OUR WEDDING IN THE MOUNTAINS
Updated: Jan 9
I hope everyone says this - but our wedding and particularly our ceremony, was one of the most breathtakingly surreal and humbling moments of my life. To put into words what I felt standing a top a little mountain in North Carolina as I said vows to the man who is the answer to all of those tiny prayers I had whispered over the years - in front of our families and the people we cherish most in this world – there's no way to describe better than “it was life changing”. We are different people since that day and I hope this momentum carries long into our marriage. Additionally, we will remain eternally grateful to our selfless, generous and miraculous parents, family and friends who made such moments possible for us.
CRAFTING OUR WEDDING | HOW WE DID IT From the beginning, we kept coming back to the takeaway of wanting our wedding to feel more like a dinner party celebration of our families coming together instead of a celebration just focused on the two of us. We pictured it feeling warm, full of love and appreciation, and a night where everyone felt like family. So just about every decision we made, we tried to step back and ensure it helped fulfill this atmosphere for us. We took a year to plan our wedding. That timing was nice because we also chose to buy our first home in the same year! So that timeline allowed us to do a good bit of wedding DIY projects ourselves to cut some cost... the first of which was designing our own wedding invitations.
I absolutely adore the work of hand letterist Joya Rose and have followed her for years. She is the sister of one of my dear friends whom I met traveling overseas and in addition to her invitations (which I mimicked closely!) her entire wedding served as detail inspiration for me. I’m embarrassed to admit this… but I designed just about everything for our wedding in PowerPoint. I’m sure there are a billion other programs better suited for this, but I knew this one the best and just went for it. I designed the main sections of our invitations and left certain words out so I could hand letter them afterwards. I also designed a simple rehearsal dinner invitation, an “additional info” leaflet and a map of the town to include in our invitation bundle.
We used a local printer and metallic ink on the sections that I hand lettered and it saved us thousands! Once printed, my wonderful sister-in-law and I tied simple gray twine around each little invitation bundle (wedding invitation, rsvp invitation, additional info leaflet, & map) and inserted a small fern leaf that I foraged from our property. To finish, I used a metallic gold pen to hand letter our gray envelopes and my wonderful now-husband hand stamped a white wax “W” seal to complete them.
With invitations out, we set our sites on all of the other wedding logistics.
My husband is from Aspen, CO and had really been missing the mountains this past year. So it was so special for us to find the Overlook Barn and provide an excuse for our loved ones to get away with us to the Blue Ridge Mountains for a weekend. The barn is absolutely stunning in-person and is nestled a top Beech Mountain. And though Pinterest was beckoning me to have a low key ceremony in the middle of the woods somewhere, I knew we needed a venue that was practical, rain proof, had bathrooms on-site, and was profound enough that I just needed simple decor accents to bring it all together. The Overlook Barn provided that and more (bride and groom suites to get ready in, tables and x-back chair rentals, pre-strung white lights, fire pit, ceremony site in the meadow outside, etc).
The morning of our wedding, I woke up alone in the ski condo we had rented for the weekend (we kept with the tradition of sleeping apart the night before the wedding) and quietly sipped my tea as I looked out over these fog covered mountains:
I sat at the dining room table as I looked out the window and quietly transcribed onto paper the vows I had been writing in the notes section of my phone over the past few months. I wrote and cried in the peace of that empty little quirky condo and it was so perfect and needed. Here are some of the vows I wrote, as well as RC's:
With vows on paper - I put on overalls, gathered my toiletries, carefully carried my dress and headed down the street to the barn. Once there, I met my wedding planner Meris and her team, my amazing mother, mother-in-law, sister-in-laws, and a handful of close family and friends who had selflessly agreed to help us erect a wedding the morning of! (Full disclosure - this situation wasn't ideal for me but their was a different event in the barn the night before so we couldn't set up until the morning of the wedding). Together we set up all of the horse stalls and transformed them into little rooms like a whiskey tasting station, dessert stall, lounge, photo booth, etc. We also set up all of the table settings, center pieces, wedding favors, you name it that morning!
For the table settings, I channeled my inner kinfolk and used miss matched white china and clear glass goblets (thanks to Miss Matched Rentals!). The miss matching gave the table settings a pretty yet simple and relaxed feel that meshed well with our southern barbecue dinner. To accent each table, we weaved eucalyptus garlands down the center of each farm table and alternated pine cones and linen-scented votive candles on either side of the greenery. And for the horse stalls, we created little "rooms" in each of them: a Lounge (thanks to A Bushel and A Peck !), a Whiskey Tasting Station, a Photo Booth, a Dessert Station, a Tea and Coffee Station, etc.) to give guests areas to explore.
For the dessert station, we used an array of organic desserts from Whole Foods and had a sweet little Bride & Groom cake that our wonderful (and very pregnant) friend Julia made us.
RC and I aren't big cake people but Julia came across a recipe for this hazelnut Nutella stuffed cake and it was incredible!
For booze - we had six different wine options for guests to choose from as well as champagne that the bartenders served from the bar. We also set up one of the stalls as a whiskey and moon shine tasting station. All of the whiskey bottles were gifted to us by our kind friend Jesse and a wonderful unnamed family member home-brewed the blackberry and apple pie moon shine for us. I think these are the main culprits for the dancing photos found further down in this post!
Lastly, we brought in a keg trailer (which was surprisingly affordable!) and had four different beers on tap that guests could fill up under the stars by the fire pit. I really wanted a more formal-looking tap trailer but this was the only one available. And it turned out just fine.
Once the venue was set up and mostly decorated (my wonderful mother, mother-in-law, brother and sister-in-laws continued finishing everything up for us - I will owe them for life for that!) - I snuck away to the bridal suite to start getting ready. I did my hair myself and my friend Catie, one of the best makeup artists in Charlotte, helped me with makeup. I hate to say it but I think working in the entertainment industry has made all of that feel a little more like work than fun. The idea of a full hair and makeup staff in one room packed with all 9 of my bridesmaids (whom I love dearly!) wasn't quite the peaceful morning that I felt I would need that day. So I opted to get ready solo at the barn, and I have to say, it was nice to relax, take my time getting ready, listen to music and collect myself before all of the festivities began. :o)
As I put the finishing touches on my hair, my bridesmaids arrived and we sipped champagne together as my mother and mother-in-law helped me get into my dress.
I found my dress at a vintage bridal consignment shop and learned at checkout that it was actually a Kleinfeld's sample dress that had never sold. Not quite sure what that says about my taste in gown style, but it was everything I had hoped for!
It took a village to get me into it! There were SO many buttons...
While the ladies finished up, the men got into their suits and headed outside to sip some adult beverages in the meadow nearby.
I gave my bridesmaids color swatches and a reference photo for the kind of feel I was going for and let them take over dress shopping from there. I love each and every one of my maids, but I was NOT about to decide on a mass dress style or color that looked best on all of them. Heck, I can barely do that for myself! So it was really fun to see what they chose and I loved how the pallette came together.
RC wore a black suit and the groomsmen wore gray in whatever shade they already owned or wanted to buy. We felt it was more important that our crew felt comfortable in their attire and could shop within their means than having them all match.
The ceremony took place outside in the meadow next to the barn and overlooked the mountains. A bagpiper played Highland Cathedral and lead my father and I as we walked down the aisle. That walk was so surreal. I've been trying to remind myself lately to live in the present and that life is never guaranteed. And I remember in that moment feeling so blessed that I was getting to make that memory with my dad.
Our pastor and friend, Naeem Fazaal, performed our ceremony and it was probably my favorite part of the day. Hearing RC read his vows (from memory, like he was a professional groom) and looking into his tear-filled eyes as he did so was a moment I will cherish forever. It's ironic that this part of the day was the least planned out and unrehearsed, yet it's what guests have said was their favorite. We had some funny slip-ups (they began when R.C. said "I do" almost immediately in the "do you promises" list) and trickled on from there. The early laughs broke the ice and created a genuine, loving, light hearted feel throughout the rest of ceremony.
We prayed, took communion, and had a passage read by RC's uncle who spoke it so eloquently.
It took me a while to find the right reading for RC's uncle. We wanted something different than the typical go-to scriptures you hear in most ceremonies and when I found this one, we just felt it. Consider it a good alternative if you are struggling to find one as well!
MARK TWAIN’S “A MARRIAGE” A marriage makes of two fractional lives a whole; It gives two purposeless lives a work, And doubles the strength of each to perform it. It gives to two questioning natures a reason for living And something to live for. It will give new gladness to the sunshine, A new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth And a new mystery to life.
PARTY TIME With the ceremony complete, we headed to take some pictures while the cocktail hour got underway.
At sunset, we snuck into the barn with both sets of parents and got in place as the large barn doors were opened. We greeted each guest as they entered for dinner and I am so glad we did! Even 20 seconds with each guest in a receiving line is enough time to hug them, thank them for traveling in, and tell them how much it means to have them there. (And it meant that RC and I could eat, dance, and enjoy each other the rest of the night without feeling guilty for not mingling with every guest!)
After our dinner (which consisted of Southern BBQ staples like brisket, oven roasted chicken breast, mac and cheese, collard greens, mashed potatoes, and a taco station) our friends who star in an 80's cover band called "Cassette Rewind" literally stole the show. We had so much fun dancing to songs (that we confidently didn't remember the lyrics to) and it closed out the night with just the right kind of sloppy, moon-shine/whiskey/craft beer-induced glaze.
As the night came to a close, our loved ones lit sparklers with a blow torch - no joke - and we made our official exit.
I hope this post doesn't come across that I think we pulled off the perfect wedding. We didn't by any means and there were hiccups and little things I might have changed after the fact now. But looking back, I am so grateful to how it all panned out. And if it came down to the overarching goals that I had for that day: marry the man who completes me, make sure our friends and both sides of our families feel loved and appreciated, spend quality time together, and be surrounded by nature - I was able to check off all of them that weekend. Entirely thanks to the loving community around us and the following folks who helped us craft the best day of our lives: Wedding Planner: Meris GanttVenue: The Overlook BarnPhotographer: Allison FowlerFlorist: Shady Grove GardensFlower Crown: Maiden Flower CrownsTableware: Miss Matched RentalsFurniture Rental: A Bushel And A PeckCatering: The Pedalin Pig
Special Thanks To: - My amazing mom and dad (for the daily phone conversations, making our wedding favors, our beautiful flower arrangements, setting everything up at the barn with me, dress shopping with me, and so much more. You two are my heroes)- My selfless and loving in-laws, Rich & Carole, for their countless help every step of the way - I am so blessed to call you parents. Geoff, Ben, Katie, Sam, Giordana, Molly, Travis, Ashley, Catie, Julia, Steve, Marilyn, Leila and Matthew, Ben and Maddie, Steve, Meris, CeCe, Rachel, our families, our entire wedding party, our friends who traveled locally & Internationally to be with us, and so so many people I am naively forgetting to call out because I am sleepies but love dearly.