We’re heading a bit outside of Atlanta today to feature a recent Highlands, NC wedding because it’s such a popular location for so many Atlanta brides. Patricia and Frank have a match made in heaven kind of story. And, if you’ve ever questioned whether fate brings two people together, after reading this couple’s story, you won’t. It took two chance encounters for this couple to click and when they did, sparks flew. Fast forward to their big traditional wedding at the Highlands Country Club in Highlands, NC. Their magical day was captured by Atlanta wedding photographer Kristen Alexander Photography. Patricia and Frank had lots of fun utilizing new trends mixed in with old traditions to make their day everything they dreamed of… with the help of their Atlanta based wedding planner, Susan Pando Weddings of course!
So tell us how you met! Love at first sight, blind date, friends forever, we want the particulars!
“Frank and I met in New York City, where we both moved after college, and we actually had two different first meetings… On our first meeting, we met outside 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church after an Ash Wednesday Service, so I guess that was in February. He approached me after the service and asked me several questions about where I was from and whether I attended church often. My roommates were standing off to one side, and one of his good friends was standing off to the other side. After a quick talk, we left and I went to dinner with my roommates. I think I mentioned several times how cute “that guy at church” was. Fast forward to June, and I’m going to a birthday party with some friends. We don’t know the person whose birthday it is, but I was invited by his roommate. It was one of those Southern connections – we had mutual friends from Georgia. Well, it turned out to be Frank’s birthday. We met (again) and hit it off. We talked most of the night, and when I left he asked me for my phone number. Neither of us had any idea that we’d met several months earlier outside of church. We had a few fun dates, all the while my roommates were insisting he was the guy we’d met at church. Finally, on our third date I asked him about it… He was as shocked as I was. Apparently I was “church girl.”
We want to know all about the wedding details! Was it the small and intimate setting or the big traditional?!
“Our wedding probably fell more into the big and traditional category. We both have huge families, so it was going to be big no matter what. We got married in Highlands, North Carolina. I grew up visiting there, and my grandparents live there year round now. Frank went to UGA, and he actually spent a lot of time during college fishing and hiking around the area. It’s not a far drive from my home town (Newnan, GA). Since everyone had to travel to get there, we really wanted it to feel like an entire weekend for the guests, but we also wanted a few things to be more intimate. We kept the Rehearsal Dinner to just close family and the wedding party, but afterwards we had a Friday night party for all the guests who were in town. On Saturday, we had a picnic on the top of the mountain for all of our guests. Frank and I didn’t want to see each other before the wedding, so we split our time at the picnic. Then of course there was the wedding and the reception. We got married at the First Presbyterian Church in Highlands, where my grandfather is an Associate Pastor. He opened the ceremony, and my childhood preacher Dr. Joel Richardson conducted most of the service. Frank’s mom is also an Episcopalian priest, so she blessed the ceremony at the end. We had a bagpiper playing music as we walked out. Throughout the entire weekend, the one thing that we really wanted was for everyone to have fun (including ourselves), and I think our reception was a blast. Everyone was dancing – from our grandparents, to young cousins, to all of our friends. We didn’t want it to end. “
Was there a theme or inspiration behind the décor?
“Highlands is just such a stunning backdrop, and the Highlands Country Club is such a beautiful place, so we mainly wanted to compliment the natural setting. I would say we wanted everything to be casually elegant. We chose white flowers with green accents to keep a simple, classic look. I carried white peonies from a bouquet that my Aunt made for me, and we had these fabulous white hydrangea wreathes on the doors of the church and entering the reception. John Grady Burns really did a wonderful job. We also used a lot of lanterns and candles throughout the reception. In addition to white and green, we had touches of blue throughout, mainly from the bridesmaids’ dresses and the paper products (more about those below). We did formal, traditional invitations and wedding ceremony programs, but for everything else we used blue and white.”
What were your playful twists that made your wedding unique?
“I had a lot of fun with the paper products. Since our guests were traveling to our wedding, we sent out a separate mailing after the invitation that included a schedule of events, a customized map, and a reply card so we could know where everyone was staying, when they were getting in, etc. Each guest received a welcome bag once they arrived to their hotel or the home they were staying in. These included small touches from my home town, like home-made cheese straws and chocolate chip cookies from a local restaurant, a gift certificate to a great ice cream store in Highlands, and a few other things like personalized water bottles. They also had a booklet I made that listed all of the weekend events and information about the town. The mailing items, guest bag, and booklet had the same blue and white look.
Keeping with that blue and white look, we had little glass jars filled with white sugarcoated almonds as our reception gifts. They had a little tag in blue writing that explained these almonds were a Greek wedding tradition (I’m part Greek), with a short little poem explaining they are for a happy future for the bride and groom and that the odd numbers mean the couple will share everything yet remain undivided.
To honor our past, we had wedding pictures from our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents as you walked into the reception. I didn’t wear my mother’s dress, but we used her lace for two special items. A family friend made the ring bearer’s pillow out of the lace from her dress, and we also used the lace from her dress to make the table cloth that we placed the cake on. I have three younger brothers, so I hope these two things can be used in their weddings as well. “
What was your splurge?!
“From the beginning, my dad said he wanted to make sure we had excellent food and an entertaining band. Frank and I both agreed, so those were two main areas we made sure to do right. All of the food was great, but one particularly fun item was the small bite-sized pizzas we passed out at the end of the night as we were getting ready to leave. We still hear people talking about how much they loved those. We also splurged a bit on the cakes, but it was well worth it. The wedding cake was gorgeous (and tasty), and Frank’s groom’s cake was a huge hit. He loves to fish, so the cake looked like a tackle box.”
What was the best wedding advice you received?
“Our wedding planner (Susan Pando, who was incredible), strongly recommended that between the wedding and the reception, Frank and I take 10 minutes to be alone, enjoy each other, and most of all EAT. That was huge. They had full plates and drinks waiting for us when we arrived, and I really needed the food at that point. I’m not sure I saw the food the rest of the night. The other big advice from a lot of people was to enjoy your wedding, and we did. Our reception was like a big, fun party for us. “