Wanting a timeless, southern Black-Tie Affair with vintage garden party vibes Alexa & Michael created a celebration that was simple. sophisticated, and highlighted their love for each other and their families. SHAUNTEL GULL captured their beautiful day in Charleston, which was chosen for the many wonderful memories the couple had of the place, and also as it would serve as a great destination for their friends and family. Sit back folks cause we have quite the story for you with this one!
HOW DID YOU MEET? It was winter 2014, Saturday, 15 February to be exact. Team USA had just rocked the Russians in the Olympic hockey preliminaries and needless to say the air was filled with high spirits and undeniable excitement. But little did I know, that fact would be the least exciting occurrence of the evening. I was about to meet the man that would change my life forever. In my mind, I was just heading to an Olympic themed party with no expectations. Upon my arrival I was whisked through the jam-packed house for a slew of formal introductions. When we finally landed on Michael J. Fox, one of Pat’s three roommates, I was completely smitten. Decked out in American Flag Chubbies, a button-up, patriotic Ray-Bans, and a grin paired with southern charm that could melt the hardest of hearts, I was instantly sold. I would like to say we talked the night away, but not a second sooner there was a toast raised for him and he was being wishing God’s Speed on his upcoming deployment. I was mentally kissing goodbye any chance of getting to know him better let alone the possibilities of even having a shot at a date but I quickly whisked those thoughts away and spent the rest of the night casually chatting with the most charming complete stranger I had ever laid eyes on. When midnight struck and we said our goodbyes, I distinctly remember telling my friend “that Michael J. Fox… If he ever asked me out, I would date him in a heartbeat” ... I sighed and then we both laughed at how outlandish the idea even was… or so we thought!
After a month passed, I still could not shake our short, but sweet encounter. I was literally beside myself wanting to know how he was doing. So I did what any modern, respectable woman would do… I Facebook stalked him and sent him a short message asking how everything was going. And to my surprise he responded. And even more to my surprise, our messages back and forth continued to grow longer and longer until six pages with no-spaces was a weekly average covering everything from our favourite childhood memories to our dreams. But to be honest, I wasn’t quite sure of Michael’s intentions beyond that until my birthday, 3 September 2014. I arrived home late from work, to a tiny package on my doorstep. I made the assumption that my sisters had sent me a birthday present and tore into the package without batting an eye. I pulled out a silver monogramed business card holder. You see, blogging full-time as a business was a dream of mine that I wanted to pursue down the road after getting out of the military, but my planning had started just a few months back. I couldn’t have imagined a more thoughtful and motivating gift to encourage me to continue putting my dreams into action! I quickly rummaged through the package’s aftermath for the note (from my sisters of course!). Yet, as I scanned the gift receipt, my eyes landed on a note from Michael. I got instant butterflies in my stomach, ones I still haven’t been able to shake to this day.
Thirty days later Michael finally arrived back to the good ole US of A and immediately he asked me out on a “real date”. One that involved Italian food, accidentally eating half of his pasta before realising the server had swapped our dishes, and laughing from the time he picked me up till the very moment he dropped me off. That day was 11 October 2014. We’ve been madly in love ever since.
Over the next almost three years leading up to our engagement, we spent another twenty-eight months apart due to more deployments, reassignments, and schools, but despite the time apart I have never experienced more love, joy, and peace. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.
DESCRIBE YOUR WEDDING FLOWERS: My wedding flowers had a refined spring pallet with a large variety of blooms, minimal greenery, and had my all time favourite flower, ranunculus. From the bouquets, table arrangements, to our fireplace installations, our florals set the tone of our garden party theme to a “T”.
One of my favourite additions were the corsage pins, we chose to do single orchids. The were simple, yet total show stoppers and they best part is we use boutstix which are magnetic instead of pins so putting them on were a breeze after our bridal party was already dressed and stayed put the entire night.
As for the boutonnières, we forewent the florals and selected a modern twist to the tradition by using gold initial pins for the groom and groomsmen and vintage greenery brooches for the rest of our wedding party. I loved the fact that they were no fuss, easy to put on and could be provided to certain members the day prior to the wedding without having to chase them down if they had been fresh blooms.
FAVOURITE DETAIL OF THE DAY: My favourite detail was having the honour and privilege of carrying my grandmother’s little white bible down the aisle, as she had done so, along with my mom, and my older sister for each of their weddings. Following in their foot steps, symbolised so much more to me than merely carrying on a tradition, but rather marking my first day of walking with God through each day of my marriage to Michael as each one of them has in the past with their sweet husbands.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OUT TO A COUPLE PLANNING THEIR WEDDING? Our largest advice would be to remember this day is your day to celebrate your marriage. Create a day filled details that remind each other what this day is really about: your love for one another.
Secondly, remember to not over pack your timeline with events - you want to be able to remember and enjoy your day because it goes by quickly. We decided to skip traditional events like the garter and bouquet toss to create time for us to visit every table and talk to our guests and enjoy our dinner together. Best choice we made by far!
Thirdly, you can have the wedding of your dreams even on a budget. You just might have to roll up your sleeves, get your hands dirty, and learn a few new skills, but it’s possible!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROPOSAL: It was mid July of 2017, I had just returned from yet another deployment to begin out-processing the military in order to finally start my business and move to Italy (Michael’s newest Duty Station). I was thrilled; we were one-step closer to being together. After six long months, we were finally going to be reunited this very weekend before his big move to Europe. I was beside myself to say the least. So the day after he arrived in Tacoma, Washington, on the 28th of July, we packed our schedule with paddle boarding, couple massages, celebratory drinks with friends, followed by a romantic dinner on the water.
I didn’t think the day could have gotten any better, but boy was I wrong. We decided to top off the evening by heading down to the pier and renting the famous double bike carriage decked out with twinkle lights. Our carriage was yellow with the right headlight out yet all the twinkle lights were sparkling in perfect fashion. As we hopped in, we instantly determined music was a must so the Frank Sinatra Pandora Station it was (our absolute fave!). As we peddled down the walkway, Chinese Love Lanterns were being sent into the sky over the Puget Sound so we decided to stop and try our hand at it… to our dismay we managed to set our love lantern on fire… Needless to say, we decided to stick to peddling and could not stop laughing for the next half-hour.
When the sun was finally starting to set, Michael asked if I wanted to stop for the view underneath a Japanese gazebo. So as Frank crooned “Fly Me to the Moon” from the front basket of our little shimmering carriage, Michael and I began to dance the last of the day’s light away as passersby shouted, “Propose already!” I giggled. “Yeah, Babe, why don’t you propose already?” and, to my shock, that’s exactly what he did! Michael got down on one knee, pulled out the most beautiful rose-gold ring, and asked me if I would marry him. The small crowd of onlookers burst into cheers that faded as fast as the light around us.
Before he had barely finished, “Yes” had already escaped my lips several times over. He slipped the gorgeous ring on my finger and we held each other as we twirled to the rest of the song.
The young man who had stolen my heart on that cold February night so long ago had officially asked me to be his wife. God couldn’t have written our story any sweeter than this and for that I am forever grateful.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT? My most memorable moment was watching my sweet husband’s first dance with his mother to Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up!” (her favourite song!) while I stood arm-in-arm with my father watching each second of their dance with pure contentment. As we looked on, Michael held his mom a little closer and she began to sob tears of joy. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room and I was no exception to that.
In that moment, my dad kissed me on my forehead, looked me in the eye, and said “ You married a good man”. I couldn’t agree more.
I heard a saying once, that if you want know how your husband will treat you, look at how he treats his mother and his family. His love for his mother glowed throughout that dance and during so many other moments throughout our special night, but that moment in particular brought the sweetest tears to my eyes. I was reminded that I am truly blessed beyond measure to have Michael as my forever and always.
ANY OTHER DETAILS THAT HELP TELL THE STORY OF YOUR DAY? For Michael and I, we tried to use every opportunity to weave our history and story into our wedding. This started with being able to write our Wedding prayer, having our numerous siblings involved from bridal party to scripture readings.
1. Ringbox: One the best surprises came from Michael’s Uncle Peter. He is a wonderful carpenter and crafted us the most beautiful wood inlaid Ringbox which he gave us at the rehearsal. It now has the prized spot on our dresser where we get a quick throwback to our favorite day right before bed.
2. Cake & Cake Table: Since I was about 6 years old, I use to always tell my Grandmother, Nomi, that I wanted her to bake her famous Coconut Cake for wedding one day. So with the help of my grandmothers recipe and my mother’s insanely talented best friend, she baked our three tiered wedding cake with Nomi’s recipe and paired incredible artistry to check off another bucket-list item of mine. Aside for the cake alone being special, the table for which this cake rested created just as must sentimental value. To some, this table may not look like much, but this piece was handmade by great grandfather when he was 16 years old as a gift for my great grandmother that he gave to her the first time he told her “I love you”. That fact alone made this table the focal point of the reception and a perfect place for Michael and I to have made our first toast as husband and wife.
3. Our First Dance Song: As you probably already read, Michael proposed while Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” was playing in the background so Michael surprised me by having this played as our first dance song. Which meant just as much if not more being played this time, as my grandfather, Ed Dickerson, who unfortunately passed away several years before our wedding day, use to belt out this very song with me growing up over his karaoke machine. Since he couldn’t be there for our special day, having these memories of him show up in the small details made me feel extra close to him despite his absence and so thankful to know he was looking down on Michael and I in that very moment.
4. The Blood Moon & Starry Sky: It’s not everyday that your mom’s best friend tells you to run outside with your husband in hand to check out the sky directly after your sparkler exit, but it happened and I am so glad it did! I didn’t know what it meant at the time, until Michael and I opened our wedding gifts a few days later to find the framed constellations from Simona of the sky on our wedding night. I know this gift has become common in the wedding world, however, I doubt most couples were given the moment to soak in the view; one which is ingrained in my mind for forever.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR HONEYMOON: Due to Michael’s work schedule, we held off on our honeymoon until a few months later where we set out on a week-long adventure in Mallorja, Spain. We spent the first few days enjoying our boutique resort pool, massages on our sun-terrace, and sunset walks along the the cliffside. While the second half of our honeymoon, we soaked up all the sunshine when boating, cliff jumping, and swimming around Port Da Soller.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD CHANGE OR DO DIFFERENTLY? Neither of us would have changed a thing aside from the fact that we would have given everything for our grandparents who have already passed or were unable to attend to have been there. But we know they were there in spirit, and used our “Legacy Wall” full of family wedding photos to remind us and our guests of the people that shaped Michael I’s love for each other.