Rustic Shabby Chic Marries Modern Science | Real Hindsight Advice

Green and White Tennessee Wedding

Amanda + Neil
April 14, 2012
Townsend, Tennessee,

What a contrast! It just goes to show you that there are so many ways to had a wonderful wedding. At the beginning of the week we featured a wedding full of emotional details. Today we have a wedding that's full of physical details, and every one of them beautifully represent the bride and groom's style. My favorite? the rustic wooden table numbers with elements from the periodic table painted on, of course! Enjoy!

green raffia napkin ring wedding gown and table setting photo board shabby chic bridal jewelry

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Why a mountain wedding?

Because they are beautiful.

Because they remind us of the awesomeness and power of God and the gravity of the commitment we made that day.

Because where there are mountains there are hiking trails and caves and scenic views and cool lodges where all our guests (from across the country) could stay in one affordable place and enjoy a wonderful mini-vacation.

Where did you find your inspiration?

We settled on a theme of things that we enjoy. But that doesn't really help you pick tablecloths and centerpieces. So we picked three words to help us define the style of our wedding and to guide our decisions. Then every time we needed to make a decision or were soliciting ideas and help from friends/vendors, I could go back to those three words. For us it was natural, romantic, and family-oriented.

What are three things you're glad you did?

Just three!?!?! Here are three of our favorites.

  • We held a welcome picnic the night before for all the guests rather than a formal rehearsal dinner. Not only did we have more time to hang out with our guests, but the people we love from all the phases of our lives got to meet and hang out together. By the time we were dancing at the wedding we were no longer divided by associations but were one big awesome party.
  • We hired amazing professionals who are also awesome people to help make our day a success. Amanda Summerlin Photography, The Pour Guys bartenders and waiters, One Girls Graphics, Sweet P’s BBQ, and our venue, Trillium Springs. We hired people who were down-to-earth, honest, friendly, and funny. People we would want to spend the afternoon with. Each one exceeded our expectations and helped us execute our plans flawlessly while we were busy getting married. We are thankful for their experience and professionalism, making our big day a big success.
  • We had our families help marry us by participating in a special ring warming ceremony. Neil is a catholic from Cincinnati, OH; Amanda is a congregationalist from Chattanooga, TN. After college and grad school we moved from Ann Arbor, MI to Chicagoland just six months before our wedding. So we didn’t exactly have a family minister/priest to marry us in the Smoky Mountains. Although we did find a nice “clergy for hire” guy to officially marry us, we wanted to create an intimate moment during the ceremony surrounded by the people who raised us and have supported us when we made our vows. So we invited our wedding party and parents to form a circle around us at the altar and pass our rings around saying a quiet prayer or blessing for our marriage. We will never forget the power and love we felt in that moment surrounded by our family as we forged our own new family.

Three things you wish you had done?

  • We wanted to save money and avoid a lot of the wedding industry craziness. So we had a lot of do it yourself sort of stuff. However, we didn’t quite grasp how much work it would be to, for example, setup 20 tables for the reception the morning of the reception while getting hair and makeup done and setting up the sound system and putting up cute pinwheels and writing a chalkboard menu and setting up a cocktail hour tent with 10 fondue pots of cheese and….well it was a LOT of work. It all worked out due to amazing aunts and uncles and groomsmen and moms and vendors but we really should have scheduled more time and more help for all the running around and setup.
  • We wish we had either hidden the itunes DJ computer or stationed a trustworthy friend in front of it. After all our long conversations about what songs to play and in what order, some of our “well-hydrated” friends took over the playlist and we missed out on some of our favorite songs.
  • We wish we had made time for premarital counseling. With finishing PhD’s, starting new jobs, getting a new puppy, and moving to a new city we were pretty busy throughout the 8 months of wedding planning. We used some lists from the internet to start conversations about things and took time to build our family budget (even before we made our wedding budget), but we still think we could have gotten more out of quality marriage planning time with a counselor.

Three things you wish you hadn't done?

  • We wish we hadn’t gone with the cheapest rental company. You know how everyone says you get what you pay for? Sometimes you do.
  • We wish we hadn’t stuck around for cleanup the next morning. Our awesome venue included a special honeymoon cabin in the mountains. But the next morning we realized we didn’t have a car and there was quite a bit of cleaning and packing up to do. So we spent the morning after our wedding sweeping/cleaning/loading cars instead of relaxing over a Southern breakfast somewhere and reliving all the magical moments.
  • I wish I hadn’t done a full hair and makeup trial. We had weekend in TN between picking the venue (Sept) and getting married (April) for a bridal shower and wedding planning. We drove through the night from Chicago to TN. We then had one day to find a food vendor, a rental company, a salon, and check out the lodge and venue one more time. I thought that this was something I had to do. So we divided and conquered. My dad and Neil headed to the venue and my mom and I to the salon. For the next few months I struggled to remember exactly how things were arranged at the site which caused a lot of undue stressed particularly because of a (completely innocuous) ski-lift they built at our venue over the winter that I kept imagining in the background of every picture. Oh and my hair…it turned out completely different on the day of than at the trial and the makeup took just as long.

Three things you wish you hadn't worried about?

  • We worried a lot about a small dirt hill that guests would have to walk down to get to the ceremony site. We almost rented stairs or ramps. But in the end everyone just walked down the hill (except for the bride…I had a golfcart!).
  • We ditched a lot of “traditional” wedding things. No bouquet/garter toss, no wedding cake, no buffet or plated dinner, no passed appetizers, no dollar dances, no Mr. and Mrs. Same last name. I worried that our guests would be disappointed that we didn’t have these things. But it turns out family style bbq, tarts, and a Livin’ on a Prayer sing-a-long was just as much fun for them as it was for us!
  • We had a schedule written out, hour by hour, for the day. In fact, we gave our brother-in-law exactly 3 minutes for the prayer before dinner. Neil was very nervous about the schedule, and was checking with everyone constantly. Right before the wedding, the waiters kicked him out of the reception venue, assuring him it was under control. Trusting them, he obliged and was able to enjoy the time leading up to the ceremony greeting guests and relaxing with the wedding party.

What is your very best hindsight advice?

From the beginning we viewed our mountain wedding as a party and a vacation for ourselves and our guests. It was a weekend for good fun, good friends, good beer, and good times. That philosophy reminded us to take time to go for hike in Cades Cove with our guests, play bocce ball and eat smores, laugh and reminisce, and most of all enjoy the weekend we got married. In hindsight we could have reduced even more of the stress with better planning or maybe paying a little more for extra hands for setup and cleanup so that our closest friends and family could have worked a little less and enjoyed a little more. We wish we would have saved money by eliminating some of the details instead of skimping on the workforce.

Team Wedding

Team DIY

Boutonnieres, flower barrettes and pins, ring pillows, flower girl ball, Amanda’s hair piece, reception centerpieces, picture easels, food and dishes at the cocktail hour, food and dishes at the picnic, gift card suitcase, and all sundry decorations were provided/created/prepared by family and friends.

No florist. My mom picked up the flowers on the tables at a grocery store Friday night.