12th Feb 2018

Melissa & Craig


The Big Question

 After 4 1/2 years together, we were finally going on a vacation by ourselves. We'd gone on a lot of vacations together, but always with friends or family, so we were really excited for a relaxing trip, just the two of us. As we got closer to our trip, I started to notice that Craig seemed more on edge than usual, and seemed very anxious for the trip to start. I remember thinking that if he was going to be like this the whole trip, it would be awful.

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 Little did I know that he was trying to keep a secret from me that would change our lives instantly. We finally got on the boat to start our trip and I could tell he was still anxious about something. Luckily we had met this really great couple within minutes of boarding, and they had suggested meeting up for drinks later that afternoon. I figured that would help him relax a little (or at least I hoped!).


 We got our drinks with our new friends and they suggested going to the back of the boat to take pictures of the port as we were leaving. Seemed innocent enough, but when we got there, Craig got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I honestly can't remember the specifics of what he said, because I was fighting back tears and trying to keep my hand steady as he put the ring on, but it was easily one of the best moments of my life and took me completely by surprise. 


Shop 'Til You Drop

It's really funny, before you get engaged, you have all these thoughts about who you want to bring with you when you pick out your dress and what the day will be like, but then when you actually get engaged, it all changes. Once I got engaged, I knew that the only person I wanted with me was my mom. My mom and I are extremely close, so I knew that not only would it be really special for the two of us, but I knew she would give me honest feedback and I really trusted her opinion.

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 I wasn't sure of all of the dress specifics, but I knew I wanted something simple, something traditional and timeless. When I was planning our wedding, I would tell people that my whole goal was to be able to look back at my wedding in 20 years and know that I could plan the same exact wedding.

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 When the day finally came to go dress shopping, I kept telling myself that it was completely normal to not find your dream dress the first day and not to get my hopes up. The boutique walked us through the process and told me to go pick our 8 dresses to try on. 7 of the dresses that I picked came from the same section of the store. Only 1 came from a different section, and that 1 became my wedding dress. People will tell you that when you try on the right dress, you just know. It sounds so silly, but I felt it with this dress.

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 I hadn't felt so comfortable or beautiful in any other dress, and I instantly pictured myself walking down the aisle towards my fiance, clutching my dad's arm. I saw my whole wedding come to life. The dress made it real and from that moment on, I knew exactly how I wanted my wedding to look. 

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The Perfect Day

Our wedding was in Atlanta, GA on November 4, 2017. We took about a year and half to plan our wedding, so by the time the big day came around, we were so ready. Everyone always says that it's normal to be nervous on your wedding day, but I was really calm. I knew that I was marrying the right person and was honestly excited to be able to see him again.

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 Our ceremony was going to be late enough in the evening, that we were going to run the risk of losing the sun if we chose to do our pictures after the ceremony. My husband is a traditionalist, so it took some arm twisting, but I finally got him to agree to do a first look, and looking back, it was absolutely the right thing to do. It was so nice to be able to spend a private moment together, just the two of us, before things got really hectic and before our family and the rest of the wedding party joined us.

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 Later that evening, we were married at Peachtree Presbyterian Church. People don't realize how significant it is when you're dad hands you over to your future husband, but it's a really powerful moment. Following our ceremony, we had our cocktail hour and reception at the Swan House Gardens at the Atlanta History Center. There could not have been a more perfect backdrop for a classic and timeless wedding.

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 Our reception was something out of a fairy tale. Simple ivory linens, beautiful white flower arrangements, and small touches of gold and natural wood brought the elegant look I wanted to life. Pairing those details with amazing food, an even better band and our closest family and friends, our reception was definitely one for the ages. Craig and I are so lucky that we had so many people who wanted to celebrate our marriage and we look back on those memories with the biggest smiles ever. 

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Wise Words

I think my biggest piece of advice would be to remember that it's your wedding day. It's hard to not let other people's opinions cloud yours, but you have to remember that this is the one day just for the two of you, to celebrate your life and love for each other. You have to do what makes you happy and what best represents your relationship. It's the first day of the rest of your lives, so enjoy it!

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Photographer: Anna Shackleford Photography
Dress: Jay
Location: Swan House Gardens, Atlanta
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