When Alex Hutchens first heard Jake Hirst's British accent, she says she had to stop herself from staring. But, as luck would have it, the coworkers soon found themselves seated side-by-side at their company's retreat, and Alex could hear — and look at! — Jake as often as she wanted.
After eight months of dating, Jake popped the question on a romantic vacation to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "It took me completely off guard and I can say I was 100 percent truly surprised," says Alex, who explains Jake asked her to marry him from the balcony of their hotel room at sunset. "As soon as we stepped outside, I noticed Jake had a bottle of champagne on ice beside two glasses. He gave me a hug, then started to talk me through our love story and all his hopes for our future. And then he got down on one knee!" The couple invited 160 guests to join them in Highlands, North Carolina, for their March 28, 2015, wedding.
Keep reading to see all of Vue Photography's beautiful shots from their big day.
The couple knew that Highlands, North Carolina — where they shared their first getaway — was the perfect backdrop for a destination wedding. "It made sense to us to get married in such a beautiful place that carries meaning for us as a couple," Alex says. But because they were asking their guests to travel, the couple cared most about making sure everyone was comfortable.
"I wanted the weekend to feel like a vacation for everyone," Alex says. "We made sure everyone felt taken care of and welcome. It meant so much to us to have all of our friends and family in one place, so it was as much about honoring them as it was our marriage." The couple planned a weekend of events — including a Friday dinner — where they could mingle with friends and family before they got married. "Seeing everyone the night before was so much fun. The fires were on, music was playing and everyone was drinking and having a great time.
It was the perfect way to start the wedding weekend."
Alex admits that should had never pictured herself in a traditional bridal gown. "I was overwhelmed by princess-y looks," she says. The bride leaned towards slimmer styles, and eventually fell head-over-heels for a fit-and-flare Amsale gown with a bateau neckline and a sheer back lined with buttons. "I loved the way the dress fit my body," Alex says. "I'll never forget what the woman helping us at the store said that day: She told us that a lot of brides veer towards dresses that dominate them, but in this dress, you would truly see me."
Jake wore a classic black-and-white custom tailored suit, and a white bloom pinned to his lapel. Alex and her bridesmaids carried round bouquets of delicate pink and ivory roses flanked by dusty miller.
The couple exchanged traditional vows at First Presbyterian Church of Highlands, but their reverend worked in a ceremonial twist: "She had us each write letters to one another that we couldn't read until we were home," the bride says. "She pulled excerpts from those letters and wove them into her ceremony. Our ceremony truly felt like 'us.'"
At the Farm at Old Edwards Inn, guests were greeted by a truly stunning scene. Round tables topped in shimmering copper linens, rose-filled centerpieces, and pillar candles, all set against the backdrop of floor-to-ceiling windows and vaulted ceilings. "I wanted the room to look romantic, full, and warm," the bride says.
Beside a roaring fire, guests could sit on tufted sofas and sip the couple's signature cocktails (Champagne with St. Germaine), red and white wine, or Pimm's Cups. "We had a piano player in the corner as guests mingled, framed photos, and lovely décor so guests could sit or stand."
Alex and Jake's towering five-tier wedding cake was a vanilla confection iced with buttercream and covered in fresh flowers, created to complement their centerpieces.
The couple shared their first dance to "I'll Be There" by the Jackson Five, and Alex surprised her new groom by asking the band to play Tom Jones' "Delilah," a favorite wedding song In Great Britain, where Alex is from. "The look on Jake's face as his family and friends surrounded him was priceless and I wish I could see it over and over again," Alex says. "It was a standout moment for everyone."
Reflecting on their wedding day, Alex has this advice for brides-to-be: "Make sure you have lipstick for the reception and although it's cliché, try and enjoy every second of the rehearsal dinner," she says. "It's easy to get caught up in family members or friends who might be a little difficult, but just let it go!"
Ceremony Venue: First Presbyterian Church of Highlands || Reception Venue and Catering: The Farm at Old Edwards Inn || Wedding Planner: Asheville Event Co. || Bride's Wedding Dress & Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale || Jewelry: Neiman Marcus || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair & Makeup: The Moore Agency || Groom's Attire: Suit Supply || Wedding Bands: Polo Jewelers || Florist & Rentals: Jackson Durham || Invitations: Exquisite Stationery || Cake: Creative Pastries By Sid || Favors: Adopt a Golden Atlanta || Videographer: Inkspot Crow Films || Photography: VUE Photography
Want to see more spring weddings? Then check out another couple's sweet seasonal bash in the video below.