Escaping Atlanta’s gridlocked lifestyle, a vintage-loving Southern bride and her groom linger outdoors for a destination garden party that’s rich in rustic detail.
By Allison Hersh | Photography by Mackensey Alexander
“I’m definitely a Southern girl,” Atlanta resident Ashley Hammond Bishop confesses. “I love the history and the culture of the Old South.”
When this online advertising sales rep for Scripps Networks became engaged to Turner Broadcasting media director Stephen Hammond, she knew she wanted to create a vintage garden wedding steeped in Southern style.
Ashley, a North Carolina native, and Stephen, who hails from Vermont, decided to host a destination wedding in Savannah, a city they had visited together many times. The setting provided an ideal location for the bride to fulfill her dream of staging the ultimate garden party.
“I knew I wanted the wedding to be outdoors,” she says. “You could never find a place indoors that’s as beautiful as nature. And we wanted our wedding to be a little bit quirky—beautiful but not too formal.”
To realize that vision—and to ease the long-distance planning challenges—the couple hired wedding planners from Morgan Gallo Events.
Together, Ashley and Stephen toured reception sites throughout the Coastal Empire before deciding upon the opulent garden at Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum downtown. Although the new North Garden was under construction at the time of their first tour, the couple had faith the addition would be complete before their October wedding.
For creative inspiration, the bride turned to Pinterest, wedding magazines and bridal websites. She created clever design elements, anchored by a neutral palette of navy, ivory and gray that tied the ceremony and reception together and provided visual continuity.
“I started with a lot of photos I found online and in magazines,” Ashley explains. “Pinterest was instrumental. It became an obsession. My photos served as a jumping-off point to create the overall design for the wedding.”
The bride handcrafted the table assignments herself, selecting antique house numbers in different sizes and fonts and nestling them in picture frames. Additional creative details included a modern chevron pattern printed on cloth napkins purchased especially for the wedding. In a playful touch, tiny clothespins clipped a dinner menu to each custom-made napkin.
Imaginative floral designs by Urban Poppy, with unexpected elements such as succulents and scabiosa pods, added texture and dimension to Ashley’s designs.
“Ashley is a really savvy bride with great taste,” planner Morgan Gallo says. “She’s really trendy, but she didn’t overdo it. She took ideas and made them her own.”
Becoming Mrs. Bishop
On a sunny fall day, family and friends gathered in Orleans Square for a traditional ceremony. Large white urns filled with forsythia branches provided a cheerful splash of color, complemented the fountain at the center of the square and echoed the live oak canopy overhead.
Wearing a strapless lace gown adorned with a slender satin ribbon, Ashley gracefully glided down the aisle to join her beloved groom and to say “I do.”
“Seeing Stephen at the altar was amazing,” the bride recalls.
After the ceremony, guests strolled over to the Ships of the Sea garden to sip cocktails and sample hors d’oeuvres inspired by Stephen’s childhood in Vermont and masterminded by Chef Nick Mueller. Canadian meat pies with maple dipping sauce, mini Cabot grilled cheese sandwiches and bite-sized lobster rolls were among the culinary highlights. Upon arrival, guests found their escort cards attached to an old screen door, evoking a more rustic time.
Being formally introduced at the reception remains one of Ashley’s most cherished memories.
“I looked and saw all these smiling faces,” she reminisces.
That Bridal Glow
A cluster of antique filament light bulbs, arranged artfully above the dance floor, created a spectacular mood in the North Garden. The bulbs hung at different levels and bathed the reception site in warm light as the bride and groom hit the dance floor for their first dance to the early Beatles classic “Love Me Do.”
Food stations proffered traditional Southern-inspired fare including crab cakes, prime rib and mac ’n’ cheese. Instead of having one large wedding cake, Ashley and Stephen opted for six smaller cakes in a variety of different flavors and frostings, as well as artisan cookies and homemade brownies. Each of the cakes was perched fetchingly atop a unique, vintage wedding plate, which Ashley had painstakingly collected from eBay and thrift shops in North Carolina and Atlanta.
“This wedding was so personal to Ashley and Steve,” raves Morgan. “It really represented who they are, which made it special for everyone.”
For Ashley, the secret to creating just the right details was to take her time. She savored every minute of her 16-month planning period, and she encourages others to do the same.
“Don’t be afraid of a long engagement,” she urges brides-to-be. “It gives you a chance to take breaks throughout the planning process.”
Time also gave Ashley a beautiful wedding gift: a collection of art objects to treasure along with her lush garden of memories.
Ashley and Stephen
Planning time: 16 months
Palette: Navy, gray and white with pops of yellow
Rehearsal dinner: 10 Downing at Churchill’s Pub
Ceremony: Orleans Square
Reception: Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum Garden
BEHIND THE VEIL
The big day: Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012
Planner: Alysse Sweeney, Morgan Gallo Events
Ceremony: Orleans Square
Officiant: The Rev. Stephen Williams
Ceremony music: New Arts Ensembles
Accessories: Erica Koesler headband, Something Bleu bridal shoes
Hair: Bobby Knowles
Makeup: Amazing You Bridal Hair & Makeup
Bridesmaids’ dresses: J. Crew
Groom’s attire: Hugo Boss
Reception: Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum and Garden
Catering: Chef Nick Mueller & Co. and Whitemarsh Beverage
Reception music: First City Events
Florist: Urban Poppy
Cakes: Back in the Day Bakery and Savannah Rum Runners
Stationery: Etsy and Alysse Sweeney, Morgan Gallo Events
Calligrapher: J Borkowski Designs
Rentals: Savannah Special Events by Ranco
Lighting: Stagefront Productions
Linens: Fabulous Events
Photo booth: Red Eye Photobooths
Transportation: Oglethorpe Trolley
Photographer: Mackensey Alexander, Mackensey Alexander Photography, 419.722.2030, www.mackenseyalex ander.com