Abigail Forman donned a wedding dress, held a bouquet and posed for a photographer long before her actual wedding day—she was the cover model on Modern Bride's February/March 2006 and April/May 2007 issues. "I learned so much from the magazine!" Abigail says, and the knowledge came in handy when she married Ray Lee on October 7, 2007, at The Fearrington House, a dairy farm-turned-Relais & Chateaux inn located outside of Chapel Hill, NC. The couple worked with Gilda McDaniel, the inn's special events manager, and on-site florist, Mary Stevens, to create an elegant affair for 85 guests that combined customs from their Korean and Southern backgrounds and included many twists on tradition.
The event began with an intimate ceremony at the crabapple tree garden. Abigail walked down a winding aisle to a classical version of Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable," performed by Grammy-nominated jazz artist John Brown and his group. After the groom's cousins sang a traditional Korean love song, the couple participated in a customized version of the unity candle ritual: The wine lovers each poured from separate carafes into one glass.
At the cocktail hour, as guests sipped splits of champagne, they answered questions the bride and groom had written (like, "What's your advice for the newlyweds?") as a fun guest-book alternative. Inside the barn, Abigail and Ray's first dance to Elvis' "Fools Rush In"—the song that had been playing during their first kiss—kicked off the reception. Since the couple were born in the year of the pig and wed in the year of the golden pig, which signifies prosperity in the Asian calendar, they used little gold piggy banks inscribed with meaningful places as table numbers. The bride also displayed ones labeled "Hubby" and "Wifey" in front of the cake as an extension of the theme and a playful nod to the farm locale. Even the dinner buffet featured a whole roasted pig, served with Southern comfort foods like blackened catfish and fried green tomatoes, and kimchee, a traditional Korean vegetable. The event reflected "the core of our cultures," says Ray. Fittingly, the pair's past helped usher in their future. —Elaine Stuart
Learn From Abigail and Ray
Think Twice: The couple couldn't decide between reciting traditional Christian vows or writing their own, so they exchanged two sets during their ceremony. They also paired biblical readings with an excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit.
Serve Strategically: Though the reception featured a buffet dinner, the bride and groom had the first course—goat cheese, black-eyed pea and red onion salad—plated and served to guests, to encourage them to take their seats. "We didn't want people immediately rushing the food stations," says Abigail.
Mix It Up: The wine-loving pair chose not to serve hard liquor at their wedding. They supplemented beer and wine with Moet & Chandon Nectar Champagne on ice, which satisfied guests in the mood for a sweet cocktail.
Paul Smith, paulsmith.co.uk
John Brown, johnbrownband.com
Ceremony and Reception Site
The Fearrington House, fearrington.com
Dasha Wright and Phil Mantas, mantaswright.com