This one has been a long time coming. 🙂 My favorite photographer already blogged our wedding, but I wanted to share even MORE of my favorites and talk about the whole day from my point of view.
There’s SO MUCH that goes into a wedding, and after working in weddings for going on 8 years, I thought I was ready for a lot of it. But I learned SO MUCH about what it’s like to be on the other side, to be the BRIDE. That’s probably a whole other blog post. In this one though, I’ll give you all the behind the scenes on all the pretty things, all the tears (they were Robert’s HAHA), and all of the fun!
I do want to give one disclaimer though. Right after our wedding, I had a bride emailing me with lots of questions of indecision, which is totally fine. It’s what I’m here to help with! But she said to me, “I just want a perfect wedding.” I think it’s so important for me to say, before I gush about how “perfect” our wedding was, that there is NO perfect wedding. It does not exist. Things will go wrong. You will forget something. People who RSVP’d will fall ill and not come or just not come at all. It’s just real life.
A few examples of things that went wrong at our wedding? Someone who was supposed to be IN our wedding and stand by my side did not show up. This person didn’t call, didn’t text, and didn’t come. I haven’t spoken to this person since. I haven’t gotten an apology or an explanation. But my wedding was still perfect to me. I forgot to give the bartenders clear instructions, so they thought my 30 bottles of Prosecco were for a toast and didn’t serve any during cocktail hour. We ran out of tonic. Our after party went way too late and people got a little too crazy, including myself!
But it was all still perfect. It was our wedding and THAT’S why it was perfect, not because every detail was flawless. I have eight years of experience in weddings — I plan them for other people — and things still went wrong. That’s simply the nature of weddings, and it’s why you hire excellent people who will make sure NONE of that keeps anyone from having the best time. I’m just saying . . . you won’t care. It will all still be perfect.
End of soap box monologue!
First, I have to give the biggest THANK YOU to Heather for being the absolute best photographer and human in the world. I kept saying, “I understand now why brides always said it felt more real when I got there to shoot a wedding.” When your photographer and videographer show up, it’s just like, “OH BOY. THIS IS HAPPENING. This is my wedding day.” I don’t know why exactly, it just is! haha
Of course, second huge THANK YOU goes to Chloe for creating Save the Dates and invitations beyond my wildest dreams. In case you’re new here, she HAND DREW the view of Vernazza, Italy — where we got engaged — for our save the dates and welcome sign.
For the actual invitations, she let me go wild with gold foil, thick, deep green paper, white ink addressing, and a custom belly band that she painted of the view from our ceremony spot. AND — the best part — custom Rory stamps for the RSVP envelopes!
Something fun I want to point out throughout this post is how many ideas I “borrowed” from my coordination couples. I actually bought all of the globes that Amanda & Roman used for their Spring wedding at the Mill. I kept those babies boxed up in my office for MONTHS! They were perfect centerpieces for our banquet tables.
I don’t consider myself to be AT ALL talented in design or decorating. But when it came to our wedding, I wanted a few specific things: black sequin linens, gold accents, and personal details. That’s why each banquet table had a black sequin runner and our head table and cake table were fully covered in black sequins. Black and shiny is my favorite color. 😉
For personal touches, I got this random idea to put a photo of Rory in a tiny frame on each table. I got the frames from Dollar Tree. Easy peasy! Also, I got the idea to use different colored tapers (black, gold, and green) from a styled shoot we hosted at the Mill. OH! And I bought the candlesticks from a 2017 Mill bride. Thank you, Logan!!
Also important to note: my mother folded EVERY SINGLE BOW NAPKIN herself. 🙂 She is my hero.
Each table was named after a place that Robert and I have visited or are about to visit. The framed cards had a little story of why that place is special to us and a photo of us there on the back. I thought they would be fun conversation starters!
I used those as table names, but they also each had a number to make them easy to find. Chloe was kind enough to lend me the gorgeous acrylic table numbers that she rents out!
We actually used the vases, chargers, glasses, plates, and flatware from Robert’s sister’s 2018 wedding. Very economical, but not that fun to re-wash! haha Another HUGE shout out to my mom for helping me hand wash and dry and set every single dish and fork and knife. After the wedding, my mom and grandma washed, dried, and packed up everything all over again. It was INCREDIBLE, and I still feel so loved.
Confession: I bought all of the green linens from Amazon, and I was far too lazy/overwhelmed to iron them all. OH WELL.
We got way too much cake from Knakal’s, but it was DELISH.
Shout out to Tammy Clontz who sent us one of my very favorite registry items: black champagne flutes. They arrived THE DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING. I put them out Saturday morning. 🙂
Lacy’s Florist did an incredible job on my dark, romantic, Fall flowers. 🙂
Jes from Bride & Joy in Culpeper was SO kind to let us come out the Thursday before the wedding to pick out all kinds of rentals! These suitcases were perfect for our travel theme. 🙂
One of my favorite ideas that I stole was from Jessica, another one of my coordination brides! She had these beautiful postcards on a rack for guests to sign as her guestbook. The postcards she chose were so beautiful, so I tracked down the exact same ones. Thanks Jess!!
I purposefully left out some destinations for specific people to sign, and guess what?! Everyone chose cool cards that showed places they’ve visited or lived. I love going back and reading them and seeing which cards people picked!
It was so special to me to have Britny & Ashley there for everyone’s hair and makeup! I trust these girls more than anything! Britny has moved on to focusing fully on the art (seriously, she’s brilliant) of color, but Ashley is still available for wedding day hair & makeup!!
These girls. I cannot say enough about how loved and cared for and special they made me feel from the moment they all arrived on Friday.
He’s so handsome I cannot.
Rebekah J. Murray may recognize the special little notebook I’ve been saving to write someone’s wedding day letter. 🙂
We did choose to write letters to each other instead of doing personalized vows. It was the perfect thing to do right before we headed out to our First Look!
These sequin dresses were LIFE!! I’m pretty sure we got my mom’s from Dillard’s Short Pump, and my sister got hers from That’s My Dress in Fredericksburg.
This black velvet loveseat from Bride & Joy was everything I needed!!
Having Josh from Whiteflair Productions with us all day was SO fun! We cannot wait to see the finished product!!
Having a first look with my dad was everything, even though he was there when I first tried this dress on AND when I went back to buy it!
As always, I 10/10 recommend a First Look with your bridesmaids. 🙂 My first 3 girls here were with me when I bought it, but the last two weren’t. Either way, it’s such a fun surprise to have everyone see the final look! I mean, it’s not every day you get reactions like this because your outfit. haha
This picture gives me butterflies for so many reasons. One, we invested so much in the round arbor’s flowers because I had this vision for how it would look against the mountains.
Two, it was supposed to rain on our wedding day. I thought I would handle that possibility well, but I didn’t. Any time someone would talk about the back up plan and how we’d handle it, I turned into full on Eeyore. It was SO stressful, mostly because this beautiful arbor that my dad built for me and all its beautiful flowers? It wouldn’t fit through the doors of the back up location. So if our wedding WAS inside, there would be no arbor, no decorations, no nothing. BUT. God is good, and He kept reminding me that we were getting married to be MARRIED, not to have a pretty wedding.
So clearly, it didn’t rain, and the mountains that were the star of our wedding invitations were fully visible and fully blue. Also . . . the Fall color?! I couldn’t have planned that if I had tried!
Oh, and three. I was all about all black everything for our wedding, but when I picked black ceremony chairs, I was like, “Man, people are going to think I’ve gone full goth or something. Is this too much?!” They looked PHENOM out there. Tip for brides: trust your gut.
I’ll say this a lot, but this is one of my favorite pictures because I was SO ANXIOUS to get off this bus to see Robert. All I wanted was to see him!!
If you’ve been one my photography clients or basically anyone who has gotten married at the Mill, you know I’m a huge lover of the First Look. I was afraid Robert would be too traditional for it, but he agreed. I think he’s glad he did. BECAUSE HE BAWLED LIKE A LITTLE BABY THE WHOLE TIME!
I mean, LOOK HOW CUTE HE IS!! I’m not a crier, so I always do my best to make him laugh. It wasn’t working all that well — he was just cry/laughing.
The best thing about a First Look is getting to hold each other. I mean, I was trying not to get makeup on his suit and his snot on my dress (HAHAHAHA), but getting to squeeze my almost husband made all of the nerves so much better.
He took me up to the porch to show me his wedding day gift for us: rocking chairs. He started bawling again when I saw it!! I was like, “Is this to represent how we’ll grow old together AND eventually have an actual home with a porch to put them on?!” And he just nods because he’s crying too much to answer me and explain it himself. So. Freaking. Sweet.
As you can see, I’m REALLY helpful when people are emotional.
We got a lot of compliments on these dresses, ladies! I let the girls pick their own dresses, as long as they were long and dark green! I sent suggestions, and everyone showed me what they picked, but I never saw them all together until the wedding day! It was risky, but it was perfect!
Again, couldn’t be more grateful for these women! My TWO sisters, and three of my oldest and dearest friends. Get it? Sisters in sequins? haha
I’ve always thought Robert was very lucky to have such a fantastic group of friends. 🙂
Colton (my nephew) and my mom are best friends, so when I gave him the job of walking her down the aisle, he was PUMPED! I think he felt very cool, as evidenced by the fact that he dressed like Johnny Cash. Another perfect thing.
I love this photo extra because that’s my mom’s dad in the background watching her. 🙂 I’m not a crier, but this one gets me.
See?! Doing a First Look takes NOTHING away from the aisle reaction. Surprise surprise, my darling was tearing up all over again!
Our original pastor gave us the idea of doing a Salt Covenant during our ceremony. In Biblical times, any covenant or agreement was sealed by exchanging salt. I take a handful of salt from your bag, you take a handful of salt from my bag. You can’t get your own salt back — you’re in it together now, forever. In all of my years of doing weddings, I’ve NEVER seen anyone do this, so it felt very unique and historical for us. 🙂
Just like that, we were married!!!
Confetti cannons were another thing that I knew I had to have!
I am fully convinced that burying the bourbon one month before our wedding made ALL the difference! I think it made a lot of difference to everyone who shared it on the bus back to the reception, too. hahaha
It was very important to me to get photos with Rory in our wedding attire. Don’t let this photo fool you though — he SPRINTED around the field playing deaf and dumb until HE chose to come over for a photo. It was all far too exciting for him to have all those people yelling for him!
Just look at his absolutely wild eyes! haha
Chloe dropped all of her signs for us at the venue, so walking in was the first time I got to see our Save the Dates BIG!
I assigned some of the guys the all important task of moving our precious arbor from the field to the venue. This involved loading it into a box truck, putting it in the elevator tilted sideways, and zip tying it to the barn doors. So worth guys, I swear!!
These candelabras were from Bride & Joy, too!
This was the moment I made eye contact with our table full of friends, and it made my heart so happy!!
A lot of people asked me if Robert & his mom practiced their dance because it was beautiful. The answer is no. That’s just how they dance! No practice necessary.
My mama was glorious in sequins. 🙂
My sister is not into public speaking, but no one would have none that watching her deliver this toast! It was flawless!
I had a lot of emotions during their maid & matron of honor toast.
Hunter’s speech was a series of haikus basically making fun of us, and we LOVED IT. Everyone else did, too. Clearly.
Our band, The Groove Motive, was a blast and a half. Was I given a set of drumsticks to make Hunter & I’s air band even more legit? Yes. Did I take those drumsticks onstage to actually use them on his cymbals? Yep. Are those drumsticks still on my bookshelf? You bet. The drummer and I had a long talk about Dave Matthews Band after the reception. We are BEST FRIENDS! haha
The bridal suite is a place to be foolish in private.
The artist behind the signs and invitations and save the dates and table numbers and all around wonderfulness!
I think Pierre told me that I had to dance by myself, and I felt concerned about it?
Then he probably told me to go get Hunter to help. haha
My cousin/brother-in-law did not disappoint with the dance moves.
We had friends come from Nashville, Charleston, Atlanta, Richmond, Ohio, and Manchester, England, to name a few. It’s unreal how loved that makes me feel.
^ This wedding is next!! ^ 🙂
I’m OFFICIALLY in the Supper Club now!
The Savannah group!!
Aaaaand then I did this to anyone and everyone for the rest of the night with leftover floor confetti. Thank you and good night.
If theres anything I feel uniquely qualified to any couple now, it’s that it goes FAST! It goes by SO fast! Everyone has always said that to Robert and I, but it’s sadly so true. You do all of this prep and stressing and money spending and worrying and fussing and waiting and then BAM, it’s here. And then you blink, and it’s over. That’s why my number one piece of advice will ALWAYS be this: DO NOT SKIMP ON YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER. Don’t do it. I know it’s probably tempting because all of this wedding stuff adds up so fast, but seriously. Put the photos on the top your list. Because they’re all we have now, plus our video!
Robert and I are so grateful to everyone who helped make our day amazing. To Sharon, who coordinated everything for me on the day-of. She made sure we didn’t forget a thing. Kathryn, Elizabeth, & Caryl made our day after brunch so wonderful. There was so much food for all our poor hungover selves, and it was the perfect way to get to say goodbye to our out of towners! Becky & Jim made sure we all got Chick-fil-a for breakfast! It’s just . . . it’s still so amazing how much people came together to make sure we were happy. And we are so, so grateful.
Now, because we get asked by our Mill couples all the time, here are the vendors we chose to make everything possible! I’ve linked things as specifically as I can, like my veil and hairpiece and shoes, because I get asked about them so much!
Rehearsal Catering | Hen & Bacon BBQ
Ceremony Venue | Redbud
Officiant | performed by Pastor Noah & written by Pastor Ben from Lifepoint Culpeper
Reception Venue | Madison at the Mill
Photography | Heather Chipps
Videography | Whiteflair Productions
Dress | Lillian West from Urban Set Bride
Alterations | Seams Alterations (seeing Claudia was like going to therapy — so peaceful, so calm)
Formalwear | Jim’s Formalwear via Lacy’s Florist
Veil | Davie & Chiyo on Etsy
Hairpiece | Catery on Amazon
Bride’s Robe | ShopOnEleven on Etsy (it was see through, so I did have white PJs on underneath)
Bridesmaids PJs | Target
Groomsmen Ties | The Tie Bar
Confetti Cannons | ShowerandcoGifts on Etsy
Floral Design | Lacy’s Florist
Signs & Papers | English Tea Paperie
Ceremony Music | DJ Ricky Morris
Reception Music | The Groove Motive
Catering | Early Katering
Bartenders | Marnie & Jesse