After dating for four years, Sarah "Sally" Daughtry Symons and Nikolas "Nik" David Alexoff found themselves driving to the beach in Westhampton, NY when "something [went] wrong with the car." As Sally recalls, Nik pulled over to check the oil and asked her to look for a rag in the glove box. "I opened it to find a note with my name on it," she says. "When I finished reading the note, he was standing there at the door, on the side of the road, with a ring."
The couple began planning their wedding for the following year. The vision? A "chic garden party" featuring all the hues of late summer: coral, pink, light blue, golden yellow, and grass green. The destination? Sally's hometown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "We loved the idea of a beautiful outdoor party that was elegant yet relaxed," she explains. "We wanted the night to feel special and festive but not stuffy or serious!"
And special it was! After an outdoor ceremony at Reynolda Gardens, guests made their way to Forsyth Country Club for a night full of Southern-inspired cuisine and Motown music. Sally and Nik personalized the décor with custom linens (from India!), hand-painted details, and one-of-a-kind favors—all unique elements that made wedding planning enjoyable, claims the bride.
"I wanted every element of the day to feel considered, intentional, and reflective of our taste as a couple," says Sally. The couple's hand-painted invitations and day-of paper products set the tone for the garden-inspired day.
Sally actually fell in love with two gowns while searching for "the one." However, she ultimately chose the V-neck lace option by Anne Barge as it "felt a bit more dramatic," adding, "It was my wedding, after all!" To finish off the look, Sally also wore a Belgian lace veil, which her grandmother, mother, and both of her aunts wore when they were brides.
The couple's dog was the VIP of the bridal suite as Sally and her bridesmaids prepped for the big day ahead.
Her petite bouquet of multicolored garden roses, ranunculus, peonies, and dahlias was finished off with a vintage diamond and pearl poodle brooch, a gift from one of her bridesmaids.
"I loved the idea of choosing a palette instead of one specific color," says Sally of her pink and coral bridal party. "All of my bridesmaids have amazing taste so I knew they would choose beautiful dresses that fit their own personal styles."
Nik sported a midnight blue Tom Ford tuxedo for the garden affair and the couple had their first look in front of the venue's many gardens.
"Wedding planning was much more time-consuming than I anticipated," reveals Sally. "I felt like I had a second job! And while it felt like there was an endless to-do list at times, I really enjoyed the creative aspects of the planning process."
"Once we decided to get married in Winston-Salem, where I grew up, I knew Reynolda Gardens would be the perfect place for an outdoor ceremony," shares Sally. Ten bountiful arrangements of peonies, garden roses, and limelight hydrangea lined the back row seating and two oversized bouquets surrounded the altar.
With one week left before the wedding, Sally and Nick decided to order parasols for their guests. Thankfully, the last-minute decision proved to be a wise choice as the day was "88 degrees without a cloud in the sky," reveals Sally. "And, seeing all the guests seated in the garden with their white parasols ended up looking very chic!"
Both a string quartet and a trumpeter played Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary" as the bride processed down the aisle with her father.
And while the couple did exchange traditional vows at the altar, they were able to personalize the ceremony through readings, asking friends to recite “Homecoming” by Mary Oliver and “Consider Beginnings” from the Tao Te Ching.
It’s so easy to get swept up in the excitement of the night and lose track of each other, but we are so glad we stuck together and were able to experience every moment of the night together.
Before the wedding, Sally and Nik made a promise to each other: That they would stay together throughout the entire day. "It’s so easy to get swept up in the excitement of the night and lose track of each other, but we are so glad we stuck together and were able to experience every moment of the night together," Sally advises.
After the ceremony at Reynolda Gardens, guests were shuttled to Forsyth Country Club for an outdoor reception. "Walking into the cocktail hour where we were greeted by all our friends and family was one of our favorite parts of the night," remembers Sally. "Everyone was radiating love and happiness—it was overwhelming in the best way possible."
The couple knew early on that they wanted to host a tented reception because they sought "free range to create our own unique atmosphere." Underneath, attached branches transformed the towering tent poles into trees rectangular and circular tables filled the lawn.
The couple brought color to the reception through the tablecloths, using three custom fabrics from India—which Sally spent months sourcing from a block printer in Mumbai! Calling the blue and coral linens the "most ambitious project of the entire wedding," the fabric didn't arrive until 10 days before the wedding and the couple's seamstress made all 20 tablecloths in a week. "Looking back it was totally insane—but totally worth it."
Since the printed tablecloths made such a statement, the bride and groom kept the table settings neutral with rattan chargers, white dishes, and simple glassware. Guests' names were calligraphed on each menu and tucked in white napkins.
Inspired by the décor of their favorite New York bar, Bemelmans Bar, the couple hired Julie King to hand-paint 12 lampshades depicting significant places from their life together. The gorgeous candle lamps ran the length of the 24-foot-long head table and unsurprisingly became one of Sally's favorite details from the wedding.
Julie King also designed custom playing cards as a unique wedding favor.
The couple's first dance to "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" by Stevie Wonder kicked off a night of dancing to plenty of Motown and funk music. "The dance floor was packed all night," adds Sally, who credits their band, Dannis Winston and DWP Live Factory.
Since most of their guests hailed from New York, the newlyweds designed a menu that featured Southern dishes like South Carolina peach salad, braised short ribs, and sauteed shrimp.
Sally and Nik also served a garden rose-adorned strawberry cake with buttercream icing—fitting for their garden party theme!
The drive to the afterparty downtown was such a magic moment. It was a warm, clear night, and we rode with the wind whipping through our hair—so giddy with excitement from the evening.
After the last dance, Sally changed into a white blazer dress and the newlyweds exited the reception through a tunnel of sparklers and headed downtown to continue the night of celebrations. "The drive to the afterparty downtown was such a magic moment," recalls Sally. "It was a warm, clear night, and we rode with the wind whipping through our hair—so giddy with excitement from the evening."
Ceremony Venue Reynolda Gardens
Reception Venue Forsyth Country Club
Wedding Planner Reagan Events
Officiant Dr. Michael B. Brown
Shoes Alexandre Birman
Hair Ego Hr.
Makeup Holly Stack Dickens
Groom’s Attire Tom Ford
Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands I.D. Jewelry
Floral Design Green Bee Floral Designs
Save the Dates Julie King
Wedding Invitations Arzberger Stationers
Invitation Calligraphy Calligraphy by Carole
Lampshades and Paper Products Julie King
Printed Materials Production Robyn Goslen at Goslen Printing
Ceremony Music Allegro Music
Reception Music Dannis Winston, DWP Live Factory
Catering Forsyth Country Club
Cake Regi Originals
Rentals Professional Party Rentals; Snyder Events; Ooh! Events
Custom Linens Indian Stores
Custom Linen Fabrication Annie Snyder
Favors Julie King
Transportation Triad Trolleys
Accommodations The Cardinal Hotel
Photography Julia Wade