Mary and Matt had a truly intimate wedding day last fall--they got married at her family's amazing peach orchard in Alabama. Read more about her wedding and gorgeous Jenny Packham dress below!
When was your wedding and where did it take place?
Matt and I got married on October 12, 2013 at my family's peach orchard, Isom's Orchard in Athens, Alabama. My family has raised various fruits and vegetables for over 50 years in these orchards. Our main crops consist of peaches and apples, but we grow a wide variety of other produce and sell them at our fruit market in Athens, AL. The family doesn’t rent the orchard out for weddings or other events, so it was really neat that Matt and I were lucky enough to have our own private venue!
When did you know that your wedding gown was "the one"?
I purchased my Jenny Packham Esme wedding dress at Carriage House Weddings in Homewood, Alabama. Before I got engaged I was NOT the type of girl that spent hours fantasizing about engagement rings or wedding gowns. So when my time came to get married, I was completely lost! I didn’t like lace, puffy dresses, satin, or the oh-so-famous sweetheart neckline. I pretty much didn't like any wedding dress that was typically "bridal". That was until I came across Jenny Packham’s website and fell in LOVE with pretty much every dress. But the Esme dress especially stood out to me.
I chose to make an appointment at Carriage House in Homewood, AL because they carried her line of dresses. I went and tried on a handful of Jenny Packham dresses and adored the fit and design, but unfortunately they did not carry an Esme sample dress. Luckily enough, Carriage House held a Jenny Packham truck show the following week and sure enough, they received an Esme sample just for the day. So you better believe I immediately made an appointment to try it on while it was in town! I knew the dress was the one after spending hours browsing online so luckily it all worked out. Overall, I tried on maybe 10 dresses...but that was just to kill time before Jenny Packham’s Esme showed up!
What is your absolute favorite memory from your wedding day?
I can't pick just one, so I actually have two!
- Matt and I did not see each other at all before I walked down the aisle. I know a lot of people skip this part to take pictures, but we wanted to stay traditional and keep everything a surprise. I’ve seen Matt a thousand times but that time it was different.
- My dad likes to sing. He has never been in a band and he doesn’t sing typical music styles like rock or country. He actually prefers Irish folk music! Other people may think it’s odd, but it’s something I’ve grown up with and I actually know more Irish songs than I should. Instead of giving a formal toast and thanking everyone for their attendance, my dad waited until the band was done playing and took over the stage. He sang a handful of Irish songs and then ended with a special song dedicated to Matt and I that he sung a cappella. It was so personal and much more heartfelt than a fancy toast.
Why did you want to get your wedding gown cleaned or preserved?
I may wear it years from now when Matt and I renew our vows...if it still fits! And of course if I have a daughter I’d love to see her walk down the aisle in it as well. But my main reason for taking it to get professionally cleaned was because it was SO dirty! It literally broke my heart to see my dress in such a state. I felt like I had neglected this beautiful wedding gown. I was convinced that it would never become clean again and was ruined forever. My wedding was 100% outdoors in an environment which included dirt, grass, and gravel. I had plans to change to a 2nd dress during my reception, but I just couldn’t bear to take the dress off (a decision I definitely later regretted). I knew the only thing that would make me feel better was to find someone to make my dress like new again!
Why did you decide to get your gown cleaned by a member of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists?
Originally, I was recommended to an out-of-state wedding gown cleaner. But I really didn’t like the idea shipping my wedding dress 5 states away and hoping it was going to be treated with care. Growing up in a family business, I know what it means to have good customer service and I just didn’t like that I wasn’t going to be able to have that experience with an out-of-state cleaner. I started doing research in my area and I came across Champion Cleaners in Birmingham, AL. After reading about their involvement with the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists and talking with their gown specialist Ric Peavey, I felt comfortable letting them take a look at my dress.
Ric was very nice and upfront with me about my gown--he agreed that it was as dirty as I thought! Because my gown was so heavily beaded he assured me that he would start by testing a small area to ensure that no harm would be done to the gown. From there, he would decide a plan of action after seeing the results. He told me that if he saw any problems he would immediately stop and return the dress. Ric could tell how important the dress was to me and it made me feel good that he would do everything in his power to clean the dress and protect it from further harm. He took his time with my dress and luckily enough his treatment worked and no harm was done! I was ecstatic that Champion Cleaners was able to make my dress look new again.
Photography Credit: Mary Margaret Smith