Southern Weddings

Tag: alabama wedding

If I’m not even halfway through a bride’s interview and have already snapped lines of it to the gals in the office with the caption “preach!” it’s safe to say I’m going to love the wedding based purely on the bride’s outlook. But, there is so much more to adore than Caroline’s sweet personality! Caroline and Austin were married on her parents’ 60-acre farm in Alabama surrounded by 450 guests, including a few cows. The couple wanted their guests to feel “true Southern values and hospitality,” so everything about their wedding was filled with sweet sentimental details and personal family touches. In addition to celebrating their marriage at Caroline’s parent’s modern farmhouse, their cakes were made by Austin’s great-aunt and her sister-in-law Abby did all the calligraphy and paper goods. (You might recognize Abby and her lettering from her own wedding to Alex that was featured in Volume 7 and from our Southern Newlywed column. We’re big fans of The Bowlins — and now the Kidds, too — around here!)

Hugs to Lexie Bush for sharing Caroline and Austin’s wedding with us!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Our wedding planning process started very differently than most when I posed the idea of getting married on my parents’ 60-acre cattle farm. My sentimental heart wanted to feel deeply connected to our wedding venue and I knew I wanted to be outdoors. I loved the idea of getting married at my family home, surrounded by the people we love most, within the sweetness of the long acres of land. Sounds easy, right? My brother proposed to his wife underneath a patch of trees in our pasture, and I envisioned our ceremony being in the exact same spot. This task started early in the winter with my up for anything-National Guard-pull up your boot straps Daddy working from daylight to dark, attempting to turn a former dairy barn into his daughter’s Southern/trendy/boho dream reception venue. Living in two different cities, my parents and I communicated via Pinterest and Instagram, constantly sending each other pictures and whimsical ideas that my mother vowed would come to life. The love and dedication my parents put into this wedding is nothing short of the most humbling emotion my heart has ever felt.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Well, every good Southern woman does, right? I will start with borrowed. I have been blessed to live 24 years with two wonderful grandmothers who love me so well. My Bibi insisted that I wear her opal ring that I have admired for years and have struggled to take off since. My something blue was my garter that came handmade by Ms. Bernice, a family friend. It was detailed with a blue ribbon and lace from her wedding dress. The kindest touch, and of course, so sentimental. My something old came from my wedding ring. The two diamonds on the sides are my Mimi’s. Her diamonds are such a special touch to something I will wear everyday. My something new was my BHLDN earrings. I knew I wanted something with a little bling but not too much sass. Ordering online made me a little nervous, but I couldn’t have found a more perfect pair!

When shopping began for my wedding dress, I honestly had no idea what I was looking for. I knew I wanted to feel comfortable and select a gown that I would love for years to come. My taste is simplistic with an artistic spin, and I would live in Free People and Anthropologie at all times if my teacher salary allowed it. I decided to make an appointment at Ivory and White after having jogged past their storefront for years. The minute we walked in, we were greeted by their more than friendly staff and bridal stylists. Sloan chose each dress for me after I described my personal style. I immediately loved my Sarah Seven gown, with its simple lace and romantic detailing. Molly made my gown custom to my taste by taking extra fabric from the bustle and adding a small belt around my waist. I am madly in love with my dress and felt like it matched the entire day perfectly. I highly recommend Ivory and White to every searching bride!

Describe your wedding flowers. Okay, now you’ve got me talking. Never in my wildest, beyond wildest dreams did I believe I would love my flowers the way that I did. I cried when we first met eyes! My florist, Benny Campbell, and I communicated by email multiple times a month, as I would send him countless pictures of bouquets I had fallen in love with in magazines. I wanted full but not too full, pink but not too pink, and eucalyptus but not too much eucalyptus. Every time I would describe this fictional picture to Benny, he would say, “Say no more, I got it.” I am so confident in my florist’s work and how seamless our interactions were. The bouquets perfectly matched the Show Me Your Mumu bridesmaid dresses and tied together my entire vision.

We had no plans of doing a first look when we started wedding planning because of the timeless idea of not seeing each other before the ceremony. Because we had such a large wedding party though, we were advised to have a first look between the two of us for time and sunlight. Austin gave me a necklace with the coordinates of the cross we would be married under during our first look, and my photographers were able to capture moments of true joy and anticipation. Some of the most genuine images from the entire day came from the 15 minutes we shared together. Now, after the wedding has long passed, I highly recommend a first look to all planning couples. You will get beautiful moments shared on camera without the rush of an anticipated reception.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows and we were married by my uncle, who is a Southern Baptist pastor. He means the world to me, and also baptized me as a child, so having him as the minister for our ceremony was very meaningful. My favorite part of our ceremony was walking down the aisle to hear my uncle say, “The groom would like to share a few words.” For the next few minutes, the congregation, as well as myself, listened in awe of a man who humbly realized the meaning of marriage, and felt bold enough to share his convictions. As we exchanged our vows I could not have been prouder to call that same man my husband.

Everything about our wedding was sentimental. There was not one detail that was not thought of by our families and mulled over for weeks at a time. The morning of my wedding, I looked out of the window to see my mom, dad, and countless other family members and friends working on our front yard. It truly took me back to books I have read about the Deep South back in the day. Every person that worked for the “venue” was a family member or friend who dedicated their time to make this wedding special. For the last couple of weeks of planning, I moved back in with my parents, and it could not have been a better decision. My family adopted all of our venders and our wedding planner into the Bowlin family for this sweet season.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. If I could attend a carnival every day of my life, I would. In the short amount of time we have been married, my husband has been fascinated to learn that I consider a bag of M&Ms and a Diet Coke to be a full meal. Our first few months of wedding planning, we had a full dessert menu and had planned to skip the “real food” for the night. After much discussion, the men in my life demanded some kind of sustenance be served for the evening…vibe killers. My cake was a traditional bride’s cake with a twist. Detailing the sides and edges with flowers and a whipped icing technique made it match our eclectic vision for the barn. By request, Austin had a German chocolate cake and coffee cake balls at his groom’s corner. His favorite part was having TNKR labs from Chattanooga there making pourover coffee by request. Austin is a coffee nut to the core, so this was his prized detail to the reception. We also had Frios popsicles that were more of my touch. Who doesn’t love a popsicle on a hot summer night?

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Bless–what wasn’t? I would describe my wedding to others and some would say “Caroline, I had no idea you were so country?” I would stop them and say, “No, no, this isn’t country, this is Southern. There is a very clear difference.” When meeting with my wedding planner, that was my biggest criteria–I wanted people to feel true Southern values and hospitality, minus the “Hoedown Throwdown.” My parents’ home is a modern farmhouse that was built to model the 2012 Southern Living Dream House. My mother is one to attack any antique store at a moment’s notice, and can smell out oil paintings from a mile away, so her home is filled with her findings from over the years. I loved that while getting ready, I was in my own room and my friends were right in the middle of my family’s community. Our home is a true cattle farm, so you never know when you’ll hear a “moooooo” coming up behind you. Some of my favorite pictures are the ones with the cows behind us. Y’all should come on down to Bowlin Farm one afternoon!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Austin and I met in middle school. I am a year and 10 months older than him and noticed his good looks before it was reality TV to be a “Cougar.” Austin has always been adorable, athletic, and smart, even as a 13-year-old. I, on the other hand, rocked braces, glasses, and awkwardness like it was my occupation until maybe…last year. Austin and I continued to go to school together through high school and later to the same college in Birmingham, Alabama. Because we are deeply Southern, even though we barely knew each other, we always exchanged kind “how are yous” when we passed each other on campus. In the spring of my senior year, I was reminded that I had one more sorority formal before I crossed the stage at graduation. One evening, a friend recommended I ask that cute guy from high school. After many typed and re-typed text messages, I finally found the courage to press send, and sighed with relief when he replied, “Absolutely…but don’t wear heels. I’m a shorty.” That evening was the start of a beautiful friendship between us. The following summer, we exchanged books, laughter, and letters while we both traveled to different countries. Austin became my dearest friend, and later my boyfriend, and we were engaged on November 8, 2015.
Tell us all about the proposal! During college, I interned at Big Oak Ranch for Girls, which is a children’s home for girls in Springville, Alabama. It is a beautiful property with so much character, any soul searcher could find a wonderful purpose. My summer there was invaluable in shaping my character and humbling my heart. The week of my engagement, I received a message from their childcare director asking if I would say a few words at their volunteers banquet the following Sunday. I happily agreed and was so excited to show Austin the beautiful property and the heart behind it. That Sunday, we met and traveled to the ranch together. We drove up on the most perfect scene–gorgeous flowers and candles covered the outdoor chapel overlooking the lake. I remember thinking that this would be the most breathtaking banquet. Austin quickly told me that no one else would be coming and that it would be just us. He proposed in the most thoughtful way imaginable. After I said yes, he showed me countless letters from my family and friends, much like the many letters he had written while pursuing me. I have never felt more loved!
When did y’all get married? June 4, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 450
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? I am pretty sure the day we got engaged, my Amazon Prime account was pumped. “The Meaning of Marriage” by Timothy Keller was beneficial to both of us. We shared the same copy, so it was exciting to see which sentences Austin underlined each time I went to read. We also went through the book with our home group from our church. It was three couples–one that had been married for 10 years, one for less than a year, and then us. I grew so much just listening to others talk about their struggles and strengths in marriage. One of our favorite authors, Donald Miller, created “Meaningful Relationships” for engaged couples not living in the same city. It is a series of videos and questions aimed at understanding your partner’s story. It brings up topics you wouldn’t typically discuss in counseling, and we both found it awesome in helping us understand each other better. We would talk for hours after watching the videos!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? The Bowlins are rather social people, so it was amazing to see how others wanted to donate their time and resources. Our wedding cakes were made by Austin’s great-aunt and they were the bomb.com. That was such a wonderful gift to us; the sweetest for sure. My sister-in-law, Abby Bowlin (a former Southern Weddings bride!), did all my calligraphy and invitations, including the most perfect watercolor map, all while expecting her first child. Abby is the truest creative I know and was so gracious to offer her services in exchange for the promise of free babysitting nights. My parents made it clear early on that we wanted to have a nice wedding while still being good stewards of the money we were spending. Many things we would could have hired out for, we just did ourselves. I was hiding paint on my hands during the bridesmaid luncheon!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Value your friendship. At the end of this journey, you two are going to drive away and the wedding will be over. All of the pictures will never be able to capture the story that is happening between the two of you. Communicate openly, and share fears and excitement. Dedicate yourselves to prayer over your marriage, and hold each other to the standard of grace, not perfection. Let the little things like forks slide, and if the napkins don’t have a monogram, ain’t nobody goin’ care (or that’s what I’m telling myself).
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Austin has learned in the first month of marriage some simple life lessons. You must never actually dry your hands on a monogrammed towel, cuteness over functionality, and you must never speak ill of Elle Woods or Rory Gilmore. The boy just didn’t know?! We are having fun trying to establish a routine and YouTubing how to use our kitchen supplies. I am a school counselor finishing up my master’s degree, and Austin works as a youth pastor and plans to start seminary in the next year or two. We are so excited about what life has in store for us, we sometimes squeal about it (okay, right, that’s me).

Photographer: Lexie Bush | Videographer: Channing Brodie | Planner: Shalon Steed | Venue: Private residence | Florist: Benny Campbell | Cake Baker: Jan Gilmer | Caterer: Local Joe’s Catering | Rentals: Top Notch | Band: Brother to Brother | Special Details: TKNL Labs | Paper Products: Abby Bowlin | Bridal Salon: Ivory and White | Bride’s Earrings: BHLDN | Hair Stylist: Brooke Ledbetter | Makeup Artist: Lauren Thomas Findley and Brittany Elkins | Bride’s Shoes: TOMS | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Show Me Your Mumu | Menswear: Belk

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Lauren Paonessa reply

    i am getting married in July and I am looking for a similar style of bridesmaids dresses. Can you tell me what colors these are???

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Although I don’t know Laura and Michael personally, aside from a few emails exchanged, reading their interview made me feel like they were old friends! I loved reading about everything from the dress Laura dreamed of as a little girl (and how her real-life Anne Barge beauty compared!), the meaningful ways they honored Laura’s father’s memory throughout their celebration, their goal of hosting a Southern dinner party-inspired reception in Laura’s childhood backyard, and so much more. As it’s easy to see in these photos by our talented Blue Ribbon Vendor Amy Arrington Photography, everything came together so beautifully for their day, and along with being sweet, prayerful, and intentional, it also looks like it was so much fun!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did! I wore my mom’s pearl earrings and earring jackets that my dad gave her (old). My shoes (new) were a gift from my mom and sisters. But the most special surprise was my dad’s signature, which my mom had stitched in blue onto one of his old shirts and then sewn into my wedding gown (blue, old, and new). I did not put a sixpence into my shoe–it’s hard enough walking in heels without a coin rolling around in there. Something even older than my dad’s signature or my mom’s earrings was the ring bearer’s pillow and the cameo on my bouquet. The pillow was made from my paternal grandmother’s lace wedding gown. All of the cousins who have gotten married in our family so far have had their rings carried on Grammy’s lace pillow. The cameo was hand carved by my maternal great-grandfather. Both my sister and I had the cameo attached to our bouquets on our wedding day.

I was definitely one of those little girls who drew pictures of my future wedding dress with my little sisters. At one point, we even signed a contract (when we were around eight years old) to not steal each other’s ideas! We loved to draw and imagine our “one day as a princess!” My dream dress was a full gown with lace, a giant bow, and a train as long as the church! (Like I said: little girl, big dreams!) My mom and I went to The White Room the week before Christmas. I was in a sea of gorgeous, flowing dresses, some with bows, others with trains. My mom found this layered Anne Barge trunk show dress (with no lace, no bow, and a short train), and I was surprisingly drawn to it! When I tried it on, the dress was absolutely gorgeous! We started playing around with the skirt, and when we pulled the top two layers back, it created a beautiful, ribbon-like peplum (of sorts) at the back of the dress. It was architectural and romantic. I was in love! Carolyn made a delicate, scallop-edged lace top, which was sewn over the bodice of my dress, and she hemmed, stitched, and pinned the back to recreate the ribbon effect. It was perfect in every way!

Describe your wedding flowers. My dad used to grow garden roses for my mom. If I could keep a plant alive, I would grow roses for Dad. Our wedding flowers were the garden I wish I could grow and cultivate and love on every day! When I first met with Carole to pick out our flowers, she let me read through several books she had. I learned about (what seemed like) hundreds of flowers! It was so hard to narrow it down for our wedding. Ultimately, it was the succulents, the garden roses, and the peonies that won my heart. Carole did such an incredible job making every little idea we had come to life. I especially loved how she wrapped the columns of the tent with grapevines to complement the trees surrounding the tent in our yard.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes! With such a late ceremony, we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to capture the day and to preserve the reception for spending time rejoicing with our family and friends!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We both love music, so it was probably one of the hardest things to nail down. We could always think of another song we wanted to add or knew there was one trapped in the back of our minds that we had to remember to play. Ultimately, it took a little pushing from our wedding planner, Emma. For the ceremony, we decided to have a string quartet, as Michael grew up going to the symphony with his family. The soft sound of the strings complimented the pieces in our ceremony beautifully!

Our vows were the most memorable moment of my life. In that moment, I truly did feel everything else melt away around me. It was like everything went quiet, and I could only hear Michael and me making our covenant with God. It is the clearest moment I have ever had. If my memory ever goes, I think even the deep, unknown feeling of this day would make Michael known to me.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I have always wanted to have my wedding reception at home (again, part of the sister wedding pact). It was truly a dream to have it all come together in a place that holds so many beautiful memories, especially of the time Michael and my dad got to know each other in the last few years before he passed away.

One of our favorite things to do together is to share a meal. I love to cook, and Michael loves to eat, so it’s a pretty good combination. Sometimes, it is so hard to slow down life and really take the time to talk to and know the people around you. When I think of the South, I think of taking that time to slow down and to share something that you have (tea, cookies, a meal, etc.) with your guests, while taking a moment to really know them. That’s what we wanted for our reception. We wanted our guests to share a meal together. We set the table like you would when all of your family comes over for Thanksgiving, Easter, or Christmas–you run out of china and silverware, so you mix and match, pull everyone up to your longest farm tables, and lay out a delicious meal (and some yummy Southern cocktails).

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I would say remember to have fun. Your marriage is the beginning of a lifetime with your best friend. The wedding is a celebration of that defining moment where it all begins–a short time to have all of your family and friends together. Do you know how rare that moment will be? Can you think of another time in your life when you will be able to have all of those people you love so dearly together at one time? It is so beautiful. It is a time to be treasured. Don’t cloud the preparation with anxiety. You’ll miss out on a rare moment in your life. Something will always go against the perfect plan you had. Let it go. It’s nothing compared to the joy around you!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Michael and I met in college. It took him a few days to ask me out because he was looking for a girl with the wrong name. Once he got that cleared up, he asked me out. Then, life got real: I studied abroad, he graduated from graduate school, my dad passed away, he moved to Houston for work, I moved to Austin for my Masters…lots of craziness, but love is hard, yet easy. I cannot imagine walking through life with anyone who could love me better or challenge me more.
Tell us all about the proposal! We were in Memphis, Tennessee celebrating Thanksgiving with Michael’s family. All week, we had woken up early to go on jogs before the day got under way. He came in to wake me up on Friday morning and was all excited to run (in the freezing cold weather). We were getting dressed and he tried to pull off shorts and a t-shirt, because he knew we wouldn’t be out there long, but I–the ever weather-wary runner–would not let him leave without some layers. One hooded sweatshirt and some knee high socks later, Michael was ready to go. I sported an old hoodie, which I tied securely around my face with a bow. Michael tried to help me by untying it but I was insistent (for warmth, of course!). So, off we went to jog the green belt. It was ABSOLUTELY gorgeous. Everything a fall day can offer. The leaves literally rustled in the wind and dispersed at our feet as we happily trotted along. About a quarter of a mile into our jog, Michael paused, knelt, and pulled a deep burgundy pocket square out of his shorts (I didn’t even know there were pockets in his shorts!). The whole thing was a blur of joy! Next thing I knew, I am trying to figure out which hand I was supposed to hand over. Michael knew what he was doing, though, and slipped his mother’s engagement ring onto my left hand. When we got home, I discovered his entire family had worked all morning to throw an engagement party for us. To my surprise, when we opened the door, my family was there, too! He had planned ahead with my mother and they drove up from Birmingham early that morning to celebrate with us!
When did y’all get married? June 27, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Michael’s favorite bible verse is Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I struggle to write anything more, because how could I possibly elaborate on something so beautiful and so fierce?
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Cake! Noms! Cake tasting was a day I was so excited for, and it lived up to my expectations!! I just wanted a simple cake with some flowers on top. On the other hand, the groom’s cake was designed to reflect Michael. The oak tree stump was for his childhood dog, Oakley, who was Michael’s “brother” growing up. The bike was a tribute to Michael’s devotion to and completion of Ironman Florida just a few months before our wedding, and the spotted cutie was our pup, Eli.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Aside from the flowers, the rain. Gosh, I just love a summer rain. It cools you off and also kind of makes you just sit and take it in, you know?
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Father Bob was our team coach. We had a huddle. He gave the plan. We walked down the aisle.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Who knows. We are a crazy bunch, Michael, Eli (the pup), and me. We’ll find ourselves on an adventure soon. For now, we are enjoying pulling together our home.
Is there anything you’d like to add that our readers might be interested in? My third cousin, Abbot Richard, performed our nuptial blessing. He is a Norbertine Abbot, O. Praem at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pennsylvania. It was so special having a little bit of the past tying together the present and the future. We are excited to live our marriage as witness to the loving marriages that formed the generations before us and gave us the beautiful and loving families that we grew up with.

Photographer: Amy Arrington | Videographer: Alan Harned | Planner: Mariee Ami | Ceremony Venue: The Cathedral of Saint Paul | Reception Venue: Private residence | Florist: Lagniappe Designs, Inc. | Cake Baker: Barb’s Cakes, LLC | Caterer: Hot and Hot Fish Club | Rentals: Event Rentals Unlimited | Lighting: Design Productions | Band: The Pat Patrick Band | Bride’s Gown: Anne Barge | Bridal Salon and Bride’s Veil: The White Room | Hair and Makeup: Celine Russell | Bride’s Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “In Perpetuity Camisole” and “Anika Tulle Skirt” by BHLDN | Menswear: Mr. Burch Formal Wear | Calligrapher: Jan Pruitt | Ceremony Musicians: Angela Franklin, Bruce Ludwick, Deborah Flax

Amy Arrington is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Matt Selby reply

    What a stunning set of photographs! Love the mono shots, the couple must be thrilled with these :)

  2. avatar Brooke Paris reply

    “Our vows were the most memorable moment of my life. In that moment, I truly did feel everything else melt away around me. It was like everything went quiet, and I could only hear Michael and me making our covenant with God. It is the clearest moment I have ever had. If my memory ever goes, I think even the deep, unknown feeling of this day would make Michael known to me.”

    …Holy WOW. I’m in tears, this is one of the most beautiful descriptions of the wedding ceremony I’ve ever heard.

  3. avatar Mountain Brook, AL Wedding : Laura + Mike reply

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Y’all, I am so excited to share today’s beautiful wedding with you!! As you may remember, Ashlyn was our Southern Bride of the Summer, and she generously shared her super Southern, magnolia-filled, Alabama wedding plans with us a few months ago. We have been waiting on eggshells to see how her and Wes’ day played out, and as you can easily see in their photos by Holland Williams Photography, it was just as lovely as we know Ashlyn hoped it would be. Even more than that, their day was focused on what matters most to them–their faiths, their families, and starting their marriage on the firmest footing possible. Be sure to read Ashlyn’s interview below to learn about the heart and intention she and Wes poured into this sweet day!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I’m a girly girl, but I’ll be honest, the food and band seemed like more fun decisions to plan! The dress was too much pressure. Mama, my sister Kristen, and I made four appointments in Atlanta one Saturday. You think you don’t care until you turn around and see yourself in the mirror in “the one.” Changes everything! I loved my dress–it was all lace and had hook-and-eye buttons down the entire back. I was also staunch on a bow or a sash–funny enough, that pretty shade of ivory on the bow is called “magnolia!”

As soon as we started planning, one of the only things Wes was really vocal on was not seeing me before the ceremony! I loved that. Our photographer, Holland, was so fantastic, it didn’t hinder the day or put a hitch in timing one bit. We prayed together without seeing each other, and then we both got that “church doors swing open” moment. I’ll never forget it!

I saw my florist, Melissa Kendall, write “Southern elegance” on her worksheet–if there was a theme, I told her the theme could be magnolias! Charming and gracious, they’ve always said “home” better than any other flower or tree to me. I love their scent, glamour, and beauty. I even had a blog when I traveled for ADPi called Miss Magnolia! Gardenias weren’t plentiful in August, but loads of other white flowers and roses complemented all the greenery. We also wanted a magnolia-covered cross at the ceremony. My sweet daddy built it, and it was one of my favorite touches! The bridesmaids’ bouquets were wrapped in monogrammed hankies.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I had a running iPhone list for a year of hymns that struck me! I pieced those together for the ceremony. The prelude included “In Christ Alone” and “The Power of the Cross.” My grandfather was a Southern Baptist music minister, and I had the grandfathers be seated to his favorite hymn, “Crown Him with Many Crowns”–he teared up telling me that surprise made him so happy! I gave Wes a couple of options, and after playing it, he said he wanted me to come down the aisle to “Trumpet Voluntary.” We sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness” as a congregation.

I loved the vows we used. They’re updated, traditional, Biblical vows that Pastor David Platt wrote. Many people kindly let us know they really enjoyed that part of the ceremony. We found them in “The Christ Centered Wedding” by Catherine Parks. My favorite line is “I will join with you in the mission God has entrusted to us.” We’re a few short weeks into marriage, and already see how life’s challenges do not stop just because you get your fairy tale wedding, cute little house, and some pretty crystal! We were thrown curveballs early, and partner in encouraging each other to fight the good fight.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? It was fairly easy: First Baptist is the church I grew up in, and my parents are tremendously involved. We wanted a Christ-exalting ceremony, but I don’t necessarily believe that can ONLY happen in a church! I’m just the type of girl who gets rain on her birthday every year, so we needed something indoors. I also wanted to respect my parents and pay homage to nostalgia–I have so many sweet memories in that gorgeous building. It’s a beautiful, old, Southern church. Montgomery Country Club ended up being the winner for a reception. I have a lot of memories from growing up going there–plus, I’m the biggest Zelda Fitzgerald fan you’ll meet. I have about 18 books about the Montgomery girl who won F. Scott Fitzgerald’s heart, and they met at Montgomery Country Club in 1918. Only fitting, right?

With a Montgomery wedding, there isn’t much that won’t end up covered in Southern-ness! I wore pearls, and magnolias were everywhere. Family keepsakes like silver goblets, mint julep cups, and old wedding photos made appearances. My sorority sisters wanted to sing, of course. And then that menu, gracious. We had shrimp and grits, pimento cheese finger sandwiches, fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, and Arnold Palmers–you know, health food. And as an Auburn fan, I had to salute the plains: Momma G’s nachos came out for “late night!”

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Samford University is a small school tucked away in the hills of Birmingham. I was a junior when Wes waltzed in as this cute former-high-school-QB freshman and joined Sigma Chi, which happened to be the guys I hung out with. I confessed my crush to my close friend Ryan, his fraternity brother. Ryan told me he’d “endorse me like Nike” to Wes. Fast forward, and my best friend and I were walking toward Wes and Ryan one day after class. Paths crossed, and there was a brief hi-and-shake-hands moment. We walked off, and Ryan turned around and yelled “Like Nike, Ash!” Embarrassing for me. Fortunately, Wes took it as “game on.” We were fire and dynamite from that time on!
Tell us all about the proposal! Wes wrestled my type-A planner habit away from me by staking claim to a January Saturday as his date to plan. Kindly, he let me make the brunch reservation, so naturally, I still thought I was planning things. What a guy. He picked me up Saturday morning, and we laughed and chatted over coffee, eggs, and gravy-covered biscuits at no. 246 off the Decatur square. Side note–I had the stomach bug the night before, y’all. Poor Wes didn’t sleep a wink as me and my germs almost wrecked his plans! After brunch, he wouldn’t tell me what was next as we drove down Peachtree Street toward Buckhead. ANY notion I had of “maybe this is it” was null and void–surely he wouldn’t ask me since I was sick! Wes’ nerves set in and he got quiet as he pulled over to Duck Pond Park. He led me to a bench and told me he wanted to talk about something important. God washed a peace over us, and we had the sweetest next few moments together worshiping: Wes led us in a time of prayer, and then read from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (chapter 5) about biblical marriage, and said he wanted this with me. Next thing I knew, he was grinning on one knee while–duh–I cried. Wes drove us back to my little Buckhead townhouse, where my three roommates and about 25 friends and family members had the Veuve Clicquot ready to pop! He thought of everything, and having dear ones there to celebrate was so special. Wes is the most thoughtful man I’ve ever met.
When did y’all get married? August 15, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 325
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Everyone knows Peggy McKinney’s desserts in Montgomery. She’s the best! I don’t adore traditional wedding cake, so I opted for strawberry cake with white icing. Wes went with Miss Peggy’s good ol’ chocolate cake! We have a crystal cake stand that was cut around 1890 and belonged to my great-great-grandmother. It’s been used in weddings and at family parties for generations, so it had to make an appearance at ours, too.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Wes and I read through “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller and were counseled through our church. Wes also had us both read Francis Chan’s “You and Me Forever.” I think we stayed the course throughout planning, knowing that the day we woke up after our wedding, THAT was really day one!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My mama was the best, free wedding planner I could have ever “hired.” :) My family did a lot of crafty, DIY things, from baking sugar cookies in the shapes of Alabama and Georgia to asking the Visitor’s Bureau for hotel bag goodies. We opted for the country club as it offered an all-in-one event space–rental fees rack up! Third, I have said it before and I’ll say it again: you CAN spend only $1,000 on a wedding dress and get it ordered during your six-and-a-half month engagement, regardless of what the industry or experts tell you.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I had a “first look” with my daddy, which was really special. I was having a lot of anxiety issues that day, and mama’s two best friends came and put hands on me and prayed over me–that was a precious gift. Other then that, the whole blur of standing in the MCC ballroom right next to my best friend as an endless string of family and friends came to hug us was my favorite memory. They flew in from all over! It’s so humbling to know people love you, but maybe more humbling to see people love on your spouse–it made me fall more in love with Wes to see all his fraternity brothers and family friends drive all the way to my hometown because they love him.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? A HONEYMOON! Halfway through planning, Wes scored a dream job at Delta Air Lines. Tremendous blessing–but training started the Monday after our wedding! Those flight benefits will behoove us well into the future though. ‘Til then, we’re two of a kind working on a full house. I have the handiest husband, and our cute little Decatur home by East Lake Country Club is enjoying its facelift–and Wes is enjoying learning about things like my fall decoration, pumpkin, and mum budget.

Photographer: Holland Williams / Ceremony Venue: First Baptist Church of Montgomery / Reception Venue: Montgomery Country Club / Florist: Melissa Kendall / Cake Baker: Peggy McKinney / Band: Bobby Moore and the Rhythm Aces / Paper Products: Virginia Noblin / Bridal Salon: Bel Fiore / Hair Stylist: Amplify Salon / Makeup Artist: Hope Wallace / Bride’s Shoes: Jack Rogers / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Style 8472 in Navy by Sorella Vita / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse / Getting Ready Venue: PARISH by Ashley Gilbreath

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Caroline Nelson reply

    Can you please tell me where the adorable floral romper she is getting ready in is from? Also, where the cute Alabama cookie with the gorgeous AW monogram welcome tag came from?

    Thank you!
    Caroline

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