Will Watts and Laura Sibley met, as it seems soulmates so often do, when she wasn’t looking for anything serious. Laura had just returned home to Birmingham to be closer to family, after several years spent in the Midwest after college, and found herself in a bit of a transitional phase. Then, she and Will met through mutual friends and suddenly she was in love. On their first date at Good People Brewing, she knew that there would be subsequent dates, which then turned into a lifetime together. “From that first date, he knew how to make me laugh, which was super important to me in a partner,” Laura says. “Life never really works out the way you plan, but I’m very happy that it worked out the way it did!”
Laura and Will had been together for four years and had been talking about getting engaged when they took a trip up to a cabin in the woods atop Lookout Mountain in early spring. They’d been away for a couple of days when an ominous approaching storm sent them down into Chattanooga for the remainder of their trip. After checking into their hotel, they went for a stroll along the Riverwalk when it started to rain. Laura suggested finding a place to stop for dinner and seek shelter from the storm, but Will kept stalling. The rain continued to pick up pace and, finally, he got down on one knee and asked Laura to marry him. “I said yes, we kissed, and then we ran to the nearest restaurant,” Laura says. “We got soaked, and we narrowly missed a hail storm, which started minutes after we made it inside!”
Laura had a simple vision for the wedding day, in an effort to both keep costs down and to keep the focus on what is truly important in a wedding ceremony. “I’m fairly laid back and didn’t want to get bogged down with a lot of details,” Laura says. “The most important thing to us was that we’d be surrounded by our friends and family.” They settled on a fall wedding date for an immediate-family-only ceremony, followed by a larger reception to allow them to celebrate with close friends and extended family members.
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With such a delightfully relaxed, non-traditional approach to the wedding day, Laura knew that she wanted her dress to reflect that same spirit. A traditional bridal shop wouldn’t quite fit the bill, so she made the trip to Atlanta with her mother and a close friend to visit BHLDN, where a bevy of gorgeous vintage-inspired dresses awaited them. “I really loved the vintage aesthetic of my dress when I tried it on, and at under $400, it wasn’t going to blow my budget,” Laura says. The dress, a shade of soft champagne with gorgeous detailed beadwork, flattered Laura’s skin tone and suited her refined style perfectly.
After a morning spent getting wedding-ready, the bride, with her dress on and her hair woven into a stunning braid, met her dapper groom in the garden of the private Hrynkiw House. Without a busy wedding party surrounding them, Will and Laura were able to truly soak in the weight of the moment together and pause for some photos before heading to the church.
Four simple rows of chairs flanked the altar space in the prayer garden at Trinity United Methodist Church in Homewood, where Will and Laura’s immediate family gathered on a warm Saturday in early October. As Laura descended the stairs into the private garden, it was like she was entering another world — quiet and private, just for her and her groom. Before the small congregation of 14, Laura and Will exchanged vows and rings and sealed their covenant with a kiss before exiting the garden as Mr. and Mrs. Watts.
The sweet ceremony was followed by a joyous reception at Carrigan’s Public House in downtown Birmingham, the venue that Laura says best captured the vibe of the city for them. “The industrial atmosphere along with the view of the railroad tracks make the venue feel very Birmingham-esque,” Laura says. “Especially with friends and family coming from out of town to celebrate with us, we wanted the venue to reflect the city we call home.”
Friends gathered to share a meal and celebrate the happy couple, who entered the reception and hit the dance floor for their first dance as husband and wife to “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys. Those moments on the dance floor are among the most special in Laura’s memory of the day. Will’s sister and brother-in-law are former competitive ballroom dancers, so they helped the bride and groom plan their first dance routine. “Admittedly, we never got really good, but we did put some time and practice into trying to make ourselves look like we knew what we were doing,” Laura says. “When it came time though, we didn’t do anything we’d learned. Instead of trying to remember the right steps, I was focused solely on him and how happy I was to be his wife. In that moment, that was the only important thing to me.”
That thoughtful focus on the true purpose and priority of the day made for a celebration unparalleled in its sweetness and authentic joy. Just a month removed from her dreamy wedding day, Laura encourages other brides caught up in the planning process to keep things simple. “You really aren’t going to care about a lot of things you think you’ll care about,” Laura says. “It’s super easy to get wrapped up in the planning and let things get out of hand, but try and resist. You’ll save yourself some headaches and a lot of money.” Prudent advice from a truly lovely bride!
Cheers to you, Mr. and Mrs. Watts! Thank you for sharing your utterly enchanting day with us!
- Photography: Kelsey Justice
- Wedding Dress: BHLDN
- Groom’s attire: Joseph A. Bank
- Cake: Magic Muffins
- Flowers: Wild Things
- Ceremony Venue: Prayer Garden, Trinity United Methodist Church
- Reception Venue: Carrigan’s Public House
- Catering: Carrigan’s Public House
- Band: Matt Carroll and the Browncoats
- Hair: Whitney Adkins, Wheelhouse Salon
- Makeup: Ivana Hrynkiw
- Stationary: Minted