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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
  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

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Oh y’all are in for a real treat today! I’m such a fan of surprise weddings, and Abby + Sam hit the nail on the head with their engagement party turned big day! With the help of some fabulous vendors, like Abby’s good friend Meghan from M. Elizabeth Events, these two decided to switch their plans from a destination wedding in the Bahamas to a hometown wedding. The crazy part? They managed to change everything over in just three weeks! Holy cow! I also love how they chose to keep the coral motif as an ode to their original plans for a Bahamian big day!

Special thanks to Alisha Crossley for capturing such a fun surprise!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Luckily for me, my friend Meghan Cease (M. Elizabeth and Events) is a wedding planner. She set up appointments for me at Ivory and White in Mountain Brook, AL. I fell in love with the delicate details of my dress. It was perfect!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did. After talking with Alisha, I felt like it was the best for us. I knew we would both be calmer after seeing each other. Portraits were really important to me, as well as being fully present at my reception. Seeing each other before made both of those possible.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Oh gosh! I don’t think we would have been able to do anything besides repeat the ones given to us! Even with the first look, we were nervous going through our “I do’s.” I love exactly how we did it.

Describe your wedding flowers. Lush. Vibrant. Romantic. We originally planned to get married at my family’s home in the Bahamas. Since the engagement party turned into a surprise wedding, we wanted to carry over the tropical details as much as possible.

We had personalized cocktails for Sam and I. He chose the “Old Fashioned”–a true Southern gent’s drink! I went with Alabama Sunshine–something fun and Southern at the same time! We had a local food truck serving dishes. I think that trend is really picking up in the South, and I love it! Our venue was a historical location in the heart of Alabama: the historical Shoal Creek Golf Community.

As y’all know, I’m a big fan of Southern oyster houses, so I bet this food truck was such a blast!!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I wanted something simple and sweet. We went with a plain white cake adorned by large fuchsia peonies. It was delicious!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Sam and I met through a mutual friend. I was dating someone casually at the time, but Sam stole my heart! We hung out together as friends at first, but things progressed quickly!
Tell us all about the proposal! I scheduled a couple’s session with our friend and photographer, Alisha Crossley. Sam and I wanted canvases in our home, but I wasn’t patient enough to wait until we were engaged. I knew we were getting closer to Sam popping the question, but I thought things were still a few months out. Unbeknownst to me, Sam had contacted Alisha on his own after I scheduled the session. I was completely ignorant to his plans since I actually set everything up! Toward the end of the session, Sam told me he wanted to spend his life with me. I laughed and said, “Well, you have to ask me first.” He slid down to one knee and pulled out my ring–the same diamond that has been in his family for years! I squealed as Alisha captured it all! We then walked to a nearby cafe, where he presented me with flowers and a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon. We called friends and family while lounging on the patio, drinking our champagne. We spent the evening celebrating with friends at one of our favorite restaurants, Satterfields.
When did y’all get married? May 31, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 100
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I really loved my dress … I felt amazing in it!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Borrowed were my earrings, blue was a diamond bracelet with sapphires, old was a broach, new was a diamond bracelet Sam gave me as a wedding gift.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? I was blessed in having some of my best friends surround me with their talents on my wedding day. Meghan as well as my friend Madi (hairstylist) worked to make everything perfect for me.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Well, since we decided to turn a destination wedding planned for October into a local wedding in May THREE weeks before the day, we had several challenges! Thankfully, we had a large engagement party planned with all of my favorite vendors, most of whom were scheduled to travel with us to the Bahamas. I had Meghan there to help coordinate everything, and the wedding was actually at her family’s home in the historical Shoal Creek community. She handled reorganizing everyone and getting people scheduled as needed. We kept the new plans a surprise so that our guests STILL thought they were attending an engagement party!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I was so excited to surprise everyone with the ceremony! I loved walking down the aisle freshly changed into my wedding gown and seeing everyone’s faces!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I think it’s important not to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and to make the details personal. Having friends in the wedding industry, I knew what was “popular” and what everyone else was doing, but I wanted our day to truly be ours. I think we really made that happen!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Sam and I recently found out the we are expecting! We are excited about starting our own family and instilling the same Southern traditions that have given us both so much happiness growing up!

Photographer: Alisha Crossley Photography | Videographer: Holloway Productions |  Planner: M. Elizabeth Weddings and Events | Ceremony and Reception Venue: Private Home in Shoal Creek | Florist: KG Designs | Wedding Cake Baker: Cakes by Barb | Caterer: Shindigs | Rentals: Events Rentals Unlimited | Lighting: Designs Production LLC | Acoustic Artist: Adam Justin Gannon Events | Bride’s Gown: “Emma” by Monique Lhuillier at Ivory & White | Paper Products: Amberly Shelton Paperie | Bride’s Jewelry: Levy’s Fine Jewelry | Hair Stylist: Madilyn Hays | Makeup Artist: Raww Beauty | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Assortment of styles in shades of coral | Groom’s Attire: Calvin Klein | Groomsmen Attire: Assortment of white shirts and khakis

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Charissa reply

    So pretty, and this was planned in three weeks, wow.

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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