Adventure Inspired Woodland Wedding in North Carolina

Adventure Inspired Woodland Wedding North Carolina http://www.amandasuttonphotography.com/

Talk about talent… When Katie and Wes married on September 17th 2016, they showed just how much they love each other and their closest friends and family by creating and throwing the party to end all parties. In the lead-up to their day, they worked tirelessly to set up a celebration that beautifully displayed their character as a couple. They love the outdoors, adventure, having fun and being laid-back and their wedding was a crystal-clear reflection of those passions and attributes. Timberlake Earth Sanctuary in North Carolina made perfect sense as their venue for both the ceremony and reception, as it magnificently shows off the beauty of nature. The bride and groom tied the knot in a quiet woodland clearing underneath a decorated wooden arbour with soft draped white fabric, fresh florals, greenery and a blackboard sign saying “With my whole heart for my whole life”. It was sublime.

Honestly, there are too many unbelievably clever DIY projects to mention, so I will highlight my must-see favourites. Firstly, Katie MADE her lace wedding dress with sleeves and a floral belt that incorporated part of her grandmother’s bridal gown. The couple crafted the blackboard signs, the bird feeder wedding favours, the photo booth (!), the ribbon ‘wands’ for guests to wave at the ceremony and much, much more. There was a giant Jenga table, an outdoor s’mores station and board games. Is it just me, or do you wish you could go to a wedding like this one…? Lastly, their dog Zeus played the part of ring bearer, which always puts a huge grin on my face.

Huge thanks go to Amanda Sutton Photography for sharing these incredible images with us.

 

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THE PROPOSAL | Wes proposed to me on October 27, 2013 at Chewacla State Park, in Auburn, Alabama. Back when he was attending college at Auburn, we would always make multiple trips to Chewacla whenever I would come to visit. It quickly became our favorite spot to hang out and unwind, but most importantly, explore. We are always looking for our next adventure. Wes had already graduated college by the time the proposal came, so we were staying at his mum’s place that weekend in Prattville, which is a little over an hour away from Chewacla. In the past, I remember telling him if he should ever propose, he should do it at Chewacla. So, when we woke up that Sunday morning and he told me he wanted to go, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a bit suspicious. We made the trip to Chewacla and began hiking down to one of our favorite spots, which was by the waterfall and rapids. It felt like we were hiking forever until we finally came up on a large rock ledge overlooking the rapids. (Wes didn’t know at the time that I heard him, but when we got to the spot he muttered to himself, “good enough!”…I later found out he was looking for a specific spot, but he was too excited and couldn’t wait anymore to propose, so that spot would have to do.) Wes pointed over to something to get my attention and by the time I turned around to say something to him, he was down on the ground with the ring. He says, “Hey baby…I love you.” And before he could say anything else, I was going into hysterics and my legs were slowly melting into puddles beneath me. I walked up to him, a blubbering mess, and he proceeds to say, “So is that a yes?” I think by that point, it was obvious this girl was ready to be his wife, so he slid the ring on my finger and I shouted, “We’re engaged!” There were some casual hikers sparsely spread about, but I didn’t care that I was disturbing their alone time with nature. I was ecstatic! We then left and got lunch at Taco Bell, and then came back to explore the park (this time as fiancés :P) some more. On the way back to his mum’s I couldn’t stop staring at my ring sparkling every time it caught a ray from the sun.

THE VISION | We knew that we did not want some big, extravagant wedding because that just totally would not be “us”. We both wanted it to be a casual, more laid-back atmosphere. We immediately knew we wanted to have barbeque for the reception dinner, so then a lightbulb went off in my head, and thus “Backyard BBQ Wedding” was born. We also played around with different colour palettes to try and narrow down a colour scheme and we eventually got so tired of stressing about it that we decided we would just use whatever colours we liked. So our colour scheme was a bit all over the place, but then again, we are all over the place, so it seemed fitting. I am also a HUGE fan of anything vintage/shabby chic, so I knew without a doubt that I would have those touches littered around our wedding. Another thing that I knew we absolutely wanted was to have an outdoor wedding. We both love to adventure outdoors and explore every chance we get, whether it be going to the mountains, hiking trails, or to a local park. Having a wedding anywhere other than outside in nature just sounded absurd to us. We aren’t really ones for tradition anyway. So when I found our venue and learned of their recent addition of the “Woodlands” site, I knew we were in the right place! From that point forward, my vision for our wedding became a mixture of a woodland wedding, with a laid-back family get-together bbq reception.

THE PLANNING PROCESS | The planning process was very stressful for me, I have to admit. I had just graduated college the December before we got married, and by that time we had only booked our venue. We did not have anything else accomplished. Did I also mention Wes and I were living in different states at the time? He was in South Carolina and I was staying with my grandma in Georgia. Pinterest became my best friend, and I would find myself on there for hours at a time pinning ideas away for what I envisioned for our wedding. But even that became overwhelming, because I had so many different ideas and of course I loved them all and couldn’t decide which I liked best. Fast-forward to March of 2016, which is when Wes and I finally moved in together because he ended up finding a new job in Virginia, and we decided to live just outside of Greensboro, North Carolina. Now get this: we found our venue back when Wes was still living in South Carolina, and it was a little over 2 hours away from his apartment. When we moved into our new place in North Carolina, I looked up our venue location and found out it was only 25 minutes away from our new home!! That made the planning process SO much easier! Knowing our venue was just right down the road for us to go visit and get pictures/measurements, etc., for anything we might need was so calming to me. Eventually with Wes working full-time and me working a part-time, but stressful new job, he could tell I was getting worn thin. Especially since I was planning everything on my own, and doing a lot of DIY-ing. He found an amazing wedding planner for us, and let me just tell you, this woman is a life-saver! Her name is Megan Tate and her wedding planning business is called Wedding Without Worries. What I loved the most about her was her bluntness and honesty. She let me know right off the bat what things were worth worrying about, and what things weren’t. She really helped me to narrow everything down and come up with a theme and general game-plan for the planning process. She even helped us to break down our budget to give us a more realistic view of how far our money would take us. My planning methods were the farthest thing from uniform, but everything came together in the end.

BUDGET | Our budget for the wedding was $8,000, but that quickly turned to $10,000. Our biggest expenses were the venue, which was $3,400, and catering which ran us around $1,500-1,700. Photographer was also one of the bigger (but SO worth it!) expenses, and she was so excited because she always wanted to shoot at our venue but never had before. Since we did a lot of DIY-ing with the décor and the florals, we saved a lot of money in those areas. But be careful because sometimes DIY-ing can add up and actually become quite expensive. Luckily, I already owned a lot of what we used, and other things we found for dirt cheap at thrift shops. But I definitely had to slow down with the craft projects and DIY ideas, because they were slowly starting to add up. I never thought I would say there is no such thing as too much crafting, but my friends, there comes a time when you need to have an intervention with yourself for the sake of your budget (and sanity).

THE VENUE | We got married at Timberlake Earth Sanctuary in Whitsett, NC. There are several sites where you can get married, but we chose the Woodlands site because it was everything we were looking for and more. We were nestled in a little patch of pine trees, and the aisle was lined with natural wood-cut log benches for our guests to sit, and there was even a natural wood branch arbor for us to stand under. It was so whimsical and perfect.

You get the whole venue to yourself for the whole weekend, and the Bride and Groom get to stay in what is called the “Tree House”, which for us, was right next to our wedding site which was super convenient. The Tree House has 360 degree views of the woods and the pond at the bottom of the hill. Behind the Tree House is a small bamboo forest and a small stream with some wetlands that has a little boardwalk and gorgeous vine-covered arbor at the bridge, which is where Wes and I had our “First Look.”

We also had our reception at Timberlake. There is a permanent tent set up on the property, with a large paved patio underneath and around the tent. We actually had trouble trying to decide what to do with all of that patio space! We ended up setting up two of the wooden picnic tables on the patio, and had a board game table, and then a Giant Jenga table. The reception tent also has stringed lights that are permanently set up beneath the tent, which just looked so magical.

Right next to the reception site is an apple orchard, and across from the tent is a peaceful garden with a circular path you can walk around. There are also several little hiking trails you can walk around the property. It truly is such a whimsical place. You feel so peaceful and at one with nature. You almost forget there is a whole outside world around you, or a highway and Food Lion right down the road haha.

The best part about Timberlake is the sweet lady who owns it, and that would be Carolyn Toben. She is one of the kindest souls I have ever, and likely will ever, have the pleasure of knowing. She opens up her land to 14 couples a year to host their weddings. We were so lucky to find her when we did, as there were only two slots left for the year of 2016, and we got one of the last. After we signed our contract, another couple got the 14th and last slot the following week. When she is not opening her home up for couples to have their weddings, she hosts many different workshops, revolving around the wonders of the natural world. Carolyn told me that once you come visit Timberlake, you become part of the family and we definitely felt like family during our stay.

THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I actually made my own dress, and believe me, about halfway through the process, I asked myself why on earth I decided to tackle such a feat. I had never worked with lace, silk, or chiffon before, and it only seemed fitting that if I were going to screw up, why not do it with my own wedding dress, right?? Haha. I went to my local fabric shop, which happened to be a Joann’s, and picked out a pattern I liked, which was a Junior’s prom dress pattern. It was McCall’s 6893. I liked it because it had everything I was looking for in a dress: the sweetheart bodice, the illusion neckline, the ¾ sleeves, and long skirt with a chiffon or other light-weight sheath. I took my time with this dress. The first thing I did was cut out the pattern pieces and make a “mock” dress out of some cheap cotton. I figured if I was going to find out that I didn’t know how to do something, or made a mistake, I didn’t want it to be on my actual fabric (which, by the way, only cost me around $60.) Once I made a rather successful mock dress, my confidence was boosted and I finally started believing I could do this. It actually was not hard to make, even working with slippery fabrics. A walking foot is your best friend!! It literally saved my life; without it, I would NOT have been able to finish my dress…unfortunately, when I had finished everything but installing the zipper, hemming, and sewing down the belt, I realized I made my dress about 2 sizes too big (I know, right..HOW do you do that, especially when you made a mock dress first??). I knew I had lost some weight, but I didn’t think I had lost that much…I sew many a thing, but alterations is not my forte. I just sort-of wing my creations and hope they fit in the end, and so far, they have. Until now… The wedding was just a couple of short weeks away (yikes!) and I frantically went searching for an alterations shop that could help me complete and alter my dress. Finally I came upon Elizabeth’s Alterations, and she helped me to complete my vision. When I went to go pick up my dress and try it on, I was amazed. It looked exactly how I hoped it would. She really outdid herself, and I left her with the tedious bits I loathe doing myself (zipper installation, hemming, etc.). Elizabeth was just another life-saver in this wedding journey of mine. Unfortunately, the alterations cost me $250, which seemed kind of silly since the supplies for my dress were under $100, but it was totally necessary and worth it to not have to stress over anymore. And I could not have done the fantastic job that Elizabeth did.

But the wedding dress making process wasn’t over. I still had TWO whole lace sleeves from my Nana’s dress to incorporate into my dress. Funny story actually; I asked my Aunt (dad’s sister) if she could just send me a little heart cut out of my Nana’s wedding dress lace so that I could incorporate it into my dress. Well, later on I get a package in the mail from her, and not only did she completely cut off one whole sleeve, but TWO! Haha. I felt the pressure to really do something special with the lace as I did not want it to go to any waste! So I ended up making a large lace rose to sew onto the belt of my dress. Then, I made two small peonies to go on either side of the rose and used alternating petals made from my Nana’s lace, and fabric from my own dress. I ended up having one whole sleeve left over, and I used that to wrap around my bouquet, which worked out perfectly. It was really special for me to have a piece of my Nana in my wedding, because she passed away before I was barely three years old. I never got the chance to know her. It was also special because she was my father’s mother, and my dad passed away in 2014 from cancer. I had my own special touches incorporated into the wedding for him.

My blue flats I got 50% off at Kohls. I think they are by Sonoma. They were really comfy and I loved how bright they were! They really stood out! I also thought it was cute how Wes had blue shoes too. :P

GROOM’S ATTIRE | Wes is a very simple man so finding his attire was not that difficult. He is very laid-back. The hard part though was the fact that we waited until the last minute, so we felt rushed and pressured to hurry up and pick something. We didn’t go to a fancy tux shop or anything like that. We actually went to different department stores in the mall, and we finally decided on Belk, because they had the most options. He knew he wanted to incorporate Auburn colors (orange and blue), because that is where he graduated from. He also knew he wanted to do a grey pant with grey vest. There were several options for grey vests/pants at the store, but he decided to go with the lightest grey they had. From there, he picked out a nice dark navy blue button up dress shirt. Next was the tie (even though I tried so hard to convince him to wear a bow-tie, this man was not budging!). He ended up settling on an orange and blue tie that went well with his shirt (you know how men are; if it looks like it goes together, that’s good enough for them haha). We got his socks at Walmart, which were a blocked pattern of alternating blues and oranges. His oxford navy blue suede shoes we got from Old Navy half-off. I think he looked so very handsome and definitely gave me a run for my money!

THE READINGS & MUSIC | I feel so bad because I can’t remember any of the specific readings our Officiant used. We used traditional vows and our officiant did a great job of telling our own personal story of our relationship from the info we gave him, and he threw in some readings that he liked and felt fit our style. We also incorporated a candle lighting and moment of silence in memory of my dad.

The song I walked down the aisle to was an instrumental version of ‘A Thousand Years’ by The Piano Guys. The original song is by Christina Perri. Our first dance song was ‘All I Wanted’ by Paramore…Wes and I love Paramore and even though it is not the most traditionally romantic slow-song to dance to, we didn’t care, and now the song has that much more meaning attached to it. I did my ‘Father-Daughter’ dance with my Uncle Kevin (my dad’s younger brother). We danced to the song I always imagined myself dancing to with my dad, which was Heartland’s ‘I Loved Her First’. My uncle told me it was such an honour to be able to share that moment with me, and it was one of my favorite moments of the whole night.

BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I did not have any bridesmaids and Wes did not have any groomsmen. At first, we felt compelled to have them, mainly because Wes has such a big family, including four brothers, three of which weren’t even able to make it. We also just moved to a new state and didn’t have any friends there yet, and all of our other friends were back home in Alabama and we knew a lot of them would not be able to make the trip. We also just felt having a whole “wedding party” wasn’t really “us”. We had each other and that is all we needed. That’s all we have always needed, so it worked for us (and our budget).

THE FLOWERS | We originally met with a florist and we thought the meeting went very well…until we got the bill, which was over $3,000! We politely declined his services and decided to take on our vision on our own. When I say we waited to do flowers at the last minute, I MEAN last minute! We literally went to a local Harris Teeter about 20 minutes away from the venue (which we luckily got to spend the night at the Tree House the night before the wedding) and bought about $200 worth of flowers at 11 o’clock at night! Earlier in the day we had bought ten small plastic waste baskets to use for vases for the flowers. So when we got back to the venue, we got the flowers inside, cut the stems, put them in water, and then cranked up the AC. We really lucked out because we had the EXACT amount of flowers we needed for everything. I am no flower person, so I can’t tell you what each flower type was, but we had a lot of baby’s breath, some pink carnations, some berries, blue spurs, greenery, marigolds, pom poms, yellow sprigs, purple heather…basically we looked like we went out into a field and picked a bunch of wildflowers (or some might say colourful weeds). But it was perfect and it was everything I could have hoped for! I also got three sunflowers to use in the memorial bouquet for my dad. Why three sunflowers? Well, sunflowers have a very special meaning for me. The sunflower is the official flower I have attributed to represent my dad (he was my sunshine, duh.) But when I was younger, he knew sunflowers were my favourite flower, so one day he told my mom if anything ever happened to me, that he would plant sunflowers everywhere. Well, when my dad passed away, you best believe this girl brought a bundle of sunflowers to lay by his headstone. And they are my flower of choice every time I come back to visit. My mother-in-law also told me that the morning of the wedding when she drove to Walmart, she passed by a field of nothing but sunflowers that the previous day, she had not noticed. I know without a shadow of a doubt that was my dad letting me know he would not miss his little girl’s big day. Another awesome thing that happened was the field of yellow flowers over by the reception site where Wes and I took our portraits were in full bloom. One of the guys that does maintenance at the venue told us those flowers only bloom like that once a year, and we were the lucky ones to witness such a magical moment and have it captured forever in our wedding pictures.

All of the boy’s boutonnieres were made by Jordan House Flowers. The large succulent used in Wes’ is still going strong. After we got home, I planted it in a cute vintage purple glass.

THE CAKE | We got our cake from Cake Couture in Raleigh, NC. During our consultation with Brie, she really helped us to come to a compromise. You see, I am a huge fan of naked wedding cakes and my husband is a huge fan of icing. So you can imagine how that went. Lots of going back and forth and arguing hehe. Brie came in like the fabulous cake designer she is and rained down some sense on us…She came up with the idea of having a 3-tiered cake with white buttercream icing, and then for that more rustic look, she said she could do textured buttercream with horizontal stripes. For décor, we would just add our rustic wooden cake-topper (which read “You Are My Greatest Adventure”…*swoon*), and some fresh flowers. Each tier was a different flavour: the top tier was strawberry cake with strawberry icing in between the layers, the middle tier was cookies and cream, and the bottom tier was white cake with vanilla bean icing.

YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Amanda is hands down, the best photographer we could have ever asked for! She is so laid-back and willing to do anything for her clients! There is no such thing as limits with her. She loves adventure as much as we do! The best part is you feel like you have known her all your life. Oh, and the fact that she is crazy talented. I first fell in love with her editing style. I loved how natural her photos felt and her usage of natural lighting. She also took our engagement pictures and even helped us find the amazing spot where we took them. She knows all the breathtakingly beautiful spots! We were seriously so lucky to have her. She is so professional, but she always knows how to cut-up and have a good time. She will get down and dirty to get that perfect shot, too. When we snuck away to take our couples portraits during the reception, she was in the front of the line, guiding us through that tall field of flowers, thorns, and God knows what else. She found a branch and was beating down the tall grass and brush whilst saying something along the lines of “go away snakes!” Hahaha. She doubled as our professional snake shoo-er. If there were any pesky snakes out there, she was going to make sure they didn’t make an appearance.

Amanda was also very flexible, time/schedule wise. She tried her best to work around our schedule, and even though she stays crazy booked/busy, she always made it work. She even came out the night before the wedding to get some pictures at our pre-wedding cookout gathering at the venue. Her attention to detail is also top-notch. I would find myself consistently amazed when looking through our wedding photos. She captured things that I never would have even thought of, and I was so glad she did because they made for some of my favorite photos!

The day of our wedding, she also had her second shooter, Kayla, and let me tell you, when those two girls are together, they are a riot! Haha. They worked so great together and you couldn’t help but to be infected by their pure silliness/goofiness. Kayla got some really great pictures of Wes when he was getting ready at the Groom’s barn, and of course, of our dog Zeus, who let’s be real, was the star of the show. Best ring-bearer, ever!

THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Everything that was used in the wedding, I either made myself, already owned, or thrifted/bought. I even made our wedding invitation suites. I found some watercolor clipart that I liked and purchased on Etsy, downloaded a free trial of Adobe Photoshop (or one of those artsy programs ha), and designed away. I wanted them to look simplistic, but also very cutesy, so of course you know florals had to be incorporated. I also added some pinecones to tie in with our woodland wedding theme. The venue provided us with a hand drawn map that I shrunk down to size and printed out to include with the invites. I also hand-stamped the wedding date onto these little pink flags, and strung them onto some twine, which I later used to wrap around the cardboard slip that held the suite together. All in all, I think our invites cost us around $100 to make. Which for what we had going on, would have cost us MUCH more had we gotten them made from someone. I looked around and estimated for what I had done, some shops with similar invites on Etsy would have cost me $400+.

All of the signage/chalkboards were also made and written by me. My husband and I went to various thrift shops collecting old picture frames and I would come home and spray paint the glass or old canvases with outdated paintings with chalkboard paint. As far as fontage/calligraphy, I used DaFont.com, which has an outpouring of various fonts. I would download the font I wanted, type up what I needed in Word, and then print it out and play around with placement on the chalkboards. Once I was satisfied, I would rub chalk all over the back of each piece of paper containing the font. Then all you do is flip it over so the chalk side faces down, and trace the outline of each letter. When you lift the paper, you have a perfect chalk outline of your font. All you have to do after that is fill it in with a chalk marker. Once I had the fonts done, I just went back in with some colored chalk and drew some doodles of vines and florals to add some “oomph”.

I also knew for sure that I wanted to have ribbon wands for our ceremony exit, so I went to a local craft store and bought some wooden dowels and various ribbons, as well as some eyelet screws and bells. I had to soak the ends of the dowels in warm water to get anything screwed into them, and it took me a whole afternoon to complete this project. It was so worth it though because they turned out so cute. Not only did they make for cute décor, but people kept them afterwards as a wedding keepsake.

Another DIY was our wedding favours. My mother-in-law helped me throw those together two days before the wedding. They were these cute heart-shaped bird seed ornament feeders. I found the idea on Pinterest and fell in love with it. I’ll include a link below, because they really do make for cute favours, especially for a woodland themed wedding. We made them one night, let them dry, and then packaged them up in these little clear plastic wrappers and tied them closed with gold twist-ties.

I made my own bouquet the morning of the wedding. I just started throwing flowers together until I liked the way it looked. It took me all of 15 minutes, and I think it actually turned out pretty well for how haphazardly I did it haha. I also made my dad’s bouquet and our amazing wedding planner Megan put all of the rest of the flowers into the beer bottles we used as vases. She did an outstanding job. I told her my vision for how Ii wanted the wedding décor set up, and she knocked it out of the park!!

Wes and I also made the Giant Jenga set we had at the reception. He found a circular saw for $30 on craigslist, and we went and got some wood from Lowes. He measured and cut the wood, and I sanded and stained each piece. It was so easy to make and everyone at the wedding loved it! Giant Jenga sets aren’t cheap, either, if you’re buying from someone. That’s why we just decided to make our own, and we are always making things, so the circular saw will come in handy for future projects. Win-win!

The antique sewing table I used for the s’mores station was my own. Someone in the family very dear to me who is like a grandpa to me, had the old sewing machine base in his workshop. It was all orange and rusty, so I sanded all the rust off, and painted it with a flat black spray paint. We then worked together to fashion a wooden top out of old wood that I think came from an old crate or pallet. I loved the way it turned out though! I temporarily nailed some nails into the side of the table to hang the metal skewers from. It worked out as a great serving station!

The photo backdrop was also an idea I just knew I wanted to execute. I originally saw a photo on some wedding yard sale page of this woman who had two wooden ladders and then hung a sheer curtain between the two ladders, and had a gorgeous greenery vine hanging between them. I wanted to recreate that look. The problem: I had zero ladders, and all the old wooden paint ladders I could find were expensive and not the right height. I went on some yard sale app I downloaded and lo and behold, the heavens opened up and a light shone down, and there it was: a 6 ft. wooden paint ladder for $15! I thought I was never going to acquire this ladder, but persistence is key my friends. After this person kept giving me the run-around and cancelling meet-ups, I FINALLY was able to meet them and get the ladder. The best part? They gave it to me for free to make up for all the hassle they put me through. Granted, I’m sure I had already spent more than $15 in gas through all the back and forth, but we’ll call it fair haha. Since I never found a second ladder, I used this one mainly as décor, and sat it catty-wompas by the backdrop, with some of my own personal trinkets stacked on the steps. I bought two sheer curtains at Walmart, and some lights off of Amazon, as well as a fake greenery garland that was 50% off at Hobby Lobby, and voilá! My photo backdrop station was complete! Our wedding planner’s awesome husband made a special trip up to the venue to put it together for us!

For flower vases, we used beer bottles, and my husband gets all the credit for that one (believe me, his gut is the proof ha!) He would get a 6-pack every other weekend and when he was done with the bottles, I’d soak them in some sudsy water until the label peeled off. Some were more stubborn and I had to scrub them off with a toothbrush. And if the label was really cool, I just left it on.

I also found a guy through a local wedding yard sale page on Facebook that cut me some wood rounds which we used for centerpieces. He was super nice and gave me all different sizes, and I only had to pay $40 for them all. Wood rounds aren’t cheap, so I definitely lucked out to find such a great steal. We had a huge wood round we wanted to use for the cake, but it was not level enough and got warped when I laid it out to dry to try and get the moisture out of the wood, so we ended up buying a wooden pallet in the craft section at Walmart, and it actually worked out great!

My grandma also made the corner swag that is on the Arbor at the ceremony site. I bought a square wire frame, and then had Wes cut it into an “L” shape so we could use it on the corner. The beat up wooden chair that I used as an easel for our “Welcome” sign, my friend actually found on the side of the road. It worked great, and I tied some of my leftover lace onto it in little streamers to give a shabby chic look. The white globes hanging under the tent we got online for dirt cheap. My husband also took on his own project: he bought a box full of candle votives and painted the inside of them with watered down paint to give a watercolor effect. They were really pretty when the candles were lit inside of them.

The Bride and Groom chairs at the reception we thrifted from a thrift shop. They were $10 a piece, so $20 total. I loved the wicker seats and how the backs looked like hearts. I made sure to leave the wicker seating untouched when I painted them over with some chalk paint. Wes’ chair was the orange one, and mine was the ivory colored one. I also used the chalk paint to give the wooden paint ladder a white-washed look, and painted a lot of the frames to the chalkboards, including our welcome sign. I really wanted to leave the frame natural wood, but Wes was adamant that I paint it lavender, so I did. I still have the sign and it is hanging in our bedroom, and our little “Mr.” and “Mrs.” signs I made for our chairs are hanging over our bed on the wall, on our respective sides. Getting double usage!

THE HONEYMOON | Ahhh the honeymoon. There’s never enough time! We wanted it to last forever. We ended up going on our honeymoon during the first week of October. We went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and stayed in log cabin in the mountains just outside of Pigeon Forge. I had never been to Gatlinburg before, so I was so excited! Wes planned our whole honeymoon from beginning to end and he did a fantastic job! We had a breath-taking view of the mountains, and we had some amazing food! He made us dinner reservations at the Dixie Stampede (best meal of my life!) and at the Alamo Steakhouse (which was unfortunately destroyed during the awful wildfires back in November.) Then one night he made us a romantic candle-lit dinner at the cabin. He had grilled steak, and I had a grilled pork-chop with salad and a baked potato. For dessert, we had strawberry shortcake. Each day started off and ended the same: we would wake up and go on our adventures for the day, which usually consisted of exploring downtown Gatlinburg, and during the evening, we would come back and wind-down in the hot-tub on the deck, which also had a TV! We went mini-golfing and also went to the famous Ripley’s Aquarium, as well as the sky-lift and space needle. And of course we went to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on multiple days and explored the trails. Absolutely breath-taking! One of our favorite trails was the Alum trail, but it is closed during the week, so we had to wait and go on our last day. One of my most favourite moments of our honeymoon was when we drove up to Newfound Gap late one night after dinner at the Alamo. We parked the car, got out, and were alone in total darkness. But when you looked up at the sky, you had a perfectly, unobstructed view of all of the stars and constellations freckling the night sky. It was freezing cold all the way up there, but that is not what gets credit for taking my breath away. It was such a magical moment and I got to share it with the love of my life.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS | There were so many memorable moments at our wedding, from my brother walking me down the aisle, to mine and Wes’ first look, to having Zeus as our ring-bearer. And I’ll also have you know that Zeus stole many a dance at the reception, too. He is a better dance partner than I am!

But one of the more special moments is when Wes’ mum got up to give her speech. I had no idea she even planned on giving one until the day-of! Wes and I have been together almost 10 years now, and she had held on to this letter he wrote her 9 years ago when Wes and I first started dating. A little back-story: When we were young, dumb, and foolishly in love, we got “engaged”. I was only 15 at the time, and Wes was 17. He bought a ring from a pawn shop for $70 and proposed to me with it. We thought we were adults, OK. Haha but Wes wrote his mother a letter, telling her what he had done, and was asking for her support in his decision to get married to me. She held onto that letter all these years and read it aloud during the reception, and she ended it with, “Now I can finally give you what you asked for, son.” When she was done, she gave me the original copy of the letter that was sealed in an envelope for safe-keeping. It was such a perfect moment. It really just doesn’t get much better than that.

Another special, but kind of funny, moment, was when my Aunt transported the memorial candle from the ceremony site to our table at the reception whilst riding on the back of a golf-cart. She said the woman was driving like a maniac, but through it all, the flame on that candle never went out. I knew my dad was a stubborn man, but dang! And of course, the father-daughter dance I did with my Uncle was a total tear-jerker and slides in to steal the number one spot. I will cherish that moment forever.

ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | As far as advice concerning wedding planning, don’t sweat the small stuff. I realized I stressed way too much about things that don’t even matter, like seating plans (which by the way, we ditched a seating plan and had open seating) and wedding programs, etc. Chances are, your guests aren’t even going to notice or care about those details. At the end of the day, they are there to support you and see you get married to the love of your life. That is what matters. Wedding planning doesn’t have to be stressful. And grooms, please show interest in the wedding planning process. Your blushing bride will SO appreciate it! Weddings aren’t just about the bride. Make it a team effort and have fun with it. That’s one thing I wish I could go back and change. I let the stress consume me, didn’t ask for help when I needed it, and in turn, took it out on Wes.
Advice for married couples: Always be each other’s best friend and love each other one day at a time. And of course, never go to bed angry. Date nights are also a must. Just because you are married now doesn’t mean you stop breathing life into your relationship! Always search for that next adventure.

 

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |

Photographer | Amanda Sutton Photography

Second shooter | Kayla King

Venue | Timberlake Earth Sanctuary

Cake | Cake Couture Boutique

Hair and Makeup | Amanda Scott Ellis and Kearstyn Johnson of Allure Salon

Boutonnieres | Jordan House Flowers

Music | Kevin Houston from 1’s & 2’s Entertainment

Officiant | Perry Hardison Weddings

Catering | Stokely’s BBQ

Wedding Coordinator | Megan Tate from Wedding Without Worries

Alterations | Elizabeth’s Alterations

Map of venue inside invitation suite | Cynthia M Wolfe

Guest Favours | DIY Birdseed Favours

Décor, dress and all florals besides the bouts were all DIY!

 

Thank you so much, Katie and Wes, for letting us share in your big day. I am sure that other couples in the throes of DIY projects will be encouraged by seeing the results of your efforts. I know that you will both find enough exciting adventures together to last a lifetime. Abby xx

 

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