For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved a beautiful love story, and for me, a wedding is the chance to truly capture the most perfect day of that love story. From beautiful florals to finding the perfect dress, I’ve always been enthralled with the makings of a wedding. When the Pinterest-era began, it only cultivated my love of weddings, and I began to envision what my own would one day be like, especially when I found the person I knew I wanted to spend my life with.
Stephen and I first met in college when mutual friends introduced us at a beach music concert. Fun fact – he asked me to dance and I said no, though he eventually won out, and I ended up dancing with him anyway. Flash forward a little while when we started dating. Little did I know then that I was experiencing my last first date or last first kiss, but everything quickly fell into place as a couple, and we moved towards a more serious relationship. We spent the next three years of college together, and he graduated from North Carolina State University on the same day I walked across the Meredith College stage and accepted my diploma.
The next few years were made up of long distance and a lot of moves. We covered what felt like all sides of North Carolina, moving to and around Charlotte, Raleigh, and Wilmington. It felt like we would never get settled into a place that wouldn’t require us to spend countless hours and miles on I-40, but in the winter of 2016, we ended up living in the same zip code after what felt like forever. We’re both proud to now call Wilmington home.
On a warm summer evening in August, Stephen asked me to marry him overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. The day had been a great one but ordinary nonetheless – a morning spent on the beach with friends followed by an afternoon thunderstorm. We made plans to take dinner out to my grandmother’s beach house for an impromptu picnic on the dock, which I thought nothing of as we both loved spending time there. Before I knew it, dinner had ended, the sun was setting, and Stephen dropped to one knee, asking me to be his wife. As I realized what was happening, I immediately started crying – it was such a surreal moment! What began as an ordinary day became one that will always remain one of my favorites.
Everything about the moment was perfect. My grandmother’s beach house has always been important to me. My Nonny, as she was affectionately called by her grandchildren and our friends, and I spent many hours on that same dock where Stephen proposed, talking about life, love, and everything in between. Sadly she passed away after a battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease before Stephen proposed, but despite that, it felt like she was right there to witness it all. The fact that Stephen chose a place so special to me made the proposal that much more emotional. To top it off, Stephen hid my mom and sister on the top of the balcony to take pictures of the proposal while I stood oblivious below.
After a few days of soaking up the engagement bliss, we delved into the wedding planning process, coming up with ways to make our wedding truly represent us. I’ve been inspired by classic, timeless elements with Southern flair. We will be saying our vows in a Baptist church followed by a country club reception at River Landing, so I’ve been drawn to neutrals and greenery, lush flowers, gold calligraphy, and meaningful details that are representative of us. We met at a concert and both have a love for beach music, so booking a band that allows us to dance the night away with our friends was an important part of our planning. I also have a sincere love of french fries, so our guests may be seeing a little late-night snack or two.
Though our wedding is turning out just like I always dreamed, the most important thing I’ve learned is that, despite my affection for all things wedding related, the flowers, the dress, and the weather won’t matter when August 5th arrives. Whether it’s just the two of us or we’re surrounded by 300 guests, my wedding will be absolutely perfect because I get to marry my best friend.
You can follow along with Zelle on her blog, Southern Style.
Make sure to look out for her wedding in our next issue!