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Ashley Bates was 15, sitting in the gym at Springville High School with her friends, and definitely not looking for her future husband. But then Pierson Paddock walked in late to the gymnasium in front of the entire school on his first day of freshman year and suddenly, she’d found him. “He immediately caught my eye and I called ‘dibs’ as all of us girls were drooling over him,” Ashley says. “Several months later a mutual friend admitted to him that I had a major crush, so Pierson messaged me on Facebook asking for my number.” They started dating when they were 15 and just never stopped.

The new Mr. and Mrs. Pierson Paddock!

The new Mr. and Mrs. Pierson Paddock!

They’d already been together for years, navigating high school and prom and young adulthood together, and trying new restaurants had become one of Ashley and Pierson’s favorite things to do. They’d had the 360 Grille in Florence on their list for a while, so they made reservations and planned a trip one evening. They arrived at the restaurant a few minutes early, so the two walked to the nearby Tennessee River to take in the gorgeous view of the sunset over the water. They propped Pierson’s phone up on his truck to snap some photos and capture the moment as the sun was setting. “As we were taking pictures, I looked at the sunset and turned around and saw Pierson on one knee and nearly died of excitement,” Ashley says. “I couldn’t hold back the tears, because we had been waiting for this moment since before we could drive!” Needless to say, with a love so many years in the making, she said yes.

Ashley’s approach to wedding planning was practical and organized. “We also tried to utilize as many creative friends as possible to help with the wedding,” Ashley says. “We decided not to use a wedding planner throughout the process, so my mom took charge and completely rocked at being my planner.” She prioritized deciding on the venue and photographer first, as, she says, figuring out those two elements would influence so many other factors throughout the day. The Barn at Shady Lane perfectly suited the dreamy wedding day Ashley had imagined, and there could be none better to capture it than Eric & Jamie Photography. Ashley and Pierson decided on a fall wedding and everything else started falling into place.

Pretty little details on this bride’s wedding day morning

The mother of the bride looks on adoringly at her daughter, the bride-to-be.

Ashley prefers neutrals, so her “something blue” was actually incorporated through her fragrance for the day, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue.

Ashley puts the finishing touches on her bridal look.

Ashley puts the finishing touches on her bridal look.

RELATED: A Dreamy Sunset Wedding at The Grand Hotel’s Julep Point

To complete the tradition, Ashley wore a pearl ring gifted to her by her best friend’s mother, who passed away two years ago, as her “something old,” and borrowed her late grandfather’s wedding band to tie around her bouquet — meaningful touches that Ashley treasured.

The groom’s look for the day was classic and refined, with a touch of personality via the texture-heavy boutonnière.

The lovebirds lock fingers before the first look, holding special wedding day gifts for one another.

The lovebirds lock fingers before the first look, holding special wedding day gifts for one another.

Our hearts just melt over the sweet smile on Pierson’s face!

Who needs tradition? These unhurried, intimate moments together before the ceremony are so special!

Who needs tradition? These unhurried, intimate moments together before the ceremony are so special!

Rich texture, lots of greenery and blooms in shades of white with a few careful additions of fall color — this is the bridal bouquet of our dreams!

Ashley made the loveliest bride in a gown that almost wasn’t hers! Her first shopping trip yielded a beautiful dress, but after she got home that night she couldn’t get another dress out of her mind — because during her trip to Bella’s Bridal & Formal it kept falling off the hanger whenever she walked by. She called the shop and asked if she could try on that dress and fell in love the moment she put it on. It was meant to be!

Ashley’s beautiful bridesmaids wore classic beige Show Me Your Mumu dresses in a variety of styles.

Does it get better than a late fall wedding? The foliage on the property at The Barn at Shady Lane is unreal!

Seeded eucalyptus always makes such a romantic addition to a bouquet.

With those two main components nailed down, Ashley was able to focus on the little details that would pull her vision together. The day’s aesthetic would be bright, airy and simple. But for this bride, simple definitely doesn’t mean boring — a touch of rustic elegance would be the common thread throughout the day. A mostly neutral color palette with lots of lush greenery would add texture and accentuate the beautiful setting at The Barn at Shady Lane. Ashley selected elegant floor-length beige gowns for her bridesmaids and dreamed up lush, wild bouquets to perfectly complement the season and her aesthetic. “At first I wanted all greenery with white and no color in my flowers, but the more I stalked Pinterest, the more I realized I needed a little touch of fall colors. I chose to incorporate deep plum and burgundy in the mix with all of my greenery to spruce things up a bit,” Ashley says. The guys would don charcoal gray three-piece suits and beige ties to carry Ashley’s love of neutrals throughout the day. The bride and her mother, Ashley’s main source of help in planning the wedding without a formal wedding planner, elected the keep the decor simple but impactful. Hand-lettered signs by Gracefully Made Art and greenery hoops made by the mother-of-the-bride herself helped create the vibe the bride had envisioned. With every element carefully planned, all that was left was to walk down the aisle.

This beautiful bride spent the morning of her wedding lounging and sipping mimosas with her gaggle of ten gorgeous bridesmaids. Ashley’s mother helped the bride button her dress and straighten her veil, and she was off to see her groom for their first look, an emotional moment so many years in the making.

Then at five o’clock in the evening on November 3, 2018, 280 guests of the bride and groom gathered to witness Ashley and Pierson exchange vows. With so many loved ones looking on and supporting them, the bride made her way down the aisle on her father’s arm toward the groom she’d loved since she was a freshman in high school. There, before all of the people who had watched them grow up together, Ashley and Pierson held hands and promised to love each other forever before heading back up the aisle and husband and wife.

The gorgeous Gracefully Made Art hand lettered signs incorporated throughout the day were among the bride’s favorite little details. “Her calligraphy is absolutely beautiful and helped to tie the elegance I wanted to my rustic,” Ashley says. “I love these details so much I want to hang them all in my home!”

With 280 of their friends and family gathered together, the bride makes her way down the aisle to her groom.

Sparkling chandeliers, gorgeous draped linens and greenery suspended from the ceiling created the romantic environment Ashley envisioned for the ceremony.

A blessing and a kiss and Pierson and Ashley are Mr. and Mrs.!

A blessing and a kiss and Pierson and Ashley are Mr. and Mrs.!

These lovebirds have been together since they were 15 — this wedding day was much anticipated and long awaited!

RELATED: A Cozy Southern Wedding with NOLA Flair 

The reception was the ultimate Southern celebration. Before hitting the dance floor, guests enjoyed a delectable meal of the bride and groom’s favorites — barbecue pork, baked beans and a mashed potato bar prepared by Firehouse Grill, the bride’s uncle’s catering company. Jim-N-Nick’s cheese biscuits also made an appearance. The new Mr. and Mrs. Paddock were introduced for the very first time, and they took the dance floor to “Never Stop” by SafetySuit. “Pierson and I had been dating a long while before we wed, and I feel we stayed strong because we have never stopped,” Ashley says. “We have never stopped trying and putting all we can into our relationship. We have known for such a long time that we have wanted each other and no one else will do. Just hearing a second of this song brings me to tears of joy, love and complete contentment!”

Ashley had a vision for hoops of greenery incorporated into the decor and the mother of the bride made it happen! All of these little details from the day are so delicate and gorgeous.

Ashley had a vision for hoops of greenery incorporated into the decor and the mother of the bride made it happen! All of these little details from the day are so delicate and gorgeous.

Their first dance was to “Never Stop” by SafetySuit, an apt song for a pair who has been together since they were freshmen in high school.

Their first dance was to “Never Stop” by SafetySuit, an apt song for a pair who has been together since they were freshmen in high school.

Ashley and Pierson served a gorgeous five-tiered semi-naked vanilla bean cake. “I have always swooned over the perfect simplicity and elegance of the semi-naked cake and knew it would tie in great with the rustic-elegance theme I had in mind,” Ashley says.

A toast to a long, adventurous and love-filled journey together as husband and wife!

A toast to a long, adventurous and love-filled journey together as husband and wife! “People say that day is just a blur for the bride and groom, but it doesn’t have to be this way,” Ashley says. “No matter how busy the day, take the time to look around at every detail and truly soak in each moment.”

Ashley tears up the dance floor with her bridesmaids.

Ashley tears up the dance floor with her bridesmaids.

Ashley recommends all brides-to-be start planning early and to be careful when selecting vendors. “When choosing wedding vendors, truly seek the ones that genuinely care and want to make this the best day for you and your future spouse,” Ashley says. “Seek a vendor that yearns to know more about you two as a couple and strives wholeheartedly to make you priority that special weekend.”

After dancing the night away with their loved ones, Ashley and Pierson made their exit under an archway of sparklers.

We love your love story, Ashley and Pierson! Thank you so much for sharing your special day with us!

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