The first hints of fall are in the air here in North Carolina, so I’m definitely in the mood for some pretty fall weddings, just like Alyson and Brian’s! Even though their love story started in New York City, it began with a bow tie, which is just about as Southern as it gets. They were married in a gorgeous church ceremony, and then celebrated with Southern foods galore, navy and orange details that are so lovely for fall, and a rather epic last dance of the night! Alyson is a perfect example of a bride who did an amazing job selecting her vendors–planning a wedding from afar is no easy task, as many of y’all know, and Alyson and Brian had to go through Hurricane Sandy on top of that. Despite it all, her enthusiasm for the team she worked with is infectious, and clearly, they did an amazing job!
Hugs to Leigh Webber for sharing Alyson and Brian’s wedding with us!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Brian and I had overlapping circles of friends and ran into one another a few times at a local NYC haunt, where we both had a tendency to spend too much time. One Halloween, we both happened to end up there. I was coming from a charity costume party and Brian from a charity black-tie party. In typical, late-night Brian fashion, he had untied his bow tie and left it hanging around his neck. Like the annoying girl I am, I requested to wear it; I thought it might add a certain flair to my sailor girl Halloween costume. He obliged and tied it around my neck (He maintains to this day that it was the only time he has been able to tie a bow tie on a person facing them–there are a number of wedding pictures of Brian standing behind people tying on their bow ties for them to further prove this point). We chatted all night and then went our separate ways. I awoke the next morning, and found, much to my surprise and embarrassment, that I had made off with the bow tie. Being the modern-day woman I am, I reached out to Brian via a Facebook message to let him know I had the tie safe and sound in my possession. Alternately, being the traditional old soul I also am, I would not give it back without a proper date. He realized this after making multiple attempts to swing by my apartment to pick it up and I just never happened to be there. We met one early November evening at a wonderful wine and pizza bar for the exchange. I brought the bow tie and he bought the wine. The date lasted hours (my best friend thought I was kidnapped) and as they say, the rest was history!
Since we live in New York I knew that if I couldn’t find my dress here, it probably didn’t exist. My mom flew up for a super fun girl’s weekend and we went on a marathon shopping expedition. I tried to be very pragmatic through the process by not obsessing over dresses I saw on other people, in magazines, or online. I knew I just had to wait and see how different styles, shapes and materials looked on me and not rule anything out going in. However, going into it, I announced a slight bias toward dresses that were not strapless. We had such a wonderful weekend; I loved trying on all the different dresses, I could have dragged it out for days. On a visit to Wedding Atelier, I put on an Alvina Valenta that was everything I could have wanted and more. It had a lace-covered top with a one-shoulder tulle overlay—technically not strapless, my one quasi-rule. The skirt had cascading layers of tulle with horsehair trim to give them a bit of body and structure. It was traditional with a twist, just like me! My mom knew it was the one even before I did–I was still obsessing about a dress I tried the day before that just so happened to be strapless. She just looked at me and said, you didn’t want strapless and this dress is just SO you. You know what they say, mom is always right, and I am glad I listened to her and picked the Alvina. I can’t picture myself being married in anything else.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did! My something new was my dress. My something old was a handkerchief hand embroidered by my great grandmother I had wrapped around my bouquet for the ceremony. My something blue was my blue embroidered dress tag with my maiden monogram and our wedding date. And my something borrowed was my best friend and maid of honor’s Kappa Kappa Gamma badge (we pinned it just below the monogrammed dress tag).
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not. I will always remember the homily from our priest though. He flew in from New York and knows us both well, so it was very touching and personal.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had traditional scripture readings from the Old and New Testament.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: My favorite detail was all the paper items. After looking around for what seemed like months for a save the date, I made a terrible little doodle of what I wanted. Katherine then referred me to Sarah of Dodeline Designs. She took this rudimentary and frankly hideous sketch of mine and made us the most charming save the date. I had such a great time collaborating with Sarah for the save the date, we enlisted her to do the remainder of the paper items for the wedding. For the invitations, we got Elizabeth from Hardink Calligraphy (funny side note, we learned that Elizabeth and my mom are neighbors in Nashville during the process) on board to pen some of the wording and address the envelopes. Between the four of us, we came up with the invitation of my dreams. It was traditional, but a tad whimsical (confetti!) and had fun little touches throughout. We then carried the confetti theme from the invitation into the day-of paper by incorporating it into the guest book sign and escort cards. Possibly one of the most unique paper items we had was the gold and ivory paper placemats we used in lieu of chargers/seating cards. They had different patterns and included the guest’s name and a fun conversation starter. Brian’s favorite detail was the outdoor lounge seating arrangements. He had so much fun relaxing (for a very brief moment) with friends, kicking his feet up and enjoying his scotch and cigar in style and comfort. My mother also made all the throw pillows, a few of which we have incorporated into our apartment décor. They are such a fun reminder of the day.
Describe your wedding flowers. Our flowers were amazing, if I may say so myself. As an event planner, I spend a good deal of time every year brainstorming and working with florists on table concepts. God Bless Ann and Katherine, because they were both so patient with my OCD PowerPoint presentation of design direction and inspiration, and together, our collaboration produced the flowers and decor of my dreams. We used navy, ivory and persimmon clothes on the tables with a gold ribbon overlay as the the piece to tie all the tables together. We then had three takes on centerpieces that alternated around the room. It is really hard to pick my favorite, but I really loved the one with the external magnolia leaf wrap, tied with satin ribbon and a bow. All the tables had votive holders with gold details on them. The colors were mostly greens and deep saturated orange (persimmon). My bouquet was pretty simple–ivory flowers with a small amount of greenery. The girls carried flowers in the saturated oranges tones, which popped beautifully against their navy dresses.
The cake, OH the CAKE! There were a few moments in working with Katherine where she would send me a G-Chat that would say, “What do you think about…” and would lay out a scenario or send me a link. My reply was always just a ton of exclamation points; you might say we just got each other. The cake was exactly one of those “what do you think about…” moments. She sent me a link to a cake covered in multi-colored sprinkles and a giant bow. I wished it worked with our color palate, it was so fun. Then she said, “We can do this, hear me out. We will use gold dragees in place of the sprinkles and add a bow or a flower.” Well, I was sold. We then got Molly from d’lish on board to flawlessly make our concept a reality. It not only looked amazing, it was outrageously tasty as well! Aside from cake, we had one other sweet I insisted upon. Brian and my dad love to smoke cigars together, so it was important to them to have a scotch and cigar bar outside during the reception (Brian actually asked my dad for his permission to marry me on a trip to the cigar shop). I therefore thought this entitled me to use a bit of the lawn as well, and The Creek Club was so wonderful to set up a S’MORES bar for me. This was truly the only food I went out of my way to eat the entire night.
“The Shout” was perhaps one of the most epic moments of our entire reception. The song (and dance) is a tradition among Brian’s group of friends, dating back to fraternity parties at Duke. Every wedding or large party/gathering always culminates in a huge dance party and massive 20-plus person “Gator” and our wedding was no exception. The band played it as the last song, so we really ended on a high note. We made sure to warn Leigh what was going to happen, and she got some amazing shots. It was such a riot! I love looking at the reactions of the guests in the pictures who didn’t know what was coming.
Tell us all about the proposal! We moved into our first joint apartment in late May 2011. We had just come home from a friend’s birthday party and I was washing my face getting ready for bed. I heard such a loud commotion in the kitchen and yelled to him to make sure everything was okay. Brian requested I “come here and see,” and as I rounded the corner, he met me on one knee with the most beautiful ring. We then toasted with a spectacular bottle of vintage champagne that Brian had snuck into the wine fridge earlier that day (he had purchased two bottles so we could have another one to toast our next big life occasion). It was so nice to have the sweet, special moment in our new home together. The often untold version of this story is that Brian had a grand plan for our engagement on Saturday, two nights later, and had told all our friends and family about it. He decided on Thursday night that he just couldn’t wait another second and did it right then and there. Lucky for me, all the celebrations went on as planned Saturday night!
When did y’all get married? November 10, 2012
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 130
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We sure did! We knew seeing one another would be a great nerve-calmer. We also wanted to have plenty of time to get all our photos in. Since the wedding ceremony was at 5 p.m. in November, we knew it would be was dark when the ceremony was over. We used the time between first look and the ceremony to walk around Charleston and take a ton of beautiful photos with the wedding party and family. This also got us to the cocktail reception just after our guests, and got all the family and bridal party to the church on time (or early!).
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Since all of our guests were traveling from out of town to be with us in Charleston, we wanted to give them a very authentic Southern dining experience. All the passed options during cocktails were traditional Southern fare; pimento cheese, ham biscuits, oysters, deviled eggs. The dinner also features shrimp and grits as one of the courses!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The biggest general challenge I would say was distance. Being in New York required us to put a ton of faith in our vendors (who were all spectacular and left no reason to worry) and accomplish all the planning in two marathon trips to Charleston. I was so thankful for Katherine; she was really our boots on the ground and always left me feeling like everything was very well taken care of. Our biggest specific challenge was Hurricane Sandy. The storm hit about nine days before we were scheduled to fly to Charleston. We were without power for about five days after the storm. I will never forget having to walk down 30 flights of stairs in our apartment building, getting into a taxi that ultimately picked up two additional random passengers off the street, sitting in traffic for close to an hour to get to Brian’s office, which thankfully had power, to charge our phones and finish/email our seating plan to the venue. I suppose the silver lining of the whole situation was it kept me from stressing about small, silly, last-minute things related to the wedding, because I was more concerned about where I was going to shower and where we could sleep to avoid having to walk back up those 30 flights of stairs to our apartment.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Katherine was truly there with us every step of the way. She was such a huge part of the biggest moment in our lives that I can’t imagine our wedding or lives without her.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Aside from becoming husband and wife, if we MUST pick just one, it would be our first dance. We boogied to “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall and Oates. I think everyone was a little surprised by our choice of song but it really fit our personalities perfectly.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Hire a professional planner! I can’t stress this enough. Wedding planners have wonderful relationships with vendors (that can often save you money), they have shortcuts, they are totally immersed in the wedding world and are up on all the trends, and they have wonderful tricks of the trade. I think almost all the stress and despair people feel planning a wedding could be alleviated with the help of a planner. Knowing that not you, not your mom and not your crazy second cousin who has a tendency to drink too many jack and cokes is in charge and handling every little detail is a huge relief. The vendors call the planner when something is wrong, not you. They keep things on time. Things just seeming to magically happen and unfold without you even having to think twice or worry is a wonderful gift. Wedding planners are truly worth their weight in gold!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Our plan is to continue to build our lives and careers here in New York, and we are looking forward to taking on a few hobbies now that we have some free time!
Photographer: Leigh Webber | Videographer: Siegel Films | Planner: Katherine Miller Events, now with Yoj Events | Ceremony Venue: St. Mary of the Annunciation | Reception Venue and Caterer: Creek Club at I’on | Florist: Charleston Stems | Cake Baker: d’lish desserts | Rentals: BBJ Linens and La Travola | Lounge Seating: Event DRS | Band: Momentum | Bride’s Gown: Alvena Valenta | Paper Products: Dodeline Designs | Calligraphy: Hardkin Calligraphy | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Blushing Brides | Bride’s Shoes: Butter Bridal | Men’s Bow Ties: Collared Greens | Transportation: Trolley and Limos for Less