Share with your friends!

Taylor Fraley and Ashleigh Whalen met through a mutual friend in college. After they went to dinner on their first date, they planned to meet up with friends at a bar in downtown Matthews, North Carolina, but those plans suddenly fell through. “We ended up as two strangers in the parking lot, not really knowing what to say,” Ashleigh says. In that slightly awkward moment, Taylor, a music lover, shared a song he had been listening to with Ashleigh, and then they went their separate ways. As Ashleigh was driving home, her phone lit up with a text from Taylor – a sure sign that he was too clingy, she thought. Instead, she opened the text to find a rant from Taylor over the tragedy of having left his to-go box at the restaurant. She laughed and laughed, and she and Taylor have been together laughing ever since.

On one summer night a couple of years later, Ashleigh and Taylor again had plans to meet up with some friends in downtown Matthews. But instead of driving to the planned location, Taylor parked by the bar where they wound up on their first date. They were already late, it was raining, and Ashleigh was frustrated by the change in plans, but Taylor calmed her down and played the song he had first played for her in the same parking lot two years before. Taylor suggested they walk along the main street that runs through the town and went to the trunk to retrieve an umbrella — and a ring. “Before I knew it, Taylor was on one knee in the pouring rain on the sidewalk asking me to spend forever with him,” Ashleigh says. “Of course, I laughed and everything made sense.”

“Marry your best friend. The rest will take care of itself,” says Ashleigh.

Ashleigh imagined a classic and perfectly Southern wedding day, and in about a year of careful planning she was able to achieve just that. A neutral color palette complemented by greens and soft pink was appealing to Ashleigh’s traditional side, and a few rustic touches throughout would add personality. And as there’s nothing more beautiful than a North Carolina spring, the bride had her heart set on an outdoor ceremony. Finding a venue that fit the bill was a challenge, and only after several suggestions from her mother did Ashleigh find the perfect spot: TPC Piper Glen in Charlotte. “It had a place for an outdoor ceremony, a terrace for cocktail hour and a big ballroom for dinner and dancing,” Ashleigh says. “That, combined with the eagle that often flies on the property and a big lake on the golf course surrounding the ceremony location, I was sold.”

This bridal bouquet is the picture of refinement with all white blooms and plenty of texture.

The bride and groom attend every Carolina Panthers home game, so a Carolina garter is only appropriate.

Pretty wedding rings just waiting to be worn!

Ashleigh’s gown was absolutely breathtaking.

Ashleigh’s fairytale tulle ball gown with elegant cap sleeves and a beaded lace bodice set the tone for the day. She carried a lush, romantic bouquet of white peonies, lisianthus and ranunculus framed by the soft gray-greens of dusty miller and silver dollar eucalyptus, all of it tied up with a white satin ribbon. The bridesmaids’ white ranunculus bouquets captured that same elegant aesthetic, and they wore pale pink floor-length dresses in silhouettes of their choosing, the perfect complement to the guys’ classic black tuxes and bowties, each with a white bloom pinned to his lapel.

Ashleigh awoke the morning of April 21, 2018, to a handwritten note from her groom. She opened another letter while she was eating breakfast and read his third letter as she was getting ready for the ceremony. When she was just moments away from walking down the aisle toward her groom, one of her bridesmaids delivered the final letter. With her heart full with love and anticipation, she grabbed her bouquet and headed toward the lawn at TPC Piper Glen, where more than 150 of her beloved friends and family and, most importantly, her groom were all waiting for her.

The bride walked down the aisle lined with signs featuring the words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (“Love is patient, love is kind … ”) as “Make It to Me” by Sam Smith played. At the end of the aisle, Ashleigh met Taylor under an elegant arbor draped in white and greenery. They held hands and exchanged vows, sealed their covenant with a kiss and headed back up the aisle to “Sweet Caroline” — a nod to their beloved Carolina Panthers.

RELATED: A Charlotte Girl Marries a Tennessee Boy in a Beautiful Southern Garden

Ashleigh and her bridesmaids are all smiles as they get ready for the day.

The mother of the bride helps her daughter get ready to meet her groom!

Ashleigh waits for Taylor to arrive for a special moment together before the ceremony.

Taylor was all smiles throughout the day.

Ashleigh and Taylor didn’t want to break tradition by seeing each other before the ceremony, so instead they took a moment before the ceremony to stand back-to-back and pray. How sweet is this moment?

The blind prayer before the ceremony was undoubtedly one of Ashleigh’s favorite moments from the day. “It was a sweet moment, and it was a surreal feeling to hear my soon-to-be husband praying over our marriage,” Ashleigh says.

“The story of finding my wedding dress was actually a little shocking,” Ashleigh says. “Two friends and I went to David’s Bridal, just with the intention of trying on different shapes and getting a feel for the type of wedding dress I would want. When we walked in, my two friends pointed to a dress on a mannequin and said, “That one. You have to try it on.” I obliged and it was the first dress I tried on. Despite trying on countless others, the first one that my best friends picked was my dress. I just knew it. It was perfect.”

The groom is the definition of dashing in his tuxedo.

How darling are these littles in their wedding attire?

Bridesmaids dresses the color of a ballet slipper popped beautifully against the natural greens of the venue.

It doesn’t get more classic than a group of groomsmen in bowties and suspenders.

Ashleigh had her heart set on an outdoor wedding, and April 21, 2018, turned out to be a beautiful day in Charlotte. “I chose to have a spring wedding because the weather in North Carolina is beautiful.”

Beautiful hand-lettered signs lined the aisle with the words of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

Ashleigh walked down the aisle on her father’s arm to “Make It to Me” by Sam Smith.

First kiss as Mr. and Mrs.!

“Taylor and I walked out to ‘Sweet Caroline’ because we are huge Carolina Panther fans — we go to every home game — and that is the song that plays after every Panthers win,” Ashleigh says. “It just seemed fitting and was awesome to hear all of our families and friends sing ‘so good, so good’ in response after the song sings ‘good times never seemed so good.’”

After stealing away for some photos during cocktail hour, the new Mr. and Mrs. shared their first dance as husband and wife to “To the Moon and Back” by Luke Bryan and then enjoyed a delicious dinner with their guests while a few of their nearest and dearest made toasts to their marriage. Ashleigh says that she managed to stay composed for most of the day, but as she left the dance floor following the father-daughter dance, the emotions of the day caught up to her. “I was overwhelmed by the number of people who were there to show support and love, by the fact that my dad was giving me away to Taylor and by the fact that his mother was allowing me to step in as the woman in his life,” Ashleigh says. She started to cry, and her mom quickly swooped in and comforted her with hugs and kind words.

Ashleigh wiped away her happy tears, and she and Taylor returned to a wonderful evening of dancing and celebrating their marriage with those they hold dear. And at the end of the night they ran through an arch of sparklers toward their new life together as husband and wife.

RELATED: The Surprising Stories Behind 10 Common Wedding Traditions

Giddy, just-married moments after the ceremony

We love a classic wedding party, and this crew is the definition of classic!

Ashleigh and Taylor steal a few quiet moments together during cocktail hour.

More advice from this smiling bride: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. As cliché as it sounds, none of the small details will really matter in the end,” Ashleigh says. 

Ashleigh and Taylor’s first dance as a married couple was to “To the Moon and Back” by Luke Bryan.

Ashleigh and Taylor’s wedding cake was a traditional vanilla-almond bride’s cake with buttercream frosting, with alternating tiers of strawberry cheesecake and raspberry filling —divine!

The couple cuts into one beautiful cake!

The phrase “I choose you” adorned both the top of Ashleigh and Taylor’s wedding cake and their sweetheart table at the reception.

Sparklers for the happy couple’s bright exit

Ashleigh and Taylor toast their marriage with their guests.

Picture perfect during the golden hour

The bride and groom dance the night away with their favorite people in the world.

Under an arch of sparklers, the bride and groom exit their reception.

… but not before pausing for another kiss!

Cheers to Ashleigh and Taylor, and we wish them a lifetime of happiness! Thank you for sharing your special day with us!

RESOURCES:

**********

For more wedding inspiration, click here!

Share with your friends!