How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
Our story isn’t exactly the meet cute of storybooks. We were just two college sophomores living in the same apartment building on campus in our little beach town. My roommates and I were used to the (literal) open-door policy of our freshman dorm, and decided to make friends in our building not long after the semester started by walking around in search of any open doors. Between four floors we only stumbled upon one with the door propped wide, as if inviting visitors. It wasn’t long before my roommate and I were regular appearances in this apartment of eight guys, playing mario kart and getting to know our neighbors. Somehow it took me at least a month of friendship with this apartment to actually have a conversation with my husband, who was usually off studying. The first memory I have of him was laying on a nearby beach in the middle of the night, with at least five others talking and stargazing. Probably a week or so later, at one of the roommates birthday celebrations, the sparks began and a little over a month after that we were dating!
How did he propose?
This is my favorite story. We were spending the Fourth of July weekend at my aunt and uncle’s house in Fairhope, AL like I have for most of my life. The day before had been pretty normal. There was grilling by the pool, boat rides around the bay, and the usual load of family members sitting on the pier in the dark watching the fireworks all across the Mobile Bay. I actually remember telling him, with feet dangling over the water, that these types of perfectly normal moments were how I imagined us getting engaged. Little did I know! The next day before we left to head back to Birmingham, Zach mentioned wanting to head down to the pier one more time before we left. This was so normal, I even asked the room who wanted to join us! We walked to the pier with two of my toddler cousins and their dog in tow. While I watched the boys playing off to the side, we sat on a bench swing talking about all the memories that had taken place on that pier, especially those with my mom, whom we’d lost less than a year prior to ovarian cancer. When I turned to face Zach, he was down on one knee (already with tears in his eyes), asking me to be his wife, telling me there was no place he could imagine asking than this, a place where he knew I truly felt the presence of my mom. The boys had no idea what was going on, but a year and a half later they were the sweetest ring bearers in our wedding!
What was the feel that you wanted to accomplish for your wedding and how did you executed that?
I really wanted to create a vintage and whimsical feel, which I think we accomplished through lots of string lights, draped fabric, old bottles, hardback reader’s digest books, candles, and our flowers and greenery. I collected pieces for over a year and a half and it all really came together in the end. I also wanted to find a way to celebrate my mom and grandmother, who I knew our day wouldn’t be the same without, as well as include our family and friends in our ceremony. I wrote the ceremony and included a hymn that makes me think of my mom, “For the Beauty of the Earth,” and in place of the usual unity ceremony, Zach and I went down the aisle lighting the candles of all of our guests while we sang this hymn. It was truly meaningful to acknowledge that we wouldn’t be the couple we are without the people that are part of our lives.
What was your venue and why did you select it?
We chose our reception venue, the Avondale Villa, first. We knew it was a beautiful space for an amazingly affordable price and we didn’t want to miss out. Choosing the wedding venue took us many more months and lots of indecision. We finally settled on the Avondale Brewery, with it’s gorgeous exposed bricks and rafters, and together it made for the loveliest little Avondale wedding.
What about your wedding was unique to Birmingham?
As two people who quickly fell in love with Birmingham, we tried to give the whole wedding a feeling of our city. But probably my favorite thing was spending the post-wedding hours with our out-of-town friends at Parkside, followed by late night eats at Al’s. Most people don’t want to spend their wedding night out until four in the morning, but for us it was perfect and so fun to show our friends our city!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding?
We had amazing vendors working with us, although thanks to the help of my stellar wedding planner Stacia Baskin (Paper Swallow Events) we did most of the work ourselves. Our photographer Mary Margaret Smith, who captured every moment she knew would be special to us, was amazing to work with from our engagements to spending the whole wedding day with us. My favorite detail, however, was how hand-made our wedding was and felt, from the flowers we arranged the day before, to the cake made my my cousin and pies by my grandmother. Our wedding was put together by the most supportive and giving friends and family and I think that only amplified the feeling of joy and love that resonated throughout our day.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day?
Without a doubt the best part of our day was this amazing, spontaneous dance circle that started at our reception. Our friends and family were already showing up in a big way on the dance floor, but somehow the song “Time of Our Lives” by Pitbull got almost everyone off their feet. I have never laughed as hard as I did watching our friends (mostly strangers to each other) spinning (and doing the tango at times) and dancing with each other in the middle of this huge circle of our friends and family. It was priceless.
Any advice for current Birmingham brides?
My advice is to make sure your wedding feels authentic to you and your spouse. Our wedding took a lot of time and hard work to create the weekend we imaged at a price we could afford ourselves, but the result was something that embodied everything we are as a couple. Not only did we feel celebrated and excited throughout our wedding, but we could tell that our guests were feeling the same authentic joy that we were and that was something I couldn’t have planned for that meant so much to us.
Anything else that you would like to share about your day?
We couldn’t have had the weekend that we did without the help from our families (and many out of town guests who arrived early) and for that we are so grateful. We are richly blessed with the best support system there is!
We are getting so excited for The Big Fake Wedding Birmingham on Thursday, November 3rd, 2016. The event, held at Park Crest Events, will feature some fabulous new vendors as well as celebrate the vow renewal of a sweet couple. Head to The Big Fake Wedding event page to find out who you’ll meet.
The Big Fake Wedding is a bridal show alternative complete with an emotional ceremony, light bites and a dance-party reception. “Wedding guests” are brides-and-grooms-to-be who get to truly experience the wedding vendors in action.
Park Crest Events | 2030 Little valley Road | Hoover, Al 35216 | November 3, 2016 | Ceremony at 7pm
Stay tuned to our instagram account for free ticket giveaways. Photo by : Carrie Friesen
We are so excited to introduce the latest contributing editor to The Birmingham Bride. Sarah Elizabeth is Mississippi born and Alabama bred; Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland is a quintessential southern girl from her residence to her double name. After receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Restaurant, Hospitality Management from the University of Alabama, she decided to move to Birmingham to stay close to family and friends. Right out of college it took a couple of years to find her calling, but she realized she had an entrepreneurial spirit and a servant’s heart. From there, her freelance business, repertoire-assistant services, was born. Repertoire has been a perfect combination for Sarah Elizabeth’s creative talents and her willingness to help others. She has become interested in event and photo styling, but still enjoys assisting with smaller tasks and organizing as well. During her off time, she loves spending time with family and friends, as well as, checking out all of the wonderful restaurants this great city has to offer.