Peyten and Stan returned to the site of their first date to celebrate their two year anniversary, yet Peyten insists she "suspected nothing" as they dined at Atlanta's Georgia Grill, then dashed off to view the city's botanical gardens lit up for the winter holidays.
The couple shuffled through the crowded park, until Stan pulled Peyten into the secluded garden and Peyten admits "at this point, I wondered." She didn't have to for long—within minutes, Stan dropped to one knee and proposed with a custom designed engagement ring. "It was one of the most romantic nights," Peyten says.
Just five months later, the couple invited more than 300 guests to celebrate their marriage in the backyard of Peyten's family home in Atlanta. The house, with its wide wraparound porch and courtyard complete with a pool, "has so many memories for me, and it is an amazing setting. It was also available on short notice," Peyten jokes.
The couple craved a "classic but simple look" for their June wedding, Peyten says. "Chandeliers and burlap, so to speak. That combination fits our personalities. Stan is more chandelier, because he likes nice things. And I am more burlap, tending to choose comfort over style. But together, we create something unique."
Stan designed the bride's engagement ring from stones taken from his great-grandmother's wedding bands. His white gold band was once his grandfather's wedding ring.
Two dresses stole the bride's affections, but in the end, a soft shift by Anne Barge won her heart. "My mother-in-law told my husband that I 'smiled bigger' in the dress I chose," Peyten recalls, "so I think it was obvious to everyone in the end which one would be the one."
"I absolutely loved my dress," the bride continues, citing its intricate top-to-bottom lace detailing and trumpet skirting as among her favorite features. Her veil—a long, delicate, lace-edged accessory—was also by Anne Barge.
The groom donned a Ralph Lauren pulled from his own closet. Groomsmen could also wear any black suit they already owned. "You couldn't tell the suits were any different," Peyten says, "and the groomsmen were very thankful for not having to shell out any money for special tuxes."
Partners Printing designed green and white ceremony programs that doubled as fans.
Peyten and Stan wed inside the same church—Trinity Presbyterian Church—in which the bride's parents exchanged their vows. "The ceremony is one I'll always remember, of course, but our preacher, Pam Driesell, gave one of the loveliest homilies," Peyten describes. "She told us about how marriage is like sweet tea—true sweet tea is not just sugar and tea, because it requires heat to mix the two separate elements into one new, better mixture. Stan drinks sweet tea every day, so her sermon is one that I'm reminded of each time I see him pour his favorite beverage."
Peyten shed tears as the couple's guests joined them in singing her favorite hymn during the ceremony. "Thank goodness my mom had the foresight to give me a handkerchief to hold with my bouquet," the bride says. "I was, at that point, so overwhelmed by the beauty of it all that I shed more tears of joy during our vows. That handkerchief got a lot of use!"
The couple's neutral color palette presented problems when it came to the floral arrangements, Peyten says. But Cathy Rainer of Parties To Die For still "put together the most beautiful flower arrangements for the day," she says. The bride even watched as the florist pieced together each arrangement at her parents' house. "That was one of the highlights of my getting ready."
Some floral arrangements in the backyard may have reached 15 feet tall, the bride says. But the pice de rsistance was perhaps the green garland that stretched across the home's iron balcony.
Black iron lanterns topped tables meant for four. Others were adorned with peach and pink blooms. "It felt like you were walking in the botanical gardens," Peyten says.
Guests noshed on a cheese and spread before digging into dinner—a hand-selected menu of barbecue sandwiches, fried catfish, mushroom ravioli and spinach salad.
Peyten and Stan love to get down—on the dance floor, that is. So the couple struggled to select their wedding band. "The band we chose, ATL Groove Factory, turned out to be the best band we've heard yet," Peyten says. "Weeks after the wedding, people kept raving about how much fun they had on the dance floor."
Each layer of the couple's five-tier buttercream cake was filled with a different flavor—strawberry, raspberry, lemon and Bavarian crme.
But the groom's cake, created by Dessert Designs, stole the sweet treat show. The caramel cake "was even more popular than our wedding cake," Peyten confesses. "It's a delicious pound cake with salted caramel icing, and people were lining up to get slices."
Champagne toasts were offered to the bride and groom, including one from Peyten's father.
The best advice the bride received while planning her wedding, Peyten reveals, was "to make sure you stop and look around every once in a while, because the day goes by so fast. Stan and I were mindful to savor every moment."
Following that precious advice, Peyten and Stan "took time to do a little bit of everything," the bride says. "We ate before we went out to see everyone, so we got to sample the yummy food. We danced for a long part of the reception, both at the beginning and the end. We got around to talk with many of our guests from out of town. And we even spent a few moments alone, away from the party, savoring the evening and how excited we were to be married."
Ceremony Venue: Trinity Presbyterian Church || Reception Venue: Bride's family home || Bride's Wedding Dress: Anne Barge || Bride's Veil: Anne Barge || Bride's Shoes: DSW || Groom's Tux: Ralph Lauren || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale || Mother of the Bride's Dress: Neiman Marcus || Florist: Parties To Die For || Caterer: Epting Events || Stationery: Partners Printing and Calligraphy By Marlean || Cake Baker: Tammy Aldridge and Dessert Designs || Favors: Hometown Honey || Rentals: Epting Events || Entertainment: ATL Groove Factory || Photography: Anna and Spencer Photography