An Elevated Mountain Wedding in Cashiers, North Carolina
Jemison Matthews and Gordon Lutken have wedding season to thank for their rekindled romance. The now-couple first met as students at Ole Miss, but lost touch after graduation. That is, until July 2015, when they were both invited to a mutual friend's wedding in Boulder, and their longstanding friendship quickly became a flirtation. "Gordon came to visit me in Nashville a few months later, and we've been together ever since," Jemison recalls.
Fast forward two years and a move to Denver later, Gordon and Jemison met in another mountain location: Breckenridge for a weekend of snowshoeing. "Gordon's truck got stuck in the snow on the way to the trailhead, and we were stuck for hours," recalls Jemison with a laugh. When they finally made it out and Jemison suggested they head home, Gordon was insistent that they still take a hike. "He found another trail and had to nearly drag me up the mountain," she says. The hike was worth it, and Gordon proposed at the top of the mountain. "He had packed Ole Miss cups and my favorite champagne, so we had a drink and watched the sunset," she says. "It wasn't what he had planned, but it was perfect!"
The bride grew up spending time in Highlands, North Carolina, and her family decided to celebrate her mother's 60th birthday at Canyon Kitchen in nearby Cashiers. "The meal was so amazing and it was spectacular to watch the fog roll in to the canyon," she recalls. "We decided then and there that it would be the perfect place for a North Carolina wedding." She and Gordon set the date for September 29, 2018, and invited 200 guests to Lonesome Valley for a fall wedding dressed up in a romantic palette.
With help from Jemison's mother and the team at Mari√©e Ami, the couple tied the knot in an elevated mountain wedding. Take a peek at the photos by Anna Shackleford to see all of the beautiful details, below!
Jemison knew she wanted an invitation suite that would stand out in a stack of mail. "So many of our friends have gotten married recently, so we wanted to put a unique spin on the invitations we chose," she says. The resulting design paired hand-torn paper with a watercolor wash, a gold wax seal, and gold foil letterpress on the invite itself. Each suite was then packaged with twine and elegant calligraphy by Julia Ha. "I knew it would be the first impression our guests would have of our big day, so we really wanted to set the tone through the art of the paper," she adds.
On the big day, the bride got ready with her sisters and her mother, who all wore matching floral pajamas for a morning of hair and makeup.
Jemison donned a fit-and-flare silk shantung gown with an off-the-shoulder neckline by Antonio Gual. "I never had a 'this is it' moment, but this dress was always in the back of my mind," she says.
The bride paired her simple gown with meaningful accessories like the veil and garter that her sisters wore on their wedding days. "My mother had the garter made with our grandfather's blue pajama shirt, and had our initials embroidered on it next to his," she says. The center stone of her engagement ring also had family meaning as it had belonged to her grandmother, who wasn't able to attend the wedding. As a final touch, Jemison added a locket, which held a photo of a high school friend who had passed away in a car accident, to her bouquet. "Virginia's mother made the locket when our friends all started getting married," she explains. "We've each carried her picture with us, and her mother has engraved our initials and our wedding dates onto the locket to commemorate each day."
Jemison's sisters served as bridesmaids, each wearing a white dress by Halston Heritage. The bride carried an all-white bouquet of ranunculus, garden roses, and spray roses, while her sisters' bouquets included a soft mauve color that coordinated with the reception decor.
Though the couple kept the wedding party small by only asking their siblings to stand by their sides at the altar. That said, Jemison's best girlfriends still embraced the wedding's palette and donned shades of dusty rose and mauve.
Jemison's nieces acted as flower girls, wearing custom cotton and lace dresses and crowns of roses for their trip down the aisle.
Wooden signage told guests where to go once they'd arrived at Lonesome Valley. One arrow pointed toward the ceremony site, which was set up in a field with the hills rising behind a floral-laden cross. Two mauve-toned arrangements of pampas grass, roses, and eucalyptus flanked the aisle.
"We didn't write our own vows, but we did add in an unexpected bible verse to our ceremony," says the bride. She and Gordon added Ruth 1:16-17, as they loved the sentiment of overcoming distance during their relationship and taking the leap to build a new family together somewhere new. A bagpiper preceded the bride and her father to the altar, then led the way for the newlyweds as they and their guests headed to cocktail hour.
Escort cards, finished with a wrap of twine and a gold wax seal, were displayed on a boxwood hedge surrounded by lanterns and arrangements of roses and dahlias.
After a cocktail hour that featured "rabbit 'n dumpling fritters" and mini mushroom taquitos, guests headed through a lush floral entryway into the reception tent.
"We created different looks to go on each style of table," says the bride. Long rectangular tables were draped in mauve velvet linens, then topped with gold chargers, gold flatware, and lush arrangements of pink and white garden roses, dahlias, koko loko roses, ranunculus, hydrangeas, and eucalyptus. Pheasant feathers added soft texture between Jemison's grandmother's brass candlesticks. "For the head table, my mother had napkins monogrammed with our new initials," adds the bride.
The venue's in-house restaurant, Canyon Kitchen, created the night's menu, which included ricotta gnocchi with roasted mushrooms, seared elk loin with wilted greens, and two flavors of wedding cake. "We actually cut our cake during cocktail hour so it could be plated and served right after dinner," Jemison says. "We put trays of both flavors on every table so guests could share and taste it all."
The couple's four-tiered, hanging wedding cake was wrapped in white fondant and brushed with gold, then displayed on a wooden swing in the garden. Inside were two flavors: apple hummingbird cake with cream cheese icing and ginger cookie crumble, and almond cake with raspberry compote and buttercream.
After dinner, two horn players came into the tent to lead everyone to the dance floor. "We used music to signal transitions throughout the evening, and this definitely let everyone know it was time to party," says the bride.
Looking back on their big day, Jemison counts the packed danced floor as a favorite memory but says the time she and Gordon spent together post-ceremony stands out most. "We headed out to the field as the fog was rolling in off of the mountains," she says. "Taking that private time just the two of us is something I'd recommend that all couples do!"