You know those love stories where two people just keep running into each other? Well this isn’t one of them—but it should have been! Ashley and Jeff ran in so many of the same circles that it's almost impossible to believe that they didn’t meet sooner. “We both attended University of Georgia. We lived in our respective Greek houses at the same time almost directly across the street from one another," says Ashley. "We shared a number of mutual friends and attended the same tailgates and parties over the years." Had it not been for a popular dating app, the two may have never formally crossed paths, but when they did, Ashley and Jeff hit it off right away. “He was impressed with my drink order—Maker’s on the rocks—and I thought he was the most handsome man in the building.”
Just under a year later, Jeff surprised Ashley with a proposal during what she thought was a birthday trip to Little Saint Simons Island in Georgia. After celebrating with friends and family, the two began to plan a bright, romantic, and inviting celebration that combined traditional elements with fun details reflective of their personalities. From the very beginning there was one reception venue that stole the couples’ hearts: Summerour Studios in Atlanta. “It manages to be both rustic and modern,” Ashley says. "The walled courtyard evokes a romantic, Italian villa-like feel while the romantic, industrial space inside and vaulted ceilings gave us plenty of room to work with.” The bride and groom set the date for April 23, 2016, and with the help of planner Marilisa Schechinger of Chancey Charm, they threw the celebration of a lifetime—complete with a few special details you have to see to believe. Thankfully, with Haley Sheffield behind the lens, we all get to experience a bit of the unforgettable day ourselves!
While venue shopping was a love at first sight experience, the same can't be said for finding the dress. In fact, the tenth time was the charm for Ashley, who finally found her Lazaro wedding dress at an Atlanta bridal boutique. “It was the second one I tried on that day,” remembers the bride. The strapless sweetheart design, which featured intricate alencon lace over champagne tulle, and floral appliques that inspired several elements of the day's décor.
While she loved the silhouette, the skirt was up for debate since the gown came with two bottom options: One had a full tulle skirt and lace overlay, while the other was sheer from the knee down. “I couldn't decide between the two skirts," the bride says. "The second did not feel appropriate for our church wedding, but felt more true to my personality.” So what’s a bride to do? Get both! Lazaro himself came to the rescue and created a custom option in which the underlying tulle could be removed after the ceremony. The bride added a romantic fingertip-veil, which featured the same floral applique details as her dress.
Ashley nailed the bold spring look for her flowers, carrying a vibrant mix of peonies, roses, tulips, and lilac. Although the flowers made a serious statement, it was the long trailing ribbon that meant the most to the bride. “I wanted to honor the memories of my younger brother and grandmother in an understated yet meaningful way and decided to incorporate a cream ribbon accent in the bouquet,” she explains. “The ribbon was embroidered in pink thread with the words 'I carry your heart' from a poem by e.e cummings that has comforted me over the years."
The bride approached choosing bridesmaids' dresses in a way that was both logical and creative. “I was drawn to pink and green for the reception so we decided to balance out the color palette with blue gowns,” she says. The three ‘maids wore cornflower blue dresses that added a dose of unexpected color to the spring-inspired palette.
The couple took great care when choosing a color for the men’s suits as well, putting the groomsmen in a slightly lighter shade of charcoal to ensure the groom’s darker look stood out. The bridal party was picture-perfect, from bouquets to boutonnieres, which were all smaller version of the bride and groom’s.
The couple was wed at Northside United Methodist Church. After attending Sunday services at the parish, the couple knew the intimate space was the right choice for their ceremony, which stood out to both as favorite part of the day. "Standing in front of God, our family, and friends, and committing our life to one another as husband and wife was without a doubt the best part of our wedding,” says the bride.
Guests arrived at Summerour Studio and found their seating assignments on a custom sign that was a colorful rendition of the bride’s own gown. Artist Elaine Burge drew inspiration from the floral details on Ashley's dress and infused that pattern with bright, bold colors. The bride and groom loved the pattern so much that they chose to use it throughout much of the day’s signage, including table cards, envelope liners, and even some linens! Calligrapher Elissa Haynes inscribed the table assignments on a plexiglass sheet that was laid over the pattern.
After making their debut as husband and wife, Ashley and Jeff sat with their bridal party at a long farm table beneath one of many hanging floral installations.
Guest sat at a mixture of wooden farm tables and traditional round ones, each blanketed by warm candlelight and an array of delicate glassware. Hurricane candles were mixed with bud vases that held either bright peonies or tall arrangements of seasonal blooms. Once seated, everyone enjoyed an array of delicious southern staples, including a mason jar stack station, a mac and cheese bar, fried green tomatoes, and the groom’s personal favorite, late-night buffalo chicken sliders.
But the best part of any dinner is dessert, and this couple's cake did not disappoint. The classic two-tier confection was spotted with fresh flowers and filled with layers of strawberries and cream and chocolate hazelnut.
In an effort to infuse even more personal details to the big day, Ashley and Jeff tapped a friend to create the favors: Adorable handmade champagne soaps wrapped in the couple’s custom pattern. “Having people we knew before the wedding process contribute to our day was another way to reflect our connection to our friends and family," says Ashley.
Friends and family came together again at the end of the night to send the bride and groom off with a proper sparkler exit. The couple descended the stairs and headed to a very special getaway car—or, rather, truck. Fulfilling what must be everyone’s childhood dream, Jeff and Ashley got a ride on the town’s fire truck, with custom inscription for the day.
The night seemed to be drawing to a close, but our groom had one last trick up his well-tailored sleeve. Early on in the planning process, Ashley had envisioned walking out of the reception to a sky filled with fireworks. But as reality crept in, the thought of getting permits and permission just seemed too much to handle. “Much to my surprise, Jeff and his groomsmen pulled all the strings in the world in order to have fireworks shot off as we made our way to the getaway car. The first beautiful burst of light stopped me in my tracks and brought me to tears. I will never forget how moved I was when I realized how much Jeff put into adding this surprise just for me on our wedding day," she says.
After the perfect ending to a perfect day, Ashley had this to say to those in the midst of the planning process. “Do not be afraid to listen to your heart when making decisions. Tradition can be too confining and trends will fade, but you will not be disappointed if you follow your own intuition.”
Ceremony Venue: Northside United Methodist Church || Reception Venue: Summerour Studio || Wedding Planner: Marilisa Schachinger of Chancey Charm || Bride's Wedding Dress: Lazaro, purchased at Kelly's Closet || Hair & Makeup: Jennifer C. Nieman || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Dessy, purchased at Weddington Way || Groom's & Groomsmen's Attire: Guffey's of Atlanta || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Union Diamond || Flowers: Martha McIntosh Creative Consulting || Invitations: Minted || Calligraphy: Law and Letters || Music: Michel Jon's Band || Catering: Bold American Events || Cake: Lush Cakery || Favors: Brown Bag Soap Company || Videographer: Rusticus Wedding Films || Photographer: Haley Sheffield