Carolina Bride

Inner peace

In the last semester of her first year at Belmont Abbey College, Kelsey McNulty met sophomore Patrick “Patch” Kuhlman in a biology class. As the semester continued, the two were finding any excuse to spend time together, from late-night runs to Waffle House to study groups. Although Kelsey was completely oblivious, her friends started telling her that she and Patch had a thing. “I said, ‘Really? Me?’ And a few days later, he asked me out to dinner.”

The couple officially started dating a month later, and despite Patch’s grueling pre-med schedule and responsibilities as varsity basketball captain, the couple always made time for each other. “He was always such a gentleman,” Kelsey says. “He always made sure to walk me to my dorm room or apartment to say goodnight. I was kind of hesitant to let my heart jump to conclusions, but I was pretty sure this was it.”

After Patch graduated, he and Kelsey began talking about their future more seriously. With her senior year upon her, and Patch headed to Florida State University for medical school, Kelsey began to worry about what that future would hold. Devout Catholics, the couple prayed for guidance, and when Patch returned home for Thanksgiving last year, Kelsey felt a strong sense of inner peace. On a walk around the neighborhood, she told Patch she was finally ready to move forward. “Right then and there, he asked me to marry him!” Kelsey exclaims.

Because they were both students, she hadn’t been expecting a ring, but two weeks later, Patch surprised her in the chapel at Belmont Abbey with a sparkling three-stone ring – to signify God at the center of their relationship. “It caught me by surprise, because he was supposed to be in Florida! I can usually catch on if someone is planning something for me, but I was completely surprised,” says Kelsey.

Although the planning had already begun two weeks earlier, the process was soon kicked into high gear with the help of Kelsey’s sister, who finished planning her own wedding just three years earlier. “It was recent, and I really wanted to use a lot of the same vendors and places as her,” Kelsey explains. She immediately knew she wanted to be married by the abbot of Belmont Abbey and selected Charlotte City Club for the reception after a recommendation from the Mint Museum. “My mom called it ‘the wedding tripod’: Once you have the church, the reception venue, and the officiant, everything else is good.”

On July 16, 2011, Kelsey walked down the aisle in a gown from J. Major’s. The frock was accented by her grandmother’s pearl earrings – also worn by her mother on her wedding day – and a blue set of rosary beads wrapped around her bouquet from The Place for Flowers.

Photographer Nathan Abplanalp captured every moment of the day, including a bagpipe recessional and an Irish dance performed by Kelsey’s former students and friends in honor of Kelsey’s Irish heritage. Of the photography, Kelsey says, “Nathan and his partner, Rachel, were really nice, and they love what they do. They have a very artistic eye that is beautiful and timeless.”

Split Second Sound mixed tracks of pop, alternative and old classics while guests danced and dined on chicken with tarragon sauce, pecan-crusted grouper, and a four-tier almond and buttercream cake by Tizzerts.

Settling into their new life in Florida, Kelsey and Patch are enjoying their first few months of married life. As Kelsey exclaims, “At certain times, it just hits you – Oh my gosh! We’re married!”

Featured vendors:



FlowersThe Place for Flowers


Music/EntertainmentSplit Second Sound


PhotographyNathan Abplanalp Photography


Wedding gownJ Major’s Bridal Boutique


Continue reading real wedding stories! Up next: ’The beauty of friendship’