As we learned in classic movies like Father of the Bride and Steel Magnolias (a favorite in the Southern Weddings office!), there is something particularly magical and charming about having your wedding in your parents’ backyard. With the help of a classic tent, an abundance of mason jars, and plenty of brightly colored flowers, Jenna and Blake turned her parents’ backyard into the rustic venue of their dreams. These Ole Miss sweethearts said traditional vows in front of a cross Jenna built with her father, and then danced the night away on a black-and-white checkered dance floor, surrounded by their family and friends. We can think of no sweeter way to begin married life!
Thank you so much to Brandon Lata for sharing Jenna and Blake’s wedding with us!
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I went dress shopping with my maid of honor and both of my parents. Some people might find it unusual that I had my dad there, but I’m extremely close to him and his opinion is one of the most important to me. At the second salon we went to, I fell in love with the third dress I tried on. The decision was unanimous. It was elegant and classic–the perfect dress for me! I’m emotional, so I assumed there would be tears at some point, but I was pleasantly surprised when they came from my maid of honor first! Soon, we were all in tears. Finding my dress was definitely an exciting experience, and it is a memory I will hold on to forever because I had those closest to me there.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We had written letters that we exchanged during our “first look” so we decided to use traditional vows during the ceremony. During our vows, I giggled as I said “for richer or poorer,” knowing we’d be paying off student loans for quite awhile, as some newly married couples are! So much of our ceremony was personalized, including my cousin officiating, Blake’s sister and cousin singing, and my brother playing guitar, so we felt that our ceremony would be unique even with traditional vows.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Indeed, as any Southern bride should! My something borrowed was a pair of diamond earrings from my husband’s grandmother, which both she and Blake’s mother wore on their wedding days! My something blue were my beautiful bridesmaids in their blue gowns. I had a couple of something olds: the setting of my ring that Blake had chosen, which is an antique that came from an estate sale, and a penny from the year I was born that my aunt gave me to wear in my shoe. Lastly, my something new was my wedding dress!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? One Southern detail would be the use of mason jars. I started the theme with our save the dates, which had a mason jar on the front. At the ceremony, we hung mason jars down the aisle and displayed them on the tables. We also served our signature drink, the Mason Dixon (Sweet Tea Firefly Vodka and lemonade), out of them. One of the groomsmen complimented me on how well I had carried out the Southern theme from start to finish, especially with mason jars–it meant a lot to me that he would even notice! Other Southern elements included our ceremony program fans and the vintage china plates, each with a different pattern, that I had collected over the years on each of our farm tables.
Describe your wedding flowers. I wanted the flowers for have a Southern romantic feel to tie in with the theme of the wedding. A to Zinnias made our arrangements and they turned out beautifully! My bouquet consisted of Juliet garden roses, cream stock, light pink ranunculus, peonies, white lilac, chamomile, coral spray roses, and peach stock. My bridesmaids all carried baby’s breath and the flower girls wore daisy hair wreaths. Blake’s boutonniere was made of peach ranunculus with peach hypericum accents, and the groomsmen had peach ranunculus. The cross my father and I built was delicately draped with a spray garland of greenery and white and pastel blooms. Along the aisle, we hung mason jars of baby’s breath on the chairs with twine. At our sweetheart table, we had a bay leaf garland for the backs of the bride and groom chairs with floral accents on the top corners. On our four farm tables, we used an eclectic mix of silver candelabras and glass containers that held candles, loose flowers, greenery, and Spanish moss. We also mixed fruit elements into the arrangements with peaches, grapes, and pears. Our round tables had white linens with magnolia greenery, garden roses, ranunculus, peonies, stock, lilac, jasmine vine, Queen Anne’s lace, chamomile, and tulips.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It’s a tie between the large chalkboard sign I made and the bench swing my father and I made. I originally made the chalkboard sign for a photo booth background, but we ended up using it as backdrop for our cake! I absolutely love the way it turned out. It had our names at the top with my family on the left and Blake’s family on the right. On the back, our entire wedding party was listed. My other favorite detail was the bench that my dad and I built, and I painted. It has our names on the front and 1 Corinthians 13:7 on the back. So many of our friends and family enjoyed swinging on the bench our wedding day!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? There are so many memorable moments but one of my favorites took place at the reception. The band played “Caribbean Queen” by Billy Ocean, and my dad came back onto the dance floor and grabbed me to dance. Suddenly, our guests surrounded us in a circle as we danced together. A little while into the song, I grabbed my brother to dance, and he surprised us all with his Michael Jackson-like dance moves! After my brother and I had danced a while, Blake and I ended the song dancing with one another. All of our favorite people surrounded us, as I danced with my three favorite men! Another one of my favorite memories from my wedding day was when my parents danced at the reception. My father had asked me in advance if it would be okay for he and my mother to share their own dance to their song, “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole. Of course, I said yes! I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place. Our videographer even included it as one of our special dances on our wedding DVD. It was a moment that I’ll never forget!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Blake and I met while attending the University of Mississippi. Since Blake’s roommate and mine were hometown friends, Blake and I were thrown together at several social events. He had seen me a couple of times when he told my roommate to make sure I came to his fraternity’s next party. I certainly made sure I’d be there! At that party, we exchanged numbers, and in true gentleman fashion, Blake took me on a dinner date later that week. A couple of dates later, he asked me to be his girlfriend. We continued dating all through college and moved to my hometown, Savannah, Georgia, after graduation.
Tell us all about the proposal! Blake and I had been dating for about four years when I was in my last semester at Ole Miss. Blake had asked my parents for permission and showed them the ring he had chosen in October, on one of their trips to Oxford. Since my mother has frontotemporal dementia and aphasia, my dad wanted to make sure she fully understood and was a part of the “yes or no” decision as well. She, of course, said “yes” and so did my dad! In January, Blake joined my parents and me on a trip to my favorite place, Disney World. In the late afternoon at Magic Kingdom, my dad suggested that the photographer take a photo of all four of us, and then of just Blake and me. As the photographer got ready to take a picture of just the two of us, my dad whispered to the photographer that Blake was about to propose, so she could be ready! Blake got down on one knee in front of Cinderella’s castle and said I meant more to him then anything in the world, and as he got choked up, he asked me to be his wife. I think I began crying before he even took the ring out of his pocket! He was sure to include two of my biggest passions–my family and pictures–making it the perfect day and a fairy tale proposal!
When did y’all get married? April 27th, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 300
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had several readings throughout our ceremony. Our faith in Christ is the most important thing to us, so we asked Blake’s sister to read from 1 John 4: 16-19: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the Day of Judgment: in this world, we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” This is one of my favorite verses.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our ceremony was relatively traditional to balance out that it took place outdoors. I walked down the aisle to “Canon in D” because I knew it would sound beautiful played by our violinist. My bridesmaids came in to “Never Alone” by Jim Brickman, because it was a song our sorority sang at several occasions, and most of my bridesmaids were in Pi Beta Phi with me. During communion, my brother played guitar to the hymn “Come Thou Fount,” and Blake’s sister and cousin sang “In Christ Alone” as we poured our symbol of unity sand. We decided to have a congregational hymn and chose “Great I Am.” It is such a moving song and it actually brought me to tears during the ceremony. Our first dance song was to “At Last.” It was really special because my cousin sang it for us, and she blew our guests away!
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our cake was a gorgeous, square, five-layer almond vanilla pound cake with buttercream icing, made by the fantastic Mollie Stone. It had a textured design, which I thought tied into the rustic elements we used throughout the wedding. It was topped with a beautiful sugar magnolia, which represented Mississippi, the place where we met and fell in love. We also served cookies from Byrd’s Famous Cookies, which is a 90-year-old local business that I work for, so they were a must! We served four of my favorite flavors: Georgia Peach, Scotch Oatmeal, Sugar Cookie with Sprinkles, and Butter Thins.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? With my mother’s health in the state it was, it was difficult to plan and make decisions without her input at times. Before she got sick, she would have been a part of every decision and would have had an opinion on everything! Also, during our engagement, my best friend and maid of honor was in nursing school over 1,500 miles away, which made it difficult for her to help plan over the phone. For these reasons, I decided to hire event coordinators. We used Posh Petals and Pearls, and they helped me to make decisions without all the stress!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our videographer! One of my sorority sisters had used a videographer, and their wedding film was so fantastic, it makes me cry every time I watch it! After seeing hers, I knew I wanted to have one at our wedding. Additionally, considering that my mother’s health and words have declined over the years, I wanted to be able to capture her in this form forever! I’ve had so many people tell me that our video captured our big day perfectly, and for those who couldn’t attend, they felt as if they experienced the excitement with us! Our preview video by Siegel Films can be seen here.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I would suggest starting as soon as possible with your guest list. It’s not fun, but it will make the rest of the planning easy! I would also suggest getting your paper stylist to address envelopes for your thank-you notes when your invitations are ordered, because that takes a lot of time, is never fun, and becomes an easy thing to put off! Another thing I would remind you is that it’s your day–it’s okay to do things a little differently and make things personal if it’s something y’all both want!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Our next step is buying a house! We’re currently renting a downtown apartment with our five-year-old chocolate lab, so having a little more space will be great! It was important to Blake and I that we didn’t live together until we were married, so I swear, I learn something new about him every day. I’m excited to see what else I learn along the way! In the next five years or so, we’d like to start a family, so we’re excited about that as well. I know the Lord will direct us where He sees fit, so we have faith and joy for what He has planned for us!
Photographer: Brandon Lata Photography / Videographer: Siegel Films / Planner: Posh Petals and Pearls / Venue: Private residence / Florist: A to Zinnias / Wedding Cake: Mollie Stone, (912)352-8993 / Caterer: Chef Nick Mueller & Co. / Rentals: Savannah Special Events by Ranco / Lighting: JLK Events / Band: Uptown Entertainment Band / Paper Products and Signage: JLeslie Wedding Decor / Bride’s Gown: Style 2445 in Ivory with Cafe Charmeuse Slip by Allure Bridals / Bride’s Accessories: Frills and Fancies / Hair Stylist: Spa Bleu / Makeup Artist: Rachel Adams of Spa Bleu / Bride’s Shoes: Touch Up’s Talia / Bridesmaid Dresses: Bella Chiffon in Misty Blue by Bari Jay / Men’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Cookie Bar: Byrd Cookie Company / Photo Booth: Dreamweaver Photo Booth / Ceremony Music: New Arts Ensemble / Bar Service: Dottie Gaudry Bar Services, (912)341-9451 / Restrooms: Royal Restrooms / Trolley Service: Oglethorpe Tours / and Old Town Trolley Tours of Savannah / Officiant: Jason Martin
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