MarLa and Sager’s Family Roots-Inspired Southern Wedding

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We”re excited to provide inspiration for our readers and registered couples with our series of wedding posts, and today we’re featuring the beautiful, heartfelt wedding of MarLa and Sager, photographed by White Rabbit Studios. The couple were married in Alabama at a small church, with the reception just a couple blocks away at Limestone Bay Trading Company. After you read our interview with MarLa, be sure to click through the entire slideshow. The photos  of MarLa walking down the aisle may just move you to happy tears — we certainly found ourselves reaching for a hankie.

Can you tell us about you and your husband?

“Sager grew up in New Hope, MS. I grew up in Alexandria, AL. He went to University of Alabama and obtained a BS degree in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics. He was a member of the Blount Scholar program and member of Sigma Pi Fraternity. I went to Jacksonville State University and obtained a BS degree in Computer Information Systems with a minor in Business. I was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority and a member of the Marching Ballerinas (the dance team for the Marching Southerners). Sager is a senior developer at IBM. I am a software programmer/analyst as a contractor for the Army. We met in Huntsville, AL at work in January 2009 and we started dating in February 2010.”

How did you get engaged?

“We were celebrating Sager’s birthday in Florence, AL. On our way back home, we stopped at Joe Wheeler State Park to enjoy the scenery. Sager suggested we take a walk on a pier to watch the sunset. As we were taking in the view and each other’s company, Sager asked me if I loved him and would I love him forever. Of course, I said ‘Yes!’ He then, simultaneously, knelt on one knee and reached into his pocket. He was so nervous and I was in shock. I kept asking ‘Is this the moment? Is this our moment of our proposal?’ I was crying happy tears. We both were overwhelmed and sat on the pier with our legs dangling off, just letting the moment soak in. Sager shared his many ideas of how to propose and where. I liked them, so when we got into the Huntsville and Madison area, we drove to our work (where we first met), we drove to the restaurant of our first official date, we drove to his first apartment where we had our first kiss, we drove to Big Spring Park where we had our first unofficial date, we drove by the jewelry store where he purchased the ring (we never looked at rings together and he picked it out all on his own!)…each place Sager asked me to marry him. Each place I said ‘Yes.'”

The church where you were married is absolutely lovely. How did you choose this church?

“We wanted an outdoor wedding originally, but we struggled with the location and having to plan for inclement weather. We had both been to Mooresville several times and loved the quaintness of the historic town. The church was built in 1839. It is a one room building with no a/c or heating, but does have electricity! So we fell in love with the primitive church! It offered so much rustic charm that was befitting our wedding. What we wanted was a place than was natural and simple, and that is where we ended up. It was perfect.”

Where did you hold the reception?

“The reception was held at Limestone Bay Trading Company. It is a restaurant for breakfast and lunch and an event venue in the evenings. It is located in Mooresville, AL, about two blocks from the church. Our guests walked from the church to the reception, sipping from glass coke bottles on their walk. Dee Green is a one shop stop! She owns the venue, does the food, has a lady that does the wedding cake, is the florist, she does it all and she goes over and beyond! Limestone Bay Trading Company is a former General Store. It is so eclectic! Not much decoration is needed!”


What was your inspiration for the feel and look for the wedding?

“We wanted the wedding and reception to represent us and who we are. We wanted the reception to be like a family get-together, like those we attended growing up. My family would get together sometimes in the summer, and the men would play horseshoes; we would make homemade ice cream; everybody would bring a dish of southern ‘comfort’ food. We didn’t want it to be too fancy with crystal stemware, hors d’oeuvre, and place settings so involved that most people would have trouble knowing which fork to use! We wanted it to be comfortable, good, Southern food, with natural elements.”


What was most important to you when planning the wedding?

“The most important thing to us when planning the wedding was that the rehearsal dinner, wedding, and reception (all events) reflected us, our love, and our commitment to each other. The church is small so we had only our siblings stand with us (Sager’s two brothers were his best men, my sister was my maid of honor). Since I have so many close girlfriends they were honorary bridesmaids. They walked in with my sister but sat in a pew designated for them. They wore mismatched bridesmaid dresses, all coordinating but not matching in color or style. The dress and color fit each of the girl’s personality. I gave them colors to stay within (grey, brown, and green).”



What details really stood out at the wedding?

“Our save the dates, wedding invitations and programs were printed on wood from Night Owl Paper Goods in Birmingham, AL and personally designed by Sager’s brother, Jacob! Our unity ceremony was a tree that my mom got from our land in Alexandria. Sager had a mason jar of water from the lake where he grew up and a mason jar of soil from the land upon which he grew up. I had a mason jar of water from the pond where I grew up and a mason jar of soil from the land where I grew up. The music was a solo, acoustic violin played by a close friend of my family. We had hymns, a Scottish waltz, and an English country dance song to list a few. No vocalists were used. The violin sounded so authentic with the time period of when the church was built. The ring bearer, son of the violinist, carried my dad’s Bible. My dad passed away in 2007 and I wanted to honor him. I carried a handkerchief with the type of tobacco he smoked in his pipe to help calm my nerves that day.”


How did your personal values or interests as a couple affect the look and feel of your wedding?

“We both love folksy rock, and we love southern traditions, so we included both in the wedding and reception. We included our favorite foods and drinks and the reception (personally selected all food and drinks); we hand-made a lot of the decorations; Sager worked on the wedding just as much as I did – we wanted every decision and detail to truly reflect us and who we are! We wanted our friends and family to feel special and know how much we appreciate each and everyone and their support as we become husband and wife and the support to come in our relationship.”


What fun details did your guests really enjoy and respond to?

“They seemed to enjoy the s’mores pit, the southern food, the historic town, Coca-Colas in glass bottles served leaving the church on their way to the reception, the music in the ceremony, the groom’s table (Sager’s mom made desserts that he grew up eating and they were served in old tin boxes), rocking chairs at the reception, quilt squares for guests to write messages for us to make a quilt. The fresh, green flora throughout our venues and the town of Mooresville really made everything feel natural and looked beautiful.”


Did you have a live band or a DJ? How did you make this decision and make the music work at the wedding?

“We had a DJ that played vinyl records. If he didn’t have a song on vinyl, he would play a digital copy. We wanted the music of the reception to fit the venue, so we didn’t pick a DJ with a disco ball or colored lights. We didn’t have any hip hop or typical dance songs played at the reception. We like folksy rock artists like Iron and Wine, The Civil Wars, Band of Horses, Mumford and Sons, The Head and the Heart, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, etc.”

What do you think is important to splurge on? What about where you can save money?

“We think couples should research and pay a little more for the quality of the venue, the photographer/videographer, and/or a graphic designer for custom invitations/paper and website. We think do-it-yourself projects help save money and give the wedding/reception more of the couple’s personality. Have your family and friends use their talents to help with the details. Our violinist was a close friend of the family; one of Sager’s brothers is a graphic designer, so he helped with the website, save the dates, rehearsal dinner invites, wedding invitations, and programs. My mom has a great eye for decorating so she helped tremendously! Sager’s mom is a fantastic baker so her making of the goodies for his groom’s table was delicious and sentimental. My friend coordinates things really well, and she was our day-of wedding coordinator. Of course, we showed our appreciation for all they did for us either with money or a gift.”

What advice do you have for other couples planning their wedding?

“While planning, still take time to reflect on your relationship and why you are planning, planning, planning! We had an 8 month engagement, so it was short and busy! Three months prior to the wedding was my birthday so we took a long weekend trip to New Orleans to get away from wedding-planning. We highly recommend having an engagement session with the same photographer/videographer as the wedding. We learned their shooting style and were way more comfortable on the day of the wedding. We felt somewhat awkward during the engagement shoot at first, but all that awkwardness was gone on the wedding day…we were so comfortable around them!”

What advice do you have for couples that are establishing a registry?

“Take an assessment of what you have and what you need. Add items in different price ranges, for all friends and family to afford.”

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For more information about MarLa and Sager, check out their wedding website. The “Our Story” tab was written by Sager about the couple up until the moment of proposal acceptance!

All photos courtesy White Rabbit Studios

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