This wedding has been hibernating through the winter and now that I’ve got sunshine to keep me going I’m back to the blog! I actually had the pleasure of seeing Allison and Carl this weekend for Breanna and Philip’s wedding and was reminded of just how wonderful their wedding day was. Everything was so relaxed and comfortable, and Allison definitely strikes me as one of those brides that would have looked back on the entire day as perfect as long as at the end of the day they’ve married their best friend. Those brides are my favorite. But nothing did go wrong, it was perfect. Marieé Ami was in charge of the planning which is always a plus for me, and Swann Lake is one of my absolute favorite venues in Birmingham. I spent the morning with Allison’s family at the Tutwiler Hotel, and Allison and her dad hung out to pass the time, they’d be driving up to Swann Lake just before the ceremony started. When I got to the stables I whispered to Brittany Arias, my assistant for the day, “The ceremony will start in like 15 minutes? Get ready!” and then boom, it happened, it was lovely, and we went on to frolic in the gorgeous yellow leaves (Brittany and I were in heaven, and Allison and Carl were wonderful to humor us). Pies instead of wedding cake, no bridal party, swaying to music by the fire, and the coziness of Fall and quilts and pine cones and warm drinks… Fall weddings are beautiful. I am so happy for Allison and Carl, and grateful to them for letting me be a part of the day, and for the kind words since then. I hope these photos make you smile.
Q&A with Allison, the bride!
-How did the two of you meet and when did you know this was it?!
Carl and I were actually set up on a blind date by some mutual friends. Our very first date ended up being at a wild game cookoff/auction at the Birmingham Zoo. We were both so nervous at first, plus it was blazing hot so we were a sweaty, nervous mess. We ended up having a blast though. He kept me laughing as we walked around the zoo, looking at the animals and auction items. We both found it to be a bit unnerving to be eating an antelope burger while watching the other antelopes run around the zoo. We kept apologizing to the animals for eating their brother/sister/etc. After the auction, we went with our mutual friends to Billy’s Bar and Grill for a drink. It was at the very end of the night that I knew Carl was “the one.” He walked me to my car and asked for my phone number. As he was putting the number in his phone, he asked, “Is that Allison spelled with an ‘N’?” Everybody always asks how to spell my name (2 L’s or 1 L? Allison with an ‘i’ or a ‘y’?). However, never had I been asked if it was Allison with an ‘N’! I looked at him like he was absolutely crazy and was immediately regretting my decision to give him my phone number….and then it finally clicked that he was totally kidding. We were both cracking up at that point and I knew that he was the type of guy who could always make me smile.
-Tell me about the day.
I knew I wanted a low key wedding where it felt like I had just invited all of our family and friends over for an afternoon get-together. I had always pictured getting married in the fall when the leaves were turning to shades of yellow, orange, and red. Even though it never lasts long enough, I love the fall season in Alabama! I kept my color scheme fairly neutral — shades of green and white. I wanted the landscape around us to the be the star. My family and Carl’s family all helped set up the venue. My mom collected pine cones for an entire month which we used to accent the decorations. Carl’s mom hand crafted some amazing basketweave burlap table cloths and my dad and Carl’s dad helped lug in huge wooden slabs which we used as table decorations. I also knew I didn’t want a traditional wedding cake…actually, I didn’t want cake at all. Instead, we ended up going with a variety of pies. It was perfect because everyone could choose their favorite (or sample a piece from each pie as several people did!). Overall, I just wanted everyone to be able to relax, have a drink, catch up with friends, and share in our happiness. In my mind — mission accomplished!
-What was most important to you when you were wedding planning (Biggest priority, first decision, biggest splurge for example, such as you had to have a certain venue or your dress had to have a certain neckline, etc.)
The venue was definitely the most important thing for me when planning my wedding. I’m not into decorations (flowers, ice sculptures, etc.), so I knew that the venue would have to be beautiful enough to carry the show. I had seen pictures of Swann Lake Stables previously and immediately knew it was the place for me. It has an amazing two-story stone fireplace and the barn itself is full of gorgeous wooden beams and a cobblestone floor. I just loved how you felt so far removed from everything while there. I loved seeing the kids running around the grassy field during the reception and how just a few strands of globe lights could light up the whole stone patio. To me, it was the perfect blend of rustic and festive.
-What do you remember most about the day/what are your favorite memories from the day? Did anything surprise you?
Everyone I talked to before the wedding said it would go by in a flash — and it did! However, I definitely have a very clear memory of saying our vows. We held the wedding ceremony in front of the fireplace at Swann Lake and only our immediate family was there with us. It was such an intimate atmosphere and I loved knowing that each and every person there had played a special part in making that day happen. Another one of my favorite memories was listening to my dad give his speech/toast. I knew how anxious he was about speaking in front of everyone and I was a little scared too — you never know what my dad is going to come up with (case in point: he gave Carl and me remote controlled helicopters as one of our wedding presents!). But I had nothing to worry about — he gave the most wonderful, moving speech that brought just about everyone to tears. Hearing my dad describe how he felt seeing me grow up and how thankful he is that Carl is in our lives is a moment I will cherish forever.
-What advice would you give other brides now that you’re official?
If I could give one piece of advice to other brides, it would be to stick to your guns about what you want the day to be like. Just because it isn’t “traditional” doesn’t mean it won’t be beautiful. The day should be a celebration, not a time for worrying if your great-aunt approves of your napkin selection. I did a lot of things in my wedding that would probably make Emily Post cringe — no bridesmaids or groomsmen (gasp!), no bouquet toss (double gasp!), no guest book (oh, the horror!). But it turned out exactly like Carl and I had always hoped for. So, be grateful for the advice given to you by friends and family, but don’t compromise just because people think you are not doing things the “right way.” All of those details are just that — minor details. In the end, your guests are going to come away remembering how filled with love your wedding was, not the color of your tablecloths!
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Swann Lake Stables
Hair: Benji Bishop at Salon U
Make up: Connie Sellers with Amy Head Studio
Coordinator: Neillie Butler with Marieé Ami
Ceremony Music: Violinist — Amanda Igo
Reception Music: AJ Beavers
Pies: Magic Muffin
Catering: Richard Bishop with Savoie Catering
Florist: Kathy Miller
Gown: Allure Bridal from Diane’s Formal Affair
Bride’s shoes: DSW sale rack
Invitations: Designed by one of my best friends, Beth Roberts, with B Creative Design
Calligrapher: W.C. Bryant Jr.
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