Why We Wouldn’t Change a Thing About Our Wedding

More often than not, when chatting with established brides about their wedding days, they acknowledge how they would plan their days so much differently. They mention their mom/aunt/mother-in-law who imposed their opinions and preferences on the day, which created a distortion of their vision. The women talk about how they wanted to make sure everyone had a good day so at some point, they stopped pursuing what they actually wanted. They reminisce on how exhausting it was and how they don’t even feel like they were really present during their day.

We experienced none of the aforementioned sentiments on our wedding day and I’ll tell you why. 

Preface: the story of us

If you know our story even a little bit, you’ll know that we’ve been together since our senior year of high school *awh babies* and have been dating long-distance for almost the entirety of our relationship. So, when college graduation approached, we were both on the same page with the internal agenda of getting married shortly after. 

Similarly to our dating experience, we weren’t really interested in a traditional wedding. We’re both wired for connection on a one-on-one level rather than with big groups of people, so we didn’t even need to talk about the number of attendees for our day (read more about this here). Secondly, we had been traveling together for years at this point and both considered our hometown to be a place to land, rather than a special wedding location that we would want to be married at. We were both perfectly okay not getting married in our hometown, so the next question was where? 

Insert: “the lake”

TN lake house boat dock

Shortly into our dating relationship, Adam invited me to go to “the lake” (Norris Lake, TN) with him and his family. I knew that he liked to go boating and travel there frequently, but I definitely did not understand the extent of it until we arrived. As soon as the car was parked and we dropped off our bags, we were headed for the water! We had driven separately from his family and arrived a few hours earlier than them, so we took the boat out, just the two of us. Looking back on that day, I see that it was a turning point in my understanding of Adam as a human. I realized that Norris Lake was foundational to him.

During those first few hours on the lake alone together, I easily understood how special this place was to him and his family. A place to get away, rest and become whole again. I met a side of him that hadn’t yet made an appearance since knowing him. He became a more playful, boyish and carefree version of himself in this place. He taught me how to wake surf in a matter of minutes that afternoon. I knew then that my future held many more of those types of afternoons with him.

happy guy at the lake

Fast-forward a few years and summer trips to the lake, we both knew that Norris was where we’d promise our forevers to each other.

A little pushback 

I think that everyone we are close with knew us well enough to realize that our guest list would be tiiiiiny, so that was not a big deal. But, when we announced that we were not going to be having a traditional white-dress-in-a-church-ring-the-bells-and-throw-the-rice kind of day, some of our family members began to question us. Thank the heavens (!!!) that more members of our families could see our vision and push us toward it than not. Especially because in the beginning of our planning process we were both a bit uncertain and wavering. Honestly, the push-back was minimal, but we’re both used to people approving our decisions, so any pushback at all was huge for us (hehe, real life). 

Persistence for our priorities

I’d say we are both pretty laid-back humans, but we definitely know what we want. We try to avoid the whole wishy-washy thing. Once we had officially decided on having our ceremony at our family’s lake house, we had to figure out the rest. There were only a few non-negotiables for our day. 

Dream photog

As a photographer myself, this was one of the first pieces of our ceremony that we had settled. We were so pleased with our experience with Iris, the owner of Iris Espresso Photo Co. (she’s since rebranded as Avodah Co.), to capture the details / feelings / memories from our day. Plus, she’s just fun to hang out with!

A low-back wedding dress

It became slightly stressful when finding my dress became the hardest task on my to-do list. I had a few acquaintances engaged around the same time as us and it seemed as though all of them were finding their dresses first and foremost. After a few months (we only had a 6 month engagement) I began considering settling for something else. Despite the maaaany low-back gowns on my Pinterest board, I was seriously becoming flustered. After ordering 3 or 4 gowns online (DON’T EVER DO THAT) my mom took a pessimistic and discouraged Phoebe to Nordstrom and we found my dress about 15 minutes after walking through the door. 

the oylers enjoying the post-married feeling

A charcuterie board

My momma was in charge of the food situation and boy, she found us the best of Knoxville!!! We weren’t sure how to go about food. Our group wasn’t huge, but we had enough to make cooking for everyone a stressful task. We found a private chef who brought a handful of staff to cater us so that everyone could enjoy a high-end family-style meal together on the back deck, overlooking the lake.


This was one of the “trendy” wedding things that I was alllll about. For a period of time, one of Adam’s and my dates were seeking out the best donuts in whichever city we’d be staying in. Thanks to Status Dough for delicious treats, they were a hit! 

We were there for it

Ultimately, when it came down to it, our day was about coming together at last. We had spent yearsss pursuing each other, states apart, and planning tiny weekend reunions once a month (IF WE WERE LUCKY). Now we were about to sign up for living in the same home and waking up to each other daily.

Of course nothing ever goes exactly as you plan it. But I’m not kidding you when I say that our day was better than we could ever imagine. I think we both came to the realization that long-distance was coming to a close. This had been such an answered prayer because it has been one of the greatest challenges we have ever faced as a couple and individually. Once we arrived at that thought (honestly I’m not sure if we’ve fully processed this yet), we were both happy as clams. Our ceremony was lakeside with a semi-circle of our people surrounding us. Our puppy came and sat in between us as we were proclaiming our vows. It called for rain all day and we were blessed with a cloudless sky. We danced laaate into the night to cheesy music, under the stars and our garden lights.

lake side intimate wedding

jeep wedding tennessee

small wedding of friends and family

We were together, finally.

Cheers + hugs!!!! 

The Oylers

June 08, 2019

Ceremony venue: Oyler lake house, Norris Lake, TN

Photographer: Iris Espresso Photo Co.

Florist: Flourish Flower Truck

Cake: M+M Cakes

Donuts: Status Dough

Catering: Simon Hall Catering

Dress: Nordstrom

Hair and makeup: my SIL, Paityn 

Invitations: My Grandma (!!!)

  1. Iris says:

    Your day was nothing short of perfect, so glad I got to be apart of the weekend celebration. Thanks for the shoutout ❤️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

phoebe o + co.
Photographing elopements, micro-weddings, couples and maternity in the Pacific Northwest

Anacortes and Whidbey Island, Washington
phoebe o + co.
Couples + maternity photographer serving Anacortes + Whidbey Island, Washington
phoebe o + co.