An Elevated Barn Wedding in Arkansas
While some of us had memorable relationships in middle school, most people have to rack their brains to remember their pre-teen loves. But that certainly wasn't the case for Ashton and Drew, who met each other in the fifth grade in Russellville, Arkansas. "We dated for two weeks," Ashton recalls. But the pair finally noticed each other once again during their senior year of high school. In a scenario reminiscent of a classic high school movie, Ashton was a cheerleader and Drew was a football player when the two began dating again—this time for real.
After nearly four years together, Ashton joined Drew and his family on a vacation to San Francisco, where the group made a trip to view the Golden Gate Bridge. After they'd found the perfect spot, Drew suggested that they take a photo, but said he wanted to wait for the perfect moment since it was foggy outside. This seemed strange to Ashton, especially since she knew Drew's aversion to photos: "I was thinking something had to be up." Of course, she soon found out the real reason for the pause, as Drew promptly got down on one knee. After accepting his proposal, she joined her fiancé for a drive to Napa Valley, where they "spent the rest of the day tasting delicious wines and celebrating our new life adventure together!"
Ashton, a medical technician applying to medical school, and Drew, who works at a logistics company, decided to host their wedding at Meadow on the Mountain in Atkins, Arkansas. They fell in love with the two-story barn and appreciated the fact that the venue was centrally located near their families and friends. On June 2, 2018, the pair welcomed more than 300 guests to a warm, rustic celebration set against a backdrop of breathtaking hills in the Arkansas River Valley. And just like that, their middle school love story was complete.
Brown Linen Design created the stationery suite using thermography in order to produce raised, textured lettering. The invitations were printed on handmade paper and featured copper-colored calligraphy and the couple's wedding logo, which was their initials surrounded by an asymmetrical floral wreath. Copper-colored envelope liners and wax seals completed the look.
Ashton and her bridesmaids, a mix of lifelong friends and sorority sisters, wore satin boxer short pajama sets (Ashton's sleepwear of choice!) and fuzzy slides while preparing for the big day.
A Bespoke Dress
An Arkansas local all her life, Ashton had a go-to dress shop that she'd used for school and pageant dresses (she previously competed for the Miss Arkansas title). It was only fitting that Laine Berry, the owner of The Royal We, would craft her wedding dress. The bespoke creation featured an exaggerated bateau neckline, basque waist, and fit-and-flare skirt. Buttons accented the low back and cathedral-length detachable train (which Ashton took off for the reception). The gown was created from three-ply silk crepe and accented with Spanish lace imported from Barcelona; it was then hand-encrusted with Swarovski stones and beading. As for the garment's most special touch? Underneath the dress, a piece of fabric from Ashton's mother's wedding gown was embroidered with her parents' initials and wedding date alongside her and her now-husband's own.
Drew and his groomsmen sported navy suits for the big day. Drew's groomsmen consisted of his older brother (his best man), as well as lifelong friends, fraternity brothers, and college roommates.
A Special Gift
Shortly before the wedding, Ashton surprised her husband-to-be with a pocket knife that had once belonged to his late grandfather, which she had engraved with her and Drew's names and their wedding date. Drew remembers the unexpected gift fondly: "The knife is now sitting in my collection and will serve as an incredible reminder of two special people in my life—my papaw and my wife."
Pretty in Pink
Ashton took each bridesmaid's personal preferences into account when she individually selected their dresses. Ashton's two maids of honor (her childhood best friend and her best friend from college) and the rest of her attendants ended up in a mix of blush and soft mauve dresses.
The Weddings Rings
After having a few rings redesigned over the years (including her engagement ring), Ashton's mother had some leftover diamonds that she didn't know what to do with. So when Drew spoke to Ashton's parents about buying their daughter a ring, the mother of the bride knew exactly how to put those diamonds to good use. Lee Ann's Fine Jewelry sourced the center diamond of Ashton's engagement ring from Antwerp, Belgium, and then incorporated Ashton's mom's diamonds for the halo portion. The pair's wedding bands were also from Lee Ann's Fine Jewelry. The bride's was another custom design.
Mom in Mauve
Ashton shared a sweet moment with her mom, who wore a deep mauve gown for the festivities, at one of the venue's scenic viewpoints.
Terra Cotta-Inspired Bouquet
Inspired by the all-wood barn, Zimmerman Events crafted a bouquet that embraced golden hues in the terra cotta family. The textured arrangement also included many types of greenery and imported flowers. For the finishing touch, the blooms were tied with long silk ribbon and a handkechief from Ashton's grandmother.
The Floral Arch
The couple exchanged vows beneath a towering wooden archway overflowing with greenery and florals. The true backdrop, however, was the view of hills in the river valley behind the structure.
Brown Linen Design created program booklets using handmade peach-colored paper and copper ink, utilizing the same thermography technique that was used for the invitations. Inside the booklet, the bride and groom's "timeline of love" was included to break down their relationship's important dates. The food and beverage menus were also included the program alongside a thank-you message to the pair's friends, extended family members, and parents. The back of the booklet, which displayed a sketch of the venue, was almost as pretty as the front.
Ashton and Drew kept the Arkansas summer heat in mind when designing their short and simple ceremony, which incuded standard vows and prayer. The proceedings were officiated by pastor Kyle Reno from Summit Church in Conway, Arkansas. The hours leading up to the service were marked by a heavy storm, which miraculously subsided just before the ceremony's start. Amazingly, the lightning continued throughout the ceremony, making their vows that much more electric. "The timing could not have been more perfect," says the bride.
Since both Ashton and Drew agreed that they didn't want to do a first look, they said goodbye to one another after their rehearsal dinner. When they finally saw each other again at the ceremony, it had felt like forever—their ceremony, however, felt like it flew by, they say. After they were officially married, the couple paused for a few portraits, including this one taken just at sunset.
The newlyweds bypassed a traditional cocktail hour and ushered their guests directly into the reception, where they were met with food and drink. The two-floor reception was punctuated by one décor moment in particular—the pink, white, and green floral arrangement that covered the venue's staircase, which was also created by Zimmerman Events. Upstairs, guests could find cocktail tables that overlooked the dinner tables and outdoor dance floor below.
The Reception Setup
Both indoor and outdoor spaces were utilized for the reception—the tables and wedding cake were positioned inside the barn, while the band, dance floor, and food were set up outside. The guest tables were covered in oatmeal velvet linens and topped with a mix of both tall and short floral centerpieces. Comfortable sofas were available inside for tired guests to lounge on mid-reception.
The Head Table
The bride and groom's 24-foot-long head table was placed beneath the staircase and stood out thanks to mauve linens, taper candles, and globe lights strung overhead. Drew and Ashton were seated on an upholstered wooden bench, while their wedding party sat in plush high-back chairs.
Pretty Place Settings
Place settings included white ceramic dinnerware, clear stemware, and copper flatware. Brown Linen Design created place cards for the head and family tables using calligraphed handmade paper. The cards were then attached to marble tiles with twine. The menus listed the evening's high-end comfort fare offerings from Simply The Best Catering, including smoked brisket on garlic cheddar biscuits, buttermilk fried chicken tenders with honey mustard sauce, hot spinach and artichoke dip with seasoned pita chips, broccoli and bacon salad, and cornbread muffins.
A Special Keepsake
Guests signed the couple's linen-covered guestbook (it featured their wedding logo!) upon arrival, thanks to the help of two of Ashton's friends.
The First Dance
The couple's wedding band, Big City Outlaws, played "My Best Friend" by Tim McGraw—an homage to their joint love of country music—for their first married spin. The lyrics were also particularly salient, says the bride: "The lyrics totally ring true—we had been dating for almost five years and we really do see each other as best friends."
Ashton chose another one of McGraw's songs—"My Little Girl"—for her dance with her father.
A towering, seven-foot confection by PattiCakes Bakery was a focal point of the indoor reception space. The simple design, marked by pale pink fondant and touches of greenery, belied the confection's eccentric insides—the cake comprised of four different flavors, including strawberry and Champagne. "Drew is a pretty tall guy and when we started talking cake design I thought it would be so neat for the cake to be even taller than him!" Ashton explains of the decision to go big. The cake cutting was entertainment in and of itself Ashton recalls, since caterers had to mount a ladder to cut guests' pieces.
Five different custom napkin designs appeared throughout the night—two at the bar (these featured an illustration of the venue and the wedding logo) and three at dessert time (these highlighted a few of Drew's favorite things, like the couple's puppy and a deer and a duck to symbolize hunting). For guests who weren't big fans of cake, a variety of jar desserts were also offered.
Photo Booth Time
An on-theme wooden wall, compete with an overflowing asymmetrical floral installation, served as the backdrop for the couple's photo booth.
Guests were sent home with custom drink koozies that featured Ashton and Drew's names, the wedding date, and a sketch of the venue.
A Sparkling Exit
After their sparkler send-off, the newlyweds were whisked away in a cream antique Cadillac. They traveled to Little Rock where they spent the night in the Capitol Hotel, before heading to the airport the next day for their honeymoon in Bora Bora.
Photography, Heather Payne Photography
Location, Meadow on the Mountain
Event Planning, Flowers, and Photo booth, Zimmerman Events
Catering, Simply The Best Catering
Videography, Betwixt Magnolias
Officiant, Kyle Reno at The Summit Church
Stationery and Calligraphy, Brown Linen Design
Cake, PattiCakes Bakery
Bride's Gown, The Royal We
Hair and Makeup, Kakki Jones
Lighting, CWP Productions
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