In July 2005, Ashling Loh-Doyle walked into one of the common rooms at Stanford University, where she was attending a creative writing summer camp, and first laid eyes on fellow camper, Andrew Nunnelly. “He was playing Radiohead’s ‘Karma Police’ on the common room piano,” she remembers. Though they were both just 17 years old at the time, Ashling says, “the rest was history—well, eventually history.”
After years of staying in touch and attempts at dating long distance, they couple got together for good once they were both settled in Los Angeles in 2011. Six years later Andrew, now a producer for television and film, proposed during a run in the Hollywood Hills, surprising Ashling with an original poem (“We met in creative writing camp, after all!” she says with a laugh). They returned back home where Andrew had secretly gathered their families for an engagement celebration.
“When we started planning our wedding, we knew we wanted to pick a place with meaning to us,” says Ashling. Both of Andrew’s parents were born and raised in Kentucky and he grew up spending holidays in Lexington, Kentucky, where his grandfather is a professor, researcher, and mentor at the University of Kentucky and the president of historic Spindletop Hall. After many years of visiting Kentucky with Andrew, it felt like home to Ashling, too, and they were eager to share it with family and friends. "A destination wedding in Kentucky, as we liked to say," she adds.
Keep reading for all the details of the couple’s wedding weekend in Bourbon Country, as planned by Laurel and Rose and captured by Whitney Neal Studios. Heads up: The bride owns stationery company Lotus & Ash so it's packed full of creative ideas!
As mentioned, Ashling is the founder of creative studio and stationery press Lotus & Ash. For her own wedding, she wanted the wedding’s paper elements to reflect both her heritage (Chinese-Malaysian and Irish) and Andrew’s Southern roots, as well as incorporate their shared graphic sensibilities (contemporary with a touch of mid-century). “We wanted every detail to be thoughtfully designed,” she says. “When guests checked into the hotel, they received a custom key card. Our welcome packed included a guide to Kentucky—complete with Bingo, treats, and a link to a Spotify playlist Andrew had curated.”
Ashling describes the wedding theme as “Black Tie and Mai Tai—in other words classic with colorful nods to Kentucky and Southeast Asia." The couple first set the tone for the event with their invitations, which were covered in in book cloth as a nod to their early days at creative writing camp. "The suite also included a custom Hong Bao, a red packet used at Chinese weddings," Ashling adds. "Our pet cat, Toast, even made an appearance.”
Of course, creative paper goods made appearances throughout the weekend, including bright portraits of each bridesmaid and groomsmen on the ceremony programs and custom signage at the welcome party. "Putting your own stamp on your wedding pays off a hundred-fold when the day arrives," says the bride. "Don’t plug and play—have fun! You'll be so glad you did."
The couple’s two-day October celebration kicked off with an outing to the horse races at Keeneland. “It’s easily one of the most beautiful tracks in the in world,” says Ashling.
That evening, Ashling’s family hosted a traditional Chinese tea-carrying ceremony at the Livery, a converted horse stable in downtown Lexington.
The Tea Carrying Ceremony was followed by a Southeast Asian night market hawker feast and late-night karaoke. “Our Friday Night Market and Tea Carrying Ceremony allowed us to bring in bright and bold design elements that were reminiscent of our many travels to Asia,” says Ashling. “We made custom food signs from brightly colored plexi that were inspired by the hawker stalls of Malaysia. Custom posters hung from the walls of the Livery, inspired by vintage Chinese ads. And, of course, there were custom fortune cookies. For that one night, we’re pretty sure Dupree Catering helped us open the best Asian restaurant in the Southeast.”
The next day, Ashling slipped into a gown by Monique Lhuillier that featured a silk white Guipure Lace bodice and a silk Gazar skirt. “This was the first dress I tried on, and it was originally tea length,” she explains. “I tried on 100 more dresses, but my mind kept on coming back to this one—but it was too short! So I worked with the team at Monique Lhuillier to extend the skirt and include a short train. It’s my dream dress! I wish I could wear it every day!”
The bride completed her wedding look with floral-printed heels by Monique Lhuillier and jewelry that had belonged to her late grandmother.
Andrew donned a tuxedo with a white jacked from the Black Tux, while his groomsmen rented tuxes with blue “Midnight Pin Dot” jackets.
Bridesmaids were asked to wear floor-length gowns in navy or dark emerald green. “I really wanted them to feel comfortable and invest in a dress they’d wear again,” says Ashling. “We were super happy with the result!” The bride and bridesmaids carried green-and-white arrangements of roses, dahlias, ferns, and anemones created by Roots Floral Design.
Throughout the weekend, Andrew shot footage on his Super8 camera to create a first person point-of-view recap of the wedding. As a producer, Andrew also had the idea of paying homage to the famous, continuous shot in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. “We worked with our videographer Kyle Mikami and the wedding party to create an epic short film of our grand entrance,” says the bride.
The ceremony was hed at Spindletop Hall, where 150 guests gathered to watch Ashling and Andrew say "I do." “The week of our wedding, the temperature dropped from 80 degrees to 50 degrees!” says the bride. To keep family and friends cozy, they served warm drinks from a hot cider bar at the entrance of the space.
“Music has defined our relationship, so we spent easily a year curating our playlist for the ceremony,” says Ashling, who was escorted up the aisle by her father to Air’s “Playground Love.” Andrew entered to Mac Demarco’s “Blue Boy,” while the bridal party processed to Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You.”
The couple, who were married by a close friend, wrote their own vows. “We agreed on an overall structure, went our separate ways, and then both made the other cry when we revealed our vows to each other in front of our guests,” remembers Ashling. “We both read from letters and emails we’d sent each other when we were teenagers.” Both of Andrew’s grandfathers also did readings.
“We were so excited to reveal our favorite parts of Spindletop Hall throughout our event,” says the bride of their venue. “Our ceremony gave our guests a chance to soak in the beauty of the long, tree lined driveway and endless horse park fences. We moved into the estate’s library for our cocktail hour, and then eventually flowed out to the lawn where a clear tent gave our guests a stunning view of the house and grounds.”
The escort card display was inspired by book covers of Penguin classics, another nod to the couple’s meeting at creative writing camp and shared love of storytelling.
The seated reception featured a mix of round and long farm tables set with mismatched blue china. “Andrew’s mother, grandmother, and I spend six months collecting vintage place settings from across the country,” Ashling says. “It was so special to source these unique pieces and we’ve kept most of them for our home.” Centerpieces included tall taper candles in clear hurricanes, greenery, and arrangements of roses, dahlias, ferns, and anemones. The final touch? White hem-stitched napkins embroidered with the couple's monogram.
“We couldn’t allow our guests to go home without a true bluegrass feast,” says Ashling of the meal, which featured Southern comfort classics like fried chicken, shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, biscuits, and corn pudding. Menus were hand lettered by Katrina Centeno-Nguyen and also included both a program for the evening.
The wedding cake, created by Tinker’s Cake Shop, included three flavors—white chocolate raspberry, chocolate Champagne, and lemon cream cheese—and a portrait of the couple’s black cat, Toast.
The couple kicked off dancing with a choreographed three-song medley performed by Atlanta-based band Rhythm Nation. “We started with Daft Punk’s ‘Something About Us,’ then broke into a full-blown Pulp Fiction homage with Chuck Berry’s ‘You Never Can Tell,’ before finishing up and getting everyone on the dance floor with Phoenix’s ‘Too Young',” says Ashling. Later in the night, Ashling and Andrew’s close friends surprised them with a deluge of fake money featuring the couple, fired from dozens of custom Supreme cash-guns personalized with their wedding hashtag #GetTheeToANunnelly. “Simultaneously, our band broke into a mash-up of two of our all-time favorites: Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’ and Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit',” Ashling says. “Epic? Yes!”
Wedding Planner: Laurel and Rose || Welcome Party Venue: The Livery || Welcome Party Caterer: Dupree Catering || Wedding Venue & Catering: Spindletop Hall || Bride’s Dress and Shoes: Monique Lhuillier || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Coady Culha || Hair & Makeup: AV Beauty Bar || Groom & Groomsmen’s Tuxedos: The Black Tux || Bridesmaid Dresses: Revolve.com, Shopbop, Lulu’s || Floral Design: Roots Floral Design || Invitations & Paper Goods: Lotus and Ash || Calligraphy: Calligraphy Katrina || Music: Rhythm Nation || Cake: Tinker’s Cake Shop || Rentals: Bryant’s Rent All, Canvas Event Furniture || Transportation: Gold Shield Transportation || Videography: Kyle Mikami || Photography: Whitney Neal Studios