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Elegant Kentucky Derby Themed Wedding

From Candi Leonard Photography: “Abby and Cody's wedding proves that rustic and elegant can exist together in the most wonderful way! When Abby told me her plans for a Kentucky Derby feel cocktail hour paired with a hunting lodge reception, I knew I was in for a treat! Abby's horse ribbons and trophies were sprinkled throughout the property. Taxidermy and antler sheds were worked into the barn. Burge Flower Shop's stunning bouquets added such a beautiful pop to each bridesmaid's unique dress and tied the mix and match feel together. The invitations were created from a watercolor painting by the bride's mother. And the skies behind their ceremony almost matched it perfectly! Abby entered the ceremony on her childhood horse, Junior. That would be his last ride making it bittersweet.”

A rustic Kentucky Derby themed wedding in Ramseur, NC

A rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard Photography

The Proposal

Cody suggested we take our dogs on a walk to one of his Dad's farms down the road from ours. As we were walking down the winding creek known as Fishing Creek, I noticed a carving in a tree that said “Will you marry me?” He then got down on one knee, and I said yes!

A rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard Photography

About The Wedding

I chose Harvest House in Ramseur, NC, given its close proximity to my hometown of Seagrove, NC and the breathtaking views. My vision was an outdoor wedding with a unique, romantic take on our love. I pictured us on a hilltop in Ireland with a fiddle and flute playing Waves of Kilkee as I rode up on my childhood horse. Everything came together pretty close to my vision (Randolph County has an excellent Ireland resemblance if you ask me). Cocktail hour was Kentucky Derby theme and provided guests with a view of the race (the wedding was held on Derby Day) and bourbon cocktails. The reception combined Cody and I's love for hunting and the outdoors with a “lodge” feel. Family taxidermy and pewter accents filled the large barn where it was held.

A rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard Photography

The Attire

I wanted a simple and chic dress that would allow me to ride my horse and dance at the reception. The Martina Liana separates collection provided me with just that – the skirt had a leg slit, which allowed me to show off my shimmery Lucchese boots, too, so that was a plus!

The bridesmaids chose their own dresses. I guided them to use gold or neutral colors – and they did a great job!!

The groomsmen's neckwear (some ties, some bow ties) had little catfish on them (as Cody's favorite thing to do with his buddies is catfish out on the Roanoke River).

A rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard Photography

Favorite Moments

The best part of the day was finally being together – with one another and with our family and friends. The time leading up to the wedding was so hectic – it was such a joyous feeling to finally look into one another's eyes and say our vows! I thought I'd be nervous – between riding my horse and being in front of so many people – but as soon as I got on Junior's back (my horse) and saw my father waiting for me at the beginning of the aisle, I felt relaxed and filled with gratitude. I wanted to press pause! I've had Junior since I was 12 and he was 3 years old. I always dreamed he'd be in my wedding, and having him walk me to my father at his old age of 23 was a dream come true.

A rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard Photography

The Flowers, Cake & Favors

For the bouquets, I wanted lots of greenery and pale pinks/creams, and the look of the flowers having been freshly picked – large stems, eclectic arrangement, etc. My favorite greenery is Eucalyptus – I love the smell and the look – and it was perfect to accent our “church altar” and other areas. I also love wildflowers and had a large, colorful centerpiece for the reception to add a splash of color to things.

Our wedding cake was simple. White, vanilla and small. We also had various pies for guests to choose from (pecan, apple, etc.) that were made with love by some generous family members.

For favors, we had Koozies! I designed the logo and Cody chose the color. We are hunters so we went with blaze orange. I used clip art to make an image of a bride holding her horse and a groom on a four wheeler. Cody always said he only rode four wheelers until he met me! He rides the horses now too!

A rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard PhotographyA rustic and elegant Kentucky Derby themed wedding at a barn in North Carolina by Candi Leonard Photography

Special Details

The altar we used was built by Cody's dad using old wood from a torn down church in his home town (and now our home) Scotland Neck, NC. He added a cross to the top and it looked beautiful with the rolling hills as a backdrop. My mom hand painted the wedding invitation background using watercolor. I uploaded her design and personalized the font to finalize the design and used Vista Print to run them off. She used the ceremony location to inspire her painting. The taxidermy at the reception included the first deer and turkey I killed after Cody taught me how to hunt.

I wrapped my bouquet with my late grandfather's handkerchief. He was known as Paw Paw and was the person who purchased Junior for me at 12 years of age so I could have the beautiful competition horse I dreamed of.

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