Ready for basically the cutest love story ever, y’all? Listen up: Michelle + Paul knew they wanted to marry each other when they were seventeen. Back then, Paul even dropped to one knee and asked Michelle to promise to marry him one day. (She said yes!) “Most people don’t think love is possible for young teenagers, but we knew we loved each other only a few months after we started dating,” said Michelle. Six years to the day after their first date, the two tied the knot at J & D Farms in Alabama. Read on for the rest of their courtship (including many more details of epic love story proportion!).
Their picnic reception was a way for them to do one of their favorite things for the first time as a married couple with their closest friends and family. We love that guests were able to mingle among the quilts and tables and then take home their picnic baskets! Big hugs to Simply Bloom Photography for sharing M + P’s lovely day with us!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Yes, we saw each other before the wedding. We wanted a moment between just the two of us instead of in front of the crowd of guests. It was hard to decide, but it was the best decision we made. It was sweet and relaxing and a special moment between just us, which is often unheard of on your wedding day!
Did you write your own vows? Yes, we wrote our own vows and read them to each other during the ceremony. Our wedding officiant had gone through marriage counseling with us, so we did include some the Biblical husband and wife responsibilities in our vows, but added our own special promises to each other. My favorite line in Paul’s vows to me was “I promise to always be thinking of you and will constantly give you all that I am and nothing that I am not.” Paul’s favorite line in my vows to him was, “I vow to love you more each day than I did the day before, and I look forward to seeing you carry 50 red roses.”
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Weather and food. It rained continuously the entire two weeks leading up to the wedding, and we had planned a completely outdoor wedding. The days before, we created a Plan A (it’s sunny), Plan B (it might rain) and Plan C (it’s raining). Praise the Lord, it stopped raining that morning and the sun was bright enough to dry the ground. We were blessed with one of the most beautiful sunsets the venue owner said he had seen all summer. It started raining as soon as the reception was over and everyone had left. As for food, I had a clear plan in mind of what I wanted the picnic reception to include. After meeting with several caterers, none of them could offer that exactly. We ended up doing everything ourselves. It was a team effort of my sister’s mother-in-law (who catered years ago), my mom, my sister and brother-in-law, my aunt and cousin, a church friend and her daughter, and one of my former college roommates. The menu was gourmet grilled cheese, chicken bites, pasta salad, Caesar salad, fresh fruit, fudge brownies, my homemade lemonade (I squeezed 120 lemons!) sweet tea and water with lime.
We wanted everything to be shabby chic, so the flowers were very whimsical. They were all shades of lavender and Robin’s egg blue. Instead of using large blooms, we used all sprigs and herbs. I wanted it to appear as if we picked the flowers from our backyard the morning of the wedding, which we actually did end up doing. My Aunt Jenna grew most of the flowers in her own yard the year leading up to the wedding and picked them the day before and day of the wedding to bring to the venue and assemble. We used sprigs of lavender, purple lantana, rosemary, lockspur, delphiniums, and baby’s breath, to name a few. Jenna arranged them in blue transparent mason jars with raffia bows tied around the lip then placed one on each picnic table and all around the reception area.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Mason jars for the flowers, quilts that were my great-grandmother’s that have been passed down through the generations, a barn as a focal point of the reception, Paul’s bowtie and seersucker jacket, a banjo and stand-up bass guitar and folk singing, our weddin’ sign, a vintage Model T station wagon for transporting guests from parking to the ceremony, drinks in mason jars with grey and white striped paper straws, a 1950’s two-tiered vintage table I found at the Country Living Fair, and the lead singer of the band (my friend Sharla) made us a personal quilt with our names and wedding date to sit on at the reception.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Paul and I grew up together. We started playing together after school when I was in second grade. His mother was a kindergarten teacher and my grandmother was a librarian. At age 13, we became best friends in marching band. We were “just friends,” but we both secretly had a crush on the other. The summer before my junior year of high school – I was drum major and Paul was the drum line captain – I had to call all of the section leaders to remind them of band camp and I called Paul last because I was nervous to talk on the phone with him. When I finally called him, we talked on the phone for five hours straight, chatting about how we wanted to travel the world one day and how we didn’t know we had so much in common. We didn’t want to get off the phone although I had to go (majorette practice was about to start and I had to unlock their practice building). Sitting there watching batons fly, I saw a silhouette in my peripheral. It was Paul. I asked him why he was there and he said, “I came to rescue you.” At that second, I left the building keys with the majorette captain, hopped in Paul’s car and went on what turned out to be our first date – a walk around Heritage Park and eating at Arby’s. Two days later on July 13, 2006, Paul officially asked me to be his girlfriend. Most people don’t think love is possible for young teenagers, but we knew we loved each other only a few months after we started dating. Paul even knew he wanted to marry me when we were 17. One night in my room he even got down on one knee and asked me to promise to marry him one day (I said “yes”). Then on July 13, 2007, Paul came to my house with a single red rose. He said, “This is one rose for one year of being in love with you. One day I won’t be able to carry them all.” That began the tradition of receiving a rose for every year we have been together on July 13.
Describe the proposal. On July 12, 2011, I went to sleep that night at my parents’ house as usual, and Paul was at school in Tuscaloosa. I was woken up at midnight by the sound of my door creaking open and could see a dark figure standing in my doorway. I was frightened because there was something that looked as if it was jolting out the sides of the figure’s body. I rose up and started whispering, “Hello? Hello?” I’m sure I didn’t sound very intimidating if someone was really trying to break into our house… Then the figure started walking toward me. Heart racing, I finally adjusted my eyes to focus. It was Paul. He was carrying five red roses. I couldn’t find my glasses and I was still somewhat groggy from sleep, so I didn’t really understand what was going on. I just kept asking him why he wasn’t at school like he should be. He assured me everything was fine, and he knelt next to my bed. He started reminding me of everything we had been through together, most of it at my house and in my room – the first time he came over to my house and we just talked and tossed popcorn into each others’ mouths, our first kiss, my recovery after gallbladder surgery when he sat next to me all day until I woke up. Then he said, “Right over there when we were 17, I asked you to marry me one day. I knew then what I know now, but this time I brought a ring.” He looked at the clock and brought to my attention that it was just after midnight, making this the first thing to happen on July 13. “Michelle, will you marry me?” I said, “Yes!”
In what month did you get married? July 13, 2012. It was our sixth anniversary.
How many guests attended your wedding? 100
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I actually found it online! It’s by Lyn Ashworth. I saw a picture and it fit all my criteria: tea length for our outdoor wedding, poofy to fulfill my need to be Cinderella, and in a romantically elegant material. I ordered it online (didn’t even try it on!) and it fit with minimal alterations.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. The wedding party walked in to Ben Rector’s “White Dress,” with a small break for everyone to stand up and the house doors to open at the verse, “She’s coming in on Friday and then the close spark…” That’s when I walked down the aisle. For the recessional, we walked back down the aisle to Dave Matthews Band’s “You and Me,” which we also danced to for our first dance.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: We had miniature cupcakes from Dreamcakes Bakery in Birmingham. The flavors were strawberry, lemon and coconut.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The picnic reception. Paul and I have always loved going on picnics together, so we wanted our first picnic as a married couple to be with all of our family and friends. We all sat on quilts on the ground and on picnic tables and ate dinner from individual family picnic baskets (which guests got to take home as their favors).
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? We ended up spending between $10,000 and $25,000.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The venue and photography.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Paul and I loved our first moments of seeing each other before the wedding. It was comforting and romantic and we realized that we were minutes away from starting an exciting new life together. Nothing else mattered.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Buy a wedding planning book the day after you get engaged (I recommend The Knot Book of Wedding Lists). Don’t let the tiny details stress you out because at the end of the day, you will still be married to the love of your life, which is much more important. Utilize the talents of friends and family members, and don’t worry about what other people want or think – it’s your wedding!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are looking forward to Paul graduating with his master’s degree and settling into a new job, wherever that may be!