Imagine if you could have the party of a lifetime with your friends you've met throughout your life from all over the world. It all sounds like a dream that could never happen here earth side. However, Kate + Zak pulled off a destination mansion wedding of a lifetime right here in Nashville! Friends from half way around the world attended their special day. And half way around the world is really where their love story started - over in Asia while they were both English teachers. Their story is seriously so cool, so I will let Kate take it from here (and be sure to scroll their amazing photos by White Fox Photography!).
Kate + Zak
Stone Hall Manor
How did you meet?
Kate: Zak and I met five years ago, when we both were working as English Language teachers in Seoul, South Korea. We went from co-workers to friends to a couple within a few months. We then finished up the year in Korea together and travelled for seven months in Southeast Asia. After a quick trip home to meet each others' families, we moved to Taipei, Taiwan together for another year of teaching abroad. When our contracts ended, we travelled more and got engaged. We came back to the States and decided to move to Nashville, where we both continue to work as educators at a middle school!
Tell us your proposal story!
Kate: Zak and I were completing a year-long trip through India, China, Hong Kong, Laos, and Nepal. We love hiking and were hoping to end the trip in the Himalayas. We decided to attempt the Jiri to Everest Base Camp Three Passes Trek. We flew to Kathmandu, bought sleeping bags and permits, and started hiking. We completed the 30 day trek without a guide or a porter (or insurance, which I wouldn't recommend!). On the second to last day, Zak suggested a picnic. I stepped in the woods (a girl's gotta go!), and when I stepped out he had a blanket set out with wrapped up treats. He had me close my eyes, hold out my hands, and guess each item. They were favorite treats from throughout our travels (a bag of ramen, a candy bar, a canned coffee). When asked me to close my eyes a final time, I started to get butterflies. He didn't put anything in my hand but still asked me to open my eyes. When I did, he was kneeling down with a beautiful opal ring in his hand. I was shocked. Firstly, that anyone would want to propose to me after watching me cry while hiking without a shower for days at a time, and, secondly, that he carried all that extra weight in his pack up and down the mountains!
Tell us more about your wedding day!
Kate: We wavered a lot on our wedding. We thought about City Hall and considered a resort wedding. After lots of discussion, we decided that it was important to be with our best friends and closest family members on our wedding day. Since I'm from Illinois, and Zak is from Virginia, we decided that we would get married in our adopted hometown, since it would inconvenience all of our family equally!
We had a strict budget, and we knew we wanted to spend most of it on good food and drinks for our guests. Stone Hall Manor was the only venue we toured, and we booked it immediately. It was inexpensive and beautiful, although it was entirely DIY, which was stressful at times.
What were your favorite parts of the day?
Kate: We agreed that our favorite two parts of the day were our "First Look" and our ceremony.
I really wanted a first look, and it ended up being perfect. We both teared up seeing each other all fancy, and it was so fun to talk and be excited together before the ceremony. Even though there were two strangers taking pictures of us, we were able to feel alone together before all the hub-bub of the day began. I felt so gorgeous when Zak started to cry.
Our ceremony was very non-traditional, and I was nervous about it. Our best friend, James Carillo, acted as our officiant, and Zak and I wrote our own vows. I really didn't know what to expect, and our rehearsal was a little rocky. However, everyone delivered on the wedding day. James had a beautiful speech written about us that was so personal. His words made everyone cry. My mom is still talking about it months later. Zak and I both had very silly, very sweet vows for each other. I will treasure that moment in front of our friends and family forever.
Another favorite moment was getting to do a soju shot together with a few of our other friends whom we had met in Korea. It was amazing to have friends from all over the world with us, celebrating us.
My mom, who has been unhappily married, three times gave a hilarious and heartfelt toast that made everyone laugh. Her ability to believe in us, despite her own rocky past, is so inspiring to me.
What was most important to the two of you while planning?
Kate: The most important aspect of our wedding was our guests' enjoyment. We had been told by everyone that the day would go by so fast! And it did for us! However, nearly all of our guests came from out of town, so we wanted them to really enjoy themselves and feel relaxed. We catered with local BBQ and had our bar open before our ceremony. We knew it would be hot, so our programs could also be used as fans. We included a popcorn bar to enjoy during cocktail hour, and we asked all our guests to request songs on their RSVP cards.
Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?
Kate: Stress is inevitable while planning, particularly while on a budget. Expect to cry a lot, but if your marrying the right one, they'll always know how to make you feel better (plus wine helps).
You will probably spend more money then you want to, your family will probably drive you bananas, and you'll be exhausted for weeks afterwards. But, do it anyway.
It really is the best day. Everyone loves you and keeps telling you that! And they give you presents! And your person gives you so many kisses! You get to eat cake and drink fancy champagne! It's just the best day.
10/10, but probably wouldn't do it again.
Thank you so much, Kate and White Fox Wedding Photography for sharing this beautiful destination mansion wedding with us today! You can check out more on White Fox Wedding Photography here on their website: http://www.whitefoxweddingphotography.com/. And also be sure to follow them over on Instagram!