Some weddings are beautiful and then there are those that are sweet and full of sentiment and once in a while the stars align and a wedding comes along that is all of the above. That is just such the case with this eye popping, jaw dropping gorgeous wedding photographed by Watson Studios. Set in the mountains of Tennessee, these nuptials were a culmination of a very trying year for the bride and groom which resulted in a highly anticipated celebration among friends and family. Be sure to read the Bride’s story below that details her and her husband’s journey to the altar. Congrats Katie and Johan. We are so glad all turned out so beautifully for you two!

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Johan and I met in January of 2009. He from Denmark and I from the mountains of Tennessee, it was an unlikely but meant-to-be meeting: he had made a New Year’s resolution to volunteer, and I was working as the Director of Volunteers at a not-for-profit agency. The rest was history. Though we weren’t officially engaged until July, I’d started carving out ideas for our wedding long before and even bought my wedding dress prior to the proposal (when you know, you know!). The wedding was to be held at the private, mountaintop estate of some dear and generous friends, and I had a pretty clear vision of what our wedding should be: elegant, a touch of vintage, natural, and as laid back as possible.

Sadly, our plans were put on hold last October, when Johan was critically injured in a motorcycle accident. After several months in the hospital recovering from multiple injuries and a subsequent stroke, he had a number of surgeries and months and months of rehab. By March we were finally back to wedding planning, but by that point, we were not only exhausted but on quite a compressed timeline for our early May wedding date.

The fortunate part was that the reality of the accident and the rigors and stress of his recovery completely shifted our perspective: we chose to focus on the fact that we were having a wedding at all and channeled our efforts into ensuring the day was a celebration of our love and what it had already carried us through. Part of this included opting for a more intimate feel, cutting our guest list by more than half and forgoing a traditional bridal party. We also decided not to compete with the beauty of the mountaintop setting and kept the décor to a minimum with a soft color palette.

We wanted to rejoice in not only our love story, but also the blending of our families and cultures along with honoring our very diverse guest list (we had guests from Serbia to Peru and 10 countries in between!) who had offered the love and support that sustained us through Johan’s accident and recovery. We also wanted the day to be very personal, and at the same time, it was important for us that our guests truly enjoy themselves. After a simple garden ceremony performed by our close friend and neighbor, our guests enjoyed a cocktail hour, which progressed to a seated dinner held in a closed tent. True to Danish form (and that of many European countries), we had an assigned “toastmaster” who coordinated a multitude of humorous, heartfelt, and colorful speeches. Our guests completely immersed themselves in the way of traditional Scandinavian toasting (dating back to the Vikings), which includes shouting “Skal!” and then having to make eye contact with everyone at the table. As in the U.S., if people tapped their glasses with their silverware, we had to kiss; except per Danish tradition, we had to stand up on our chairs to do it (not easy in a wedding dress!).

Though our road from engagement to wedding day was wrought with stress and uncertainty and was anything but typical, our journey truly culminated in a celebration that meant the world to us…and was world of fun for our guests. We couldn’t have asked for a more special time with our families and closest friends. SKAL!!!!

Photography: Dan & Natalie Watson of Watson-Studios / Wedding Coordinator: Sonya Scott of  A Perfect Day / Flowers: Pat Felts of Clay Pots / Catering/Cake/Cupcakes: Tony McClanahan of First Fruits / Dress: Monique Lhuillier / Shoes: J Crew

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