Melissa Claugus and Benjamin Hause dated for a year in college, and even reconnected for a date post grad, but it took another seven years (and Melissa's move from Philadelphia to Atlanta!) for something to really happen. Once back in their college town for good, Melissa decided to contact Ben. Only problem: She didn't have his number or email, and he didn't have Facebook. So, with no other choice, Melissa wrote him a hand-written letter—and Ben, who was out-of-town on business, took a whole six weeks to respond!
But it was all worth the wait. On April 28, 2012, Ben surprised Melissa with a trip to Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee and proposed on one knee after a picnic lunch on the hotel's grounds. (Ben even visited the week before to scout out the perfect location for the proposal!) A year later (almost to the day!), Melissa and Ben invited 220 guests to The St. Regis Atlanta for a ballroom wedding with garden-party appeal. Check out our favorite details, as captured by Nadia D Photography, below.
Work with your shape
When shopping for a wedding dress, Melissa wanted a big ball gown—that is, until she tried one on. "I looked more like a cake topper," she says. So, rather than overwhelm her petite frame, the bride opted for a modified trumpet gown by Monique Lhuillier that kept the volume towards the bottom of the dress.
Bring the outdoors inside
Melissa worked with Christina Zubowicz of Magnolia Events to make the grand ballroom look more like a 500-year-old English garden by lining the aisles with trees so Melissa could walk down the aisle beneath an arch of branches. Old wooden doors draped in vines covered the walls, and Melissa and Ben exchanged self-written vows under a wrought iron and wood altar wrapped with vines, white roses, and pink peonies.
Keep your bridal party close
To keep her girls at her side, Melissa asked her bridal party to sit at a long estate table in the center of the reception room. The table was covered with a champagne-colored linen and a lace overlay, while the centerpieces were kept low and simple with white hydrangeas and pink garden roses.
Think about the dancing!
After taking dance lessons for a year, Melissa couldn't imagine her wedding waltz without a fear of falling in her gown. So she changed into a fun, deep purple Roberto Cavalli dress for the first dance and father-daughter dance, then slipped back into her wedding gown. But that purple dress made another appearance: At the Venetian-themed after-party (masks and all)!
Ceremony & Reception Venue: The St. Regis Atlanta || Event Planner: Christina Zubowicz of Magnolia Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Bride's First Dance/After Party Dress: Roberto Cavali || Hair & Makeup: Brushworx on Location Hair and Makeup || Groom's Tux: Ralph Lauren Purple Label || Floral Designer: Bold American Design || Photography: Nadia D Photography