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As a December bride myself, I’ll admit that I find winter weddings extra magical. Churches always seem to have the most charming décor that just needs the tiniest extra touch of festive, and the grandeur of a Christmas tree incorporated into wedding day design is just about enough to make me cry. So obviously, Morgan and Ryan’s “glitter trees’ are giving me all the feels! But along with their beautiful platinum and white winter wonderland, I can’t help my eyes getting a little misty when I read about the poem Morgan’s honorary grandmother gave her. A portion of it reads, “A wedding is the result of a series of decisions made in love, a marriage is a daily decision to love.” For this sweet couple, their wedding day was filled not only with their love for each other, but how important it was for their guests to see how much they value the love and support of family and friends. A sentiment that I’m sure was felt abundantly.

Big SW hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor Robyn Van Dyke for sharing this sweet day with us.

My something borrowed was a heart-shaped brooch that I pinned on my bouquet. It belongs to my honorary grandmother and next-door neighbor. She also gave me a laminated, heart-shaped piece of paper that had a bible verse handwritten by her husband on it. He was a big part of my life and tragically passed away from brain cancer just three months before the wedding. It had always been my dream to have him read scripture for us. I kept the bible verse in my shoe the entire night, knowing he was there with me. For something blue, I added a pop of color by wearing Tiffany blue shoes and sporting bridal Uggs paired with a blue mink purse with my getaway dress after the reception. Something old was an important piece for me–my grandmother passed away before my parents even met, but my great-aunt gave me her mink stole, which was monogrammed with her initials. Before the wedding, my mom had my new initials added in on the other side; I felt like I was able to honor her by wearing it that night. The new piece for my wedding was a beautiful diamond bracelet that Ryan gave me the Thursday before our wedding–it was the most elegant piece of jewelry I have ever seen.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did not. Although it would have been helpful for pictures since we got married at 6:00 P.M. on a winter evening and it was pitch black outside after our ceremony (more on that later), we had waited over five years to get married, so I thought we should wait a few more hours to see one another. I am very old-fashioned and wanted us both to have that immediate and genuine reaction when he saw me walking down the aisle. I had always dreamed of that moment and it was so important to me to preserve the authenticity of it and share it with those we love. We did do a behind-the-door letter exchange, but my heart was beating so fast because I was petrified he could see me through the window! It was the right choice for us and totally worth it!
Did you write your own vows? We did not–we kept things very traditional, but just repeating those words we had heard recited at weddings before was very emotional. I don’t know if I would have been able to keep an inkling of composure if we had written our own. However, the letters that we wrote to one another served that purpose for us. It was remarkable how similar our letters were–at the end of the day, we were thrilled to begin our lives as husband and wife, to tackle the hard days and find ways to laugh together always. We knew we would arrive at this moment together and were so grateful that we were able to find a love like ours.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I went with my mom, sister, and soon-to-be mother-in-law to Nitsa’s in Winston-Salem. As soon as we went upstairs where they kept the dresses, I saw it. We pulled a few more dresses with different shapes and styles and I went into the dressing room. The one I had spotted was the first dress I tried on, and it was magical. I thought for sure that a ball gown would be way too overwhelming on my small frame (I’m only five feet tall), but it was perfect. I tried the others on for good measure, but none of them compared. I wanted a dress fit for a winter wonderland, and that is exactly what I got–a giant princess dress with intricate beading on the bodice and layer upon layer for the skirt. As soon as they put a tiara on my head with a custom veil, I knew there was no more looking to be done!

For as long as I can remember, I have always known what I wanted my wedding flowers to look like: all white, big, stunning hydrangeas and roses with no greenery. Everything was full and white with some platinum accents tucked into the bouquets and on the tables at the reception. The entryway for our reception venue was draped in platinum curtains and accented by platinum “glitter trees,” as I called them. I kept most of the centerpieces lower so that people could see one another across the round tables. The centerpieces were accented with mirrors and candles to give everything a wintery feel.

I wanted a spread of desserts! We went to a cake tasting at Sweet Memories and Ryan choose the flavors: red velvet and Southern aristocrat (a sweet potato cake that has a cinnamon flavor). I sent some pictures to Donna Ford at Sweet Memories and told her that I wanted the cake to look like snow had fallen on it. It was amazing! Our cake was covered in white buttercream with crystallized sugar sprinkled all over it, plus platinum snowflakes (she even made me a three-tiered, gluten-free side cake). Because neither one of us are big cake eaters, in addition to the wedding cake, we had Goodberry’s Frozen Custard cater with our favorite flavors: jamocha, chocolate, vanilla, and coconut. During the last hour of the reception, we had hot Krispy Kreme donuts (Ryan’s favorite dessert) delivered and passed around to guests.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Aside from the very traditional ceremony, I think the biggest thing overall was the Southern hospitality and the intimacy of the wedding and reception. We provided gift baskets full of our favorite Southern treats to our guests from out of town. Since we had several friends from NYC coming down, we needed them to feel a part of the NC group! Our reception was a seated buffet with Southern comfort foods like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, famous Ida burgers, macaroni and cheese, and tomato bisque soup. The tight-knit family values that we carry with us were prevalent in every wedding event, from my dad’s welcome speech to the toasts from our friends and family; we loved that everyone truly knew how grateful we were to have them as a part of our day. Ryan quite literally married the girl next door and it was so important for our guests to see how much we value the love and support of our family and friends.

PS: Y’all won’t want to miss Morgan + Ryan’s sweet wedding film from Twenty One Films!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Our paths crossed several times while we were growing up, spanning nearly a decade of chance meetings! We first “met” a long time ago at my church, in passing. Fast forward several years to 2006, when my family moved into the house behind his. Ryan was off at UNC, while I was a rising sophomore in high school. Our parents met and chatted and Ryan remembers hearing us in the backyard, but the two of us did not reconnect until a few years later. As I was starting my freshman year of college, Ryan had just graduated and moved up to NYC. I sent him a message asking for his mom’s email address when my parents needed it for something. He responded and asked how I was doing, hoping everything was great in Chapel Hill. Nearly a year later, our parents were chatting and a light bulb went off–their kids were single, and they thought it was a great idea to set the two of us up! They plotted so that when Ryan came home for his sister’s wedding, they would take us both to the high school football game (Ryan’s cousin played and my sister was the student athletic trainer). On that October night, we reconnected yet again, and have been together ever since. We had a whirlwind, long distance love story. As I finished school, he worked as an investment banker in NYC. My long nights of studying fell perfectly in line with his grueling work hours. I would travel up there to see him, wandering around the city and exploring a new place while he worked. After two and a half years of long distance dating, right before I graduated from college, Ryan moved back to Raleigh for work. We fell into a new pattern and got to spend even more time together, cherishing every moment. After dating for more than four and a half years, we got engaged! To this day, everyone in our family lives in the same neighborhood–if that isn’t Southern for you, I don’t know what is!
Tell us all about the proposal! It was a pretty standard Friday night for us. After work and dinner, we headed to a small shopping center nearby and had some gelato before going to Ryan’s house. Once we got to the house, I walked into the kitchen and started reading People Magazine. Ryan asked me what I wanted to do, and I told him it didn’t matter to me–I was fine just hanging out. He said “Okay, wait right there.” He was gone for two seconds, and when he came back into the kitchen, he immediately hopped to one knee in front of the refrigerator. I started jumping up and down, eyes watering, and just hugged him. Of course, I said yes! My parents had been planning on going out of town that night, but had decided to leave Saturday morning instead because of rain. We immediately jumped in the car and went over there, then we all loaded up and went around the corner to Ryan’s sister’s house to tell his family!
When did y’all get married? January 9, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 325
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Both Ryan’s and my moms are wonderful pianists, and the musical director at Edenton Street, Josh Dumbleton, is amazing. I wanted our day to be celebratory and I did not want to seem too cookie-cutter in the choices for my songs. In addition to the church organ, we had my dad’s cousin play the harp alongside my childhood babysitter, who is a talented violinist. We also used the same trumpeter who had played at my parents’ wedding 29 years ago. I thought the bridal processional needed to be a slower tempo (because I walk on-beat) and a powerful piece of music. I chose “Rigaudon” by Campra to guide me down the aisle. After the benediction, my hope was for the whole room to be as thrilled and excited as we were! We chose “Vivace” by Handel for the recessional. The songs we used at our reception were so important to us. For our first dance, we chose “Thank You” by Led Zeppelin, arranged a little differently to highlight the verses that spoke the most to us. The lyrics “I give you my all” are engraved in Ryan’s wedding band. My dad really likes country music, so we took “Southern Style” by Darius Rucker and made it more classic rock for our father-daughter dance–Ryan played and sang a bit of it, which was really special. Ryan and his mom danced to Stevie Wonder’s “You are the Sunshine of my Life,” a true testament to her love for her son.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? My honorary grandmother gave me a poem called “A Wedding…A Marriage” and it is something I hold dear to my heart. One portion of it reads, “A wedding is the result of a series of decisions made in love, a marriage is a daily decision to love.” We met with our pastor a few times before the wedding and read the book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. This book was fantastic! It showed us that while we may have different love languages, understanding each other’s differences helps us grow in our love, display our love, and stay in love throughout our marriage (we now have the daily devotional, too)! Having dated for so long, we have always talked about our plans for our lives together, from how to handle our finances to how to raise our future children. We have learned by example, coming from parents with very strong marriages, and by learning about the hardships that can come with a life partnership. While the wedding was an amazing time, our marriage is what we were looking forward to most. We talked about how to argue, how to communicate, and how to love from now until eternity, and are ready to tackle any challenges life may throw our way.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I was my own wedding planner! I am a very organized person and immediately bought the Southern Weddings Wedding Planner. We set up Google docs and a private Pinterest board that were all shared between my mom, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law. Our engagement was just over six months, so I had a lot to juggle in a short amount of time. I could not have done it without the support of my mom and mother-in-law!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? If you want to save some time and get to your reception faster (without doing a first look), here’s what we did: we skipped a lot of the portraits the night of the wedding and scheduled a separate portrait session after our honeymoon with our photographer. We had just returned from our tropical getaway (so nice and bronzed) and it snowed in Raleigh! We had a full set of portraits as husband and wife, in the SNOW! It was amazing. We found that we looked so much more relaxed in those photos and they ended up being our favorites. Plus, needless to say, I was more than thrilled to put my dress back on!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are looking forward to sending out our first Christmas card and traveling for our one-year anniversary trip. We love being able to live under the same roof and to laugh together daily, and we are excited about starting our family in the future.

Photographer: Robyn Van Dyke | Videographer: Twenty One Films | Ceremony Venue: Edenton Street United Methodist Church | Reception Venue and Caterer: Carolina Country Club | Florist: Kelly Odom | Wedding Cake: Sweet Memories Bakery | Dessert: Goodberry’s Frozen Custard and Krispy Kreme | Rentals: CE Rental | Band: J. Scott Thompson | Gift Baskets and Favors: Gingham & Posh | Paper Products: Charlotte’s | Bride’s Gown: “Angelique” by Rivini | Bride’s Veil and Tiara: Nitsa’s | Bride’s Earrings and Shoes: Kate Spade | Bride’s Bracelet: Bailey’s Fine Jewelry | Hair and Makeup: Dawn Carrington and Debra Goodyear of Glam Lounge | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Gwenyth” in Black Lace by Jenny Yoo | Groom’s Tuxedo: Brooks Brothers | Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Calligraphy: Yellow House Calligraphy | Bride’s Getaway Dress: “Hattie” Feather-Hem Dress by Cynthia Steffe | Bride’s Getaway Shoes: “Bailey Bridal Boot” by Ugg

Robyn Van Dyke Photography and Twenty One Films are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar featured: southern weddings » Robyn Van Dyke Photography Blog reply

    […] were so honored to have Morgan & Ryan’s gorgeous winter wedding featured on Southern Weddings earlier this week! We’ll never forget all the magical wintry details that Morgan so […]

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After a long bout of warm weather for the season, we’re kicking off December by stocking the SW office with tea and hot cocoa and turning up the holiday music! In that vein, I can’t think of a more perfect wedding to share with you today than Peyton and Tyler’s beautiful day. The combination of Peyton’s long lace sleeves, the deep red of her bridesmaid dresses, and the natural backdrop of RT Lodge all add to the cozy feeling. While it was a hard decision, opting for a smaller guest list allowed the two of them to spend more time focusing on celebrating with the most important people in their lives, and I must say, it certainly made their whole day feel a bit more special! Huge SW thanks to Finch Photography for sharing Peyton and Tyler’s beautiful day with us!

Tell us all about the proposal! I grew up in Maryville and one of my favorite things about my hometown is the Foothills Fall Festival. Knowing how much I love going to the concerts at the festival, Tyler came up with a plan to propose there. Finally, it was the day of the proposal and everything was in place. Tyler’s parents and my grandmother had come into town for the big event. Both families and some friends all piled into the car and went to church together before heading to the festival. I was very concerned that Tyler was sick or something because his hands were extremely sweaty, which quickly became a funny joke to all of those in the know! Once at the festival, I was so excited by all the booths, crafts, and food that it was nearly impossible to get me to go to our seats for the afternoon concert. In between concerts, an announcer came off the stage and started talking to different people in the audience. Tyler and I (just so happened…) to have seats next to the aisle and in the front. The announcer started talking to us, and then, he asked us to look up on the screen. There was a note written by me when I was little about how I had had the best time at the fall festival. Tyler then got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. I already knew that Tyler was the one, but when he proposed, I was so surprised that I didn’t answer and simply stared at him! The announcer reminded me to think long and hard about the decision, and I finally said yes!

I had a pretty good idea of what my dream dress would look like–I wanted long lace sleeves (a winter wedding must!), an A-line shape (my most flattering look), and I wanted it to make me feel like a princess. I actually found the perfect dress on Pinterest and then went dress shopping to find something similar, but, of course, had no luck. Then I happily realized that the dress I had pinned was from Alfred Angelo, and that they had a store nearby. I put on the dress, everyone cried, and I bought it! I absolutely loved my wedding dress–it really was my dream dress!

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The guest list. Choosing who should be on the guest list and making cuts were the hardest parts. We wanted to include everyone we know and love, but it is just unrealistic with venue sizes and costs. We ended up having to invite only family and lifelong family friends. Also, we opted to have an adults-only wedding (minus children who had to travel with parents from out-of-town or that were in the wedding, for whom we offered child care during the reception). The guest list was difficult to make, but in the end, we felt like we had the people who meant the most to us there to share in our special day.

We did a first look. I was against the idea at first, based on tradition, but our wedding was at 4 P.M. and I was worried about getting pictures done with enough lighting after the ceremony. I am really glad that we did this! By the time the wedding day came, I was so anxious to see Tyler that I was glad it was before the ceremony so we could actually have a moment to see each other and talk. Tyler was so overjoyed and excited to see me in my dress that he stared to tear up the moment he saw me.

Tyler and I decided to write our own vows so that they would be promises from our own hearts. It was amazing how in-sync our vows ended up being, since neither of us heard or saw the other’s before the ceremony. My favorite part was that we both promised to keep Christ in the center of our relationship, and that no matter what, we were in this adventure together. During the ceremony, Tyler was incredibly sentimental and emotional during his vows, while I could not contain my joy and smiles as I made my promises. This was such a reflection of each of us and made the moment even more perfect.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We had both our wedding ceremony and reception at RT Lodge. This was the perfect location for us for so many different reasons. 1. I actually live less than two minutes from the venue. This was nice because it was so familiar to me! Growing up, my family used to take walks through the Maryville College woods past RT Lodge. Also, in the event that anything was left at home (which some things were!), it was easy for someone to go and grab whatever we needed. 2. The feel of the Lodge. There is something elegant, yet manly about the lodge, which fit both of us really well. Especially getting married in the winter, the lodge just fit the feel we were going for.

I was completely obsessed with my wedding flowers. My bridal bouquet was beautiful, made with lush, neutral blooms. My flower girls and maid of honor had some amazing flower pieces in their hair. We had logs covered with candles and flower petals leading down the aisle to our arch, which was adorned with flowers. At our reception, we had centerpieces that included deer antlers, which really was cool with the lodge atmosphere. Our flowers had a vintage, natural elegance feel that really captured the look we were wanting.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Since our last name is Camera, a camera-shaped groom’s cake was a definite must! Our guests thought this idea was so clever, and it was a huge hit. The bride’s cake was five tiers in simple textures with gold accents, which all came together into a simple, yet beautiful design. Both of the cakes were absolutely delicious!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? At the end of our reception, everyone was on the dance floor having a great time, singing and busting moves. Then, to Tyler’s and my surprise, everyone circled around us and sang “As Long As We’re Here” by Kristy Starling–an all-time favorite song of mine. It was such a spontaneous and special moment. We felt so loved being completely surrounded by our favorite people. Immediately after this moment, we headed to our sparkler send-off on the RT Lodge lawn. It was the perfect end to the perfect day!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Tyler and I met on August 30, 2013. It was the first weekend back at school and some friends invited me over to their house. I was sitting on a couch with a friend in the living room when Tyler walked through the front door and we instantly locked eyes. It was one of those moments when reality actually felt like a movie (Tyler even says that the second he saw me, he knew that I was going to be his girl). We basically maintained eye contact for the next ten minutes, until I realized he was shy and I was going to have to make the first move, so I walked over to him and introduced myself. We ended up talking for the rest of the evening and exchanged numbers before we left. The next morning, I woke up to a text from him asking when he could see me again. We ended up hanging out every single day for the next few months. He asked me to be his girlfriend on October 19 and then proposed exactly a year later.
When did y’all get married? December 19, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 325
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Two of the most special pieces of our wedding were the arch and the guest “log.” Tyler was so insistent on having a “power arch” (as he called it), and we were having zero luck. My papaw offered to build us exactly what we wanted, and it was so perfect! We are planning to put the arch in the backyard of our new home. For the guest log, we had everyone sign an actual wooden log. My papaw cut down the log from his yard and gave it to me. Following the wedding, he turned the log into a bench for us to put into our home.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We are both so fortunate to have parents who are still married. Tyler and I took time to sit and talk with our parents about the keys to having a lasting, successful, and blissful marriage. Tyler and I also participated in marriage counseling leading up to the wedding. We took the time to talk and pray together about the future, and continuously asked happy couples in our lives for advice.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Since the wedding, I graduated from college and we moved back to my hometown. Tyler and I are now starting our new life in the cutest, old, cottage-style home. We spend a lot of time having bonfires and celebrations with our friends and family. We are so excited to see what is ahead for us on this adventure together!

Photographer: Finch Photography / Videographer: Milestones / Venue, Planner, and Caterer: RT Lodge / Florist: Whimsical Gatherings / Wedding Cake: Cheryl McMillan Cake Design / Lighting and DJ: Ogle Entertainment / Paper Goods: The Happy Envelope / Bride’s Gown and Accessories: Alfred Angelo / Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Bangs and Blush / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: White Lace and Promises / Menswear: Jos. A. Bank

RT Lodge is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

Written with love by Jess Metcalf
  1. avatar Olivia reply

    What a beautiful wedding! We are getting married in January and love the fur stoles the bridesmaids are wearing. Where are they from?

  2. avatar Gosia reply

    I am not a fan of red, but after seeing this weeding I might change my mind!

  3. avatar The most wonderful time of the year… | ZsaZsa Bellagio – Like No Other reply

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