Instead of the usual hour between ceremony and reception, Elizabeth Bean and Will Ryan had a whole year. On October 31, 2020, the pair married at Canterbury United Methodist Church in Birmingham, AL, amidst immediate family only, and decided to postpone the reception to their one-year anniversary. What resulted was a lively, revelrous, and finally-safe marriage celebration with 275 family and friends on October 30, 2021, at the Country Club of Birmingham.
Elizabeth Bean and Will Ryan met in passing in the Hamptons soon after Will moved to New York City in 2015. The universe seemed to nudge the two together when they ran into each other again a few weeks later at a mutual friend’s birthday party. They’ve basically been together ever since that second meeting.
In January 2020, Elizabeth and Will were in Los Angeles with some of Will’s family for the Rose Bowl (“Go Badgers!” Elizabeth adds) and decided to drive Highway 1 from LA to San Francisco. “We received poor advice about the time required, and after nearly nine hours in the car, on a stressful (but beautiful!) drive, Will pulled over in Big Sur and proposed,” she says. “We ended up making a pit stop in Carmel to celebrate.”
About a week after Elizabeth said “yes” to Will on the side of beautiful Highway 1, they settled on a late October wedding. “Ten months was a great length of time for an engagement,” Elizabeth says. “A year and 10 months from engagement to reception, however, was maybe a bit too long.”
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They tapped Mariée Ami to plan the wedding soon after their engagement. “They were amazing,” Elizabeth says. “Especially after we made the hard decision to postpone our reception until October 30, 2021! They quickly worked to rebook all of our vendors and move our contracts. They were invaluable the month and week of the wedding.”
Most of Will’s family and many of their friends from NYC had never been to Alabama (or even the Southeast!), so it was important to Elizabeth and Will to have the wedding in Birmingham. “I wanted to show off my hometown, and it was a natural choice to choose the Country Club of Birmingham, given I grew up spending a lot of time there.”
When it came to her aesthetic and florals, Elizabeth knew she wanted a lot of color. “I had fallen in love with all of Floressence Flowers‘ prior work. Beyond that, I didn’t have a specific vision. My mom has really great taste, so I trusted her, Neillie [of Mariée Ami], and Eatherley [of Floressence Flowers] completely. I was shocked when I saw the reception — it was so much more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. They totally nailed it!” Ceiling-dripping greenery, show-stopper centerpieces, and an entryway transformation like we have never seen still have guests talking!
A month after the proposal, Elizabeth flew to Birmingham to visit two bridal boutiques with her mom, aunt, and grandmother. “I had no idea what I was looking for, but I ended up selecting the second dress I tried on that day,” Elizabeth says, telling a tale much different than many of the less-decisive brides we’ve met.
One of the coolest wardrobe touches we’ve seen? Elizabeth wore the rehearsal dinner dress her grandmother wore for her wedding but had local designer Katie Gibert of Katherine Vier update and modernize the ensemble. “It was initially designed to be worn for our original rehearsal dinner in 2020, but since we were already married, I opted not to wear white on Friday night this year and to save this dress for an outfit change during the Saturday night reception” Elizabeth says.
During cocktail hour, guests enjoyed an oyster bar, passed mini pimento cheese sandwiches, and mini quiches. Food stations spread throughout the room served up Southern delicacies like shrimp and grits and beef tenderloin. The bride’s cake was a signature buttercream flavor, and the groom’s cake was a chocolate creamy peanut butter with chocolate ganache drizzle (with a sugar replica of their dog, Clyde, on top!)
Because this was the wedding celebration, the Ryans wanted the whole weekend to feel festive and light. “We centered the weekend on spending time with our loved ones who had traveled from across the country to celebrate our marriage. Also, because it was Halloween weekend, we passed out a variety of costumes as dance floor props, including wigs, mustaches, full-blown outfits, and more. It was a huge hit!” Elizabeth says.
When the band played its final note, the party didn’t stop. “Because it was our celebration, we ended up leaving on the bus with the rest of our guests who were heading to our after-party at Carrigan’s Public House in Mountain Brook, where the party continued (with Domino’s pizza) until the wee hours of the morning,” Elizabeth recounts.
“We were scheduled to visit Lana’i in Hawaii, but due to COVID restrictions, our plans were canceled 48 hours before the wedding. We quickly pivoted and spent three nights in Santa Barbara, CA, and two nights in Napa, CA.” Elizabeth and Will have snuggled into married life in San Francisco, CA, where their beloved Clyde enjoys a life of limitless adventure.
To future brides, Elizabeth adds, “Everything will work out, and it’s not worth stressing over the small details. If you hire a wedding planner, trust them — they are professionals!”
Thank you so much, Elizabeth and Will, for recreating this special day for us. And thanks to Rachel & Noah Ray for the gorgeous photos.
Ceremony: Canterbury United Methodist Church
Reception: Country Club of Birmingham
Planner: Mariée Ami
Day-of coordinator: Mariée Ami
Photographer: Rachel & Noah Ray
Flowers: Floressence Flowers
Stationery: through Mariée Ami
Hair and makeup: Celine Russell
Bride’s Gown: Augusta Jones (via Carriage House)
Outfit change: Katie Gibert
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Birdy Grey
Groom and groomsmen attire: any black tuxedo
Catering: Country Club of Birmingham
Cakes: Barb’s Cakes
Entertainment: Rhythm Nation (via East Coast Entertainment)
Rentals, Glassware, and Linens: Country Club of Birmingham
Transportation: Rare Transportation
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