When Caroline King and Derek Dedeker first met as freshmen at Texas Christian University, they were both dating other people. But their friend groups collided and merged over the following years, and in the summer of 2014, they found themselves single and interning in New York City. That summer, Derek patiently pursued Caroline—and in July, he took her on their first date.
By December of 2016, Derek and Caroline were talking marriage, and she admits that she was anticipating a late spring proposal. But Derek had other plans. “Unbeknownst to me, he’d been planning a New Year’s Eve proposal all fall, flying to Nashville to talk to my dad and even going with me to go ring shopping after he’d already purchased a ring,” says Caroline with a laugh. When Derek asked Caroline to join him for a drink before meeting up with her family for dinner, she didn’t think much of it as Derek took off to get ready.
“When I came downstairs, my mom was picking up a box on the porch that was addressed to me. As soon as I opened it and saw Derek’s note to follow the signs, I knew a proposal was coming,” she says. Quotes and arrows led her from the front door to her family’s barn, where Caroline followed a path of candles to a table and a laptop. “He’d made a slideshow of every photo of us together, from friends to best friends to forever, and as it came to an end, I heard him walk up behind me. My heart absolutely exploded as he got down on one knee!”
Caroline had always dreamed of getting married at her childhood home near Nashville, so she and Derek turned to Big Events Inc. to create a chic, modern celebration with a residential aesthetic. “I didn’t want it to feel like a Southern barn wedding, but instead be something that was design-focused but still comfortable,” Caroline explains. On October 21, 2017, they invited 350 guests to join them for a church ceremony, followed by cocktails in the drive and a tented reception that felt like an extension of the King family home.
When Derek took Caroline "ring shopping" in the fall of 2016, she had no idea that he had already designed and purchased her vintage-style engagement ring. But, lucky for her, he knew his bride. “The ring he designed is absolutely perfect,” she says. Caroline donned a gauzy lace robe and beaded slippers as she and her bridesmaids got ready for the big day.
Caroline’s Carolina Herrera dress featured a floating tulle skirt and an illusion neckline topped with embroidered leaves and flowers. Her bouquet of calla lilies, orchids, and garden roses matched the veil and the day's botanical theme.
“Derek hesitated about having a first look because he didn’t want to sacrifice the emotion of me walking down the aisle, but in the end we were both so glad we did it," Caroline says. "We’re so grateful we had the chance to laugh and hold hands together before the ceremony.” (And, yes, Derek still got his emotional moment.)
A first look also meant plenty of time for fun photos before the big moment. The bridesmaids wore beaded charcoal gowns by Adrianna Papell. “My friends and I have been in quite a few weddings over the last few years, so I wanted to pick a dress that stood out from the others in our closets,” says the bride.
Derek and Caroline exchanged letters to each another before the ceremony, then tied the knot with traditional vows at the First Presbyterian Church in Nashville. “We had the Nashville country group, Mamadear, sing a compilation during the ceremony,” Caroline says.
Back at the King family home, the state flags of Tennessee (the bride’s home) and Minnesota (the groom’s) hung from the balcony, welcoming family and friends with true Southern hospitality. Cocktail hour took place around the fountain in the front drive, where garden roses and strands of orchids spilled from each tier. A jazz trio played as guests mingled beneath strings of café lights.
For the reception, the group was invited through a floral-draped arch into a dramatic clear tent set over a wood grain floor. “We added some New York edginess with Sputnik chandeliers, swirling metallic linens, and brass accents,” Caroline describes. Clusters of lounge furniture kept the tent feeling like an extension of the family home.
Dark taper candles in marble holders lit glass dining tables, which were set beneath chandeliers covered in eucalyptus. Pieces of modern art also hung along the perimeter of the tent to reiterate the modern residential setting.
With such a large crowd, a series of buffet stations turned out to be the perfect choice for dinner service. Guests were able to choose between bourbon salmon and herb-encrusted beef tenderloin, with harvest salad, Mexican street corn, and pimento mac ’ n’ cheese. Later in the evening, a coffee station served up a dose of caffeine alongside Bailey’s and beignets, while waiters passed bite-sized chicken and waffles as a nod to the Nashville setting.
After spinning–literally!–around the dance floor to “You Are” by Lionel Richie, Derek invited his family to the floor for a surprise performance to “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. “They all know how much I love Bruno Mars, and they’d spent weeks on FaceTime going over the moves,” says Caroline. “One night Derek kicked me out of our apartment and wouldn’t tell me why I had to leave. It turns out they were rehearsing!”
As the night came to a close, Caroline and Derek gathered on the front porch with family and friends—only to be surprised when all of a sudden the sky illuminated with fireworks. “My parents hadn’t told anyone about the fireworks, so it was a huge surprise," Caroline says. "It was a moment of pure magic we will never forget!” Finally, the couple ended the night with more lights—this time, a planned sparkler exit!
Wedding Planner: Big Events Inc. || Ceremony Venue: First Presbyterian Church || Bride's Dress: Carolina Herrera || Bride's Shoes: BHLDN || Hair & Makeup: Parlour 3 || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Adrianna Papell || Groom's Attire: Alton Lane, Hugo Boss || Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Suzy B Jewels || Floral Design: Big Events Inc. || Paper Products: Emily Holmes || Catering: G Catering & Events || Cake: Dessert Designs by Leland || Ceremony Music: Sam Levine Music || Reception Music: Atlanta All-Stars || Rentals: Liberty Party Rentals, 12th Table, Please Be Seated || Lighting: Bright Event Productions || Tent: Nashville Tent & Awning || Draping: Quest Events || Transportation: Matchless Transportation || Videography: Dallas Wilson || Photography: Clark Brewer Photography