Lauren Colley and John Bottcher’s story began in 2008 when they met while attending the University of Alabama. After crossing paths several times at sorority and fraternity functions, a mutual friend formally introduced them as study partners for their micro-economics class — and the two hit it off immediately.
“I saw that he was God-loving, caring and charismatic, and came from an amazing, close-knit family,” recalls Lauren after their first encounters. “Our relationship continued to grow over the years in college and we knew our commitment to one another was something special.”
After college, they continued to date long distance while John moved to New York City and Lauren stayed in Birmingham.
John had planned a trip to Niagara Falls — or so Lauren thought — to spend some time together and explore a place they had never been. She flew into New York City on a Wednesday morning to meet John before leaving that night for the Falls. John pulled Lauren aside after arriving at the airport and told her that he wanted to give her something before they checked in for the flight to Niagara Falls. It was a sweetly wrapped gift that contained a mini travel book of great things to do and see while in Paris, France.
“It was then that John told me that we were not going to Niagara Falls but, instead, we were going to Paris!” A little confused and completely shocked, Lauren happily boarded the plane and off they went.
After a day of exploring Paris, the couple had reservations for Friday night. On their way to dinner, John guided Lauren to the Bir Hakeim Bridge for “the best view of the Eiffel Tower.” As they walked onto the bridge, they noticed a bride and groom taking wedding portraits, which was an ironic sight for what was about to take place. It was there on the bridge that John popped the question, and of course she said, “YES!”
But the surprise wasn’t over. After several surreal moments passed, John introduced Lauren to a photographer he had hired to secretly capture the proposal and to guide them through the city the next morning for engagement photos.
“To say John surprised me with more than I could have ever dreamed of is an understatement,” says Lauren.
Once wedding planning officially began, they hired mother-daughter wedding planning duo Patti Ruleman and Kathryn Sparks of WED Memphis to assist in the particulars.
Deedra Stone Bergeron of Deedra Stone Designs assisted Lauren in creating the most beautiful bridal bouquet, incorporating Lauren’s favorite flower, white peonies, along with hints of greenery and pops of color in blush. Arrangements in the same combination were displayed throughout the day, indoors and out.
The Big Day
Lauren was determined to make only one stop for her gown, and she did, at Maggie Louise Bridal Boutique. She tried on several dresses there before she finally found the one: an ivory, lace-covered, fit-and-flare gown by Anne Barge. Lauren had a tulle train added for additional length in the back and a more dramatic feel. The simple cathedral-length veil is outlined in ivory lace to complement the gown.
A timeless tradition, Lauren’s wedding ensemble included a handkerchief with lace from her grandmother’s wedding dress sewn into it (something old), her wedding dress (something new), vintage gold and diamond chandelier earrings (something borrowed) and an ivory garter with a petite blue ribbon bow (something blue).
The wedding party of 14 bridesmaids, 16 groomsmen and eight ushers consisted of Lauren and John’s sisters and brothers, childhood and college friends, sorority sisters and former roommates. Lauren’s sister and best friend, Lindsey Sellers, served as her matron of honor, and John’s dad, Charles, had the pleasure of standing beside him as his best man. They also had two flower girls, Lauren’s two nieces Autumn and Ellie, and two ring bearers, her nephews Tyler and Hudson.
The couple exchanged traditional vows in front of nearly 400 guests at Ridgeway Baptist Church, where Lauren attended as a young girl and her parents and grandparents are members who still attend.
When guests arrived at the church, they were directed to a sign-in table with a large white and blush floral centerpiece and framed photos of the bride and groom’s parents and grandparents on their wedding days. It was a sentiment that Lauren says was meant as a showing of Lauren and John following in their footsteps.
Lauren knew she wanted an outdoor garden-themed reception and the Memphis Botanic Garden set the perfect scene, boasting a natural backdrop for their white and gold accents, tall floral centerpieces and cafe lights.
Laura Jackson of The Flour Garden constructed a bridal cake consisting of four tiers layered with traditional wedding cake, strawberry cake, traditional cake with raspberry and cream cheese filling, and finally, traditional cake with lemon filling.
Guests enjoyed food stations, including a macaroni and cheese bar with choice of gouda or classic cheddar cheese; a barbecue station with pork sliders and white BBQ chicken skewers; a Mexican station with white cheese dip, salsa and chips, and steak and chicken fajitas; a dip station with California caviar, hummus and veggies, and spinach and artichoke dip.
A cheese and patè display included blocks of assorted cheeses, sundried tomato tortas, caprese skewers and an assortment of crackers and chips.
After a sparkler sendoff, the newlyweds drove away in a 1931 Model A Ford Phaeton that took them to the Westin Beale Street Hotel in Downtown Memphis. Lauren and John departed early the next morning for their honeymoon in Bora Bora.
Thank you Lauren and John for sharing your beautiful story with our readers, and we wish you a lifetime of love and happiness!
Ceremony: Ridgeway Baptist Church
Reception venue: Memphis Botanic Garden
Catering: Club Windward
Photography: Stacy Richardson Photography
Videographer: Kinora Films
Bride’s gown: Maggie Louise Bridal Boutique
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Jenny Yoo
Hair: Elaine Clayton
Makeup: Kasey Acuff
Groom & groomsmen’s formalwear: The Black Tux
Invitations & programs: Annabelle’s in Vestavia Hills, Alabama
Flowers: Deedra Stone Designs
Cake: The Flour Garden Bakery
Wedding planner: WED Memphis