When my husband and I had to make the decision to cancel our October 2020 Connecticut wedding with less than three months to go, we had no idea if we’d still be able to get married in 2020. The fact that we pulled off the perfect day on our original date is a testament to the small businesses in Charlotte and the truly amazing people who run them. Our Charlotte micro wedding was the best day thanks to these vendors and having our three favorite people by our sides.
I love nature and had always pictured getting married with trees behind me. So when we were trying to get married in Charlotte, I immediately started looking up all the outdoor spaces in the area and searching Instagram hashtags for beautiful locations.
I quickly fell in love with the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, which are a short drive from our house. But when I first reached out, I was told they were booked. I kept getting the same response from other gardens and figured we’d hold the ceremony at the restaurant we planned to have dinner at or in a nearby park.
Then, just a few weeks before our date, I heard from April at the Botanical Gardens who told me that she may have a location for me available at my date and time. We landed on the Stone Bridge in the Van Landingham Glen. I had wanted to get married with trees behind me, but now I was going to do even better and get married with trees all around me.
But about a week before the wedding, the rain forecast appeared. We hadn’t had a rainy weekend in months, and I had been hoping that having to deal with a pandemic meant that I wouldn’t have to deal with rain. But it was looking like that wasn’t going to be the case. I discussed options with April, and Nate, Mike, and I walked around the campus looking for a back up plan the day before. But we were still hoping that we’d be able to hold the ceremony at the Stone Bridge.
It started raining Friday night when me, Nate, Mike, and Amy were having our first fire in our backyard. It rained most of the night and on and off throughout the morning. But as the day went on, the chance of rain at 3PM got less and less likely.
With a bit of luck, we were able to hold the ceremony and get some pictures in the gardens before the rain started. We headed back to our cars just in time, made it in just as the rain was starting, and got home just before it started really coming down.
I first heard of Iris Blossom when Food Lauren posted about it earlier this year. Rob, a Trinidadian-American millennial, discovered his passion for flora while studying for his PhD at UNC Charlotte. He then made it into a business.
I reached out to Rob to tell him we were looking for a bridal bouquet, potentially two bridesmaid bouquets (hi, COVID), and two boutonnières. I let him know that the men would be wearing blue suits and the bridesmaids would be wearing burgundy dresses. He took that and ran with it, creating beautiful bouquets with whites and greens and fall colors like reds and yellows that popped perfectly in the gardens.
Nate had the idea of also asking for a centerpiece, and Rob created an absolutely beautiful one. For the centerpiece, he focused more on fall colors than whites, which worked beautifully at our ceremony location.
After the wedding, Rob even told me how to preserve the flowers, and I’m currently drying out all three bouquets. These flowers were such a gorgeous part of our wedding, and I’m so happy that I’ll get to continue to enjoy them.
In the state of North Carolina, you cannot have someone fill out a form online and then be able to legally marry you. Which means that we had to find an officiate. I put Nate in charge of this, and he ended up having to reach out to three people before he found someone who was responsive and available. Don ended up being the perfect officiate for our wedding (we were the second of three weddings he had on our date!). We worked with him to select a ceremony that fit our relationship, talking about how this wasn’t the start of our love story but a continuation of it. I could not stop smiling throughout the entire ceremony because I was just so happy to finally be marrying the man I had shared my life with for almost eight years.
The most important part of our CT wedding plans was the food. We’ve been to weddings where all of the food was vegan, where there wasn’t enough food for every guest, where the bride and groom never had a chance to eat themselves. And we knew that none of that was what we wanted for our wedding. So we had planned to have a coursed meal at Millwright’s, which is run by Chef Tyler Anderson, who was on Top Chef Season 15 and has been nominated for the James Beard Best Chef Northeast award six years in a row. When we were figuring out if we could have a wedding in Charlotte, food was a huge part of it. But we didn’t just need a good meal; we needed a meal we could safely enjoy during a pandemic.
Thankfully, we had spent a lot of time going out to eat before COVID-19 hit and had several restaurants and breweries with private event spaces in mind. When we checked out Bonterra Dining and discovered that they do private dining in their wine cellar, we knew we’d found the perfect place. Because nothing says micro wedding like a room that seats only ten people.
When I reached out to Bonterra, I learned that we’d be able to use the wine room and work with the restaurant to create a coursed meal with wine pairings. After looking at some sample menus, we decided to go with five courses. We provided Melanie with notes on our food and wine preferences and worked with her to build a menu catered to our tastes (and also largely dairy free for my bridesmaids).
The dinner was truly amazing, and that’s not just because it was the first time we’d eaten out since before everything shut down in March. Each dish was cooked perfectly and delightfully flavorful. Our favorite course was the BBQ South Carolina Peaches with Benton’s Country Ham and Clemson Bleu Cheese.
We first had some treats from Wentworth and Fenn when they were at an event in Triple C’s Barrel Room. When we learned that Bonterra wouldn’t be able to make a cake for us and confirmed that it was okay for us to bring one in, Nate immediately wanted to get a cake from Wentworth and Fenn. We worked with Sam on a lemon cake with a berry compote, gave her some ideas about designs we like, and told her to run with it. Not surprisingly, she delivered a gorgeous and delicious cake. Per tradition, we saved a piece in our freezer, and we’re already looking forward to eating it next year.
When I was home for the holidays last year, Amy, Katrina, and I went dress shopping. The salon we went to had the best owners, but they had a limited selection and didn’t have the main thing I was looking for: a low back.
So in February, I flew back up to Connecticut to shop with Amy and Katrina again. This time, we went to two stores. We came close at the first store, but the dress I liked the most would have required some changes in alterations that I found extremely hard to picture. At the second store, I was so stressed about finding something that I could barely focus.
I flew home without a dress. But I knew a lot more about what I was looking for: still a low back but also a lot more fabric than I had anticipated. To my surprise, while scrolling through dresses on Pinterest for the hundredth time, I was pretty sure I had found the one. And it was available at J Majors Bridal, which is a short walk from our old apartment.
I made an appointment for the following weekend, and when I arrived at J Majors, Martina Liana #906 was waiting for me. The second I had it on, I knew it was the one. The staff at J Majors was so accommodating, completely understanding that Amy and Katrina lived far away and helping me Facetime them.
Once my dress came in in July, J Majors recommended Anna’s Alterations in Pineville for alterations, and I’m still so impressed with how the women there were able to make the dress fit me perfectly without sacrificing any of its beauty. I felt beautiful in my dress. But even more importantly, I felt confident.
I am notoriously bad at finding a new hair dresser when I move. So when COVID-19 hit, it had already been over a year since I’d gotten a haircut. Thankfully, I had heard of Amber at 8 the Salon. Once the restrictions lifted, I checked with 8 the Salon on their precautions and decided to go in for a cut and highlights. Amber brought life back to my hair.
By the time I decided to make an appointment, Amber wasn’t available on my wedding day, but she recommended Erin for an updo. Erin talked through different options with me, looking through my Pinterest board and playing around with my hairpiece, which was my something borrowed from Katrina. We decided on a half up style because that would feel more natural than a side swept style.
I don’t do much with my hair, so I’m always weary when I have to do something with it. But I ended up absolutely loving what Erin did. She kept my hair out of my eyes while still letting it frame my face, and I love the way the twist and hairpiece look in all the photos.
Heidi at Windsor Jewelers was the absolute best to work with when Nate and I went engagement ring shopping. She even worked with their representative for Gabriel & Co. to receive a sample of the ring I ended up going with. So when it was time to pick out our wedding bands, we knew we’d be going back to Windsor Jewelers.
Not surprisingly, Heidi was extremely helpful again, recommending styles that would pair best with my engagement ring and letting me try them all. Gabriel and Co. recommends an additional twisted band with my engagement ring, but when I tried on a band designed to fit flush against my twisted engagement ring, I knew I had found the one.
Heidi was also extremely helpful when it came to selecting Nate’s wedding band. She explained the different materials and styles to him and let him try them all. Nate went with a simple white gold band, and I seriously love looking over at him and seeing it on his finger.
I met Ashley when she worked with a company I previously worked for on a brand shoot. Although there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen at that shoot, I could tell that we had similar styles and ways of working. When I reached out to Ashley about our wedding and learned that she reads books while her husband watches football (just like me and Nate), I knew it was meant to be. Thankfully, she was available on our date.
Ashley did an amazing job of making us feel comfortable throughout the shoot. She had us laughing during the portraits in the garden. She felt like another guest at our dinner, chatting with us and eventually taking a seat at the table and having a glass of wine to close out the night.
We are absolutely in love with our photos. I find myself going through them multiple times a day because that’s how happy they make me. We have the sweetest photos of me and Nate and the best photos of our three favorite people. I can’t wait to get these photos of our Charlotte micro wedding printed and hung around our home here in Charlotte.
All photos in this blog post were taken by Ashley Lester Photography.
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