How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
My husband and I met almost 7 years ago through close friends within a youth group in good ole Birmingham. At first, we were primarily just distant friends: Allen was traveling the world to spread the Good News about Jesus and I was a college student at the University of Alabama. Quickly, an orphanage arose out of Kampala, Uganda called Sozo Children that the Lord allowed Allen to have a huge part in. I was still trying to survive nursing school but found the time to create paintings for Sozo Children to raise support for the growing number of children they were pouring into. We quickly bonded over our mutual love for Ben Howard, take out Chinese food, and Jesus Christ, and now, two years after our first date, we are married, have two plants, and spend most of our time splitting fajitas at Chuy’s and hiking the various trails around town.
How did he propose?
Allen proposed on a mountain in Birmingham where we had our first kiss. I was tricked into going by a close friend and when I arrived, I was welcomed by hanging lights in the trees and a table with communion on it. He proposed and we took communion together and then prayed under a giant white cross. We then made our way to his parents house where all our friends and family were ready to celebrate.
What was the feel that you wanted to accomplish for your wedding and how did you executed that?
We wanted our wedding to be filled with Jesus. That was our number one from the start. We wanted our wedding to be outside and we wanted it to feel incredibly natural (if we could’ve worn chacos we would have). We both love the outdoors and we both love the picture of marriage as Christ and the church so because of those two things, we wanted people to hear the story of Jesus and witness what it means to lay your life down for another person – the falling autumn leaves and crisp weather were just an added bonus.
What was your venue (church and/or reception) and why did you select it?
Our venue was Swann Lake stables and if you’ve ever been there, you will know why we chose it. It is grand and spacious, but at the same time, with 300+ guests, we felt it would be the intimate outdoor feel we were searching for. Our ceremony was in the grass next to the stables and our reception continued into the stables and patio. With the fire burning and the sun going down, we knew no other venue would ever compare.
What about your wedding was unique to Birmingham?
We are Birmingham coffee shop people. And especially O’Henrys people. On one of our first dates, we wrote letters to each other and slid them into a wooden box at O’Henry’s in Homewood, pledging we would not look at each other’s. A year later, after we had gotten engaged, we went back to read the letters only to find they were no longer in the box. I immediately teared up over a cup of hot chocolate while Allen asked every employee there where the letters could be. After months of asking, we had no promising leads and had given up. Until one day, I felt like I needed to try one more time. So I went to the O’Henry’s office location and sifted through hundreds of old letters until I finally found our wrinkled handwritten letters. Each letter was almost identical and explained we knew we would get married. I kept them a secret until our wedding day, and I had my sister give it to him before I walked down the aisle.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day?
The most memorable moment for us was the ceremony. We are faithful believers in prayer and so once we were pronounced husband and wife, we had all of our guests lay hands on each other and pray together. It was powerful, and my brother and sister sang our favorite hymn “Come Thou Fount” during it. Jesus’ presence was there and we will never forget it.
Any advice for current Birmingham brides?
My advice would be this: don’t stress. Culture puts pressure on couples to have this unbelievable great gatsby-esque party that gets the most Instagram likes and that people talk about forever, but the honest truth about a wedding is that it fades into dried flowers, tacky bridesmaids dresses, and framed photographs. What’s important is that you realize that even though this is an important day, the best days are always yet to come if you are rooted in Christ. This is not the end but just the beginning, so when the dress stains and the cake falls, realize this: this day is about showing the world what the cornerstone of our faith is- Jesus has never and will never give up on us… So we will never give up on each other.
Anything else that you would like to share about your day?
(These are just random cool details)
One of the really cool details we had was letters from all of the Ugandan Sozo children. Each one wrote us a note filled with Bible verses and advice. We displayed some of them on a palate board at the reception. Our favorite piece of advice was from Benjamin: “Love her with all your life. Not all your life but half for her and half for God.”
Another really awesome detail of our wedding was our invitations. When Allen was in Uganda on a routine visit, he connected with a group of beautiful Uganda women (“Paper Craft Africa”) who handmade each of our wedding invitations. I painted the design and they printed them on handmade recycled banana fiber paper and Allen brought them back with him.
Planner: Invision Events | Photographer : Cameron Freshwater Photography | Venue: Swann Lake Stables | Florals: HotHouse Design Studio | Caterer: Savoie Catering | Cakes: Magic Muffins | Rentals: Event Rentals Unlimited | Band: Nobody’s Bizness | Bride’s Dress: Bella’s Bridal | Groom’s Suit: Men’s Warehouse | Hair: Danielle Ivy | Videographer: DJ Dittenhoeffer | Paper Suite + Handlettering + Wooden Signs : DIY by bride