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Shelby’s Wedding Gown Preservation in Tennessee

Shelby’s Wedding Gown Preservation in Tennessee

High contrast black-and-white couple's portrait from featured Real Bride Shelby's wedding day.

“It felt as if every moment in my life where I struggled, fought, or felt lonely was all worth it to be in that moment.”

-Real Bride Shelby

  • AWGS member Oakwood Cleaners, based out of Nashville, TN, cared for Shelby’s wedding gown.

When and where was your wedding?
Wedding day was June 17th, 2017 at Meadow Hill Farm in Columbia, TN.

Real Bride Shelby's wedding venue in Nashville, TN.


Who is the designer of your wedding gown?
The designer of the gown is actually JCPenney. It is my mother-in-law’s wedding dress that she bought in the 80’s. She was kind enough to offer it in case I had a hard time finding one that I would love, which I did. From the moment I saw her dress, though, I knew that it was the one. We did do quite a few alterations with her blessing (and insistence) to fit more of our style, but it ended up being the dress of my dreams (even from JCPenney, haha).

Real Bride Shelby in her mother-in-law's wedding gown on Shelby and Jess' wedding day.

Real Bride Shelby on her wedding day in Nashville, TN.


Tell us about your wedding day!
Our wedding day, I can honestly say, was the best day of my life. Most people worry, feel stressed, rushed, pressured, but ours was anything but.



From beginning to end, everything went as smoothly as one could truly hope for. I know that sounds a bit too good to be true, but it was.


Black-and-white photo of Real bride Shelby's guests having a blast dancing on her wedding day in Columbia, TN.



Not only was the venue we had absolutely fantastic, from helping with set-up to giving us assistance with our guests, but the vendors (mostly comprised of our friends) were on time with quick and quiet set-ups.


Dessert table at Real Brides Shelby and Jessica's wedding celebrations in Tennessee.

A shot of City Kitchen from real bride Shelby's wedding day in Columbia, TN.


Our friends and family were huge helps throughout the day and night. I think because not only is our love for each other deep, but it’s deep for our friends and family and everyone could feel it. Everyone was in a joyous mood so nothing could bring anyone down.


The creative guitar guest book at Real Brides Shelby and Jess's wedding reception in Tennessee.


It is so funny but one of the most memorable moments of my wedding day is when I was completely alone waiting on the ceremony to start. Jess and our bridal party and parents were all in the barn ready to go out while all of our guests were ready.

The guests at Real bride Shelby's nuptials to her wife Jessica in Columbia, TN.


I was on the opposite side of the barn completely alone.


Real bride Shelby about to emerge from the barn setting of her Tennessee wedding.


I don’t know if other brides ever had this moment but I was happy, scared, curious, nervous, and also peaceful. It felt as if every moment in my life where I struggled, fought, or felt lonely was all worth it to be in that moment.


Real Bride Shelby's first look portrait on her wedding day in Tennessee.


I also clearly remember the ceremony starting. I finally went into the barn where behind those doors every single person I loved was waiting on me. ME!


Real bride Shelby's post wedding ceremony reception location.


I do not like being the center of attention and so I was slightly terrified at this moment. I remember the doors opening and the first thing I saw was my dad standing waiting on me. I couldn’t see anyone else, just my dad.


Real bride Shelby with her Dad, walking up to the altar on her wedding day in Columbia, TN


When I finally made it to him it was as if I was dreaming. We turned the corner and I couldn’t bring myself to look up yet.


Black-and-white photo of Real bride Shelby dancing on her wedding day with her father.


It took me longer than I expected but I finally looked up and saw Jessica.

Real bride Jessica black-and-white wedding portrait.

A stunning black-and-white portrait of Jessica, Real bride Shelby's bride, in Columbia, TN.


All the nerves fell away instantly. She looked beautiful. It immediately brought tear to my eyes. I struggled with who I was and who I was “supposed” to be for so long that in that moment it all felt worth it. I saw her and my life felt like it finally fell into place and I finally made sense.


True love: Shelby and Jessica facing each other at the altar on their wedding day.


Seeing her staring back at me, she saw ME. The real me; the baggage, the struggle, the fight, and the love. I felt as though I was seen as my true self by all of my family and friends for the first time, which doesn’t make much sense– yet it made all the sense in the world. The girl I was walking to made me feel like me and in that moment, everything was perfect.


Real Brides Shelby and Jess in love on their wedding day.


The other favorite moment of that day was being able to share how I felt about this amazing woman, my soon to be wife, in front of everyone.


Beautiful Real brides Shelby and Jessica sharing an adorable kiss on their wedding day.


I had to share mine first and I was so excited to tell her everything I felt. I got a little too excited and toward the end of my vows and instead of saying “every day I love you more,” I said “every day I love me more.” In the moment I laughed and everyone laughed, it was actually quite funny, and most people thought I did it on purpose! That moment stayed with me though, not because I was embarrassed which I honestly was, but because I realized what I said was true. I do love her more every day but what I hadn’t realized until then was that I love myself more every day thanks to her as well.


Real brides enjoying a toast


Another moment that I loved was when my in-laws finally saw the dress, my mother-in-law’s dress. Now, I have to admit that I am the luckiest girl in the whole world for having the in-laws that I do. I fell in love with them as soon as we met and I truly feel as if I have gained a family.


Black-and-white wedding portrait of Real bride Shelby's new and beloved in-laws.


Wearing her dress was honestly the biggest honor I will probably ever experience. They saw the dress before the ceremony and watching their expressions, and even tears, was more than I could have ever dreamed of. I honestly cannot even begin to put into words the way I felt in that moment.


Real bride Shelby's in-laws celebrating on her wedding day.


Decoration Theme: The decoration theme for our wedding was what we like to call Tennessee Rustic Minimalism.


Minimalist floral vase wedding day decoration at real bride Shelby's wedding.


We had a beautiful outdoor ceremony with a variety of our favorite flowers (sunflowers, lilies, succulents, etc.) as well as ones we hand made out of the pages of some of our favorite books, which mean a great deal to us.


Real bride Shelby and Jessica's wedding bands.


The post-ceremony cocktail hour was in a beautiful, tree-laden court yard with hanging lights, whiskey barrel tables, flowers in Jack Daniel’s bottles (my wife’s favorite) and hand-crafted signs (made by our amazing friends). The reception was held in a beautiful rustic barn with vintage hanging lights, long barn tables stacked with books, candles, and flowers.


Real bride Shelby's wedding day reception setting.


Wedding Party: Our wedding party consisted of my sister and all of our best friends.

Real brides Shelby and Jessica and their wedding party on their wedding day in Columbia, TN


The Venue: The venue for our wedding was Meadow Hill Farm in Columbia, TN. It actually was the first and only venue we went and looked at. From the moment we pulled up, we knew it was the one. Jenny, the owner, was outstanding, I can’t thank her and her husband enough! They were so warm and welcoming and hands on, which isn’t usually typical (from what we’ve heard from our other friends in the area). They had such lovely options and advice, they helped us every step of the way with any questions that we had. The day of they were there from (before) set-up all the way until the last member of the party left and were ready to help at any second. They truly helped make our dream day come true.

Close-up wedding portrait from real brides Shelby and Jessica's wedding day.


Photo credit: Ryan Musick

AWGS member: Oakwood Cleaners