This English Garden-Inspired Wedding in North Carolina Was Influenced by Matisse
Ashley and Scott shared a whirlwind romance after an online dating website brought them together in late January 2016. "We had our first date on February 1st—we stayed up until 3 a.m. watching movies at home—and shared our first kiss two days later. Within a week, we were calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend," Ashley recalls. In June 2018, the pair began talking about getting married—and Scott took the opportunity to pop the question over a casual breakfast on the pair's patio.
The couple initially had a courthouse wedding on Scott's birthday about a month after their engagement. "We kind of thought that would be it," Ashley says. "But after some health scares in Scott's family and some pushing from my mom who deeply loves a party, we finally decided to have a very small backyard wedding." At their soirée, which spanned just a few hours in the evening, guests were asked to adhere to a "party cocktail" dress code, which suited the celebration that was "bursting at the seams with color and laughter," says the bride.
Ashley took on most of the planning and coordinating herself, and with just four-and-a-half months to plan, she pulled off a vibrant, fun, and nontraditional wedding—an appropriate event style for the bride, an operations manager at Anthropologie—in her mother and stepfather's English-inspired garden in Charlotte, North Carolina ("My stepfather's biggest passion project is his garden, and it made the most exquisite backdrop for our celebration," she adds). Even though it rained twice on the big day (which fell on May 4, 2019), the couple loved how the weather brought their 35 guests together and made for an even more memorable milestone.
The Engagement Ring
Ashley's engagement ring originally belonged to her great-great-grandmother. The center stone is a three-carat European cut diamond surrounded by blue sapphires, more diamonds, and milgrain detailing. "The ring is nearly 100 years old and has never been altered from its original form—it still has my great-great-grandmother's initials engraved on the inside of the band," Ashley shares.
The Bride's Look
Expecting to feel overwhelmed by the wedding-dress shopping process, Ashley decided to limit her options to BHLDN so that she could try on gowns in the privacy of her mom's home. She stepped into a few dresses before falling in love with the "Hearst" number, which features a deep V-neckline, open back, A-line skirt, and floral appliqué detailing. "I opted to add some fluttery tulle pieces at the shoulder to make it a little more ridiculously fun!" Ashley says.
A Regal Touch
Instead of a veil, Ashley decided to wear a gold crown by AMAROQ on her wedding day.
A Crowned Bride
"It felt like the perfect blend of Camelot-meets-Game-of-Thrones," the bride says. She decided against jewelry so that the crown would be the highlight of her bridal look.
A Bouquet of Favorites
Flowers were incredibly important to this bride, so she went the DIY route; she asked a wholesale florist to execute her overarching floral vision with preserved banksia, coral charm peonies, yellow pincushion protea, and snapdragons. As for her bouquet? "I used ranunculus, poppies, pink hypericum berries, anemones, tulips, and peony tulips as 'fillers;' the greenery was a mix of lemon leaf, huck, and plumose," Ashley explains.
Groom in Navy
Scott donned a navy suit—which he paired with a pink shirt and blue woven tie—for the big day.
A Floral Dress for the Flower Girl
Ashley's niece served as the couple's flower girl. She wore a dress from Boden with a flower pattern (that referenced the shapes in the ceremony backdrop!) in the wedding's color scheme: teal, pink, and yellow.
The First Look
Though Ashley and Scott didn't spend the eve of their wedding apart, they decided to have a first look anyway. Ashley managed to keep her wedding dress a secret so that she could surprise her groom pre-ceremony. "I loved the idea of having a first look—and [having the moment of] seeing each other all dolled up chronicled in photo form," the bride says.
Into the Garden
The couple's secular ceremony took place in the backyard and was officiated by one of their closest friends, Nicole. Ashley's mom read Walt Whitman's "To a Stranger" before the couple exchanged vows. "Scott and I both wrote our own vows, but frankly, vow writing fell by the wayside and we both agreed to improvise once the time came," Ashley says. "Thank goodness the stakes were lower since we had already exchanged vows once before!"
A Matisse-Inspired Backdrop
In addition to the garden's vibrant flowers, a patterned fabric backdrop offered a fun pop of color during the ceremony. "My mom and I worked together on the ceremony backdrop, which was inspired by Matisse's gouache cut-outs," Ashley says.
Regan Rutherford's paper poppies—which were staked into the grassy ground—lined the aisle, bringing a pop of whimsy to the already-lush space.
You're My Best Friend
Following their short-and-sweet nuptials, the newlyweds recessed back up the aisle to "You're My Best Friend" by Queen.
The duo's reception took place in the backyard as well, where six farm tables were draped in marigold velvet runners.
The Place Setting Details
Each place setting was anchored by a navy linen napkin; two-toned flatware and blue, white, and gold-patterned plates contributed to the colorful tablescapes.
Ashley and Scott served a dinner that incorporated both of their backgrounds (he's from Texas, while she hails from South Carolina)—hence, their barbecue feast. Along with the expected meats, they served Israeli couscous with tomato, cucumber, feta, and toasted chickpeas, creamed corn, steamed veggies, coleslaw, and mac and cheese.
A Multi-Flavored Cake
The couple's three-tiered semi-naked confection by Suárez Bakery included two flavors—chocolate cake with vanilla filling and a vanilla cake with strawberry chiffon filling. The entire dessert was lightly frosted with vanilla buttercream.
Ashley and Scott sent their guests home with cookies from Milkbar and personalized matchboxes emblazoned with their first initials to thank them for joining in on their big day. The newlyweds chose Paris and Barcelona for their honeymoon—which also doubled as the groom's first trip to Europe.
Photography, Perry Vaile Photography
Flowers, Flower Moxie
Catering, Midwood Smokehouse
Place cards, Minted
Bride's gown, BHLDN
Alterations, Christie's Alterations
Flower girl's dress, Boden
Rentals, Party Time Rentals
Cake, Suarez Bakery
Paper flowers, Regan Rutherford
Day-of paper goods, Paper Supply Station