During her first week of 10th grade, Emma Reich was introduced to Pritchard Allen (a then-senior) through mutual friends. She had no idea that, as a high schooler, she’d just met her future husband. But a decade later, after the ups and downs of a relationship through high school and college, Pritchard got down on one knee while at the beach in Florida for Emma’s annual birthday trip. “We’d gone out to pick up beer and wine for dinner and took a detour to Camp Helen State Park,” she recalls. “After he proposed, we still had to go to the store, and somehow everyone thought we got engaged at the grocery store!”
When it came time to plan their wedding, the bride was already quite familiar with the process—she had worked for wedding planner Mariée Ami for seven years before becoming an interior designer—so choosing a planner (and ironing out the details!) came naturally. “Everyone assumed I had the entire thing planned, but really I’d saved little details over time, and we had to plan backwards, building a vision around them,” she explains. She zeroed in on a blue-gray, muted green, and teal palette and envisioned garden-inspired florals to fill the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Birmingham Museum of Art on May 12, 2018.
The weekend kicked off with a welcome party, during which the bride donned her fashion-forward “something blue.” Out-of-town guests were also greeted with customized welcome baskets full of the couple’s favorite local treats.
Instead of setting up in a hotel suite, Emma and her bridesmaids got ready at her parents’ house and spent the day surrounded by family.
The bride’s classic style extended into her choice of jewelry, from her three-stone engagement ring to her late grandmother’s diamond bracelet and diamond-and-sapphire bands (a pre-wedding gift from her groom's mother).
Emma picked her Alexandre Birman heels before she found her wedding dress, and the simple suede style was the perfect choice. The dress, however, was harder to find. “I’ve seen so many dresses and nothing really stood out to me, even after days of searching,” she recalls. But while she was trying on her top pick (a Lela Rose lace style), she spotted a Monique Lhuillier skirt in the fitting room and decided to put it on over the Lela Rose gown. "The combination was exactly what I wanted," she says.
The bride paired her gown with a classic lily of the valley bouquet, tied together with an antique brocade ribbon in the perfect shade of blue.
Emma's bridesmaids wore ivory wrap dresses from Joanna August. “With such a big group and a detailed church, I knew I wanted their attire to be simple and classic to really suit the setting,” she explains.
Her ‘maids carried bouquets of white and ivory roses, ranunculus, peonies, and sweet pea.
The two flower girls, Emma’s goddaughter and Pritchard’s niece, wore hand-sewn French lace dresses made by Emma’s mother. “They wore flower crowns and carried a garland down the aisle," she says. "And in typical Southern fashion, they were barefoot!”
The bride wore her mother’s veil down the aisle of St. Paul’s, where she and Pritchard exchanged traditional vows.
Emma originally wanted to get married at her grandmother’s home, but knew that the logistics of a backyard wedding for 350 people were more than she wanted to take on. The Birmingham Museum of Art, however, was a beautiful (and much easier!) alternative. The bride embraced the modern setting, using lush florals and accents like concrete urns and lucite chairs to play with the sleek space. Her favorite detail? The wall behind the dance floor! “It had 48 little boxes, each topped with a bud vase or candle," she explains. "It was such a wow factor, and was the best backdrop for photos!”
A calligrapher created special signage for the signature cocktails and personazlied decals for the serving trays. The drink specials were a classic mint julep and a grapefruit spritzer (the "crowd favorite," Emma says!).
Emma is a self-proclaimed picky eater, so her planner took the lead on choosing a menu for the evening. “Neillie made sure our guests weren’t served grilled cheese and chicken fingers,” Emma says with a laugh. The couple’s loved ones were treated to a seafood bar with lobster rolls and fresh oysters, seasonal flatbreads, and beef tenderloin—as well as bacon grilled cheese, by special request of the bride!
“We had a hard time selecting linens,” says Emma. “We landed on a few different colors and patterns, including slate blue with a white hemstitch overlay, a white laser-cut floral, and a white linen with blue embroidery.” Tables were topped with a mixture of the linens, as well as bud vases filled with single blooms and branches. Lounge furniture was mixed in throughout the space and accented with custom pillows made from a peacock Schumacher fabric. “I fell in love with the fabric and had a custom linen made for our cake table too,” she adds.
Pritchard is a huge Chick-fil-A fan, so guests were treated to late-night chicken biscuits sealed with custom stickers that recreated the chain’s iconic ad campaign (but with the couple’s last names!).
After dancing all night to Pure Party Band, Pritchard and Emma made their exit beneath a shower of confetti.
Once the party came to an end, Pritchard and Emma made their getaway in a vintage Mercedes decked out in flowers, heading to their new home for their first night as husband and wife.
Looking back on her own big day, Emma has a familiar piece of advice to share: “For years, I told brides to do their best to enjoy their wedding day, and I finally realized just how hard that can be,” she says. “It goes by so fast and is such a blur, so just do your best to take in as much as you can!”
Wedding Planning & Design: Mariée Ami
Ceremony Venue: The Cathedral of Saint Paul
Reception Venue: Birmingham Museum of Art
Officiant: Bob Sullivan
Bride's Shoes: Alexandre Birman
Hair & Makeup: Celine Russell
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Joanna August
Groom's Attire: Mr. Burch Formal Wear
Engagement Ring: Wallace and Burke
Wedding Bands: Bromberg’s
Catering: A Social Affair
Cake: Barb’s Cakes
Reception Music: Pure Party Band
Lighting & Drapery: Mariée Ami
Photography: Davy Whitener