May 17, 2008 at 12:30pm
The Whitlock Inn
Marietta, GA


I (Melissa) am taking the liberty of writing this page from my point of view, since planning our big day fell mainly on my shoulders. It only seems fair!
 
LET THE PLANNING BEGIN...

When it came to planning our wedding, the first order of business was finding the perfect dress.  My mother and I went to Bride Beautiful in Sandy Springs to start the hunt.  (This was the same store where she bought her wedding gown over 35 years before, now it's in a different location!)  After trying on 6 dresses, it was the 5th that was the definite winner and our search was over after less than 2 hours!!  My dream dress turned out to be the Monalisa by Maggie Sottero, in diamond white.  We also got lucky and found the perfect veil so we placed the order for all of it that day!

A few days later, after looking back through some of my bridal magazines I realized I had folded the page down for the Monalisa ad in several different magazines, so I guess it was meant to be!! I really hadn't gone into the store with any set plans or expectations--I only knew I didn't want a strapless dress, corset back, or contrasting detailing and wouldn't you know the Monalisa had it all! My advice to all you brides looking for dresses is to try something on, regardless of what you think you want--you just never know what will hit you. And I truly believe that you do know YOUR dress when you try it on--it definitely hit us!
 
CHOOSING A LOCATION...

I have to give credit to a coworker and friend, Megan, for helping me find the absolute perfect spot for our wedding.  The only thing I was really set on when my parents and I started looking was that I wanted to get married in a historic house on the north side of town.  I had found a couple of possible candidates when my friend mentioned the Whitlock Inn, near Marietta Square.  I looked it up (somehow I had missed their ads in the local bridal mags) and decided to add it to my list, which now numbered just 3 places!  To try to knock out all 3 visits in one day, I took a Friday off from work and went with my parents to see what we had to choose from.

The Whitlock Inn was our first stop, and we were blown away the minute we walked in the door.  I had already decided that my wedding colors would be light pink with clover green, and various shades of pink and green were prominent in the beautifully appointed Inn.  After speaking with Alexis, the Innkeeper, and seeing pictures from their other weddings and all of the effort they go to, I think all three of us felt certain that this HAD to be the place!  But, being the "shoppers" that we are, we felt we had to at least make our way to Alpharetta to check out our other two options.  Finding a place couldn't be that easy, right?  Needless to say, neither of our other choices compared--one smelled funny (it's true!) and the other was a location that didn't offer any services, you had to coordinate everything yourself.  The Whitlock Inn at least provided catering, some of the decoration and flowers, and a wedding director, as well as being the most beautiful of the three locations, so back we went to put down the deposit and reserve May 17th, 2008 for the 12 - 4pm time block!  Yet another thing to check off my list, all within about 2 weeks!

FINDING OTHER VENDORS...

As I mentioned, the Whitlock Inn provided their own catering service, as well as a wedding director, so that part was already taken care of for us.  The next item I decided I wanted to get checked off the lengthy to-do list was the photographer.  My dad was a big help here and did a lot of research online before finding Carol Cole, a local photographer in Canton.  She was the first candidate we met with and we decided on the spot to hire her--she offered the most bang for the buck in terms of the actual physical pictures and albums, in addition to giving us the digital images with the album. In the end, our wedding album turned out absolutely amazing--everyone that has seen it has been very impressed!

At this stage in the game, we were less than a month into the planning process and I had already accomplished quite a bit--and with very little (if any) stress!  That provided me the opportunity to relax over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays and we were able to enjoy our engagement and spend time with our families.  We took our engagement pictures on December 2nd so that we could send them in Christmas cards. Also, in early December I went with my two bridesmaids to Bravura in Alpharetta to look for their dresses, and once again everything worked out perfectly!  I chose that store to start because they carried the entire Alfred Angelo line, and I was really interested in that designer because of all the color mix & match dresses that were available. My cousin, Diana, loved green and J.B.'s sister Erin was a huge fan of pink.  We were lucky to find a dress they both liked that allowed you to mix up colors, and the end result was exactly what I wanted--Diana was in a clover green dress with pink trim, and Erin was in the opposite. I've always been a fan of mixing it up a bit with the bridesmaids--and since I only had two I felt it would be especially appropriate.

After the New Year, I decided it was time to figure out who was actually going to marry us.  Luckily, my dad's family's pastor in McDonough was more than willing to help us out.  We had only met him a few times but really thought he'd be a great person to work with.  Turns out we were right, and we got to know him very well during our premarital counseling sessions.  Once again, everything was falling into place!

TIME TO REGISTER!

Finally, in February/March we decided it was time to go out and complete our gift registries.  What couple doesn't have fun getting to use the scanning gun while picking out the things they'll need to start their life together?!  We started out at Macy's, and after a couple of hours decided it was time to move on--dinner at Ted's Montana Grill first, then Bed Bath and Beyond to finish the evening!  I had a few friends who had told me stories of fights over the scanning gun when they were registering, but I guess I was lucky...  My fiancé works with scanning guns every day so he couldn't have cared less about scanning items for the registries... I had the gun all to myself :-)

LAST DETAILS...

We still had a few wedding-day details to take care of.  Who would provide the music for the ceremony and which florist would we decide to work with?  The Whitlock Inn had provided a list of some local vendors and we decided to make use of it to find a pianist for the ceremony.  We enjoyed meeting Peg Shepherd and were impressed with her extensive knowledge of a wide variety of music.  Once again we decided that there was no need to keep looking and signed her up! It seems we had a lot of luck with first-time meetings!
 
Finding a florist took a little more research on my part--what did we do before the Internet?!  Once again I didn't have any preconceived notions as to what I had to have (and actually, I think keeping an open mind kept the planning generally stress-free).  I just did a bit of browsing pictures to determine flowers that I liked that were available in pink, as well as arrangements that would work for our bouquets and the few spots in the Inn where we needed them.  The first place my mother and I visited was Perfect Petals, in Marietta.  Though their shop was a bit cramped and scattered, we decided they seemed to live up to their name and we liked what they had to offer and the suggestions that our consultant made.  Once again, the end result was fantastic--we received so many compliments on the floral decorations from wedding guests!  Christine, our consultant, had designed beautiful bouquets for the stairs, gorgeous bouquets for me and my bridesmaids, but the true highlight had to be the display on the mantle.  It wasn't just some huge arrangement of flowers, but floral "towers" interspersed with hurricanes and pillar candles for a truly unique mantlepiece.

While there were a few bumps and hiccups along the way, overall the planning process was astoundingly easy, for which I am very grateful!  It was fun to browse through bridal magazines for ideas, though I think the ultimate lesson I learned from that was that the magazines (with all their suggested timelines and other must-dos/must-haves) tended to add to my stress rather than relieve it!  Things went much more smoothly when I focused more on how we wanted OUR wedding to be, not what other sources told us we should be doing or what others were doing.  We were very fortunate that my parents were able to provide us the perfect day to exchange our vows.

THE BIG DAY

Saturday, May 17, 2008 dawned early for me, and a quick peek out the window confirmed that the weather forecasters were right--no rain!  The previous two weekend had been rainy, and my friend's wedding on the 3rd had to be moved indoors because of it! (Admittedly, rain wouldn't have been a huge disaster as we had planned an indoor wedding, but nice weather guaranteed some beautiful outdoor photo ops!)  I had to be out early for my 8am hair appointment so there was no sleeping in for me that day!   My mother and I sat chatting with Georginna while she worked on my hair... one curl at a time around the curling iron.  The finished result--half up (secured in the veil and decorative comb with a few bobby pins) and half down in loose curls--was exactly what I had imagined for my wedding day.  It honestly could not have been any more perfect!
 
The appointment lasted longer than we had bargained for, so we rushed back home to finish getting ready--I still had to do my makeup (yep, I did it myself, which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows me) and my parents had to finish getting dressed before driving down to Marietta.  We were right on schedule arriving at the Whitlock Inn, though, and I went up to the "Bride's Room" first thing to start getting into my dress.  It needs mentioning that my dress has a corset-style back, which definitely increases the amount of time it takes to actually get into it!  Fortunately, our wedding director had years of experience helping out, so when my mother and cousin were starting out differently and working at cross-points, she took over and got me laced up in next to no time!
 
So now it was time for all the pre-wedding pictures with my family and my bridesmaids.  J. B.'s groomsmen and dad did a good job making sure that he wouldn't see me before the ceremony--if I was out back, they kept him in the front of the house and when I was on the front porch, he was out in the back gardens.  Once it was J.B.'s turn to pose for the camera I was hidden away back in my room to wait for the start of the ceremony.  That is probably the point when I finally started showing any evidence of nerves, but it was truly just excitement to get to the start of our wedding!  I was ready to get married!  As my mother told someone, I was "as cool as a cucumber."  I would later find out that many people kept asking J. B. if he was nervous, but every time his answer was "no."  We had both been waiting for this day for a long time and we were excited to finally commit our lives to each other!
 
Finally it was time to start the processional!  My dad and I made our way down the front staircase into the beautiful dining room that had been prepared for the ceremony.  The only hiccup was the one time my dad accidentally stepped on my train--J. B. would manage to do the same when we walked back down the aisle after the ceremony!  (The aisle was not quite as wide as I had hoped for, and with the full skirt of my dress I needed all the room I could get!)  We had planned simple, traditional vows for the ceremony and it was hard to believe when it was all over!  But we enjoyed our first kiss as husband and wife and made our way back outside for some more pictures while the remaining guests enjoyed the start of the reception.
 
We truly were very fortunate as far as the weather was concerned.  I honestly think that has been the most beautiful day we have had all year!  The temperature was in the low 70's and there was hardly a cloud in the sky.  Even the flowers that the Inn had most recently used in their landscaping coordinated with our wedding colors!  
 
The reception was a lot of fun--we actually had time to enjoy some of our food and were able to mingle with all of our guests--one of many advantages to small weddings!!!  Billy, J. B.'s best man, gave us the sweetest toast and my father followed with a sweet sentiment and thanked everyone for being there.  Finally the time had arrived to cut the cake, which we hated to do because it was so beautiful... It was well worth it, though--one of the best wedding cakes I've ever had!!  It was a traditional cake, with chocolate ganache filling and buttercream icing.  We are definitely looking forward to eating that top layer on our 1-year anniversary!
 
Before we knew it, it was time to leave, so we made our way out into the gardens behind the Inn, where everyone was sending us off with bubbles.
 
But the day was not over for us--we were on our way to the assisted living home where my grandfather lived to bring the wedding to him and the other residents, who so kindly joined us in the celebration!  We had another round of cake-cutting with my grandfather and were also able to open his gifts while we were there.  While I was sad that he couldn't be at our wedding, I'm very grateful that we had the opportunity to bring the reception to him--particularly since he passed away a few months later, in August. My grandmother had already gone over a year before, so I am thankful for the time we were able to spend with my grandfather.
 
I honestly feel like we had a perfect wedding day.  If anything went wrong, we either didn't know about it or it was something very trivial.  We are so grateful for everyone that was able to attend and celebrate with us, and we appreciate all the kind words and well wishes from those who weren't.

I hope you've enjoyed reading a little about our day from my point of view.  As you can see, I've posted several pictures from the wedding--these are all from our wedding photographer, Carol Cole.
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On the front porch of the Inn.
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Cutting the cake - it was no easy feat!
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Close-up of our hands cutting the cake.
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The bouquet toss.
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None of the guys wanted that garter.
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Leaving the Whitlock Inn.
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The Whitlock Inn on what had to be the most beautiful day all year.
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The stairs I walked down as part of the ceremony.
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With my wedding dress (in my all-white pre-wedding outfit).
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My mother tucks in the corset ties of my dress.
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One of my favorite pictures.
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With my bridesmaids, Erin and Diana.
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The groom by a gate outside the Inn.
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J. B. and his parents.
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The guys: Brian, Billy and the groom.
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Another favorite pre-ceremony picture.
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The kiss! We are officially married!
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Post-ceremony pic outside. Even the flowers were ready for our day! Coincidence??
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With my parents.
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The bridal party.
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With my new in-laws.
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With J. B.'s dad and stepmother.
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Our fabulous wedding cake - it tasted every bit as good a year later, too!
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Sharing a kiss after the cake-cutting.
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With friends from college.
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Casey caught the bouquet.
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But Heath was closest to it, so he got it!
We hope you enjoyed reading about our special day and looking at some of the pictures! For more pictures, please visit our Photos page.