Allison Mills and Christopher Robinson’s love story began in a biology lab. They were paired up as lab partners the fall of her sophomore and his junior year at The University of Alabama, and initially, they exchanged phone numbers for homework assignments and study sessions. But soon they were smitten. “Naturally, we kept texting even when homework was finished,” Allison says. “I think we both had a crush almost immediately.” Over the Christmas break that followed, they were both glued to their phones, texting and calling each other constantly, and when they returned to Tuscaloosa the next semester they began spending most of their days together. By the time Allison left to spend six weeks studying abroad in Italy that summer, they knew it was love. They continued dating through college, graduated together in December 2012 and spent much of the next two years dating long distance while living in different cities: Birmingham, Raleigh, Atlanta and Birmingham again.
In March 2014, Allison and Chris tagged along with her parents on a business trip to Kauai, Hawaii. They had been talking about getting engaged, but Allison didn’t want to get her hopes up — as picturesque as a Hawaiian proposal would have been, she was convinced that it wasn’t going to happen. But then, Chris finally convinced a stubbornly resistant Allison to go on a walk with him to see the Hawaiian sunset.
“Chris asked if I wanted to go on a walk up a cliff to see if we could see the sunset, and I said ‘No! I’m wearing wedges. I’m not climbing up a cliff. Are you crazy?’” When Chris continued to insist, tears sprang to Allison’s eyes as she suddenly realized what was happening. She left her heels with her mother, and the pair climbed up to a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. As the sun dipped below the horizon, Chris got down on one knee and said, “No matter how stubborn you may be, I still want to spend the rest of my life with you.” He asked her to marry him and, through tears, Allison said yes!
After returning from Hawaii, Allison and her mom had one free day to begin their Birmingham venue search before she had to return to Atlanta. Their third stop of the day was The Florentine, a 1920s ballroom that had been left vacant for 50 years. It was still being renovated when she and her mom arrived, but even under the dust and rubble of construction, it took Allison’s breath away. When the renovations were complete, with its tall ceilings, Art Deco details and grand wall of windows overlooking downtown Birmingham, the 1920s ballroom would truly transport you back in time. Inspiration struck Allison and her mom simultaneously — this was the absolute perfect location for a Gatsby-inspired fête. “I had always loved the idea of a black tie wedding, but this was just so much more fun,” Allison says. “An elegant 1920s affair: black tie, touches of gold, sophisticated decor. I just couldn’t wait!”
An elegant color palette would enhance the beauty of the venue and capture the luxury and drama of the 1920s. Rich jewel tones were juxtaposed with black tablecloths, and gold accents added that extra bit of glamour and sparkle. The bride and groom stood out in white, she in a stunning beaded Jenny Packham gown and he in a white dinner jacket, while the bridal party added a hint of drama in all black. The groomsmen donned black tuxedos and the bridesmaids wore floor-length black dresses accented with beaded Art Deco belts. For a pop of color amid the classic black and white, the ladies carried lush bouquets featuring ’20s-appropriate jewel tones: ruby-colored poppies and berries; roses in shades of plum, deep pink and peach; and sprigs of silver dollar eucalyptus and ivy — all tied up with luxe velvet ribbon.
At 6 p.m. on a chilly January evening in downtown Birmingham, 300 of Chris and Allison’s loved ones gathered at The Florentine to witness their marriage. Allison walked down the aisle on her daddy’s arm as a harpist’s music filled the historic ballroom. She reached her groom at the end of the aisle to exchange vows, grin through the entire ceremony and share their first kiss as husband and wife.
After the ceremony, the new Mr. and Mrs. celebrated alongside their family and friends with a sophisticated soirée that even Jay Gatsby himself would have envied! Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres during a cocktail hour downstairs, then returned to the ballroom for a night of delicious food and dancing. The Brandy Brothers kept the party going late into the night, and at the end of the evening, with the bride bundled up in fur, she and her groom were sent off with a dazzling sparkler display as they drove off toward their new life as newlyweds in a vintage Rolls-Royce.
With two years of marriage under their belts, Allison says focusing on the big picture is the key to the perfect wedding. “Whenever I started to get frustrated or stressed about what I needed to get done, I would just remind myself that the most important thing is that we are getting married,” Allison says. “We will be with all of our favorite people, and no one will even know about those little things that didn’t happen, except me!” Great perspective from a lovely bride, indeed.
Thank you so much for sharing your glamorous wedding day with us, Allison and Chris! We wish you many years of wedded bliss!
Photography: Alisha Crossley Photography
Wedding dress: Jenny Packham gown from Carriage House Weddings
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Jenny Yoo dresses from Bella Bridesmaids Birmingham
Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse
Cake: Sweet Magnolia, Corretti Catering
Flowers: Jackie Johns Florals
Venue: The Florentine
Catering: Corretti Catering
Band: The Brandy Brothers
Hair stylist: James Thomas, Tonya Jones SalonSpa; Lynze Bandy, Bandy Salon Studio
Makeup: Tasha Thomas
Merchandise/stationery design: Amberly Shelton Paperie
Videography: The Film Poets
Guest accommodations: The Tutwiler Hotel
Vintage getaway car: Coats Classic Cars
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