Friends, as you know we have been working our way through sharing our V7 print weddings with y’all on the blog. We had a bumper crop in our last issue (17!), so it’s taken us quite awhile. But here we are, at the last one! I would never play favorites, and so I won’t say we saved the best for last… but Abby and Alex’s celebration certainly holds a special place in our hearts. We had the pleasure of featuring their adorable Birmingham bungalow in our Southern Newlywed column just a few months after they tied the knot, and across all the ways we’ve gotten to know this sweet couple, we’ve been so tickled by the ways they embody our brand. They love each other deeply, find joy in doing life together, and know that a good marriage is one that’s never perfected, but always growing. Their family-centered, love-filled wedding was truly a beautiful, and meaningful beginning to married life.
As always, A Bryan Photo captured so beautifully the little moments that make up a wedding day for those of us who were not there…
In true small town fashion, Alex and I heard about each other after his grandmother cut my aunt’s hair (beauty shop talk–straight-up Steel Magnolias, y’all). They decided we would be perfect for each other and should meet… unfortunately, I headed on the World Race (an 11-month mission trip) soon after, and Alex flew to Northern California to serve at JH Ranch. During our time on different continents, a mutual friend told me that Alex was keeping up with my World Race blog. My interest was piqued, and I kept this mystery man in the back of my mind for the rest of the journey. When I came home, the Lord opened doors for me to move to Birmingham (where Alex lived), and I was finally able to meet the blue-eyed hunk I had heard so much about. He got my number (from his grandmother, who got it from my aunt), and asked me to lunch. It took all of about half an hour of nervously eating a salad to know I wanted to marry the guy.
Describe the proposal: Just the best day ever. Alex took me on a day trip last August to Mentone, Alabama. I wasn’t anywhere close to wanting to go home when Alex announced a “stomachache” and a need to hit the road. On the way back to Birmingham, he suggested stopping at his parents’ farm for medicine. Odd things started happening as we approached. I noticed cars in their barn, all of the lights turned out at their house, and twinkle lights on a distant tree in the field. When Alex opened my car door, no longer seeming sickly, but grinning from ear to ear, I knew exactly what was happening. Speechless, I let him lead me down a path through the field to a straight-from-a-fairy-tale scene of flickering lights beneath a big oak tree. All we can remember from his proposal speech is “I want to have babies and adopt babies with you,” to which I tearfully exclaimed, “PLEASE!” He placed the most beautiful bling I’ve ever seen on my finger before we trekked back to the house and were met by our family and closest friends. Magic.
I carried a large, hand-tied bouquet featuring a variety of peonies, garden roses, Japanese ranunculus, frilly-edged tulips, parrot tulips, dahlia, veronica, dusty miller, and maidenhair fern. One day, in the middle of wedding planning, my mom brought her veil out of our attic for me to try on. It was stunning! My mom offered to let me cut some of lace to use as my “something old.” I immediately knew that I wanted to wrap it around the stems of my bouquet to carry with me throughout the day. Used as the base for three coordinating colors of silk ribbon, lace from her veil was the perfect heirloom touch.
What was the weather like on your big day? I feel like this question defines my wedding planning process. While I was never too worried about the weather, my precious mom was so nervous that rain or cold would impede the joy of our day. She committed to pray over our day, the weather, and the hearts of our guests long before spring. Soon, the topic was in our daily conversation. “Well,” she would say, “I just talked to our florist and now she’s praying over April 12 too.” When the 10-day forecast finally came? It predicted no rain, clear skies, and moderate temperatures. When our wedding day arrived, we received just that–the most beautiful, warm day with only a slight breeze. Even the birds sang through our ceremony. My mom and I love to recount the nerves that turned to devoted prayer, that turned to a day so full of beauty and love. Only the Father could have orchestrated it.
How did you spend the morning or afternoon before your ceremony? Confession: we broke the rules! The morning of our wedding, Alex and I met in the lobby of the hotel where our guests were staying to grab a cup of coffee and spend a bit of time together. We ended up taking a walk, hand-in-hand, around Auburn’s campus as we basked in the reality that our day had finally come! I am thankful that Alex didn’t see me in my dress before the ceremony. That moment was still sacred and incredibly emotional. I’m also thankful that I got to have a special moment with him at the beginning of the day to calm both of our nerves–the perfect compromise!
The arbor that we stood upon during the ceremony was my absolute favorite detail. I had a “vision” (one of many, as my family likes to joke), and it was truly a team effort to execute. My precious dad and I collaborated on sketching the structure, which he then built and stained. He has always had a servant’s heart, and it was especially overflowing during wedding season! The fabric that draped the arbor was the hardest thing to find. I knew I wanted something full, organic, textured, and natural. Nothing was fitting into the vision until my mom found extra-long canvas drop cloths–score! She expertly draped the fabric, and my insanely talented florist added the eucalyptus garland and floral clusters. Truly, it was the perfect backdrop for the most emotionally charged moments of my life. I’m forever thankful for the love that went into building the arbor, the place where Alex and I stood as we began building our marriage.
The amazingly talented Abby taught herself calligraphy and handlettered these programs, their invitation, and many other details. Can you believe it??
Our wedding party included my six nieces and nephews as flower girls and ring bearers. Alex’s five younger cousins served as junior bridesmaids and junior groomsmen. I loved having so many family members (including our collective five siblings as well) standing with us as we said our vows. I wish I could have witnessed my nieces walking down the aisle–the four of them held hands in their angelic heirloom dresses and floral wreaths. My youngest niece, Hadley, was only one at the time. Everyone recounted how she had such a look of determination, stomping down the aisle in an attempt to keep up with her big sisters and cousin. It was the very definition of precious.
What was the most memorable or touching moment about your wedding day? I will never forget Alex’s face as I walked down the aisle. He had been nervous about turning into a blubbering mess during our ceremony, and it was obvious that he was fighting tears as I approached him. When I finally reached him and the ceremony began, he kept looking away as to not lose control of his emotions. As touching as it was to see him so emotional, I also kept thinking, “Hey, this is our wedding. You have to LOOK at me!” It only took a few hand squeezes and a quick wink to get him to lock eyes with me–and that’s where we stayed for the rest of the ceremony, completely absorbed in the monumental change that was happening as we were joined as husband and wife.
Did you try anything new or nontraditional? In keeping with the themes of family and entering a Christ-centered marriage, our parents and grandparents came to the arbor to circle us in a prayer of blessing over our marriage. Alex and I both come from a long line of healthy and lifelong marriages; what a blessing it was to have those generational blessings symbolically passed on to us during our ceremony.
What was the design inspiration for your wedding? While color palette and texture played key roles in the design, our focus was for all of our guests to feel like family. Our reception was created to feel like one huge Italian family dinner. Long tables with organic greenery joined guests together for an intimate dinner experience. A seating chart greeted our friends and family to the reception with their names and table numbers hand-lettered on gold foil signage. The goal for our wedding was for each guest to feel valued, and I think that our design and attention to detail achieved just that.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while planning your wedding? I think the hardest part of wedding planning was just the reality of it all. You dream about the day your whole life. All of a sudden, it’s really happening, and you only get one shot. I found myself worrying about the logistics of the day and wondering if guests would enjoy themselves. Thankfully, I was surrounded by ever-encouraging family and friends who helped to keep me more focused on my love for Alex and our upcoming marriage, and less focused on the logistics of the day.
What kind of food did you serve? Italian food is my favorite, and it fit perfectly with the family-style seating arrangement! Guests enjoyed bruschetta and stuffed artichoke heart hors d’oeuvres. Dinner was comprised of caprese salad, Italian sausage farfalle pasta with light cream and mozzarella, grilled chicken penne pasta, broccolini, and a roasted garlic pomodoro. It was delicious. Our Italian theme continued with various wines to accompany the pasta!
One of our favorite design elements was our dessert table. Instead of opting for two tables for the bride’s cake and groom’s cake, we chose a large farm table to display them both. My bride’s cake was a four-tiered white cake with buttercream icing and lemon curd between the layers. To die for. Since the thought of an unbalanced table would KILL me, we opted for two groom’s cakes to bookend the taller bride’s cake. This definitely worked in Alex’s favor, as he couldn’t decide between chocolate, coconut, and red velvet cake. With two groom’s cakes, he was able to include ALL of his favorite flavors in the multiple tiers. I planned to learn how to make macarons before the big day (ummm…when would that have happened? No idea). Instead, my ever-kind and gracious aunt took the task upon herself. She studied YouTube videos, took sugar temperatures, and perfected the French recipe!
Date of your wedding: April 12, 2014
Tell us all the basics of your wedding! We wanted an outdoor wedding, and we wanted it as soon as possible! Since we got engaged in August, April was the first month that met all of our requirements: 1) The probability of nice weather, 2) bright blooms in season, and 3) enough time to plan the details! Auburn was the perfect place to wed because it is just outside of my hometown, and all of our friends were excited to spend a weekend celebrating in the town of our alma mater. After visiting just a few venues, Moore’s Mill Club became the obvious choice because of its beautiful, natural ceremony site and rustic pavilion. I was expecting to find a place I would need to completely transform, but Moore’s Mill is beautiful no matter which direction you look.
How many guests attended your wedding? 250
Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? I knew early on that I wanted to go with coordinating, but different, colored dresses. In order to complement the natural beauty of Moore’s Mill, I decided that the color palette would consist of an array of greens and neutrals. Thankfully, one of my two maids of honor (and BFF since first grade), Sam, is a graphic designer with a great eye for color. We met on our lunch break one day at our local Bella Bridesmaid and were given total reign in their showroom. It was designer heaven. When we decided on our palette, I assigned a color to each of my bridesmaids (taking skin tone into account) and let each one choose her style. I LOVE the way each of my girls could be unique while coordinating so beautifully.
Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. What part was most special to you? Did you include any special readings? So many guests commented after the ceremony about how reverent and sweet it was. We decided early on that giving glory to God would be our goal in choosing what would be shared during our ceremony. My brother, Adam, has a Master of Divinity degree and has always been a spiritual mentor to me. He led a charge to our guests to remember Christ’s sacrifice and our own call to sacrifice in marriage. Sharing Ruth’s story from the Old Testament served as an example of servitude in marriage, as well as a devotion to the new families we would each be gaining. Adam’s charge was by far one of the most powerful parts of the ceremony. Alex’s sister, Caroline, read from Revelation 19 before our pastor gave a message regarding the church as Christ’s bride.
What songs did you use for your ceremony? From Alex: The music was one of the few aspects of our wedding that I was in charge of, and I strived to make our music as worshipful and natural as possible. We decided to have only one instrumentalist, a friend of mine who is an incredible guitarist. Abby and I gave him a list of the songs we wanted to be played. They were pretty traditional ones: “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” while the parents and grandparents were seated, “Canon in D” during the processional, “Bridal Chorus” when Abby walked down the aisle, and “Ode to Joy” as we were leaving. The acoustic guitar was perfect–calm and mellow, traditional in the song choice, but updated by the instrument. The one song that was sung was a hymn, “Come Thou Fount,” and we invited all of our guests to join in.
What is the one thing that made your wedding different from anyone else’s wedding? Intentionality was a key factor in our wedding. We wanted each guest to feel valued and involved. Along with the hand-lettered envelopes that carried our invitations and the prepared seats for each guest, Alex and I love that everyone was invited to join in a hymn during our ceremony and to later dance the night away. Our hope was that no one would leave our wedding feeling like just one of the crowd, but that our love for each person would be displayed in our intentionality and bear hugs.
What are you most looking forward to about marriage? Even in the past four months, Alex and I have grown in our depth of knowledge and understanding of each other. With years of marriage comes years of experience–learning personality traits, finding ways to serve the other, and knowing how to make each other laugh. I look forward to our connection growing deeper as our marriage marches on.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? I would love to encourage people (especially lovely brides) to extend grace to all parties involved in the wedding planning process. Family members, friends, and vendors alike can potentially showcase strong opinions or–worse yet–not care about every single little detail like you do (gasp!). Remember that relationships come before dresses, cakes, or invitations. Continue to hang with your girls, love on your family members, and be a caring person in general while you have this whole wedding-planning side gig going on.
Photographer and Videographer: A Bryan Photo / Venue and Caterer: Moore’s Mill Club / Florist and Decor: Nimblee / Wedding Cake: 1220 Cafe / Bride’s Gown: “Loren Corset” and “Sabrina Skirt” by Watters / Bridal Salon: The White Room / Bride’s Shoes: “Madalyn Pump” by Badgley Mischka / Bride’s Earrings: BHLDN / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale, Donna Morgan, Dessy Group, and Ceremony by Joanna August / Menswear: The Black Tux / Paper Goods and Designer: Abby Bowlin Designs / Letterpress: Four Hats Press / Rentals, Linens, and Lighting: The Event Group
The Event Group is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!
Love these guys. So blessed to be part of their wedding!
[…] CREDITS (in order of appearance): Adam Barnes – Pink Virginia Wedding A Bryan Photo – Spring Auburn Wedding Katie Stoops – Inn at Perry Cabin Wedding (design by Karson Butler Events) A Bryan Photo […]
Hi Emily! I love this blog post – everything about the wedding looked gorgeous! I would LOVE if you could possibly share the brand of the flower girl dresses…they are so adorable!