Laura Morris and Ryan Schmidt met during high school, in Asheville, where they were born and raised. The couple worked hard to keep their romantic relationship strong during their college years, despite attending college in different cities, and sometimes different countries. Ryan studied in Prague for a semester while at N.C. State University. Laura majored in psychology and attended school at Appalachian State, N.C. State and UNC Charlotte. The couple live in Charlotte, where Laura is a child and family therapist, and her husband is an architect.
In 2016, Ryan planned to propose to Laura by inviting her to take a hike at Maxpatch Mountain on the Appalachian Trail, under the guise of taking photos for Mother’s Day presents.
Laura says that Ryan is the adventurous one, while she is more relaxed. He suggested the outing the evening before, and Laura wasn’t very interested in going. Once they were on the hike, surrounded by the scenic mountains, Laura apologized to Ryan for being rude the night before, and told him that she realized what a blessing it was to have him in her life. That apology was the prelude to Ryan’s proposal. The diamond in the engagement ring came from Ryan’s great-grandmother's ring. A wedding date of Oct. 7, 2017, was set.
The wedding dress was an easy choice, Laura says. Wedding Inspirations, the Asheville boutique where she shopped, is in a building that was once a church. “That makes it even more fun to try out your perfect dress,” she says.
Despite the buttons up the back and the abundant lace, her dress has a modern style with feminine flair.
“It was the first one I tried on. I absolutely fell in love with it. It's an Essence of Australia gown that seemed to match everything I wanted,” Laura says. The excitement was contagious. “My dad posted a picture of me in my dress on Facebook before I even bought it.”
Both Ryan and Laura focused on things that mattered most when planning their wedding. “For instance, I do calligraphy, and I put my energy into that,” she says. “I encouraged him to pick something he was passionate about. For him, the atmosphere of the reception was important, and he focused on the details to make the reception relaxed and free-flowing. We love concerts and we love to dance, and that was an important part of the reception.” Ryan loves ice cream, so the reception had cake and ice cream.
Laura admits that the photography stretched the wedding budget, but the cost was justified.
“I wanted a candid, journalistic style,” Laura says. “The black-and-white photos are some of my favorites.”
The wedding site, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, has special meaning for Laura.
“We said our vows in the small church I was raised in by my late grandparents,” Laura says. “The fall air was crisp on that day. It reminded us of our high-school football games.”
Many of the guests traveled a long distance to attend the wedding, including Ryan’s sister, who lives in China.
One of the reasons the couple chose the Lake Eden property was for the mountain scenery. The reception started outside, with lawn games and music for guests. The couple’s love of the outdoors is evident. “I love plants,” Laura says. “For my bridal shower, everyone brought plants.” The couple made a picturesque entrance to the reception by crossing an arched bridge, as guests waved pom-pom streamers of blue and gold, a nod to Laura’s many years of cheerleading as a student. Afterward, they all enjoyed dinner and dancing under a white tent illuminated by tiny lights.
Part of the enjoyment of the evening is that many of the guests stayed overnight at Lake Eden. The bride and groom also stayed in a cabin the first night, then spent their second night at the Grove Park Inn. Before they left for their honeymoon in Costa Rica, the couple returned to Lake Eden to plant a Japanese maple.
“We hope to go back and visit each year to see how it’s changed,” Laura says.
Flowers: Meriwether Gardens (Zirconia)
Photography: Livelight Photography, Nicki and Brian Rohloff (Charlotte)
Catering: Black-Eyed Susan Catering (Black Mountain)
Cake: Black Mountain Bakery (Black Mountain)
Wedding Dress: Wedding Inspirations, Asheville
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Azazie.com
Suit for Groom: Custom from Men’s Wearhouse
Suits for Groomsmen: Blacktux.com
Wedding Music: Sound Extreme
Hair and Makeup: Christina Robinson and Britt Sharenow
Transportation: Emma Bus Line
Invitations: Calligraphy and design by bride, printed through Snapfish