It was important to us to get married in Nashville - more specifically, in the city. There are amazing venues across Nashville and surrounding towns but we love the city itself and wanted to make sure we stayed within it. That ruled out a barn wedding (that I had dreamed about a little), which at the end of the day, probably wouldn't have been very "us" anyway. As it turned out, our wedding was very US. Casual, comfortable, fun, and down-home. I'm from Kentucky, he is from Tennessee... it just made sense to have a folksy wedding.
the infamous “batman building” in downtown nashville
I love anything vintage. I have a booth at a local antique mall in which I sell all my great finds. I love buying and selling vintage! My biggest source for wedding items was my local Goodwill Outlet. If you don't have a Goodwill Outlet in your area, you are missing out! You buy items by the POUND. Nothing is priced, everything is in huge blue bins, and you root through the junk to find the gems. Then they weigh your items and charge you $.50 - 1.50 per pound depending on the type of item. It's amazing. I managed to find 3 baskets for my flower girls (that I spray painted ivory), faux petals for my flower girls, all the vintage dishes and candlesticks/bowls/glasses that I used to make all the cake stands, all the mugs and teacups we used in the centerpieces, and much more. It was a lifesaver!
Just down the street from the church is a GREAT park with a ton of old buildings in it. I didn't even realize it would have such great backdrops when I decided we would take photos there before the wedding; it just seemed like the logical place since it was a big park by our church and we didn't have much time to take photos!
Andy and I opted for a "first look" at first for practical reasons, because we knew our reception would be short and we didn't want to take photos for an hour after the ceremony. I'm very glad that we went this route because it gave us some time to see each other and talk and have a moment.
Our photographer arranged Andy on one side of a stone wall and I walked down a very long grassy path to meet him - it felt like the longest walk of my life!
After our first look, we took ALL the other photos minus some downtown shots we took between the ceremony and the reception so that we wouldn't be the FIRST people to the reception. :)
Because I'm a member of the church, we got to use the chapel for free and our regular pastor (the only pastor that Andy & I have shared) married us. I decided to not do ANY decorations in the chapel. I wanted the focus to be on the marriage ceremony and I didn't want large floral arrangements (more on that later) or candelabras getting in the way and honestly, I can't stand candelabras.
We brought in a cute, small desk that I found on the side of the street a few years ago to act as our communion table. I found a burlap remnant at a fabric store that was just the right size to be a small runner.
We didn't do a unity candle, instead, our mothers carried in the communion elements when they were seated. I used a $4.99 platter from Ross (like TJ Maxx only cheaper!) that used to sit on my coffee table for years for the bread. (Funny story about the bread - I bought a hunk of french bread and when it was time to pull it out to get it ready for the ceremony, it was completely MOLDY! Luckily, I had brought buns for us to make sandwiches while we got ready... so our communion bread was a sandwich bun! You just gotta roll with it! [pun intended!]) A couple weeks before the wedding I found a beautiful crystal wine glass at TJ Maxx for $6.99 and used that for our grape juice for communion. During the ceremony, it was just us, our pastor, and our communion elements on the small platform - which felt very right for us. It was a prayerful, worshipful ceremony.
We meet weekly with a small fellowship group that originated in our church. They are all VERY talented and lended their talents to our wedding. Our ceremony musicians were all from our small group. They played keyboard, guitar, banjo-tar, and mandolin and 2 of our girl friends from the group sang.
Our families were seated to an instrumental version of "Jesus, Lover Of My Soul" while the bridesmaids walked into an instrumental version of"Be Thou My Vision." The ONLY wedding detail that I have known for years is that I wanted to walk into someone singing “He Leadeth Me.” (Sara Watkins from Nickel Creek recorded it years ago and it is AMAZING.) I'm very honored that my friend Rebekah sang it!
During communion, our friends Stephen and Andra sang "Come Thou Fount," which is my most favorite hymn. They were all accompanied by our friend Kerri on keyboards. (Other amazing small group members: Emily did ALL our design. She is an award winning graphic designer and she really hit it out of the park on our invitations and printed material. I'm in love with them. And Rebekah's husband Ryan did our video - he was awesome!)
Sidenote: Meg quoted me on A Practical Wedding about friendors. I love my friendors. We couldn't have pulled off the wedding without them!
A lot of our guests told us they had never cried at a wedding before ours! It was heartfelt, I cried a lot! And laughed a lot! During his vows, Andy flubbed a line. When he got it out, our pastor remarked “Beautiful” and Andy repeated it! Everyone laughed hysterically!
One of the cutest things is that one of our flower girls climbed up behind the bridesmaids and perched on the steps leading up to the small stage and stared in awe at us during the whole ceremony. It was precious!
And then, we were married!
Our reception was held at the Anchor Fellowship, an amazing old church built in the 1850s. During the civil war, it served as a 60-bed hospital and since then has been everything from a brothel to a music venue. It's back to being a church and it has amazing worn hardwood floors and crumbling brick walls. The rafters are painted white and are gorgeous plus it has a beautiful stained glass window and the church permanently leaves vintage style string lights hanging across the ceiling. It's also where Andy first saw me. Our mutual friend had wanted to set us up but Andy wouldn't budge. At our friend's wedding, though, he saw me across the room and wanted to know who I was. It was special to have our reception in that same place!
We didn't need to do a TON of decorating since the building is so beautiful. I rented a variety of tables (cocktail tables, 8 foot tables and 6 foot tables), bought tablecloths online (it's cheaper to buy than to rent, and I'm hoping to sell them in the near future) and used the black folding chairs that belonged to the Anchor. There were a few shelves that I decorated with knickknacks from home and instead of having wreaths on the doors, I asked a crafty friend if she would make a little custom embroidery piece. We didn't get a great photo of it displayed properly, but this gives you an idea of it!
We had simple centerpieces but they were very important to me. I knew we didn't have the budget for flowers and I really didn't care that we didn't have flowers. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have known for sure that I would do wildflowers in mason jars but when it came time to actually plan the wedding, that didn't feel like the right fit. I was drawn to succulents for some reason and I had an idea of planting them in various vintage teacups and mugs and little bowls, any cute pottery I could find at Goodwill!
I researched buying succulents and found some decent options on ebay, but when I posted about it on facebook, my mom's cousin Mary Beth who I'm close to as an aunt-figure told me that her mother-in-law (my great-aunt) had "hens and chicks" in her garden in Michigan. My great-aunt has been very sick and I knew she wouldn't be able to make it to Nashville for the wedding, so I was instantly intrigued by the idea of having plants from her garden at the wedding.
In an amazing turn of events, the snow cleared in Michigan one weekend, Mary Beth was able to dig up about 50 hens and chicks and she brought them to Louisville a few weeks later to my bridal shower. My mom and I planted them in the various containers I had found and we found out that the plants had actually originated in my great-grandmother's garden! Once we learned this, all the women in my family wanted to take some home after the wedding. It was perfect! I loved having that sense of family and history incorporated into the wedding and I'm so glad that SO many family members now get to enjoy these plants! I am keeping some potted but I am also going to plant some at our house.
My mom and I have a blog friend, Stephanie, who sent us a ton of items for the wedding including table runners and more importantly, she made us a beautiful card box and lovebird figurines! Stephanie is the best - check out her blog and etsy shop!
I mentioned earlier that I made the cake stands - I had collected a ton of different pieces and my friend Jeannie came over and we spent a few hours gluing them together to make cake stands. We had a potluck dessert reception - I emailed a ton of friends and asked them if they'd like to bake something for our reception. I put some parameters on it - I wanted everything to be bite-size and self-contained. No pieces of cake or crumbling pie.. I wanted clean lines and everything to be grab-able. We set up a dessert buffet (and a fruit buffet, thanks to Andy's aunt Belinda!) but also placed cake stands on the various tables so that our guests could reach out and grab a dessert while they mingled. It was important to me for it to feel like a mix & mingle event! I wanted our friends interacting and having fun – not standing in a buffet line!
Our cakes were made by friends. We have a good friend who was a professional cake decorator at The Bake Shoppe and she makes amazing cakes however I knew I wanted something different. I didn't want fondant and a complicated design. I really wanted cream cheese frosting and TEXTURE. I wanted it to look rough and even somewhat messy. I appreciate the hard work that goes into elaborate wedding cakes, but it just feels too perfect for me. I wanted something that looks a little rough around the edges. She ended up taking a "cake comb" (who knew that existed?) and raking around the outside of the cake to achieve lines around it, then they topped it off with some succulents keeping with our succulent theme.
Another friend (Erin of Sweet Euphoria Desserts) makes cakes on the side and we enlisted her for the groom's cake. Andy is a turntablist and we knew he had to have a turntable cake! We went her photos of what his turntable looks like and found some other photos of turntable cakes and she did an AMAZING job and surprised us with the fact that it TURNED! She installed a motor in the cake and made the record turn! It was great!
We were so blessed to have friends volunteer their time and energy to not only serve our drinks at our wedding, but also home brew root beer for us! They kegged it up and served it at our wedding and it was DELICIOUS! They even brought 2 frosty mugs for Andy and me!
We didn't do toasts, but we definitely "cheers"ed each other with our frosty mugs! We also served lemonade and raspberry sweet tea that we bought at Sam’s club and made in 5 gallon buckets the day before the wedding.
Probably everyone's FAVORITE detail about our reception was our band. Andy's dad owns a heating and air company and his shop is next door to Huber Banjos. Steve Huber is a renowned banjo player and he also makes amazing banjos. We asked Andy's dad to look into Steve and his band playing our reception and as soon as we asked, it was arranged. They were amazing - they were funny, talented, and so entertaining. Even people who don't like bluegrass music thought they were awesome! They had never played a wedding before and managed to not play a SINGLE killin' song. Not a single "she cheated on me so i threw her in the river" song! It was great. :)
We had a photo booth at our wedding, thanks to 10 yards of damask fabric that Stephanie sent me! The fabric was the perfect backdrop! Our photographer hired 2 extra photographers and one manned the photobooth during the reception. I borrowed professional lights from work (I work at a company that does a lot of video shoots) and my mom made chalkboard speech bubbles (that's my mom up there in the photo with me) so our guests could write messages to us. I bought a photo album from Michael's that allowed people to write a message next to a photo slot so that we can print their photos and place them in the album next to their message.
photos by Carolyn Snell
We went with the "in lieu of favors" donation and worked with Carolyn and our friend Emily to design a little display to let people know about Thistle Farms. Carolyn gave us some beautiful faux thistles that we set up similar to the succulents (I even "planted" them in real dirt) and Emily designed a card that explained that we were donating to Thistle Farms and I attached that card to a piece of paper made from thistles. Thistle Farms gave us bumper stickers and literature to set out on our display table. I'm so glad I trusted Andy on this - no one needed some token of my attempt to be crafty - and I really never ended up having the time to DIY 200 favors! All that's not important compared to knowing that we are now a part of something bigger.
The reception flew by. It was amazing. Everything was so fun and dare I say, a bit magical? :)
We left by cab - no fancy cars for us. :)
About my dress: I had dreams of having a dress made. I found a pattern that I loved and dropped it off to a friend (an amazing seamstress) to see if she would have time to make it. That same weekend, she went into labor with her twins! I knew I needed a plan B and had made an appointment for big box bridal store over Christmas so that I would have the experience of trying on dresses with my mom. I went to the appointment hopeful but grew more and more skeptical as I tried on dress after dress that just didn't feel like me. They were all SO heavy and I felt so uncomfortable in the corset undergarment torture device they made me wear and nothing was clicking. The salesgirl whispered to me to try another store in our area if I was looking for something less formal. I called that store, told them I had been referred by the other store, and they were shocked and told me to come right over. They immediately "got me" and were pulling fun dresses for me to try on.
I was looking through a rack of dresses and one made me gasp. I'm not even sure why - it was SO simple yet it completely caught my attention. It was the first dress I tried on at this particular store and as I tried it on, I could hardly contain my excitement. "All this dress needs is pockets," I proclaimed. I reached my hands down and there they were - POCKETS! I squealed with delight. We ordered the dress that day and I never looked back! It ended up being a bridesmaid dress (which means it was MUCH cheaper than a wedding dress) and I ordered it in ivory. During the alterations, I had them change the straps from halter to regular straps and I bought some beautiful beaded lace trim at a local fabric store which the wonderful alterations girls added to my dress. I have major girl crushes on the alterations department seamstresses at Bridal Warehouse in Goodlettsville, TN! They were SO great!
I knew I wanted some extra pizzazz and I knew a bolero was the way to go. I fell in love with the Basilica bolero from Urban Uptown Craft and asked for a sample of the ivory fabric. It ended up being the SAME material as my dress (Bridal Warehouse gave me a small sample of my dress fabric when I ordered it) and it was perfect. She was amazing to work with and even customized the bolero to my measurements.
My hairpiece: I wanted to make my own veil. I ordered netting off etsy and followed online instructions and failed. So, I emailed a friend and asked if I could borrow her veil. She said yes! That was easy. Then I made my fascinator with a feather I got off etsy and some random fabric I picked up (I bought a lot of fabric remnants while wedding planning!) and 2 days before the wedding, I was looking at fancy bobby pins at the grocery store (no joke) and I bought a set and ripped the gem off one and glued it in the middle of the fabric flower I made!
My friend Sylvia is a makeup artist and we traded out services! I coordinated her wedding 3 weeks before mine and she did the makeup for me and my bridal party! I also traded for our hair from my friend Lauren whose wedding I will one day coordinate! (See more from Lauren here!)
There are no photos of my shoes! I am so glad I didn't spend $80-100 to buy new shoes when no one ever saw them and there is really no physical evidence of them! Friends and family tried to persuade me that I needed new shoes for my wedding but I wouldn't budge. I knew I wanted to wear pink flats and I had a pair of pink flats, by golly, and I wanted to wear them. I was met with a LOT of resistance but I stood my ground. I took the shoes to a shoe repair shop and had them freshen them up and repair a few spots for just $17 and now I don't have 2 pairs of pink flats in my closet, which just feels wasteful! I am so glad I stuck with the decision that was right for me! I DID find some really fun pink flip flops at TJ Maxx that I bought to wear to the reception so that my feet could be happy and comfy and now I have awesome pink flip flops that I love.
I drooled over amazing hand-made clutches on etsy but $80 on a clutch for a few hours was not in our budget. I found a really fun ivory and pink flowery and sequin-y clutch at Ross (I LOVE ROSS AS MUCH AS I LOVE THE GOODWILL OUTLET) for around $8. It was perfect for holding my essentials on the day-of!
I agonized over jewelry. That was probably the hardest decision out of any of them! I finally found a beautiful necklace and earring set from 1928 but it was going in and out of stock all the time and then my order didn't go through but I was charged and then it was out of stock again, etc - all 10 days before the wedding! I recommend finding jewelry early in the process and not waiting until the last minute! It all worked out perfectly and I was very happy with my decision - but it was very difficult! I really wanted to wear something vintage and spent hours on etsy but could never find just the right necklace that looked bridal but not too stuffy and over-the-top. 1928 was a good compromise for me - it looks vintage but was a great price and I found something that really felt like me.
I found the bridesmaid dresses right away. Andy's favorite color is gray and I knew we weren't going to go with a color scheme but I wanted the bridesmaids and groomsmen to at least coordinate. I chose the About The Artist dress on Modcloth which amazingly is one of the least expensive dresses on their entire site AND it has a wide range of sizes, which is rarely the case on Modcloth. This dress also goes in and out of stock daily, so it was a bit of a challenge for everyone to get their dress ordered but it totally worked out, thanks to a bridesmaid who ordered the dress in two sizes and was able to send one of them to another bridesmaid who was never able to find her size in stock! I asked the bridesmaids to find any pink shoes and wanted them to really be able to get whatever they wanted to show off their own sense of style. We ended up with a wide range of shoes and everyone looked great!
The groomsmen were asked to buy the same gray pants from Target (I love that Target sells suits!), any white shirt, and black accessories. They all got to be comfortable in whatever kind of tie/vest/hat combination they wanted. And all of them had facial hair, which was awesome.
We found great gifts for our bridal party - I ordered necklaces and earrings for the girls from Amula.etsy.com. She was SO wonderful to work with and her prices can NOT be beat. I bought all brass necklaces/earrings with pink toned pendants that ranged from birds to flowers to lockets. They were beautiful! Andy found pocket watches on opentip.com that he had engraved with his groomsmen's initials. Several of the groomsmen wore them to the wedding!
Our flower girls wore $30 colorful dresses from PinkMarie.com. One wore pink, one wore yellow, and one wore teal. They looked ADORABLE. I spray painted their baskets ivory and then wrapped the handles in coordinating ribbon and hot glued a flower in their color to the basket. Goodwill and Michael's 40% off coupons saved my life. :)
Our ring bearer coordinated with our groomsmen. He wore gray pants with a black vest and carried a pillow that my friend June made for us. I was spending time with college friends in Indianapolis in January and we started working on some wedding crafts. We went to Joann's and I found an adorable remnant fabric of yellow birds and green vines and thought it would be perfect for a ring bearer pillow that could later be just a regular decorative pillow in our home. Luckily, my friend June was there with me and she made all the ring bearer pillows for our little group of friends' weddings so it was perfect!
On that same Indianapolis trip, June helped me begin making my giant flower bouquet. Read how we created it in this tutorial for a Single Bloom Fabric Bouquet.
I ended up making 6 bridesmaid bouquets as well although theirs were not as fancy as mine - they were much simpler due to time constraints. There is in fact a decent photo of their bouquets! Mine just doesn't really show up in ivory against ivory - especially since it was made out of sheer fabric!
We had so much help from our friends and family and we couldn’t have pulled this off without them! My friend Shara volunteered her day-of-coordinating services and it was only fitting because the last wedding she had done was the wedding at which Andy first saw me!
Our photographer, Alvin Pearman, is amazing. We both respect him SO much. He’s a former NFL player turned photographer and he is super talented and so kind!
See all our photos in this flickr slide show, or click through to see them all on flickr!
Want to read more?
See our engagement photos featured on Ashley's Bride Guide and Le Wedding Party (no longer a website, sadly).
See our wedding featured on Ashley's Bride Guide and here's when ABG chose our wedding as their #1 feature in the month of July!
Ashley's Bride Guide also showed us love during their end-of-the-year round-up! We were chosen their #6 most favorite Nashville wedding in 2011 and they included us in their favorite bouquets and invitations!