A lakeside dock proposal on Christmas Eve? Yes, please! That sweet, sweet moment (that I’m totally swooning over) led to this cozy-as-ever Southern soiree at The Barn At Fearrington Village. The merriment that ensued included a bluegrass band, treasured family heirlooms passed down as gifts, a quiet moment alone, a perfectly glowing party and so much more captured at the talented hands of Perry Vaile. See it all here!
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From the beautiful Bride…At midnight, just as Christmas Eve turned into Christmas Day, Jeff asked me to marry him in the woods behind my parents’ house in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, standing on a lakeside dock that he helped my Dad and my brother build a few years ago. Just as we were surrounded by family at our engagement, we wanted our wedding day to be personal, intimate, heartfelt, and full of meaningful ways to incorporate our family and friends into our celebration.
The day started off with my sister, my soon-to-be sister-in-law, and me and my family getting ready at my parents’ house. We took bridal portraits in the woods where Jeff had proposed to me, using a vintage 1800s chair and trunk that belonged to my great-great-grandparents. Our ceremony took place at the hometown church where Jeff and I both grew up, and our reception was at the gardens and barn at Fearrington Village.
Before the wedding, my family gave me some incredibly special gifts with deep family connections, which I will treasure forever. My mom made me a custom handkerchief with a swatch of lace from her own wedding gown sewn into it. My family gave me two sixpence for luck, one from 1820, which is the year the Black-Cole House was built, where my grandmother and her six siblings grew up, representing the Cole side of my family. The other coin was from 1920, which is the year that my grandmother “Mama Gee” was born, representing the Didow side of my family. Another special gift was the loan of a blue butterfly pin (for my “something blue”) that was worn by my cousin at her wedding.
Right before the wedding, Jeff and I took a moment back to back (so he couldn’t see my gown) to read each other letters that we had written about getting married. It was an incredibly special moment, just for the two of us. I also gave Jeff custom cufflinks, engraved with the longitude and latitude of the location where we would shortly become husband and wife.
At the service, our siblings were our attendants, and cousins and an uncle were greeters and readers. We had a whole group of flower children, including cousins and a niece and nephew. Other friends played violin and sang. Our dads (both Marines) jointly read the Blessing of the Hands, to which they added their own impromptu last line, “Semper Fi! Oorah!” Jeff and I exchanged custom wedding rings engraved with imprints of each others’ fingerprints on the inside of each band.
Jeff and I love the outdoors, the South, and bluegrass music, so we had a bluegrass band – including a mandolin and fiddle – play at our cocktail hour, which was outside in the gardens. At the reception, guests found their seats in the barn using table assignments posted on a fun vintage door that my Dad found at an antique store. We named each table after our favorite spots in North Carolina (our home, where we both grew up) and in Washington, DC (where we currently live). Most of these spots were favorite hiking and camping destinations, including Max Patch Mountain, a bald (mountain top pasture) with 360-degree views at the North Carolina and Tennessee border, where our amazing photographer Perry Vaile took our engagement pictures. Other tables were named after our favorite spots to get biscuits and chips con queso when we’re in North Carolina!
The recipe for our wedding cake was based on an old family recipe. My very dear cousin Susan used to make me strawberry cake for my birthdays, and legend has it that one year, she went through five “practice cakes” before making one that met her standards! It brought back special memories of her to taste her recipe at our wedding.
One of my favorite parts of preparing for the reception was combing through old family pictures. At the reception, we displayed framed pictures of our parents and grandparents on their wedding days, as well as a picture of my maternal grandmother in her Navy nurse uniform. We handmade our favors, which gave guests a choice of chocolate (Jeff’s favorite), lemon drops (my Dad’s favorite), or honey from our neighbor’s farm. In light of our love for the mountains, I surprised Jeff with a groom’s cake modeled on one of our favorite weekend hiking spots, the Shenandoah Mountains, and one of my wonderful friends painted a mountain scene that served as our guestbook.
We are so excited to share these pictures by Perry Vaile Photography – after a long search, we had just about given up on a finding a photographer that felt just right, and the second we found Perry’s work, we just knew! We’re simply thrilled to have these images and these memories of our wedding day.
Bluegrass Band: The Guilty Pleasures | Bow Ties And Suspenders: Dapper Gent | Bride's Dress: Judd Waddell | Bridesmaid Dresses: Jenny Yoo | Calligraphy: Calligraphy By Carrie | Ceremony Venue: University United Methodist Church | Clutch: Hoganfe | Cufflinks: Tracy Tayan Designs | DJ: DJ Bunn Company | Earrings: Erin Cole | Engagement Ring: Charleston Alexander | Florist (ceremony): Tre Bella | Florist (reception): Fearrington Village | Flower Girl Dresses: David's Bridal | Food And Cake: Fearrington Village | Hair And Makeup: Bella Trio | Invitations: South | Photography: Perry Vaile | Programs: Ply | Reception Venue: The Barn At Fearrington Village | Shoes: Paris Xox | Tuxedos: Allure | Wedding Bands: Brent & Jess