Photographer Julie Christman recently sent us these gorgeous photos of newly wedding couple Alyce and Chris Youngblood. While Alyce and Chris were married at a rural, rustic setting, some of the details of the wedding, including establishing their own hashtag on Twitter, also reflected the couple’s social media-rich background. Keep reading to hear about what Alyce has to say about her rustic elegant wedding day and check out all of the absolutely stunning photos!
Can you tell us about you and your husband?
“Chris and I met on Twitter in 2010, which seems strange to some, but felt natural to us. At the time, I was an editor and social media manager for a magazine in Orlando, FL, and he was a communications director for a non-profit on the coast. After we met face-to-face, it didn’t take too long for us to begin dating and took even less time for us to begin dreaming about the rest of our lives together. I’ve now joined him on the coast, as well as in his office, where I’m the organization’s new editor.”
How did you get engaged?
Chris made me wait for a while — after we had already looked at rings! But it was worth it, because it could not have been a more ‘us’ proposal. We both love New York City, and while I was spending a weekend there with my best friends, he flew up to surprise me. He walked up behind me while I was taking a photo in Bryant Park, my favorite spot in the city, and proposed with a gorgeous ring from the 1920s.
Where were you married?
“We were married in late October in my small hometown of Ocala, FL, at the private farm residence of a family friend. They have a beautiful home, garden, pond and barn, so we were able to host both the ceremony and reception on the property.”
What was your inspiration for the feel and look for the wedding?
“Though Chris and I have left our homes and crave skylines more than back roads, our roots are in the South. I grew up in a Florida horse town, and he and his charming accent hail from Georgia. We knew early on we wanted our wedding to reflect that, and we aimed for what we called ‘rustic elegance.’ Barn weddings can easily drift into hoedown territory, so we did our best to add more sophisticated touches with lace, gold accents, market lights and more.”
What was most important to you when planning the wedding?
“Honestly, the thing I stressed most about was wanting people to just have FUN. We’ve been to weddings with awkward lulls when guests don’t have anything to do or eat, a playlist that’s tough to dance to, a lack of seating arrangements, or details that were more about luxury than the enjoyment of the friends and family. So when it came to planning our wedding, every decision — from the menu to the lighting to the bridesmaids’ shoes — was filtered through a desire for people to be comfortable and happy.”
What details really stood out at the wedding?
“When I was young, the only thing I knew I wanted at my wedding was an abundance of sunflowers. We made that dream become a reality, and I think the hundreds of sunflowers were a stunning backdrop for nearly everything else at the wedding. They tied in well to our navy/gold theme and made the cloudy, windy October day seem bright.
Other details I loved were the ribbon canopy inside the barn and the twinkle light ceiling over our dance floor. They were simple, but required the most construction (many thanks to the friends who put these together for us!), and without them, those settings would have been lacking. Another personal favorite of mine were the miniature pumpkin favors, which I hear came in handy for Halloween just a few days later.”
How did your personal values or interests as a couple affect the look and feel of your wedding?
“As I mentioned before, both of us knew we wanted to have a laid-back, Southern-inspired celebration. But beyond that, there were a number of subtle ways our personalities, backgrounds, and interests were evident, from the Madeleine L’Engle quote I worked into the program to the classic Georgia peach cobbler Chris wanted for the dessert table. I think our ceremony songs were also a good representation of us as a couple—bluegrass, hymns, The Beatles, the Up soundtrack… It felt special and true to us. We also really value family, and they were very much involved throughout, with my father even officiating the ceremony.”
What fun details did your guests really enjoy and respond to?
“Early on in our relationship, Chris and I bonded over the fact that we both could always win the peg game at Cracker Barrel. As a nod to that, we placed one on each table as part of the centerpieces. Chris also customized some corn hole boards for the wedding, and those seemed to go over well with the guests. We bought a ton of bottled sodas, which were pretty much gone by the time dinner started, and for the coffee and cider, we had custom cup sleeves made with our wedding logo on them, which was an easy way to literally put our stamp on things. Also, a wedding trend you absolutely need to incorporate is setting your own hashtag for people to follow and post to. You not only get a great mix of photos to look back on, but it makes for something fun that guests can keep track of and participate in during down time.”
Did you have a live band or a DJ? How did you make this decision and make the music work at the wedding?
“My brothers are musicians, so they performed a hymn at the ceremony, but for the reception, we skipped having a band or DJ and made our own playlist. Part of our reasoning was that we didn’t plan music until the end and weren’t up for another major expense, but we also wanted some control over the song selection. We hand-picked favorite songs, and a family friend managed the iTunes for us the evening of.”
What do you think is important to splurge on? What about where you can save money?
“I know there a number of ways to save money on a wedding with DIY projects and thrifted finds — more power to you if you are able to. But personally, I work full-time, live more than two hours away from where the wedding took place and am a horrible crafter, so it was absolutely worth it to me to spend a little more here and there if it meant saving both time and stress. Splurge on dish rentals if you aren’t able to thrift vintage plates for each guest. Spend more on a good florist if you’re not up for the effort it will take to craft bouquets out of fabric and brooches. Be frugal, yes, but don’t feel bad if you’re not a DIY bride!
Another splurge we were comfortable with was food. Feeding more than 200 people was costly — but it was important to us to provide a substantial, delicious meal. A local favorite restaurant called The Ivy House took care of us and catered a gourmet feast of country food that my family and friends are still talking about. Your guests are flying, driving, and spending hours out of their weekend to celebrate with you, so feed them well! Just make sure a coordinator or family member is willing to go fill a plate for you so you don’t miss out.
Some things I thought would have to be incredibly expensive ended up being very affordable. I know letterpress printing and elaborate invitations and programs are very popular — but they’re also really pricey. Instead, we emailed a digital save the date and then relied on my talented brother’s design skills and a cheap online printing service for all of our invitations and programs. What would have been a couple thousand dollars ended up being a couple hundred, and our printed goods still looked awesome. This also ties into my next tip, which is to think of the services and goods your circle might be able to help out with or provide at discounted rates. Don’t take advantage of them, but don’t be afraid to utilize them either. So many people who love and support us were able to contribute something to our big day, from hair and make-up to film and furniture pieces.”
What advice do you have for other couples planning their wedding?
“The way I see it, all of the other little, beautiful details won’t matter so much if you don’t have quality photos and video to remember them by! Make photography and videography one of your first decisions, even before you know what the rest may look like.
As far as how you approach planning itself, work together and enjoy the process. For the most part, our engagement was stress-free, and we really tried to treasure that time between the proposal and the altar. Make decisions together, don’t get stuck on trivial stuff, and just keep reminding yourself that when all is said and done, you’re marrying your best friend, and that’s the most important thing. We also went to extensive pre-marital counseling—not just a handful of sessions, but a couple months of consistent visits with a psychologist, and it was one of the most rewarding things we’ve done as a couple, especially during such a significant period of life”
What advice do you have for couples that are establishing a registry?
“Take into account your current home—not just your ‘dream home’—when registering (especially for the kitchen!). Looking back, we aimed a bit high with some of our choices and ended up not having enough space for some of the amazing gear we got, which is piled high in our laundry room now so the counters don’t get cluttered. I wish I had registered for more creative storage solutions, like shelves, baskets, and other containers. And don’t worry about feeling pressure to register for and receive all of your main purchases and statement pieces at the start of your marriage. As far as decor goes, Chris and I went very basic and classic, as we know both our living arrangement and our style will change in the coming years, and we wanted some items that would grow with us and work with a number of settings and colors. Finally, give yourself time to register — start early in your engagement and add to your registry, both in-person and online, throughout the process. There are so many things you may change your mind about later or simply forget the first time you register, so it helped to build our registry gradually.”
You can also watch a video of the couple’s wedding day here.
Photography: Julie Cate Photography http://www.juliecate.com/
Cinematography: Dustin Miller of Flesh Profits Nothing http://www.fleshprofitsnothing.com/
Flowers: Heritage Flowers http://www.heritage-flowers.com/
Catering: The Ivy House http://www.ivyhousefl.com/TheIvyHouse/Welcome.html
Cake: Ms. Debbie’s Sugar Art
Event rentals: Party Time http://www.partytimerentals.us/
Make-up: Denise Sarko of The Cherished Bride http://www.thecherishedbride.com/
Hair: Katie Gilligan, bride’s sister-in-law
Event design: Heather Sibinski, friend of bride
Event planning: Debbie DeLoach, friend of bride
Location: Private residence
Ceremony musicians: Josh Gilligan, Lee Gilligan, Cody Quistad
Officiants: Tim Gilligan, Jim Hoyle, Sean Forte
Invitations and programs: Lee Gilligan, bride’s brother
Bride’s shoes: Kate Spade
Bride’s dress: WToo from Solutions Bridal, Gainesville http://www.solutionsbridal.com/
Bride’s jewelry: Gold and sapphire family heirlooms
Bride’s hairpiece: Anthropologie
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Their own finds, from thrift stores to Anthropologie!
Bridesmaids’ shoes: DSW
Groom’s suit: J. Crew
Groom’s shoes: Cole Haan
Groomsmen’s clothes: J. Crew
All Photos Courtesy Julie Cate Photography