Liz Neely and Chip Blue started dating as grad students at Duke University in September of 2014, but that was far from the first time they’d met. “We’re both from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and ran in similar crowds growing up,” says Liz. “We never dated, and we’re happy we waited until it was the right time!” Once they found one another, they knew it was meant to be, and two years later, on a walk around Tulsa, Chip brought Liz to the place they assume they’d met 15 years earlier —the neighborhood pool!—and got down on one knee, right there on the sidewalk.
After so many years of friendship, there was no reason to wait for a wedding, so Liz and Chip planned the whole thing in just three months! Their planner, Becca from Asheville Event Co., helped them get all of the details together as quickly as they could. Thankfully, the venue was a given: The bride’s late grandmother’s home in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains. “Our family was ready to sell the estate, so we decided our wedding would be one last hurrah to celebrate all of the memories we have there,” says Liz. The couple settled on a white-and-green palette to match the venue's look, and got to designing an event on the sprawling grounds of the classic-meets-midcentury home. “We really wanted to highlight all of the property’s inherent details,” Liz explains. And on April 8, 2017, 134 guests arrived in North Carolina for a black tie wedding in early spring.
Keep reading to see photos by Perry Vaile. You’ll love all of the family details infused into this timeless celebration!
With only siblings in the wedding party, Liz’s sisters still wanted her to enjoy a raucous and celebratory bridal suite. “They asked me to invite my closest friends to get ready with me, and planned everything from a mimosa bar to puzzles made from my grandparents’ and parents’ wedding photos,” says Liz. “We spent the day getting ready in my late grandmother’s bedroom, and I felt so close to her throughout the day.”
Making Liz and her grandmother even closer was the bride’s spectacular vintage gown. It was designed by the bride’s grandmother and great-grandmother for her grandmother’s wedding in Mexico City in 1957, and features buttoned sleeves, a draped neckline, and a full skirt. “My grandmother’s gown was classic and elegant, and really tied into our theme of family,” she says. Liz also wore the diamond earrings her grandmother paired with the gown 60 years ago.
The rolling hills leading to the nearby Smoky Mountains were the perfect backdrop for Liz and Chip’s first look.
The groom wore a custom tux by Suit Supply, while the bride chose blue Manolo Blahnik pumps to wear under her gown—a nod to her groom’s last name.
The ceremony took place on the terraced lawn, where lanterns led down the aisle. “The moon rose over the Smoky Mountains as we exchanged our vows,” says Liz, who began hers with a quote from Nathanial Hawthorne.
The bride’s all-white bouquet of peonies, anemones, garden roses, ranunculus, and calla lilies paired beautifully with her lace-edged veil. “My aunts, mother, and cousin all wore the same veil on their wedding days,” says Liz.
Guests sipped margaritas on the lawn while a bluegrass band played before heading inside for a formal dinner.
Before sitting down for dinner inside, everyone walked by the pool, where garden boxes of greenery added a lush feel to the space.
Escort cards were attached to miniature bottles of Patron, and the couple encouraged everyone to “take a shot, then take a seat.”
The tables were draped with neutral linens, the topped with arrangements of ranunculus, roses, tulips, and sweet peas in pewter vessels. Each menu was paired with a post card from the state where the couple met each guest, and guests were asked to write a note for the mother of the bride to mail to the newlyweds. Drinks were served from an all-white bar backed with a wall of ferns.
Instead of individual father-daughter and mother-son dances, Chip and Liz invited the entire wedding party (their parents and siblings) to join them on the dance floor. They danced with their parents, while their brothers and sisters danced with one another—making it a true family affair. Says Liz, “Having a short engagement will feel like a whirlwind, but you’ll be married before you know it! Plus, it will save you, your mother, and your mother-in-law some sanity!”
Wedding Planner: Asheville Event Co. || Bride's Shoes: Manolo Blahnik || Hair: Emily Anne Hair || Makeup: Makeup by Ali Lawless || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jill Jill Stuart || Groom & Groomsmen's Attire: Suit Supply || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Tiffany & Co. || Floral Design: Floressence Flowers || Paper Products: Ellis Hill || Catering & Cake: Canyon Kitchen || Entertainment: Carolina Master Musicians, Irresistible Groove || Rentals: Professional Party Rentals, Get Lit Special Event Lighting, BBJ Linen || Transportation: Premier Ground Transportation || Photo Booth: The Bus Booth || Videography: Hart to Heart Media || Photography: Perry Vaile Photography