A Formal Southern Wedding in Savannah, Georgia

Real Weddings

On October 5, 2012, Jonathan and Leigh travelled to California's Napa Valley to celebrate the completion of her master's degree. During their dinner on a beautiful deck overlooking the valley at the Auberge du Soleil resort, he asked her to be his wife. "I was so surprised, I initially forgot to say, 'Yes!'" Leigh says.

A year later (to the day!), on October 5, 2013, the couple wed at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in the bride's hometown of Savannah, Georgia. Though they met in New York City and now live in London, Leigh and Jon always knew their big day would be closer to home. "I think it's safe to say that Savannah is a very special place, even to those not from there," Leigh says. "So it went without question that we wanted to share that special place with our guests." Their formal ceremony and relaxed reception made for a uniquely Southern celebration, captured by Donna Von Bruening

While home for Christmas just a few months after getting engaged, Leigh decided on a whim to try on wedding dresses with her mom. "All I knew was that I didn't want it to be lace or strapless," she says. "We were just browsing—I was not expecting to walk out of the bridal salon with a dress."

The winner: a lace(!) Romona Keveza gown with a soft blush underlay and a scalloped strapless(!) neckline. So why the change of heart? "I couldn't believe it, but I simply fell in love," Leigh says. "The subtle Swiss dots on the ivory lace, the covered buttons down the train, and the unexpected color made it all the more special." She added delicate scalloped straps and finished the look with an intricate, angel-cut mantilla veil.

Pairing white lilies, ranunculus, and freesia with rosemary sprigs and garden greens gave the bride's bouquet an eclectic yet elegant feel. Three stephanotis blossoms became a simple and striking boutonniere for the groom.

The ceremony was held at St. Peter's Episcopal Church on Skidaway Island, the parish Leigh and her family have been a part of for more than 20 years. "I grew up on the island and this beautiful church means so much to me," she says. Accompanied by piano, Jon's sister sang "Ave Maria" while guests were seated in their pews. Leigh's grandfather and Jon's father read Bible passages during the traditional liturgy to celebrate and bless the couple's marriage.

Cascading waterfalls of white lilies and roses softened the rich wooden pews and matched large arrangements of lilies and snapdragons at the altar. To add to the ambience, tall white candles in hurricane vases sat in each of the 14 cathedral windows, surrounded by magnolia greens. "With the ceremony timed just before sunset, the lighting was perfect," Leigh says.

After exchanging vows, Leigh and Jon recessed to string quartet renditions of "Human" by The Killers and "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay. "We wanted to have fun and spice up the traditional ceremony with non-traditional wedding music," Leigh says.

In line with the formal attire, Jon wore evening wear, including a white tie and coat tails. His monogrammed sterling silver cufflinks and watch were gifts from his bride. Leigh chose blush Badgley Mischka heels to bring out the soft tint in her dress, but swapped them for a pair of TOMS in the same hue when the dancing began.

"Our wedding planner, Anne Hagin, helped us turn a generic clubhouse venue into a warm environment that encouraged socializing, dancing, eating, and drinking—the keys to a successful wedding." Leigh says. Together, they created a homey atmosphere by bringing furniture, rugs, and even chandeliers outdoors to set up three living-room-style spaces at the reception.

Corralled in vintage-inspired glass vases, peach and coral roses and abundant greens completed the intimate atmosphere.

Each table featured a unique collection of bright blossoms, which popped against the largely neutral aesthetic.

Opting out of a sit-down dinner, Leigh and Jon instead offered a station-style menu, which was written on an oversized chalkboard. Guests could nibble and graze on shrimp and grits, poached salmon, specialty pastas, pork or beef, and local cheeses at their leisure throughout the night. Unassigned, open seating and late-night snacks like pigs in a blanket and fried mac-and-cheese (Leigh's favorite!) made the reception more social and laid-back. "As much as we love all the components of a classic, formal wedding, we above all wanted the celebration to feel comfortable and not stuffy," she says.

Dancing for the first time to Ray LaMontagne's "Your are the Best Thing," the newlyweds soaked up the quiet moments together. "It was simply incredible to have every person who is important to us come together in one place," Leigh says. "Looking out at their faces was one of our favorite memories that we will never forget."

The chic, six-tier cake was dressed with delicate dot patterns in ivory buttercream frosting. A bundle of flowers echoing the bride's bouquet crowned the top layer. "We knew we wanted Mollie Stone's almond pound cake with understated decoration." Leigh says. "Voila—simple and delicious!"

The Atlanta Party Band, a 10-piece group playing both big-band swing music and upbeat modern tunes, had everyone on the dance floor. "Once the party really got going, we brought out the famous Union Jack sunglasses, a nod to our upcoming move across the Pond." Leigh says.

Ushered out the door by a line of sparklers, the couple embarked on a journey to Bali, Indonesia, where they spent equal time relaxing on the beach and hiking the mountains in Ubud. Three weeks after returning stateside, Leigh relocated to London to join Jon, who had moved there for work just a few months before the wedding. "We're still settling in, but life in London is wonderful," she says. "This is a truly exciting experience for us to share as newlyweds."

As for bride-to-bride advice, Leigh suggests remaining true to who you are as a pair: "Remember that it's your wedding and there are no real rules. Embrace the traditions you like and ignore the ones you don't."

Ceremony Venue: St. Peter's Episcopal Church || Reception Venue: The Plantation Club at The Landings || Wedding Planner: Anne Hagin Events || Officiant: Reverend Samuel Buice || Bride's Wedding Dress: Legends by Romona Keveza, from Bleubelle Bridal || Veil: Homa Bridal || Shoes: Badgley Mischka, Toms || Hair: Tiffony Simpson || Makeup: Lauren Rossi Makeup || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale || Mother of the Bride's Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Wedding Bands: Radcliffe Jewelers || Florist: Beaucoup de Bouquets || Invitations & Paper Goods: La Paperie, William Arthur || Music: Ceremony - J.L. Music Service, Reception - Atlanta Party Band || Catering: The Plantation Club at The Landings || Cake: Mollie Cakes || Rentals: Beachview Event Rentals || Favors: Savannah Bee, Savannah's Candy Kitchen , Minted, ForYourParty.com || Transportation: Old Savannah Tours || Photography: Donna Von Bruening

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