Stunning Atlanta Botanical Garden Wedding

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Abby & Andy

Q: How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.

A: Unfortunately, everyone wishes this was a more straightforward answer, rather, there is some dispute to our origin story! What we do agree upon is we met while in college at UNC—Chapel Hill. We became great friends due to our circle of peers that already seemed to socialize with one another. Fast forward from graduating college to 5 years of long distance, 3 additional degrees, 9 abodes, about a decade of courtship, and we were finally ready to take the next step. All of these places and the people we’ve encountered there mean so much to us, that’s why we incorporated little pieces here and there into our wedding weekend and day. Notably, Chapel Hill is particularly special to us, as that’s where we established the foundation of our relationship during college. Andy went to great lengths to plan a trip down to Chapel Hill for Homecoming in 2018. There were little mishaps along the way like how when we arrived to our hotel late Friday night, the power was out for about 5,000 people in the area; I almost found the ring in Andy’s pocket when I was trying find a place for my sunglass case that Saturday morning; we were walking through the campus arboretum and came upon some yellow caution tape in the area where he planned to pop the question; and Andy struggling with his jacket zipper to get down on one knee. All those elements actually made the proposal that much more special to me because that’s how life goes, little things here and there that make it real and your own memorable fairy tale. After I said a big “YES!”, a friend of ours who had been candidly taking photos of the proposal took us around campus for some classic Chapel Hill shots. We then went to the historic hotel on campus, the Carolina Inn, and to my surprise, our families were there ready with champagne and for a full weekend of celebrating.

Q: Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception? Was any part of the decor DIY?

A: The wedding décor was an amalgamation of creativity between Saffold (Affairs to Remember), Julie (Unique Floral Expressions), my mom, and me. I took a quiz pretty early on using The Knot App and determined what my style was: romantic with a bit of elegant and a touch of natural. We used this to guide us along the way in the torrent of decisions that needed to be made. I wanted to have personal touches here and there that really made everyone feel appreciated, a part of our story, and truly felt like our wedding. Design and esthetics are something that I’m interested in due to my profession, so I wanted everything to feel custom yet polished. We started by creating a wedding “logo” with A and A intertwined, like a partial infinity sign or like holding hands. We tried to use this throughout our planning year—from bachelor/bachelorette apparel, cocktail napkins, seat assignments, etc. to really put our mark on things. Some of the areas of personalization included pashminas as guests entered the ceremony area with a sign reading “to have and to hold and in case you get cold”, as a treat to use during the festivities and as a take-home memento. We also had wedding photos of our parents and grandparents displayed around our guest book. Speaking of guest book, we had the pleasure of doing an engagement session with our wedding photographer about a month before the wedding. We had some really inventive and beautiful shots from that, so we were able to compile them in a photobook that we used as our guest book for the big day. A personalized component that Andy and I really had fun with was our table numbers. Since we’ve been together for so long and have been blessed by many adventures along the way, we utilized table “places” instead of numbers. Our seating chart was traditional, however, the title read “your journey awaits”, paying homage to the emotional journey we’ve been on together while traveling on various adventures, and looking ahead to that which continues as we stepped into marriage. Each table had a “location” instead of a number, with a photo of us in that particular place and a little blurb about the importance of the locale. This was a fun way to add a bit of connectivity during the day and also act as a conversation starter for people as they were seated at their tables.

Q: What were the florals like in your wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bridal bouquets, centerpieces or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?

A: The florals were an integral part of our day! I remember Andy finding it comical that we were spending so much time, money, and effort on floral arrangements when we were, in fact, getting married in a garden. But we wanted to really lean into all that the gardens had to offer as a backdrop and also bring the garden inside to our reception. We love being outside and enjoying a good sunset, which is a lot of the reason we gravitated towards Atlanta Botanical Garden for our venue. Julie from Unique Floral Expressions did the arrangements for my sister’s wedding six years earlier, and we always explained to people that it was something we absolutely let her run with and had such stunning results because of what she does at UFE. In terms of the specific floral elements, we wanted navy pops of color via anemones, blush and pastel pink colors, and then greenery to tie in with our other décor and fashion elements. For the ceremony, Julie fabricated a giant floral ring for the altar that was stunning. We incorporated small elements here and there that were meaningful to us. My paternal grandmother passed away in 2008 and her favorite flower was the gardenia. They are not necessarily the most esthetically pleasing, but the smell is so sweet and always reminds me of her, so we incorporated them into my bouquet. Along with the bouquet, we were able to dress-up the stems by wrapping them with the lace sleeve from my mom’s wedding dress. Lastly, Andy and I have an affinity for succulents, in part because they seem to endure regardless of the environment. We used these, especially in the boutonnieres, for a little pop of green.

Q: Did you personalize the day in any way (food trucks, guest entertainment etc.)? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?

A: I feel like the ways in which we personalized our day really correspond to the most memorable moments of our day. Again, we really wanted everyone to feel like they were a part of our day and a part of our story. We started with welcome bags for our guests staying at the host hotel, the Loews Midtown. We included a custom wedding map and event card along with treats that highlighted the places we are from, where we met, and where we currently live. We worked with Jeff at Frosted Pumpkin to personalize what we envisioned for our dessert. We love a good variety and, again, wanted everything to feel custom yet polished. We decided to do a “cake bar” with a variety of cakes from salted caramel, to red velvet, to cookies and cream, to funfetti, allowing our guests to choose their own “adventure”. Not only were the cakes beautiful, but we wanted the flavors to really deliver, and Jeff accomplished that! Another area unique to our wedding includes my religious background. A family friend that has seen me grow up over the last three decades is now a minister at a Methodist Church in Atlanta. It was special to have her officiate our wedding as she knows me and has really watched from the sidelines as our relationship developed over the last decade. Additionally, my paternal family is Jewish, and although I am a Christian myself, I feel a strong familial tie to my family’s cultural background. My brother-in-law and sister both know how excited I get when the Horah starts playing at weddings, so they made sure it happened on our wedding dance floor as well. It was such a highlight to have everyone out on the floor, giddy and dancing in circles, as a true representation of our family and friends all coming together for us.

Q: Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail.

A: BRIDE— I am not a girlie girl, and I was definitely hesitant about dress shopping; however, I really ended up enjoying it with my mom and sister along for the ride! My sister suggested I try on a long sleeve dress at one of our first appointments, and we were all pleasantly surprised. the dress I went with was not what I anticipated, as so many brides will echo. I felt like I looked like a bride; like I was ready to get married. The dress was all-encompassing to me: a little matureness, sexiness, classically elegant, a little modern, and a silhouette that echoed the location as well as the season. We paired the dress with a stunning veil by the same designer, floral faux stud earrings, and Badgley Mischka shoes. Although the veil was worn only briefly during the evening, my mom and I fell in love with it and our photographers were sure to oblige many photos prior to removing the piece for the fun and dancing. Wedding Dress Description from Essense of Australia: Ivory Silver Lace on Ivory Gown with Porcelain Tulle Illusion   “A wedding gown that makes a statement, this sexy wedding dress with off-the-shoulder lace sleeves is both sexy and romantic. A V-neckline is the focal point of this sheer bodice, and extends effortlessly into a chic, off-the-shoulder neckline. The lace details from the bodice of the gown are mimicked on the long sleeves, that are finished with a slightly longer hem in the front. The sheer bodice of this gown, detailed with pearling beading, extends into long side cutouts and slightly onto the front of the crepe skirt. An open back is highlighted on either side with lace detailing and fabric-covered buttons that run the length of the gown. The back of this sexy wedding dress with off-the-shoulder lace sleeves zips up beneath fabric-covered buttons.” GROOM— What guy doesn’t look dapper in a tux? We wanted to pay homage to something traditional and sophisticated, but also elevate and modernize it slightly. We went with a midnight blue pin dot tuxedo from The Black Tux. Andy stood out from the groomsmen, as they wore fitted black tuxedos. The guys completed their looks with black velvet loafers and custom monogrammed blush linen suspenders from Durian and the Lyon.

Q: What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?

A: Man, this is a tough question. Truly, there were so many special moments; the day was absolute magic and I really don’t think I can pick just one, but I will highlight a few.  1) One of the most special moments for me was the exchanging of rings. In dental school, you learn how to make gold crowns, which is the same method (lost wax technique) that has been used for centuries to make jewelry. I remember my dad telling me about this as a kid and showing me some of the items he made while in school. He made a silver shot glass for his father, that he ended up passing down to my sister when she got married. He worked diligently to fabricate a new one for Andy and me with “A+A” in gold on the side after we got engaged.  When I started asking Andy what he wanted for his wedding band, he would somewhat dodge the question because of he didn’t have any experience wearing rings, along with many other men prior to marriage. I wanted to do something special that would be more meaningful to him that any other band. Having completed dental school and familiar with the technique myself, I started brainstorming with my dad and we decided to make Andy’s wedding band. Andy knew I was working on it, but what he didn’t know was where I acquired the metal components from. My mother-in-law gave me her first two engagement ring settings, having had her diamond reset over the years, and my mom gave me some sentimental gold necklaces. We used these items to fabricate Andy’s band and ended up having enough to fabricate my band as well. To add a little unique design element to it, they are both hammered in texture; however, mine is polished and Andy’s is matte finish.  Andy had not seen his ring nor knew of its origin until our minister explained the story to our guests and I placed it on Andy’s finger. This was extremely special to me; it was the literal joining of two families into one and epitomized the support we have from our parents. It’s also something that was produced through time, love, and care, just like our relationship. And as luck would have it, my ring fits perfectly inside of his. 2) As so many will tell you, while the day is about the bride and groom, the people there are really what make it. We felt so lucky to be able to have so many family members in attendance. It just so happens that we are the “babies” in terms of our cousins and extended families. We loved being the reason that it worked out for everyone to come together. From Andy’s family, we had all 20 cousins in attendance and from my family we had 14. This made for some pretty phenomenal photos that I hope are enjoyed for generations. Some of the very special family members there included my maternal grandparents. I’m very close with them and having them there to celebrate and truly enjoy the festivities was such a blessing that not everyone gets to appreciate. 3) Andy and I love music and discovering new artists. Andy coordinated one of our favorite artists, Skout, to come and entertain everyone for our rooftop rehearsal dinner. Although the artist had a conflict and couldn’t come to the wedding, we chose a song called “1000 Highways” by SonReal for our first dance. This was special to us because while it isn’t the traditional wedding song that you commonly hear, the lyrics reflect on the strength of a relationship and the many roads and paths taken to get to the solidified place of marriage. It was important for this to be a moment for us and special to us, regardless of if it was a fan favorite. Emerald Empire Band did a fantastic job covering the song along with keeping all of the guests energized and entertained for the entirety of the night. Again, we love music and being with our family and friends; I truly don’t think we left the dancefloor all night long!

Caterer: Affairs to Remember//Dress Designer: Essense of Australia//Apparel: The Black Tux//Reception Venue: Atlanta Botanical Garden//Event Planner: Pop + Fizz//Floral Designer: Unique Floral Expressions//Band: Emerald Empire Band//Apparel: Gizelle James Couturiere – Wedding Gown Alterations//Dress Store: Wedding Angels//Dress Designer: Essence of Australia//Makeup Artist: Make me up GA//Photographer: Ember Studio

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