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Cory + Rachel's 30A Wedding | Eden Gardens State Park

Cory and I grew up in the same town, but didn’t truly cross paths until winter break of our freshman year of college. A mutual friend was having a birthday celebration, and upon arriving, we immediately made eye contact and gravitated toward each other, spending the rest of the evening talking and laughing. When it was time to leave, he kissed my hand and we went our separate ways. Cory was earning his civil and environmental engineering degrees from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and I was attending the University of Georgia in Athens, a mere 1,400 miles apart. We kept in touch casually, but the distance was a lot for two 19-year-old kids. Fast forward a year, and my world was rocked. My dad was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer and he passed away a few short months later. Around this time, Cory migrated back into my life. I needed to face grief and embrace healing head on, and Cory knew it even before I could come to terms with it myself. It would be years before we would move back into each other’s lives. This time around, he was stationed in Florida and I was living in Georgia, and we went out for frozen yogurt while he was home visiting family before a deployment. Cory returned from his deployment the next January and asked me to have dinner with him. I was terrified! Timing hadn’t been in our favor over the previous seven years and I didn’t want to get hurt. We planned to have dinner on Thursday January 23, but then wouldn’t you know it, my niece was born that day and I had to cancel on him. We rescheduled for that Saturday. He picked me up for an early movie and then dinner at a sweet little local restaurant. We had time to spare before dinner and the weather was frigid that night. He pulled the truck over, sprinted through the freezing cold into a local coffee shop, and came back with hot chocolate and a grin that stretched a mile wide. Then he kissed me. And I was a goner. We spent the rest of the night at our little table, tucked away in the corner of the restaurant, laughing and catching up, completely oblivious to the world around us. It was finally our time

After our fabulous photographer, Cassidy Carson, recommended doing a first look (for a few reasons), we decided it was the best choice for us. Cory and I hadn’t considered a first look because we weren’t sure how it would impact the magic of walking down the aisle. Ultimately, we did a first look because it was a way for just the two of us to spend time together and soak in the joy; it forced us to slow down and be present in the moment on an otherwise fast-paced day. It didn’t take away from walking down the aisle in the least. The weather for our first look was absolutely stunning, which was our saving grace, as not 30 seconds after our ceremony ended, thunder rolled and we were caught in a torrential downpour!

When we were choosing our wedding location, we made two things a priority: community (friends and family who would be present) and the location’s significance to our story. Cory was stationed in Florida for the majority of our dating life and we would spend hours upon hours playing in the waves and exploring Seaside on 30A. It’s where we fell in love, where we first exchanged those words, and where we spent so much time dreaming about our future. 30A is a critical part of our story and we wanted our celebration of marriage to be a reflection of that. Eden Gardens is a little hidden gem about ten minutes inland–a quiet, historic plantation home with beautiful oaks and dreamy Spanish moss. It was the perfect way for us to incorporate a Southern-style venue while hosting friends and family in a place that means the world to us. 

First order of business when Cory returns home from deployment is to celebrate and take a mini-moon (second small honeymoon) to celebrate his homecoming and the gift of marriage. We love to travel and explore new cities, which we plan on doing a lot in 2017 (and beyond). But we’re also excited for the slow Saturday mornings of cooking breakfast together and enjoying our home with our sweet pup, Luna. Leaning into newlywed life, growing as a couple, and creating our own family traditions have both of us excited about what’s next.

Day-Of Coordinator: Serene Occasions | Venue: Eden Gardens | Florist: Flowers by Milk & Honey | Dessert Baker: Charlie’s Donut Truck | Popsicles: Swell Pops | Caterer: Jim ‘N Nick’s | Rentals and Lighting: The Big Day Rentals | Ceremony Music: Top Hat Live | DJ: Rock the House | Custom Invitation Suite: Love Supply Co. | Bride’s Gown: BHLDN | Bride’s Veil: Paris by Debra Moreland | Bride’s Jewelry: Kendra Scott | Hair and Makeup: Lanna Bloodworth | Bride’s Shoes: Betsey Johnson | Groom’s Attire: Awearness Kenneth Cole via Men’s Wearhouse | Gown Alterations: Rodica Lazarian

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Cliffside Elopement | Pacifica, California

I love the intimacy of elopements. They’re perfect for the couple who want to get away from planning everything down to the smallest detail. All that’s really needed is a time, place, and each other. I was so fortunate to have an incredible couple, a stunning dress, and Kelly Lenard, the floral designer, by my side to help everything come together so effortlessly. Kelly pulled florals in colors that complemented the California landscape to create a daring bouquet.

Ultimately I wanted to show brides-to-be that if a large, expensive wedding doesn’t excite you, then an intimate elopement with just you and your fiancé is a totally viable, somewhat carefree option. It can be just as beautiful as large celebration with all of the bells and whistles.

For this bouquet, Kelly wanted to come up with a lush and wild design reflective of the California coast. Her inspiration came from the warm glow of the early evening light, golden hues on the cliffs of Gray Whale Cove, and the colorful vegetation that covered the surrounding hillsides. She chose a mix of caramel, coral, ivory, orange, and rose tones to compliment the landscape. Foraged pistachio and bougainvillea were among her favorite finds. Other varieties included garden roses, ranunculus, nerines, fringed tulips, and blushing bride proteas.

Location: Pacifica, Ca | Floral Design and Styling: Kelly Lenard | Dress: Johanna Johnson from Alice in Ivory | Ribbon: Frou Frou Chic

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Westin and Kelsey's boathouse wedding in Beaufort, NC

As seen on Brides

In June of 2015, Westin Brawley surprised his girlfriend, Kelsey Mann, with a getaway to Asheville, NC, to celebrate a recent promotion. Kelsey desperately wanted to take in the views at the top of Black Balsam Knob in the Pisgah National Forest, and when the couple reached the top of the mountain, Westin made the climb even more memorable with a proposal

The couple set plans into motion for an elegant wedding on April 23, 2016, with 105 guests in Beaufort, North Carolina. Kelsey’s parents both live in Beaufort, and her dad works at the maritime museum which runs the Watercraft Center, an active boat workshop. “The first time we walked in to consider it for our wedding we both knew it was ultimate venue for us. It was rustic, raw, simple, and has so much character. The waterfront views were also a plus!” Kelsey says. With intimacy in mind, Kelsey admits that keeping the guest list to a minimum was the most difficult part of planning her wedding. “I wanted a small intimate wedding, and was so amazed at how hard it was to keep the guest list down,” the bride says says. The couple enlisted the help of the bride's mother (as well as a day-of-coordinator) to plan a cozy affair with a simple, neutral color palette.

Ceremony and Reception Venue: Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center | Day of Coordinator: Heather Willett of Humble Bee | Bride's Gown: Sarah Janks from LVD Bridal | Earrings: Kate Spade | Shoes: Sam Edelman | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Joanna August | Groom and Groomsman's Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Engagement Ring: J. Yontef | Wedding Bands: Barker Diamond | Flowers: Betsy Earnest of Elizabeth Earnest Florals | Music: Another Level of Sam Hill Entertainment | Catering: Beaufort Grocery Co. 

 

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Ben + Margaret | Nashville Wedding at Glen Leven Farm

Perhaps by some standards, our wedding was not perfect. We had planned an outdoor wedding, but it rained. The shuttle got lost, and our outdoor ceremony started twenty minutes late with looming clouds. But I would not have changed a thing. Our wedding was not supposed to be perfect, it was supposed to be “us.” And everything we did during the planning process—from the proposal to our venue to the wedding day itself—was a reflection of us as a couple. Perfectly imperfect.

Ben and I met six years ago in Washington, D.C. through mutual friends. Over the years, our own friendship grew into something more. Ben is unlike anyone I’ve ever met. Not only is he tall (I’m 5’11”, so that was pretty important), funny and in my opinion pretty handsome, but he is truly the most genuine person I have ever met. In 2013, Ben moved with me to my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee so I could start law school. I always knew Ben was special, but the fact he wanted to move with me and made such an effort to make Nashville his home too was really amazing. Last year, I told Ben I had planned to take a class one weekend in September. Unbeknownst to me that was, of course, the weekend Ben had planned to propose at my family’s lake house. He had invited our out-of-town family and friends to be there, so moving weekends wasn’t an option. So he improvised, and on a walk in our favorite park with our (crazy) dog, Larry, Ben asked me to marry him. I, of course, said yes.

Right away, we knew we wanted to get married at Glen Leven Farm, just minutes from our house in Nashville. The property itself is perfectly imperfect—a (somewhat) restored historic home, a working farm, and sixty-five beautiful acres all just four miles from downtown Nashville. It doesn’t have manicured lawns and some of the interior paint is chipping, but that’s one of the reasons I love it. More than anything, Glen Leven just had an amazing energy that we wanted to guide our planning. Not only does the property have a lot of historical significance, but it now serves the Nashville community in numerous ways. And, the previous owners willed the property to the Land Trust for Tennessee with a conservation easement (all facilitated by my amazing Dad, an estate planning attorney), so the land will never be developed. It’s pretty neat to get married at a place that has been around for hundreds of years and that you know will be around forever.

With our venue decided, it was time to move on to planning. Glen Leven had never really had a wedding of more than 100 people, so we really just had to make things up as we went along. Our main goal was to figure out how to showcase the natural, at times imperfect beauty of Glen Leven. Our unbelievable vendors (who thankfully knew what they were doing!) made our wedding vision come true. Kathryn Christenbury (Fleur de Letters) designed a beautiful invitation suite that set the tone of the event for our guests. The amazing Melissa Broadwell at Vintage Florals made our already beautiful ceremony backdrop—the front of the home—into a dream, from the wreath on the upper balcony to the railing design to the amazing arrangements. She showcased the beauty of the home by decorating each of the six fireplaces with beautiful arrangements, and she brought the outside in to our tent, with greenery all along the tent ceiling. Our caterer, Jeannette Goddard, fixed a feast that our guests continue to rave about (and the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever tasted). Our band, Scat Springs, kept guests on their feet the whole night. And our unbelievable photographer, Cassidy Carson Lynch, captured the whole wedding perfectly.

Sure, there were things beyond our control. A rouge GPS made the shuttle late. But it didn’t start raining, so the ceremony still took place outdoors. And as soon as our officiant pronounced us as husband and wife, a ray of sunshine came through the trees and found us for our first kiss as a married couple. That wouldn’t have happened if everything ran on time. And when the rain came, it brought all of our guests under the tent to dance the night away.

Our favorite part of our wedding day was our “family dance.” Instead of a traditional father-daughter, mother-son dance, my Dad and I started out dancing to “What a Wonderful World.” We were joined a few seconds later by Ben and his Mom, then my Mom and Ben’s Dad, and my brother and his fiancé. Toward what should have been the end of the song, the band invited our friends and family to join us. My Aunt and Uncle jumped up, and soon the dance floor was full of our friends and family all dancing to an extended version of “What a Wonderful World.” All the most important people in our lives dancing together as the rain poured down around us. That is as close to perfect as it gets. We will remember that experience for the rest of our lives, and we are so thankful for all of those who were able to make that moment—and the amazing moments before and after it—a reality for us.

Photography: Cassidy Carson | Floral Design: Vintage Florals | Wedding Dress: Mikaella Bridal | Cake: Publix | Invitations: Fleur De Letters | Bride's Shoes: Sergio Rossi | Jewelry: Deepa Gurnani | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jim Hjlem | Catering: Chef Works | Makeup: Leslie Ellis | Hair: Kimberly Averheart | Calligraphy: Fleur De Letters | Band: Scat Springs | Groom's Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Wedding Venue: Glen Leven Farm | Bridal Boutique: Arzelle's | Groom's Shoes: Florsheim | Groom's Tie: Charles Tyrwhitt | Rentals: Southern Events

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