Romantic Wedding at Camp Eseeola :: Laura & Dexter

I absolutely love this beautiful wedding – it’s got so many special touches, not to mention these beautiful photos from Nancy Ray. I especially love the private sweetheart dinner that the bride and groom enjoyed before joining their guests at the reception – what a nice way to really take everything in after saying your vows, to just be together as brand newlyweds, and to actually eat something!


Nancy Ray | Snippet & InkCamp Eseeola Wedding by Nancy Ray | Snippet & Ink


Did you do any DIY projects?  With a 20-month engagement, I had a lot of free time before starting graduate school, and one of the projects I took on was to draw a map of events, which I first painted as a Save the Date postcard. The image was later used as a weekend itinerary, rolled up like an old-fashioned map, and tied onto Cheerwine bottles with red-and-white twine. I also designed custom napkins, koozies, and cups using a twig-themed monogram. I made the escort cards and table numbers on Zazzle. For our friends who rented houses, we lined baskets with Spanish moss, and filled with goodies from the local Mast General Store, as well as Krispy Kreme Coffee. Finally, my friend’s sweet mom helped me design a personalized needlepoint belt for one of Dex’s wedding gifts. I was surprised how little time I had for the wedding once school began, and I am grateful for all that I accomplished at the beginning.


Nancy Ray | Snippet & Ink


Are there any special details you’d like to tell us about?  In honor of Dex’s father, his mother mailed me monogrammed buttons from an old sports coat, which I wanted to secretly sew into Dex’s suit coat. The day of the wedding, just an hour before the ceremony, I finally located the button, and Dex’s cousin quickly led me to the suits. It was later that we realized that I had sewn the button onto the wrong jacket (which should have been obvious, as it was made for someone 6’10”!). It’s the thought that counts, right?


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The Ceremony

“The first time Dex brought me to his grandparent’s mountain home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, it was our senior year of college, and we had not been dating very long… at all. The first thing Dex showed me was the bark-shingled chapel directly across the street, and I told him that I wanted to get married there one day, quickly adding, “to anyone!” Over countless trips, I never faltered that it was the perfect place to get married… and it is equidistant from our home states of Pennsylvania and Alabama. Five years later, my dream came true!”


Nancy Ray | Snippet & Ink


Your ceremony in three words. Rustic, quaint, sweet

How did you go about planning your wedding ceremony?  All Saints Episcopal Church is a historic, sacred space. Designed by Henry Bacon over one hundred years ago, we are honored to be allowed to marry there, and followed the traditional Episcopalian marriage ceremony procedures, including vows from the Book of Common Prayer.

Who officiated your ceremony?  Luckily, the visiting officiant during the month of August was the former Bishop of Alabama, whom Dex’s family knew and rightfully admired. We planned our ceremony over phone calls and emails, but Bishop Parsley felt like an old friend.


Nancy Ray | Snippet & InkNancy Ray | Snippet & Ink


Did you include any traditions in your ceremony?  We did not want a large wedding party crowding the tiny chapel. Therefore, we only had four people in the conventional bridal party – our sisters, a cousin, and an oldest friend – to stand beside us. To honor special friends, we had eight friends each proceed down the aisle and sit in the choir pews, facing us. Not only did it free up space, it really helped us focus on each other, which is the point after all!

What was your ceremony music?  With such a small, intimate chapel, we opted for a string duo, both violin and cello. The ceremony music was classic, from the processional through the declaration. Our only two requests were to end the prelude music with “Carolina In My Mind” (by James Taylor,) and to play “God Only Knows” (by The Beach Boys) for the recessional.

What were your ceremony readings?  Having met during our senior year at UNC, it was fitting that both of our readers were our college roommates. The first reading was from Song of Solomon (Song of Songs), followed by Living in Love by Dr. Gerald May.


Nancy Ray | Snippet & InkNancy Ray | Snippet & Ink


What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony?  Before the ceremony, our bridal party and family gathered in the backyard of Dex’s grandparents’ house. With such a small chapel, some guests stood in the lawn, and I got to see so many of our favorite people from the house all the way to the altar.

Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony?  We have already been back to Linville twice since our wedding, and it is so wonderful to wake up in Dex’s grandparents’ house and see “our church” across the street before the day even begins. It is something we will cherish for many years to come.


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The Reception

“Following pictures on the golf course, we drove directly to the boat house, which is downhill from the Camp. A private dinner was waiting for us, and as we sipped champagne and enjoyed our first meal as a married couple, we could not only see, but hear, our most loved people all in one place!”


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How would you describe your reception?  We really wanted our guests, who came from so far, to experience the Linville we love – including a bluegrass band party on Friday, hiking and a picnic lunch on Saturday, and a poolside brunch on Sunday – for their entire visit. The epitome of the mountain weekend experience, however, is always an evening at Camp Yonahnoka (also known as The Camp at Eseeola Lodge,) where you have a panorama of Grandfather Mountain, and an expansive view of the stars. With a gorgeous view of the mountain reflecting onto a lake, the Camp itself is a wooden, open-air pavilion, with a centralized floor plan, encouraging everyone to mingle and join in on the dance floor.

What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance?  Our first dance was to “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray Lamontagne. We took lessons and surprised people with a choreographed dance. My father and I danced to “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra. Dex and his mother danced to “Mack the Knife” by Bobby Darin, a favorite of Dex’s father who passed away.

What was your wedding menu?  The Eseeola Lodge serves the most decadent and rich Southern food! There were buffet stations for flexibility, yet assigned tables, so people could sit and enjoy. The stations served shrimp and grits, pork tenderloin, butternut squash souffle, mac and cheese, fried green tomatoes, grilled summer vegetables, salad, and corn bread with various sauces. The only perk of going to school the Monday after your wedding is having delicious leftovers in your lunchbox all week!

What type of cake or dessert did you serve?  Instead of a large cake, there was a simple cake for us to cut (almond with fresh strawberries and buttercream frosting,) and four cupcake flavors for our guests: cafe au lait, raspberry lemonade, red velvet, and chocolate-peanut butter ganache. My father works for Krispy Kreme, so we also served warm doughnuts. There were mini boxes of doughnuts for favors. I did not know until the pictures arrived that Dex was carrying trays of doughnuts around the dance floor!

Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception.  For the entrances to the restrooms, I blew up and framed black and white photos of both of us at about 5 years old. In typical fashion, I was dressing up as the prim and proper bride, while Dex was barefoot, with a wrinkled tie and an untucked shirt. Some things never change.


Nancy Ray | Snippet & Ink


What was the best advice you received as a bride?  No one knows what you had in mind. If something is forgotten or goes awry, no one will know what could have been!

What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding?  I was so lucky to have such an opinionated groom, which was helpful, as my parents refrained from any opinions. I would suggest finding ways in which to get grooms excited and to feel important in the process, which makes for fun teamwork. We really let this be our idea of our perfect weekend.

If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently?  I wish we had entered the reception to House of Pain’s Jump Around, but did not think of that in time. Hopefully another Tar Heel couple will take note!

Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding?  We truly made our wedding a weekend affair, with events from Thursday to Sunday, thanks to the help of many hosts, hostesses, and helpers. Housing worked out wonderfully, with friends and family on every corner, as we took over the little mountain community.


Nancy Ray | Snippet & Ink







The South

Vendor Credits

Photographer: Nancy Ray Photography / Event Planning & Design: Viva L’Event NC   / Reception Venue: Camp at Eseeola in Linville, North Carolina / Church: All Saints Episcopal / Dress: Allure via Victorian Rose / Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaid Dresses, Ties: J.Crew / Jewelry: Mikimoto / Cake: Hallmark Cakes / Catering:  The Eseeola Lodge  / Floral Design: Callista Designs / Hair, Makeup: Hair 101 / Stationery: Opus 1 Weddings / Ceremony & Cocktail Hour Band:  Summit Strings  / Reception Band: The Voltage Brothers / Grooms Attire:  Martin Greenfield Clothiers


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