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.
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.
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 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!”
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!
- Photography: Eric & Jamie Photography
- Day-of Coordinator: Ashley Morrison
- Wedding Dress: Bella’s Bridal & Formal
- Bridesmaids Dresses: Show Me Your Mumu
- Groom and Groomsmen attire: The Black Tux
- Cake: Cakes By Kim
- Flowers: Dorothy Willingham
- Venue: The Barn at Shady Lane
- Catering: Firehouse Grill
- DJ: On-Site Productions (Ryan Stone)
- Hair: Emma Salas
- Makeup: Casey Troulias
- Stationery Design: Gracefully Made Art
- Videography: Seabrook Media, LLC
- Draping: On-Site Productions
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