This Wedding in Atlanta—a Summertime Garden Soirée—Exemplified Southern Elegance
Justin McKithen chose wine tasting as a decoy for his proposal to Amelia Marable. "Amelia loves wine, so I thought a weekend trip to a winery would be a good location where she wouldn't be suspicious of my intentions," he says. After the tour of the winery concluded, Justin took Amelia (and two glasses of wine) to the top floor, overlooking the vineyard. "As a distraction, I suggested she take a panoramic picture of the view," Justin says, and while Amelia was occupied, he pulled out the ring and asked her to be his wife.
The planning process went smoothly for the couple. "Because I was finishing my MBA, we had a 19-month-long engagement that allowed us to take our time, take pauses, and rest when needed," says Amelia. Choosing a venue for their nuptials was relatively easy for the couple, who had attended a gala at the Swan House at the Atlanta History Center a year before they got engaged. "We fell in love with the beautiful gardens and how grand the Overlook Ballroom was," says Amelia. "Our venue gave us everything we needed, with a touch of old Southern elegance."
The vision for the big day? An elegant, meaningful celebration of the couple's love for each other, with aesthetic inspiration drawn from the pair's dreamy, early-morning engagement shoot in Venice. "Heavy touches of greenery used in harmony with a delicate mauve, ivory, and gold color palette was the driving force behind the design," says Anna Panu of Chancey Charm Weddings, who planned the couple's beautiful event. The floral design was particularly special. "I always dreamed of a lush garden wedding filled with my favorite blooms: orchids, roses, and peonies," says Amelia. "My late grandpa and I shared a love of orchids, so I wanted them everywhere in memory of him. My florists happened to be my aunts, and they put their whole hearts into making my vision come true. I can't tell you how sweet it was to have such a loving, personal touch from my own family on the biggest day of my life."
On June 1, 2019, Amelia and Justin exchanged vows they composed themselves in front of 160 friends and family members. And even with all of those preparations, when the day arrived, the focus was on the couple themselves. After all, "the ultimate goal is for your marriage to be more beautiful than your wedding," Amelia advises.
Elegant Wedding Invitations
Creamy stationery by Shine Wedding Invitations featured modern script and gold wax seals. For a floral touch, envelope liners were decorated with a lovely image of roses.
A Stunning Engagement Ring
A brilliant round-shaped diamond centered on a pavé band composed Amelia's sparkling engagement ring.
An Ethereal Wedding Dress
Amelia's wedding dress was a tulle and lace number by Lori Allen Couture, complete with a fit-and-flare silhouette and hand-sewn beading. "I knew it was 'the one' because it was the most sparkly and unique dress in the store," she says. "It fit like a glove and accentuated all my curves. Once I added the cold-shoulder sleeves, I knew it was the perfect dress for me!"
A Dramatic Veil
Beaded appliqués trimmed Amelia's dramatic full-length tulle veil, which was actually attached to her sleeves. She donned an additional, shorter iteration—which she pinned into her hair—for the ceremony.
A Smartly Dressed Groom
Justin donned an ivory tuxedo jacket with a black lapel from The Black Tux.
Footwear by Calvin Klein, an ebony bow tie, and a pair of elegant cuff links rounded out the groom's ensemble.
Blushing Bridal Shoes
Crystal details accented the bride's Badgley Mischka ankle-strap shoes.
Amelia's bridesmaids wore mauve off-the-shoulder dresses in an A-line silhouette from Birdy Grey. "Because I knew it would be a hot summer day, I wanted them to feel comfortable and not constricted," says the bride. "The off-the-shoulder dresses coordinated with my cold-shoulder look as well."
As for Amelia's bouquet? A dreamy mixture of vanilla-hued roses and blushing peonies were accented with a cascade of beautiful white orchids.
Justin's attendants wore classic black tuxes to contrast his ivory ensemble.
A Memorable First Look
The couple had their first look in the boxwood gardens adjacent to the venue's Swan House. "My heart was beating out of my chest right before I tapped Justin on the shoulder," Amelia recalls. "When I saw his face when he turned around I could help but smile. We waited so long for this day and I was so glad it was finally here. After the moment sunk in, my eyes swelled up in tears because I was overcome with emotion. He pulled out a handkerchief to wipe my tears. Such a beautiful moment!"
Down the Steps
Instead of a traditional processional down the aisle, Amelia was escorted down the garden's steps by her father, who led her to the altar on the left.
Amelia says this moment was a particular highlight: "I wasn't expecting [Justin] to be emotional, since we had our moment together at the first look. To my surprise, tears streamed down his face when he saw me. Those that know him know he's not the most expressive person in the world, but that made this moment even more special."
A Flower-Filled Ceremony
The grand elegance of the Swan House served as the service's backdrop; just two floral urns, placed near the steps, embellished the space. "The fountains and actual house were really all we needed!" says Amelia. "We had 3,000 white petals gracing the aisle, customized fans for guests, and floral bunches as aisle markers."
From the Heart
During the unplugged ceremony, Amelia and Justin exchanged vows from the heart—they penned these promises themselves.
Finally married, the couple walked back up the aisle to Beyoncé's "Love on Top." Amelia says seeing the smiles of and hearing cheers from friends and family "who traveled near and far to be a part of our day" is embedded into her memory. "It was important for our ceremony to be unplugged because we wanted everyone to be truly present, and they were!" she explains.
A Family Moment
The bride and groom posed for portraits with their parents after the ceremony.
A Refined Seating Chart
Guests found their table assignments from a chart adorned with fresh flowers.
Sophisticated Reception Tables
At the reception, tables draped in mauve linens were surrounded by carved wooden chairs and topped with high centerpieces. Place settings were composed of white napkins with silver flatware and marked with gold votives.
Luxuriant Floral Design
Tall centerpieces, a mix of roses, hydrangea blossoms, and orchids, stood the length of the main table, while greenery embellished the center line.
A Breathtaking Wedding Cake
The newlyweds' four-tier was accented with fresh flowers and a delicate gold monogram. As for the confections' flavors? Red velvet, vanilla bean, and strawberry cake delighted guests during the dessert hour.
"We honored my Cambodian roots by wearing traditional wedding attire for our second looks," shares the bride. "My sampot (the word for traditional dress in Khmer) was a super sparkly silver garb, complete with a tiara. Justin's suit matched my dress. I couldn't think of a better way to pay homage to my mother's land—plus it was so fun being a Cambodian princess for a day."
Photography, Elizabeth Austin-Davis
Videographer, Love in Motion Films
Venue, Atlanta History Center
Event planning, Anna Panu
Catering, Bold Catering and Events
Flowers, Tara Florist
Stationery, Shine Wedding Invitations
Officiant, Melinda Guess
Bride's gown, Bridals by Lori
Bride's veil, Bridals by Lori
Bride's shoes, Jewel by Badgley Mischka
Bride's hair, Mychael Michelle
Bride's makeup, Noor Farooq
Bridesmaid dresses, Birdy Grey
Groom's attire, The Black Tux
Groom's shoes, Calvin Klein
Groomsmen attire, The Black Tux
Cake, Cakes by Lameeka
Drapery, Quest Event Drapery
Ceremony chairs, Peachtree Tents and Events
Photo booth, Media Production Studios