I’ve always thought there was something so magical about winter weddings–the rich colors, the crispness in the air that makes the bride and groom cuddle a little closer during their portraits, and the coziness of the guests enjoying a meal together at the reception. With Christmas just a few short days away, we are delighted to share Allison and Blake’s Memphis wedding, which epitomizes each of these qualities so beautifully! After a memorable first look, this sweet couple was married by Blake’s father in the church Allison grew up attending–the sweetest blending of their families and histories.
We’re so glad the talented Annabella Charles was on hand to capture this lovely day, and then share it with us!
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I knew I wanted to get my wedding dress at Ivory and White in Birmingham before Blake and I were even dating. It is the most gorgeous wedding boutique in town, and my best friend had recently gotten her dress there. I knew I wanted something all lace, but was not sure of the fit I was looking for. The dress I chose was the first one I tried on. The sweet girls at the shop knew what would work for me and they nailed it on the first try. I fell in love with my Liancarlo gown and felt so beautiful in it!
We did a first look because of the time that the sun sets this time of year. We wanted outdoor pictures, but with our evening ceremony, there was no way we could have gotten pictures outside afterwards. Blake and I loved seeing each other before the ceremony and having a moment to ourselves to really soak in the day together before it got crazy. It also took away some of our nerves and made it easier to really be present and take in every moment throughout the rest of the day.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We loved having so many of our close friends as a part of the wedding. There are so many important people in our lives and we loved being able to incorporate everyone. It is unforgettable to have people you love surrounding you on a day like this!
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Our ceremony was held at First Evangelical Church, which is where I grew up going to church with my family. It is the kind of church you drive up to each Sunday and just imagine getting married there. I love its beautiful white columns and red brick, and the way the sun sets over it as evening approaches. The reception was held at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens because of their gorgeous grounds. We wanted to an outdoor feel for the reception, but knew that it would be chilly on a late November night. The Dixon was perfect, thanks to its indoor pavilion and outdoor terrace that we tented.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We fell in love with a version of “All Creatures of Our God and King” by the Chetta Strings, but we couldn’t find the sheet music anywhere. Blake went out on a limb and tried to contact the group, and he found out that it was an old family strings ensemble that doesn’t play together anymore. However, one of the daughters who wrote the original music (and could no longer find it) was kind enough to recompose it for our string quartet. Walking down the aisle with my dad and towards Blake with this song playing was such a vivid moment–this song will always be our “wedding song.” We also had some friends lead the congregation in singing my favorite hymn, “Come Thou Fount,” during the ceremony.
We used magnolia leaves as a garland on the entryway at the reception and as a runner on the head table. Magnolia trees are my favorite, and Steel Magnolias is my all-time favorite movie–my mom, maid of honor, and I made sure to watch it the week of the wedding! We also used Blake’s family’s traditional bride and groom cake topper on our cake table. This has been in their family weddings since the 60s’s! Memphis is a soulful, Southern city, so we had a band that represented that in the music they played. They were a blast, and ended the night with a bang, playing “Rolling on the River.” They had everyone singing and dancing along. There was no better way to end the night!
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. The wedding cake was a simple, four-tiered cake with creamy white buttercream frosting whipped on in a free-flowing, natural design. Our baker called the look “wave after wave.” The groom’s cakes were a variety of bundt cakes. We chose a seasonal pumpkin spice flavor, along with classic favorites, including red velvet and white chocolate raspberry. They were a definite crowd pleaser!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Blake and I are both from Memphis, went to the same high school, and then both went to Samford for college. However, since we are five years apart, we didn’t meet until about two years ago in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were both in grad school. The first time I saw him was at a Super Bowl party with a bunch of church friends. We met and talked a little that night, and not long after that, Blake asked me out. We instantly hit it off and he totally spoiled me at the best Birmingham restaurants and lots of time outside, hiking, running and biking together. We were long distance for eight months when I moved to Dallas for work, and became professionals at letter writing and Facetime.
Tell us all about the proposal! Blake sneakily asked my dad to fly me home for Easter to have “family time,” all the while plotting his big surprise. The day before Easter, Blake took me to my favorite park, where I had grown up running cross country, so we could throw a frisbee and hang out. As we were walking toward a familiar running trail, I noticed a dock decked out in flowers. I remarked, “Blake, look at that!” and by his expression, I realized that it was for me. He proposed on the dock, I excitedly said yes (!!), he took me to Paulette’s for supper, and then, he led me to a big surprise party at his parents’ house, where all my best friends and family were waiting for us! It was the perfect day, full of beautiful surprises.
When did y’all get married? November 22, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 300
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we did not write our own vows. Blake’s dad was a pastor in Memphis and he actually married us, which was incredibly special. We used his traditional vows. Blake and I both loved saying those words to each other and committing ourselves in the covenant of marriage.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Colossians 1:15-23 and Ephesians 5:22-33 were read during the ceremony by two of our good friends. These verses mean a lot to us concerning marriage and what that is supposed to look like.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed my mom’s garter she had worn in her wedding. My maid of honor gave me a vintage handkerchief with blue flowers embroidered on it, which I carried around my bouquet, and an antique gold pearl pin that I wore pinned inside my dress My something new was my dress, earrings, and shoes.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Enjoy as much of the planning process as you can! It goes by too fast and you want to look back and remember the excitement and fun you had planning, not being overcome with stress. Also, when people offer to help, let them! It will be a blessing to both you and them. You will be surprised by the number of people who would love to help in any way for your special day.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are loving living married like in Dallas!
Photographer: Annabella Charles / Ceremony Venue: First Evangelical Church / Reception Venue: The Dixon Gallery and Gardens / Wedding Cake: Whole Foods / Bundt Cakes: Nothing Bundt Cakes / Caterer: Humdinger’s / Band: The Dantones / Paper Products: Marydeaton Heldman / Bride’s Gown: Liancarlo / Bridal Salon: Ivory and White