Kelsie & Ben

Kelsie and Ben tied the knot on December 12, 2015. These newlyweds said their ‘I dos’ in the Garden Terrace and danced the night away in the Fearrington Barn.

How did you and your partner meet?
Ben and I both grew up in Charlotte and met when we were in the same fifth-grade class. We developed crushes on one another that year but didn’t officially start “going out” till sixth grade. Despite a few short breaks in high school, we were always together from that time on. Attending the same church, schools and even college (go Heels!) made it easy for us to stay close over the years and create a wonderful group of mutual friends  — even our parents are very good friends and hang out nearly every weekend. I can say wholeheartedly that Ben is my best friend and that growing up together we have seen each other at our best and worst — there’s no one who knows or loves me better.

Tell us about your engagement?
On a gorgeous fall Saturday in 2014 just before Thanksgiving, Ben and I made plans to go on a casual afternoon walk in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, where we now live. Little did I know Ben had been planning the outing for quite some time. As we strolled through the park, I was completely unaware that my sister, Jordan, and best friend, Meredith — who had arrived earlier that day while Ben claimed to be “helping his roommate fix his car” — were hiding behind a column several feet away from us, waiting to take pictures of the whole thing. When Ben’s “Plan A” spot fell through because the area was too crowded, he led me to “Plan B”– a secluded little enclave looking out over the lake with the Midtown skyline in the background.

With no one else around, Ben got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was caught so off-guard that the first words out of my mouth were, “Wait, right now!?”, ultimately followed by a very excited “YES!” When I looked up, a crowd of people who had gathered to watch the proposal were clapping, and Jordan and Meredith appeared with Champagne and glasses to make a toast right there in the park. We called our families and friends on the way home to tell them our good news, when Ben surprised me again by telling me that a big group of friends was meeting us that night at one of our favorite spots, Ormsby’s, for dinner and drinks to celebrate. It was such an exciting day that I will never forget, and something we had both been looking forward to for such a long time!

What made Fearrington the place for you to say “I do?’
After graduating from UNC, Ben attended Emory in Atlanta to earn his doctorate of physical therapy, while I stayed in Chapel Hill for a few years working as an editor for Chapel Hill magazine. During my time at the magazine, I attended several events at Fearrington and wrote about a few local weddings that took place there, and I fell in love with the picturesque rural setting. I dreamed about getting married at Fearrington someday but thought that dream was probably out of reach. However, after Ben and I got engaged and settled on a December 12, 2015 wedding date, we knew we wanted a “rustic elegant” affair and decided that a barn reception was a must. We searched venues all over Charlotte, but nothing really fit what we were looking for.

Remembering how amazing the Fearrington weddings always looked in pictures, I decided to simply send an email asking if our date was available, and when it was, everything began to fall into place. My mom, Ben and I went to visit and meet with Gilda McDaniel — wedding planner extraordinaire and just an overall marvelous person — exactly one year from the date of our wedding, and the whole experience absolutely exceeded our expectations. I remember taking a tour of the grounds and seeing the Garden Terrace, an enclosed site perfectly suited for a winter wedding, with a fireplace and glass walls surrounded by a canopy of trees; and the Barn, with Christmas trees covered in little white lights lining the entrance and gorgeous touches like grand antler chandeliers, white drapes strung from the ceiling and farmhouse tables ideal for displaying pictures and place cards—and knowing that we had found our perfect wedding venue.

Describe the highlight moment of your wedding day?
It’s hard to choose just one—there were so many special moments that have stayed with me. Our first look in the Garden was very emotional as we saw each other for the first time and everything started to feel so real, and I remember as we were taking photos just thinking how gorgeous the surroundings were and how lovely the light looked through the trees as the sun began to set. Our ceremony in the Garden Terrace was intimate and filled with special touches, from an acoustic song performed by one of Ben’s groomsmen during which Ben whispered a prayer over us to taking part in Holy Communion as our first act as husband and wife. Afterward, our families and wedding party went to the cocktail hour while Ben and I just relaxed in the Garden House and took some time to soak in all that had happened. Then we walked outside and just watched from a distance as everyone was talking, laughing and drinking on the Barn patio before entering the Barn for the reception. It was so awesome and surreal to see everyone we love in the same place, having a great time.

On that note, I can’t talk about our wedding without mentioning that my only grandmother, my dad’s mom, passed away less than two weeks before our wedding after a six-week battle with pancreatic cancer. This was absolutely devastating to my family and me. She was supposed to be there—we had even gone shopping in November and picked out a beautiful dress for her to wear to the wedding. When she knew her time was coming to an end, she made my mom promise that nothing would stand in the way of the wedding. It was all she was living for but she did not make it. We told our story to Gilda and to floral designer Mary Stevens, who vowed to do everything they could to help honor her and make our wedding exactly what my grandmother wished for us. It’s one of those things that in the blur of events will always stand out to me as such an act of genuine compassion from the people who made our wedding so meaningful and joyous. I can’t thank the Fearrington team enough for this!

Anything you want to add about your wedding story?
Our wedding weekend was outstanding — not just because of the Fearrington’s sheer beauty, but because of Gilda, Mary, pastry chef Emma Isakoff, and all the people we dealt with who exhibited such kindness and professionalism. They went above and beyond to make our day everything we imagined. Everyone was so sweet and patient with us as we worked through our ideas, doing whatever they could to make it what we wanted down to the tiniest detail. Two days before our wedding we dropped off our decorations and told Gilda that she and her team could do whatever they wanted with them, because we completely trusted their taste and expertise. And they did not disappoint: Our ceremony and reception sites could not have been more perfect and were exactly what we envisioned.

Gilda was completely cool, calm and caring throughout the rehearsal and entire wedding day, and it seemed like whenever I needed something, I would turn around and there she was to help. Our guests still RAVE about the food and how beautiful Fearrington. Ben and I cannot wait to return to the Fearrington for many years and anniversaries to come to relive the best weekend of our lives!

This wedding was designed and coordinated by Fearrington’s own Gilda McDaniel. Photography by Anna Routh Photography.

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