Real Bride Spotlight: Rachael
Updated: Mar 13
High school sweethearts Rachael and Zach are a true testament to the power of love, commitment, and patience. Read all about their beautiful, fairytale wedding day against a beautiful autumn backdrop in Ranger, Georgia.
Zach and I were first introduced in high school in 2006 by mutual friends. Our best friends were both dating and decided we would be the perfect match so we gave it a try! After spending time getting to know each other, Zach asked me to his senior prom! In the early summer of 2007, we went out on our first date to see Pirates of The Caribbean. The rest of that summer our affection grew and we fell in love. The end of that summer, on August 9th, 2007, we made it “official” – just before Zach left for his freshman year of college at Valdosta State University.
We both still remember the conversation we had before he left about how we felt our relationship was different and seemed to mean more than the causal relationships happening around us. At this point, we had no idea how true that was and how strong our relationship would grow to be. Zach graduated high school a year before me, meaning the first year of our relationship was long-distance. This was hard on both of us, but we always found a way to put our relationship first.
We were both riding the high of new love and Zach travelled four hours nearly every weekend to see me. When I graduated and made my way down to Valdosta, we only had two blissful years living in the same place before he moved back to Atlanta to further his engineering degree at Georgia Tech. The theme of long-distance continued for another three years as I finished at Valdosta State and transferred to Brenau University to pursue my masters degree in Occupational Therapy.
Seven years, several moves, a few diplomas, a couple of careers, and many wonderful memories later, we were finally able to start our lives together - and it was paradise. After a few years of excelling in our careers, traveling together, going to music festivals, and experiencing life in Atlanta with our friends and family, Zach was down on one knee asking if we could spend the rest of our lives together! What we thought was just going to be a high school romance grew into a lifelong partnership and a greater love than we could ever have expected. We are so lucky to have found each other so early in life, and we both look forward to the adventures that await us in the future!
The proposal began when one of my best friends organized what I thought was just going to be a triple date at Park Tavern. As a part of the master plan, Zach parked about half a mile away because there was "no parking" at the restaurant. Without hesitation, I followed along (only thinking of how miserable this walk was going to be in heels...). As we passed the pond in the middle of Piedmont Park, Zach stopped and said he wanted to scope out "fishing spots"(which is not out of character for him in the least). Next thing I know, I heard "ten years", "soul mate", and "love of my life". He was down on one knee...or so everyone tells me.
After coming to from a shock-induced blackout, I realized that my best friend had just asked me to marry him! I turned to find my friend Meredith taking pictures, along with the rest of our friends and family. They released 100 LED balloons into the Atlanta sky and it was like something out of a Disney movie! Zach pulled off one of the most perfect, memorable nights of my life.
Since we are high school sweethearts I wanted the theme of our wedding to be very romantic and fairytale-like. We had lots of greenery, candles, and lanterns, all accented with gold.
My favorite memories from our wedding include, being pronounced husband and wife, the bridesmaids' first look, and seeing all the lanterns light up the night sky (these really symbolized my dream wedding). To top it all off, at one point during the reception two of our friends put Zach and me on their shoulders during "I Want it That Way" by The Backstreet Boys.
As for my wedding dress, I was drawn to all the gowns with "unique backs, and that's what led me to my Hayley Paige Halo Gown. When I put the dress on I felt like a princess and it completely fit the theme of my wedding.
I cannot say enough great things about Wedding Angels! Wedding Angels was the fourth bridal shop I visited and it was such a great experience. Karen was my consultant and she was so fun, helpful, and informative. I loved that you have your own private room to try on gowns for you and your group, and that you're allowed to take pictures! I found that out of six salons I went to, only three of them allowed photos. When trying on so many dresses, it's easy to forget how each one looked. It was so nice to revisit pictures of myself in the dresses when I got home and had ample time to really make a decision.
I truly felt like the staff at Wedding Angels were not just there to sell me a wedding dress, but that they actually did care about what I wanted and shared in the excitement I had when I found my gown! Wedding Angels also offered storage for my dress and pressed it the week before the wedding for no extra charge! I am definitely recommending Wedding Angels to all my future bride friends!
Photography: Chris Hardin Photography Venue: 2400 On The River Dress: Hayley Paige Bridesmaids: AZAZIE Suits: Menguin Tuxedos Officiant: Get Wed by Ed - Wedding Ceremony Officiant Videographer: A Lewis Films Coordination and Florals: Wed 101 Make Up and Hair: Vigilante Cosmetics Bobbie SouphanhCrystal Blackwell DJ: The TC Show