It was a crisp, clear, October day when Caroline Ledbetter and Mel Wilcox began their lives together. Surrounded by close friends and family, as the leaves were just beginning to adopt their autumn hues at Swann Lake Stables in Birmingham, the pair celebrated their love story.
Caroline and Mel have known each other since high school, but were separated by roughly 260 miles of interstate for most of their dating relationship, as Mel left for South Carolina to study at Furman University and Caroline attended Auburn University. Though the pair put countless miles on their cars through those years, the distance seemed infinitely worth it, especially in December 2014, when Mel proposed.
While home for Christmas break that year, the couple set out to enjoy their annual Birmingham Christmas traditions. They went to the Alabama Theatre to catch one of the movies showing in the Holiday Films series, they drove around town to look at Christmas lights and they went for one of their routine hikes at Oak Mountain State Park. There, Mel surprised Caroline with an early Christmas gift. Caroline says they are always seeking to “one up” each other with thoughtful gifts, and this simply seemed like one of those times. “When Mel pulled out a leather bound journal I had given him for his birthday a couple years ago, I wasn’t surprised. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for us,” Caroline says. “He told me he had been writing about our relationship in it for the last two years. Every page had a date and a memory from time we’d spent together. It got closer and closer to December 20, and I flipped to the last page and it said, ‘Today I propose to Caroline.’ Then he got down on one knee and proposed!”
From there, they began planning a day filled with beautiful, muted autumnal tones; intentional, heartfelt details and an intimate, worship-centered atmosphere. “The most important thing to both of us was making sure that Jesus was at the center of that day and at the center of our marriage,” Caroline says. “More than anything else, we wanted His love to be on display.”
Swann Lake Stables, which is owned by a family friend, was the perfect setting for the October 17, 2015 wedding, and was an easy choice for the couple, who knew from the beginning they wanted to get married outside. From there, many of their decisions fell into place. Caroline knew she wanted to pull from a soft, fall-inspired color palette, which she brought out in the romantic mismatched bridesmaids’ dresses and beautifully unique florals. The ceremony was set in the field adjacent to the stables, anchored by two gorgeous oversize urns spilling with greenery. With acoustic music by Act of Congress and a time of prayer and worship where the wedding party and family gathered around the couple, the ceremony was a heartfelt celebration of love.
The laid-back feel of the rest of the day carried over to the reception. Lush greenery, soft lighting from candles and the nearby stone fireplace, and the gorgeous backdrop of the grounds at Swann Lake Stables invited guests to relax and enjoy themselves. With delicious food, including tomato pie tartlets, homemade biscuits and fried chicken bites from Savoie Catering, and fun reception music by Papa Sol, the couple danced the night away before heading out in a cream-colored vintage convertible. Caroline and Mel now live in Denver, CO, where they are enjoying the mountains and life as newlyweds.
May your road be long and happy, Caroline and Mel!
Photography: W&E Photographie
Wedding planner: Mimi Bittick and Robert Hill from The Major Event
Wedding dress: Leanne Marshall from The Sentimentalist
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Jenny Yoo from Bella Bridesmaids
Groomsmen and groom’s formalwear: Custom-made suits from Hartbrook Clothier; ties from J.Crew
Cake: Barb’s Cakes
Flowers & invitations: Laura McCarty of Marked
Ceremony & reception: Swann Lake Stables
Catering: Savoie Catering
Ceremony music: Act of Congress
Reception band: Papa Sol
Makeup: Jaclyn Gibbs
Videographer: Chip Burns
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