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A Beautiful Hilltop Ceremony in Tennessee

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Even though Elle Wimberly says Mark Lefebvre “barely gave her the time of day” when they first crossed paths at a party while attending University of Tennessee, she eventually “pestered and charmed” her way into his friend group. Her efforts paid off—and by the end of sophomore year, the pair had decided to become roommates, moving into an off-campus house with another one of their close pals. Elle and Mark officially began dating in 2007, the summer before Elle’s senior year. Two puppies and a four-year breakup later, the couple rekindled in 2013, and Mark proposed two years after at the Electric Forest summer music festival in Michigan. “He got down on bended knee and couldn’t even get any words out, but he was holding open a ring box,” Elle recalls.

The bride, who handles event logistics for a living, says she didn’t want wedding planning to feel like “work” and largely enlisted the help of her mother to create a celebration that felt both traditional and unconventional for their October 14, 2017 ceremony. “I’m so lucky to have a mother with exceptional taste who really understands my style,” says Elle. “This might sound scary to some but, with the exception of the band, I turned it over to her completely. It was the best decision ever!” After initially struggling to find a venue that felt true to the duo, Elle and her mom fell in love with Trinity Hill Farm in Franklin, Tennessee, where a gorgeous vista and open-air barn helped seal the deal. The bride also knew she wanted to keep the decor simple and play off the space’s preexisting greenery, stone, and wood.

Keep reading to see how Elle and Mark (and Elle’s mom!) personalized the beautiful hilltop ceremony, with the help of H Three Events on the logistics and Kristin Sweeting behind the camera.

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

After friends introduced Elle to Modern Trousseau, she fell in love with the bridal line’s dresses and flexibility to customize designs. Her mother and sister, however, weren’t as quick to hop on board, but were instantly converted after seeing examples of the bride’s soon-to-be dream gown. “They agreed there was never any other dress for me,” says Elle with a laugh. The finished product featured an A-line silhouette and plunging V-neckline and was made from ivory Thai silk. Mark looked equally as fashionable in a blue Italian wool tuxedo, paired with Gucci loafers that Elle gifted him before the wedding.

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Both of Elle’s sisters, Sloane and Lilly, served as her bridesmaids. “I wanted them to be comfortable and let them choose any dress they liked, as long as it was navy,” the bride says of their looks. She also asked her close friends to wear navy gowns.

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

As an ode to the bride’s nickname and music infatuation, Elle wore a custom leather belt with “Groove Mama” hand-tooled on the back. She also accessorized with a pair of vintage rhinestone and pearl earrings, borrowed from her aunt. “They were the first ones she brought over to try and they were perfect,” Elle recalls. Her bouquet included a breathtaking blend of white panda anemones, and seeded eucalyptus, with bridesmaids carrying identical smaller arrangements. The mens’ boutonnieres also matched, with each featuring a single panda anemone, eucalyptus, and silver brunia.

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Prior to the ceremony, a bagpiper played in the grass field and entertained guests while they waited for shuttles to the wedding site. The music-savvy couple also hired a bluegrass trio—complete with a mandolin, acoustic guitar, and fiddle—to perform the entire evening.

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Elle and Mark said “I do” in a hilltop ceremony at sunset, surrounded by 220 guests. The couple stood atop a raised platform, flanked by sweeping views of the Tennessee hillside and decorated with an oriental rug. Two flower-bearing, oversized urns surrounded the platform, and an alley of magnolia trees in white wooden English boxes lined the aisle.

During the ceremony, the couple’s minister invited their most supportive friends to join them up front for a short prayer. “It was such a special moment to be surrounded on our wedding by a large group of our friends praying for us,” Elle recalls.

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Coincidentally, the couple’s personalized vows both ended with the exact same promise—to “keep it groovy.” “The guests loved this unexpected bit of humor!” Elle says. (Mark’s vows are also said to have brought on some tears!)

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Elle’s mom chose light grey hues, paired with lime green accents and natural wood, to decorate the barn lounge areas. The MOB even spent an entire year accumulating a collection of modern wood and metal containers to use at the reception! Couches and ottomans were aplenty, along with modern wooden side tables, burnished gold trays, candles, and simple white flower arrangements.

The couple opted for, not one, but two bars, with the latter personalized with the same custom monogrammed shield from their wedding invitations and exclusively dedicated to local craft beers. They also used custom wooden letters to display their initials atop a stone fireplace.

Mirrored, star-shaped fixtures hung over the main bar, which Elle’s mom designed to look like an old library to satisfy the bride’s bookworm tendencies. “There were large open bookcases on the wall of the bar filled with special items—leather books, a photo of my grandmother on horseback as a young girl, and a large framed photo of our dogs!” says the bride.

2017 Kristin Sweeting Photography

Paying homage to the newlyweds’ fondness for music festivals, their florist attached two giant peace signs to the sliding double farm doors at the reception site.

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

The pair’s custom wedding shield and monogram made its way to decorative pillows, which were laid on the farm’s swinging day bed.

On a table at the reception entrance, two giant galvanized urns made the perfect vessels for bouquets of baby’s breath. And, naturally, both of their pooches (Kaya and Bowser) made multiple appearances in the cluster of family photos.

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Inside the barn, wooden farm tables were arranged for family-style seating, and each was topped with greenery-filled iron vases. An assortment of oversized basket lanterns decorated the ceiling beams up above, while tables were dressed grey linens, burnished gold flatware, and pottery plates below.

Dinner included a smorgasbord of Southern staples, like a variety of “street” tacos, sweet potato grits with braised short ribs, tarragon chicken skewers, and roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower with truffle oil. Plus, staying true to Elle’s Nashville roots, a full hot chicken biscuit bar topped off the menu.

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

In lieu of a signature cocktail, Elle and Mark put a cool twist on the groom’s liquor of choice, serving Woodford Reserve whiskey with laser-cut square ice cubes from the Nashville Ice Lab. They also handed out cigars at cocktail hour.

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

Photo by Kristin Sweeting Photography

You better believe these festival fanatics took extra care to curate top-notch reception tunes. In fact, a Grammy Award-winning local funk artist, Joe Johnson, created a “superjam” compilation of music recommendations just for them, and Elle and Mark had no trouble tailoring their 12-piece band’s song list accordingly.

And, it’s clear where the “Groove Mama” inherits her boogie shoes—Elle’s dad couldn’t wait to bust a move and initiated the Father/Daughter dance a bit too soon. “My father was too excited for the dancing to begin and spun me onto the dance floor during what was supposed to be a dance between him and my mom!” says the bride. “Instead of ‘Brown Eyed Girl,’ we danced to ‘Say a Little Prayer’ by Aretha Franklin.”

Venue: Trinity View Farm || Wedding Planner: H Three Events || Officiant: Josh Rodriguez || Bride’s Dress: Modern Trousseau || Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade || Bride’s Belt: Lone Tree Leather Works || Hair: Elan Green Hills || Makeup: Annalise Carey Artistry || Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Neiman Marcus || Groom’s and Groomsmen Attire: Street Tuxedo || Floral Design: Electric Flora || Invitations, Custom Tags, & Coasters: Joyner & Hogan Printing || Cocktail Napkins: You’re Invited Stationery || Catering: Flavor Catering || Dessert: Nashville Sweets || Rentals: Liberty Party Rentals, 12th Table, Bright Event Productions || Favors: Great Harvest || Transportation: Signature Transportation || Accommodations: 21c Museum and Hotel || Photographer: Kristin Sweeting

Blair Donovan

The author Blair Donovan

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