Lauren Shuping clearly remembers her mom coming home from a UNC Chapel Hill football game in 2008 raving about a guy she met. He was Chad Flack, a Carolina baseball player, and her mom, along with a friendly team of conspirators, set up a meeting for the two during the halftime of an upcoming football game. Nervous and embarrassed, Lauren walked to the end zone, where Chad was showing baseball recruits around the stadium. They met, and neither could deny the instant sparks. “We went out that night and have been together ever since,” she says. After dating for eight months, the couple vacationed on the beach. Lounging by the hotel pool, Lauren tried to bring up their future together, but Chad got annoyed and brushed her off. Crushed, she spent the evening in a depressed trance, worried their relationship was going nowhere. Later that night, as they sat watching the sunset, Chad pulled a small box out of his pocket. Assuming it was a peace token he picked up from the hotel gift shop, Lauren was shocked to read “Marry Me” engraved on a small, heart-shaped charm. “I said yes, of course!”The couple instantly went to work on their fairy-tale wedding. “We only looked at one location for our wedding,” Lauren says. It was the Biltmore Estate. Captivated by the mountain scenery, the couple was instantly hooked. “This is where I’m getting married!” she exclaimed.A year later, Lauren walked down the aisle at dusk as the string quartet performed modern music with a traditional flair. Her ivory dress from New York Bride & Groom was simple and timeless. “It spoke for itself,” she says. Light sparkled through crystals hanging from the branches of a tree covering the veranda. Woodward & Rick Photographers captured each special detail. “Some of our favorite photos were shots we didn’t even plan, but they just captured,” Lauren says.Despite the beauty of their surroundings, Lauren and Chad were focused only on each other. “He was staring at me, and I was staring at him,” she remembers. “Everything was so beautiful, but I kept my eyes on him.”The newly married couple exited the ceremony through an arch of engraved, wooden baseball bats, held up by honorary groomsmen who had played ball with Chad. “Our exit was magical,” Lauren says. The Southern charm continued into the reception, where the couple offered a coffee bar. “Chad and I love coffee,” Lauren says. “And there was everything to keep everyone awake.” Caramel apples from Asheville awaited each guest. A basket of flip-flops sat in the corner of the dance floor for those with tired feet. There were shoes with feminine and masculine colors, and the men’s flip-flops included a baseball ribbon.Chad and Lauren enjoyed dancing the night away surrounded by family and friends. “Every single person who we love was present,” Lauren says. “Our cheeks hurt, we were smiling so much!”
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Continue reading real wedding stories! Up next: ’A little Southern charm’