Laura Begley (left) met with Patricia Edwards of Tricia's by Design to start her dress shopping for her Dream Wedding.
Editor’s note: Laura Begley and Matthew Bledsoe are the winners of the Dream Wedding package — valued at $25,000 — and will be married on Sept. 14, 2013. The Times-News will follow their wedding story throughout the year.
Like most brides, Laura Begley says she has always dreamed about what kind of wedding she would have and, especially, what kind of dress she would wear as she walked down the aisle to her bridegroom.
Laura and her fiancé, Matthew Bledsoe, are the winners of the Dream Wedding presented by the Kingsport Times-News and sponsored by Sophisticated Smiles by Angela Cameron, D.D.S., P.C. Since learning they were the lucky couple in October, the two have started meeting with some of the vendors who will help make their special day a reality.
Laura’s first order of business was — what else? — the dress. Patricia Edwards at Tricia’s By Design will provide Laura’s dream dress.
“I have known Patricia for a few years now — and so has Matthew. She actually made my sister-in-law’s wedding dress and tons of other dresses for different brides that I know. So, when we won the Dream Wedding, the dress was probably the number one thing I was most excited about,” Laura said. “My personality and style have changed over the course of my life, like most girls. But when Matthew and I seriously started talking about our future, I fantasized about having a classic, all-lace gown for our wedding. Lace is so beautiful and timeless,” said Laura.
So, a few weeks ago, Laura, her mother, her sister and sister-in-law headed to Tricia’s for Laura to try on some dresses.
“She had a gorgeous selection, of course. And I tried on several, but none of them were exactly what I was looking for. We both agreed that her making my dress would benefit both of us. So, I will be getting a custom-made dress from Tricia’s By Design! I cannot wait!” Laura said.
“We talked a lot about what I wanted in a dream wedding gown and Patricia practically read my mind. She is so knowledgeable of fabrics and styles that look best. It’s insane. After meeting with her, I wouldn’t trust anyone else with a project like this. Matthew and I are both fairly old-fashioned, so I know that when we look back on our wedding day 50 years from now, we will still be happy with all of our choices. And I know I definitely will not regret my wedding gown choice.”
Matthew will not see Laura’s dress before the wedding, but he says he is OK with that.
“It’s actually exciting not knowing what her dress will look like. I’m really excited about seeing her for the first time in her dress. I know she will look absolutely amazing. And I’m pretty sure I will cry,” Matthew said, laughing.
Matthew and Laura also recently made a visit to the Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City where the ceremony and reception will be held, where Laura and Matthew will spend their first night as husband and wife, and where their families will stay.
Before winning the Dream Wedding package, Laura and Matthew had planned to have an outdoor wedding on Laura’s family’s farm in Gate City. She admits that after winning the contest, it was a bit hard at first to imagine having an indoor wedding after having dreamed of an outdoor wedding for so long.
“I have always imagined having a beautiful outside fall wedding on a farm. I love fall and I love being outdoors, so needless to say this has been my dream for years,” Laura said.
But one look at the Carnegie was all it took for Laura and Matthew to know there is no better place to say “I do.”
“Annette [Marshall] was so helpful when giving us a tour of the Carnegie. She was so laidback and made us feel very comfortable about the venue selection. The Carnegie is gorgeous, so even if I wasn’t the Dream Wedding bride, I would still choose it as our venue after seeing it,” Laura said.
Because she had dreamed of an outdoor wedding for so long, Laura said to quell her curiosity she had to see the outside courtyard at the Carnegie first.
“The courtyard at the Carnegie was very pretty, but nothing like what I had pictured for our wedding. Annette then showed us the Grand Soldier’s Ballroom — the only other choice for our ceremony, and our only option for the reception. I was blown away by how beautiful the ballroom was without any decorations. The ceiling is hand-painted with beautiful antiques displayed throughout. There is a gorgeous wooden fireplace right behind where Matthew and I will stand as we say our vows. And on both sides of the fireplace are two large antique mirrors. The whole theme of the hotel is right up this antique-lover’s alley!” Laura said.
“After looking in awe at all of the ballroom’s beauty, it became our most obvious choice for the ceremony and reception. Just when I think I have completely made up my mind about something involving our wedding, it’s like God directs us down a new path and shows us a much better, and more simple way. I love how He works to humble me. It is so refreshing.”
Matthew says he, too, was blown away by the beauty of the Carnegie.
“My first thought when seeing the Carnegie was that I couldn’t believe that seven months ago we were planning on having our wedding on a farm! And now we get to say ‘I do’ in a beautiful place like the Carnegie. It’s just unbelievable,” Matthew said.
Still on the to-do list for Laura and Matthew are planning wedding day photos with Anna Hedges Photography, selecting tuxedos for Matthew and his groomsmen from Dress To Impress, deciding on the soundtrack for their special day with Night Moves Mobile DJ’s, picking flowers from Rainbow’s End Floral Shop, selecting a cake from The Cake Gallery and receiving a day of pampering at Austin Springs Spa and Salon the day before the wedding.
Having all the vendors in place has made planning their wedding a more relaxing event.
“The vendors have been a big help to us and it really has felt like a ‘dream wedding,’ even this early in the process.
God has really blessed us with such a wonderful gift,” said Matthew.
Laura added that one big thing she has learned from the Dream Wedding process is all brides-to-be should explore their options.
“Having been engaged for seven months now, I’ve learned that things change. Well, more like your wedding plans change,” Laura said. “Matthew and I have changed our minds so much over planning this wedding. We have gone from being set on having an outside wedding to getting married in a gorgeous ballroom. I laugh about our original plan to get married on our family farm — with no electricity! I’m not sure how we were going to pull that off.
“But winning the Dream Wedding has made us realize we don’t have to have an outside wedding. We don’t have to have a certain kind of food or decoration or venue. We have opened our minds and explored our options and what we really want as a couple. Our vendors have been so helpful in saying, ‘Whatever you want.’ And realizing our options are endless has made this such a stress-free and enjoyable time for us.”