Tips from 5 Couples on Tying the Knot

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We asked couples whose weddings we featured over the last year for wedding planning advice

By Meredith Dockery

Photography by Krystal Kast Photographers


Kristine and Paige Falk met at East Chapel Hill High School where they played together on the soccer team. After college, they reconnected at Top of the Hill during an annual gathering of high school friends and soon started dating. The couple was with Paige’s family on Christmas Day in 2016 when Kristine gave her a book called “I Love You – My Reasons Why” that had a proposal at the end.


The couple married on June 9, 2018, at The Barn of Chapel Hill at Wild Flora Farm. Paige and Kristine wanted to find a venue where they had not previously attended a wedding, and they say the family flower farm “was new, unique, beautiful and fit our style perfectly.”

Paige and Kristine walk back down the aisle at The Barn of Chapel Hill at Wild Flora Farm as a married couple.
Paige and Kristine walk back down the aisle at The Barn of Chapel Hill at Wild Flora Farm as a married couple.


Kristine and Paige say that it is more fun to make a wedding your own rather than succumbing to the pressure couples might feel from outside influences during wedding planning. “We were initially trying to make it so we didn’t see each other before our first look; by doing this, we were making the day miserable for us,” the couple says. “So we mixed it all up and had a big pre-wedding Champagne party in the bridal suite with both bridal parties.”


Kristine and Paige chose to forgo the traditional guest book for a selfie station. Guests took photos on a Polaroid camera and then added them to a scrapbook with a message. “It was so much fun to look through the book the next morning,” Kristine says. She encourages other couples to try a selfie guest book. “It seems when people can capture their environments and their moods and then write well-wishes alongside, it inspires greatness!”


Kristine and Paige wanted to avoid sore and tired feet, so they chose to wear wedge sandals for the ceremony and changed into TOMS for the after-party at The Station. “Comfort was key since the aisle was made of pavers,” the couple says, “but more importantly, we were not willing to compromise the ability to dance like crazy.”

Photography By Dana Hawley Photography

Megan and Derek Locklear weddingTHE COUPLE

Megan and Derek Locklear met in 2002 when Derek coached Megan’s daughter Hannah in soccer. About eight years later, the couple reconnected and knew they both found their forever person. Derek proposed on the stairs at Sirocco restaurant on top of State Tower in Bangkok.


The couple married on Oct. 20, 2018, in the backyard of Megan’s childhood home in Carrboro. Megan’s son, Luke, was the best man, and her daughter Molly Ann served as the maid of honor.


Deciding on a date can be difficult for couples. “We chose [our] weekend because it was the N.C. State Fair, my all-time favorite event of the year,” Megan says. She ended up in the hospital shortly before the big day and was encouraged to postpone the ceremony, but she was bent on making it work. “I am a stubborn Southern woman and was determined to marry Derek, as we planned,” Megan says. “What if we hadn’t done that? What if I hadn’t married my best friend?”


Google Drive, Etsy and Amazon Prime helped Megan organize her East Coast wedding from her home in Los Angeles, as well as fulfill any last-minute needs. “Vendors were able to see delivery times and coordinate with one another,” Megan says. “And, most importantly, we kept track of all of our expenses.”


To make everyone feel welcome, the couple set up couches and rugs to create an outdoor living room, created a playlist for the DJ that included music from different decades so all generations would hear songs they knew, and Big Sadie Smoke Shack served traditional Southern fare. “The most important feeling for me was comfort,” Megan says. “I wanted everyone at the wedding, from vendors to guests, to feel as if they are a part of our family.”

Photography by Krystal Kast Photographers

Julia and Will Scroggs wedding at St. Thomas More Catholic SchoolTHE COUPLE

Julia and Will Scroggs met in elementary school at St. Thomas More Catholic School, but their paths diverged until they reunited at Ponysaurus Brewing Co. in Durham in 2016. Two years later, Will proposed with an engagement ring hidden in a golden egg during Julia’s family’s annual Easter egg hunt.


The couple married on April 7, 2018, at Fearrington Village. Following the ceremony, the newlyweds celebrated with a reception filled with laughter and dancing. “I loved looking around at everyone I cared about in one room and having everyone together,” Julia says.


Julia wanted the ceremony to be outside in the gardens, but a high of 40 degrees and a storm required them to move the ceremony indoors. “We fortunately had the inside [space] available, however it was not exactly how I envisioned it and wish I had planned a little better for that,” Julia says.


Although moving the ceremony indoors was disappointing, Julia says she focused her attention on savoring the day. “I wanted it to be outside so badly,” Julia says, “but it was not possible. I just made sure to have a great time and did not worry about my dress or shoes getting dirty.”


After countless hours of planning, the actual wedding day goes by in a flash. Julia and Will had a videographer capture moments from their day that they will be able to watch for years to come. “The videos are so much fun, and we love to relive every moment captured,” Julia says.

Photography By Heba Salama Photography

Mark Spain and Shannon O'Neill wedding at The Carolina InnTHE COUPLE

Mark Spain asked Shannon O’Neill for a guitar lesson while they were both working at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Three years later, Mark proposed to Shannon in Sarah P. Duke Gardens in August 2017 during a visit to see Shannon’s parents in Chapel Hill.


Shannon and Mark married on June 24, 2018, at The Carolina Inn. “Once I knew Mark and I were getting married, all I could think about were those [black-and-white] floors [of The Old Well Ballroom],” Shannon says. “Mark really wanted to get married outdoors, and there was the option at The Carolina Inn [to do that]. We both got what we wanted: an outdoor wedding and those floors for the reception.”


Couples make a lot of decisions during wedding planning, and sometimes it’s good to take others’ opinions into consideration. “I initially thought I didn’t want flowers at all at the wedding, and my mom, [Kimberlee O’Neill], strongly suggested that we have flowers,” Shannon says. Her mother was right, Shannon says, and the flowers “set the tone for the entire wedding.”


Getting married on a Sunday helped the couple stay within their budget. They also prioritized aspects of the day that were important to them, like music, and then saved money in other areas, like foregoing a lighting package.


A wedding is primarily about a couple making a commitment to each other, but it is also about two families joining together. “Whether your family is large or small, by choice or by blood, take a moment to revel in the fact that you are all there together, in one spot, to celebrate such a major milestone,” Shannon says.

Photography by Leigh Ann Burdett Photography


Kristen and Alexander Bellows met during their junior year at Penn State and have been together ever since. While Kristen was out in California visiting Alex, who’s a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Air Force, he surprised her with a wine tasting trip to Napa Valley that ended with a tour of Clos Pegase Winery. After their tasting, Alex popped the question among the winery’s vineyards.


Kristen and Alex married on Aug. 25, 2018, at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, where her family attends service regularly. After the ceremony, the couple celebrated with friends at The Barn of Chapel Hill at Wild Flora Farm.


“My No. 1 piece of advice is to hire a wedding coordinator, even just for the day of the wedding,” Kristen says. Her coordinator, Aneesa Glines from Harmony Weddings and Events, handled all of the details on the wedding day so Kristen was able to enjoy the celebration without worrying about organizing vendor arrivals or timing.


Kristen kept costs lower by designing and printing her own menus, place cards and table numbers. Her mom, Linda Laubscher, also helped create the favors, incorporating honey sticks from the venue.

Kristen and Alexander Bellows at The Barn of Chapel Hill at Wild Flora FarmLET’S DANCE

During the reception, the first dances were special and emotional to the couple. “I remember being so happy to have all of our friends and family together in the same place,” Kristen says. “We felt surrounded by love.” Alex and his mom, Jeanneen Bellows, shared their dance just a few weeks after Jeanneen finished chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer, and Kristen and her dad, David Laubscher, danced to a mix featuring “It Won’t Be Like This for Long” and the fight song from Penn State.


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Chapel Hill Magazine is a 8-times-a-year lifestyle magazine dedicated to bringing you the very best of Chapel Hill. Our magazine places high emphasis on food and dining coverage, the arts, and community.

About Us

Chapel Hill Magazine is a 8-times-a-year lifestyle magazine dedicated to bringing you the very best of Chapel Hill. Our magazine places high emphasis on food and dining coverage, the arts, and community.




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