Bride and groom portraits at Oakleaf Cottage. Photo by OkCrowe Photography.

December 20, 2023

Enchanted and Sustainable Autumn Wedding at Oakleaf Cottage | Taylor + Doug

When it comes to wedding planning, it’s so easy to get caught up in all of the details that you forget what’s at the heart of the big event – you! As Taylor + Doug planned their big day, they made sure to include themes and styling that represented them both as individuals and as a couple. This included planning a beautiful, sustainable autumn wedding at Oakleaf Cottage. 

When Tinder Sparks Forever

Online dating can be a crazy world, but sometimes swiping right can turn into forever. And that’s exactly how Taylor + Doug’s love story began. 

Taylor + Doug’s first date happened because they matched on Tinder. What started as a playful swipe led to a first date that surpassed any other date either of them had ever been on. A simple plan for hiking and coffee quickly became an afternoon neither of them wanted to see end. It was the longest first date either one had ever been on as their coffee date soon transformed into an evening dinner and a movie. Little did they know that that fateful swipe would mark the beginning of a beautiful journey. 

The two officially became a couple a month after that long date, and now, five years later, Taylor + Doug have created a wonderful life together. Their story is filled with shared dreams and passions, plenty of adventures, two fluffy cats, and the warmth that comes with finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. 

Now that their wedding day is finally here, this simple statement from Taylor encompasses the incredible journey they’ve been through already and the one they’re about to begin: “I am really excited to get married to my best friend.”

Hosting a Sustainable Wedding at Oakleaf Cottage

While planning their wedding, Taylor + Doug wanted to find a venue that reflected their style. Two things that were really important to them were being surrounded by the beauty of nature and sustainability. Thankfully, Oakleaf Cottage in Trenton, Georgia checked off both boxes. 

For any couple in the Chattanooga area looking for a beautiful forest venue, Oakleaf Cottage should definitely be a top contender in your list of options. Not only is this gorgeous venue tucked away from the hustle of the busy city, it’s also a shining example of how eco-conscious weddings and large events can be. 

Although weddings are a beautiful testament of love, as a whole, they’re typically not planned with sustainability and eco-consciousness in mind. Before becoming a certified sustainable venue by green|spaces Chattanooga, the owners of Oakleaf Cottage would clean up an average of six contractor bags of waste after every event. Now, with their green wedding package, through reducing single-use items and composting food waste into garden soil, their ultimate goal for every green wedding is to produce only one trash bag worth of waste. 

The good thing about planning a sustainable wedding is that even though the goal is zero-waste, it doesn’t have to be a minimalist wedding. For all of their weddings, Oakleaf Cottage is a full-service venue. They offer month of coordination, access to their full inventory of décor, setup, and clean up. However, when couples choose their green wedding package, they’ll work with you to make eco-friendly choices or plan for sustainable alternatives. Plus, they’ll handle all of the trash, recycling, and composting for you so all you have to do is enjoy your big day.

Staying True to Yourselves on Your Wedding

Another major factor that played a huge role in Taylor + Doug’s wedding planning was the desire to stay true to themselves. As Taylor puts it, it’s easy to “get lost in the wedding sauce.” While you’re planning, many times, you’re constantly trying to accommodate everyone’s feelings and opinions. That can sometimes sway your choices and make you forget what’s really at the heart of all your planning: marrying the love of your life. 

For their wedding, Taylor + Doug made sure to try to do things that represented them as a couple, including adding little personal details to make every part of their day feel like them. Starting with their reception décor, as avid bookworms, they decided to name every table after one of their favorite books. Guests were guided by a Table of Contents sign to a table with a small drawer set up like a library catalog to find where they were sitting. Not only that, but the books themselves made their way onto the tables. Titles like Dune, Circe, and A Discovery of Witches were seamlessly incorporated into the reception centerpieces to complete the immersive literary feel. 

Another personalized touch was Taylor’s handmade earrings crafted by an indigenous artist. Taylor had these earrings specially made to honor her own Native American heritage. She wanted something significant and meaningful to add to her wedding wardrobe that she could one day pass down. This intentional addition of this cultural touchstone added a layer of depth to their celebration, highlighting their commitment to weaving their individual histories together. 

Several other smaller choices also went in to fully personalize their wedding day. Taylor acknowledged the significant role her two bridesmen have had in her life by requesting photos of them since they weren’t able to have professional photography on their wedding day. She and Doug also planned a small callback to their first date by having their first look along the trails in the forests. And finally, with their decision to have an unplugged ceremony, they emphasized their belief in being present in the moment without technology as a distraction.

An Autumn Forest Ceremony at Oakleaf Cottage

For ceremonies at Oakleaf Cottage, couples have the option to hold it inside the barn or to choose between one of their two beautiful outdoor ceremony sites. The mountainside site sits directly behind the Stable Barn where receptions are held. It features enough space for up to 100 guests and a complete view of the mossy rock face to the right and the forest and mountain ranges to the left. However, for their ceremony, Taylor + Doug got the best of both options with the Forest View site.

During the spring and summer months, the Forest View site is surrounded by lush green trees. In the early fall, the scenery changes to dappled golds, reds, and oranges. However, because Taylor + Doug were married in the middle of November, most of the autumn leaves had fallen away, leaving a clear view of the valley and the mountains below while still enclosed by the cozy, magical feel of the forest around them. 

Taylor + Doug’s ceremony was short and sweet, and their decision to keep it unplugged meant that they were surrounded by the warm and loving gazes of their family and friends instead of handfuls of screens recording the moment. The air was filled with an intimate sincerity as the couple exchanged their vows while the soft rustling of leaves hummed a natural chorus around them. 

Enchanting Wedding Reception in the Stable Barn

After their ceremony, Taylor + Doug took photos with their wedding party and the friends and family who traveled out to be with them. Then, we headed off into the woods for their newlywed session. Taylor looked so cozy and at home wrapped in a blanket and Doug’s arms as we wandered the venue grounds to capture the full beauty of the property and the pure joy and bliss radiating from the happy newlyweds. 

When it was time to rejoin their guests, the two made their grand entrance into the Stable Barn where their reception was being held. Once a working stable, the Stable Barn is meant to be an entirely blank slate for couples to create their dream wedding reception in. Taylor + Doug filled it with long family-style tables and rustic wooden chairs that gave the space a homey feel. Across the rafters, rows of vines draped green leaves from the ceiling to bring the forest aesthetic inside, while strings of bistro lights created a magical atmosphere. 

While it’s tradition for guests to give champagne toasts to the bride and groom, nowhere does it say that the champagne has to be served by the catering staff. Taylor + Doug infused some of their fun-loving sides into the toasts for an untraditional but classic touch. They led their guests outside to where a tower of champagne glasses was balanced. To kickstart the toasts, the two popped bottles of champagne and poured them over the tower to waterfall down until every cup was filled. 

After first dances, toasts, and a delicious dinner, the night ended after hours of dancing and laughter surrounded by all of their loved ones. 

Are you planning to sprinkle in little details to personalize your wedding? I’d be honored to be there to make sure no detail is left behind!

Hey there! I’m Rachael Crowe of OkCrowe Photography. As a Chattanooga-based wedding photographer, I’ve shot hundreds of weddings in the Chattanooga area and all across the country. I love being there to capture all of the personal details a couple adds in to make their wedding day truly special. It’s those little details that help make the day so memorable and you can rest assured I won’t let any piece be forgotten. So, if you’re looking for a wedding photographer with exceptional attention to detail, head to my contact form, and let’s get planning!

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