From Prom Dress to Wedding Gown

Though the venue had been booked, hundreds of decisions awaited. “There’s so much to planning a wedding,” says Olivia. “All those little decisions!” Fortunately for Olivia, Lou, and Patrick, almost all of them were blissfully easy, starting with the cream-colored, deckle-edged invitations that Lou and Olivia chose with the help of stationery and invitation designer Martha Morris. Engraved in a subdued gray script, they were traditional but not staid. Olivia’s wedding gown, a sleek, strapless design with a fitted top that flared into an A-line skirt that allowed it to swish as Olivia walked, was also an easy — though entirely unexpected — choice.

“We went in looking at satin and lace,” says Lou. “They were gorgeous but none of them really glowed the way I thought they should. We noticed a simple strapless gown, and on a whim Olivia tried it on. It was like a light switch had been turned on. We knew we’d found her style.”

Though Olivia and Lou adored the dress, they decided to keep looking, just in case they found one they liked even better. It didn’t take long: at the next shop, they found the perfect wedding gown. “I’m not sure what I expected, but this experience was wonderful,” says Lou. “Finding a veil with just the right amount of lace took a bit longer, but in the end we found one that perfectly complemented the simplicity of Olivia’s gown.”

Lou was afraid that the flowers might be a challenge, but they turned out more beautiful than she could have imagined. “Olivia couldn’t decide between all white or all pink,” explains Lou. “Julianne Sojourner of My Friend’s Garden found a way to use both. The flowers at the ceremony site were almost exclusively white, but along the walk to the reception, the color of the flowers gradually deepened, first to pale pink, then a little darker, and finally to a bright, springy shade,” she says. “It was stunning and so creative.”

Olivia and Patrick’s rehearsal dinner was held on a lawn rimmed by the mature trees and formal hedges outside Old Edwards’ historic Piermont Cottage. Guests were greeted by a large mosaic of photos depicting highlights from Olivia and Patrick’s eight years together. “Jodie came up with the idea as a way to celebrate all those special memories we made,” says Olivia. “It also honored all the people who have made such an impact on our lives.”

The seated dinner was designed to feel like a garden party. “We used monogrammed napkins with mix-and-match vintage china and sterling,” says Jodie. “After dinner, as the tent was being reset for the welcome party, we retired to the side yard for a bourbon tasting led by Olivia’s Uncle James. We finished the night with scrumptious desserts and a bluegrass band.”

The next day, Olivia and Patrick said their vows at Old Edwards’ Orchard House in front of a wooden cross bedecked with white roses and greenery. Behind the cross, a wall of windows looked into the sun-dappled mountain forest. Olivia was preceded down the aisle by 10 bridesmaids dressed in pale pink gowns; since her father, Gary, had passed away, Olivia was escorted by her brothers. “The ceremony was a beautiful blur, but I will never forget how special it felt the moment I saw Patrick for the first time as I walked down the aisle,” says Olivia.

Entering the reception to the sound of an instrumental trio, guests found themselves surrounded by Julianne’s elegant arrangements of pink and white roses, sweet peas, hydrangeas, and tulips, which dotted tables, filled the mantel of the stacked-stone fireplace, hung from light fixtures, and spiraled around the five-layer wedding cake that topped an etched silver stand. Outside, a covered stone patio opened onto a blooming garden surrounding a lush green lawn. Though they had briefly considered a sit-down dinner, Olivia and Patrick followed Southern tradition and held a stand-up reception that allowed friends and family members to mingle throughout the evening. They danced as well to the high-energy sound of the Atlanta Showstoppers.

“I’m so thankful we met when we did,” says Olivia. “It allowed us to be where we are now, which is just where we need to be.”