Tom and Bri are the type of people you just want to be around; they're kind, thoughtful, appreciative, genuine and joyful. After just photographing Bri's older sister's wedding last summer, we arrived to their wedding feeling like family friends.
Jake and Shanelle met one February evening on a terrace overlooking the city of Chiangmai, Thailand. They were both teaching English in China and met through their program's conference there. Shanelle told me that when she first saw Jake she thought, "that is the most attractive man I've ever seen... I bet he's married." A mutual friend introduced them and they started talking and realized they were both from Nashville. They instantly connected. I think they saw a bit of "home" in each other, being so far away from their actual home. Over the next few months they kept in touch from afar since they were stationed in different parts of the country. That summer when they were both home in Nashville, Jake asked Shanelle out to lunch. Shortly after, they met each other's families, friends and finally started dating. Back in China, they were able to grow and build their relationship, encourage one another, share their ideas and dreams, and take long train rides to visit each other. That next year, at the same conference where they met, Jake proposed.
Shanelle was the fifth family member to wear her grandmother's dress. I love meaningful details like that!
I was touched by their personal, meaningful, intentional vows and wanted to share some of the words spoken to each other.
"I covenant to love God by loving you unconditionally—by providing for you before myself— protecting you—by being kind to you—by honoring you—by loving you even as Christ loves the Church."
May He make our joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, and united in Spirit. I promise to always honor, love, and follow you so that we might with one voice make His name known wherever we go.
Where God leads you, I will follow. Where you serve, I will serve by your side. Jacob, you are my forever partner, and I give you my heart. I give you all that I am and all that God intends me to be."
This wedding was extra special because Jake and I grew up in the same church and our parents are good friends. Therefore, my Mom was there breaking it down on the dance floor and that was awesome.
It was such an honor to be a part this wedding and to witness Jake and Shanelle's love for each other, their family and for the Lord. They're going to great things together, that's for sure.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you?
As a young girl, I never really imagined what my wedding day would be like; instead, I would spend hours on my grandparents’ peanut farm, looking up at the blue sky over hundreds of acres of land, while imagining what it would be like to one day move to a big city and fall in love. We had our wedding on a middle Tennessee farm to combine our appreciation for the city that brought us together with my childhood daydreams of falling in love on my grandparents’ south Alabama land.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell!
I wore my grandmother Bobbie’s pearl earrings and diamond tennis bracelet as my something old, and my dress and veil were new. My something blue was a keepsake box that belonged to my great-grandmother, and my new sister-in-law gave me a silver sixpence for my shoe. My something borrowed was such a surprise. On the morning of our wedding, my aunt and my grandmother came by to share a piece of family history with me, and they let me borrow several trinkets, including my great-great-grandparents’ copper wedding rings. My great-great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Italy in the mid-1890s, and they were madly in love, but had to come overseas at different times for financial reasons, so they were married by proxy. One of the rings says “Amore” which means love in Italian. I felt so honored to pin those rings to my bouquet along with the other family heirlooms.
Our flowers were picked to honor my late grandmother Bobbie, who was an Alabama Master Gardener and my hero. She could find beauty in any flower growing wild on the side of the road, and her perennials still blossom every spring, so I carried her small garden spade in my bouquet to have a piece of her with me. We worked with a farmer florist to pick the most elegant and natural flowers that were in season. All of our flowers were locally grown and free flowing, just like I wanted them.
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not?
We decided to do a first look and we were glad that we did. We are both pretty private people and I don’t like to be the center of attention, so as the day progressed, I became a bit anxious. Right after we saw each other, it felt like everything else disappeared in an irreplaceable moment that just the two of us shared, and it is a memory we will cherish forever.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day?
Looking at each other during the ceremony and reciting our vows was the most memorable moment. We had the dreariest weather on our wedding day, but only joyful tears came down my cheeks during our intimate ceremony. Although our outdoor ceremony was quickly moved indoors, we could have been anywhere in the world, and all that mattered was that we were publicly committing our lives to one other in the presence of God and everyone we loved.
We decided to recite traditional vows. I was not expecting to be so emotional when my eyes locked with Jamie’s as we were joined as husband and wife, but I’ll never forget him wiping away my tears while I said my vows. We had so many guests comment on how sweet and reverent our wedding ceremony was, and that was our main objective.
We wanted our wedding celebration to represent our heritage and our hearts. We collected old photographs to showcase our beautiful families. My grandfather Sammy worked tirelessly for months leading up to our wedding to cut down a dying oak tree on his farm to make the wood slabs for our reception centerpieces, and my uncle let us borrow bottles that he had collected for decades to sit atop the wood. Sammy is an important person in my life, so it was an honor to have him say the most touching blessing before our reception meal. It felt just like home.
Our favorite detail might be the one hundred candles we had in the barn. The brass candlesticks were a last minute addition and they not only took our breath away, but also added such an intimate and cozy feeling to the rainy day.
How did you meet? Tell us your love story. We both joined Teach for America as corps members in 2011 and were placed in Nashville. We met the day we moved and spent that summer in the Mississippi Delta teaching summer school and becoming friends. We tried to stay just friends, but we couldn’t deny that there was something special between us for very long. On one fateful August afternoon, Jamie was going to the Nashville Public Library to do some work for school and asked me if I wanted to go, too. The two of us have been a happy pair and by each other’s sides ever since that first “date” at the library.
Tell us all about the proposal! After celebrating three years of dating, Jamie proposed on August 22, 2014. His birthday fell on a Tuesday, so I kept telling him to pick out a restaurant to go to for a nice Friday night dinner. Friday came and he hadn’t picked a place yet, but he called me that morning to say that we had reservations at one of our favorite little cafes in Sylvan Park. When I came home later that day to white rose petals on my front steps, I certainly suspected a proposal. I walked in and there he was, holding a colorful bouquet in the candlelight. He said the most beautiful words and got down on one knee in the kitchen. Before he could even finish the question, I exclaimed the happiest “Yes!” with the happiest tears. We decided that we wanted to wait to call our families until a little later in order to take in the moments of only us knowing. As we walked up to the restaurant, all of a sudden, I heard a group say “Congratulations!” I looked closer to see my sisters, Jamie’s brother and sister-in-law, and both sets of our parents, all of whom had never met each other before that night. It was the perfect private proposal on a regular Friday afternoon, and then the most charmed evening with our closest loved ones.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? With all of the anticipation leading up to our wedding day, we knew that laying the foundation for a strong marriage was the most important part. We read books together, prayed together, and attended premarital counseling courses together. We genuinely enjoyed the season of engagement because we viewed it as a time to prepare for marriage.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Breathe before and on the day of your wedding; be completely present and take in both the small and monumental moments. Understand that the best is yet to come, but do your best to savor the time that is fleeting.
What’s next for you as a couple? Right now, we are soaking in being newlyweds and we love it. It still blows us away that we get to spend the rest of our lives together. We love coming home and just being married, as simple as that sounds. We are currently saving up to buy our first home. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for us!
Original post written by Lisa of Southern Weddings and the bride herself, Sam Gutter | Photographer: Rachel Moore Photography | 2nd Photographer: Lauren Stewart | Planner: Modern Vintage Events | Venue: Green Door Gourmet at Hidden Valley Farms | Florist: Basil and Bergamot | Caterer and Cake: Whole Foods Catering | Rentals: Southern Events Party Rentals | Lighting: Bright Event Productions | Band: 24/7 | Paper Products: Marked | Bride’s Gown: Ti Adora Style 7451 by Alvina Valenta | Hair and Makeup: Katie Russo Beauty | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Donna Morgan | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank | Musicians: Mockingbird Musicians | Getaway Car: Matchless Transportation