When you grow up in a small town, sometimes you meet the person you’ll one day marry when you’re 5 years old. And sometimes you don’t even realize you’ve known that person since you were 5 years old until your small town is already in your rearview mirror. At least, that was the case for Madison Knowles and Warren Stewart.
These two Albertville natives went to elementary school together, their parents served on PTO together, and they were best friends with a brother-sister-type relationship. “People always told us we were going to get married one day, and we were always rolling our eyes like ‘Yeah, right,’” says Madison. They were together constantly and talked every day, but the years passed and soon they grew up and went off to school. Madison attended the University of Alabama, and Warren headed to the other side of the state to Auburn University. They got wrapped up in their busy new lives and quit talking as much as they always had. When they returned home from their respective colleges for Christmas break, Madison says she realized how much she had missed Warren. Soon afterward they started dating, and they’ve been together ever since.
For the remainder of their college careers, Madison and Warren made their long-distance love work, seeing each other at home on school breaks, making trips across the state to see each other, and planning lots of Facetime calls. By the time senior year rolled around, Madison knew that a proposal was coming and, being a very private person, had only one request. “I told him ‘Whatever you do, don’t draw a lot of attention to me,’” she says. “He didn’t listen.”
On fall break their senior year of college, Warren tagged along with Madison and her family on a trip to New York City. Warren, who’d never been to New York before, was insistent that he and Madison go for a walk in Central Park. When they reached the iconic Central Park bridge, Warren asked her to stop and take a quick photo — something she says is pretty out of character for him — then got down on one knee. With onlookers cheering them on, Madison said yes, and the newly engaged pair went for a special celebratory dinner at Tavern on the Green with family who’d flown in for the occasion.
RELATED: 8 Wedding Trends to Watch For
Despite having grown up in the same, close-knit community, Madison and Warren were confident that they didn’t want a hometown wedding. They instead chose Birmingham as their wedding day destination — an easy 90-minute drive from home that would allow Madison and Warren to focus on what they wanted for the day and slightly limit the size and scope of the wedding.
With Madison finishing up her senior year and her mom’s busy work schedule, they knew they would need some help executing the fall 2018 wedding day of Madison’s dreams. “We interviewed a lot of people and ended up going with Becky’s Brides, which was the best thing ever because I don’t know how we could have done it,” says Madison. So with the help of the team at Becky’s Brides, they selected Regions Field as their Birmingham venue — but not for the reasons you might think, as neither the bride nor the groom are baseball enthusiasts. Rather, it was a design decision. Madison, an interior designer, was drawn to the neutral decor, modern light fixtures, and large, beautiful windows offering guests gorgeous views of the city. Madison envisioned a classic, timeless day brimming with elegant touches and shades of navy, deep burgundy, and blush. And from there, Becky’s Brides took care of the rest.
On October 20, 2018, after spending the morning alongside their closest friends and family members, Madison and Warren met for their first look at the Tutwiler Hotel and all the nerves Madison, especially, had been feeling suddenly faded away. The first look centered them in the midst of a busy day, Madison says, and allowed this shy bride to forget for a moment about all eyes being on her later that day. Then at 5 p.m. that evening, with the “Bridal March” filling the room at Regions Field, about 250 guests rose to their feet as the beautiful bride walked down the aisle toward her groom. The ceremony was beautiful, just as Madison had dreamed it would be, and then with a kiss and a pair of wide smiles, the new Mr. and Mrs. Stewart headed back up the aisle.
By the time they were introduced for their first dance at the reception, Madison finally felt the pressures of the day completely subside and was able to kick back and celebrate. The bride and groom shared their first dance to the ever-dreamy “At Last,” by Etta James. “We like old-school type love songs, that’s just our style,” says Madison. “The dance was so fun, and at that point I didn’t feel like everyone was watching me anymore. It was just like, ‘We made it, we’re here, it happened.’ So the first dance was really special.”
Later in the evening, another special moment came in the form of a serenade performed by the groom himself. Warren, a talented singer and musician, had initially wanted to sing during the ceremony, but they weren’t quite sure how to seamlessly incorporate it into the order of events. Instead, he hopped on stage with the band mid-reception and sang “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. He finished the song and wrapped his bride up in a big hug. Madison and Warren spent the rest of the night celebrating with their loved ones and exited the reception in a gorgeous vintage Rolls Royce while sparklers danced behind them.
Thank you for sharing your timelessly beautiful day with us, Madison and Warren! Heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to you both!
Planning: Becky’s Brides
Brides dress: Bella’s
Brides alterations: Hollow to HemPhotography: Eric & Jamie Photography
Videography: Main Street Productions
Venue + Catering: Regions Field
Floral Design: HotHouse Design Studio
Prop Rentals: Prophouse Birmingham
Linens + chairs: Decor to Adore
Hair and Makeup: Ashley Vines
Entertainment: Ascensionvia East Coast Entertainment
Ceremony musicians: Cahaba River Strings
Cakes: Magic Muffins
Draping: OnSite Productions
Getting ready location: The Tutwiler Hotel
Invitation suite: Empress Stationery
Calligraphy: The Refined Pen
Transportation: Rare Transportation + Coats Classic Cars
Click HERE for more gorgeous weddings in Alabama and across the South!