This Pursell Farms bride created the wedding of her childhood dreams with some of the dreamiest florals, chandeliers, and culinary touches we have ever seen. Ashley Henson and Chase Parsons met in 2016 as wide-eyed freshmen at the University of Alabama. They dated throughout their formative college years, cheering on the Crimson Tide, growing as individuals and as a couple. During senior year spring break, they had a week-long trip planned to Austria and Germany, but a COVID-related travel ban was put into place the day before they were set to leave.
“Chase had picked out a breathtaking spot to propose in front of the Neuschwanstein Castle, but unfortunately, our plans got derailed,” Ashley shares. “We ended up spending the week at Orange Beach, which I’d visited every summer since I was in high school, and Chase proposed on the beach at sunset. It didn’t go according to plan, but it was perfect, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!”
That began an intentionally lengthy 14-month engagement during which this methodical planner of a bride could focus on creating her specific vision without the pressure of tight deadlines. “I like to take my time making decisions, and the long engagement allowed me to focus on one thing at a time,” Ashley says. “I enjoyed having the time to really think everything over, but by the last month or so, I was ready to just be married!”
They enlisted the help of a planner to help with vendor contracts, double-checking details, and day-of logistics, but Ashley handled the design and the decisions herself. “I’ve had a clear plan for my wedding day for as long as I can remember, so it was a matter of finding the right people to make it happen,” she tells us. “My vendor team was amazing, and they made my vision come to life!”
Pursell Farms fit everything they were looking for in a venue to a T. “I was looking for a bright, airy space that could serve as a blank canvas while bringing its own charm. Most of our guests were also coming from out of town, so they were able to stay at the Inn and cabins, and a shuttle drove them to and from the festivities.”
“I’ve always adored peonies and roses, and pink is my signature color, so it really was a no-brainer,” Ashley says. “I wanted flowers everywhere with minimal greenery, and Edelweiss knocked it out of the park!” Her arches were inspired by the iconic photo of Princess Beatrice exiting her ceremony, and they were truly the piece de resistance of the evening. As far as the additional decor design, Ashley went for a combination of elegance and comfort. “I wanted to elevate every detail while allowing my guests to feel like they could sit down and stay awhile in true Southern fashion.”
To no one’s surprise, Ashley had a very specific vision in mind for her dress, which meant she didn’t have to spend much time shopping around. “I knew what I wanted didn’t exist on its own, so I decided to go the semi-custom route,” she says. Kelly Michelle at Carriage House helped Ashley put together pieces from a few different Sareh Nouri gowns (the fabric from one, the skirt from another, the buttons from this one, the bow from that one), and they customized it even further with alterations.
The couple opted to exchange traditional vows and to keep the ceremony short without a unity ceremony or any other frills. “We aren’t very sappy people, so we kept it short and sweet while incorporating a couple of our favorite Bible verses,” Ashley says.
The 100+ guests headed out to the lawn outside the ballroom for a cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvres, a bar, and a jazz band. Meanwhile, Ashley and Chase ate a private meal, and then went straight to take some sunset photos.
Ashley says that 100 was the perfect number because there were enough people to really get the party going but not so many that they felt cramped or overwhelmed. With more than 80% of the guests coming from out of town, they were blown away by the number of people who came quite a long way to celebrate them.
Dinner was a collection of mouth-watering food stations, but the mashed potato bar was a crowd favorite. The biggest hit of all, however, had to be the cakes. The bride’s cake was strawberry and white, and the groom’s cake was chocolate with Oreo frosting.
After a whole lot of noshing and dancing, Ashley and Chase did a fake exit at 10 p.m. only to return for another hour of dancing. They gave everyone tiny bubble tubes to which Ashley’s mom had hot-glued little flowers. What a sweet touch! “When we finished the exit, our guests chanted for an encore, so we ended up doing three fake exits at the insistence of our guests! It was so silly and fun, and we got the perfect pictures,” Ashley says.
“At the end of the night, the amazing staff at Pursell [Farms] drove us to the Inn on a golf cart. It was hilarious trying to fit a massive dress onto the back of a golf cart, but it was such a charming way to end the night,” the bride says. After the wedding, the Parsonses flew to St. Lucia to unwind at Sandals Regency La Toc. “It was stunningly gorgeous, so relaxing, and the people were so welcoming.” The newlyweds now live in Madison, AL, with their beloved dog, Ivy.
When asked about something that didn’t go according to plan, Ashley counters with: “How about one that did?!” The one thing she worried about most was the fickle spring weather in Alabama. “Extreme heat, torrential downpours, or gorgeous sunshine — you never really know what you’ll get!” she says with a laugh. “We opted for a tented ceremony to protect from rain and shade the sun, with open sides to allow for plenty of airflow.” But it turned out to be the most perfect spring day. “It was sunny, breezy, and never got above 70 degrees all day.”
“Make a list of your priorities and budget from there,” Ashley suggests to future brides. “For me, florals topped the list with the dress coming in second, so after booking the venue, I made sure we got the dress and flowers nailed down.” And wow did you nail it, Ashley.
Thanks, Ashley and Chase, for letting us relive this day with you. And thanks to Katie & Alec Photography for the fabulous photos.
Ceremony: Hamilton Place at Pursell Farms (Courtyard/terrace)
Reception: Hamilton Place at Pursell Farms (Ballroom)
Planner: Lori Krench and Ashley Parsons
Day-of coordinator: Lori Krench with the help of family friends, the Reyes family
Photographer: Katie and Alec Photography
Flowers: Edelweiss Design House
Stationery: Empress Stationery
Calligraphy: Grace Calligraphy
Hair and makeup: Hair and Makeup by Nat
Bride’s gown: Custom Sareh Nouri via Carriage House Weddings
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Bill Levkoff via Bella Bridesmaids Birmingham
Groom and groomsmen’s attire: Men’s Wearhouse
Catering: Pursell Farms
Cakes: Cakes by Jan (Jan O’Donnell)
Entertainment: Emerald Empire Band
Rentals: PRE Event Resources (tent), Design Productions (tent chandeliers), Decor to Adore (reception chairs, white linens, tent drapes)
Glassware: Head table place settings were antique china sourced from Facebook Marketplace
Linens: La Tavola (head and cake table), Empress Stationery (monogram runner on entry table)
Favors: Macaron boxes by Sugar and Stems
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