I love when a bride and groom can find a way to honor their cultures and families while working in unique touches to make it their own. Marie and Vipan did just that when they brought their families and friends together to celebrate their love and witness their union at the beautiful Oakleaf Cottage wedding venue.
Oakleaf Cottage is just a few miles outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee, serenely nestled at the foot of Lookout Mountain, GA. Oakleaf is one of the country’s only sustainable, or “green”, wedding venues in the country, as is actually green|light certified by Chattanooga’s green|spaces!
They were actually recently featured as green|spaces’ sustainability spotlight in March 2023, and you can read more about that by clicking here.
Owners Cris and Dave Angsten founded Oakleaf Cottage in 2016 after Cris worked as an interior decorator for years, as is evidenced throughout the property. From organic pavers and walkways and immaculately maintained grounds to the gorgeous renovated barn and high-end interiors of their onsite cottage accommodations, the passion and care of Oakleaf owner’s Cris and Dave is apparent everywhere you look.
You can learn more about Oakleaf’s amazing country property turned wedding venue story by clicking here.
Marie + Vipan’s Wedding Day: Getting Ready
Marie and Vipan started the day off at the cottage, Oakleaf’s onsite accommodations. The space is uniquely its own, drawing from Oakleaf owner Cris’ previous work as an interior designer. Custom murals and unique furniture pieces help to make the Oakleaf Cottage as beautiful and it is inviting, and made for a gorgeous background as Marie and Vipan got ready for their ceremony in separate spaces of the home.
Marie was photo ready as she prepared for her ceremony with her mother and soon-to-be sister-in-law. A custom robe and flowers in her hair made for nice touches as we documented her wedding day preparations with classic “getting ready” photos.
With the gorgeous custom mural acting as a backdrop, we were able to capture a few detail shots of Marie’s wedding dress as well as sweet bridal portraits concluding the bride’s ceremony preparations.
The groom’s sister placed the bride’s bindi on her forehead, in a touching act and cultural extension of the groom’s customs. “Besides popularly being known as the ‘third-eye’ pineal chakra to ward off bad luck, the bindi is also representative of a wedded woman.” SOURCE: bridestoday.in
“The bindi’s purpose is to enhance the powers of this chakra, specifically by facilitating one’s ability to access their inner wisdom or guru, allowing them to see the world and interpret things in a truthful, unbiased manner as well as forsake their ego and rid their false labels.” SOURCE: hinduamerican.org
The bride’s bouquet featured loose florals accented with dahlias, the big, juicy kind that only late-September can offer.
The bride and groom observed the traditional Varmala Ceremony, a customary ritual signifying the start of a Hindu wedding. The bride and groom exchange garlands (or “mala” in Hindu) made of flowers, representing the acceptance and union of their forthcoming nuptials. The ritual ends with each half of the couple wearing one. SOURCE: linandjirsa.com
The groom’s family did a turban wrapping ceremony, while surrounding Vipan in love and celebration. Vipan and his family also enjoyed tea and biscuits, opting to feed each other as a sign of good luck and fortune.
“The safa, or wedding turban, is a piece of cloth that is wound around the groom’s head.” SOURCE: thebigfatindianwedding.com
An Oakleaf Cottage Wedding Ceremony
CEREMONY LOCATION– THE FOREST VIEW
Marie and Vipan opted for the ceremony site located in front of the cottage, the Forest View site, which features a large area covered in twinkle lights, a cobblestoned wall, and thick forest in the background. The ceremony space offered the perfect amount of “woodland vibes” and made for a perfect space for Marie and Vipan’s touching vow ceremony.
The front of the cottage in late-September was adorned with lush ferns, featuring those lush, muted, end-of-summer greens. The couple had a beautiful archway at their ceremony site, and lined the aisle with overlapping Persian rugs, bringing in a warmth and rich colors to the gorgeous forest wedding ceremony.
Marie and Vipan offered guests a welcome drink prior to the ceremony (which is always appreciated) and had a fun and wholly personal Welcome Book alternative, asking those in attendance to sign featured postcards from their travels from around the world.
Award winning harpist Timbre Cierpke performed solo for the ceremony and following cocktail hour, bringing a super cool and unique touch to the event.
Both the bride and groom opted to have both their parents walk them down the aisle to the altar.
The wedding ceremony itself was performed by a close friend, with one person standing at each side of the bride and groom Paired with the harpist music in the background, Marie and Vipan had a beautiful and thoughtful ceremony that was special to them– what’s it’s all about!
Marie and Vipan brought so much energy and personality to their special day, and were such a blast to work with.
Fun Fact: Marie’s mom made her wedding ring– isn’t that incredible!
Flower petal confetti was tossed as the bride and groom made their exit down the aisle, offering a fun, color, and sustainable way to close out the ceremony and bring an energy into the cocktail hour and reception.
Pro Tip: Flower confetti was just as magical in photo as it was practical and eco-conscious, a great opportunity if you’re in the wedding planning stage yourself!
Oakleaf Cottage Wedding Photographer
After Marie and Vipan’s wedding ceremony, we went straight into wedding portraits. The couple had opted to forego a “first look” (which is in-line with traditional wedding customs) so we worked in family portraits just before we branched off with just the bride and groom for some couple shots.
COUPLES WEDDING PORTRAITS
With the guests enjoying cocktail hour, We were able to explore the mountainside and take advantage of the magical setting the Oakleaf Cottage property offers. With the lush greens of the mossy forest floor and the rock formation jutted into the side of Lookout Mountain, we captured the intimacy of Marie and Vipan’s wedding in the private forest setting.
Coming in from the surrounding forest, we were able to take a few photos in front of the repurposed ceremony space, now cleared of all seating. The flower arch at the altar was too pretty to not take full advantage of, and Marie and Vipan’s formal wedding portraits showcase the perfect balance of color and tradition they were able to bring to Oakleaf space.
We’ve captured the dollops of light made available through the sunlight against the trees– so gorgeous.
Marie and Vipan show off their secret handshake for some photos– love it.
The bridge got a cricket in her dress, but played it cool!
Pro Tip: Do not smack the bug if you have a bug go up into the tulle or lace of your dress, or you’ll end up with bug guts everywhere! You want to just lift up that layer and let the bug just fall out.
The sun came out in all her glory, offering the perfect golden bean as a spotlight, and *chef’s kiss* the stuff we live for!
I got to play with the dark lighting, offering some striking harsh light images while the couple was being sweet.
We cut through the cocktail hour to reach the other side of the barn to grab some additional portraits against the rock wall covered in moss, and obviously had to stop for a moment and say hello to the wedding guests!
We went up the hill to a fire pit via a manicured trailhead to take advantage of the cool rock formations, so magical!
Back to the party!
Oakleaf Wedding Reception
THE STABLE BARN
The stable barn offered the perfect space for Marie and Vipan’s wedding reception. Painted white, the stable barn brings lots of windows and large doors to the table, allowing a lot of light to enter the renovated and well-maintained barn. The low rafters offer a great treatment with twinkle lights, and the couple opted to utilize Oakleaf’s add-on service to add locally sourced greenery to the rafters.
WEDDING RECEPTION DETAILS
The wedding reception brought a lot of sweet touches with it, including pressed flowers along the side of the cake and a hand-made cake topper made by the mother-of-the-bride.
Again, flowers were the big decor element, bringing in tons of color to the white wedding space.
Tables were adorned with colorful, vintage glass, cute custom table numbers, and twinkling candles surrounded by glass paired with more loose florals and juicy dahlias as the centerpieces.
The charcuterie board by Olive & Oak Charcuterie took up a whole table and offered a delicious show stopper to guests.
The bride and groom were introduced into the reception and entered behind their sweetheart table, greeting guests and enjoying toasts… and then it was dance time!
Marie and Vipan opted for a traditional first dance, and then opened up the dance floor to friends and family.
The wedding reception overall was super fun and very lively, with flower garlands right above the dance floor, bringing a celebratory flair to the space.
Venue Tip: Because the ceiling of Oakleaf’s Stable Barn is lower, people love to get creative with the low hanging ceiling rafters to make it their own!
Capturing the Dance Party!
To set the tone for Marie & Vipan’s wedding reception and subsequent dance party, consider playing M.M. Keeravaani’s 2023 Oscar winning Best Original Song, “Naatu Naatu” from the film “RRR”.
In addition to the dining and dancing made available in the Stable Barn, the reception area included a fire pit outside and a deck space forestside that featured a vintage couch and rental furniture, offering guests a lot of great spaces to mix and mingle depending on their vibe.
A big Indian wedding tradition is to shower the bride and groom with money, specifically one dollar bills, to bring good luck and fortune to the couple (or to all those being “rained upon” depending on your traditions).
Vipan’s family came in with $1’s and made it rain on the dance floor as the DJ switched things over to traditional Indian music. The dance floor was a total bop.
Once the bubble guns came out, we reached peak party-mode, with guests passing around a traditional Indian stand on their head– full on dance party covered in bubbles and money.
The couple exited through the side-porch through an aisle of applauding wedding guests– the joy and celebration was evident for all who witnessed their union.
Marie and Vipan’s union was one of great love and celebration. They managed a perfect balance of tradition while remaining true to who they were as individuals and as a couple. It was an absolute pleasure to shoot at Oakleaf Cottage, one of the only sustainable wedding venues in the country.
If you’ve got your eye on having an eco-friendly, or forest wedding and you’re on the fence about the venue, Oakleaf’s staff, property, and ethos will ensure your event goes off without a hitch and aligns with your environmental and aesthetic goals.
And hey, if you’re on the lookout for a great Oakleaf Cottage wedding photographer, give me a shout to see if we could be a fit. I’d love to work with you to make sure your wedding day feels as good as it looks in your forever photos.
Oakleaf Cottage Wedding Vendors from Chattanooga, TN
Check out the fabulous Chattanooga vendors that helped make Marie and Vipan’s OakLeaf Cottage wedding such a one-of-a-kind affair:
Venue- Oakleaf Cottage
Planner- Autumn Robinson
Food- Sitar Chattanooga
Servers- Bar Cart
Charcuterie- Olive and Oak Charcuterie
Florals- Southerly Flower Farm
Dress- The English Department, Portland, OR
Hair- Intensity by Patience
Makeup- Intensify by Patience
Harpist- Timbre Cierpke
Cake- Amy Landry, Next Tier Cakes
Event Design- Cris and Autumn at Oakleaf
Rentals- Bar Cart
Bartender – Devonte of Boss Bartender
And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more vendor highlights, wedding inspo, and more!