|Hi, I'm Julie ... artist, photographer, potter, etc. I am so happy you are here! I consider this blog my creative journal where I can share my recent work, ideas and dreams, and lots of little details about my life. Please make yourself at home. Whether you are a bride-to-be, a photographer, or just a visitor, I hope you will find inspiration here and even become a friend.|
Last week I turned thirty! One of my birthday presents to myself is this blog post! I've been wanting to share my wedding photos and some of the ideas that went into the planning for a while but just haven't taken the time to do it. So, today is the day. Its my party and I'll show off my wedding pictures if I want to!
I want to begin by crediting the amazing photographers who took the following images. Our lead photographer was my beautiful friend Izzy Hudgins and her husband Martin Ward. They traveled all the way from Spain to be a part of our wedding day. Since I have so many photographer friends, you can figure that there were lots of other cameras around. I'm so grateful to Shannon Kelley, Sara Arms, and Erin Blakely for being so generous and sharing their images with me as well!
Setting the scene … I am all too aware that having a beautiful location really sets the tone on your wedding day. Because our wedding was really centered around our families … we wanted a place that felt like home and Ramsey House Plantation was exactly what we were looking for. It's a place rich with history and we fell in love with the look of the stone and red door and window details. Perfect fit.
Choosing the color scheme was easy. Well, not really. Wedding blunder #1: I originally wanted to go with mustard yellow … so I designed our first round of invitations with yellow accents and just wasn't thrilled when they came in. I couldn't figure out why I didn't like them until I realized there was nothing meaningful connected to the color. I really wanted to wear my Granny's cameo earrings … and after my dress designer suggested adding a cameo brooch to my sash I was sold on changing my color scheme to coordinate with the peach and cream colors in the cameos. It turns out its kind of my trademark color (see how well my wedding matches my website). And so our color scheme was born and the first wedding blunder lesson was learned :: make your design choices based on something significant. Mustard yellow held no substance for me when it came to sentiment or meaning. Cameo peach did.
Another token of sentiment was my “something blue”. Nick's mom Maureen gave this pendant to me for my 29th birthday. It belonged to Nick's great, great Grandmother Grace Darling Somers. This was such a special gift to me as it came just a week after Nick had proposed and it made me feel so loved and accepted by his family. I pinned it into my bouquet.
My flowers were a really important element of wedding design because they really established the color scheme and style of the day. I feel like you can tell a lot about a bride by the flowers she chooses. My choices were peonies, ranunculus, cabbage roses, and succulents. My precious friend and florist extraordinaire was Mrs. Lisa Foster. She was so patient with me and artful in putting together a bouquet that I was really proud to carry down the isle.
And then there's my dress. When I started the dress hunt I knew three things for sure:
I did NOT want a strapless dress. (small soap box: I think 90% of the dresses I photograph are strapless these days and they are not flattering on ANYONE.)
I wanted a dress that didn't look like a dress I have already photographed before. (Do you know how many dresses I have photographed?)
Obviously I wanted a dress that was flattering for me but being plus-sized, I didn't want a dress that looked like a plus-size dress.
So, I shopped at one popular wedding dress boutique in Knoxville that will remain nameless. They claimed to have plus-size dresses so I made an appointment. I had a horrible experience and that's all I need to say about it. So my next step was to look online and I found my perfect dress. It was tea-length with a wrap style top and lace hem on the bottom. I just knew it would be flattering and unique so I sent in my measurements and kept a sharp eye every fed-ex truck that went down my street. When it finally arrived I hurriedly tried it on and then promptly burst into tears. Wedding Blunder #2 : Do not order a wedding dress that you can't try on and can't return. That's right, all sales final on a custom sized dress. The funny thing was that the measurements were pretty spot on but they didn't ask for my height. So the thing was made for someone about two feet taller than me and it was laughable how bad it looked. I have NO pictures to share of that one. Luckily I was able to sell it on oncewed.com and the girl who bought it was taller than me and it was perfect for her.
Moving on, I was still dress-less and this was three months before the wedding date. To say that I was discouraged would be the understatement of the year. My mom went with me to Gilded Gown where we found TONS of dresses in my size. The staff was SO accommodating and encouraging. Things started looking up. I picked out and tried on about eight styles that I liked. And it was the very last dress that I put on that really did it for me. The only problem was that the thing was strapless! Strapless but not hopeless. So we bought it on the fly and took it straight to Colleen at White Orchid Bridal. This is where my wedding dress dreams came true. Colleen took this dress and added a sheer collar with a lace detail that gave it a very antique and colonial feel (which was perfect for our venue). She also added a hand-made sash with a cameo, lace, and feather detail. I can't believe how she was able to completely transform the look of the dress with a few simple additions. I didn't really know how it would turn out until it was finished (which was just a couple weeks before the wedding date). But I have learned and can confirm that when you trust a true artist to do their best and give them creative freedom you will not be disappointed. Colleen did a beautiful job and I couldn't have been happier. Now I had a dress that was one-of-a-kind, flattering, plus it was the lacey, old fashioned style that perfectly matched our whole wedding.
Of course my sweet doggies were a very special part of my day!
My mom made Bailey's bow tie and Sadie's hair bows.
Nick and I made several non-traditional choices for our wedding day. The biggest of those might have been our decision to not have any bridesmaids or groomsmen. We certainly love our friends … but we just wanted the day to be focused on us. Having a bunch of people from all corners of the country buy matching dresses and suits and accessories seemed like more of a hassle than anything else. So we planned other ways to include these special people. For me that translated into having a ladies' brunch the morning of the wedding. My mom and her friend Jacki prepared a delicious little meal that was a perfect start to the day. I loved the opportunity to sit and visit, giggle, whisper, and hug with some of my favorite people in the world.
Soon after brunch … it was time to get down to business. Hair and make-up are serious business for a bride and I was completely safe in the hands of two of my favorite friends in the world. Claire Balest is the most amazing professional make-up artist I've EVER worked with so I was worry free with my face in her hands. Sara Arms – who is also my right hand second shooter at most weddings and general buddy, pal, friendie-friend – she did my hair. And this was probably the most relaxing moment of the day.
Half unaware and mostly unconcerned with wedding traditions, Nick just walked right in. I knew something weird was going on when the hen house went silent.
But this, unexpectedly was one of my favorite moments of the day. It was perfectly unscripted and very sweet.
I am so glad that he was there for just a moment to see the hustle of bridal preparation. And to bring me a quiet, calm reminder of what this hustle and bustle was all about.
Oh what a lucky bride I was/am.
My mom made all of these adorable bow ties from a pattern I picked out at Joanne's.
My three nephew's wore hats and vests from The Childrens Place.
And my sweet niece Emma wore a beautiful dress that my mom made. I picked out the fabric and the pattern at Joanne's and this amazing thing was the result. She looked so perfect. And the flower petal basket was customized by etsy vendor Bragging Bags.
One of my favorite images … my cutie Mamaw and Papaw peeping in to see me in my dress for the first time.
A perfect bridal portrait of me of course includes my sweet puppies. Oh, and my head band was also made by Colleen of White Orchid Bridal. She actually used a bracelet that my friend (and wedding photographer) made for me years ago.
And of course we did our portraits before the ceremony because that's just the way to do it. You can see images from our bridal session with Shannon Kelley here.
My ring is an french antique circa 1890. Nick picked it out on his own. Nick's ring is actually brass … and he made it himself when he was in high school. No I am not kidding. And no, he didn't realize it would someday become his wedding band. But it matches the detail on my ring perfectly … another little detail that is so special!
I LOVE etsy.com ... Our ring basket was made by Which Goose . Our vow book was made by Bragging Bags. And that sweet little pillow was hand made by my dear friend Shannon Dunahoo. She patterned it perfectly after our invitation design. And I can't wait to include it in our brand new bedroom décor!
I designed our programs and invitations myself and had them printed on a linen press paper that had a lovely little texture. I loved them.
To honor our family and friends who could not be present at the wedding we had a table full of photos.
Our “love” banner was made by another fabulous etsy vendor FunkyShique.
And I had this adorable idea to put our baby pictures pinned on the clothes line in the trees. Wedding Blunder #3: Somehow only my baby pictures ended up on the line … and I have no idea what happened to Nick's baby pictures. We had a lot of helpers setting up so it was clearly a simple mistake. I didn't even notice until I saw this photo … but in case anyone present at the wedding noticed please don't think I'm a total diva. There were supposed to be pictures of Nick on there too!
My second favorite man in the world is my step-dad Bobby. He is known as “pawpaw” to Sadie and Bailey. He had the very important task of walking the dogs down the isle and he did a flawless job. They were so well behaved the entire time. I love the image on the right because Bailey is looking at me getting ready to walk down the isle. Sweet boy!
Jill Andrews sang “Edelweiss” as I walked down the isle. It was so perfect. I love the peaches lining the isle … and I love seeing all those smiling faces of so many people I adore. Ah … wedding photos are so precious!!!
Another major non-traditional thing we did was facing out towards our guests during the ceremony. Our pastor suggested it and I absolutely LOVED this choice. I highly recommend it to anyone who is getting married. The way things were set up we were already pretty close to the front row of our family so turning out made our ceremony feel so intimate and personal. I remember looking out at all the faces smiling up at us and feeling so much love and support. That is probably the most cherished moment of the whole wedding day.
Our pastor was Bruce Edwards. He was my supervisor when I did summer missions in college and has since been a dear friend. We originally picked April 24th but adjusted our wedding date to April 17th specifically so he would be able to officiate our ceremony. It turned out to be so perfect because we later realized that April 17th 2009 was the actual date of our first email correspondence. Nick and I actually met online … and I will save you all the mushy details (as if I'm not typing a novel already – bless you if you're still reading this long-winded blog post!). But Bruce did an amazing job. He communicated with Nick secretly to get all the details about how we met and collaborated all the details of our love story into a beautiful ceremony highlighting God's perfect timing. It was personal and so meaningful to us.
Nick and I wrote and read our own wedding vows. That was the most emotional part of the day for me. I got stuck during my vows and knew if I continued I would just weep. So to keep my composure I just kept smiling at Nick and someone from the crowd (I think it was my friend Carrie Smith) shouted “You can do it Girl!” And I regained my composure and continued. Ahh … I loved that moment.
Some family favorites …
Our day-of coordination was led by Lorie at The Ribbon Cutters.
The Tree of Life has been a symbol since the very beginning of our relationship signifying abundant life and family (past, present, and future). So it served a perfect piece of inspiration for our wedding décor. I do pottery as a hobby (at Knoxville Arts and Fine Crafts Center) and I decided that I wanted to make the centerpieces for our reception tables. So I made wooden stamps with the tree of life and what you see below are a few of the results. Every piece was different and every table had three vases. My mom and step-dad made the tree trunk slices. And once again, those beautiful flowers were so whimsically done by Lisa Foster Floral Design.
Every vase had our names and the wedding date stamped into the bottom in my handwriting (another wooden stamp I made).
At the end of our reception we had a list of special people who were given one of the vases. Wedding blunder # I've lost count: If you're going to do favors … do enough for every guest or don't do any at all. This was one stressful point for me because I just knew someone would have their feelings hurt. I just didn't have the time to make enough vases for everyone. We had about 100 guests and only 60 vases. It sort of became a frenzy at the end of the evening when people were trying to grab them up.
I also made a few bowls and platters to match the vases to use for our food. My precious favorite friend Jamie and her mom Sheila prepped our reception food and manned the table keeping everything stocked and looking beautiful. I didn't get to see it until the photos … but they packed a big to-go box for us and it was so yummy!
My mom had this carved as a surprise!
Our beautiful cake was SUCH a hit! (Especially with Nick!) My amazingly talented friend Angel Adkins made it. We were so specific about what we wanted … I cared about the look and Nick cared a lot about the taste and we couldn't have been happier with it. Despite the peachy décor it was actually lemon flavored and it was more delicious than you can imagine. Nick has begged me to get the recipe from Angel but I just don't think I could do it justice.
First dance to our song “Pretty Flowers” (originally by Steve Martin) but played by Jill Andrews and Josh Oliver. We actually went to dance classes with Anna Rogers of SIZEMOLOGY … and we LOVED this experience. We learned a choreographed waltz in three lessons with Anna and it was so special to do it at the wedding.
The rest of the music at our wedding was done by The Sheets Family Band … and they were awesome. So many people complimented how perfectly the music suited the day. Bluegrass and good people … it just makes me happy to remember it.
I wanted to surprise Bobby with a dance to “The Twist” because its his favorite dance. The Sheets family actually did a bluegrass version that was such a hit. And of course Bobby had some moves that were major crowd pleasers.
Nick and his mom Maureen had a sweet dance … I love how much Nick loves his family and his mom.
I really wanted to do something special for my Mamaw … so we did a dance to our song “You Are My Sunshine” played by Jill and Josh. That one was emotional for sure!
Another favorite moment was when my mom got up to give a surprise speech.
She mentioned some embarrassing facts and then she also had Kelly and her mom, Debra Jean, played a surprise version of “I Loved Her First” mother/daughter style and it was so beautiful. That was definitely the most emotional moment of the whole day for me.
The Sheets Family Band doing what they do best … and a guest singer who loved to make up songs on the fly.
The last dance with my favorite girl. And what's a blue-grass reception without some break-dancing?
So that's it … our beautiful wedding day. It kind of seems like it was AGES ago. There are so many people who contributed in so many ways that I know I have forgotten to mention here and I am so sorry to leave anyone out. Everyone who present and many of you who weren't are so special to us and we are so grateful for everyone's love and encouragement. We are so happy to be married to each other and really anxious to see what's next in our lives. Since our wedding we have purchased a beautiful historic home in Lexington, KY. We began renovations a few months ago (And by “we” I mean Nick, mostly). I've been busy but not overloaded with weddings this summer … and I am preparing for my big move to the state of Kentucky. The official move-in day is set for next Monday, Oct 10th … only 5 days away! I will continue to serve Knoxville's wedding photography industry (since I'll only be 2.5 hours away) but I do plan to build a base in Lexington and see where it takes me. Nick will continue with his real-estate investments and we plan to develop some new ventures together. We are beyond excited to begin our Kentucky life together!