Styles and trends come, go, and evolve, and it’s one of the reasons why the wedding industry is such an exciting one to know and love. Yet, the most moving form of beauty, for us here at Whimsical Wonderland Weddings, is always authenticity, and those couples whose wedding days are a crystalline reflection of their true personalities.
University sweethearts Craig and Mary Grace chose to celebrate their marriage at The Engine Room, a unique venue located in historic downtown Monroe, in North Georgia. The building, dating back to 1895, has been restored in a way that beautifully embraces its character and uniquely refined industrialism – accented with hardwood flooring, exposed brick wall, weathered paint, heart of pine columns, and original iron features. These textures, so rich in their own right, stand even more proudly when contrasted to the delicate white florals, flowing burgundy gowns, and embellished lace of the bridal party, mismatched and yet in such harmony together. The gorgeous captures by Lunalee Photography are filled to the edges with light, structural elegance, and love, and we just can’t get enough of the smiling couple and their gathered loved ones.
Here’s one for the connoisseurs of industrial chic, of rich colours, and of adorable love stories – sit back and enjoy!
How we met, by Mary Grace
Though our dorms were right across from each other (Craig’s actually stood out with blue curtains that were visible from my window), we didn’t officially meet until our second semester at UGA when we ended up in the same Geology class, where our love story began. I noticed this guy who came into class at the laaaast moment each day, always managing to slide into his seat as the lecture would begin. Honestly, it was impressive. Eventually, it worked out that Craig joined in our group that would get lunch after that class each day. One blustery Friday, all of our friends were out of Athens, leaving Craig and I to eat lunch alone. We started talking, and didn’t really stop. That conversation struck me, as Craig was genuinely kind, compassionate, and good-hearted. The way he spoke about his dreams and faith made me feel at home. From there, we became better and better friends, studying together, watching the Walking Dead and silly movies, visiting the shelter, climbing trees to watch concerts in Sanford, and late nights with friends in Snelling.
We were *just* friends for a few years after we met in that Geology class…but I still look back to those blue curtains that I noticed from my dorm and smile. Never would I have guessed that dorm would belong to the guy from Geology, who would become my best friend and future husband.
How we met, by Craig
From that first meal together, I could tell that Mary Grace was different than most people. She was so joyful and passionate and loving toward everyone she met. She had a desire for adventure and didn’t seem afraid of anything.
One day walking back to our dorms, I made MG a promise – the next time I asked someone out on a date, I would sweep her off her feet. A couple years later it turned out that Mary Grace was going to be the next girl I asked out. I picked her up, sweeping her off her feet, and asked her if she would go on a date with me. She had forgotten the promise I had made her years before, but fortunately, she said yes. We went and got Chick-fil-A milkshakes and sat on a rock by the river in the Botanical Gardens talking until she had to leave to go work at camp for the weekend. Our next date ended up being 14 hours long as we drove all the way to South Carolina to see Needtobreathe and the Oh Hellos. That was just the start of what felt like the natural and comfortable progression of becoming more than just friends.
I remember the first time I thought about Mary Grace and marriage. We had been hanging out one evening and were getting ready to call it a night and go home. I remember looking at her and thinking about just how beautiful she was. Here I was with this incredible woman who I had the privilege of dating and couldn’t keep myself from suddenly thinking that I wanted to marry her. As one would expect, that was a pretty overwhelming thought and I had to work to keep it from showing on my face (something that I’m not very good at). It was still pretty early on and I didn’t want to freak her out. But that was a thought that I held on to going forward that only grew stronger the longer we dated.
How He Asked
On a radiantly sunny Saturday afternoon, Craig took us on a walk though the Botanical Gardens, where we had our first date. I thought we were going to meet friends, but along the path, we came up to a bench by the river. On the bench, there was a picture of us, two pairs of Chacos, and a new Bible. In that wonderful, overwhelming, completely perfect moment, I took a sharp breath. I could barely move! Craig led me over to the bench, fell to one knee in the dirt, and asked me to marry him. I was so in shock, it took me a moment to respond, “Yes!” Craig held up the ring, a tiny and perfect band, with a design of leaves. This was special, as throughout our relationship, Craig and I had dreamed of a future where our marriage could be used to offer love, peace, and healing to others, which is what these leaves symbolized.
After all of that, we just had to sit on the bench for a while, shedding some tears and taking in our joy-filled reality.
We eventually made our way out of the Gardens to the North Campus Parking Deck, one of our favorite spots on campus when we were students. There, Craig proposed again, which sounds goofy but in reality was perfect for us.
Craig then walked me to the Fountain on Herty Field, where he had arranged a surprise celebration with our friends (shoutout to all of you!). We all celebrated and laughed and hugged into the night, and it was just beautiful.
Then, all that was left was to dream about what we wanted our marriage to be like, and create a wedding.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Photographer | Lunalee Photography
Venue | The Engine Room
Make up | Shannon Jennings of Formal Faces
Food | Mac The Cheese and Waffle House
Dress | BHLDN
Thank you so much to Craig and Mary Grace for sharing their beautiful celebrations with us! Val Xx