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North Carolina Archives - New Orleans Weddings - Reception, Venue & Planning

The Bride’s Own Backyard Was the Perfect Spot for This Flower-Filled Mountain Wedding

 Highlands, North Carolina, Real Weddings  Comments Off on The Bride’s Own Backyard Was the Perfect Spot for This Flower-Filled Mountain Wedding
Nov 012016

Helping a friend with a few pre-wedding tasks paid off big for Rebecca Orazi. In October of 2011, Rebecca offered to assist with a DIY project for a friend's wedding. While the women were working, Chris Hardy, another one of the couple's friends, stopped by to see how the project was going, he and Rebecca both felt an instant connection. Three years later, the pair set plans in motion for their own big day when Chris dropped to one knee at Rebecca's family home in Highlands, North Carolina.

Since the couple responsible for introducing the future Mr. and Mrs. had their wedding at Rebecca's family home, it only made sense that this twosome choose the venue, too. "We didn't want to shop around for a place to get married," the bride says. "We wanted to have our ceremony in a personal space that we both loved. I wanted it to be lovely and artful, and to have the feel of an intimate and relaxed family dinner." And when you're tying the knot at home, it's easy to get just that!

With help from wedding planner Ashley Baber Weddings, florist Amy Osaba Design, and Rebecca's mom, this pair fulfilled their vision of a relaxed, elegant affair on September 26, 2015. Read on to see the photos Haley Sheffield captured of their cozy and colorful fall day.

When it came time to design her invitation suite, Rebecca turned to the friend whose wedding she helped out with all those years before: Abany Bauer of Brown Linen Design. The bride's pal helped the couple created an elegant invite with dainty calligraphy and a monogram they could carry over to the rest of their day.

To welcome their friends and family to Highlands, the bride and groom gifted each guest with a basket stocked with goodies, including sparkling water, snacks, and a guide book.

Rebecca chose a stunning v-neck beaded wedding dress by Jenny Packham. When the weather turned wet on the big day, the bride's dad suggested she swap her Cole Hann pointed heels for her Tretorn rain boots. "At first I thought he was joking, but then I was like, 'Hey, that's actually a really fantastic idea!'" the bride says.

The rain boots tied in with the comfortable vibe of the day, and Rebecca took the opportunity to glam it up with her other finishing touches, like an embellished hair piece, an off-white veil, and her mother's diamond earrings. The bride wanted to honor both of her late grandmothers, so she pinned a brooch that belonged to one onto her bouquet and kept warm in the other's mink stole. "I wanted to wear something of both of theirs," she says.

This groom kept it simple with a dark blue suit from OWNONLY but made sure to have some fun with his socks. Groomsmen wore deep gray suits and joined in the fun with different patterned socks.

Rebecca's bridesmaids wore gold tulle dresses by Jenny Yoo. "I wanted their dresses to be elegant but also fun, and what is more fun than gold tulle? I wanted one!" the bride says.

As a fun gift for her bridesmaids and for the groom's best man, Rebecca hand-sewed award ribbons with a word that best described each person. "I also wrote them each letters about why I thought they exemplified that quality," she says.

With the lush landscape of the home as their ceremony backdrop, Rebecca and Chris were able to keep the rest of their décor minimal. The couple's 120 guests were seated in chairs on the manicured lawn and faced a wooden archway that was decorated in pink roses and plenty of trailing greenery. To mark their aisle, the couple hung swags of flowers from the end chairs.

Anticipating that it would be an emotional day for many of their friends and family, the bride and groom displayed a variety of different vintage handkerchiefs from an iron gate near the ceremony space, with a sign reading "For Happy Tears."

A string quartet played as Rebecca, accompanied by her father, made her way down the aisle. She and Chris exchanged traditional vows, but personalized their ceremony with a special poem that was printed inside their programs for guests to read on their own.

Metallic reception added a dash of glamour to the reception space. Long chestnut tables were decorated with small glowing candles, lush flower arrangements displayed in the bride's mother's antique lusterware pitchers, and a mix of gold and white place settings. With Amy Osaba on hand to design the centerpieces, it's no surprise that the blooms packed a serious punch: Mixes of dahlias, ranunculus, roses, lisianthus, berries, and greenery in a variety of unexpected hues stood out against the neutral color palette.

The bride and her sister created the sequin-covered table numbers and then attached them to birch wood platforms.

The newlyweds served a family-style dinner with farm-fresh roasted corn and squash, salmon, and flank steak.

The couple chose flavors they love for their wedding cake: Alternating layers of chocolate and pumpkin chocolate chip flavored cake were frosted in vanilla icing and dusted with gold glitter. The groom had his own traditional white wedding cake, which was adorably decorated with fondant Minion characters dressed as superheroes.

"I am so glad I took the advice almost everyone told me before the day: Take time out to just appreciate and experience it," Rebecca says. "I would tell future bride's to take a moment to relax, breathe, and take it all in."

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Private residence || Wedding Planner: Ashley Baber Weddings || Bride's Wedding Dress: Jenny Packham || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo || Groom's Attire: OWNONLY || Wedding Bands: Rebecca Overmann || Flowers & Rentals: Amy Osaba Events || Invitations & Paper Products: Brown Linen Design || Catering: New Mountain Events || Cake: City Bakery || Photographer: Haley Sheffield

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Want more inspiration just like this? Then check the North Carolina wedding in the video below.

WATCH: This Flower-Filled North Carolina Wedding Is Packed With Serious Inspiration

 North Carolina, Real Wedding Videos, Real Weddings  Comments Off on WATCH: This Flower-Filled North Carolina Wedding Is Packed With Serious Inspiration
Sep 032016

Looking for some ultra-romantic wedding inspiration? Then look no further than our real weddings video channel, packed with tons beautiful celebrations and countless ideas to steal for your own big day. Each week we take a deeper look at one of our favorite new love stories, and today's inspiration comes courtesy of Evelyn and Tom's flower-filled party in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Crown Alley Films joined this twosome at the Urban Garden at the Ritz-Carlton Charlotte and documented every dreamy moment of this nature-inspired celebration. With a venue this spectacular, it's easy to see why Evelyn and Tom wanted to pack their day with fresh blooms. The glass-roofed space was the perfect space to say "I do," especially once the couple brought in a flowering wall as their ceremony backdrop and lined the aisle with tons of trees and petals.

See More: 32 Ideas for a Neutral Wedding Color Palette

The couple put a special emphasis on their personal flowers, too. The bride's oversized bouquet was made up of tons of bright blooms, including garden roses, lisianthus, dahlias, spray roses, and greenery. Her groom's boutonniere was equally as statement making, made up of a purple roses and fresh eucalyptus sprigs. Even the flower girls had some spectacular blooms: They donned white flower crowns as they tossed petals down the aisle.

They didn't forget to fill the reception with flowers either. Tall trees transformed a ballroom into an indoor garden while tons of low centerpieces decorated long and round tables. They even repurposed that gorgeous flower wall for the party, which made for the perfect cake-cutting backdrop. Now that's what we call making an impact.

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This Couple Paired Elegant Style With an Industrial Venue in North Carolina

 North Carolina, Real Weddings  Comments Off on This Couple Paired Elegant Style With an Industrial Venue in North Carolina
Sep 012016

It only took one conversation for Bradley Quarles to know there was something special about Mallory Mpare. "I mentioned that I needed to hurry back to my dorm room to watch the UNC/Duke basketball game," Mallory says. "I'm from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Brad, a lover of all things sports, was immediately hooked." Eight years later, in May of 2014, between a couple's massage and brunch, Brad popped the question in the center of Dupont Circle with both his and Mallory's families looking on.

The couple knew they wanted to get married near Mallory's hometown, so they looked at several venues in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In the end, the Cotton Room in Durham was the winner. "Since many of our guests would be traveling from out of town, we decided it would be most convenient to have our ceremony and reception in the same venue," the bride says. "We wanted something that felt intimate but would accommodate everyone, and we love the Cotton Room's industrial vibe."

Priscilla Erwin of Orangerie Events helped Mallory and Brad bring their dreams of relaxed yet elegant celebration to life on September 19, 2015. After 14 months of planning, their day went off without a hitch. Check out all of the gorgeous moments, as photographed by Kristen Lynne Photography, below.

The bride admits she tried to be practical about purchasing a wedding dress, but her heart won out. Although it was a splurge, her Romona Keveza lace and tulle gown was totally worth it. "I knew this was the silhouette I was going for," she says of the figure-hugging mermaid wedding dress. "I really wanted that lace illusion neckline, too!" She first tried it on a boutique in Washington, D.C., but waited until she had that coveted "moment" with her mother before she made the purchase. Luckily, Traditions by Anna in Raleigh, North Carolina, had the gown during a trunk show, so Mallory wasted no time in showing off the romantic style to her mom.

Since the dress — particularly, the neckline — featured lots of intricate detail, the bride didn't want to overwhelm her look with too many accessories. She skipped a necklace in favor of blingy crystal earrings and embellished shoes.

Mallory says her vision for her bouquet could have been challenging for some florists, but her pro nailed it. "I wanted something textured and organic, but still refined," she says. The mix of garden roses, spray roses, dahlias, snowberries, brunia berries, and lots of greenery, all tied with a flowing blush ribbon, was exactly what she had envisioned.

We're loving Brad's two-tone Kas Collection tuxedo, which he paired with smoking slippers.

Both the bride and groom had seven attendants each. Mallory's six 'maids wore neutral-hued dresses they chose themselves. The bride's only request? No satin! "They made some lovely, lovely choices," she gushes. Her half of the wedding party was completed with a man of honor — her brother, Clifford. "We knew we wanted him involved in our bridal party and it only felt right for him to stand with me as we are, and have always been, best friends." Brad's seven groomsmen all wore navy tuxedos.

The final member of the wedding party was the couple's ring bearer, the son of Mallory and Bradley's close friends. "Before going down the aisle, Ezra was terrified of me behind the veil," the bride says. "I swooped it off of my face so he could recognize me, which calmed him down momentarily. Luckily, our planner is great with kids so she scooped him up, played with him a bit, and then sent him on his way down the aisle."

The couple's 6:30 p.m. ceremony took place on one side of the main space inside the Cotton Room, a former textile factory. With exposed brick and industrial-looking ductwork, the couple knew they only needed to add a few romantic elements to achieve the balance they were looking for. With gauzy fabric separating the ceremony from the reception area, the space felt intimate and cozy.

At the head of the aisle, Mallory and Brad's florist designed a floral arch made from greenery and bundles of fresh blooms. Glowing lanterns completed the décor.

While a cellist and violinist performed, Mallory's father walked her down the aisle. She and Brad chose to write their own vows, but the bride admits it took a little convincing to get the groom on board. "We're both very glad we did, though," she says. Because they wanted their guests to play an active part in their union, the duo incorporated a call-and-response group reading into their ceremony. "We chose Kahil Gibran's 'The Prophet' and had our reader recite a line and then our guests responded with the next. It was lovely to hear their voices surrounding us."

Guests enjoyed cocktail hour in the venue's entry while the main space was flipped for the reception. When everyone re-entered, they found a mix of round and long tables topped with tall arrangements of hydrangeas, roses, and ranunculus. The couple's head table was left without linens and decorated with a low greenery garland.

There are plenty of chandeliers throughout the space, but the bride and groom further warmed up the interior with their own lighting. Tea lights were suspended from greenery chandeliers and mesh orbs were decked out with twinkle lights.

"We wanted our reception to be fun, with great music, lots of dancing, and to also have delicious food," the bride says. They pulled it off with a family-style feast guests won't soon forget: Southern-style salad, watermelon and blackberry salad, potatoes au gratin, honey glazed carrots, pan-seared salmon, and carved garlic and peppercorn-crusted beef tenderloin were all on the dinner menu.

Instead of one large cake, Mallory and Brad chose several smaller cakes, all frosted in their favorite buttercream. Guests had their choice of red velvet, caramel delight, and almond cake for dessert.

The newlyweds admit that their friends are "dancing fools," so it should come as little surprise that as soon as Mallory and Brad finished their first dance to Bob Marley's "Is This Love," their guests all hit the dance floor.

As a nod to Brad's favorite snack, the couple's planner organized a late-night popcorn machine where guests could grab a quick bite between songs. "It was a really great touch," Mallory says.

The night ended with a casual after party at the rooftop bar of a nearby hotel where the couple and their friends enjoyed pizza and beer.

Venue & Catering: The Cotton Room || Wedding Planner: Orangerie Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Romona Keveza || Invitations & Stationery: A&P Designs || Floral Design: Meristem Floral || Cake: Sugar Euphoria || Music: Integrity Strings; The After Party Experience || Videographer: West Mint Media || Photographer: Kristen Lynne Photography

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Looking for more inspiration just like this? Then check out another couple's North Carolina wedding in the video below.

A Marine & His Bride Tied the Knot in an Romantic Celebration in North Carolina

 North Carolina, Real Weddings  Comments Off on A Marine & His Bride Tied the Knot in an Romantic Celebration in North Carolina
May 302016

Sports buffs Kate Owens and Eric Martin first met during a soccer tournament in Arizona in 2011 — Kate's Virginia Tech club team was staying at the same hotel as the players from the Naval Academy, which just so happened to include Eric. While their shared affinity for the sport was strong, it soon paled in comparison to their love for one another. Just two years after the duo first bonded over soccer (and just weeks before he deployed with the Marine Corps for the very first time), Eric popped the question on his bride-to-be's birthday in December of 2013.

As any military couple will tell you, planning a wedding during deployment is no easy task and Eric's career as a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps meant that he was in training with little-to-no phone access in the month before the couple's nuptials. Although that left much of the burden on Kate, the two found creative ways to make it work, and even carved out a little time the night before the wedding to finish their last remaining tasks. "We chose our first dance song out at a bar after the rehearsal dinner," Kate laughs.

But the distance couldn't stop this couple from planning a beautiful June 6, 2015, celebration at the Bakery 105 in Wilmington, North Carolina. On the big day, the venue's architecture took center stage, complemented by Kate and Eric's neutral color palette of ivory, champagne, peach, and pops of pink and stunning floral arrangements from Beautiful Flowers By June. Meg Cooper Photography captured every detail of this pretty day, all seen below.

Although Kate admits she's hardly a big shopper, she wouldn't settle for any old wedding dress. In fact, the bride and her mother drove an hour from home in search of bridal salons with styles she might like. "The tiny shop we ended up getting my wedding dress from was two minutes from my parents' house," Kate laughs. "This was the last place I expected to buy it."

The wedding dress Kate chose featured organza and lace and a plunging back line but most importantly, it met her number one criteria: It had straps. "I wanted a dress with straps or sleeves, but most looked matronly on me since I am five-foot-three," she says. "This one was modern and I had never seen it before. It fit my body perfectly." And Eric, of course, donned his Marine Corps dress blues.

Bridesmaids wore matching sparkling knee-length dresses spotted by Kate's sister-in-law. The dress looked so good on everyone, Kate says, that she changed her plan of having every 'maid pick her own dress to asking them to share the same style. "It was such a standout that all the other dresses paled in comparison," Kate explains.

Kate's organic bouquet was made from garden roses, ranunculus, astilbe, anemones, dusty miller, cushion mums, fresh lavender, ivy, and nigella, while her bridesmaids carried arrangements of similar flowers with pops of peach, coral, and green.

Eric's fellow Marine Corps groomsmen also donned their uniforms, while his non-military pals wore traditional black-and-white tuxedos.

Kate's father walked her down the aisle while a recording of Vitamin String Quartet played throughout the space, which had been draped with fabric for an intimate feel. There, the pair exchanged vows they wrote themselves and further personalized their ceremony with readings they selected from Les Miserables and Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12.

Kate and her mother created the table assignment display themselves, crafting the gold-leafed paper lists that were hung by clothespins on a wooden board.

The couple's head table sat against an exposed brick wall that was draped in vintage string lights. It was topped with cream-colored linens and wooden boxes that were filled with flowers in the couple's neutral color palette.

A floral chandelier was hung above the reception space. On tables, mercury glass vases were filled with flowers and flanked by mercury glass votive candles and rattan chargers. The bride and groom used photos of themselves at different ages to designate each table's number.

Kate and Eric's three-tiered cake was topped with fresh flowers and made from layers of lemon and carrot cakes with raspberry jam.

The newlyweds hired live entertainment for their reception. "Our band was amazing," Kate says. "It was important to us that everyone had a great time." They shared first danced to Zac Brown Band's "Loving You Easy."

After Eric returns from his latest deployment, the couple plans to honeymoon in Costa Rica. "Don't forget what the day is actually about," the bride tells future couples. "It is so easy to get wrapped up in the planning and the details."

Venue, Planning & Catering: Bakery 105 || Bride's Wedding Dress: Wtoo || Shoes: Ivanka Trump || Hair & Makeup: Groove Jet Salon and Spa || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo || Florist: Beautiful Flowers By June || Invitations: Elli || Music: Elegance || Cake: One Belle Bakery || Rentals: Party Suppliers and Rentals || Videographer: Philip James Films || Photographer: Meg Cooper Photography

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Want to see more beautiful weddings like this? Then check out the video below, filled with real couple's military celebrations.

New Orleans Saints Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe’s Glamorous Wedding in North Carolina

 Celebrity, Celebrity Weddings, North Carolina, Real Weddings  Comments Off on New Orleans Saints Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe’s Glamorous Wedding in North Carolina
May 122016

When New Orleans Saints linebacker Dannell Ellerbe stopped into a North Carolina Footlocker, he was looking for a pair of sneakers — but ended up finding his wife, instead. "He came in three or four days in a row for a pair of shoes that he never bought!" says his now wife, Shervella. In December of 2014, between football seasons, Dannell finally went with Shervella to visit Flamingo Garden in Davie, Florida ("I'd been bugging him about going for months!" she says). They toured the park and, just before they left, he asked her to stop and sit on a bench with him. A few minutes later, he stood up and popped the question. "I said yes, and then a cameraman came out of nowhere and started snapping pictures!"

A year and a half later, on May 23, 2015, the pair walked down the aisle at the Grand Marquise Ballroom in Garner, North Carolina, the perfect spot for their 250 guests and their timeless, elegant vision. It was truly an event to remember, with the couple's one year old son, Nevan, serving as the cutest ring bearer we may have ever seen. Keep reading to see the glamorous affair, photographed by Ross Oscar Knight.

When your fiancé is an NFL player — and Super Bowl XLVII champ! — you've got to rock a jersey with his number on your wedding day.

But the jersey was totally stood up by Shervella's embroidered Luna Novias gown. "I'd bought another dress, but it didn't feel like the one. I found this one while I was shopping alone, and I didn't tell anyone about it until I left the store with the dress in my hands!" she says. The sweetheart neckline, cap sleeves, and tulle skirt are totally flattering, while the sheer embroidered back added a hint of sexy.

She paired the gown with a cascading bouquet of white orchids and blush peonies and a necklace Dannell gave her after he made the game-winning tackle in the Super Bowl in 2013.

The couple's nephews served as Ring Security, while Nevan tagged along in a very tiny version of his dad's custom tuxedo!

This groom has serious style! Dannell paired his custom Badger & Welsh tuxedo with studded Christian Louboutin loafers.

For the traditional ceremony, the bride walked down an aisle edged in lush hydrangeas and gold-painted greenery. Tall pomanders of hydrangeas and roses flanked the aisle, while candles lit the staircase that served as an altar.

Nevan made quite an entrance in his flower-covered wagon, escorted by sharp-looking Ring Security.

Shervella walked down the aisle with her father, then exchanged personalized vows with her husband-to-be. "My favorite line was 'We grew up together, and now I'm ready to grow old together,'" says the bride.

Of course a couple that met at Footlocker would rock matching sneakers on their wedding day!

The ceremony space was completely transformed for the reception, with a sweetheart table on the staircase landing and head tables surrounding the dance floor. In the center of the room was a "family tree," decorated with strands of crystals and fresh flowers. The shimmering centerpiece was the perfect contrast for the soft gray linens.

The sweetheart table was totally drenched in blooms, with orchids, hydrangeas, and roses cascading over the ornate linen. Floating candles lit the table, the perfect spot for the couple's first meal as husband and wife.

Square tables featured tall arrangements of hydrangeas and roses (perfectly repurposed from the ceremony!) and low gold bud vases. The head tables featured floral runners of hydrangeas and gold-painted leaves.

After a cocktail hour featuring tomato basil soup shooters and miniature grilled cheese sandwiches alongside shrimp and grits, guests tucked into roasted rib eye with wild mushroom demi and potatoes au gratin and grilled salmon with champagne sauce.

For dessert, the pair served a towering seven-tiered cake covered in flowers. But those aren't live blooms — every single one was hand-made from sugar!

After Shervella and her bridesmaids surprised the crowd with a flash mob to "Sexy Lady" by UCB, Dannell tossed the garter — with a twist. "He put my garter around a football, and threw it straight to one of his groomsmen," says the bride. But that's not all! "It was all a plan, so his groomsman could propose during the reception!"

And this bride has some really great advice: "Give your wedding party all the details — costs, dates, responsibilities — as soon as possible, so they know what to expect between now and your wedding!"

Ceremony & Reception Venue: The Grand Marquise Ballroom || Wedding Planner: Elana Walker Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Luna Novias || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair: Gia Peebles of Aura Salon & Boutique || Makeup: Tiwa Lawrence || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Alfred Angelo || Groom's Attire: Badger & Welsh || Shoes: Christian Louboutin || Groom's Barber: Tawan Blacmon of The Bar Ber Shop || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Radcliffe Jewelers || Floral Design: Fresh Affairs || Invitations & Paper Goods: Royale Amethyst Invitations || Music: Blue Sands Music; DJ 360 || Catering: Rocky Top Catering || Cake: The Art of Cake || Rentals: CE Rental || Photo Booth: Shutterbooth || Videographer: Heart Stone Films || Photographer: Ross Oscar Knight

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Can't get enough of this gorgeous celebration? Then check out another couple's glam wedding in the video below.

This Couple Planned Their Classic Summer Wedding in Just Seven Months

 North Carolina, Real Weddings  Comments Off on This Couple Planned Their Classic Summer Wedding in Just Seven Months
Apr 082016
Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bride and Groom Portrait

Photo: Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

Despite meeting and sharing their first date during their sophomore year of college in January of 2009, Molly and Nathan didn't start dating until the following August. "We realized that we had something special, something that was built on friendship, but we couldn't have imagined how much our love would grow," says Molly. "After four and a half years of dating, six moves between us both, job changes, one broken nose, two family reunions, many romantic weekend trips, one sweet pup, and countless promises of forever along the way, we got engaged on December 29, 2014."

Nate popped the question in Rockefeller Center, but the couple decided on a hometown wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, and dreamed up a navy, white, and dusty shale celebration filled with gold accents. "My main vision was for us to not lose sight of the important meaning of our day," says the bride. "I wanted a day full of love surrounded by our family and friends." With the help of their mothers, Molly and Nate's July 17, 2015, wedding went off without a hitch, and Oliva Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography was there to capture every last second.

Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bride and Groom Outdoor Portraits

Photo: Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

While they only had seven months to plan their wedding, Molly and Nate took some time to enjoy their engagement before tackling most of their major details. "We really didn't start any planning until April, but did most of in May, June, and July," says Molly. "I loved that we were really able to focus on what was important, the bigger details, and not worry as much about the things that don't really matter in the long run."

Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bride in Silk Matthew Christopher Gown with Lace BHLDN Topper Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Wedding Day Keepsakes in Dress

Photo: Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

One task Molly did tick off her to-do list early was finding the dress. A friend had told Molly about a Brides Against Breast Cancer Event in February 2015. At these events, brides-to-be can purchase designer gowns at a discount, with a portion of proceedings benefitting families affected by breast cancer. "I'm always looking for a good deal and I loved the idea of helping a good cause at the same time," Molly says. With her mother and sisters in tow, Molly tried on around 15 dresses, but it was a Matthew Christopher gown that another bride had on her rack that really caught her eye.

The strapless silk trumpet gown was nearly perfect, but Molly kept going back and forth about whether or not she wanted a lace topper. Three weeks before the wedding, she took a chance and purchased a three-quarter-sleeve option from BHLDN and figured she'd give it a try. "It ended up being perfect and most people didn't even realize it wasn't part of my dress," says the bride.

On the morning of her wedding, Molly's mother surprised her with two pins to signify each of the bride's grandmothers. She placed a heart and clover pin directly over her heart on the inside of dress.

Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bridesmaids in J.Crew Gown Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bride's White Bouquet and Briesmaids' Bouquets Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Groom with Groomsmen in Dress Pants and Suspenders

Photo: Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

This laid-back bride gave her attendants plenty of options when it came to buying their dresses. "I didn't care what styles they ordered, as long as they were all long dresses from J.Crew in the same fabric and dusty shale color," Molly says.

Molly's lush white bouquet of roses, hydrangea, and ivy paired well with her bridesmaids' smaller arrangements of roses, succulents, and greenery.

Nate chose a classic navy suit for the big day. His groomsmen wore navy dress pants, white button downs, and blue suspenders and bowties.

09-Raleigh-NC-SummerClassic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bride and Groom First Look

Photo: Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

The couple decided on an early first look so that they would have plenty of time to take photos before the ceremony. "We also read through a journal we'd been writing in since we got engaged, but were saving to read together on our wedding day," says Molly.

Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bride Walking Down the Aisle with Parents Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bride and Groom Traditional Catholic Ceremony Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Wedding Exit

Photo: Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

The ceremony was held at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. "It's the church we attend, so having the ceremony there was an easy decision," says the bride. An equally easy choice was their décor. Since the beautiful interior didn't need tons of additional decorations, Molly and Nate brought in just two large flower arrangements.

Both the bride's mother and father walked her down the aisle before Molly and Nate exchanged traditional catholic vows.

Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Vintage Postcard Escort Cards Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Round Tables with White and Navy Linens Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Outdoor Tables with Striped Linens Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Table Cards Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Centerpieces with Baby's Breath

Photo: Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

The party moved to Sitti, one of the couple's favorite Raleigh restaurants. "We love their food and knew it would be light and refreshing for our mid-July wedding," says the bride. "Sitti also had an indoor and outdoor space which was something I really wanted in a venue."

Vintage post cards were hung from clothesline as the couple's seating chart. Guests found their name on a decorative card that corresponded with those used to mark each table. Indoor tables were decorated with white linens and navy runners, topped with a dainty arrangement of baby's breath. Outside, long tables were dressed in blue and white striped linens and finished with white jars of spider mums, hydrangeas, and roses.

Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Guests During Dinner Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Wedding Pie

Photo: Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

Selecting meal options for dinner was a breeze. "We served some of our favorites from the restaurant, including chicken and artichoke, beef, lamb, salad, and rice," the bride says. Instead of a traditional cake, the couple chose a selection of pies, with tasty options like mixed berry, key lime, peach, and apple.

Classic Summer Wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, Bride and Groom Eating Ice Cream

Photo: Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

The couple shared their first dance to "Swept Away" by the Avett Brothers, but it was their private last dance that was one of Molly's favorite memories from the day. "At the very end of the night I had our DJ play one last song for just the two of us," says Molly. "Most of the guests had already left and everything was getting cleaned up, but I had him play an acoustic version of Beyonce's 'Halo.' I had secretly wanted to use it as our first dance song, but it ended up being the perfect way to end the night."

Ceremony Venue: St. Francis of Assisi Church || Reception Venue & Catering: Sitti || Bride's Wedding Dress: Matthew Christopher || Wedding Dress Topper: BHLDN || Hair: Blown Away || Makeup: Salon Blu at North Hills || Bridesmaids' Dresses: J.Crew || Groom's Attire: The Black Tux || Ties: The Tie Bar || Flowers: Flowers on Broad Street || Music: The Local DJ || Dessert: Slice Pie Company || Photographer: Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography

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Looking for more summer wedding inspiration? Then watch another couple's warm-weather celebration in the video below.

These Kentuckians Planned a Summer Destination Wedding in North Carolina

 North Carolina, Real Weddings  Comments Off on These Kentuckians Planned a Summer Destination Wedding in North Carolina
Apr 012016

Laura and John first met as students at Sewanee: The University of the South. "John was one of the leaders of the pre-orientation trip I was on and we bonded over both being from Kentucky," Laura remembers. When school started, John went abroad to Florence, but the pair stayed in touch, and they went to one anothers' winter formals when he returned. But that's not when their romance began! "I was oblivious," says Laura. It took until January of 2012 (almost five years after they met!) for the couple to go on their first date.

In June of 2014, after a spring spent working on their plot in their local community garden, John proposed amongst everything they'd planted — with their golden retriever, Cutty, in attendance. The pair chose the bride's aunt's club, the Highlands Country Club in North Carolina, as the venue for their August 22, 2015, wedding, but made sure to include a few Kentucky touches in their celebration! Keep reading to see this sweet southern wedding, photographed by Nick Breedlove Photography!

Laura looked every bit the modern Southern belle in a lace and tulle gown by Modern Trousseau. "I loved how it moved," she says. "I knew it would be a good dancing dress!" And she wasn't the only one who fell in love: "My sister was newly engaged, too, so I made her try on a few gowns. We ended up both finding our wedding gowns on the same day, in the same salon!"

She paired her gown with her great-grandmother's veil (worn by nearly every woman in her family!), gold Jimmy Choos, and an all-white bouquet of dahlias, garden roses, and tulips.

John wore a classic tuxedo, but dressed up his look with a cummerbund hand-needlepointed by his mom and featuring the pair's pup, Cutty (who rocked a wreath of greenery for photos).

The groomsmen matched John in tuxedos, while the bridesmaids wore peach J.Crew chiffon gowns.

Laura's father walked her down the aisle at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation for the pair's traditional ceremony. "We loved the church's unique architecture," says the bride.

After the first kiss, guests headed to the country club, where a bagpiper greeted them. "He played 'My Old Kentucky Home' and other Highlander music," Laura explains.

Inside the club, the pair dressed up the rustic-inspired ballroom with ivory linens, monogrammed napkins, and arrangements of blush and white flowers. The menu honored the mountains of North Carolina and included smoked trout canapés with caviar, fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese, and stuffed quail with wild rice and blueberry game jus.

Naturally, the two Kentuckians had to have a bourbon bar at the reception! It was the perfect complement to the wedding cake, which had layers of vanilla cake with raspberry filling and chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling, all topped with buttercream and fresh flowers.

"John and I love to dance, but our first dance will always be my favorite," says the bride. "It felt as if we were completely in sync, and I loved how my dress moved when John twirled me!"

The couple, who honeymooned in Aruba, loved having the time during their first look to calm their nerves. "Remember that, no matter if everything else goes wrong, you're still marrying your best friend," says Laura. "So let other people take control. You're the bride, you can't do everything!"

Ceremony Venue: The Episcopal Church of the Incarnation || Reception Venue: Highlands Country Club || Bride's Wedding Dress: Modern Trousseau || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair: Lola Salon & Gallery || Makeup: Blush, Asheville Makeup Artists || Bridesmaids' Dresses: J.Crew || Floral & Event Design: Oakleaf Weddings || Invitations & Paper Goods: Just Paper & Tea || Music: 14 Karat Gold Band || Catering & Cake: Highlands Country Club || Rentals: BBJ Linen || Photography: Nick Breedlove Photography

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Searching for more summer wedding ideas? Then watch another couple's warm-weather wedding in the video below.

One Couple’s Elegant Spring Wedding in Highlands, North Carolina

 North Carolina, Real Weddings  Comments Off on One Couple’s Elegant Spring Wedding in Highlands, North Carolina
Feb 112016

When Alex Hutchens first heard Jake Hirst's British accent, she says she had to stop herself from staring. But, as luck would have it, the coworkers soon found themselves seated side-by-side at their company's retreat, and Alex could hear — and look at! — Jake as often as she wanted.

After eight months of dating, Jake popped the question on a romantic vacation to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "It took me completely off guard and I can say I was 100 percent truly surprised," says Alex, who explains Jake asked her to marry him from the balcony of their hotel room at sunset. "As soon as we stepped outside, I noticed Jake had a bottle of champagne on ice beside two glasses. He gave me a hug, then started to talk me through our love story and all his hopes for our future. And then he got down on one knee!" The couple invited 160 guests to join them in Highlands, North Carolina, for their March 28, 2015, wedding. Keep reading to see all of Vue Photography's beautiful shots from their big day.

The couple knew that Highlands, North Carolina — where they shared their first getaway — was the perfect backdrop for a destination wedding. "It made sense to us to get married in such a beautiful place that carries meaning for us as a couple," Alex says. But because they were asking their guests to travel, the couple cared most about making sure everyone was comfortable.

"I wanted the weekend to feel like a vacation for everyone," Alex says. "We made sure everyone felt taken care of and welcome. It meant so much to us to have all of our friends and family in one place, so it was as much about honoring them as it was our marriage." The couple planned a weekend of events — including a Friday dinner — where they could mingle with friends and family before they got married. "Seeing everyone the night before was so much fun. The fires were on, music was playing and everyone was drinking and having a great time. It was the perfect way to start the wedding weekend."

Alex admits that should had never pictured herself in a traditional bridal gown. "I was overwhelmed by princess-y looks," she says. The bride leaned towards slimmer styles, and eventually fell head-over-heels for a fit-and-flare Amsale gown with a bateau neckline and a sheer back lined with buttons. "I loved the way the dress fit my body," Alex says. "I'll never forget what the woman helping us at the store said that day: She told us that a lot of brides veer towards dresses that dominate them, but in this dress, you would truly see me."

Jake wore a classic black-and-white custom tailored suit, and a white bloom pinned to his lapel. Alex and her bridesmaids carried round bouquets of delicate pink and ivory roses flanked by dusty miller.

The couple exchanged traditional vows at First Presbyterian Church of Highlands, but their reverend worked in a ceremonial twist: "She had us each write letters to one another that we couldn't read until we were home," the bride says. "She pulled excerpts from those letters and wove them into her ceremony. Our ceremony truly felt like 'us.'"

At the Farm at Old Edwards Inn, guests were greeted by a truly stunning scene. Round tables topped in shimmering copper linens, rose-filled centerpieces, and pillar candles, all set against the backdrop of floor-to-ceiling windows and vaulted ceilings. "I wanted the room to look romantic, full, and warm," the bride says.

Beside a roaring fire, guests could sit on tufted sofas and sip the couple's signature cocktails (Champagne with St. Germaine), red and white wine, or Pimm's Cups. "We had a piano player in the corner as guests mingled, framed photos, and lovely décor so guests could sit or stand."

Alex and Jake's towering five-tier wedding cake was a vanilla confection iced with buttercream and covered in fresh flowers, created to complement their centerpieces.

The couple shared their first dance to "I'll Be There" by the Jackson Five, and Alex surprised her new groom by asking the band to play Tom Jones' "Delilah," a favorite wedding song In Great Britain, where Alex is from. "The look on Jake's face as his family and friends surrounded him was priceless and I wish I could see it over and over again," Alex says. "It was a standout moment for everyone."

Reflecting on their wedding day, Alex has this advice for brides-to-be: "Make sure you have lipstick for the reception and although it's cliché, try and enjoy every second of the rehearsal dinner," she says. "It's easy to get caught up in family members or friends who might be a little difficult, but just let it go!"

Ceremony Venue: First Presbyterian Church of Highlands || Reception Venue and Catering: The Farm at Old Edwards Inn || Wedding Planner: Asheville Event Co. || Bride's Wedding Dress & Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale || Jewelry: Neiman Marcus || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair & Makeup: The Moore Agency || Groom's Attire: Suit Supply || Wedding Bands: Polo Jewelers || Florist & Rentals: Jackson Durham || Invitations: Exquisite Stationery || Cake: Creative Pastries By Sid || Favors: Adopt a Golden Atlanta || Videographer: Inkspot Crow Films || Photography: VUE Photography

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Want to see more spring weddings? Then check out another couple's sweet seasonal bash in the video below.

Feb 032016
best venues south pippin hill farm vineyards

Photo: Tec Petaja

Sometimes in the great search for the perfect wedding venue, you don't even know where to begin. The answer? Browsing the top-notch spots to get married. Ever. In our new February/March 2016 issue (on newsstands now!) we call out the best venues— indoor and outdoor, big and small, luxury and budget-friendly— across America. How did we go about creating such a list? We asked more than 1,500 real brides and grooms nationwide to weigh in on the best spots to say "I do" by rating their own wedding location on everything from the service to the food to the view. From great plantations and rustic farms in the South to elegant libraries and grand hotels in the Northeast to romantic, swoon-worthy wineries on the West Coast, we found them all. So take note, brides-to-be! These are our readers' favorite venues in the South.

The Hay-Adams, Washington, D.C.
Choose the Top of the Hay as your reception space and your guests will be Instagramming views of the White House and Washington Monument all night. Back in the bridal suite, you'll bed down on a cool souvenir: pillows monogrammed with your married initials.

The Willard InterContinental Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Seeking a fete with an old-world feel? Book this 150-year-old hotel a block from the White House and you can host a megaparty for 450 under glittering chandeliers in the ballroom or a bash for 250 in the columned Crystal Room.

Boca Raton Resort, Boca Raton, Florida
Spa gardens, pools, private beaches, marinas— there are almost too many ceremony spots to count at this sprawling upscale resort. Also winning kudos: the amazing cakes by pastry chef Jordi Panisello.

Sunset Key Cottages, Key West, Florida
If there were ever a place to do a sunset wedding, it's this island resort just 500 yards off Key West. Take over all 40 beachy cottages to make it your own private isle for the weekend.

Villa Woodbine, Miami
All arches, fountains, and Spanish tile, this private mansion feels way more Mediterranean than Miami. Make it official in an elegant courtyard or under a grand oak tree strung with lights.

See More: Don't Miss a Minute of Your Big Day With These Southern Wedding Photographers!

Jekyll Island Club Hotel, Jekyll Island, Georgia
After beachside vows, take your pick of seven reception sites, including the manicured lawn of Crane Cottage or a riverside clearing dripping with moss.

Old Edwards Inn, Highlands, North Carolina
Brides love the staff and spa at this charming Relais & Châteaux hotel, home to an haute barn with sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Mayo Hotel, Tulsa, Oklahoma
The 21st century meets the Jazz Age at this just-renovated 1920s landmark hotel, where sleek furnishings mingle with original art-deco details, like the ballroom's dazzling terrazzo floors.

Lowndes Grove Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina
Built in 1786, this grand Georgian-style plantation home sits on 14 acres in downtown Charleston, a sweet spot for a tented reception by the Ashley River.

Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee
The five-star, 9,000-acre retreat, located in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains, is a working farm, so expect next-level southern eats from the welcome dinner through the morning-after brunch.

Crystal Ballroom at the Rice, Houston
Go big or go home at this century-old downtown classic, which features 5,000 square feet of airy, chandelier-lit ballroom space. That's enough room for 450 guests.

Gage Hotel, Marathon, Texas
Just 45 miles away from Big Bend National Park, the mission-style hotel specializes in boho-chic affairs with a West Texas twist. Throw your party in the succulent-filled gardens or fountain-dotted courtyards.

Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, North Garden, Virginia
This boutique winery pours on the charm with its elegant barn, panoramic mountain views, and customizable menu featuring fresh-from-the-barrel wines and southern-inspired fare.

The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
When a resort has a new white chapel (in this case, built by the owner for his daughter's 2015 wedding), you know it's serious about weddings. Your photographer will swoon over the colorful, lavish Dorothy Draper designed interiors.

Want more genius planning tips? For the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES February/March 2016 issue, on newsstands now and available for download here!

Want to see more wedding venues in the South? Check out our Southern Venues page to find your dream location!

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A Sweet, Southern Wedding With a Mexican Twist

 North Carolina, Real Weddings  Comments Off on A Sweet, Southern Wedding With a Mexican Twist
Jan 152016

The first time Jordan walked into a Chapel Hill-area restaurant in April of 2008, she and her friends were checking out the monthly salsa night. "We'd been there for about a half an hour when Luis asked me to dance," says Jordan of her now-husband, who was a regular. "He taught me some of his moves, and we danced the whole night. He asked for my number before we left, and the rest is history!"

Though the pair knew early on that they wanted to spend their lives together, it wasn't until December of 2013, as the sun set over the water in Key West's Mallory Square, that Luis proposed. Says Jordan, "He said he wanted to watch the sun set with me for the rest of his life." When the pair got back to Chapel Hill, they began the hunt for a venue and fell in love with Fearrington Village. There, they decided to combine Southern elegance with Luis's Mexican heritage, creating a celebration that was just right for the couple. See the details of their June 6, 2015, wedding, photographed by Krystal Kast Photography.

After visiting six salons in three cities, Jordan finally found the gown that embodied her Southern theme with help from her mom and aunt. "I knew I wanted a little lace, an illusion neckline, and a train. This dress had all the elements I was looking for," she says of her Paloma Blanca gown.

Luis's light gray suit, coral tie, and white ranunculus boutonniere were perfect for the late spring date. The couple's pit bull served as an honorary groomsman, donning a matching bowtie for the first look. Jordan carried a white and coral bouquet of peonies and roses.

Mint, coral, and navy invitations beckoned guests to the bilingual ceremony.

"A close friend officiated the wedding. Instead of directly translating everything between English and Spanish, we chose special parts to interpret in each language," explains Jordan. They incorporated two readings (including The Art of Marriage in Spanish), as well as messages and advice from their parents. After the first kiss, the bride and groom recessed as a string quartet played La Bamba.

Bridesmaids wore navy Amsale gowns with lace necklines that mirrored the bride's dress.

At cocktail hour, a mariachi band played while guests sipped Micheladas. Mexican touches were woven throughout the day, including bottles of tequila topped with custom labels.

Inside the reception, papel picado banners (customized with the bride and groom's name) were strung from the barn's rafters and tucked into centerpieces. The cut-outs of the French lace runners were an ideal match.

The four-tiered cake, decorated with fondant bands that matched the couple's invitations, had four flavors: red velvet cake with cream cheese filling, chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, carrot cake with cream cheese filling, and coconut cake with chocolate ganache.

Luis and Jordan started off their first dance by swaying to a slower Spanish song that Luis used to sing to Jordan when they first met. Then, the pair transitioned to the salsa version of the tune for an upbeat performance, a nod to how they first met.

"Use the planning process as an opportunity to spend time with your friends and family," says Jordan. "The wedding goes by so fast, so we tried to enjoy each stage of our engagement as much as possible."

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Fearrington Village || Wedding Planner: Gilda McDaniel of Fearrington Village || Bride's Wedding Dress: Paloma Blanca || Shoes: Toms || Hair: Mina's Studio || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale, from Bella Bridesmaids || Groom & Groomsmen's Attire: Jos. A. Bank || Wedding Bands: Cowardin's || Florist: Fearrington Village || Invitations: Lizzy B Loves || Ceremony Music: Arioso Strings || Reception Music: GrooveTtown Band || Catering & Cake: Fearrington Village || Videography: Big Dog Little Bed Productions || Photography: Krystal Kast Photography

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Did you love this outdoor wedding? Then check out another couple's open air bash in the video below.

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