Photography by Leslee Mitchell.
We get so excited when a bride submits her own wedding for publication. Why? Because we get to hear all about the day from a couple who were so thrilled with their wedding they want to share it with all of you – and their responses are particularly thoughtful and eloquent. Now, don’t get to thinking there aren’t plenty of beautiful details too – wait until you see the bride’s sleek, timeless satin Rivini gown (those cap sleeves!) – but it’s Jordan’s words that I love the most. If you’re right in the middle of planning yourself, trust me when I say her advice is just so spot on: “watch out for hidden expectations. Even though I had not pictured myself getting married or mapped out anything concrete in my head before John and I got engaged, I realized I had certain latent expectations about our wedding, and John did, too. Setting aside your expectations is great practice for marriage, too, because you will save yourself quite a few arguments in wedding planning, and in your marriage!” (And on a quick personal note – as one girl who is so very close with her own dad, Jordan’s words about her own, throughout the whole post, make my heart happy.)
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? There were a few traditional things we decided not to do – a garter and bouquet toss just didn’t feel much like us, so we left that out. We exchanged notes before our first look, and wrote letters to our families to read the day of the wedding. One of the most important things to us in wedding planning was that we not do anything that felt contrived. We stuck to traditional ingredients for the day that felt organic for us, and we are so glad we did! We were left with a day that felt comfortable and fun, not stiff or stressful.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? Yes – slow down! Our engagement ran parallel to a very chaotic time in my life. I was finishing up my second year in the classroom (my first with Teach for America), I had recently moved to Atlanta after graduating from law school, my brother had just gotten married, and he and his amazing wife were expecting their first child. I was a really busy person, and I rushed through much of wedding planning in a utilitarian fashion, simply because I did not have much free time. Luckily, we worked with amazing vendors who knew our hearts for marriage over a wedding, and helped our wedding day reflect that sentiment. It all came together like magic, but I wish I had slowed down my schedule so I could savor the process more. John is the sentimental one in our relationship, and I wish I had let go of my pragmatism and gotten a little more caught up in the fun and feeling of planning.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? More than anything, we wanted our families to feel honored and appreciated, and our guests to be comfortable. We knew our wedding ceremony would be quite formal, and we wanted to bring that sophistication to our reception. Though it was technically on my family’s farm, we stayed away from burlap and mason jars, sticking with a classic and timeless feel. We kept the details of our day simple, clean, and classic. One of my favorite color combinations is navy and black (controversial in many circles, as I found out early in the planning process!) The women in my family mix neutrals with abandon, and I’ve always thought the two colors create a timeless backdrop for events. And so our wedding party decision was simple: classic black tuxes and flattering navy gowns. My mom and I visited several bridal salons to find my dress, and when I tried on my Rivini gown, it was an easy decision. It fit perfectly with the tone of the day – uncomplicated, beautiful in its simplicity, and with a nod to tradition.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Pick what is important to you and spend your money there. Be willing to be budget conscious everywhere else. For the bride, that was photography and her dress. For the groom, that was music and food. If it didn’t fit in one of those categories, we didn’t let ourselves get out of control with spending.
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? John and I attended St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church for the short time we were in Birmingham together (before we took our relationship long distance), and it was my home church for the majority of my time in law school. John and I were both raised in other churches but decided, at different points in our lives, that the Catholic tradition was the best fit for us. It was very important for us that we be married in a church, and that we be on the same page with the tradition of faith in which we would start our family. St. Francis and Father Bob are precious to us for so many reasons, and we were so excited to begin our marriage with both.
Your ceremony in three words. Traditional, religious, family-centered
What was the best advice you received as a bride? The night before our rehearsal dinner, our wedding ceremony planner, Bee, called me. “Did you bring checklist of the readings and prayers you chose home with you? Father Bob and I don’t see it here in the church office.” Face palm. “Oh no, I left it at my apartment in Atlanta. How bad is this?” Bee told me that there was always one big thing that will go wrong on your wedding day. She said hers was that she went to a new hairstylist to have her hair put up, and the stylist put so much product in her hair that it stuck flat to her head like a pool of grease (this is Alabama, where flat hair is always a disaster, especially when it is an oil slick). So, brides! One thing will go wrong. Roll with it. At the end of the day, you will be married, and that is the only thing that really matters. Bee and Father Bob walked me through the options for our wedding ceremony again, and I was able to remember the ones John and I chose months earlier. Crisis averted, and we were married all the same.
What was your ceremony music? My beloved lifelong piano teacher, Gayle Glenn, played the piano for our ceremony. John’s classically trained sister, Anna Schultz, played the violin for our entrance music. My brother, Jonathan Dailey, and one of my best friends, Lauren Woodard, are crazy talented singers and performed our communion song. An incredible vocalist who John played with in church during law school, Erin Black, sang the traditional prayers and songs during our ceremony. John and I are both music people, and it was incredibly meaningful to us to have so many loved ones who have brought music into our lives provide the music for our wedding ceremony.
Prelude: Hymn by Frazer (piano and violin) / Seating of Families: Great is Thy Faithfulness by Runyan (piano) / Wedding Party Processional: Come Thou Fount by Robinson (piano) / Bridal Processional: How Deep the Father’s Love by Townend (piano) / Presentation of the Gifts: Be Thou My Vision by Hull (guitar and vocal) / Communion Hymn: How Beautiful (piano and vocal) / Recessional: Ode to Joy by Beethoven (organ)
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? Father Robert J. Sullivan (affectionately known as Father Bob) officiated our wedding. He was the pastor of St. Francis when I made it my home church, and he was the perfect officiant for our wedding ceremony.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We planned the ceremony with the help of Father Bob and Bee Lewis, the wedding planner at St. Francis. Planning a Catholic wedding is more of a low maintenance process than you would think! Catholics do weddings within a certain template that is rife with gorgeous traditions, so it was a simple choice between options that Father Bob and Bee talked us through.
What were your ceremony readings? Both of our fathers have been incredibly important in our lives, and both either have battled or are currently battling cancer. Having our favorite men, both spiritual leaders in our families, read scripture on our wedding day was so important to us. Our ceremony planner told us that usually friends or extended family read the ceremony passages, but we were set on our fathers, and we are so glad we insisted!
Old Testament Reading: Sirach 26:1-4, 13-16
New Testament Reading: Philippians 4:4-9
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:13-16
What were your vows like? We chose traditional vows. Father Bob and Bee gave us plenty of options, but we wanted the vows our parents had said before us. Repeat-after-me, in sickness and health, the whole bit. We so dearly love that the great marriages we grew up admiring made the same promises, and that these vows steeped in tradition formed the basis of our marriage sacrament.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Our vows and taking communion together. These were such standstill moments when we really felt like we were getting married! The sacred nature of the moment really sunk in. In the midst of a day that passes quickly and can be difficult to pause and breathe in, those moments at the altar together really slowed us down and let us zero in on the commitment we were making.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? At the end of our wedding ceremony, Father Bob read a final blessing that we chose. We loved the wording as a final reminder, right before we headed out to party at our reception, of what we have looked up to in our parents’ marriages, and what we strive for our own.
Why did you choose this location for your reception? John is a Georgia boy who graduated from law school two years ahead of me, and went off to his hometown to begin practicing law. After a couple years of long distance, cramming all the time we could into cherished weekends together, John proposed on my family’s farm just north of Birmingham, Alabama, in April 2016. We had no idea the importance that piece of land would have for us. My father, who built the barn and much of our home on the property, was diagnosed with late-stage cancer early in 2017, and John and his family held my family up when we could not walk ourselves, along with the incredible community my parents had in my hometown. Though planning a reception at our home, rather than using an event site, was substantially more work, spending the evening on the property built in large part by the hands of my father was a certain kind of special we could not have rented anywhere.
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. Many dear family members and friends stepped in to help us as vendors. My high school biology teacher, Mrs. Bearden, created our gorgeous floral arrangements for the day, a family friend coordinated our vendors and the day-of events, and my gorgeous cousin did my makeup. As it turns out, we know some really creative and talented people, who also happen to be bona fide professionals! My grandfather is an incredible craftsman, and he built a beautiful wood and iron archway that our guests entered the reception under. Mrs. Bearden added swaths of greenery and flowers. We had so many family and friends as vendors, and are especially grateful to our family that catered. Southerners are all about feeding people well, and our family really helped us out in that regard. One of our favorite end products from the day was our wedding video. The Thomas Brothers, great friends of the bride’s brother, gave us a wedding preview video that felt like something out of a movie, and perfectly captured the day. They also filmed the speeches at the rehearsal dinner, and we’ve been laughing and crying over them ever since!
How would you describe your reception? John said it best – our ceremony was reverent, but we aimed to blow the roof off the place at the reception. We wanted a fun party that also felt comfortable for all of our guests. Many of John’s family members travelled from across the country, and we wanted their trip to be worth the trouble!
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Okay. Real talk here. Cake is my favorite thing in the whole world. If you leave cake in the house after an event, I will eat it. I will. A group of college friends and I even “borrowed” a cake from an honors reception during our freshman year (sorry, Auburn). The choice of Barb’s Cakes was a no brainer. Barb is a sweet lady who is well known for wedding cakes that are pretty and also delicious. We ordered the size our wedding planner recommended, and it was such a crowd pleaser that the entire cake had been eaten shortly after it was sliced.
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance? Our first dance was to one of Nathan Angelo‘s originals, Til I’m Ninety-Nine. The father/daughter dance was to Brown Eyed Girl, which I grew up dancing to with my dad, standing on his shoes while we twirled. The mother/son dance was to My Wish, and John and his mom impressed everyone! We opted to have Nathan sing these songs, rather than dancing to the recorded radio versions. This let us shorten the songs so our guests weren’t watching us dance for three minutes at a time (we’re sure they love us, but none of us is Fred Astaire, except for maybe John, and we knew they would prefer to get to dancing themselves!), and let us steer clear from a certain cheese factor that can creep into both of these popular songs.
Did you have a signature cocktail? I was raised Baptist, so having even beer and wine at our wedding was quite the plot twist!
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Toward the end of the night, Nathan played a slower song of his that we both listened to before we met each other, and it hit us while we were dancing – we’re married!
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? John and I met in our law school library, when he put down the law professor he was twirling through the aisle to come over and introduce himself. Our rom-com worthy meet-cute perfectly sums us up: John is life and sunshine in every square inch, and I am reserved, with my nose stuck in a book. We are each other’s balancing weight and plumb line to come home to; life together is never boring. If you watch our wedding video, that will come through!
You can see Jordan & John’s video right here!