Molly White of Nashville, TN, and Joey Viola, of San Antonio, TX, met at a bar in Athens, GA, during their junior year at the University of Georgia. But the story isn’t what you may think. Molly started talking to Joey’s mother, Phyllis, and the two really hit it off. When Joey’s mom called her son over to introduce him to the delightful young woman she’d befriended, Molly thought that was the end of the story — that their meeting was organic through this conversation with Joey’s mother. “Months later — once we were dating — Joey confessed that he asked his mom to go up and talk to me because he wanted to get to know me,” Molly recounts.
Since the day after Valentine’s Day in 2019 also happened to be Joey’s birthday weekend, Molly assumed his parents were coming to visit them in Nashville, where the couple had moved after graduating, to celebrate their son’s birthday. “We were [all] headed to my parents’ house for pre-dinner cocktails when he got down on one knee in the rain on the front porch,” Molly says. “I was very surprised, which is how he wanted it!” Both of Molly’s brothers had also flown in to surprise her, and the families spent the whole weekend celebrating together. “Family is very important to us, and we wanted to be surrounded by the people we love when we started this journey,” the bride says
Shortly after the engagement, the couple selected Nashville wedding planner Dori Thornton Waller with The Social Office. “Dori and her team were an absolute dream,” Molly remarks. “My mother and I had a vision and trusted them to help us realize it and make it even better, and that’s exactly what they did. They were just the best to work with.”
Molly always knew she wanted to get married at her family’s church, St. George’s Episcopal, with the reception at Nashville’s Belle Meade Country Club. “My grandparents’ reception was there as was my parents’ rehearsal dinner,” she recalls. Once the planner and venue were solidified, it was time to shift to the fun details that made this winter wonderland wedding so jaw-droppingly fantastic.
Molly and her mom, Barby, flew to New York City to look for dresses. “As soon as I walked into the Monique Lhuillier store, I knew I had found my wedding dress style,” Molly recalls. She knew she wanted sleeves because of the temperature, and when she tried on the dress that she ultimately selected, they both knew it was the one. They canceled all of their other appointments and came back to buy it the next day. “I wanted a long train and veil because you only get to go big once!” Molly says. She also loved the blusher she wore and will cherish the photos her photographer Kristyn was able to snap.
Because the wedding was amidst winter’s short days, the sun had set prior to the ceremony. “Since we wanted a picture of us in daylight, we had to have a first look,” Molly tells us. “I really liked doing this because after the ceremony, we were able to head to the reception and not worry about photos. We also really wanted to make sure we got a picture with our dog, Teddy. He was by my side the entire day.” After some daylit photo ops, more than 500 guests filled the church for the 6:30 p.m. black-tie nuptials.
Molly calls her wedding style “traditional with a little bit of glamour.” They filled every space with lots of white and cream flowers with little greenery — a shift from some of the greenery-heavy aesthetics we see a lot of these days. “We went with cream and gold linens to work with the existing colors in the country club. Our vision was a winter night starry sky, so the focus of our wedding was the tent.” Dori and her team brought this vision to life in a major way!
“While traditional arrangements are stunning, I love different ways of using flowers, so we had three flower arches placed around the venue,” Molly says. She and her mom were very interested in stylish and interesting rentals, so they furnished the club with unique tables and chairs, lounge collections and lots of gorgeous candelabras. “And we didn’t want anyone waiting for drinks, so lots of bars!”
Molly’s parents had a few surprises in store for the couple that wowed everyone in attendance, too. A bagpiper played as guests happily filed into the reception, and a giant ice sculpture castle greeted them in the foyer. Both touches were nods to the Whites’ Scottish heritage. They also created a beer and bourbon lounge called “Joey’s” that was a separate room and decorated in men’s lounge decor and UGA elements, complete with a professional cigar roller.
During cocktail hour, the new Mr. and Mrs. Viola dined alone upstairs at the country club while their 510 guests enjoyed ahi tuna, cheese gougères, hot chicken bites, a spinach tart and mini grilled pimento cheese sandwiches. “Joey and I wanted to have all the people we love! Celebrating with our friends, family and the people who will love and support us for the rest of our lives was the most important thing,” Molly says of her robust guest count.
Due to the wedding size, they opted for a buffet-style feast. “We wanted to give all the out-of-town guests a taste of Southern cooking, so we had grits,” Molly says. Also on the menu: salmon in a tomato cream sauce, beef tenderloin, a chicken piccata, green beans, tri-colored fingerling potatoes and boats of Faucon salads. As far as the cakes went, they offered a variety of flavors that everyone could enjoy — vanilla, chocolate, and the couple’s personal favorite, strawberry. “The guests ate the entire cake,” Molly says with a laugh. “We cut the cake with a 200-year-old sword that had been in my family for generations. Joey loved it!”
Molly’s family made it “snow” under the porte cochère as the couple departed, a dream of Molly’s since she chose her winter date. “It was magical and totally completed the dream winter wedding,” Molly says. Guests cheered as the mint blue Bentley departed through walls of fireworks shooting up from the ground on either side. After the big night, the Violas traveled to Maldives and Doha, Qatar, for a luxe honeymoon. “We stayed in NYC for one night on the way back to celebrate our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple,” Molly says. February will always hold some special memories for this couple.
As a parting thought for future brides, Molly offers this: “At the end of the day, it’s not about the dress or the flowers, it is about celebrating your union with the most important people in your life. Don’t let all the small things or stressors detract from that special moment. Coming back to that throughout the planning process helped keep me calm.”
Thank you, Molly and Joey, for letting us relive this spectacular day with you. And thanks to Kristyn Hogan for the stunning photos.
Ceremony: St. George’s Episcopal Church
Reception: Belle Meade Country Club
Planner: Dori Thornton Waller, The Social Office
Photographer: Kristyn Hogan
Videography: Halfshell Films
Flowers: FLWR Shop
Stationery: The Dotted Line
Hair and makeup: Brady Wardlaw (Bride); One10 Beauty (Bridesmaids)
Bride’s gown: Monique Lhuillier
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Bella Bridesmaids, Alfred Sung
Groom’s attire: Oak Hall (tux); Stitch-It (reception tux jacket)
Groomsmen’s attire: Street Tuxedo
Cakes: Dessert Designs by Leland
Entertainment: The Atlanta Allstars
Rentals: Chattanooga Tent Company, Bright Events, Please Be Seated
Linens: Quest Events, Nüage Designs, La Tavola
Transportation: Nooga Shuttles, FADDS (Trolley)
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