Today’s real wedding is with love birds Alysha and John. These two made sure their wedding and love story was all about tradition, family and love for each other. Incorporating a bit of their hometowns and each wearing “something borrowed” pieces makes this wedding an exciting story to tell! Big thanks to photographer Haley Sheffield who shared her gorgeous capture of this romantic wedding.
Our Love Story
Most people are surprised to hear that John and I met on a blind date. John was born and raised in New Orleans, LA and I am an Atlanta Native. John went to Washington & Lee in Virginia for undergrad and I went to Auburn University. Seems unlikely that our two paths would ever cross, however, John’s profession brought him to Atlanta where he was completing a 5 year surgical residency and I headed home after college to teach. A few years later, is when fate set in. Our first official blind date, John actually canceled! Blame it on residency, we rescheduled for a few weeks later. Flash forward to our “first date”, I agreed to go on a “second” dinner date (Loca Luna in Buckhead) provided my friend Morgan (sorority sister and MOH) and her now husband James (John’s residency friend and groomsman) came along. We met at James’ Buckhead apartment before dinner where John introduced himself by shaking my hand. As silly as it may sound, that’s the moment I knew he was “the one.” The following weekend we had a whirlwind REAL first date with dinner at Agave, drinks at JCT Kitchen, and late night dancing at Northside Tavern – anyone that knows me personally, knows dancing is not my forte so friends and family knew John was a keeper just based on the fact that he got me out on a dance floor… on a first date… two years later John proposed in a helicopter over the Atlanta skyline.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR! We went down to the beach for labor day weekend and I was convinced that THIS was THE weekend. My closest college and high school friends had been texting me all weekend with “well….?” because everyone was sure that THIS HAD TO BE THE WEEKEND. Monday rolls around and we’re making the five hour trek back to Atlanta with no ring and no cool beach proposal story.
I’m pretty sure every girl who is on the brink of engagement has had this feeling at some point.
Tuesday after labor day weekend, it was back to work for both of us and for me it meant taking my students horse back riding. Before we left for horse back riding, I received a text from John saying we had to go to dinner tonight with Dr. so and so and so and so because they were interviewing a new Dr. for a position at the hospital. Being naive, I didn’t think this sounds suspicious at all and I say ‘ok’ At the end of my school day, I receive another text saying I need to be ready at five. Reservations are at 6. I start to panic (not because I realized what was happening) but because it was 4:00pm, I had been around horses, dirt, and dust all day with my class and 5:00 would mean no shower for me. I rushed home and barely have time to wipe my self down with baby wipes and change in to a dress. I am not happy at this moment.
John picked me up promptly at five and off we go in to rush hour Atlanta traffic to pick up Dr. Dong (yes, that was his real name) for an interview dinner at Bones. John says Dr. Dong is staying in a hotel somewhere past Atlanta Med Center. I complain about the traffic and why someone else couldn’t have picked him up, blah blah…at one point John fakes a phone call to his program director to tell him we would be late for dinner, traffic was awful, and we were nowhere close to Dr. Dong’s hotel. Before I know it we are down past 6 flags and red flags (in a good way) start going off. John then says, we are not going to pick Dr. Dong up, the whole story was made up, and we’re doing something else…ensues tears because I finally figured out what was happening. We pull off in to a warehouse parking lot and I spot a helicopter! Our helicopter pilot is one of John’s good friends from the hospital. Up we go in to the helicopter…coolest thing I have ever done to this date. We flew all over Atlanta, and just as the sun was setting, John proposed!
We began planning right away (with the help of Chancey Charm!) and knew that we wanted to be married in Atlanta as it holds such a special place in our hearts. The majority of our guests were coming from out of town, so we wanted our wedding weekend to also feel like a vacation for our guests. The Ritz Carlton Buckhead was an easy choice for a reception venue because of the elegant accommodations and because John had asked my father to lunch there to ask for my hand in marriage. Tradition is important to both John and I and we wanted that to resonate through the day. One of my most favorite pieces of the day was wearing my grandmother’s wedding dress from the 40′s. My mom wore it back in the 80′s and with the help of some fabulous vendors, I had the dress preserved and (slightly) redesigned for my day.
Three generations and one dress is a pretty spectacular thing!
Advice: Let’s get real..
The day is such a blur. Everyone tells you to breath, take snapshots, enjoy every moment. The truth is everything happens so fast, it is impossible to remember to do all of those things, you’re lucky if you remember to breathe.
Budget talk – First off, have a budget. It’s difficult to know how much to spend on what but things really add up quickly. A good friend had given me the advice to focus your budget on the three things that are most important to you.(Mine were photographer, band, and food). I wish we had gotten a videographer (because the day does go by so fast, it’d be nice to look back on the parts I don’t remember) but I didn’t allocate for one in my budget. Honestly, that was one of the best pieces of advice I was given during my planning process.
Let go of control – If you’re anything like me, I wanted to be in control of my wedding 100%, but quickly learned for the sake of my sanity that was not going to happen – delegate tasks and jobs to bridesmaids and family, wedding planners were lifesaving (and in many ways $$$ saving because of their connections with other vendors). It was such a life saver having a matron of honor who was on top of her game and bridesmaids who dropped anything to help me with even the most mundane tasks (like stuffing welcome bags). My mom was a rockstar during the whole engagement process and made phone calls and emails when I was at work – let people help you!
ETSY is your best friend. Enough said. 90% of our welcome bag was done with vendors from etsy and bridesmaids gifts too.
Take dancing lessons, but don’t necessarily choreograph your first dance – made us feel so much more comfortable dancing in front of everyone because we at least knew how to do a basic step..
Incorporate things that are special to you, one of the things I loved most was being able to incorporate things that were special to John and I (i.e. my grandmother’s wedding dress, our guestbook was a map of New Orleans and Georgia, John wears his grandfather’s wedding band, John’s from New Orleans so we chose to enter our reception with a Second Line Parade led by ARG (a New Orleans wedding tradition) guest favors included a custom second line hanky to wave as we entered the ballroom, we based our menu around southern foods since we’re both from the south, just to name a few…
Wedding planners are helpful (chancey charm rocks!)
Start writing thank you notes as soon as gifts arrive and DON’T forget to write one.
A million things can go wrong on your day and all of the little details start to blur together, i.e. the day of I realized I didn’t have the blusher on my veil, we forgot the knife to cut the cake, we forgot to eat during the reception, I didn’t get to say hi to some people that I wanted to, etc…but at the end of it all, it is about you and your groom and your love for each other and that’s all that really matters!
My favorite moment of the day was walking down the aisle with my dad to the love of my life. It’s in indescribable feeling. I wish I could relive that moment everyday.
Event Design & Planning by Sarah Chancey and Marilisa Schachinger for Chancey Charm
Photographer: Haley Sheffield
Ceremony Venue - Holy Spirit Catholic Church
Venue, Catering & Wedding Cake - The Ritz-Carlton Buckhead
Florist - Beth Wheeler Clatersbaugh for Stylish Stems
Lounge Furniture - Crush Event Rentals
Linens - Linen Hero
Band - Atlanta Rhythm & Groove (East Coast Entertainment)
Paper Goods - Paper Source
Calligraphy – Love, Louise Designs
Bride’s ceremony gown was worn by her grandmother in 1948, again by her mother in 1983 and preserved and restored to it’s original beauty by the Professional Cleaners of Sandy Springs and redesigned by Rodica Lazarian Couture Bridal Salon
Reception Gown - Nicole Miller
Bridesmaid Dress - Wedding Angels
Hair – Jennifer Roberts of Scandals the Hair Salon
Make Up - Samantha Reese
Transportation - Atlantic Transportation