Hello there, readers! June’s Southern Bride of the Month has a plethora of fabulous details to share with you, so let’s get right down to it, shall we? Make sure you read Alison + Cal’s engagement story, too — it’s a long one, but super sweet!
Hi! What’s your name?
And who’s your handsome fiancé?
Cal Oxford II
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
Cal and I first met while working for the same company a few years ago. He and I worked in a close-knit office and were involved in a few clients together. Honestly, I thought that he was just too good to be true, so I was a bit hesitant at first! Cal has the biggest heart and completely perfect manners. He is the definition of a true Southern gentleman, which has become so rare!
Now tell us alllll about the proposal.
It was such a surprise! I knew that it was coming at some point, but I did not expect it at all when it happened! Cal’s grandmother was celebrating her birthday and wanted more than anything to travel with the family to Nashville and see a show at the Grand Ole Opry. Now, being from Tennessee and loving Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry, this was right up my alley! We had spent a weekend in Nashville a few months earlier and completely fell in love with The Patterson House, a fabulous place for cocktails, and decided that we would see a show at the Opry and afterwards go to The Patterson House for drinks as a family. It was all set and I was so happy to be a part of the birthday weekend!
Little did I know that Cal and his amazing sisters had been working overtime all week to set up the perfect proposal! Cal called The Patterson House a week earlier to tell them his plan and ask for their help. After he finished, the woman on the phone laughed at him and asked if he realized how busy the weekend is for them – he was crushed! But before he could hang up, she stopped him and said that she thought it was really sweet and that they would be on board. That started the ball rolling. During the show at the Opry, I noticed that Cal’s family was very quiet and I just assumed it was because they weren’t big fans of country music. Regardless, I was tapping my toes and having a great time! We left and I could not understand why everyone was hightailing it out of the building! They told me that we had a reservation and that we were going to be late. Little did I know that The Patterson House does not take reservations…except for this special situation.
Once we arrived, Cal’s sister nearly broke her neck trying to jump out of the car so fast, and I took off running after her. She hadn’t been there before, and I thought that she might need some help! She was actually trying to lose me so she could get inside and make sure that everything was set up correctly and that a special, select menu was handed to me. I later learned that Cal’s oldest sister worked with The Patterson House to create a special insert that would be placed in the middle of one menu…my menu. Well, of course I caught up to Cal’s sister and luckily was handed “my” menu. I start flipping through while the rest of the family was still settling in and Cal had not even sat down yet. I did not understand why he was still standing by the side of the table – I was ready to get the party started! Before I knew it, I had completely flipped right past the special insert and started talking about some drinks near the back of the menu! Unbeknownst to me, everyone was on the edge of their seats and Cal’s sister asked me to flip back to the middle of the menu. It was then that I saw it: “Featured Cocktail… Alison, Will You Marry Me?” I threw the menu down and covered my face in complete shock! I peeled my fingers away from one eye and saw Cal down on one knee with tears in his eyes and a beautiful emerald ring. Of course I said yes, and there was not a dry eye at the table! Family is so important to both of us, and having Cal’s family with us for such a special moment was just wonderful! His grandmother had a super fun birthday and we had an amazing weekend!
When’s the big day?
We are getting married on September 10th, 2011. There were a few options for catchy wedding dates this year and 09.10.11 was our choice!
Where might you two be tying the knot?
We will be having both the ceremony and reception outside at Cal’s childhood home. We wanted to be somewhere that felt real to us, and nothing feels more real than home.
Who or what has been most inspiring in the wedding planning process?
Two items have provided inspiration from the very beginning of planning the wedding: cotton bolls and the altar that Cal is building. Those two items were decided on first and have been a consistent theme throughout.
Cotton inspiration images from Jasmine Star
Who or what has been most helpful in the wedding planning process?
Our families! We are all very hands on and everyone has been so wonderful to help with ideas and projects. We absolutely could not have done this without the support of our families!
Has your vision for your wedding changed or evolved over the course of your engagement? If so, how?
The suffocating Georgia heat has changed our vision just a bit! Originally, we wanted to have an uncovered reception with lovely strung lights and hanging Mason jar lanterns, but decided very quickly that we just can’t do that to our guests in early September! A tented reception with lots of fans is what we have planned now. Although, I secretly wish every day that a cold front will come through that weekend and that we will be able to cancel the tent…shhhhh!
Which part of your wedding are you most invested in?
Definitely the food and drink! Cal and I are complete foodies and want our guests to enjoy delicious Southern staples like shrimp and grits and ham biscuits from Gayla Grubbs at Mill Towne Gourmet, classic Southern desserts with a twist like mini peach pies and red velvet cake balls from Lauren Chekanow at Sugar Style Events and creative cocktails including the “Tennessee Tickler” made from Ole Smoky Moonshine! Although the wedding will be in Georgia, there will definitely be a Tennessee presence!
Cheese straws and ham biscuits! (Biscuit photo courtesy of Southern Living)
Have you picked your dress yet? How’d that go?
I was so focused on other details that I waited until the very last minute to go dress shopping! I was so lucky to have one of my best friends with me and she ended up being more help than I ever could have imagined. I had a very good idea about the type of dress I wanted, but once I was trying them on I was completely overwhelmed. In addition, I was running a fever and didn’t even realize it! With the no-nonsense, tough decision making ability of my sweet friend, we were able to decide on the all Spanish lace La Sposa Lituania and I could not be happier!
Alison’s Lilly Pulitzer rehearsal dress and gorgeous emerald engagement ring!
Who is your favorite vendor you’ve booked so far?
I love all of my vendors! They have all truly been wonderful to work with! We are completely anchored by the expertise and guidance of our planner, Ashley Baber. That woman never sleeps! We feel so secure knowing that she is behind everything. In addition to our food and dessert gurus, Jessica with Something Borrowed Vintage Rentals is providing us with the most amazing church pews and other beautiful vintage items, Blake and Jeff with Peachtree Tents and Events are providing the tent and rentals that we need, Anna from Anna and Spencer Photography is our photographer, Tortoise and Hair are performing a few very special songs during the ceremony and family friends The Party Time Band, will be getting everyone moving on the dance floor all night long!
Vintage church pew inspiration from The Found Blog
Do you have a favorite Etsy store you’d love to tell us about?
Etsy has become a new addiction! It was such a pleasure to work with Rachel from Benign Objects on our custom wedding invitations. They turned out beautiful and Rachel was just wonderful!
Custom pieces from Benign Objects. Fun fact: Rachel’s wedding was featured in V3!
What has been the best part of wedding planning? The worst part?
The best part of planning the wedding has been the time Cal and I have spent laughing together while working on projects (although, I know that sometimes we were delirious!) and high-fiving each other when we come up with new and even better ideas. The worst part has been staying focused on completing tasks when we really just want to lie by the pool! That has been so tricky lately!
What has been the biggest challenge so far in wedding planning?
Having a full time career! Working while planning a wedding is exhausting! Time management and updated to-do lists are crucial and even then you are mentally drained. Just last night, I wasn’t sure what was fueling the words that were coming out of my mouth. Honest to goodness, what energy was left to put those sentences together that I was speaking?! Beyond working, creating our save the dates was quite a challenge. We cut wood from the yard where the ceremony and reception will be held and had to trim that wood down to equal sized rounds. Needless to say there were numerous trips to the local home improvement store and many late nights cutting and sanding the rounds and finding the perfect box for them to be mailed. We were never sure that the save the dates would work out, but we were determined!
Milk glass inspiration and Alison + Cal’s handmade save the dates!
What are you most looking forward to on your wedding day?
There is so much I am looking forward to! I am most looking forward to seeing Cal’s face when I walk down the aisle. I get chills just thinking about it! My mother is my best friend and matron of honor and Cal’s father is his best man, so having them there beside us will be a special moment that we will never forget. We are also very excited to dance the night away with our family and best friends and to send them off with homemade peach jam and beer and cider brewed by Cal and me!
Any advice you’d like to pass along to fellow brides?
Start early and plan very little the week of the wedding. Things change and your vision evolves throughout the process, therefore you are always adding more to the list. The more you get done upfront, the more time you have to lie by the pool!
Now it’s your turn to ask for advice – is there anything you’d like to poll the SW readers on?
We cannot decide on a first dance song! Are there any suggestions that would fit with a Southern, vintage wedding?
Thank you so much for playing along, Alison! Readers, if you’d like to apply to be a Southern Bride of the Month, check out this post for all the details! If you’ve already emailed me, you’re still in the running for future months!
The Southern Bride of the Month header was designed by our Assistant Art Director Sierra, with illustration by Curious & Company!