beautiful wedding day.

Big hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor, Amanda Watson, for sharing this gilded day with us!

We met in graduate school in Oklahoma City in 2010. At first, I didn’t really talk to Zac. I was very focused on school and sat toward the front of the classroom. Zac sat behind me and later told me he thought I was cute, smart, and motivated, but he was sure I was in a relationship. Once I was confident my grades were in order, I began to notice him. As the semester progressed, we started talking more and spending time together. One day before class, he blurted out, “Let’s go to the Thunder game.” That was our first official date!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, we decided to do a first look. We wanted to be able to see each other before the wedding and have some time to enjoy the moment alone. We loved walking hand and hand in the gardens, taking in the beautiful evening light and the willow trees, flowers, and trails near the water.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The most Southern part of our wedding was the effort we made to make our guests feel welcome and at home, no matter where they came from. From welcome boxes to wool shawls, hand warmers to handkerchiefs, we focused on Southern hospitality.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows. Both Zac and I found comfort in hearing and repeating the vows that have been lovingly spoken by couples for hundreds of years,
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. My mother hired OCU’s string quartet for our ceremony. Zac and I did not want to walk down the aisle to anything traditional–we love to laugh and we wanted to make people smile. We decided to walk down the aisle to “Don’t Stop Believing.” After the ceremony, we walked back up the aisle to “We are the Champions.” It was great to watch everyone’s faces in the crowd as they recognized the songs.

I fell in love with Coles Garden the first day I went there. It had a gorgeous garden area for the ceremony and a wonderful indoor and outdoor reception area. I really wanted café lights and Coles provided the perfect place to dance under the stars.

Katie from Birdies, a fourth generation florist, designed my wedding flowers. I was on the dance team at OU with Katie, so she was the first person I thought of! We did a mix of ivory, white, and blush flowers with greenery for my bouquet, and I loved that it wasn’t too traditional. Our guests loved the details Katie used to create a casual, yet elegant, look at our reception. She hand-painted lanterns gold and designed wreaths to surround them, created a wall of flowers on the welcome table, and arranged vines and nosegays for the port bar and the sweetheart table.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. The cakes were made by my good friend and OU sorority little sister, Olivia. I really don’t like the taste of fondant, but I love how it looks on cakes. She came up with the idea to do displays with a cutting layer for my cakes, as well as sheet cakes with whatever icing I preferred. The main wedding cake was decorated with stunning metallic gold and ivory finishes and topped off with delicate paper flowers. The two groom’s cakes paid tribute to Zac’s loves of hunting and OU. Guests were served their choice of carrot cake with cream cheese icing, chocolate cake with buttercream and chocolate ganache, and vanilla bean cake with strawberry filling. For a late night snack, we had a s’mores bar designed by the caterer, complete with marshmallows on a stick, warmed chocolate, and crushed graham crackers. Guests were sent home with cake slices of their choice in gold boxes with whimsical wooden forks.

Tell us all about the proposal! Every year around Christmas, Zac and I go somewhere to look at the lights. The night we exchanged gifts, before we went to celebrate with our families, was an icy one. Zac’s first gift for me was had hand warmers–he said he had planned to take me on a helicopter ride over the city to look at the Christmas lights, but had just received a call that flights were grounded because of ice. He was upset, but I told him we could go out to dinner instead. We went to a restaurant by the lake, and after dinner, we walked out to the lighthouse, where he proposed. He said he was originally planning to propose while we were flying over the Christmas lights. I know he was upset it didn’t go as planned, but I still thought the night was magical! Even though we didn’t go on the helicopter ride, his proposal in front of the lighthouse in the rain was just as romantic.
When did y’all get married? November 1, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 130
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? I always loved that my 83-year-old grandparents still held hands. When I first read “The Art of Marriage,” by Wilfred Arlan Peterson, the words spoke to that kind of love: “In the art of marriage, the little things are the big things. It’s never being too old to hold hands.” Our officiant did a touching reading of the poem during the ceremony.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! For something borrowed, my mother gave me the lace trim from her wedding dress and we wrapped it around my bouquet. We then pinned on my grandfathers’ enamel police and military badges for my something blue. He is no longer with us, so that was my way of having him there with me in spirit. My parents gifted me with a new diamond necklace and a silver sparrow charm, designed to honor my close friend and bridesmaid who passed away unexpectedly before the wedding.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We got our friends involved. As a wedding gift, one of my bridesmaids made our guest book. My sorority sisters and good friends made the invitations and cake. It was a great way to showcase my friends’ talents and build their portfolios, and we were both so proud of how well everything turned out. It was better than we could have imagined!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Relax! Planning a wedding should be fun, but it can get stressful. Try not to lose sight of what is important. It is easy for friends and family to chime in and suggest what they think you need to do or add to the wedding. Just remember that at the end of the day, the important thing is how you and your husband picture your wedding day.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We have enjoyed being a newlywed couple, and we are ready to start a family!

Photographer: Amanda Watson / Planner: Camden Chitwood / Venue: Coles Garden / Florist: Birdie Blooms / Cake Baker: Olivia Abel / Caterer: Catering Connection / Rentals: Marianne’s Rentals / Lighting: Innovative Event Solutions / DJ: BTP Productions / Calligraphy: Sooner Calligraphy / Illustrations: Lana’s Shop / Paper Products: Melinda Russell Designs / Bride’s Gown: Allure / Bride’s Veil: Toni Federici / Hair Stylist: Chelse Lasher / Makeup Artist: Blo Bar / Bride’s Shoes: Steve Madden / Bridesmaids’ Dresses and Groomsmen’s Ties and Vests: Custom by Lihn’s Bridal / Groom’s Attire: Calvin Klein / Photo Booth: The SNL Photo Booth / Ceremony Musicians: Oklahoma City String Quartet / Cigar Roller: The Leaf 405 / Coffee Catering: Cafe Evoke

marissa Written with love by Marissa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Lana Effron reply

    What a beautiful, heartfelt wedding to get to be apart of. Thank you so much for the feature!

  2. avatar Jenn & Zac: Southern Weddings reply

    […] See more from this gorgeous wedding over on Southern Weddings! […]

  3. avatar Porschae reply

    I’m just wondering if you know how much the cake cost… I’m trying to budget out mine and love how that cake looks

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Much like Jay Gatsby, Southerners know how to throw a great party, and for Allison and Christopher, those two worlds collided at their Alabama wedding! Inspired by the recently restored Florentine Building in Birmingham, they decided that a chic celebration inspired by the 1920s was the perfect fit for both their venue and their personalities. Allison and her mother did all of the planning and design themselves, and with the addition of some stunning jewel-toned blooms courtesy of Jackie Johns Florals, it all came together in a completely memorable way that was everything Allison and Christopher had dreamed of!

Thanks so much to Alisha Crossley for sharing this fun wedding with us!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. When I was a sophomore at the University of Alabama, I took a biology class with four of my pledge sisters. For the lab portion of the class, we were told to get into groups of six, and we needed one more lucky person to come join us. Fortunately, one of the girls knew a guy in our lab through mutual friends, so Chris and I became lab partners. He will tell you that he strongly disliked me and my friends at first (we are a handful at times), but as the semester went on, we traded numbers for homework assignments and study sessions. That Christmas, we never stopped texting and calling each other while we were on break. When we got back to school in January, we began spending most days together, and by summer when I left to study abroad in Italy for six weeks, we both knew that you don’t miss someone that much that you don’t love! Now, after four years together, living miles apart in the middle of it all, we still miss each other when we are apart for too long!

I knew I wanted a Jenny Packham dress the day we decided to have a Gatsby-themed wedding. Her designs are like no other, and I have always loved how detailed and different her dresses are. As a designer myself, I had half a mind to make my own dress, but I knew that what I wanted couldn’t be achieved within the timeframe alone, and Jenny Packham would be the only one to top anything I could attempt to make myself! I tried on a few in Atlanta, and then went to Carriage House Weddings in Birmingham. I knew that the Esme dress was me, Gatsby, and over-the-top, all rolled into one!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? People always say to treasure every moment on your wedding day because it will fly by, and boy, were they right! But one moment that I will always remember is when Chris and I first saw each other that day. It was such a rush of emotions! I was beyond excited, so giddy, so blessed, and so happy!! I will forever be grateful that we had those moments together to really treasure each other and take in the fact that we were getting married!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. One song that I especially loved was my processional song, “Musetta’s Waltz” by Puccini. When deciding on what we wanted our harpist and violinist to play, I knew I didn’t want something totally traditional. I loved how dramatic this song was, and it definitely made me so excited to be walking down the aisle. I knew it was the one when my mother immediately started crying when she heard it, and said, “It’s you!”

The Florentine Building is a hidden gem in downtown Birmingham that was recently renovated to its original state of a 1920’s ballroom. When my mother and I first saw The Florentine, it was still in its rough state, so before we walked in, we were told to have “vision” to see what it could be, and what it once was. As soon as we managed our way up the stairs, that were still covered in rubble, our jaws hit the floor. We definitely have more vision than most, and immediately knew what a diamond in the rough this place was! It couldn’t have been a more perfect place for us to get married, and party the night away with all of our favorite people!

Describe your wedding flowers. For our florals, I wanted to capture the elegance and drama of the 20s with deep jewel tones. I wanted everything to be very lush and full, with rich ruby and emeralds being the main colors of the florals, but mixing in the right balance of lighter tones as well. I also wanted candles everywhere, so we had tall gold candelabras overflowing with the beautiful flowers and greenery. Jackie Johns couldn’t have done a better job!

We decided to do a single cake and a dessert bar for our wedding, and I knew our cake had to be red velvet to match our colors! We ended up doing a split cake with vanilla and red velvet within each layer. The shape of the cake is what really made it unique. The dance floor of the Florentine is its original hardwood, and is in the shape of an octagon that gets smaller toward the middle of the floor. I knew that mimicking that shape with the cake would be a great touch, and it gave the cake an elegant, art deco feel.

Don’t miss Allison and Chris’s highlights film by The Film Poets!

Tell us all about the proposal! I was in Birmingham and he was in Raleigh when my mom’s yearly business trip was set arranged in Kauai, Hawaii in March 2014. Chris and I were determined to go! Everyone and their brother predicted that he would propose to me while we were there, but I was convinced that he wouldn’t! I knew he was trying to get a new job in Atlanta and a new car, so the math just didn’t add up! After a few missed attempts at finding the “perfect” spot, Chris decided that he would coax me up a cliff overlooking the beach at our resort. I, of course, had to make things difficult. We were headed out to a welcome dinner for my mom’s conference when Chris asked me if I wanted to go on a walk to the cliff to see if we could see the famous “green flash” of the Hawaiian sunset. I said I wasn’t climbing anything in a dress and heels! They eventually did get me down to the beach to take a few photos before the dinner started, and after more stubbornness (and blissful unaware-ness) from me, I finally get a stern “Go on a walk with me!” from Chris, and I started to suspect something was going on! I immediately started tearing up.. go figure. I left my heels with my mother and we climbed our way up the mountain to get to the cliff overlooking the ocean and the beach. (and let me tell you, I wasn’t wrong about being in a dress and climbing…). Once we made it close enough to the edge, Chris got down on one knee, and said “As stubborn as you are, I still want to spend the rest of my life with you.” I cried and said yes!
When did y’all get married? January 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I have to thank my mother for my crafting gene, because the little things definitely add up! I have a Silhouette Cameo machine and was able to use that for so much! I made wine bottle labels, goody bag labels, monograms, Birmingham books, door hangers, and much more with that thing!! I always tell my friends who want to get into the crafting world that patience is key, and YouTube is always helpful for things you’ve never done before!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t sweat the small stuff! I promise that the most important thing about your wedding is your marriage.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are definitely focused on each other! We are just taking life day by day and enjoying every moment. We don’t want to take anything for granted, so we are just living life, being happy!

Photographer: Alisha Crossley / Videographer: The Film Poets / Venue: The Florentine Building / Florist: Jackie Johns Florals / Wedding Cake: Sweet Magnolia / Dessert Bar: Corretti Catering and Magic City Macarons / Caterer: Corretti Catering / Music: The Brandy Brothers / Paper Products: Amberly Shelton Paperie / Bride’s Gown: Jenny Packham / Bridal Salon: Carriage House Weddings / Hair Stylist: James Thomas of Tonya Jones Salon / Makeup Artist: Tasha Thomas / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Jenny Yoo / Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids Birmingham / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse / Transportation: Coats Classic Cars

lisa Written with love by Lisa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    SUCH a perfect gown choice for this wedding! And I love those groomsmen gifts!

  2. avatar Loverly reply

    We are in love with this bride’s gorgeous Gatsby gown! The beading is to die for.

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Wow! They really pulled it off! Awesome theme!

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One thing I love witnessing at weddings is the unabashed vulnerability of the couple and their guests, whether it’s a groom who just can’t contain his tears after first seeing his bride, or the emotion of the first look with the bride’s daddy. There is just something so beautiful about the raw emotions. I think that’s why I love this line from Molly and Kevin’s sweet secret letter so much. We Southern women are a strong (and strong-willed!) bunch, which makes Molly’s sweet vow to Kevin so romantic and vulnerable, all at the same time! She said “You are my leader and I will gladly follow wherever you go.” Oh my stars! I’m sure their ceremony at the beautiful Lowndes Groves Plantation was a joy to witness, and their reception looks like it was a blast, too!

Big hugs to Caroline Ro for sharing Molly and Kevin’s wedding with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. In April 2014, my sister, two bridesmaids, my mother-in-law, my mother, and I enjoyed two appointments and about 50 dresses. At the first shop, I tried on about 30. It was an amazing experience and I got very very close to saying yes to one, but then my mom told me I needed to attend both appointments before I decided. Thank goodness I listened to her, because the next morning, we showed up at White on Daniel Island. I was about 10 dresses in before I tried on the one. I knew right away that this was it, and so did my family. It’s true that you do get that feeling, “This is my dress!!!”

My wedding flowers were absolutely stunning, filled with chocolate orchids, eucalyptus, a white rose in honor of the Thayer women (these ladies all carried 13 white roses on their wedding days), white hydrangeas, purple hellebores, dusty millers (my favorite), and ivory ranunculus. My bouquet was wrapped in my grandmother’s blue handkerchief and I pinned a picture of each of our grandmothers to the stems.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Kevin didn’t want me to tell him what I was walking down the aisle to, so I surprised him with my processional to Gabriel’s “Oboe.” I chose this song because it reminded me of my grandmother. She loved her instrumental music and I remember sitting in the back of her car listening to it. She was so excited for our “big Southern military wedding.” Unfortunately, she passed away just a few short weeks before Kevin and I got engaged. She and my mother were my inspirations for our entire wedding.

We did not write our own vows, but our pastor had us write secret letters to each other prior to our wedding, and he read a few passages from each. We didn’t get to read the whole letters until right before we left on our honeymoon. My favorite line of Kevin’s was: “You have been, and will continue to be, the center and foundation of our relationship and household. Being the man of the household means nothing without a solid foundation”. Kevin’s favorite line that I wrote to him was: “You have taught me to give my heart fully and have made me realize that I cannot do this life without you. You are my leader and I will gladly follow wherever you go.”

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our pastor was amazing!! He is the pastor at Kevin’s church in Greenville, and we have known him for years. His passion and message brought out the true message of the day: commitment. Lowndes Grove was also amazing, and their staff, coupled with the location, made it a day we’ll never forget. The hand-rolled cigar bar was a huge hit with everyone and was an awesome way for everyone to take a break from dancing.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We prioritized the flavor rather than design. We kept the design simple, and chose a lemon cake with buttercream icing and red velvet with sweetened cream cheese icing. We cut the cake with Kevin’s Marine officer’s sword, which added our own little flair to the tradition.

Lowndes Grove Plantation was the first and only place we really looked. Kevin had been to a wedding there before, and, having grown up in Charleston, I knew how amazing of a place it was. The way the setting sun shined across the water and through the Spanish moss on the trees epitomized my mental picture of a Southern plantation. When it came to the food, we had good old Southern barbecue, shrimp and grits, bacon-wrapped scallops, and some great bourbon to bring it all together.

There are so many moments, but the most memorable was when Kevin and I were able to break away from everything and look over our wedding as outsiders. We followed the advice of some of our friends and have passed it on to all of our friends with upcoming weddings because it meant so much to us. We went all the way to the back of the tent and stood up on the brick ledge, holding each other close and just watched everyone having a fabulous time at this beautiful setting. It was magical, and the “snapshot” in time will remain with us forever!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Kevin and I met at Clemson University in 2007. He was the big bad senior, and I was the new freshman looking for fun and adventure. We were introduced during the Sigma Nu Mountain Weekend at Camp Wayfarer by my roommate, who knew him from high school. The moment I met him, I knew he was going to be someone special in my life, but of course, we were there with different dates! We saw each other occasionally after that, and I invited him to the Alpha Delta Pi Mallard Ball. Our on and off dating continued until 2011, when he returned from his first deployment to Afghanistan and I graduated from nursing school. After being separated by so many miles and for so many months, we knew we wanted to start taking things seriously. During his second deployment to Afghanistan, he called and asked me to move with him when he was to be reassigned to Quantico, Virginia when he returned home. We have been living in Fredericksburg, Virginia since November 2012. We bought our boxer puppy, Reagan, in February 2013, and I kept hinting to Kevin to make it official–I would tell Reagan in front of Kevin how jealous I was that he had the same last name as daddy! Kevin got the hint and proposed on January 24th, 2014!!!
Tell us all about the proposal! From Kevin: My plan: have a nice dinner, have some good convo, head back to the car, propose, go get a celebratory beer, and surprise Molly with all of our friends there. Throughout dinner, I blamed my fidgeting in my chair on being sick. The topic of conversation led to our friends who were recently engaged, which caused Molly to drop the bomb on me of “Well, I guess they know what they wanted…” Boom, the ring in my pocket got exponentially heavier while we continued to converse. Following dinner, we made our way back to the car to drop off our leftovers, and on the corner of the street, I pulled her close and told her how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. I then started to drop to a knee and grabbed her hand. Molly said, “Kevin, what are you doing? The ground is wet! What are you doing?” I pulled out the ring and asked her to marry me, to which she replied, “Kevin…what is that??? Who is that for?? What is that???” I asked the question a second time, to which she finally replied with a teary “YES!” We then went to get a celebratory beer from Capital Ale House, and Molly was surprised again with a tremendous cheer and applause from all of our friends who were waiting for us.
When did y’all get married? December 13, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? From Kevin: The second I was allowed to turn around and see Molly coming down the aisle. Even as a US Marine, it took everything I had to not cry. She was so absolutely stunning as she made her way down the aisle that I was completely tunnel visioned. I can’t even remember the song that was playing for her processional.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Even if you are not very close with your soon-to-be mother-in-law, like I am with mine, get her involved. Invite her to your dress shopping appointments, fittings, bridal showers, etc. You won’t regret it, and she will never forget it. My mother-in-law is a mother to three boys, so doing all the girly things just made her year! Also, get a videographer. I fought my mom on getting one, but she insisted. I now watch our wedding video at least once a day!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Having known each other and been together for so long prior to marriage, we are ready for the ultimate big step: building our family! This is the reason we went to Africa for our Safari honeymoon–we asked ourselves prior to booking: what would we regret not doing before having kids? We had a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

Photographer: Caroline Ro / Videographer: Dock House Digital / Planner: Megan Chandler of Ooh! Events / Venue: Lowndes Grove Plantation / Florist: Out of the Garden / Catering and Cake Baker: Fish / Rentals: Snyder Rentals and Ooh! Events / Lighting: Ooh! Events / Band: Men of Distinction from EastCoast Entertainment / Paper Products: Lydia’s / Bride’s Gown: “C207” by Allure / Hair and Makeup: Charlotte Belk / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style 485” in Plum by Bill Levkoff / Ceremony String Trio: Classical Charleston

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marissa Written with love by Marissa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    Just a gorgeous wedding and I love the men in their uniforms!

  2. avatar Kimberly reply

    My beautiful daughter and now son in law are so lucky to now share a fabulous life together! The wedding day was filled with so many luscious memories for me! Everything was perfect.

  3. avatar Charmaine reply

    Grilled finger sandwiches … yes please.. Beautiful wedding

  4. avatar Charleston Wedding Videographer reply

    Such a beautiful day and beautiful couple. We were so honored to capture Molly & Kevin’s special day on film!

  5. avatar Jeffrey newton reply

    It was a beautiful wedding! Please tag us for the transportation :)

  6. avatar Megan Chandler reply

    So excited to see this stunning wedding shared! Love this couple!

  7. avatar Molly+Kevin // Married // Charleston » CarolineRo // Blog reply

    […] to top everything off, Southern Weddings kindly featured Molly and Kevin’s day […]

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