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Christy Maddox and Rob Haile’s Rustic Chic Wedding at Lake Rabun

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Hannah Graham Photography

Christy Maddox—a fashion industry vet who’s worked at Barneys, Givenchy, and Marni and is now in the process of starting her own fashion and interiors styling firm—and digital advertsing exec Rob Haile had been dating for about a year and a half when she attempted to plan a weekend trip outside of New York City to celebrate his upcoming birthday. Rob had designs of his own though. “He hijacked the trip for the purpose of the proposal,” laughs Christy. “He had a whole plan of a long walk on the beach to the easternmost point of the North Fork, Orient Point, in front of a lighthouse. But when we got to the garage to retrieve his car on Friday afternoon, the battery was dead. After overcoming this snag, we finally got on the road and hit standstill traffic all the way out to Long Island. Rob tried to remain calm, but I could tell something was up . . . .”

Five hours after their intended arrival time, they arrived at their destination, and Rob was still determined to propose that evening—and not on his actual birthday the next day. “He led me over to a little ramshackled fisherman’s dock by the bay as the sun set, and popped the question,” remembers Christy. Afterwards, they celebrated with oysters and rose at the quaint Little Neck Oyster Farm and proceeded to dinner at the North Fork Table and Inn.

Once they returned to the city, they dove headfirst into planning mode. “I grew up going to Lake Rabun with my family, and it is a place extremely close to my heart,” says Christy. “It’s just about an hour and a half from my hometown of Atlanta, and it’s a rustic, yet elegant escape from urban life. The scenery is all pine trees, mountains, and water. Bare feet and bathing suits are the norm, and cool vintage wooden Chris Craft boats are a plenty. The laid-back-chic aesthetic is very much my style, and I always knew I wanted to get married there, it was just a matter of making the stars align to coordinate the many logistics it would take to pull it off.”

Luckily, the Lake Rabun community is really tight knit, and the Maddox’s family friends agreed to loan their houses so the bride and groom’s guests could stay right on the lake. “The location is remote, and there aren’t lots of hotels—so their generosity made everything possible. And, it was so amazing to be able to share such a special place with everyone,” says Christy.

For the fashion forward bride, settling on a dress was far more difficult than selecting the venue. “After countless dress appointments at basically every New York atelier, I still had not found ‘the one,’ “ explains Christy. “Never one to follow the fold, I knew I wanted something different and given the location of the lake, it couldn’t be stuffy, beaded, lacy, or too fancy. Even a traditional white color wasn’t feeling right.”

A family friend finally tipped her off to a small store in Candler Park, Georgia, called Kelly’s Closet. “I was home for the Fourth of July and my birthday, and it was the first time my mom was able to join me for an appointment, so we took the opportunity to visit the boutique,” says Christy. “A trunk show for the indie favorite brand Ivy & Astor just happened to have arrived and the minute I walked in, I saw my dress on a mannequin and knew immediately that I had finally found the one.”

She was confident that she wanted the dress in the print even though it was also available in solid white. “I looked to my mom just for reassurance and confirmation,” says Christy. “She sat back and said with her cute laugh ‘Christy, it’s just so YOU I can’t even believe it.’ The deal was sealed, and how lucky am I to have such a cool mom that knows me so well? It was the best birthday present ever, and I was the first one to order and wear it for the brand so that was fun too.”

Christy also knew from day one that she wanted to wear a flower crown. “A hippie at heart, it was something I had always dreamed of and definitely took into account in my dress search,” she says. “I wanted the crown to be a bit dramatic, ethereal looking, and made of raw elements that paralleled those at the lake.” After a little digging, a friend pointed Christy towards Marie-Laure Coste Dujols of Le Jardin Francais flowers in Atlanta. “I met with her when I was home one weekend, and she showed me a few pics from her portfolio, but they were mostly of little flower girl crowns and they seemed too subtle for me. A few more inspirational images later and something finally clicked. Marie-Laure, said in her fabulous French accent, ‘Ahhh, you must want the same as me on my wedding, let me show to you . . . ’ and pulling out her phone she shared with me her beautiful wedding portrait with the most amazing crown I had ever seen. She also did my fabulous bouquet and boutineers for the boys to match.”

To complement her dress and crown, Christy wore her mother’s simple Tiffany diamond solitaire necklace as her something borrowed and beautiful blue and gold drop earrings from Erica Reade in Atlanta as her something blue. “They have the best home furnishing, but also a little treasure trove of a jewelry case that I have always loved exploring ever since I was a little girl,” Christy explains.

Her something old was a present her in laws gave her at the rehearsal dinner. “They gifted me a beautiful prayer book that has been passed down in their family for many, many years,” says Christy. “It was such a sweet gesture, and I felt so lucky to follow the tradition of carrying it down the aisle on my wedding day. Our dear family friend and amazing interior designer, Carolyn Malone, also gave me her mother’s beautiful embroidered handkerchief with a “H” on it in a nod to my new last name. It was so generous of her and special for me to wrap around my bouquet.”

As for beauty, Christy—like Kate Middleton—did the impossible and applied her own makeup on her wedding day. “I didn’t know quite who to turn to in the rural mountains of Georgia, so I thought I might just take a stab at it rather then end up with frosted blue eyeshadow,” she laughs. “I did a bunch of research on the longest lasting lip stains and how to not look shiny in photographs, and I think it turned out just fine!”

Despite all of the planning, the weather threw the couple a curve ball the weekend of the wedding. “It decided to monsoon. It was particularly intense on Saturday afternoon and evening,” remembers Christy. “The wedding ceremony, originally scheduled to be outside, by the water, near the reception site pavilion, had to be moved into the ‘basement’ of the pavilion. Our family friend and amazing wood-worker, Buz Stone, let us use his handmade arbor and friends gathered that day to help decorate it with fresh local wildflowers and moss. It was flanked by huge boxwoods, and through the open doors, our guests could see the rain falling outside. It certainly had an organic and raw feeling. It was as though we were all tucked into a wooded grotto, huddled together as we waited out the storm.”

Friends, that were supposed to be driven to the ceremony by scenic boat ride, were instead transported by SUVs and vans on windy dirt roads. A few even encountered fallen down trees in the road. Drivers were armed with chainsaws and able to remove the fallen trees and to get guests to the ceremony just in the nick of time! “Needless to say, it was quite an adventure and luckily our wedding was so intimate that only our closest family and friends were in attendance, and they were down for anything—nothing seemed to dampen their spirits,” says Christy. “Also, as soon as they arrived they were handed a bourbon cocktail to warm the chill, which doesn’t hurt either.”

The minister was Rob’s good family friend, Rev. Newcomb, from Savannah. “It was nice to have such a personal connection to the person marrying us,” says Christy. “An acoustic guitar player performed ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love with You’ by Elivs Presley as I walked down the aisle, and my dad actually turned to me and enthusiastically said ‘I LOVE this song!” as soon as he heard it, which was pretty funny and serendipitous. Our two brothers were the ring-bearers, and in lieu of bridesmaids, I had my dear friends do a group reading. It was really special to me, and Rob actually teared up during it which was cute and unexpected.”

The couple sat holding hands on a little bench next to the arbor during the homily. “It was so cool to look out at all our loved ones,” says Christy. “But what I remember the most is Rob’s voice during our vows. After such an emotional day of dealing with the ups and downs of the weather and the stress of making sure everyone arrived safely, he stood up there and in such a strong and confident voice stated his vows to me. It made me remember that nothing mattered except for those words and rain or shine, he was almost shouting them.”

The reception was in a beautiful open-air pavilion made cozy by a roaring fire, twinkly cafe lights, and filled to the brim with local wildflowers. The couple had an amazing florist named Julie Sandman from Moonvine Farmhouse who really rose to the challenges of the weather. A friend volunteered their farm, and Julie went out in her rain boots, shears in hand, and went to town. “I loved the look of wild persimmons and natural crabapples, literally straight from the nearby farm to our tables,” says Christy. They did a mix of long rustic farm tables and round ones and used mismatching vintage china and silver. “I wanted the place settings to feel quirky and imperfect,” says Christy. “All the plates had silver chargers though for some consistency, and we did clean white linen hemstitch napkins.”

For the table card names, the couple wrote out all of special restaurants and bars that have meant something to them and why. “From our first date dive bar (Paddy McGuire’s) to our new favorite neighborhood spot in Cobble Hill (Chez Moi), it was fun to tell the story of each place’s significance and then have each of our friends and families gathered there,” says Christy.

Lee Epting, a caterer based in Athens, Georgia, served a sit down dinner of short ribs with polenta, roasted vegetables, tomato and burrata salad, and cheese biscuits family style, which really went with the vibe of the weekend. “The biscuits are the best you’ve ever had in your life,” exclaims Christy. “I think Rob had 100!” Dessert was a two layer wedding cake—caramel on one layer and vanilla on the other, and they also did pecan and apple pies as the groom’s cake for a fall touch.

As soon as guests took their seats, Christy’s dad gave a great toast. “He talked about how storms are natural, beautiful events in nature and how even if they seem formidable, a rainbow always results and used that as a metaphor for our marriage,” says Christy. Then, Rob took the floor to toast his bride. “Of course, I’m biased, but I think he gave the best toast I’ve ever heard,” says Christy. “He is a great public speaker and gave the most heartfelt, sweetest speech. He shared with everyone what he always says to me that ‘I get more beautiful every day’ which warmed my heart, and he also talked about each one of my family members and their traits and culminated with how, as ‘his hippie bride,’ I was a combination of all of them. The groom’s toast has always been one, if not my favorite, part of weddings, and Rob exceeded my expectations in every way. I gave my phone to my dear friend Natalie during it so she could record it, and I will always have it to listen to over and over again.”

Once guests had finished dinner, the band Total Package took over. “They were great sports about the weather,” says Christy. “And everyone had a blast dancing to all the songs meticulously picked out by Rob, the music freak out of the two of us.”

At the end of the reception the newlyweds exited through a tunnel of sparklers. “We then sat in Rob’s rental truck and had a moment to ourselves, literally crying tears of happiness,” says Christy. Afterwards, they joined friends for pizza and a nightcap at local favorite, Louie’s on the Lake. “That night we stayed at the historic Lake Rabun Hotel and sat out on the porch in rocking chairs recapping everything and listening to the rain on the tin roof.”