"Ellis and I knew we wanted to get married at Thanksgiving, but what I didn't know was that he would finally pop the question on Labor Day weekend. That gave me just under three months to plan, so I quickly got to work! I knew there were four key things we desired from our wedding. We wanted it to be intimate, worshipful, creative, and budget-friendly! Ellis and I are both interested in how faith and art intersect, so featuring that interest in our wedding was only natural. Once we found the perfect location in Pinecote Pavilion, a beautiful outdoor structure in South Mississippi, everything else started to come together.
I have to admit, I basically had a built-in wedding production company in my family. Ours was the last of four weddings to come in a two year time-frame, so I knew we should have this DIY thing down by now! Plus, my father was my minister, my mother the florist, and my amazing brother and sis-in-love make up the talented team of Post and Beam Co. In them, I had photographers, videographers, musician, DJ, and much, much, more. Everyone helped me bring my dream to a reality right down to the seven soups I asked for! It doesn't hurt to have a chef in the family. I am forever indebted to them all for helping to make our day so perfect.
Even with all the help from family and friends, I quickly realized there are some things you just have to relinquish control of to trusted vendors. I could not have been happier with our invitations made by Night Owl Paper Goods. I started the design on a scratch piece of paper at work, Post and Beam Co. helped me turn it into a jpeg creation to upload onto Night Owl's custom sight, and then, they worked their magic. I received my vision on perfect wooden invitations wonderfully packaged and delivered direct to my door. The good people at Night Owl helped me set the tone for our wedding, and relay that to our guests.
Inside each invitation, we placed a request for our "Guest Book" exchange. We asked each guest to bring a copy (new or gently used) of their favorite work of literature. These books were signed by guests on their way in, and set up for browsing on their way out. Every guest was encouraged to take another book as their wedding favor. My favorite story of exchange came from our god-daughter who went home with a children's book that another friend brought. Her mother shared that at bedtime sometime after our event, she asked, "Can you read me my wedding book?" Too cute!
Guests were also asked to sign bookmarks that went into the journal our vows were read from, and that, this coming year, will serve as our prayer journal together. Each time we come to a new name, we will be able to say a special prayer of thanks for that guest.
We hoped these literary touches, along with book-page table runners, paper petals, special readings, and a set of vows written by a beloved English professor uniquely for us, would convey our love for the written word. Our love for nature couldn't be missed by our incredible location and, more subtly, through song choices that honored creation. When I caught Ellis and his family feeding the fish and turtles before the ceremony my heart was filled with joy. I knew we had captured the essence of the things I love about us, and put them into our day.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention how influential Wes Anderson and his film styling was in my planning. Ellis and I LOVE the movies. We have even been known to drive long distances to view a flick not playing in our area. Our first kiss happened one snowy night after watching Fantastic Mr. Fox. As we planned the music, reception, table styling, colors, and food choices, I kept coming back to Wes Anderson and the banquet scene from Mr. Fox. We knew we wanted to play the film behind the cake table, and we let movie candy take the place of a groom's cake. It pleased me to hear my mother say after it all came together, that when the banquet scene played on screen, she felt like it extended into our presence.
The little fox touches didn't end there. The fox was featured again with the cake topper and couple's gifts to one another. My late grandfather, who Ellis has always reminded me of, was often called the big bad fox. A few years back Ellis found an old fox coffee mug of my Daddy Duke's, and claimed it for his own use. My mother was kind enough to honor the resemblance I have found in these two by giving her father's wedding ring to Ellis. It was on the big bad fox's hand for over 70 years, and I pray I am blessed enough to see it on my fox's hand as long as well.
And who can have a fox without a hound? Not us! Ellis rescued our dog, Belladonna, in August before we wed. We knew she would struggle to behave out in the woods, but we wanted her presence there with us. I found the perfect rubber stamp at Hobby Lobby, and I decided to honor her as a part of our family by hand-printing her likeness on all the placemats.
We intentionally chose to have a small wedding party (helping along two of the four key components of the wedding: intimacy and budget savoy!). He had his father as best man, his closest friend as groomsman, and his best gal-pal since preschool was our "book girl." She dropped "petals" and carried the books that our readings were in. I had my sister as my matron of honor, and my best friend and cousin as our ring bearer. The women, including the mothers and grandmothers, were given vintage brooches (meticulously picked from great shops on Etsy) rather than corsages. We all stood under a hanging altar, lit with lantern light, that Ellis's step-father made for us out of salvaged wood from their home in Georgia.
Ellis is an introvert, and the idea of having everyone looking at him almost kept us from having a wedding at all. When we saw Moonrise Kingdom, I was struck with inspiration. In the film the two protagonists, in youthful bliss and determination, head off to get married, hand in hand, Jason Schwartzman leading the way as officiant. That's how we entered. Hand in hand, led by my father. We were doing this thing together, and I will never regret that choice. It felt right for us. We got the "first look" moment earlier in a private setting, so I didn't feel cheated at all. In fact, I feel it helped us convey to everyone that we believe this thing of marriage is about being together in community.
The ceremony itself was just lovely. We exchanged vows, received blessings, and then, as our first act as a married couple, served communion to our guests. This was perhaps one of my favorite moments of the day. We were able to speak blessings to each person that came to affirm our decision in marriage. I was able to look every guest in the eye, and spend this tiny moment with just them. It was priceless.
We processed out to a tweaked, upbeat version of the Doxology, as the sun went down.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise God all creatures here below,
Praise the One from whom great love grows,
Creator, Son, and Holy Ghost
The reception was under the same pavilion. The altar table was moved to be our couple's table, and everyone enjoyed a picnic by candlelight. We had a soup and sandwich bar with seven different soups and endless combinations of sandwiches. On each table guests found picnic baskets to share. In each basket were fruits, nuts, bread, crackers, and spreads. Our cake was a delectable rustic creation from C'est La Vie bakery in Hattiesburg, MS. The bottom layer was chocolate cake with chocolate crème, the next level was carrot cake with cream cheese icing, and the next an amazing banana rum white chocolate chip cake with vanilla crème. The top tier was made by my mother, and was my grandmother's famous coffee cake recipe.
It turned out to be a cold night for Mississippi, and we enjoyed sipping coffee from one of our favorite date-night coffee shops, Sneaky Bean of Jackson, MS. We danced under the moonlight, and went on our way to honeymoon in New Orleans.
That evening in our honeymoon suite (don't worry this is PG) Ellis told me how meaningful the night had been to him. The months of preparation--watching me agonize over little details--was worth every moment. He felt our personality as a couple really shone through the evening, and that was music to my bridal ears.
I know we will celebrate many Thanksgivings as a family, but our first as a married couple will always be special in my mind. I am so grateful for the memories, and for the hard work of Post and Beam Co. that keeps those memories alive with our photographs and video."
Music and Sound: Post & Beam Co.
Videography: Post & Beam Co.
Invitations: Night Owl Paper Goods
Coffee and Supplies: Sneaky Beans
Flowers: 50 Flowers
Flowers: Bloom's by the Box
Groom's Attire: Dillard's
Groom's Suit Coat: Nordstrom
Bridesmaids Dress and Mother of the Bride's Dress: David's Bridal
Wedding Dress: Watters Wtoo- Olivia Dress
Brooches, Caketopper, Wedding Gifts, Jewelry: Etsy Vendors
Cake: C'est La Vie Bakery, Hattiesburg, MS
Photography: Post & Beam Co.