Vibrant South Carolina Wedding by Sara Parker
At Southern Weddings, few things warm our hearts more than an all-American love story like this one. Stuart was a football player and Nicole was a cheerleader. They were introduced after a high school football game, and on a date to the county fair a few weeks later, he asked her to be his girlfriend at the top of the ferris wheel. For the rest of high school and all through college, they endured many changes, but never wavered in their commitment to one another. After Stuart surprised Nicole with a proposal, they planned a sweet, outdoor wedding in the fall, complete with richly colored blooms, Southern hors d'oeuvres and a private dinner for two!
Thank you so much to Sara Parker Photography for sharing Nicole and Stuart's wedding with us!
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. After going to just two salons, my mom and I narrowed our search down to two dresses that were completely different. Ultimately, we both loved an ivory lace dress with spaghetti straps and a fitted silhouette. Once it had been delivered, I was unhappy with the way the gown fit, but we went ahead and took my bridal portraits. I realized in the pictures that the spaghetti straps didn't look right on my 5'0" frame, so a few weeks before the wedding, my mom said, "Why don't we just make it strapless?" Our seamstress did the most amazing work with my gown. She gave it a sweetheart neckline and left some lace on top to give it a more scalloped appearance. I ended up loving my gown, and no one will ever have one exactly like it!
I told our florist that I didn't want to see the same flower everywhere--I wanted all different kinds of flowers, textures, and colors. We used bold fall colors such as deep purple, magenta, rich green, yellow, pink, and orange. The leaves hadn't changed as much as we'd hoped they would by that time, so our florist added more color to the flowers.
Did you decide to do a "first look"? Why or why not? Stuart and I did not do a first look. We knew that we wanted to wait to see each other until the ceremony, in front of all of our friends and family, just as our family members have done before us.
We recited the traditional vows. We are more private about our affection for each other, so we decided to write all that we wanted to say to each other on our wedding day in notes that we exchanged and read early that morning.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I cannot choose only one vendor! Aside from our florist, because she truly set the tone for the night, I was unbelievably happy with our photographer and videographer. They are both amazing, talented, and so easy to work with. I believe that having an awesome photographer and videographer are crucial, because after your wedding is over, you feel like it came and went so quickly. The images and the film have the ability to put you back in that moment and relive the best night of your life. It's something that you and your spouse will cherish for a lifetime.
I had found a cake that I thought could only happen in my dreams, but our baker was so awesome and completely willing to try something new. The cake had four tiers with a taller bottom tier and ombré ruffles. The cake also incorporated lace and the color of the bridesmaid dresses.
Tell us all about the proposal! Stuart proposed on November 3, 2012. I was going home for the weekend, and since my family was all going to be together, my dad suggested that we go to the Pretzel Cabin at Sage Valley for dinner and to take some family pictures. I asked Stuart if he could come home with me that weekend, but he couldn't, so I went alone. On the day we went to take pictures, I was ready early and so I thought we would be able to leave early, but no! We sat around at the house forever. When we finally left and pulled up to the Pretzel Cabin, my dad said, "Who is that?" I looked in the direction he was pointing, and there was Stuart, down by the fire. I knew something was going on immediately because Stuart never tells me one thing and does another, so I started crying! I walked down the steps, he proposed, and I said yes! He had both of our families there to watch and eat and celebrate afterwards, but they were far enough away during the proposal that they couldn't hear what we were saying. It was so nice and I was so grateful and happy to have everyone there!
When did y'all get married? October 19, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 250
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? A good friend of ours read Genesis 2:19-24 and Ephesians 5:22-33 at the ceremony. We asked him to read for us because he and his wife have been such a good example to us of what a marriage looks like when you put God first.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I have never been a fan of the traditional bridal march, so we decided on Trumpet Voluntary by Clarke J. We walked back up the aisle to the traditional Wedding March by Mendelssohn. Our first dance was to the song "I'll Be" by Edwin McCain. Stuart was the only boyfriend I'd ever had and the only guy I'd ever danced with, and the first dance we attended was our homecoming dance in 2006. "I'll Be" was one of my favorite songs and it was the first slow song that they played at that dance. My dad chose the song "Walk With You" by Edwin McCain for our father-daughter dance, and boy is it a tear-jerker, so beware if you use it!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The ceremony and reception were outdoors at a hunting lodge. We had Southern cuisine in the form of heavy hors d'oeuvres, like a macaroni and cheese bar and shrimp and grits. We offered lemonade and sweet tea that guests could drink alone or mix into Arnold Palmers. We also had corn hole for the guests to play.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge while planning the wedding was definitely the guest list. Especially for outdoor weddings, the guest list really drives the cost of the wedding due to all of the rentals, and we had to make some tough decisions to stick to our budget.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? We both agreed that our favorite moment of the night was our private dinner. We were able to slow down for a moment, breathe, and talk about the day, uninterrupted. We will definitely recommend this to every couple we know getting married. It also makes for good pictures!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Find your dream team of vendors! Choose people with good attitudes who will go above and beyond to make the day special for you. You communicate with your vendors throughout the entire planning process, so you want to select people you trust, and whose personalities mesh well with yours. If you can leave some decisions up to the vendors (who are the professionals anyway), it can take a lot of stress off of you.
What's next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are most looking forward to just being together and having all of our firsts. Our first holidays together, first house, first family vacations together, our first child, everything!
Photographer: Sara Parker Photography / Videographer: Cinema Weddings / Planner: Kristie Caldwell / Ceremony and Reception Venue: Sage Valley Golf Club / Florist: Karin Jeffcoate of Cote Design Events / Wedding Cake Baker: Cake Occasions by Katie Jiminez / Caterer: Sage Valley Golf Club / Rentals and Lighting: All Star Tents and Events / Band: The DePriest Brothers String Trio / DJ: Robert Elwood of Party Time DJ's / Bride's Gown: "1975" Casablanca Bridal / Bride's Shoes: "Sierra Pumps" by Antonio Melani / Bride's Veil: Charlotte's Bridal / Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Nicole Bailey / Bridesmaids' Dresses: Alfred Angelo / Men's Attire: Men's Wearhouse / Paper Products: Tea Garden Gifts
Want to see more real Southern weddings? Browse our real weddings galleries!