As a little girl, Kellye Hunt would wait anxiously for her next-door neighbor Dustin Raughton to come home from school, so she could run outside and wave to him. “I had a huge crush on Dustin growing up, but of course he wanted nothing to do with me,” recalls the bride. Despite her opposition, the groom does admit to taking notice of Kellye at an early age: “I always remembered the giant bows in her hair and her cheerful demeanor,” reminisces the groom. “She has always had a one-of-a-kind personality.”

Kellye and Dustin’s relationship developed over the years, and before long the bride’s childhood crush became her fiancé. Prior to his proposal, Dustin made sure to ask his bride-to-be’s father for his blessing. “We were driving one afternoon and I told him that I was working on a ring for [Kellye]. He couldn’t stop smiling; he was beyond excited,” says the groom. On a romantic getaway to one of their favorite destinations in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Dustin dropped to one knee and asked Kellye to marry him with a custom-made yellow diamond engagement ring. “It could not have been more perfect!” exclaims the bride.

Originally desiring a destination beach wedding, the couple ultimately decided to plan an autumn affair closer to home. “The closest thing to the beach is my father’s lake house, which ended up being the absolute perfect spot,” confides Kellye. A natural color palette of ivory and green was used to highlight the raw beauty of the surroundings, and also achieved the bride’s “Southern and classic” theme. In order to keep the evening intimate, Kellye and Dustin celebrated their momentous occasion with just one bridesmaid, one groomsman, and 55 loved ones.

Guests gathered for the elegant outdoor ceremony on a grassy lawn overlooking the lake. A natural aisleway sprinkled with hundreds of alabaster petals led to the ceremony arch, which was comprised of magnolia-leaf garlands and featured a small chandelier suspended overhead; arrangements of billowing ivory hydrangeas were placed at both sides of the structure. Kellye glided gracefully down the aisle in an ethereal lace gown with a trumpet skirt and a detachable tulle overskirt, which she removed for the reception. The bride carried a cascading bouquet composed of a variety of succulents and gardenias, which she passed to her sister before exchanging vows with her groom. 

“The ceremony was the most important aspect for me,” declares Dustin. “We wanted [an officiant] that would share in our love and convey a great message.” And so, the bride and groom selected the father of Kellye’s father’s girlfriend to conduct the ceremony. “It is the best feeling having someone that is a part of your family marry you,” begins the bride. “We will always remember the words he chose for our vows: ‘I promise to kiss you first thing each morning, and last thing each evening, so long as we both shall live.’”

An enchanting lakefront porch welcomed guests to the sit-down dinner service. Dark-wood tables absent of linens were arranged in a U-shape so guests could communicate freely with one another throughout the meal. Bundles of hydrangeas in green and cream hues provided a solid train centerpiece that “overflowed” from the ends of the table to the wood flooring at its base. Ivory candles illuminated hurricane vessels and translucent ghost chairs emphasized the natural décor. “I wish I could relive being at that dinner table – the weather, people, laughter, speeches – everything was beyond perfect,” says Kellye.

While guests dined on Southern-inspired menu items, a live band performed the couple’s favorite songs and continued to do so throughout the night while loved ones danced atop checkered flooring. A comfortable seating area was provided for relaxation, and strings of twinkling café lights shone overhead, enriching the romantic ambience. A dessert bar provided a selection of sweet treats including miniature cherry pies, strawberry shortcakes, s’mores, and macarons. The highlight of the display – a “naked” pumpkin-spice wedding cake with cream cheese frosting in between layers – was embellished with a classic cake topper and garnished with greenery.

The festivities concluded at midnight and, staying true to their Southern hospitality, the couple ensured guests left completely satisfied. “Everyone had a choice of a cheeseburger or taquito as they were leaving!” notes Kellye, who made sure wedding attendees were provided with late-night snacks from a popular fast-food eatery upon their exits. Reflecting on their day, both bride and groom agree that everything went flawlessly – despite a wasp getting stuck in Kellye’s tulle skirt during the ceremony. Recalls the groom, “I was amazed at how comfortable it all was… [We were] very relaxed.”