Sam and Chris technically met online, but they knew of each other because Sam attends same church as Chris’ parents. Their first date was a dinner double with Chris’ best friend and his wife. After dinner, they were not quite ready to go home yet so Chris took Sam to see her first ever Star Wars movie. His hand brushed her knee during the opening sequence, and in that electric moment, Sam knew then she wanted a second date.
Chris proposed to Sam the day after Christmas. Early into their relationship, Sam got Chris into collecting vinyl records. So on this very special Boxing Day, Chris asked Sam to accompany him to their favorite local record store. Sam was tired from the general Christmas haze, but Chris insisted so Sam reluctantly accompanied him. When they arrived, the store was closed, but they got out of the truck to check and see if the owner happened to be inside. He was not. Chris then knelt on the sidewalk and said, “Well, I wanted to do this inside our favorite record store surrounded by the greatest love songs in history, but this will have to work.” Right there in front of the record store, Chris asked Sam to marry him. She said yes.
On October 7, 2017, in front of 120 friends and family they wed at Frozen Head State Park in Wartburg, Tenn. Sam knew right away that Frozen Head was where they would marry. “When I was three, I was playing on the stage of the amphitheater and I told my mom I would get married there someday,” said Sam. “Twenty-five years later, I did.”
Venue use was $45 for the day, so it was hard to pass a deal like that up. Especially, since it was important to Sam and Chris to stick to their $3,500 budget.
Aesthetically, Sam and Chris wanted to reference lots of personal details like their love of music and their vinyl habit while letting the beauty of the venue shine through. For decor, they chose gold records and greenery. “Gold symbolizes being brought the fire only to come out on the other side better than before,” explained Sam. “We had both been through a lot before we met each other, and it seemed perfect.” The greenery symbolized newness, a new chapter, a new adventure – a new marriage. Their colors were also modern updates of Sam’s parents’ wedding colors to pay tribute to their influence in her life.
For flowers, Sam’s aunt handmade crepe paper magnolias and they bought additional fresh flowers from Trader Joe’s. The linens were all borrowed and the rest of the decor was rented, like the macrame backdrop, the carved wooden sweetheart table, and green velvet settee.
Their almond flavored funfetti semi-naked cake was made by a family member and they used flamingo salt and pepper shakers for the topper. “The shakers now sit on our kitchen table as a reminder of our wedding day,” said Sam. They cut the cake with the same knife used by Sam’s parents at their wedding 45 years ago.
All of these thoughtful touches made the day beautiful and memorable. “I wanted our guests to be amazed at the brunch wonderland we created on a tiny budget,” said Sam.
“My daddy and I walked in to a Dolly Parton cover of “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds. This song was played at my parent’s wedding as well,” said Sam.
The food was Chris’ favorite part of the day and it is easy to see why. The couple pulled out all the stops with an elaborate brunch buffet packed with biscuits, jams, pancakes, sausage balls, fruit, bacon, and quiche. If any guests were still feeling peckish, they also had a cereal bar and a parfait bar.
Sam’s dress was a stunning golden lace ChiChi London number (and Big Bride Club favorite, see it here and here), which she scored on sale for $80. Her shoes were Kate Spade designed Keds, her belt was from Amazon, her headpiece was from Forever 21, her veil was made by her aunt and featured lace from her mother’s wedding dress. Her total spend was in the neighborhood of $150.
Chris wore overalls because that was his outfit of choice for their first date.
Sam’s favorite part of the day was taking communion with their guests during their ceremony. Their faith is important to them and it is a big part of their story.
“We truly believed that the wedding was the perfect time to remember all that Christ has done for us,” said Sam. “Jesus’s first miracle involved a wedding and wine, so as an act of worship and unity, we took communion together as husband and wife immediately following the vows using wine homemade by my late grandfather, Wilburn Jones, and bread homemade by my mama.”
Their biggest challenge was staying on budget. They wanted to pay for their wedding themselves and not carry any debt from it. They were able to keep to their budget by prioritizing what was the most important to them. “No escort cards, no favors, no bridal party. Just us, a preacher and some cake,” said Sam.
Sam’s advice for other members of the Big Bride Club is to be in the moment as much as possible on your wedding day. “Take time to yourself to remember why you are there and take it all in. It is the best day, but it will become a blur if you are not present every moment.”
Photography: Hillary Barnes of Forget Me Not Photography
Reception Decor: Sweetheart Table & Gramophone by Sweven Vintage and Rustic Rentals
Ceremony Decor: Macrame Arch by Unique Settings Rentals
Venue: Frozen Head State Park