The Birmingham Bride » Birmingham Weddings

Tori & Michael’s American Village Wedding

Venue: American Village | Catering: Happy Catering | Photographer: Stacy Richardson Photography | Wedding Planner: I do, I do! Wedding Planning | Florist: Mandy Busby | Band: Floyd the Barber | Videographer: Harned Films | Ceremony Musician: Elisbeta Warden | Hair & Makeup: Allison Strickland and Rachel Griffith | Live Painter: Joy Varnell | Transportation: Steel City Executive Transportation

How did the two of you meet? 

We both worked a political campaign in 2012. I had just moved to Raleigh, North Carolina from Birmingham, and Michael was living in Greenville, North Carolina. We happened to work the same event in Greenville in September and found excuses to see each other for “work” in the months following. 

How did he propose?

There was a park near my condo in Raleigh where we liked to take walks after work if the weather was nice. Throughout our relationship, we also enjoyed reading the newspaper (yes, the printed kind) on slow Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons. I had just had a really stressful day at work, and we were supposed to go meet some friends out for dinner. When Michael came to pick me up, he suggested we go take a walk with the paper. I obliged thinking it was a little strange because I was hungry, but I thought he just wanted to help me de-stress after a long day. When we got to a favorite bench, we stopped and started reading the paper. After a few minutes, Michael passed me the Classifieds section and pointed to an ad that said “Mid 20’s Male Seeking Bride to Be Named Tori”. The ad said the most adorable things, and after he read it aloud to me, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was so excited I didn’t notice the friend in the bushes taking pictures. After a few minutes, several of my girlfriends came from behind the trees and our friend (who doubles as a photographer) jumped out from behind the tree. Michael had arranged for our families and more friends to surprise us as the Busy Bee Cafe downtown after the initial excitement wore off. It was truly a perfect day! 

What was the feel that you wanted to accomplish for your wedding and how did you executed that?

Natural elegance. We wanted our flowers to look natural and include plenty of greenery, but also match our venue space. Our venue was classic and traditional which helped to balance the natural look for the black tie optional attire. Our florist, Mandy Busby, was incredible at taking my general ideas and translating them into the flowers for our wedding. 

What was your venue (church and/or reception) and why did you select it?

We had our ceremony and reception at the Chapel and Ballroom at the American Village in Montevallo. Michael and I both share a love of all things Americana, and we felt like it fit us well without being over the top with American flair. 

What about your wedding was unique to Birmingham?

The geographical location of our wedding was a bit of a pain point. I’m originally from Orlando, Michael is from Charlotte, and we lived in Raleigh. We were asked over and over, why Birmingham? Great question. I went to Samford and absolutely fell in love with the city. My grandmother and Dad’s family have lived there most of my life, and it is rich with family history. I thought I would live the rest of my days in Alabama from the first day I moved to Birmingham my Freshman year, but the Lord had other plans for me. It was such a special place to me that Michael grew to love it as well. (When Michael came to visit me before I moved to Raleigh permanently, we said “I love you” for the first time at Vulcan Park overlooking the city.) We knew wherever we chose to have our wedding, we would have a significant amount of guests who would need to travel. The more we thought about it, the more we loved the idea of choosing a place that was special to us as a couple.

As a result, we wanted our guests to experience everything we loved about Birmingham. The welcome bags included a booklet with restaurant recommendations and the best places to visit – and why they were important to us. Michael and his groomsmen were able to play basketball at Samford the morning of our wedding which was just a special, ironic detail for me. Our rehearsal dinner was catered by Jim N Nicks, and my bridal luncheon was at the Rucker Place. And, of course, no Birmingham wedding would be complete without an excellent rendition of “Sweet Home Alabama”. 

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding?

One thing Michael and I really wanted to do was to hire people we cared about to be involved in our wedding. 

We asked Augusta Cole with Artistry by Augusta to help with many details of our wedding. Having her involved pulled together all the little design details from the welcome baskets at the hotel to the moment guests walked into the Chapel to the time they picked up rose petals to throw for our exit at the end of the night. She also sketched the beautiful exterior of the Chapel where our ceremony took place. We had guests sign around it as a guest book, and it hangs in our dining room today! We love it. 

We also loved using Amy Morrison with A Paper Wedding in Lynchburg for all our paper needs! Amy and I went to high school together and have remained friends over the years. We got married two weeks apart, but she was able to make all the little details perfect from our invitations to the programs and the seating chart at the reception.

Other Samford shout outs: Alan Harned was our videographer who was exceptional, and Allison Strickland was my killer hairdresser who was committed to make sure I was completely happy with my hair. I’m particular about my hair, but she was wonderful at making sure I loved every square inch of my hair!

Each one of our vendors helped make our day so special and intentional. 

What southern traditions did you incorporate into your wedding?

Our wedding blended so many various parts of the south. Originally from Florida, I married a North Carolinian in Alabama. As with most southern weddings, we had a strong emphasis on family. We come from two long legacies of love, and we wanted to honor that in our ceremony. We celebrated the new union of our marriage with a unity candle during our ceremony, and we asked our grandfathers to read scripture during our ceremony. We asked our young cousins to be a part of the wedding as flower girl and ring bearers. Each of our siblings were in our bridal party, and Michael asked his dad to be his best man. As something old, I wore my Mom’s pearl bracelet and garter. To honor our new home, we gave away Chapel Hill Toffee to every guest – one of our favorite North Carolina sweet treats! 

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day?

Michael and I decided not to see each other before our ceremony. We were both so nervous about the whole day, but walking down the aisle to him was so special. One of our favorite hymns is “Be Thou My Vision”, and I walked into the rendition played by the string trio. We both regret the looks on our faces because we were both trying hard to hold back tears! 

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