The best way to make friends as a freshman in college is to introduce yourself, right? In the fall of 2005, after arriving at Miami University, Alex Mass did just that, making a point to say hello to everyone in his dorm—including Hannah Pardue. “It wasn’t quite love at first sight,” Hannah reveals, but their friendship became a romance as they entered their senior year. “When we first started dating, Alex wooed me by making a habit of bringing me breakfast in bed,” says Hannah. “In August of 2015, he brought the old tradition back, surprising me one morning with treats from Dominique Ansel, fresh flowers—and the ring!"
With family and friends scattered across the country, Alex and Hannah wanted their wedding to be an excuse for a weekend getaway, and they began searching for a location that fit the bill. “I grew up going to camp outside of Asheville, North Carolina, and knew the area was so charming,” Hannah explains. From there, they had to pick a venue, and the chateau-inspired Biltmore Estate caught their eye. “We were blown away by the beauty of the woods, overlooking the estate and the mountains,” she says. On September 17, 2016, 125 guests came to North Carolina for an elegant garden party with a natural and decidedly local feel. Asheville Event Co. helped to create the perfect scene, while Almond Leaf Studios was on hand to photograph all the pretty details (and the picture-perfect Biltmore Estate!). You don't want to miss this one!
A nod to the lush greenery at the venue, Alex and Hannah’s invitation suite featured delicate watercolor garlands, while a gray-and-white color palette was refined and airy.
Hannah’s details were sweet, playful, and intentional. She wore pink flats (by Aminah Abdul Jillil) that featured an oversized pink bow around the ankle and created a girly-meets-sophisticated beauty look with a voluminous ponytail and black cat-eye.
The bride’s gown shone (literally!). The form-fitting Lihi Hod dress featured intricate beading, a v-neck, and scalloped cap sleeves. “It was like nothing else I’d ever seen,” Hannah says. She wanted something extra for the ceremony, so she topped the dress with a flowing Marchesa overskirt. “We went shopping in New York, and I had to bring a few friends along for feedback because my mom was just crying and smiling the whole time!” she remembers.
Hannah’s blush and cream bouquet combined garden roses, pink snowberry, and lace-cap hydrangea with zinnias and love-in-a-puff vine from her florist’s garden.
The ceremony combined the couple’s Jewish and Presbyterian faiths, with both a rabbi and a minister presiding. “We were able to consult with them together, allowing us to choose the pieces of each faith’s traditions that really spoke to us,” says Hannah. The couple was wed beneath a chuppah covered in dahlias, garden roses, and Alex’s father’s and grandfather’s tallit. To further personalize their ceremony, Alex and Hannah had a string quartet play a few meaningful songs, including “Wouldn’t it be Nice” by The Beach Boys (Alex’s late father’s favorite band) and “This Magic Moment” by The Drifters.
“After the ceremony, we had a traditional Jewish yichud,” says the bride. “Those 10 minutes of time just the two of us felt like the eye of a hurricane. We’d been with friends and family all day, and the reception flew by after. Having some time to focus on each other was so special!”
“I had seen images of hanging floral arrangements early on in the planning process, and our florist did an amazing job of bringing them to life,” Hannah says. The overhead arrangements included local oak leaves, hydrangeas, dahlias, and garden roses. The tables were topped with garlands of the same foliage, as well as glowing taper candles. Each guest’s place setting featured a gold-rimmed charger and a personalized menu that served as a place card.
The couple's cake looked simple on the outside, with white icing and a garland of smilax, but the flavors inside were anything but. Almond cake was layered with raspberry preserves and an indulgent milk chocolate ganache, and the design was finished with a shimmering custom topper.
The band played a mix of classics and Top 40, but it was their break that was a real show-stopper: “Alex’s mom surprised us with fireworks!” says Hannah. “It gave the night an even more magical feeling.”
Though it might sound hard, Hannah’s advice is to tune out of Pinterest and Instagram. “Comparison is the thief of joy. Make decisions because they make you happy as a couple, not because they photograph well," she says. "Your guests will notice when the weekend reflects you, rather than a picture-perfect editorial!”
Venue, Catering & Cake: Biltmore Estate || Planner: Becca Knuth of Asheville Event Co. || Bride’s Dress: Lihi Hod || Bride’s Overskirt: Marchesa || Bride’s Shoes: Aminah Abdul Jillil || Hair: Love, Daisy || Makeup: Blush Asheville || Groom’s Attire: Hugo Boss || Bride’s Engagement Ring: Blue Nile || Bride’s Wedding Band: Suzanne Kaplan || Groom’s Wedding Band: Tiffany & Co. || Floral Design: Philosophy Flowers || Invitations & Paper Products: Atheneum Creative || Ceremony Music: Café String Quartet || Reception Music: The New Royals || Rentals: Classic Event Rental; BBJ Linen || Photography & Videography: Almond Leaf Studios