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