Despite meeting and sharing their first date during their sophomore year of college in January of 2009, Molly and Nathan didn't start dating until the following August. "We realized that we had something special, something that was built on friendship, but we couldn't have imagined how much our love would grow," says Molly. "After four and a half years of dating, six moves between us both, job changes, one broken nose, two family reunions, many romantic weekend trips, one sweet pup, and countless promises of forever along the way, we got engaged on December 29, 2014."
Nate popped the question in Rockefeller Center, but the couple decided on a hometown wedding in Raleigh, North Carolina, and dreamed up a navy, white, and dusty shale celebration filled with gold accents. "My main vision was for us to not lose sight of the important meaning of our day," says the bride. "I wanted a day full of love surrounded by our family and friends." With the help of their mothers, Molly and Nate's July 17, 2015, wedding went off without a hitch, and Oliva Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography was there to capture every last second.
While they only had seven months to plan their wedding, Molly and Nate took some time to enjoy their engagement before tackling most of their major details. "We really didn't start any planning until April, but did most of in May, June, and July," says Molly. "I loved that we were really able to focus on what was important, the bigger details, and not worry as much about the things that don't really matter in the long run."
One task Molly did tick off her to-do list early was finding the dress. A friend had told Molly about a Brides Against Breast Cancer Event in February 2015. At these events, brides-to-be can purchase designer gowns at a discount, with a portion of proceedings benefitting families affected by breast cancer. "I'm always looking for a good deal and I loved the idea of helping a good cause at the same time," Molly says. With her mother and sisters in tow, Molly tried on around 15 dresses, but it was a Matthew Christopher gown that another bride had on her rack that really caught her eye.
The strapless silk trumpet gown was nearly perfect, but Molly kept going back and forth about whether or not she wanted a lace topper. Three weeks before the wedding, she took a chance and purchased a three-quarter-sleeve option from BHLDN and figured she'd give it a try. "It ended up being perfect and most people didn't even realize it wasn't part of my dress," says the bride.
On the morning of her wedding, Molly's mother surprised her with two pins to signify each of the bride's grandmothers. She placed a heart and clover pin directly over her heart on the inside of dress.
This laid-back bride gave her attendants plenty of options when it came to buying their dresses. "I didn't care what styles they ordered, as long as they were all long dresses from J.Crew in the same fabric and dusty shale color," Molly says.
Molly's lush white bouquet of roses, hydrangea, and ivy paired well with her bridesmaids' smaller arrangements of roses, succulents, and greenery.
Nate chose a classic navy suit for the big day. His groomsmen wore navy dress pants, white button downs, and blue suspenders and bowties.
The couple decided on an early first look so that they would have plenty of time to take photos before the ceremony. "We also read through a journal we'd been writing in since we got engaged, but were saving to read together on our wedding day," says Molly.
The ceremony was held at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. "It's the church we attend, so having the ceremony there was an easy decision," says the bride. An equally easy choice was their décor. Since the beautiful interior didn't need tons of additional decorations, Molly and Nate brought in just two large flower arrangements.
Both the bride's mother and father walked her down the aisle before Molly and Nate exchanged traditional catholic vows.
The party moved to Sitti, one of the couple's favorite Raleigh restaurants. "We love their food and knew it would be light and refreshing for our mid-July wedding," says the bride. "Sitti also had an indoor and outdoor space which was something I really wanted in a venue."
Vintage post cards were hung from clothesline as the couple's seating chart. Guests found their name on a decorative card that corresponded with those used to mark each table. Indoor tables were decorated with white linens and navy runners, topped with a dainty arrangement of baby's breath. Outside, long tables were dressed in blue and white striped linens and finished with white jars of spider mums, hydrangeas, and roses.
Selecting meal options for dinner was a breeze. "We served some of our favorites from the restaurant, including chicken and artichoke, beef, lamb, salad, and rice," the bride says. Instead of a traditional cake, the couple chose a selection of pies, with tasty options like mixed berry, key lime, peach, and apple.
The couple shared their first dance to "Swept Away" by the Avett Brothers, but it was their private last dance that was one of Molly's favorite memories from the day. "At the very end of the night I had our DJ play one last song for just the two of us," says Molly. "Most of the guests had already left and everything was getting cleaned up, but I had him play an acoustic version of Beyonce's 'Halo.' I had secretly wanted to use it as our first dance song, but it ended up being the perfect way to end the night."
Ceremony Venue: St. Francis of Assisi Church || Reception Venue & Catering: Sitti || Bride's Wedding Dress: Matthew Christopher || Wedding Dress Topper: BHLDN || Hair: Blown Away || Makeup: Salon Blu at North Hills || Bridesmaids' Dresses: J.Crew || Groom's Attire: The Black Tux || Ties: The Tie Bar || Flowers: Flowers on Broad Street || Music: The Local DJ || Dessert: Slice Pie Company || Photographer: Olivia Wolf of Nancy Ray Photography
Looking for more summer wedding inspiration? Then watch another couple's warm-weather celebration in the video below.