Set in Stone

Selecting the date of our “big day” was another challenging part of this process. So many to choose from but which one is the right one? We got engaged in the fall, so a Spring 2013 wedding would have been super fast, but Spring of 2014 felt so far away…. so we started looking at Fall of 2013 but I didn’t really want a “Fall” wedding. Yes, the colors would be pretty and it would be a little cooler (apologizing now for the date we did choose – there will be water and fans)… but in my head, I’ve always dreamt of a warm weather wedding with short bridesmaid dresses, tan suits for the guys and a strapless dress for me with no need for a cover-up. So I couldn’t do Fall…

We considered Labor Day weekend as well…which is still technically Summer. Sunday (and Friday) weddings are cheaper than your traditional Saturday wedding, and with Labor Day providing a day off work for our guests, it seemed as though it might work to have a Sunday celebration and Monday to recover. But hey, we’re in the South and a football loving couple (Go Hokies!), so we couldn’t make people choose between kick-off games and our wedding… Although, since we have been dating, we have been to weddings on Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day… so those holiday weekends that we long for at work were consumed by (amazing) weddings for our friends. But we’re not going to do that to you…

So when is it? When is our anniversary going to be every year from 2013 on? Well, you can start saving the date now (even though we fully intend on sending out some gorgeous cards for you to display on your refridgerators)… We are getting married on:

Got the groom, got the venue, got the date… next up: Save the Dates & Invitations!

Perfect Place!

Deciding on the venue + date has to be the toughest part of the wedding (at least until we work on finalizing our invite list – but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it)… looking at pictures and reviews – and of course prices, was a stressful part of this planning process. For as many as possible, I tried to get emails with quotes, confirmation of availablity, catering options and also a feel for how the people were to work with. It helped that I knew going in I wanted a very Southern wedding in the Carolinas with a barn for the reception that had air conditioning and was more than a tent… (did I mention I was raised on a farm?!)

One guy, had a gorgeous barn in Chapel Hill, a 12-hour rental, and very reasonable prices but his communication was equivalent to that of an angry gorilla and thus, I wanted no part of paying him any money – or having to deal with his nonsense throughout the process. I asked to answer some questions + provide a quote through email… to which he responded no, that I must call. So I asked if he could please just address the capacity, availability and catering questions through email (so I would know if it was worth my time to call) – and I did explain to him that I work full time and then immediately go to graduate school afterwards and this was the response:


We moved on from that one REAL FAST. Next up was The Angus Barn in Raleigh, which quickly got marked off the list for their $20,000 food minimum. Um, what? I’m sorry… I don’t want to spend that much on my entire wedding, much less the food (it did include alcohol as well) but still… that’s a lot of money. It was beautiful and I’m sure our wedding would have been perfect there, but it was purely a budgeting/financial issue with that one.

I knew Fearrington Village had a beautiful barn area as we had visited it before, but I had my suspiscions that it would be out of our price range… and I was right. It was about $9,000 to have the ceremony and reception there… that’s before food, alcohol, wedding dress, etc. Again, I’m sure it would have been a beautiful wedding, but I’d rather put that $9,000 towards a new house than on a one-night special event.

Then there was The Dairy Barn … enter angels singing “Hallelujah!” We were smitten from the moment we arrived. Gorgeous green fields with horses romping, a sweet, old farm house as you pull up, and last but not least, the Dairy Barn itself. It was fabulous. Plus, we got this feeling of being very comfortable working with the folks from there that we hadn’t had from talking to anyone else. AND with using the Dairy Barn for our reception, we get access to all 2300 acres that Leroy Springs has to offer and can have our ceremony anywhere we want!

There is also a fabulous upstairs space in the Dairy Barn that we can use somehow (haven’t figured this out yet) but it can also be our “Plan B” in case it rains and ruins the outdoor ceremony we are planning.

So there it is… our venue! Meeting tomorrow to sign the contract and pay the deposit… our very first deposit on our wedding (eeek!). I am one very happy bride-to-be knowing that this tough decision has been made and will be finalized in the morning. Venue, check…..

Big White Dress

The dress shopping experience was a little rushed for me… as I didn’t plan to even start looking until December or January (aka when I have a break from school!). However, I stumbled across a J. Crew dress last week that made my wedding-dress lovin’ heart skip a beat! However, I live in North Carolina and the only store that carries that dress lives in NYC. But wait, that’s not the real dilemma… they only have 3 sizes left in this dress… and only 2 of which I can wear! Enter the need for an emergency dress shopping situation and a very much appreciated girlfriend who spent her Saturday zipping and unzipping me!

We started at NY Bride & Groom on South Blvd … But I did like that they let us pick the gowns and my friend was able to come in the dressing room with me. (PS – these are not your normal size fitting rooms- LOVE!).

I’ll share a few of the shots that she snapped (obviously only in the dresses that I am for sure not getting). I only tried this dress on for fun because it was super heavy and detailed but looking back at the pictures… I do kind of love it! For the right setting of course… I pretty much stuck to sweetheart style necklines but the rest of the dress was fair game. I knew I wanted to try on Modern Trousseau gowns, so we went to Hayden Olivia for those. I immediately fell in love with this all-over lace Modern Trousseau (Abbey) gown. I mean, how could you not? It was beautiful in every possible way… and light too. Since I’m planning an August wedding in the South, light is key! However, my heart (and wallet) did not love the price tag on this beauty ($3600+) so I didn’t even ask them to write it down for me. This dress had a little bit of everything, a little lace, a flower, a little ruffle, a little poof… but it didn’t quite do it for me. Honestly, the first dress I tried on was probably the most likely to be purchased. I just got an email from J. Crew though and the beautiful gown I am coveting from there is 25% off with free shipping…

To order, or not to order, that is the question!

Pinning & Pining

Ever heard of Pinterest? Well before the ring, I had been pinning away on boards dedicated to the wedding that I was pining over one-day having! But now… that it’s actually happening… so many of my pins aren’t relevant! We’re not having a beach wedding, so nix those cute starfish on the table and flip flops by the edge of the sand ideas. I wore a dress in half of our engagement pictures, so I didn’t get a chance to do a piggy back ride picture (I happen to LOVE piggy back rides – weird, I know).

So I decided to create a new board, that also allowed my very beautiful and oh-so-amazing bridesmaids to pin to it as well. They have been so helpful with the ideas. And one of them got engaged just three tiny weeks after I did, so now she’s busy planning her very own “big day” so I figured since her wedding will be more beach-esque than mine, she can certainly get some ideas from those older pins of mine.

My southern shendig is being planned based on a lot of these “pins.” Virtual planning is very helpful as I’m able to do this from my phone, work or class (shhh!). My sweet sister-in-law bought me a planning book full of checklists and necessities… so between that and my Pinterest boards… I’ve got all the planning utensils I need. Now I just need an unlimited bank account to cover everything!

Engagement Photos!

Immediately (seriously, THE NEXT DAY) following the engagement, I began emailing photographers for prices on an engagement session. Many of them told me they included engagement sessions with their wedding package – which is awesome – but I kind of wanted to try them out first… you know? Before I splurged on wedding photos, I’d like to see what you can do for us. Portfolios online were great but it was really important for me to see what OUR pictures were going to look like.

Gabrielle Lover Photography

I found several photographers who offered to do 30-minute mini-sessions with us for a reasonable price and I settled on Gabrielle Lover. I liked the photos she had featured online and I figured $60 was a good deal for a few good shots of me and my husband-to-be. We met at “The Green” in uptown Charlotte for our mini-session – and she even let us include our fur babies in the pictures!

Gabrielle Lover Photography
Gabrielle Lover Photography

Although it was a short session, we did get several photos out of it that we really loved. And since it was such a small investment, we are able to consider doing more in the spring or when we book our photographer for our wedding. We had a blast taking the pictures – although the pups didn’t cooperate quite like I wanted them to (BIG thanks to our friends Seth & Scott for holding them while we finished our session) we still got one (semi) good shot of us with them.

Gabrielle Lover Photography

I highly recommend reaching out to several photographers to see their prices, availability and of course, their style before making a decision. The mini-session was a great way to go because you could easily have several mini-sessions for the same price of a normal engagement session and get lots of pictures while trying out lots of photographers as well. $60 in my book was a great price for the shots that we got… now we are on the hunt for our wedding photographer! We’re getting married, y’all!

Gabrielle Lover Photography

THE story!

My darling groom-to-be had been out of town all weekend but had left sweet love notes all over the house for me to find. There was a note by the door telling me to have a good weekend, a note inside my laptop telling me he loved me, a note on the fridge telling me to check inside…. and then a note on top of my very favorite ice cream (Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream from Earth Fare), a note on my pillow telling me goodnight, a note inside my shoe wishing me “good luck” on my 5-mile race, well, you get the picture… he covered all of his bases with the notes.

Sunday he came home and we had an early dinner as we both had homework to catch up on (not only do we both work full-time, we’re both in grad school!). I decided to take our sweet puppies for a run before I settled in to do some homework. While working diligently on whatever project it was that night, Landon came downstairs to convince my dog to come back upstairs with him.

Anyone who has met my dog, knows he doesn’t like to be away from his “mommy.” So the convincing took a little work but eventually he decided that he should follow Landon back upstairs only to come bounding back down the stairs seconds later with a blue note tied around his neck that said “Mommy” on the front. And then I heard “our song” come on the surround sound…. that’s when I knew.

Some sweet words were spoken, and a sparkly beauty was placed on my left hand and I became an engaged woman! YAY! Let the planning begin!