This beautiful wedding in the Tennessee woods has us craving warm summer nights surrounded by friends, family and some delicious food. Megan and Ryan chose the perfect venue for their summertime nuptials to meet their top requirements for the day—number one being a restful retreat and reunion for their family and friends. We think they hit the nail on the head!
Photography by Clark Brewer.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? The best advice I received was from my fiancé! He encouraged us to write down the top 5 things that mattered to us about our wedding. We constantly came back to that list during the planning process to ensure we were staying true to our initial vision. Our list included:
1. A restful retreat/reunion for our friends and family
2. A beautiful and inspiring setting
3. Day of wedding ease
4. Christ-centered in every way
5. A true reflection of our personalities—guests to walk away feeling like they know each of us better than they did before
Stationery designed by Olive Juice Press.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Figure out what you value in a wedding and to make sure that comes out in the planning process and the actual wedding. You can easily become sidetracked, and it’s good to keep a steady perspective throughout the process. Don’t get too caught up in the tiny little details—you won’t even remember half of them and you planned them!
It’s also important to remember that planning a wedding isn’t normal life. Although we continue to make budget decisions, how do we want to decorate our house discussions, and who will make our Christmas mailing list processes, ultimately these decisions feel as though they are on a much smaller level. Therefore, don’t project your wedding planning frustrations into your married life decisions.
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? Ryan and I each have six nieces and nephews. It was sweet to include each of them in a more traditional way. Our youngest nieces were flower girls and our youngest nephew was the ring bearer. Two of our nephews handed out programs and the other five nephews were ushers. My oldest nephew walked my mom down the aisle, and our two older nieces were Jr. bridesmaids. We love that they are all old enough to remember this special day!
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? We created a newspaper called “The Holt Herald”. Since our dating relationship was completely long distance, we wanted to create something that told our story. After doing some research, we ended up using The Newspaper Club. The site made it an incredibly easy process and a fun way for us to tell our story to our guests. We had several people say how much they appreciated the newspaper touch.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? One of our favorite memories from our wedding was the night of the rehearsal dinner. After the dinner, we had a Share Your Story time. It was a beautiful time where people sang, danced, and shared memories they had of Megan and I. We laughed and cried, and in the midst of it all, everyone was able to grasp a fuller picture of why and how we feel in love.
Megan’s white and green bouquet was filled with garden roses, fern and a lush green foliage.
Floral Design by Lisa Foster Floral Design.
We love how having your bridesmaids in mismatched dresses allows them to show their personality through their own style. The soft shades of cream and blues of the dresses stood out beautifully against the white and green palette.
“It was truly destiny that we found RT Lodge. I had accompanied Clark and Caroline Brewer—our photographer and stylist—to RT Lodge in April of 2013 to assist with Alex and Trevor Stockton’s wedding (RT Lodge’s wedding coordinator/designer and head chef). As I helped style their big day with Clark and Caroline, I fell head over heels for this unique venue. At that time, I had not even met Ryan, but I secretly hoped that we would return for my own wedding day. Fast forward 18 months and the time came for Ryan and I to choose a location! Maryville, Tennessee was the perfect middle ground for our geographically spread out guest list. Ultimately, we chose RT Lodge for a few key reasons— beauty, retreat, and ease. We wanted our guests to experience a restful weekend reuniting with friends and family. RT Lodge offers just that—an environment that caters to rest, good food, and a beautiful setting. Alex and her team take the burden off the bride and groom and create a truly exquisite experience for all parties involved.”
Your ceremony in three words. Thoughtful, simple, and Christ-centered
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We really started from square one! We discussed how we wanted to honor our family and friends that were most influential in shaping our lives. Once we figured out how we could honor these special people, we weaved tradition throughout the rest of the ceremony.
What was your ceremony music?
Processional: “Come Thou Fount, All Creatures of Our God and King”
Bride’s Processional: “Be Thou My Vision”
Lighting of the candle and family prayer: “Hallelujah, Lamb of God” written and performed by Josh Gabbard and Sidney Rudder.
Recessional: “If Not for You” by Bob Dylan
We had two musicians from my church in Nashville play at our wedding—Josh Gabbard and Sidney Rudder. They were joined by our talented friend Claire Nunn on cello.
Who officiated your ceremony? We had the honor of having Marc de Jeu officiate our wedding. He is the head pastor of the church that Ryan attended for five years in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. He brought a personal touch to our ceremony since he journeyed with us through our entire dating relationship.
What were your ceremony readings? Colossians 3:12-17, Revelations 21: 1-5
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We did a version of lighting the unity candle. I had nine bridesmaids and two junior bridesmaids. Ryan had six groomsmen. We had our bridesmaids and groomsmen walk down the aisle with their spouses and kids and light a candle at the alter. During the ceremony, Ryan and I lit the last candle on the table from the light of our dearest friends. We honored our family by having a time of prayer with our immediate family members. They encircled us as our middle sisters prayed over the covenant we were taking.
What were your vows like? We decided to go traditional.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? The setting. The setting felt intimate, secluded, and personal. Since we had access to the whole grounds at RT Lodge, we decided to get married in a beautiful wooded location. The ceremony site felt set apart—as if it were hollow ground just for our wedding.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? Instead of having our wedding party stand up with us, we had the bridal party walk down the aisle before the ceremony and light a candle. Here is the write-up we included in our wedding programs describing this special moment:
Lighting of the Candles
As Megan and I discussed our wedding day, we frequently told stories- stories filled with incredible characters we proudly call our friends. In each season of life, these friends have laughed with us, cried with us, dared to dream with us, prayed with us, and encouraged us. The Unity Candle is a traditional wedding practice symbolizing the act of two individual lives becoming one: “On this account, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall be one flesh” (Mark 8:10). We stand here today recognizing that Megan and I are who we are because of the friends and family who have journeyed through life with us. The Lighting of the Candles is a symbolic act recognizing this life-altering impact others have had on our lives. Thanks for helping our lights burn brighter.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently?
Overall—no! I’m sure there are small things we may have done differently, but we can’t even think of one which we will take as a win!
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? The budget conversation can be hard. Like most conversations, it is helpful if you start with expectations. Bringing all parties together and deciding an amount that you all are comfortable spending at the beginning can be very helpful.
“The natural greenery found in East Tennessee set the tone. We wanted every touch to feel elegant, but not fussy. We took our cue from the rustic elegance of RT Lodge and only looked to enhance its beauty, not fight it. An assortment of lush ferns and white flowers covered every element of our wedding. Megan is a visual designer. She spends her days bringing beauty into the world. I (Ryan) am an educational event planner. I spend my days creating experiences for individuals that help them get a fuller picture of life. At the heart, we wanted to bring those aspects of each other together. We wanted to create an intentional experience for our guests in a beautiful setting. We loved seeing our gifts come together to make such a memorable wedding weekend.”
Why did you choose this location for your reception ? We had the reception under a Sperry tent at RT Lodge. Under the carnival strung lights, it was the perfect setting.
How would you describe your reception? A joy-filled, simple, elegant dinner party. We envisioned our reception as a time to celebrate with family and friends. We wanted everyone to taste and see the goodness and joy we had experienced in our love story. The elegant, simple design of the tables created a gorgeous backdrop to an energetic dance floor.
What was your wedding menu? Assorted Breads / Mixed Greens Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette, Radish, Shallot, Herbs // Roasted Potatoes with Onion and Parsley / Buttermilk Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Herbed Sourdough Breadcrumbs / Country Style Green Beans with House Bacon / Heirloom Tomatoes with Basil and Shallot / Watermelon Salad with Chile-Lime, Mint, Coconut and Cashew // Farro and Pepper Salad with Anson Mills Farro, Roasted Peppers, Pickled Onions / Summer Bean Salad / Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Sourwood Honey / Hanger Steak with Ramp Butter
The food was highlight for most of our guests and the best meal of both of our lives. Trevor Stockton—the RT Lodge head chef—created a meal that people are still talking about! The food was so good we ate cold leftovers and wedding cake in bed the next morning!
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? My sister Christa made the cake. It was incredibly elegant and delicious. White cake with lemon curd filling and white buttercream icing.
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. Ryan has lived the last nine years in Western Pennsylvania. One wedding tradition in Western Pennsylvania that Ryan loved that he wanted to incorporate into our wedding is the cookie table. It is a fun tradition where friends and family members bring a plate of cookies. With each cookie plate, we also had recipe cards for each cookie. When the guests were waiting for us to arrive at the reception, they could get samples from the cookie table and grab recipe cards from their favorites. It was a fun addition, after all—who doesn’t like cookies?!
What was your first dance song? We had our ceremony musicians sign a folksy version of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young”. It was beautiful. My dad and Ryan’s mom cut in after the first chorus. We loved the idea of combining the first dance, father/daughter, and mother/son dance all into one!
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? We honestly didn’t leave the dance floor. Although we both love to dance, we always envisioned that we would spend most of the reception thanking our guests. However, once our band started playing- you couldn’t get us off the dance floor! It was so fun to see our nephews and nieces and friends and family all on the dance floor having a good time!
Reception Music Provided by Band 24/7.