The Birmingham Bride » Birmingham Weddings

Ally & Zach’s Avondale Villa Wedding

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!


Ceremony Venue: Avondale Brewery | Reception Venue: Avondale Villa | Photographer: Mary Margaret Smith | Caterer: Creative Catering | Event Planning + Design: Paper Swallow Events| Bride’s Bouquet, Boutonniere + Floral Crown: Hot House Design Studio | Bridesmaids’ Bouquets, Bride’s Hairpiece + Other Arrangements: Paper Swallow Events | Bride’s Makeup:Beauty Shock Salon | Bride’s Hair: Wheelhouse Salon | Cake: Marie Pasco | Donuts: The Heavenly Donut Co. | Pies: Bride’s Grandmother | Live Band + DJ: Patrick Reed + Goat Hill String Band | Rentals: Special Events Alabama

The Big Fake Wedding Birmingham

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

Welcoming Sarah Elizabeth Cleveland : Editor

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.


Tie the Knot in Kendra Scott

What an honor to be invited to the wedding collection unveiling party at Kendra Scott at the Summit.  Design your own wedding palette now in stores and online at Head on over to the summit and see this beautiful collection for yourself, you wont be disappointed you did.  Kendra Scott is also a great place to find bridesmaids gifts and even a cuff link collection for the men in your life.

“My Wish for every bride is that you never miss a moment. May my Bridal Collection help you celebrate each and every one on your way to ever after” ~ Kendra Scott

Garden Party Recipes


2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3-6 drops red food coloring

2 ¼ cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

 ¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup whole buttermilk

Buttercream icing (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 3 (8-inch) or 2 ( 9-inch) pans with Baker’s Secret. Line bottom with wax or parchment paper. Spray again lightly. Sift cake flour and measure. Put aside for next step. In a medium bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat with a mixer at high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract and food color, and beat to combine. In a separate small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour in three additions. Divide batter among pans, smoothing tops. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Let the pans cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert on a rack, carefully remove parchment or wax paper from the bottoms. Cool completely.

Butter cream icing:

4 sticks of unsalted butter, softened

8 cups powdered sugar (may need to add a little more)

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

4-6 tablespoons milk or cream

Whip the butter until creamy and pale. Add the powdered sugar. Mixture will be dry so add the vanilla and cream gradually until frosting reaches a good piping and frosting consistency. Frost and/or decorate immediately after making.


2 cups sharp cheddar

2 cups Colby jack

4 T Duke’s mayonnaise

1/2 t garlic salt

1/2 t onion powder

4 oz. pimientos

1/4 t salt

1/8 t pepper

Grate cheese then add ingredients in a food processor. Mix until blended evenly. Spread a thin, even layer over a slice of bread and top with a second piece of bread. Cut into small rectangles or triangles.


1 cup sour cream

1 t baking soda

4 cups AP flour

3/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup raw sugar

2 t baking powder

1/4 t cream of tartar

1 t salt

1 cup butter (cold)

1 egg

1 cup craisins

2 T orange zest

In a small bowl, combine sour cream and baking soda. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350º. In a large bowl, mix flour, white and raw sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in the butter. Stir in the sour cream mixture and egg. Gently mix in the craisins and orange zest. Turn out dough unto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. Split dough in half. On a silpat or lightly greased surface, pat half of the dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Brush milk (for browning) over the top and then liberally sprinkle a little more sugar in the raw. Cut eight wedges into the round. Then place in oven for 12-15 minutes.


1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used ½ regular and ½ Meyer lemons)

1 cup granulated sugar

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs

In a round (8-cup) microwave-safe bowl (the contents should fill no more than ¼ of the bowl), mix all the above ingredients well with a whisk. Microwave, uncovered, in 1 ½ minute increments. Whisk vigorously each time after removing the bowl from the microwave oven. Depending on your microwave, it will take anywhere from 4-10 minutes. Cook until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, and starts to mound a bit as you stir. Cool in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 30 minutes or so. It will continue to thicken. Place in a glass jar with a tight fitting top. A Mason jar works well. This makes about 2 cups, and keeps for weeks in the refrigerator. Serve with scones or fill miniature pastry shells for a party dessert.


1 cup granulated sugar

1 4-inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 6 lemons)

1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 6 to 7 limes)

1.5 liters cold club soda or seltzer

Combine sugar, ginger, and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, 2 to 4 minutes. Cool completely; strain. Stir together ginger syrup, lemon and lime juices, and vodka in a large pitcher. Just before serving, top with seltzer and pour over ice. Garnish candied ginger and slices of lemon or lime. (Add in a cup of vodka before the club soda to turn this mocktail into a cocktail)