I was in denial about the return of the colder months until I saw Marielle + Michael’s winter wedding. Marielle, who is a wedding professional (one of the talented members of the family behind Mark Williams Studio), embraced the romance behind the absence of color during winter and went to work creating a DIY wedding that tops the charts. Marielle’s “I do’s” to Michael were packed with family antiques and notions and then pulled together seamlessly by family and friends. We love that their winter wedding feels positively warm and cozy with the addition of handmade details and sentimental charm.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I actually went with a friend a few months before to look at dresses and she tried it on! Of course, I loved it on her — I never thought that it would be my dress! It was the second one that I tried on, and I knew immediately that it was the one.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Being that my family, bridesmaids, and myself shot the pictures, we had no choice but to see each other before and get the “to-do’s” out of the way. Our first look was actually on the dock of the mill pond. It was the initial spot that I fell in love with at the venue, and if I had planned a small, intimate wedding, I would have married on the dock. It was a perfect compromise and a perfect moment.
Marielle is a woman of many talents! She put together this beautiful bouquet on her own and made a few nods to the women of her family. The blooms were tied with a hand-crocheted ivory lace handed down from her great grandmother and then adorned with an ivory cameo necklace, a gift from her mother.
As the DIY/wedding professional that I am, I decided to do all of the décor and floral myself. I fell in love with the look of winter and the absence of color during this time of year, so I decided to mimic this in my flowers. All of the flowers were made of seasonal plants that grow in my grandmother’s yard: dried baby’s breath, sola/tapioca wood flowers, cotton and cotton flowers, tallow berries, and preserved roses in my bouquet. I spent hours and hours hand crafting each design, but the end result and the feeling of creating my own wedding with my hands was so rewarding.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was the location. When Michael and I began dating (as children), he continuously told me that he knew exactly where he wanted to get married. I never understood quite how breathtakingly beautiful the place was until he made his case after we were engaged. Needless to say, I was blown away! The steeple that was positioned beside the ceremony was the steeple that I was baptized under at my church as a child. This of course, made my mother fall in love.
Set among the bare trees at McGarrh Mill Pond, M + M brought to life a ceremony that stuns. The dramatic aisle and light breeze could not have been more romantic!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. I walked down the aisle to “Turning Page” by Sleeping at Last. I am a die-hard Twilight lover and this song just spoke to my heart! Our first dance was to the first song that Michael and I listened to together as kids, “This Year’s Love” by David Grey. For our father-daughter dance, we danced to “Fields of Gold” by Sting. It’s Daddy’s all-time favorite. We have so many memories of it as kids. It was the most emotional part of the entire day!
Did you write your own vows? We actually recited vows written by our pastor in the ceremony, but we had a sacred vow exchange and prayer ceremony on the dock following the ceremony under the crepe myrtle lane. Michael and I exchanged written letters to each other, and threw the bottle in the water on our honeymoon. Pastors, who had been a special part of our life laid hands on us in a beautiful moment of blessing.
Everything was a timeless expression of Southern love. I wanted my wedding to be beautiful to everyone who attended, old and young. I have such an appreciation for my family’s collection of antiques and handmade notions from our ancestors past. All of the furniture used at the wedding came from within our ancestor’s plantation home, all of the lace was handmade by the women of my lineage. It was a “collaboration” of art and handmade beauty not only by me and my family, but our generations past. One detail that I loved was my garter. I made it from the lace of my grandmothers wedding dress sleeves. My sisters will also carry on this tradition.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Pulling it all off was definitely a challenge! My family and dear friends brought the beautiful scene to life with the details, shot all of the pictures, and were a part of one of the most emotional days of our lives. It was such a beautiful experience being able to work as “A Family of Artistic Professionals” and see my dreams come to life. I could have never been happier with the beauty of it all. We ARE our business and my wedding was a perfect showcase of our love for each other and what we do.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. After a crack of his adorable smile, Michael caught my eye in the fourth grade and swept me off my feet in the seventh grade during our two-week fling. We “rediscovered” each other in our high school art class. We began dating that summer and have never been apart since. I find it funny how so many people have a story of when they “knew” they were right for each other or when they fell in love. However, Michael and I have ALWAYS known! We have been each other’s best friend nearly half of our lives!
Describe the proposal. I was in the art studio working with ceramics, making a place setting of stoneware for the two of us to have one day in our future home. When I left the studio that afternoon, Michael asked me to come pick him up at Sweetheart Circle. It is a legend at Georgia Southern University that if you walk around Sweetheart Circle three times with your significant other, you will one day marry that person. The entire time as I drove there, I was thinking to myself, “I look like such a mess. My hands are shriveled and muddy! I just know he is going propose! He never asks me to pick him up here!” I was right, but of course at that point the mud didn’t matter, and even though my hands were shriveled to nothing the ring was still beautiful on my hand.
In what month did you get married? We were married on January 7, 2012.
How many guests attended your wedding? Over 500! This was with our guest list CUT! Having a line of small family businesses, we know a lot of people!)
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My childhood friend, Jordan Mason read scripture from Song of Solomon 8:6&7, “Hang my locket around your neck, wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing— it sweeps everything before it. Flood waters can’t drown love, torrents of rain can’t put it out. Love can’t be bought, love can’t be sold — it’s not to be found in the marketplace.” My first cousin, Christian Maile read from 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.” He read from the wedding Bible that my late grandfather used when he officiated at wedding ceremonies.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: I actually had a table full of different deserts and cakes! The cakes were all heavenly in flavor. I decorated and assembled the tiered cakes myself.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? Being so DIY, we managed to have an amazing event for approximately $19,000. Keep in mind, a LARGE portion of this expense was feeding over 500 guests!
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? I honestly can say that I don’t think I splurged on anything! Everything was 100% worth it and reasonable in my eyes.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? My Daddy! Being that we work together 24/7 and attend weddings every weekend, it was such a surprise to watch him turn into a complete ball bag! Our time walking down the aisle and during our first dance was the most special part of the day.
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