Though it was a mutual love of the South that brought them together, Emily Loftiss and Jay Carlington actually met further north, in New York City in October 2003. "I went to the University of Alabama and Jay is from Birmingham, so a mutual friend thought we'd hit it off," Emily says. Emily was a dancer with the Radio City Rockettes and on Broadway at the time, and Jay was busy working on Wall Street, so it took five years for the friendship to blossom into a romance.
On May 31, 2012, Jay proposed to Emily during a family trip to Aruba, and the Southerners-at-heart (who, by this point, were moving west to California!) began planning a wedding in Emily's hometown of Thomasville, Georgia. They spent two years planning the perfect celebration and, on April 12, 2014, 250 guests gathered to see them finally say "I do" — more than 10 years after they first met.
Keep reading to see how they infused a little New York glamour into their charming Southern wedding, photographed by Deborah Browne.
It all started with a classic green and white invitation. Says Emily, "I searched forever for the perfect green — the same shade as the jackets from the Masters!"
Emily's bouquet included that same green, as well as Duchesse de Nemours peonies, David Austin "Patience" roses, veronica, scabiosa, bearded iris, and white lilac.
The bride is a style and beauty expert, so she knew a regular wedding dress wouldn't be enough. Costume designer Bronwen Burton created the dress, and Emily reached out to friend (and Executive Collection Design Coordinator for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show!) Sophia Lidz to add some extra Broadway-worthy sparkle. Emily worked with Sophia to select the crystals for the shoulder details and draping, giving her gown a glamorous feel.
Jay matched Emily's formal attire with a Burberry tuxedo, Thomas Pink French cuff shirt, and white suspenders and pocket square.
The couple exchanged traditional vows at the First United Methodist Church, where Emily walked herself halfway down the aisle to meet her mother, who walked her to the altar.
At Pebble Hill Plantation, guests made themselves comfortable on collections of eclectic furniture, giving the cocktail hour an "Alice in Wonderland" feel. They sampled a classic southern appetizer menu of deviled eggs, pickled okra, and cheese straws as a horse-drawn carriage gave rides around the plantation.
The reception took place in the courtyard, where round tables were topped with green and white striped linens. The highlight of dinner? Definitely the biscuit bar!
Centerpieces were kept mostly green, with native ferns and gold-painted seeded eucalyptus in vintage containers.
"We wanted to compliment the oak trees and Spanish moss," says Emily. "It felt like an enchanted forest."
Guests danced to Motown, disco, rock, pop, and country — and of course Sweet Home Alabama! Emily's father passed away many years earlier, so she honored him and thanked seven of men who'd helped raise her by dancing to "Our Life" by The Beatles, switching between her uncles, childhood neighbors, a best friend's father, and her new father-in-law every few bars.
After a dessert bar that included peach cobbler, banana pudding, lemon bars, and Jay's carrot groom's cake, the night came to an end. Jay and Emily headed to Europe for their honeymoon, stopping in Paris, Rome, Florence, and the Amalfi Coast.
Says Emily, "Get off Pinterest! Have your own ideas, and invite your guests to a celebration that is everything you've envisioned."
Ceremony Venue: Thomasville First United Methodist Church || Reception Venue: Pebble Hill Plantation || Custom Dress: Bronwen Burton, Sophia Lidz || Hair & Makeup: Kristen White Imagery || Groom's Attire: Burberry || Wedding Bands: Michael Agnello Jewelers || Florist: Singletary's Flowers & Gifts || Invitations & Paper Goods: Shine Wedding Invitations || Music: EastCoast Entertainment || Catering: Southern Bleu, Inc. || Dessert Bar: Bridgette Blackshear || Groom's Cake: Sweetpeach Cakes || Rentals: Andrew Tent Co., On the Rocks Bartending || Photography: Deborah Browne Photography
Want more wedding inspiration? Watch another outdoor wedding come to life in the below video!