Tropical Accents Personalized This Lakefront Wedding in Arley, Alabama

bride and groom posing in front of trees and waterfront
Aislinn Eileen

While sharing a drink with friends on a business trip to Huntsville, Alabama, in 2018, Brandon smiled at a pretty girl but left without speaking to her. Three days later, he met up with other colleagues for dinner, and found they had brought along their friend Kim—the same pretty girl from earlier that week. "We spent several hours chatting that night, and the rest was history," says Kim.

In November 2019, Kim and Brandon visited Hawaii—one of their favorite destinations—capping off a year of travel that also included trips to South Africa and Switzerland. "After him not proposing in Africa and Switzerland, I assumed he would not propose on this trip," says Kim. But Brandon planned a surprise when asking for an extra camera battery during a sunset photo shoot: "My thought process was Kim would go into the pouch, see the ring box, then open the ring box to find no ring," he says. "In her shock and surprise, she would then turn around to me and I would be there down on one knee with the ring in hand." Kim didn't open the pouch, though, leaving Brandon to suggest she look inside before he dropped to his knee and proposed. "We ended up having a brief Hawaii rain shower and were greeted with a rainbow right after getting engaged," says Kim. "We knew at this moment we wanted a Hawaiian wedding."

In early March, they finalized plans for a 40-person wedding in Lahaina, Hawaii, in September 2020—but three months later, with no idea when COVID-19 travel restrictions would allow them to travel to the islands with their friends and family, they changed their plan. Says Kim, "In the infamous words of Ross from Friends we decided to PIVOT!" Their top priority was finding a new location that would be accessible to their family coming from San Antonio, Alabama, and Washington, D.C. "My parents had just finished building a lake house in Arley, Alabama," says Kim. "Since our original hopes of having an oceanfront Hawaiian wedding were quickly fading, we decided a lakefront one was the next best option."

Kim and Brandon spent three weeks planning a family-only event for just seven guests, which they held on July 20, 2020. "We planned the entire event ourselves with a lot of help from our entire family," says Kim. "It solidified why we wanted a wedding planner for our original date in Maui. They are worth every penny!" The family-focused affair included a seated meal on family china and a cameo from the couple's dog—but it didn't incorporate a livestream. "We kept the entire wedding a secret from all our extended family and friends until a few weeks after we were married," says Kim. "We called and video chatted various family and friends to let them know that we had gotten married. It was such an intimate moment to have with each of our loved ones."

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Diamond Day

wooden geometric ceremony arch overlooking water
Aislinn Eileen

The couple chose a waterfront patio on the property for their ceremony, adding metal lanterns to accent planters the bride's parents made. In Bloom created tropical-inspired arrangements in shades of blue and green—a nod to the original Hawaiian aesthetic and the colors of the surrounding scenery. "We had such a beautiful natural landscape, and we didn't want to take away from that," says Kim. "My father hand built our arch based on a rough picture I had found on Pinterest. It turned out better than I could have imagined!"

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White on White

bridal bouquet comprised of white orchids green and white anthurium and white lilies
Aislinn Eileen

Kim wore her original wedding dress—a custom halter top gown with a lace slit and low back from Heidi Elnora Atelier. "We designed this dress with Maui in mind—we wanted it to look elegant and be extremely breathable," says Kim. "I tried on multiple dresses during my consultation, and finally decided on two that I loved. We worked with the team to add elements of each. This was my dream dress—all the details came together seamlessly." Her cascading bouquet included white orchids, green-and-white anthurium, and white lilies.

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Bespoke in Blue

groom wearing blue suit and white orchid boutonniere
Aislinn Eileen

Brandon designed his blue suit "from the ground up" with Limatus Bespoke in San Antonio. "Overall, it was a great experience and my suit looked fantastic," he says.

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Their First Look

bride tapping on grooms back for first look
Aislinn Eileen

As Kim stepped up behind Brandon for their first look, he turned around with "the biggest goofy smile on his face," she says. "We both wanted this moment to be intimate and special. It truly was! Despite the immense heat and humidity, it felt like we were in our own little world, our own little piece of paradise." Brandon also remembers the joy and love they felt in the moment. "She was stunning!" he says.

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A Family Affair

small wedding ceremony overlooking waterfront
Aislinn Eileen

The couple's guests sat on custom live edge benches, while Reverend Robin Palmer of Grace Presbyterian Church officiated the ceremony. "For us, it was about celebrating with our families, as our families are very important to us," says Kim. "We wanted it to be an intimate day and I think we achieved that."

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His Solemn Vow

groom reading wedding ceremonial vows
Aislinn Eileen

Kim and Brandon read personalized vows laced with custom references. "We knew all along we wanted to write our own vows and had discussed how long they should be and the tone we wanted to convey," says Kim. "Brandon was sure to add in a bit of humor to his, which everyone enjoyed. I also managed to get a vow from Brandon to give me coffee in bed every morning for the rest of my life!"

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A New Beginning

bride and groom sharing wedding ceremony kiss
Aislinn Eileen

For Kim, one of the most important elements of the Hawaiian ceremony was a planned butterfly release. "We love being in nature and always manage to find a butterfly on hikes or holidays stateside and abroad," she says. Though she didn't include a release in the smaller ceremony, Brandon stepped in with a wedding-day surprise: At his signal, each guest opened an envelope containing a Monarch butterfly, and he picked up a nearby container. "As we opened the box and the Monarch butterflies flew out, the look on Kim's face was priceless," he says.

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Family Portrait

bride and groom holding puppy wearing bowtie
Aislinn Eileen

The newlyweds posed with their dog—handsomely dressed in a blue bow tie—after the ceremony.

09 of 13

To the Bride and Groom

bride and groom cheersing and kissing on porch
Aislinn Eileen

Kim and Brandon shared a post-wedding toast with their guests on the home's porch. "We did not have a traditional first dance, as our reception was more of a family-style dinner and we chose to just enjoy conversation and good drinks as a family," says Kim. "Once everyone left for the night, we did wind up dancing to Frank Sinatra's 'The Way You Look Tonight.'"

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All Together

intimate wedding reception table in lakefront cabin
Aislinn Eileen

The couple sat with their guests at one long table inside, where the meal from Steve and Julia Bong included filet and chicken saltimbocca. "My true passion is cooking and baking beautiful meals for family and friends," says Kim. "Every part of the meal was delicate, delicious, well-thought, and fresh!" Using the family's Villeroy and Boch dishes added a sentimental accent to the formal setting. "It was important for all of us to be gathered at one table to celebrate our day," says Kim. "COVID emphasized that we are not always guaranteed time with our loved ones, and we wanted to make this day feel special."

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Natural Beauty

chain of flower arrangements in greens and blues lining center of reception table
Aislinn Eileen

A chain of flower arrangements in deep greens and rich blues lined the center of the table. "We wanted something romantic and intimate, slightly tropical, but we also wanted it to be cozy enough that it felt like a family gathering over Thanksgiving or for the holidays," says Kim. "The beautiful blues, greens, and whites in the flowers paired wonderfully with the chestnut table."

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Sweet Stuff

simple vanilla wedding cake topped with fresh fruit
Aislinn Eileen

Kim and Brandon asked Hamley Bake Shoppe to provide "a very elegant wedding cake that spoke to the flavors of summer," choosing a vanilla-almond cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. "We also had fruit tarts, white chocolate pistachio and chocolate salted caramel macarons, and peanut butter and lemon cupcakes," says Kim. "We both have a bit of a sweet-tooth and ended up with so many desserts!"

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bride and groom embracing one another
Aislinn Eileen

Photography, Aislinn Eileen
Catering, Steven and Julia Bong of Chocolate by Julia
Flowers, In Bloom
Officiant, Robin Palmer
Cake, Hamley Bake Shoppe
Bride's gown, Heidi Elnora Atelier
Bride's accessories, Christian Louboutin shoes; ShopMoss earrings and hairpiece
Hair and Makeup, Hali Gurley
Groom's Suit, Limatus Bespoke
Rings, Ben Adams Precious Jewelers

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