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.
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.
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!