When you look at Emily and Jackson’s pictures, everything looks lovely, meaningful, and just as it should be. But, girl, preparing their woodland-themed wedding at Emily’s childhood home was a roller coaster! Six weeks before their day, a tornado (yes, you read right – A TORNADO.) came through, destroying both trees and structures. But here’s the beautiful part – friends and family rallied round and worked like crazy to put everything back together.
Carried on by that wave of love, care, and sense of community, Emily and Jackson exchanged vows and celebrated their marriage with one awesome woodland wedding. All those minerals you see (including those on the cake) are from Emily’s dad’s personal collection, a 300-year old family bible was used in the ceremony, and there was CAMPING, you guys.
Get the details about how these two met, the inspiration behind their day, how they handled the pre-wedding storm, how the band forgot a drum set (true story), and more below!
How did your sweetie propose?
“Jackson and I began our relationship in February of 2011 backpacking and camping under the stars, so it’s no surprise he would ask me at a similar location. On March 3rd, 2016, Jackson took me to my family’s property in the mountains near Max Patch, NC. After a sloppy joe dinner made in our dutch oven in the fire, we were sitting on a tarp (I had forgotten camping chairs) sipping on our favorite drink, talking, and listening to music. “Fix You” by Coldplay came on, and Jackson suddenly put my drink down and stood me up. Confused, I thought he wanted to dance. As I started to hug him and try to slow dance, I noticed he was acting funny. That was before I saw the tears come, and I knew exactly what was happening. He spoke the most beautiful words, got down on one knee, and asked me to be his wife.
Later that night he told me of his trickery and weekend plans. Over the last several months while he was designing the ring, he was planning this amazing weekend. He had thought of everything. He had champagne, and even gone through my closet to pick out his favorite outfits (that his mom secretly picked up from the house while we were gone camping) for a night in Asheville, NC. We met up that Saturday evening with his family in Kingsport to tell them the big news, celebrate, and pick up the rest of my weekend attire. In Asheville we went to a fancy dinner, shopped, and just relaxed. Finally, that Sunday evening we met with my family in Morristown, TN to tell them the big news. It was the most wonderful weekend.“
How did you choose your gown?
“I researched the designers that several of the local wedding gown stores carried in Knoxville, and had several gowns picked out before going to the store. One of those stores, Wedding Wonderland here in Knoxville, carried Lea-Ann Belter, and I loved all of the Astrid & Mercedes line. My three criteria were something simple, with lace, and a low back. I am a very natural, laid back, and simple person so I didn’t want anything that seemed too over the top. I also didn’t want the dress to overshadow me. I always thought “a wedding is not about a dress, it’s about love.” Everything about the Astrid & Mercedes Luna dress was what I wanted. I knew it was the dress when I looked at my mom and mother-in-law, and they were crying. The Luna dress had beautiful lace that gave it personality in itself, as well as the eyelash lace on the top that was elegant. The low front and back was at a level that made it super classy, which I really liked. Enough skin, but not too much.“
Tell us about your day! Did you have a theme or style in mind?
“I had always known I wanted to get married in the house I grew up in. I am lucky enough to have grown up at such a beautiful location that it could actually hold as a wedding venue. The thought never crossed my mind of getting married at a place that didn’t have any significant meaning to me personally. It was either the church I grew up in, or the house. Naturally, turning a house into a venue was a task with months and months of preparing for. My original idea was I wanted a “magical forest” woodland theme. My parents’ house is tucked back into the woods, and we had a lighting company that was going to string lights from tree to tree. As most brides know, things don’t always go to plan. Six weeks prior to the wedding day, a massive tornado-like storm (microburst storm) came through and every tree in their yard fell either to the ground, or on the house. With the help of our wedding party and family, we were able to fix the house enough to still use it for the wedding. The garage was totaled and we had to think of ways to hide the damage. My theme of a “magical forest” could not be done with no trees to hang lights from, however we still had our woodland theme and used the trees that were destroyed in parts of the wedding.
One thing that is important to me is family, so I wanted to incorporate my family as much as possible into the big day. I love anything natural, and my Papa has a big rock and mineral collection. I decided to use some of his rocks in the wedding cake in place of flowers. I also used his rocks for the table center pieces. On the family thread, I wore both of my grandmothers’ jewelry, and also incorporated my mother’s gloves into the bouquet. The band also actually forgot their drum set (seriously, no lie) and luckily my brother is a drummer. So the band played on his drum set throughout the night.
We wanted it to be a unique wedding, full of fun activities and things to do. We had custom corn hole boards made for us by Jackson’s uncle and cousins, and a “tent city” behind the house where we, along with some of our wedding party camped after the reception and had a bonfire. It was a lot of fun after the wedding hanging out with our closest friends next to the fire and winding down from the event. We didn’t stop there though. I wanted to make sure everyone that was camping, and our out of town family was well fed before traveling home, so we hosted a brunch the morning after the wedding. There, our reverend (who also camped with us) said a prayer and discussed the meaning of family. At that time Jackson and I signed our family’s 300-year old bible, as well as the marriage certificate. Our friends threw birdseed at us as we traveled away to our honeymoon.”
What’s your funniest wedding day memory?
“There were so many little things that made it such a fun day! As a whole I think the one thing I still have to laugh about is the wedding party. Jackson had a terrible time narrowing down his friend list, so of course he just didn’t narrow it down at all. Including his two brothers, my brother, and his friends, he had a total of 17 men on just his side. Of course, 17 men can’t stand up next to us without looking ridiculous, so he just had the three brothers, and we called the rest of them “Grushers” (Groomsmen + Ushers = Grushers). I also have to laugh at the moment we cut the cake. With all the rocks in the cake (those real rocks that were Papa’s), we definitely had a hard time maneuvering our way around without striking gold. “
Five words that best describe Jackson:
“Beautiful (inside and out), determined, generous, funny, witty, and strong.”
Any advice for future brides/grooms?
“Don’t sweat the small stuff, and plan ahead! No one notices the details except for you, and no one will notice if something is missing.”
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
“We went to Turks and Caicos Island in the Caribbean. Instead of doing an expensive all-inclusive resort, we got an airbnb and did it ourselves, saving us the money with just a little extra effort going to the grocery store. It was fabulous!!”
wedding dress: Astrid & Mercedes Luna | photographer: Lisa Price Photography | lighting: True Grip | rentals: All Occasions | florals: LB Floral | band: Alternate Take | ceremony band: Sequoyah Strings | coordinator: Shelia Wiggins | wedding cake: Yummy Cakes and More | servers: The Pour Guys | caterer: Joe Spoone**
** I would like to make a special shout out to our caterer, Joe Spoone. Joe is a family friend that lives down the street from my parents’ house (where the wedding was). He truly is a hard-working man that does it all. After the storm, he and his family did so much helping us get the house ready (putting his own damaged property on hold until after the wedding). From hauling off the trees, to cutting and making the wood slabs for our table centerpieces, and catering the best meal ever. Joe as well as his family played such a major role in everything behind the scenes, and somehow still had time to cater 200 guests for the wedding, and 100 guests for the brunch the following Sunday. He is such a joy to work with, and did exactly what we asked leaving no detail left behind. His food is so delicious, and if he doesn’t have it, he will get it.”