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Much like Jay Gatsby, Southerners know how to throw a great party, and for Allison and Christopher, those two worlds collided at their Alabama wedding! Inspired by the recently restored Florentine Building in Birmingham, they decided that a chic celebration inspired by the 1920s was the perfect fit for both their venue and their personalities. Allison and her mother did all of the planning and design themselves, and with the addition of some stunning jewel-toned blooms courtesy of Jackie Johns Florals, it all came together in a completely memorable way that was everything Allison and Christopher had dreamed of!

Thanks so much to Alisha Crossley for sharing this fun wedding with us!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. When I was a sophomore at the University of Alabama, I took a biology class with four of my pledge sisters. For the lab portion of the class, we were told to get into groups of six, and we needed one more lucky person to come join us. Fortunately, one of the girls knew a guy in our lab through mutual friends, so Chris and I became lab partners. He will tell you that he strongly disliked me and my friends at first (we are a handful at times), but as the semester went on, we traded numbers for homework assignments and study sessions. That Christmas, we never stopped texting and calling each other while we were on break. When we got back to school in January, we began spending most days together, and by summer when I left to study abroad in Italy for six weeks, we both knew that you don’t miss someone that much that you don’t love! Now, after four years together, living miles apart in the middle of it all, we still miss each other when we are apart for too long!

I knew I wanted a Jenny Packham dress the day we decided to have a Gatsby-themed wedding. Her designs are like no other, and I have always loved how detailed and different her dresses are. As a designer myself, I had half a mind to make my own dress, but I knew that what I wanted couldn’t be achieved within the timeframe alone, and Jenny Packham would be the only one to top anything I could attempt to make myself! I tried on a few in Atlanta, and then went to Carriage House Weddings in Birmingham. I knew that the Esme dress was me, Gatsby, and over-the-top, all rolled into one!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? People always say to treasure every moment on your wedding day because it will fly by, and boy, were they right! But one moment that I will always remember is when Chris and I first saw each other that day. It was such a rush of emotions! I was beyond excited, so giddy, so blessed, and so happy!! I will forever be grateful that we had those moments together to really treasure each other and take in the fact that we were getting married!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. One song that I especially loved was my processional song, “Musetta’s Waltz” by Puccini. When deciding on what we wanted our harpist and violinist to play, I knew I didn’t want something totally traditional. I loved how dramatic this song was, and it definitely made me so excited to be walking down the aisle. I knew it was the one when my mother immediately started crying when she heard it, and said, “It’s you!”

The Florentine Building is a hidden gem in downtown Birmingham that was recently renovated to its original state of a 1920’s ballroom. When my mother and I first saw The Florentine, it was still in its rough state, so before we walked in, we were told to have “vision” to see what it could be, and what it once was. As soon as we managed our way up the stairs, that were still covered in rubble, our jaws hit the floor. We definitely have more vision than most, and immediately knew what a diamond in the rough this place was! It couldn’t have been a more perfect place for us to get married, and party the night away with all of our favorite people!

Describe your wedding flowers. For our florals, I wanted to capture the elegance and drama of the 20s with deep jewel tones. I wanted everything to be very lush and full, with rich ruby and emeralds being the main colors of the florals, but mixing in the right balance of lighter tones as well. I also wanted candles everywhere, so we had tall gold candelabras overflowing with the beautiful flowers and greenery. Jackie Johns couldn’t have done a better job!

We decided to do a single cake and a dessert bar for our wedding, and I knew our cake had to be red velvet to match our colors! We ended up doing a split cake with vanilla and red velvet within each layer. The shape of the cake is what really made it unique. The dance floor of the Florentine is its original hardwood, and is in the shape of an octagon that gets smaller toward the middle of the floor. I knew that mimicking that shape with the cake would be a great touch, and it gave the cake an elegant, art deco feel.

Don’t miss Allison and Chris’s highlights film by The Film Poets!

Tell us all about the proposal! I was in Birmingham and he was in Raleigh when my mom’s yearly business trip was set arranged in Kauai, Hawaii in March 2014. Chris and I were determined to go! Everyone and their brother predicted that he would propose to me while we were there, but I was convinced that he wouldn’t! I knew he was trying to get a new job in Atlanta and a new car, so the math just didn’t add up! After a few missed attempts at finding the “perfect” spot, Chris decided that he would coax me up a cliff overlooking the beach at our resort. I, of course, had to make things difficult. We were headed out to a welcome dinner for my mom’s conference when Chris asked me if I wanted to go on a walk to the cliff to see if we could see the famous “green flash” of the Hawaiian sunset. I said I wasn’t climbing anything in a dress and heels! They eventually did get me down to the beach to take a few photos before the dinner started, and after more stubbornness (and blissful unaware-ness) from me, I finally get a stern “Go on a walk with me!” from Chris, and I started to suspect something was going on! I immediately started tearing up.. go figure. I left my heels with my mother and we climbed our way up the mountain to get to the cliff overlooking the ocean and the beach. (and let me tell you, I wasn’t wrong about being in a dress and climbing…). Once we made it close enough to the edge, Chris got down on one knee, and said “As stubborn as you are, I still want to spend the rest of my life with you.” I cried and said yes!
When did y’all get married? January 24, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? I have to thank my mother for my crafting gene, because the little things definitely add up! I have a Silhouette Cameo machine and was able to use that for so much! I made wine bottle labels, goody bag labels, monograms, Birmingham books, door hangers, and much more with that thing!! I always tell my friends who want to get into the crafting world that patience is key, and YouTube is always helpful for things you’ve never done before!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t sweat the small stuff! I promise that the most important thing about your wedding is your marriage.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are definitely focused on each other! We are just taking life day by day and enjoying every moment. We don’t want to take anything for granted, so we are just living life, being happy!

Photographer: Alisha Crossley / Videographer: The Film Poets / Venue: The Florentine Building / Florist: Jackie Johns Florals / Wedding Cake: Sweet Magnolia / Dessert Bar: Corretti Catering and Magic City Macarons / Caterer: Corretti Catering / Music: The Brandy Brothers / Paper Products: Amberly Shelton Paperie / Bride’s Gown: Jenny Packham / Bridal Salon: Carriage House Weddings / Hair Stylist: James Thomas of Tonya Jones Salon / Makeup Artist: Tasha Thomas / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Jenny Yoo / Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids Birmingham / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse / Transportation: Coats Classic Cars

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    SUCH a perfect gown choice for this wedding! And I love those groomsmen gifts!

  2. avatar Loverly reply

    We are in love with this bride’s gorgeous Gatsby gown! The beading is to die for.

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Wow! They really pulled it off! Awesome theme!

  4. avatar 20 Gatsby Glam Wedding Dresses | SouthBound Bride reply

    […] 1- Hunter Leone/Galina Signature via Green Wedding Shoes; 2- Alisha Crossley/Jenny Packham via Southern Weddings; 3- Paige Jones/Bash, Please/Jenny Packham via Green Wedding Shoes; 4- Anna Smith Photography/Chic […]

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Oh, New Orleans. If I had to pick one place in the South to attend a wedding in, it would be this romantic, historic city in Louisiana, and Nolan and Steve’s secret garden-esque wedding is only making that desire stronger! The New Orleans Botanical Garden was the perfect place for our Blue Ribbon Vendor, Elyse of Tying the Knot, to bring Nolan and Steve’s vintage, organically glamorous vision to life. Emily and I are headed to Bridal Market this week, and I must say, Nolan’s striking Claire Pettibone dress has me more excited than ever!

Thank you kindly to Ashleigh Jayne for sharing this lovely day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I knew I wanted something off-white or gold, and I wanted it to scream vintage and delicate. I had done a lot of research, so I knew Claire Pettibone was my best bet. As soon as I put my dress on, I knew it was the one. Luckily, Claire was visiting from California and she worked with me to ensure that the dress would fit my petite frame perfectly. Her meticulous attention to detail and that lace truly set the tone for the wedding. I see my dress as a piece of art. It is currently on a vintage form in our house so I can see it every day!

Describe your wedding flowers. Kim Starr Wise and her team added our pop of color. My florals included camellia foliage (my ode to the South), olive branches (to symbolize peace), peonies, ranunculus, dahlias, and green amaranthus. Kim also created this amazing garland that draped the large tree at our ceremony to create an ethereal effect. It was gorgeous!! She also created several organic wreaths that lined the aisle and were repurposed on the reception walls.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes! Steve and I have so many mutual friends and we are so close to each other’s families, so we wanted to get pictures out of the way so we could spend time with them. I was most looking forward to the cocktail hour because it was around a koi pond with string lights at dusk, and I didn’t want to miss that! It was so lovely to see each other prior to the ceremony.

Instead of writing our own vows, we are going to say vows at a personal ceremony on our first anniversary. I think a lot of growth occurs in the first year of marriage, and it is important to look back over the year and see how you can improve, communicate more effectively, and grow as an individual to better your marriage. One thing we changed in our ceremony was the wording at the end of our ceremony from, “You can now kiss the bride” to “You can now kiss the love of your life,” to make it less traditional and more about the union between the two of us.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? New Orleans is the perfect place to represent the South’s diverse culture and our delicious cuisine. The soundtrack of our souls fill the cobblestone streets and the old oaks covered in Spanish moss paint every background. The French aura, old architecture, and richness are the definition of romantic. My husband and I don’t plan on moving down South anytime soon, so I knew this was my one chance to show our friends and family where I come from. We wanted an ethereal, natural setting that complimented our vintage glam theme, and we could not have found a better venue than the New Orleans Botanical Gardens situated in the heart of City Park. We wanted it to feel like a secret garden wedding, where people could roam the gardens into the dark hours and enjoy the scenery beyond the wild dance floor. The Botanical Gardens were the perfect backdrop to our day of love.

I worked with an outstanding team of vendors, and of course, my wedding planner, Elyse, was our glue. My vision changed several times, but I always stuck to my core: it had to be vintage, feel organically glamorous, be in a garden, integrate the oaks, and have epic music. Like most things in my life, I wanted to create an imperfect medley of the old and the new. I randomly found Steve’s lion cufflinks at a flea market, ordered vintage stamps that illustrated the states we have lived in, wore my great grandmother’s ring as my “something blue,” and found wedding photos from the 1800’s to add rich history to our tables.

Our first dance was “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison, as it depicts the journey that marriage truly is. Music is life’s soundtrack, so we also made an album that our guests can listen to forever.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Over ten years ago, I dug up my firmly planted Southern roots and ventured out west to Colorado. In exchange for the hundred-year-old oaks, I was surrounded by rugged Rocky Mountains and narrow aspens that rained gold in autumn. Looking back on it now, I’d say giving up that sweet tea was worth it because I found the one soul that makes mine complete. Steve and I met during the first week of college, and it was not love at first sight. I was straight out of LA, “Lower Alabama,” and he was a too-cool-for-school Southern Californian. As a petite lil’ lady, I saw him and immediately jumped into his lap for a bear hug. Not. So. Fast. He had boundaries and I crossed them. It took many months for our friendship to blossom and we did not start dating until two years into college. I told him I’d marry him after the seven-year itch and we got married a month shy of our eight-year anniversary.
Tell us all about the proposal! We went to college together in Boulder, Colorado. We didn’t hike often, but when we did go, we always went on one particular trail. After college, we moved to San Diego and then relocated to Denver. One Saturday morning, Steve planned a hike to go on “our” mountain, and we packed a bottle of wine and cheese, remembering that it as a long, hard hike. It only took us 30 minutes! We were at the top of the mountain in no time, and I wasn’t about to start drinking at 10 A.M., so we each had our coconut water instead. He had me pour it into a dixie cup (which was odd) and then we said a toast. We toast with something we’re grateful for for every drink or meal, so this wasn’t unusual, but then he went pale. I asked him if he was okay and stepped away to look at the view of Boulder. Seconds later, he came up behind me and presented the ring. Of course, when he asked, I said yes!
When did y’all get married? April 12, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I had the bridal party walk down the aisle to Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” I think this song is one of the most beautiful songs ever written, and it is also so meaningful–our entire wedding party consisted of mutual friends who have been with me and Steve since day one. I approached my soon-to-be husband to “Fools Rush In” with the irony that it took us eight years to tie the knot.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Cheryl at Bittersweet Confectioners made the most delicious and gorgeous cake a bride could ask for. I wanted a simple, textured, tiered cake so that when we added florals, they would pop! It was the best cake I’ve ever had!! I ate it for days following the wedding.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? My biggest advice is to plan ahead and find help. So many decisions can get overwhelming and it’s great to have various perspectives. Take it day by day, and don’t get bogged down in the details. People appreciate details, but they don’t pay nearly as much attention to them as you do.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We bought a home! We are looking forward to some down time this winter, to cooking, to spending time together without the wedding planning stress, and to our honeymoon in Japan next fall.

Photographer: Ashleigh Jayne / Videographer: Bride Film and Street Car Films / Planner: Elyse Skansi of Tying the Knot / Venue and Catering: New Orleans Botanical Gardens / Florist: Kim Starr Wise / Cake Baker: Bittersweet Confections / Rentals and Lighting: Event Rentals / DJ: Larry DeWitt Music Source / Ceremony Music: Harry @ New Orleans Classical and Jazz / Paper Products: Paper Source / Bride’s Gown: “Eloquence” by Claire Pettibone / Bridal Salon: Little White Dress / Bride’s Jewelry: Nordstrom / Hair and Makeup: Kiss and Makeup / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Men’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Transportation: Alert Transportation

Tying the Knots is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Emily reply

    What a stunning gown!! I love it paired with the bridesmaid dresses!

  2. avatar Dana reply

    the back of her dress is so gorgeous! so are the flowers!

  3. avatar Robyn Van Dyke reply

    Oh that DRESS!!! *swoon*

  4. avatar Valerie reply

    Wow, simply gorgeous! Her gown is incredible.

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The Atlanta skyline is an amazing one, so I was not surprised at all to hear that when Abby and Matt first saw Ventanas, they knew they had found the venue for their future wedding, even before they were engaged! With the help of Park Avenue Events, they planned a chic rooftop ceremony and reception, being sure to incorporate nods to both of their hometowns and their families. They weren’t afraid to break from tradition when it came to things like song choices and cake flavors, and as a result, every detail of their wedding rang true to their personalities and style!

Thanks to Our Labor of Love for sharing Abby and Matt’s wedding with us, and getting our week started on such a lovely note!

My bouquet was a mix of blush and black anemones, roses, and gardenias. I wanted to keep it simple and elegant, with a little touch of my Southern roots. My grandma and godmother also started collecting new and antique brooches (which they presented to me at different showers over the year we were engaged) to add to the bouquet later. It was gorgeous! I loved my bouquet, and most of all, I loved carrying a part of my family tradition down the aisle with me.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our venue had a helicopter pad overlooking the entire city, and it was the most amazingly clear spring day. We chose to do our first look and bridal party photos up there (brave party). Walking what seemed like into the sky to see my soon-to-be husband was something I’ll never forget!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? To be honest, it was the first and only place we visited. I have had a few girlfriends get married before me, so I found Ventanas a year before Matt proposed, while I was “researching” for a girlfriend. I showed it to Matt and we both knew that it was our venue, even before we were engaged. I am an interior designer, so the blank space and views were all I needed to see. It was just as perfect as we could have imagined!

My best friend’s dad, who has been married for over 30 years, got ordained just for us, which was an honor. We are hoping some of that marriage luck might rub off on us! We had him read our favorite Bible verse about love from Corinthians 13:4-13.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? To be honest, the guest list! We decided on our venue so quickly, we didn’t realize that the capacity restraints for the ceremony were much smaller than what we had in mind. In the end, we were able to accommodate all our family and most of our friends to make the day perfect! Our design team really found a way to comfortably pack in as many people as we could. We also made the executive decision to invite some guests to just the reception, which accommodated much more. Weddings are definitely give and take, and we were happy with our decision.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: My husband would definitely say the candy bar (I am pretty sure he is still eating it). I would say our guest book. I bought a Vogue Weddings coffee table book and had people sign that. I loved being able to see where people decided to sign, and the clever comments they made next to some of the greatest wedding dresses in history. The best part is that it actually sits on our coffee table, so we really use it and are constantly reminded of our favorite day and all the people who love us!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I would say the most obvious was our split menu. We had gourmet chicken and waffles, mac and cheese, collard greens, and fried green tomatoes, as only A Legendary Event can do. The other half of the menu represented my Italian New Yorker husband, with hanger steak, fingerling potatoes, caprese salad, and a pasta bar. People are still talking about the food!

I found our wedding cake pretty much immediately. I knew exactly what I wanted: a simple white with a big cascading flower. I let Matt pick his favorite flavors (as crazy as they were). We had an apple cake with caramel filling, and I made sure one layer was red velvet with cream cheese icing, my Southern staple. My event designer, Christine, took the look to the next level with the acrylic stand filled with rose petals!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. It was Thanksgiving weekend, 10 years ago, at Dos Copas in my hometown of Alpharetta, Georgia. I was a girl in art school, and he was a boy in a band, playing in Canada. Many phone calls and a seven-year courtship later, we finally went on our first date. Fireworks went off between us, and three “short” years later, Matt made the best decision of his life…he proposed, and it was a done deal.
Tell us all about the proposal! After the most perfect out-of-town wedding weekend for our best friends, all I wanted was some Taco Bell (classy, I know). Little did I know that Matt had a big surprise up his sleeve. Since I am known to be just a little OCD, Matt had hidden a sparkly surprise in my weekender bag. Despite desperately wanting to eat my lunch and take a nap, I just couldn’t fight the urge to unpack as soon as we got home. With one falsie eyelash was still hanging on and I was rocking my favorite sweat pants, I unpacked my bag, found something that delayed my meal, made me cry, and changed our lives forever. Matt just loves when a good plan comes together!
When did y’all get married? April 12, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 160
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did do a first look! We decided to do it after much debate (we are pretty superstitious), but when it came down to it, we decided it was more important for us to have a less stressful wedding after the ceremony and a longer reception. We are now so happy we did it! It was probably the only part of the day that was just for us. I loved seeing his reaction before anyone else, and it all became so real. I totally recommend it!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our last seating song was “Moon River” by Audrey Hepburn. It’s my all time favorite, and it set the mood for the entire wedding. For walking down the aisle, my husband chose “Crazy Love” by Michael Bublé. We walked back up the aisle to “I’m The Man” by Aloe Blacc, which was also my husband’s choice–funny, and it got the point across. Our first dance was to “Feels Like Home” by Chantal Kreviazuk, an oldie but such a goodie from Dawson’s Creek. My husband is a DJ, and I sometimes think I should have been, so songs were probably the toughest decisions we had to make. We tried to go with music that reflected each of us, told our story, and wasn’t something you’ve heard 100 times at a wedding.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Of course! My something borrowed was my bracelet…well, part of it. I had a feathered cuff from BHLDN that I ordered and loved, but the clasp broke on the day of the wedding. My aunt/godmother used one of her antique brooches to clasp it–it was a diamond bow and actually looked better then the original! My something blue was for my mom. It was a handkerchief monogrammed with our wedding date and initials, for those happy cries. My something new was my day-of gift from my husband: a surprise second wedding band! One for our day and one for what was to come.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? The menu. In my experience, towards the end of planning is when you realize you may have gone a bit more above your budget than you thought. The easiest way for us to solve this problem was to cut down our menu. We realized we had overestimated numbers and had one too many options. Even with the cut, my husband and I had a more-than-generous late-night snack!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Try to enjoy it! Don’t let the little things take over your mind. Honestly, nobody will ever notice. Enjoy planning with your partner! Guys have ideas, and it’s a big day for him too. Plus, it’s much more fun to share the responsibility!

Photographer: Our Labor of Love / Planner: Park Avenue Events / Venue: Ventanas / Florist: Perfect Petals / Cake Baker: Perfect Wedding Cake / Catering: A Legendary Event / Lighting: Active / DJ: Marquee Events / Paper Products: Sandi Spells Designs / Bride’s Gown: Manuel Mota / Bride’s Hair Accessories: Cécile Boccara / Hair Stylist: Christine Lopez / Makeup Artist: Amanda Ford / Bride’s Shoes: BHLDN / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Splended Angel Dress” by Xenia / Men’s Attire: Savvi Formal Wear

lisa Written with love by Lisa
6 Comments
  1. avatar Loverly reply

    What gorgeous pastels! A truly beautiful wedding.

  2. avatar Heidi Geldhauser reply

    thank you for sharing this fun wedding – I especially love how this venue shows off Atlanta!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Their Atlanta city skyline first look is perfection! :)

  4. avatar Alison Ulshoffer Events reply

    Gorgeous as always Heidi!

  5. avatar All You Need To Know About Grooms' Cakes reply

    […] Cake, Perfect Wedding Cake, Photo by Our Labor of Love via Southern Weddings […]

  6. avatar Abbey reply

    Is there any way of finding out where the monogrammed bridesmaid bags came from? I absolutely love them!

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