Just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta are the North Georgia mountains, home to some fabulous wineries. A perk of these wineries is that they are typically on vast estates which makes it perfect to host special events. Michelle and Chris’ wedding takes us to just such a place, Montaluce Winery and Estates in Dahlonega. So grab a glass of vino and enjoy the view of this vineyard and venue with photos by Atlanta wedding photographer, Scobey Photography.
Tell us how you met…
We would describe our first days of dating as exciting, suspenseful and not quite long enough. Before our chance encounter, we were both very content as we were surrounded by amazing friends and family but also dreamed of someday starting a future with someone special. Earlier in the year, Michelle made a birthday wish to “find her a lucky man” and two months later that came true! Our first date, which turned into a 5 hour date, was wine and sushi; One of our favorites date nights to this day. That was the beginning of a wonderful 3 year relationship that led to them falling in love and getting married.
Now for the proposal… details!
Chris is such a secret keeper! I was out with the girls while Chris was running what I thought was normal weekend errands. When I arrived at his house that evening, I was greeted with rose petals, candles, music…and Chris saying “Follow the path”. So around the house I went, room to room seeing our journey captured in hundreds of photos, highlighted with flowers and candlelight. I am thinking to myself, “what is this? Is this really happening?” Looking up there were hundreds of balloons covering the ceiling. After running through six rooms with excitement and anxiety, I finally see Chris and he is down on one knee. With the fireplace glowing, chocolate dipped strawberries and champagne with floating rasberries, Chris asked “Will you marry me?” I said “ What do you want me to say?” He said “ Something good I hope ”. So I said “Yes!!!”. About 5 minutes went by and he said “So do you want to see the ring?” Haha, I was so overwhelmed with all the details (because remember I am the detailed person) and how much work had gone into creating this moment, that I forgot about the little brown box tied with the gold ribbon. We took the next hour to soak in what had just happened and the choice we were making to spend our lives together. We then walked back through each room and cherished the many memories we had already made and then called our family to share the good news! I honestly can’t think of a more perfect proposal and still can’t believe he surprised me.
Can you give us an overview of the event?
To be surrounded by our family and friends on our special weekend was very important to us. We chose Dahlonega as our wedding destination because it was close to home, but far enough way to allow for a mini getaway for those that wanted the opportunity. Located in the North Georgia Mountains, Dahlonega is an escape into a slower pace and we thought this would be a great spot to gather, talk, eat, laugh and do all the things we like to do best. We did our best to tune into the smallest details to ensure our family/friends had a memorable weekend from the time they arrived in Dahlonega until they returned home. We reserved the entire Dahlonega Spa Resort for the weekend for our family and wedding party. This venue was very special – quiet, scenic, and the staff was most accommodating. We welcomed our guests with baskets filled with snacks, local entertainment and maps and placed in each guest room. Friday morning Chris and his guys played golf. Michelle and her mom enjoyed a special breakfast and then hosted the girls for a delicious lunch overlooking the mountains. The Welcome Party was held on the front porch of the Dahlonega Spa Resort. White lights draped along the porch rails added to the magical atmosphere. Photos of the bride and groom were hung on twine and centerpieces were lanterns and candles. The highlight (and surprise) of this evening was the arrival of the Varsity Food Truck – a favorite of the groom who graduated from Georgia Tech. What a treat to enjoy this picnic on the front lawn and porch. Some enjoyed an array of yard games while others made good use of the rocking chairs as they enjoyed the mountain view. After the dinner, the party moved to the outdoor fire pit, where s’mores were enjoyed by all. The morning of the wedding, family and friends gathered at the main house for a continental breakfast hosted by Chris’s parents. Then the guests dispersed to explore the area on their own for the afternoon and to enjoy the comforts of the spa. The wedding was held at Montaluce Winery and Estates on a day with perfect weather for the outdoor ceremony. Valet parking allowed the guests to feel special when they arrived. Upon entering the winery, guests were offered lemonade and fruit infused water. The Bride’s Table was located in the wine tasting room and we chose to use a guest book featuring our engagement pictures. Highlighted on this table were pictures of our parents on their wedding days. The ceremony was held in the vineyards with the Tuscan designed Winery on the hillside in the background. Massive flower arrangements in shades of purple, green and white flanked either side of the ceremony. Flowers included lilies, hydrangeas, mums, Gerber daisies, and roses. Similar smaller arrangements with plum ribbons served as aisle markers. The guests were brought to the ceremony site down a winding path via a limousine golf cart and van. Music provided by the John Thrasher Band greeted the guests as they arrived. Song selections included Amazing Grace (acoustic version), A Mother’s Song (for mothers and grandmothers entry), Sweet Child O Mine (groom entry), Here Comes the Sun (attendant’s entry), Canon in D (Bride’s entry), This Ring (after the ring ceremony), Dance with Me (recessional). The ring bearer carried a custom designed sign which read “Uncle Chris, Here Comes your Girl” on the front and then reversed for the recession it read “The Whites Established October 6, 2012.” Michelle was escorted by her father. In a lighter moment, when asked by the pastor who gives this woman to be married to this man, her dad replied, “Her Mother and I ….FINALLY!” causing a chuckle among the guests. I think our happiness was obvious in our smiles as we greeted our guests following the ceremony.
Our guests enjoyed a pre-dinner reception in the winery with views of the sunset from the terrace, followed by a family style dinner. We were introduced as “Mr. and Mrs. White” while coming down the stairway into the winery. Decorations included a fern and moss enhanced letter W which served as the centerpiece over the fireplace, flanked by mass flower arrangements. The natural beauty of the wooden dining tables was enhanced with multiple floral arrangements connected with grape vinery on each table. The night continued with Dancing on the terrace. The couple’s first dance “Born to be your Woman” was sung by soloist Carla Cobb, a longtime friend of the bride. Carla also sang a very special song for us “That’s Important to Me” which highlights our values. A candy bar buffet featured our favorite candies and was a special treat for all our guests. Our official send off by family and friends was beneath an archway of sparklers and then we departed Montaluce in a classic Rolls Royce.
Was there a specific theme or style?
Simple. Intimate. Elegant.
What inspired the theme or style?
We love the simple beauty of nature and knew from the beginning we wanted our ceremony to be outdoors. We wanted our reception to be elegant, the food to be tasty and the whole experience to be relaxing. We wanted our guests not to just attend a wedding but to have an experience. We wanted an intimate day with family and close friends to share in our happiness. We wanted the weekend to be filled with memories and for everyone to have a great time.
What were your playful twists that made the event unique?
Prior to the ceremony, we found each other in the vineyard and had a moment to take in the significance of this day. Words can’t describe the feelings we had as the anxiety and pure excitement of this time finally came to life. Tears of joy, relief and anticipation filled the vineyards! We created movement from one setting to another to keep the guests interested and wondering “what’s next”. Upon arriving at the wedding site, the guests entered the front of the winery to take in a gorgeous venue: rustic beams, high vaulted ceilings, fireplaces, wood tables and vibrant fabrics. They used the stairs or elevator to go down to the bottom floor of the winery to the wine making area where fresh beverages and lounge tables were set. They exited out the back of the winery and down the path the ceremony, where they had a chance to look back up at the winery and take in the quietness and awe of the nature and mountains while sitting in the meadow just below the vineyard. Following the ceremony, the guest had the opportunity to ride through the vineyards back to the winery (different path than how they arrived). They experienced the wine tasting room during the pre-dinner reception, moved to the dining room for dinner, followed by dancing on the terrace and then a sendoff out the front entrance.
Did you DIY any of the details?
Welcome Baskets for wedding party and family – placed in each guest room a basket filled with snacks, things to do, a map of the area and timeline for the weekend. S’more packets – Individual s’more packets with a tag “Could Not Ask for S’More – Michelle and Chris October 6, 2012 for the bonfire after the rehearsal dinner. Coloring books for the children – The bride’s mother designed a personalized wedding coloring book and the bride gave a kit containing the coloring book and crayons to each child during the reception. Personalized hangers – The bride’s mother created personalized hangers for each bridal attendant for their gowns as well as the bride. These were wooden hangers with beaded monograms. Programs – Template purchased at Michaels…wording by bride and printed by groom. Photo Hanging- For the welcome party, we had childhood photos hanging on twine on the wrap around porch.
Tell us about your wedding gown and what your bridal party wore.
I chose a Diamond white semi full bridal soft satin gown with rushing bodice accented with rhinestones and pears, an asymmetrical diagonal waist with lace, rhinestones, pearls and cap sleeves. It featured a lace up back with a chapel length train and a fingertip veil edged in embroidered pearls. My shoes were the only item I picked out before I was ever engaged! I was hoping they would go with my dress when the time was right! The girls wore plum Chiffon strapless gown with a sweetheart necklines. Their necklace and earrings were a gift from the Bride from Etsy. The guys wore charcoal gray Vera Wang tuxedos. Attendant Flowers – fresh cut lilies, daises, roses, hydrangeas, mums in shades of green and purple hand tied with plum ribbons.
What was the most memorable moment?
There were so many special moments – My dad and I shared a special moment together as he drove me through the vineyards to the wedding ceremony site in a white Thunderbird Convertible with Red Leather seats. As we came to each turn, Dad would say “Last chance, I can go left or right”. Dad is the rock for our family and having him by my side on my special day means the world to me. He delivered me to the alter and when the pastor ask “Who gives this Bride?”…my dad responded “Her mother and I….FINALLY!” The Father/Daughter (or should I say Family) Dance will always be special for us. About half way through our dance, my sister, then my brother and then my Mom joined in for a family circle dance. This was not planned but is one of our favorite memories as it just felt right! Chris still gets a chuckle when thinking about the photographers almost flipping the car when driving up the steep road from the vineyard to the winery. We both bailed from the teetering car as it neared the drop off. Chris has an amazing circle of friends and they love to play jokes and laugh. So in typical fashion, they created an enlarged head of Chris, on a stick, and had “the groom” in several unusual photo ops.
Tell us about the food and desserts.
The pre-dinner reception featured a Montaluce wine pairing and cheese tasting (Schropshire, Drunken Goat, and Gouda lavoh) and trays of passed hors d’oeuves – BBQ pork shoulder, margarita pizza, smoked salmon, and Prosciutto di Parma. A specialty drink “Forever” created especially for the occasion featured blood orange and peach puree with ginger ale garnished with fresh raspberries.
Meal time has always been important to our families- not just from a food standpoint, but for what it represents, a dedicated time to connect, to share and catch up without interruptions. Having a family style dinner seemed like a good way to share these values with our guests so they could socialize and interact with one another while enjoying delicious dishes. Our dinner featured butternut squash soup, halibut on shrimp and grits, beef short ribs with roasted vegetables, fresh green beans and a variety of homemade breads. Chardonnay and Bellino wines were served with dinner. The children had a special menu of chicken tenders and macaroni and cheese.
The groom’s cake was a chocolate chip cookie cake featuring “The Whites established 2012”. The Wedding Cake was a mix of square and round tiers featuring two layers of white chocolate cake and a layer of strawberry marble cake, iced in Swiss vanilla buttercream. The two layers of filling were lemon curd buttercream with a thin line of Swiss raspberry marmalade and a key lime curd buttercream. Each layer was edged in green satin ribbon and piped single pearl dots. Our monogram was the focal point of the third tier. The John Thrasher Band played “Sugar Sugar” while we cut the cake.
What kind of energy did your entertainment give the guests?
John and his band provided just the right mix of music for our special day, with their TRIO of guitar, violin/fiddle and keyboard. We wanted the band to compliment us and the venue from a simplicity standpoint but wow us at the same time with their positive and fun energy.
If there was one thing you could change, what would it be?
We loved everything about our weekend and wouldn’t change anything about the details.
What was the best wedding advice you received?
Leading up to the wedding, the best advice we received was to schedule “free” weekends and time for each other. It is very easy to get caught up in the planning for the one big day and attending showers and parties. However, this timeframe is crucial to the start of your marriage together and life is always going to be hectic but we must remember to still take time for each other. For the wedding reception, the best advice we received was “stick together”. Create memories together on your wedding day so you can go back and remember all the details. Instead of dividing and conquering, we chose to meet and greet our guests as a couple and really enjoyed this time. For the future, the best advice we have received so far is to be willing to compromise, make special times for each other, to say I Love you often, to put God first in our lives and to laugh with each other.
Wedding Venue: Montaluce Winery and Estates | Rehearsal and Weekend Venue: Dahlonega Spa Resort | Photographer: Scobey Photography | Floral: Rooms in Bloom Flowers | Dresses: Treasures | Tuxedos: Men’s Wearhouse | Caterer: Le Vinge of Montaluce Winery | Cake: Bakers Man | Event Coordination Day of: Sharon Rocchio, Your Seamless Events | Transportation: Lovely View of Heaven | Brides Hair and Makeup: Jolie Day Spa