November 12, 2020
I seriously can’t believe that we celebrated our first anniversary earlier this week. I’ve really only shared a few of our Ritchie Hill wedding photos here and there, so I figured why not share all of my favorites to celebrate our first anniversary?! Where do I even begin when it comes to our wedding?!
We seriously had a perfect day surrounded by all of our favorite people. That’s really the best part about weddings… that you get to have all of your favorite people in one spot. It’s the most amazing feeling and something I will never forget. We also had the most incredible team of vendors and every single one of them did an outstanding job!!! Literally everything went perfectly on our wedding day. I can’t thank these vendors enough.
Ritchie Hill Wedding
We got married on Sunday, November 10, 2019. It was an absolutely beautiful fall day!!! One thing about our wedding day that I love is that it’s our engagement date too. It just happened to work out that way. Most of the morning of our wedding day was spent upstairs in Ritchie Hill! We chose to get married there because it was a good location for most of the people that were attending the wedding, and all of my family is from Concord. I got to hang out with all of my favorite girlfriends and we were pampered by Blush and Beauties. Olivia and Tehya are the sweetest people and made all of us feel so beautiful! We had a huge spread of snacks and some mimosas (my favorite!!!) to start the day!
My bridesmaids were my younger sister Katherine, my friends Erica and Anna that were former roommates, my friend Caroline that I knew through dance and elementary school, my friend Ashley from middle school and high school, my friend Elisha who lives in Australia (!) that I met during my study abroad semester, and AJ‘s wonderful younger sister Haley! As we were getting our hair and make up done, my coordinator Shannon told me that she had a surprise for me. I had no idea what she was talking about.
A Surprise from AJ
She pulled me out onto the side porch of the upstairs part of the house and handed me a cassette tape player. AJ had recorded himself playing guitar and singing “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” by Elvis Presley – it’s one of my favorite songs at weddings! It’s also the song that I walked down the aisle to, so needless to say it made me cry. AJ also included a Polaroid that was taken of us at my friend Erica‘s wedding and you can see a photo of her and I crying and smiling about it! I got to take some fun getting ready photos with my girls, and meanwhile AJ‘s little brother Toby was helping him get ready. All the guys were hanging out downstairs. Seriously, I’ll never forget Shannon yelling up the stairs, “The groom is in the house!!!” 🙂
Getting Ready + First Looks
Finally, it was time to get dressed! My mom helped me into my dress, and my sister helped me with my shoes and my jewelry. I got another surprise after I was fully dressed… my mom handed me an envelope with a card and a handkerchief inside. It contained part of both of my grandmothers’ wedding dresses! I wrapped the handkerchief around my bouquet when I walked on the aisle. It is such a special keepsake. I also got to share a really sweet first look with my dad, who had not seen my dress, and one with my bridesmaids too!!! 🙂
At that point, it was time for a first look with AJ. We had been looking forward to this for such a long time! These are probably some of my favorite photos from the entire day, because we were just so excited to see each other and finally get married! It was a very emotional and sweet moment. His reaction topped any groom’s reaction I had ever seen at a wedding! After that, we got to do all of our wedding party photos before the ceremony. We had such an incredible group of bridesmaids and groomsmen and we love them all so much. We are truly so thankful for every single one of them and the amazing friendships that we have with them. I even did a silly jumping photo with my bridesmaids because that’s just the kind of people that we are! Haha!
Ritchie Hill Wedding Ceremony
It was almost time for the ceremony, so I headed upstairs with all the girls to get a little snack. We had a nice moment together before the ceremony! Some of the staff came and got me and Katherine and Anna, and put us in a golf cart to shuttle us down to the ceremony site. It was so fun for me to sit there and listen to the beautiful music that Rachel and Jackson were playing and singing as all of the bridesmaids and groomsmen walked down the aisle and took their places. The music choices were very important to us… Rachel and Jackson sang and played “When You Say Nothing At All” as AJ and the groomsmen walked down. They sang and played “Can’t Help Falling in Love” when it was the girls’ turn.
I remember smiling and laughing with my dad as he walked me down the first part of the aisle! After we made the left turn to the actual ceremony site I remember seeing everyone’s smiling faces, and then I’m pretty sure I just kind of blacked out until I got to the front of the ceremony site. Haha! Afterwards I asked AJ what kind of face I was making as I was walking out because I honestly couldn’t remember, but thankfully the photos show that I was smiling ear to ear!!! Lol!
Our ceremony was so special. At the beginning of the procession my brother walked down the aisle with a single rose in memory of my grandmother who had passed away two weeks before our wedding. Our officiant also took a moment to recognize her. She was loved by so many people that were in attendance for the wedding, so that meant a lot to me and to the people present! My friend Elisha also did a reading for us! It was so sweet and special to have her do that for us. The reading is below-
Union by Robert Fulghum
You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way.
All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.
The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”
Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.
For after today you shall say to the world –
This is my husband. This is my wife.
Hand Fasting Ceremony
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.
These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.
And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
Our officiant, David Hockett, was one of my pastors at Forest Hill United Methodist Church in Concord when I was growing up; he also was a pastor at Boone United Methodist Church when I went to Appalachian State. We are so glad that we had him do our ceremony. He did such a wonderful job and it was so personal to us. He did a reading from Romans 12:1-2;9-18 and
Phillipians 4:4-9. He also read a handfasting ceremony. We wanted to incorporate some sort of unity ceremony into our wedding day and when we learned about the handfasting ceremony it seemed perfect for us! It was so unique and had a lot of history to it. We also had a funny moment during our ceremony where AJ said “I do” before it was actually time to, and everyone had a good laugh!
Ritchie Hill Wedding Portraits + Cocktail Hour
After the ceremony was over, we spent some more time doing bride and groom photos – one of my favorite parts of the day as a photographer of course! We had such a great time and even had some time to go upstairs and get a delicious snack. We visited with some friends during cocktail hour, and then it was time for introductions.
Outdoor Wedding Reception
I loved the few moments before we were introduced into the reception! We came down the staircase in front of Ritchie Hill. All of our bridesmaids and groomsmen had so much fun dancing down the stairs and the photos are so cute! We did our first dance to thinking out loud by Ed Sheeran. AJ and his mom danced to “I Hope You Dance by Leann Womack. My dad and I danced to My Girl by the Temptations.
After that, my dad shared a really sweet welcome toast and mentioned my great grandparents and my grandmother! Our officiant David gave a blessing for the food. The food was so delicious – we had salad, chicken quarters, macaroni, and other yummy sides from The Smoke Pit! AJ and I loved having our own little sweetheart table and just sharing dinner just the two of us. Then we went around table by table, visiting with everyone afterwards. Like I mentioned, all of the people there are incredibly special to us.
We got to cut our gorgeous wedding cake inside the front room. Ines also made these super cute individual desserts in little plastic glasses. We had Strawberry Panna Cotta, Tiramisu, and Key Lime Cheesecake desserts. Y’all… they were delicious and our guests thought so too!!! We barely had any dessert left at the end of the night!!! The champagne glasses that we toasted with were a gift from my grandmother that passed away so that was really special! I love those pictures.
Toasts from our Friends
After that, we stepped outside for toasts given by my former roommates, Anna and Erica, and AJ‘s former roommate Austin. It got really chilly by that point in the night. On the porch there were heaters which was SO nice to have but I am so cold natured that I had to whip out my little white scarf that I had bought for the wedding! Haha! Anna and Erica gave such sweet and heartfelt toasts. Erica actually grew up with AJ so her friendship is really special to both of us!!! Both Anna and Austin mentioned in their toasts the square dance that AJ and I had first really connected at. Anna and I had gone to the square dance together, and Austin and AJ had gone together with some other friends. Austin’s toast was hilarious and had everyone in tears laughing. He talked about how AJ had gotten lucky and had asked me to dance while Austin ended up with some hippie girl that apparently had hairy armpits. I don’t remember that detail but apparently he did!!!
After lots of laughs, it was finally time to open the dance floor. We wanted to begin the dancing part of the evening with an anniversary dance. Having photographed so many weddings myself over the years, I always love it when couples decide to do this. And, we knew that my mom‘s parents had celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this year. We really pushed for them to come out on the dance floor! We knew they would be the last ones dancing. It was so fun and so sweet to celebrate their marriage!!!
For the rest of the evening, we had so much fun dancing with all of our friends. We are truly grateful for all of our amazing friendships and for how much fun everyone is!!! I’ll never forget everyone’s crazy dance moves and smiles and laughs. I also did a bouquet toss and my dear friend Elisha was the one to catch the bouquet! It was so funny!!!
At the very end of the night, when it was time to leave, we didn’t even want to leave!!! We were having so much fun! We shared one last special dance together to “Save the Last Dance For Me.” We headed up onto the porch so we could go down the stairs and have a fun sparkler exit! Our coordinator Shannon said that there was one last surprise for us, and again we had no idea what she was talking about!
When we rounded the corner we saw a 1955 Chevy that was absolutely beautiful. I had seen this getaway car at a couple of other weddings and my parents surprised us by booking it for our wedding. We were both so surprised because we thought we would be driving AJ‘s car!!! They also tied shoes and cans to the back of the car that my parents had on their car when they left their wedding in 1992!!! Such a fun surprise. Our driver took us back to my parents house, which is just a few minutes away, and we got to say thank you to our families before heading to the Kimpton Hotel in Charlotte.
Once we got there, we had complimentary drinks because they knew it was our wedding night! We went down to the bar – it was such a lovely place! I had a glass of champagne and AJ had an old-fashioned. Now we have decided that it’s going to be a wedding day tradition every year! We are going to either go to the same bar or somewhere else and get champagne and an old fashion to celebrate our anniversary!!! 🙂
I know this was an extremely long post, but I am so incredibly grateful to all of our friends and family. We are truly surrounded by the most amazing people. I really do wish that we could relive the entire day again – everything about it was so FUN and so perfect! 🙂 Thank you for reliving our Ritchie Hill wedding day with us!
Take a look at our recap of our first year of marriage!
Venue: Ritchie Hill
Coordinator: Shannon Cudmore
Hair and Makeup: Blush and Beauties
Floral Design: Julep Floral
Photography: Click Away Photography
Officiant: David Hockett
Bride and Bridesmaid Jewelry: The Bead Lady
Groom + Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse
Favors: Appalachia Cookie Co
Engagement Ring: Falls Jewelers
Wedding Bands: Ellis Jewelers
Bridesmaid Dresses: Azazie
Signage: Katherine Cress Designs
Dress: Bluebird Bridal
Catering: The Smoke Pit
Videographer: Angelbello Film
Alterations – Windy Sabin
Cake and Sweets: Sky’s The Limit Bridal Sweets
Musicians: Rachel and Jackson Music
DJ: Virtual Sounds