Ashley Ezelle and Carlos Barahona met at a company Christmas party in 2013. She went with a friend, and he brought a date, but they hit it off that night and kept in contact until, what Ashley describes as “much persistence on Carlos’ part,” they went on their first date in March of the next year. The relationship seemed inevitably short-lived, as Carlos would be moving to Germany in just a couple of months, and dating long distance didn’t appeal to Ashley. But, as they soon found out, it was simply meant to be. By juggling time zones and phone calls, they managed to sustain their relationship during Carlos’ time in Germany and a subsequent move to Mexico, and in March 2015, a new job opportunity led to Carlos’ happy return to Birmingham.
These two are the definition of “meant to be”!
The stunning florals were second only to the beautiful bride at this wedding!
In June the next year, Ashley, a pharmacy intern at UAB, returned home from a late shift at the hospital and was surprised to find Carlos in the living room, surrounded by candles. In the special, private moment that Ashley had always hoped for, he asked her to be his wife. She said yes, and they celebrated with wine and chocolate, soaking up their first moments as an engaged couple, sharing the happy news with family and friends the next day.
Ashley wanted to have a summer wedding, so she and her mom started the planning process early and turned to Becky Baker of Becky’s Brides to help bring the day to life. Though this bride wasn’t one who spent her childhood imagining her wedding, her lifelong interest in fashion and eye for a modern aesthetic helped guide their plans. “I really didn’t have an idea of what I wanted as far as specifics go, but I knew I wanted something that was different,” Ashley says. “I wanted something modern and contemporary, but timeless as well.”
This bride is teeming with personality and style. Can you believe these fabulous bridal shoes by Sophia Webster? “I felt like the shoes were really my chance to express myself, so I wanted them to really stand out,” Ashley says.
Ashley and Carlos’ paper suite, which is equal parts elegance and whimsy, gave guests a perfect peek into the gorgeous day to come.
Champagne, confetti and the best bridal party around make for a great wedding morning!
Heidi Elnora Atelier was Ashley’s last stop in a day of wedding dress shopping, and a dress caught her eye immediately upon walking into the shop. “I learned that the pearl lace on the bodice of that dress actually came from Paris, made by a woman who does a lot of the beadwork for Chanel,” Ashley says. Her fashion-loving heart fluttered, and Ashley knew she had to have it. She worked with the team at Heidi Elnora to pair that stunning lace bodice with a skirt perfectly suited for Ashley, creating the custom gown of her dreams.
Carlos grew up in Mexico, and his family is all from El Salvador. What gift to his groomsman could be more fitting than futbol jerseys representing his attendants’ home countries? Love this sweet, personal touch!
Last-minute adjustments before Carlos sees his gorgeous bride
This sweet couple steals a few moments together before the ceremony.
In keeping with the traditional ceremony, Ashley and her bridesmaids carried elegant, white bouquets. The white orchids trailing from Ashley’s bridal bouquet give a nod to the modern elements of the reception.
Ashley was such a kind and considerate bride. She says since her friends were doing her a huge favor by being in her wedding, she really wanted them to feel comfortable and beautiful in their dresses. She selected a variety of dresses at Bella Bridesmaids and then told her girls to pick whichever style they felt most beautiful in. We love this thoughtful approach to mix-and-match bridesmaids dresses — and what a gorgeous result!
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You can’t help but love a group of guys in black tuxedos!
“My mom had told me not to worry about finding a something old, new, borrowed or blue, but she didn’t give me anything all day before the wedding and I guess I’d kind of forgotten about it,” Ashley says. “Then my parents and I did a gift exchange right before the ceremony, and my mom gifted me this beautiful Judith Leiber pink pill box. I opened it up, and it was a ring that had belonged to my grandfather, who was really the only close member of my family that had passed away and wasn’t able to be at my wedding. He had this blue sapphire ring that was willed to my brother — so it was blue, it was borrowed and of course it was old. It was just a really special moment. And I had pockets in my dress, so I put the little pill box with the ring in my pocket and that encompassed my something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.”
A traditional ceremony at Canterbury United Methodist Church would honor their faith, something Ashley says was very important to both her and Carlos, and for the reception Ashley wanted a blank canvas that she could completely transform. What more apt canvas could there be than the Birmingham Museum of Art? “I loved that it was so white and had floor-to-ceiling windows, so the space was filled with natural light,” Ashley says. “I wanted to play off of that, keeping everything white and using flowers for a huge splash of color.”
With the venues in place, it was Ashley’s carefully curated use of color that had the biggest impact on the look and feel of the day. Crisp, clean white was the common thread tying all of the beautiful elements together, starting with a classic ceremony and building toward a truly unforgettable reception.
At half past five on June 3, 2017, after a joyous day spent relaxing, getting ready and enjoying time with her closest friends, Ashley found herself on her father’s arm at the back of the church. As the notes of the bridal chorus filled the chapel, Ashley made her way down the aisle toward her groom. The ceremony was traditional, honoring Ashley’s Protestant upbringing and Carlos’ Catholic roots, complete with a traditional lasso ceremony in a nod to Carlos’ Hispanic heritage. Ashley opted for muted tones and simple florals, not wanting to compete with the beauty of the church or the meaning of the ceremony. The bridesmaids wore mixed-and-matched dresses in a neutral palette with touches of rose gold and carried bouquets of white peonies and tulips, while the groom and groomsmen were the picture of refinement in their black tuxedos.
Classic beauty: Ashley fell in love with the classic style of the sanctuary at Canterbury and wanted simple, classic florals that would enhance the beauty of the space.
On her father’s arm, the bride walks down the aisle toward her groom.
Ashley and Carlos wanted to honor his background by incorporating a traditional lasso ceremony, a prominent Spanish wedding tradition, into their wedding ceremony. Two of Carlos’ aunts were invited up during the ceremony, and they wrapped the wedding lasso, or large rosary, around the bride and groom in the shape of a figure eight, representing eternity and the tying together of the bride and groom.
First kiss as Mr. and Mrs.!
Ashley and Carlos were expecting to simply ride the bus to the reception with their wedding party, but Ashley’s parents had a vintage car waiting for them as they exited the chapel. This fun surprise gave the newlyweds a few moments together to catch their breath before entering the reception, and it made for such a special memory.
The dramatic reception served as a beautiful and breathtaking complement to the simple ceremony, as the museum was transformed into a work of art rivaling that which adorns its walls. Every surface was draped in white, with pops of spring green and whimsical florals at every turn. Above the long table running the length of the space hung the centerpiece of the reception: a gorgeous installation of tulips in shades of pink, orange and yellow, suspended by their vibrant green stems and seeming to spill from the ceiling.
Guests were welcomed to the reception with music performed by a Spanish trio and signature cocktails: a fresh strawberry margarita representing the bride’s favorite, and a dark & stormy for the groom, plus a delicious lemon drop on the rocks. A seated dinner featuring fresh, summer flavors and the choice between steak, chicken and pasta gave Carlos and Ashley the opportunity to relax and enjoy a wonderful meal with their guests, something that Ashley says was among their top priorities for the reception.
Ashley wanted her reception to be unforgettable, and after the traditional ceremony, her guests’ jaws hit the floor upon entering the ultra-modern reception space. “I really liked the idea of a juxtaposition between the two,” Ashley says. “You have a traditional wedding ceremony where pretty much everything is white and neutral and then once you enter the reception space, you still have the whiteness of it, but you also have this explosion of color and fun and more of a modern, contemporary feel.”
Vibrant tulips seem to grow from the ceiling above the reception space, an idea from Hothouse Design Studio that perfectly captured Ashley’s modern, colorful aesthetic.
Pink and green served as the jumping off point for the floral design. Ashley says she absolutely loved every element.
Long, low minimalist centerpieces allow guests to see one another.
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Ashley didn’t have specific flowers in mind, but she knew she wanted something different. She put the rest in Hothouse Design Studio‘s hands and the result is simply breathtaking.
It was important to Ashley and Carlos that they enjoy a meal with their beloved guests, so they opted for a seated dinner. Name cards were stationed at this stately botanical display.
How lovely is this couple?
Mr. and Mrs. Barahona share their first dance to “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers.
Even the groom’s dessert table was transformed into a work of art with a white backdrop and florals that seem to float above the table.
Ashley has a bit of a sweet tooth and says that cake is very important to her. (We can relate!) So, she knew that her wedding cake simply had to come from Olexa’s. Classic meets modern in this simple four-tier cake adorned with roses in shades of pink, seemingly floating above the table on a lucite cake stand.
Is this couple ever not smiling? Their joy is contagious!
The newlyweds are sent off into the night with a display of sparklers.
The newlyweds set off for their honeymoon and happy life together as Mr. & Mrs. Barahona!
After a night enjoying delicious food, jubilant dancing and the company of loved ones from near and far, sparklers lit the path for Ashley and Carlos toward their new life as Mr. and Mrs. Barahona.
Thanks for sharing your special day with us, Ashley and Carlos! Cheers to many years ahead as happy and vibrant as your wedding day!
Photography: Eric & Jamie Photography
Wedding planner: Becky Baker of Becky’s Brides
Wedding dress: Heidi Elnora Atelier
Bride’s shoes: Sophia Webster
Bridesmaids dresses: Bella Bridesmaids
Mother-of-the-Bride & Grandmother-of-the-Bride attire: The Clothes Tree
Groom & groomsmen attire: Mr. Burch Formal Wear, Hoover
Bridal cake & groom’s dessert table: Olexa’s
Flowers: Hothouse Design Studio
Ceremony venue: Canterbury United Methodist Church
Reception venue: Birmingham Museum of Art
Catering: A Social Affair
Band: The Time of Your Life – East Coast Entertainment
Hair & makeup: Rawwbeauty
Merchandise & stationery design: Empress Stationery
Videography: Holloway Productions
Guest accommodations: Westin Birmingham
Wedding party accommodations: Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook
Engagement & wedding rings: Galatea Designs
Event rentals: Event Rentals Unlimited
Draping, lighting & flower-hanging services: Design Productions, LLC
Lighting design: Design Productions
Linens: Decor To Adore
Rehearsal dinner: Vecchia Pizzeria & Mercato
Getaway car: Coats Classic Cars
Check out more amazing Southern weddings in our archives. Click here, and prepare to swoon!