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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

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Caroline Nelson reply

    Can you please tell me where the adorable floral romper she is getting ready in is from? Also, where the cute Alabama cookie with the gorgeous AW monogram welcome tag came from?

    Thank you!
    Caroline

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If Lara hadn’t just replenished my office candy supply with Easter goodies galore, I’d be jonesing for a major sugar fix right about now. Sarah boasted the highlight of their festive reception at the Belle Meade Plantation had been the lavish dessert bar, and she wasn’t kidding! Dessert Designs provided the three-tiered confection that doubled as the couple’s wedding cake and the sweet spread’s main event – yum! Emily loves the fact that Sarah + Tyler wed in a real life horse barn and celebrated in the adjoining carriage home, complete with hay bales and mounted bridles. (I’ll spare you the obvious bridle/bridal pun, because I’m awesome like that.) Hats off to photographer Brion Hopkins for this rustic Tennessee wedding!

Describe your wedding flowers: My bouquet was filled with narcissus, white sweet peas, star of Bethlehem and blue privet berries, surrounded by magnolia leaves and tied with a striped burlap wrap with pearl buttons. I adored it! To me, it was an ideal mix of earthy/elegant, high/low elements.
Describe your wedding cake: Our wedding cake was just one item on our dessert table, which included cookies, carrot cake cupcakes (Ryan’s favorite), caramel and candy apples (my favorites), bags of caramel corn and horseshoe-shaped chocolates, so we chose a relatively small three-tiered cake. The cake was covered in ivory fondant icing and decorated with a simple sugar magnolia.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Finding time to do everything! Ryan and I both have busy careers, and, I admit, I’m a bit of a control freak, so I did not exactly delegate any wedding planning tasks. I do not, however, regret any of the countless hours I spent shopping for perfectly mismatched accessories for the bridesmaids, scouring antique stores for picture frames to turn into chalkboards, rubber stamping burlap sacks to hold dessert table treats, etc., because our wedding truly reflected our personalities and style. Plus, I actually enjoyed every moment of it!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Aside from saying our vows to one another, my favorite moment was walking down the aisle with my father. The stables looked almost magical, I was surrounded by my family and closest friends, and I was moments away from marrying the man of my dreams. I remember thinking, “This is the happiest day of my life.” Ryan says that his most memorable moment is when he first saw me in my wedding dress. Yeah, he’s a keeper.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, we wrote and memorized our own vows, and did not say or read them to one another until the ceremony. My favorite line from Ryan’s vows to me was his opening: “For years you were just a dream and a prayer. Now that I have you, I will never let you go.” Ryan’s favorite verse was when I said, “Where you go, I will go. Who you become, I will become the complement.” We’ve placed our vows at the very front of our wedding album and plan to repeat them to each other every year on our anniversary.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Right now, Ryan is interviewing for his fellowship in hematology/oncology, so it is exciting to see what possibilities that will bring. Other than that, I’m hoping to start referring to myself by my married name on a more consistent basis. Some habits die hard, I suppose!

Written with love by Katharine
2 Comments
  1. avatar Sarah + Ryan | December 4 reply

    […] event.   The amazing Southern Weddings blog featured this chic affair; check it out here […]

  2. avatar Southern Bride of the Month: September 2011 | Gift Registry News reply

    […] Photos by Brion Hopkins at a Belle Meade wedding (see more from this wedding here!) […]

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