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Both Ole Miss graduates, Caroline Hughes and Alex Robinson met in Oxford the night of a Mardi Gras date party. “He came highly recommended as a great date, so I blindly asked him,” Caroline says. “We talked for hours after, and as I was driving him home late that night, it started to snow — I am not making this up.” Caroline walked him to the door, barefoot and freezing but giddy as can be, and Alex asked her to breakfast that Saturday. “Turns out, it was the start of something very exciting.”

Of their six-month engagement, Caroline says she wouldn’t have changed a thing. It allowed ample time to plan and process without any lull in the middle. “I was told that setting a date makes one decision which leads to venue availability that makes the next decision and so on and so forth.” Caroline stuck to this methodic way of putting the puzzle pieces together, admitting that without this mindset, she might have been overwhelmed by choices.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

On Saturday, September 26, 2020, at 5 o’clock in the evening, Caroline and Alex married at Annesdale Mansion in Memphis. Just WAIT until you see the details of this wedding.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

As a brand strategist with a master’s in integrated marketing, this bride worked tirelessly on every part of the day’s aesthetic, starting with the stationery suite.

The couple was previously planning to marry in Charleston, SC, where Caroline used to live. But iffy COVID travel conditions prompted the switch to a local ceremony and reception at Annesdale Mansion in Memphis, the city where Caroline grew up and the couple now live. “It was a tough decision, but it turned out to be exactly as it should,” Caroline says. “With the European architecture, you’re immediately transported to the Old World. I wanted to step outside of Memphis for the evening and have all my friends and family right there beside me,” Caroline adds.

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Caroline was adamant about making many of the design decisions herself, but with a full-time job and graduate school work to tend to, planning everything would have been a little too much. “I wouldn’t have been able to make the event come to life without Mona,” Caroline says of her planner Mona Dunlap. “She brought my ideas to life and kept my creative mind on track! The research and design elements were really fun for me to execute along the way, so I had a heavy hand in even the smallest of decisions.”

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

Annesdale Mansion is just 10 minutes from Caroline’s childhood home.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

Health and safety were of the utmost concern to Caroline in every minor detail. “This didn’t hinder the grace and aesthetic of the evening in any way. If anything, it allowed me to lean into a new direction of planning and forge my own path,” she adds.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

Caroline wrote and designed The Robinson Post, filled with wedding details, family history, to-do’s around town, and wedding party intros printed in the style of old newsprint. Each newspaper was paired with a postcard encouraging guests to write home about their visit. “Ask anyone,” Caroline says. “Sending postcards to friends is like my thing.”

Caroline’s sharp design brain had everything prepped and ready for meetings with the various vendors compiled into an inspiration deck. “I pulled photos from Pinterest, Vogue Weddings, and favorite photographers I had been holding onto for a while,” she says. Classic elegance with European simplicity was her North Star. “Thoughtful design decisions that guests might not even pick up on were seamlessly sprinkled throughout.”

Caroline and Alex did a first look, although it was contrary to their previous plans. Thanks to their incredible photographer Maggie Braucher’s recommendation, the couple settled on a private first look. It was very important to Alex that there be no anticipation of being photographed. “All emotions were raw and natural!”

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

A native of Jackson, MS, the always-smiling groom brought his own refined look to every picture.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

The bride’s polished yet relaxed aesthetic blended beautifully into the vision she so carefully dreamed up.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

Maggie did manage to sneakily peek in on the private first look to capture the encounter and leave Caroline and Alex with photos they will cherish forever.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

The dripping, rustic florals look as if they were transported directly from an Austen-era fête in the Cotswolds.

Due to timing and production delays, dress options were limited. After a few failed attempts at shops in Dallas, Caroline found the perfect dress at Maggie Louise in Memphis. But, of course, this creative bride didn’t want her dress to be exactly like anyone else’s. “I made a few design tweaks and topped it off with custom sleeves and button detailing on the cuffs of my dress. They were basted on so I could remove them post-ceremony — two looks in one!” Caroline says excitedly.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

Here’s the stunning, sleeved version of Caroline’s dress — Look #1.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

For the second look, sleeves are removed when it’s time to boogie — Look #2.

Just 60 of their closest friends and family gathered to celebrate the Robinsons. “Coming from two extremely close Southern families, small weddings weren’t really on our radar,” Caroline says. “But I’m here to prove that size doesn’t compromise quality. Though we were missing some of our most cherished loved ones and out-of-town friends, we’ve since relished the chance to relive the night with them.” Maggie was the eyes for those who couldn’t be there in person, telling the full story of the wedding day through her documentary-style photography.

The officiant was a family friend of both families (the father of the bride’s little brother in his fraternity!) who led them through traditional ceremonial vows. Afterward, Caroline’s sister, a musical theater major at NYU, wowed the crowd with a moving rendition of “O Come to the Altar.” “It brought me to tears, and I’m not typically a crier,” Caroline admits.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

Caroline paired her dress with her great-great-grandmother’s veil from 1935 — an heirloom her sister wore on her wedding day in New York in addition to many of their cousins, aunts, and great-aunts. “The intricate lace is so fragile you have to wear gloves when handling it!” Caroline adds.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

After some cocktail-hour mingling around the gorgeous mansion grounds, it was time to eat and dance.

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The night’s signature cocktail was a Spicy Charleston, inspired by a beverage they tried on a date night at Cannon Green in the Lowcountry: passionfruit purée, jalapeño simple syrup, pomegranate liquor, Cathead vodka, and mint. Passed apps included avocado toast with watermelon, radishes, and microgreens; an “oyster bar” with raw oysters on the half shell served on homemade wooden trays with leather straps; sushi served on edible wonton spoons; and charcuterie bags — a creative alternative to a classic charcuterie spread. 

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

Leon Bridges’ “Coming Home” was the Robinsons’ first dance. “He’s our go-to artist for evenings cooking at home or long drives,” Caroline shares. “We also did a ‘last dance’ while the guests were lining up for the exit. It felt right to take time to be present, just the two of us.”

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

The seated dinner was orchestrated by the catering expert, Elizabeth Heiskell, a friend of Caroline’s parents since college. “Lucky for us,” Caroline says, “she was available to prepare an incredible meal.”

As for dinner, the first course was an heirloom tomato stack with okra croutons. Guests were offered a choice of meat, fish, or a veggie option planned according to the harvesting season — beef tenderloin with mushroom demi-glaze, pan-seared salmon with citrus persimmon sauce, and baked acorn squash with cauliflower and shaved Parmesan. Each dish was served alongside roasted Brussels sprouts with shallot butter, Boursin potatoes with a sweet potato layer, and fresh petite baguettes.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

“All courses were served on family china brought from home. This small touch made the evening feel that much more family-oriented,” Caroline says.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

With so few guests, there was no need for both a bride and groom’s cake, so they opted for just one featuring alternating tiers of classic almond and chocolate. Each slice was paired with Caroline’s sister’s homemade cookies-and-cream ice cream — Alex’s favorite.

Post-dinner, different flavors of biscuits and coffee kept the dancing going! When the band took their final bow, the newlyweds ducked through a cloud of white rose petals and lots of cheers. A classic, restored Bronco — a little something blue borrowed from a family friend — awaited them.

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

Upon their departure, guests were greeted with a bag of Gibson’s donut holes waiting in their car, planted by the valet and sealed with a sticker Caroline designed that said “we had a hole lot of fun! xo, caro + alex”

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

“Alex loves cars and was thrilled about the manual transmission. He practiced on it weeks before to make sure we wouldn’t stall out on the ride home!” Caroline laughs.

The couple will embark on a delayed honeymoon to the French countryside next summer to celebrate their nuptials. “But it was a true blessing that we were able to take a few days off post-wedding and head down to Florida to my family’s beach condo,” Caroline adds. “I grew up going, so I felt right at home returning after a busy and stressful season. They don’t prepare you for the exhaustion that follows such an exciting weekend!”

Alex and Caroline Annesdale Mansion Wedding Memphis

Cheers to the Robinsons!

All in all, the day was a bit different than Caroline imagined, but no less special. “The intimacy of the night allowed me to focus on the details in a way I wouldn’t have if hundreds of guests were in attendance.” When asked what her favorite personal touches were, she says, “Our guest book was Rosebud Roams Charleston, a children’s book my great-aunt wrote and illustrated years ago. It now sits on our dining table as a subtle nod to the years spent in that special city and the wedding that brought our favorite people together.”

Thank you, Caroline, for walking us through your day and its thoughtful elements. And another thank you to Maggie Braucher for the fantastic photos.

RESOURCES

Wedding Planner: Mona Dunlap Events
Photography: Maggie Braucher
Flowers: Deedra Stone Designs
Paper: Ménage Stationery, Fresh Ink, Newspaper Club
Food: Elizabeth Heiskell Catering
Cake: Cakes by Mom and Me
Bride’s Dress: Maggie Louise Bridal
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Fame & Partners
Groom’s Attire: Ike Behar and Brackish Bow Tie
Rentals: White Door Events and Mahaffey Rentals
Venue: Annesdale Mansion
Band: Even Odds
Makeup: Heather Boutique
Hair: Jacqueline Silsbe
Rings: Betsy Gardner Jewelry

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