For Michelle and Paul, young love turned into a lasting love. They began dating when they were just seventeen and knew even then that they’d tie the knot one day. Exactly six years later they did! J & D Farms, in Alabama, set the scene for their whimsical picnic wedding (such a cool idea!) complete with picnic baskets and quilted blankets. Guests were able to mingle in a relaxed manor between the picnic tables and blankets and got to take home their picnic baskets. A big thanks to Simply Bloom Photography for sharing this sweet wedding with us! Read below for Michelle and Paul’s full story (you might cry some happy tears) and more wedding day details.
Before the Ring:
Paul and I grew up together. We started playing together after school when I was in second grade. His mother was a kindergarten teacher and my grandmother was a librarian. At age 13, we became best friends in the marching band. We were “just friends,” but we both secretly had a crush on the other. The summer before my junior year of high school – I was drum major and Paul was the drum line captain – I had to call all of the section leaders to remind them of band camp and I called Paul last because I was nervous to talk on the phone with him. When I finally called him, we talked on the phone for five hours straight, chatting about how we wanted to travel the world one day and how we didn’t know we had so much in common. We didn’t want to get off the phone although I had to go (majorette practice was about to start and I had to unlock their practice building). Sitting there watching batons fly, I saw a silhouette in my peripheral. It was Paul. I asked him why he was there and he said, “I came to rescue you.” At that second, I left the building keys with the majorette captain, hopped in Paul’s car and went on what turned out to be our first date – a walk around Heritage Park and eating at Arby’s. Two days later on July 13, 2006, Paul officially asked me to be his girlfriend. Most people don’t think love is possible for young teenagers, but we knew we loved each other only a few months after we started dating. Paul even knew he wanted to marry me when we were 17. One night in my room he even got down on one knee and asked me to promise to marry him one day (I said “yes”). Then on July 13, 2007, Paul came to my house with a single red rose. He said, “This is one rose for one year of being in love with you. One day I won’t be able to carry them all.” That began the tradition of receiving a rose for every year we have been together on July 13.
On July 12, 2011, I went to sleep that night at my parents’ house as usual, and Paul was at school in Tuscaloosa. I was woken up at midnight by the sound of my door creaking open and could see a dark figure standing in my doorway. I was frightened because there was something that looked as if it was jolting out the sides of the figure’s body. I rose up and started whispering, “Hello? Hello?” I’m sure I didn’t sound very intimidating if someone was really trying to break into our house… Then the figure started walking toward me. Heart racing, I finally adjusted my eyes to focus. It was Paul. He was carrying five red roses. I couldn’t find my glasses and I was still somewhat groggy from sleep, so I didn’t really understand what was going on. I just kept asking him why he wasn’t at school like he should be. He assured me everything was fine, and he knelt next to my bed. He started reminding me of everything we had been through together, most of it at my house and in my room – the first time he came over to my house and we just talked and tossed popcorn into each others’ mouths, our first kiss, my recovery after gallbladder surgery when he sat next to me all day until I woke up. Then he said, “Right over there when we were 17, I asked you to marry me one day. I knew then what I know now, but this time I brought a ring.” He looked at the clock and brought to my attention that it was just after midnight, making this the first thing to happen on July 13. “Michelle, will you marry me?” I said, “Yes!”
Details of the Day:
Paul and I have always loved going on picnics together, so we wanted our first picnic as a married couple to be with all of our family and friends. We all sat on quilts on the ground and on picnic tables and ate dinner from individual family picnic baskets (which guests got to take home as their favors). For dessert we had miniature cupcakes from Dreamcakes Bakery in Birmingham. The flavors were strawberry, lemon and coconut. We had southern details such as mason jars for the flowers, quilts that were my great-grandmother’s that have been passed down through the generations, a barn as a focal point of the reception, Paul’s bowtie and seersucker jacket, a banjo and stand-up bass guitar and folk singing, our weddin’ sign, a vintage Model T station wagon for transporting guests from parking to the ceremony, drinks in mason jars with grey and white striped paper straws, a 1950’s two-tiered vintage table I found at the Country Living Fair, and the lead singer of the band (my friend Sharla) made us a personal quilt with our names and wedding date to sit on at the reception.
We wanted everything to be shabby chic, so the flowers were very whimsical. They were all shades of lavender and Robin’s egg blue. Instead of using large blooms, we used all sprigs and herbs. I wanted it to appear as if we picked the flowers from our backyard the morning of the wedding, which we actually did end up doing. My Aunt Jenna grew most of the flowers in her own yard the year leading up to the wedding and picked them the day before and day of the wedding to bring to the venue and assemble. We used sprigs of lavender, purple lantana, rosemary, lockspur, delphiniums, and baby’s breath, to name a few.
Most Memorable Moment:
Paul and I loved our first moments of seeing each other before the wedding. It was comforting and romantic and we realized that we were minutes away from starting an exciting new life together. Nothing else mattered.
Advice to Future Brides?
Buy a wedding planning book the day after you get engaged (I recommend The Knot Book of Wedding Lists). Don’t let the tiny details stress you out because at the end of the day, you will still be married to the love of your life, which is much more important. Utilize the talents of friends and family members, and don’t worry about what other people want or think – it’s your wedding!
Photographer: Simply Bloom Photography / Venue: J and D Farms / Flowers & Decor: Jenna Mayfield / Cake Baker: Dream Cakes Bakery / Rental Furniture: Tates Farm / Catering: Glenda Bird / Lighting: J and D Farms / Bride’s Dress: Lyn Ashworth / Bride’s Veil/Hair Accessories: Stella Dot / Hairstylist: L.A. Brooke Salon / Bridesmaid Dresses: Jasmine Bridal / Bride’s Shoes: Jessica Simpson / Band: The Bailey Easterwood Band / Groomsmen Attire: Ralph Lauren