SOUTHERN DIY WEDDING | Sweet Southern Affair + A Handmade Wedding Gown! At Ashland Berry Farm, Virginia | By Kristin Partin Photography. Also, Bambino :)

Hello and happy Monday afternoon, my loves!  Ok here’s wussup.  I’ve been going back and forth on a certain little issue in my own little world, and I can just never decide which way to go.  It’s got to do veth zee dressenhagens.

It is: to have handmade, or not to have handmade?

But then I get a wedding like this in my inbox and my mind is again made up for me.  ’Course, we’ll see how long that lasts.  Ahhhhhhh indecisiveness.  ’Tis a horrible, horrible trait to have.  Anyway, as I was saying, I am in love – in LOVE – with the idea of having your wedding dress made just for you, with your style, shape and specific desires all working together to create what would hopefully be the ideal manifestation of your wedding dress dreams.  It’s definitely a special kind of investment, and it’s not for everyone.  It depends on who designs it, but I certainly don’t even know if I can afford it!  However, for those who choose to go for it, it’s a once in a lifetime experience that can bring some seriously swoonworthy images.  And who doesn’t get off on the idea of getting to wear a one of a kind dream dress?

I wonder: what do you think of commissioning someone to work with you on creating your ideal wedding day attire?  Are you into it?  Or are you absolutely in love with a style that’s readily available?  And if you don’t mind advising me… what do you think *I* should do?  I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Now, this whole conversation brings me to the beauty part of this post, which is of course today’s wedding.  Kristin Partin, of Kristin Partin Photography, submitted some more loveliness to TKB again and I’m crazy psyched to share with you the gorgeous work she did with this day.  It’s like, phenom.

P.S. – I have to note here that the way this bride, Kaytee, paid tribute to her father throughout her wedding made my heart swell and my eyes too wet to see through.  You guys already know that I cherish weddings in which couples make the details of their decor truly meaningful to themselves and their families.  So this wedding is a personal fave in that respect.  Ok, enough out of me.

Here are some words from Kristin herself:

It was a gathering of close family & friends on a warm summer evening. Kaytee & Joel Dunnavant tied the knot on on July 9, 2011 at Ashland Berry Farm in Beaverdam, Virginia just one year after they met. The day begun with close friends, coffee & anxious conversation. The bride spent the morning with her ladies and her day was made more personal by makeup done by her bridesmaids. Joel and his groomsmen did the same, minus the makeup ;) Their ceremony was short, sweet and intimate. Kaytee was escorted down the aisle by her brother to ‘give it time’ by Starline Drive who performed live during their ceremony & reception. They provided the day with a casual, rich harmony and left the guests wanting more.

Kaytee incorporated lots of DIY elements that created rustic chic charm including her very own handmade gown. The Bride & Groom used handpainted signs, wildflowers &  lots of intimate details to make their day special. EVEN a mint green Volkswagen beetle! Low budget but certainly not low on southern charm.

Even though her dad passed away just months before her wedding day, she managed to make the best of her beautiful day knowing he was celebrating in spirit. She shared a dance with her mother in honor of her father to the song ‘Time After Time’ by Cindy Lauper, which was a song Kaytee used to dance on her dad’s toes to. Their wedding was filled with love, laughter and a spankin’ good time.

And now here are a few notes and details from the day, from this beautiful bride, Kaytee:

Our main goal for our wedding was to really be us. We didn’t want a tradition Christian ceremony, we wanted our guest to really feel like they were apart of our wedding and enjoy themselves as much as we were, the bride and groom.

I had Stepha design pockets in the dress so that I could carry my Grandmother’s pendant with me. She is my dad’s mother, she hasn’t passed away but she wasn’t able to be there with us.

I made a gold pendant for my bouquet that held a photo of my father and I on an Easter sunday when I was younger. I was wearing a white dress, he was in a suit.

My dad was a huge trivia buff, so I wrote bits of wedding trivia on the homemade favor bags which held puppy chow.

We hung pictures from both of our parent’s weddings.

I always wanted to use mason jars at my wedding. Joel and I went up in my Mother’s attic to look for her wedding dress in case I wanted to use it to help make mine, while we were up there we found 30 full boxes of old-fashioned mason jars.

Venue: Ashland Berry Farm - I chose the Ashland Berry Farm, because it was the perfect outdoor location I was going for. I really wanted a rustic fence, as well as a barn, and the Berry Farm had both.

Bridal Gown/Veil: Stepha O’Brien-handmade, original design - I always knew I wouldn’t be able to just got to a store and pick out a dress. I always knew what kind of dress I wanted I just didn’t know where I was going to find it. When Stepha was recommended through a friend, I thought, what could be more perfect for a DIY handmade wedding than a handmade dress? Stepha took the design into her own hands and I can’t imagine a dress more perfect for our day.

Bride’s Jewelry: Earrings- New York Adorned, Ring-Bride’s Mother’s My brother, Chris O’Donnell, worked at the tattoo shop located in New York, called New York Adorned. When he worked there, I bought a pair of small gold earrings that the owner had designed over seas and brought back to her shop. The earrings have two love birds perched on a branch.

Bridesmaids dresses: each girl chose their own so their budget & shape needs were cared for. they were given a color swatch by the bride as a color guideline. I’m not into the whole matchy matchy look for bridesmaids, so I gave each of my girls an idea and let me run with it to incorporate their own personal style.

Shoes: Aldo I wanted 50′s looking vintage shoes, and I found the perfect pair at Aldo Shoes

Cake: Costco. We had a dessert reception geared toward saving money with our seemingly ever-increasing budget. The cake toppers were hand sewn by a friend.

Video: KSLE Video

Live Music: Starline Drive (who is now ‘Twain Blue’)

Flowers: wholesale and designed by the bride & wedding planner/friend, Christine

Groom & Groomsman: Urban Outfitters

Get-a-way car: Groom’s Father’s VW Beetle. Joel’s parents drove away in the same model when they were married.

Photographer: Kristin Partin My dream photographer. I found Kristin years before my wedding through a friend that had her bridal’s done by her. The second I saw the bridals I told every one ‘THAT is my wedding photographer.’ It turned out my husband had gone to school with Kristin, I had an in! She was free the date of our wedding and I booked her immediately. Throughout the planning I tried to convince myself to think of a second option in case Kristin wasn’t free, no one was good enough, I had to have her.

LOVE Joel’s father’s bug!  Especially the color, y’alls!  (I mean DOY!)

this sign below?  it is fabulous-er than any sign I’ve seen recently.  I die.

how adorbs is this shot of his sunglasses in his back pocket.  MAXIMUM ADORBS, THAT’S HOW.

I am loving the dancing together near the altar.  LOVING.  someone else please do this, too.  so romantic!

Addendum: I totally owe a Bambino update.  My apologies for it taking this long to share his punim on the blog recently!  Ok, here goes…

A Day in the Life of Bambino McPuppyPants: in a perfect world for Bambino, mom wouldn’t blog, ever.


Ok, so, I’m looking forward to hearing what you guys think…

1) Do you love the idea of a handmade gown for yourself?  Or are you loving yourself those gorgeous ready-t0-wear lovelies?  And what do you think I should do?  Because I’m stuck on the wooden slat bridge of indecision, and I don’t know which way to go without breaking it.  If that makes any sense, at all.  (It doesn’t.)

2) How love is this wedding, you guys?  Whenever I see heart toppers I FREAK OUT in a fit of happiness.  Am I ALONE in this?? :)

xoxo  - Alison

Photography: Kristin Partin Photography / Venue: Ashland Berry Farm / Bridal Gown/Veil: Stepha O’Brien-handmade, original design / Bride’s Jewelry: Earrings- New York Adorned / Shoes : Aldo / Video: KSLE Video  / Live Music : Starline Drive (who is now ‘Twain Blue’) / Groom & Groomsman: Urban Outfitters / Rental Company: Party Perfect

Label(s): Beige/brown, Color, Mr. McPuppyPants, Pink, Purple, Red, {Real Weddings}

Love all of this...


  1. Lena on February 27, 2012

    Wedding=barn happy love magic.



    Cake (plus heart topper)=YUM.

    And as for the handmade gowns, I’m torn. My mom is actually a beautiful dressmaker and created gowns for many brides when I was growing up, but she told me one summer that she’d never be able to make my gown because she wouldn’t be able to stop herself from weeping all over it! I’ve never really had my heart set on her making it, but now that we’re closer to actually having that conversation, we’ll see what happens!

  2. Alicia {The Charity Wedding} on February 27, 2012

    My best friend had her dress made, it turned out gorgeous BUT and this is a big BUT the process was horrible. In seamstress world you often get pushed back for last minute jobs or maybe even just easier jobs. Her dress wasn’t fully ready until days before her wedding. In the end it was beautiful and one of a kind but I think she would agree that the extra stress just wasn’t worth it. Lesson learned? Not so much. I thought it was probably just her seamstress. I shopped and tried on and could never find a dress I loved (in my price range). So I decided to have what I wanted made. It was both thrilling and horrifying because I didn’t truly know what my dress would be like until it was finished at which point there was no turning back. I did love my dress but mine too got pushed back more than once and despite having promises to have it finished months in advance, it was done a few weeks in advance. I wouldn’t do it again. Maybe, if you really want to do it, lie about your wedding date to save yourself a bit of stress.

  3. JuliaEnchanted on February 27, 2012

    I do love the idea of a handmade dress for myself, but I don’t know if I could trust a stranger with my vision. I have a sketch from a few years back that is very detailed, from the hidden side pockets to the embroidery on the removable train. If I could find a basic dress that fit the shape and neckline / back that I want, I might see about having it altered. Otherwise I’m torn between finding a perfectly nice cheap dress and spending the money and time to make one with my mom.

    Also, the wedding is ah-MAY-zing. And my Precious Princely Poodle does the same thing when I’m reading your blog as Bam does when you’re writing it.

  4. Sweets Indeed on February 27, 2012

    I went into a bridal salon having no idea what style dress to go with. What I thought would look good on me didn’t and I ended up falling in love with a Jim Hjelm gown that made me giddy. Alas, a $4,000 price tag was out of my budget so…I took some photos to Jack Forrest, a man referred by a friend of mine. He designed a custom fit dress inspired by the Jim Hjelm one that evoked tears from everyone. Not only did it fit me like a glove, it was one-of-a-kind and the process was a dream. Best part? He did it for under $1,000. He was prompt, detailed, joyous to be around, informative and brilliant! My sister is having hers made by him. He also did all my bridesmaid dresses for less then what I’d have paid in the store and each one loved their own look. MY FAVORITE!

  5. Melissa on February 27, 2012

    I’m getting married this September, and I just can’t imagine myself getting married in a ready-to-wear dress. The ones I do like are waaay out of my budget, and I can’t afford to pay someone else to make my dress, so I’m sewing it myself. I found a pattern that looks almost exactly like the $800 Dolly Couture Beverlywood dress that I love… I can make a close replica for less than $50!

    • Sam on June 5, 2012

      May I ask where you found that pattern and what it is called? I too love the Couture Beverlywood dress, but I can’t justify spending $800+ for it!

      • Michelle on October 1, 2012

        Did you ever get a reply about the pattern similar to the “Beverlywood”? I also love that dress (with a few modifications) and would love to know where to find a similar design!! Thank you!

  6. Maire on February 27, 2012

    I am making my own wedding dress! No, I am not a seamstress, but I have a teensy weansy budget and a nothing could possibly go wrong mentality. The ladies above are completely right. Trusting someone else with your vision and with a set time frame in which to complete the dress is stressful and sucks the fun out of the whole handmade for you idea. My original plan was to hire a seamstress in town to work with me. But when she stopped returning my calls and emails for three months, and then conveniently raising her price every time we did end up getting in touch, I out sourced the project to an aunt of my betrothed. Which would have been perfect had she not gotten very suddenly sick and unable to start the dress. As it turns out, I work with a very talented seamstress who was silently hating me for the past five months because I didn’t ask her to make the dress for my wedding. In another unfortunate turn of events (no I swear I’m not making any of this up) she fell down her staircase and broke her arm and ankle. SO! After a crazy back and forth from person to person, my coworker said she would just tell me where to cut and where to stitch. I’ve made some dresses before but never with a pattern and honestly how hard could it be with a pattern? In my head it is going to work out like a connect the dots picture so here’s hoping. Anyway, having a dress that you made or someone close to you collaborated on with you is a very special memory. And depending on which route you take, much much cheaper. And it really is YOURS. No one else’s. As stressful as the whole process has been for me, I am much more relaxed now knowing that the fate of my dress is in my hands and it will look exactly as I have always pictured. DO WHAT YOUR HEART TELLS YOU!

  7. Paula on February 28, 2012

    love this wedding!! the cake is so sweet:x

  8. Jaf Gifts on February 29, 2012

    Awesome photos that revealed the greatest moments at the wedding. This wedding was a very happy one… And I love the Volkswagen beetle bridal car!

  9. Ilana on March 1, 2012

    Gawd! I love this! Love the simplicity, her dress is to die for (and it looks a little like mine…) LOVE the flowers. And, what I love most? THAT’S MY BIRTHDAY! But seriously, the wedding is stunning and that’s how I envision the feeling of my own wedding.

  10. Leney on March 4, 2012

    I was actually one of the bridesmaids and just wanted to say that it was such an honor being in this wedding! The love that Kaytee and Joel have for each other is such a beautiful thing and the way they celebrated their big day was inspiring and just downright gorgeous. I loved helping out (I made the red felt hearts!) and being a part of their special day. They deserved to be featured as well as Kristin for her beautiful photography!

  11. Mia Silver on March 21, 2012


  12. Amica Duo on April 7, 2012

    We just love your style – very nice blog !

  13. Annabel Winter on September 16, 2012

    just beautiful…if only i could just copy your entire wedding! so gorgeous!

  14. Felix Films on January 15, 2017

    Beautiful Wedding Love Dress


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