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Chris and Alyce’s Rustic Elegant Wedding

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Photographer Julie Christman recently sent us these gorgeous photos of newly wedded couple, Alyce and Chris. 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.

VENDORS: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

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