Awbrey Golden and Ross Saxon both grew up in Birmingham—he, in Hoover then Auburn, and she, at Indian Springs then Birmingham-Southern—but the two never crossed paths. “We didn’t meet until after college when we were introduced to one another through mutual friends at Cahaba Brewing,” says Awbrey. “Ross was living out of state at the time, but he moved back three months later, and we hit it off immediately.” About ten months into their courtship, the lovebrids began planning their dream trip to London. The planning lasted nearly a year, and as the trip neared, Ross had secretly ordered the perfect engagement ring only to find that it wouldn’t arrive until they were already across the pond. He devised a backup plan.
“There was a lot of lead-up and everyone had been telling me that they thought he would propose on our trip. They turned out to be wrong,” says Awbrey with a laugh. She recalls Ross’ elaborate plan, which took place the day after they returned from England. “Ross made up a story about a brunch at Rucker Place that we went to early on a Sunday morning, but no one was there. He took me into the courtyard area, where there was a photographer hiding in the bushes, and proposed. It was the perfect, intimate moment with just the two of us.” Afterwards, the fiancees went to surprise their friends and families with the happy news.
“Planning a wedding can be difficult and overwhelming, but Carolyn [Chen of Wild Things] made sure that our flowers were not on our worry list,” says Awbrey. “She kept in touch just enough to let us know that she was thinking about our day, but wasn’t emailing every day to ask questions. As we added and changed items on our invoice, she was quick and accurate about making those changes. Everything looked perfect and fresh on our wedding day. It was a breeze working with Carolyn and I am so thankful that we stumbled upon Wild Things.”
The no-nonsense couple kept their focus squarely on their love for each other, forgoing months of planning, elaborate guests lists, and over-the-top decor for an intimate affair that would never lose sight of the heart of matter: honoring each other and taking vows before their closest friends and family. “The most important thing for Ross and I was to keep it simple, intimate and fun,” says Awbrey. “I think it is so easy to get caught up in little details that inevitably don’t matter, and neither of us wanted to be stressed about the little things. We wanted to enjoy the day and appreciate every moment.”
The couple looked all over Birmingham for the perfect venue, but nothing felt quite right. However, they were really excited about their engagement party, which was planned for October 5th at Awbrey’s parents’ home in Forest Park. “It was going to be in their garden, and we felt like it was the perfect place to celebrate us; eventually, we decided it was too perfect not to be our wedding venue,” says Awbrey of their spontaneous and very romantic decision to turn their engagement party into their wedding with only two months to plan. “We tossed the engagement invitations and immediately began planning the wedding. Somehow—with the help of our families and friends—we pulled it off!”
The 48-guest, backyard wedding would be equal parts laid-back fun and simplistic elegance. At the recommendation of the Engaged Wedding Library, the couple met with Carolyn at Wild Things, to plan the floral design. “Carolyn was so organized, calm, and assuring. She knew exactly what to ask to capture our style and theme. We wanted to keep things simple and natural-looking, befitting a backyard wedding, so we went with a simple garden theme: greenery with in-season white flowers,” says Awbrey. “It was wonderful to nail down such a big part of the wedding so quickly and with such ease. Carolyn was a dream to work with.”
Nervous to find a dress in time, Awbrey went with her mother to BHLDN in Atlanta and fell in love with the fourth dress she tried on. She admits she never would have chosen it off the rack, but, luckily, the bridal associate was a pro. “I went out to show my mom, and at first she didn’t say anything, but one second after I said I loved it, she got this huge smile on her face and said ‘YES! It’s so you!’ and started crying. She wanted to hear my opinion first!”
“Everything looked perfect and fresh on our wedding day, from the bouquets and boutonnieres—which were each thoughtfully labeled by Carolyn—to the wreaths, table centerpieces, and arbor decoration,” says Awbrey, recalling the backyard decor as things began to come together. “Ross and I both felt so much peace during the ceremony. The whole day had felt serene, but from walking down the aisle with my dad to walking back up it with Ross, there was a still, quiet sense of calm that I had only hoped for. It could not have been more intimate or ‘us’ to be saying our vows in my parents’ garden, surrounded by our closest friends and family.”
Just prior to the ceremony, a light, misty rain moved through Forest Park. “During the ceremony, you could hear a light sprinkle on the canopy of trees above us, and there was a glowing, cool haze surrounding the string lights hovering over us. It really was the most special 20 minutes of my life, and I think I can say the same for Ross,” says Awbrey.
On her father’s arm and in her parents’ backyard, Awbrey walks down the aisle to her husband-to-be. “One of my family members officiated the ceremony, which was very special. His late father was an Old Testament scholar and a Baptist preacher, and we used one of the ceremonies he had written years ago. It was unique and perfect for us,” says Awbrey.
Mr. & Mrs. Saxon!
After the ceremony, Awbrey’s mother led the newlyweds to a private dinner upstairs. “It was extra-special, because the room overlooks the area where the cocktail hour and reception took place, so as we ate our dinner, we were able to take in what had just happened, listen to the jazz trio, and watch our guests mingle and enjoy the night.”
“We chose ‘The Wonder of You’ by Elvis for our first dance. The first time we heard it, it was performed by another artist and we didn’t know that it was an Elvis song. We looked it up and preferred the first version we heard, and thankfully our band was able to recreate that,” says Awbrey. “When we heard it, Ross and I immediately looked at each other and knew it would be our first dance song. We loved the lyrics because it describes exactly how we feel about each other.”
“One of our biggest priorities was finding an amazing caterer because we are such foodies,” says Awbrey who chose her longtime favorite Shindigs Catering to create passed hors d’oeuvres and small-plates. “Everything was amazing, but our favorites were the mini chicken biscuit canapé, tuna tartare, Korean steamed buns, shrimp and grits, and the beef short rib. Our signature cocktails were palomas and a blackberry mojitos.”
“We chose a simple cake design that would feature the same flowers we chose for the rest of the wedding,” says Awbrey of the vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream icing. “You can’t go wrong with simple flavors when Olexa’s is making the cake!”
“Try not to take the planning process too seriously,” is Awbrey’s advice for brides. “Yes, it is your wedding, but no matter what happens, at the end of the day you will be married and that’s the best and most important part.”
Awbrey reflects on those cherished moments, saying, “Now that I look back on it, that was such an important part of our wedding. We gave ourselves time to appreciate everything and everyone who had come to celebrate with us. Once the reception starts, the entire night goes so quickly, so I’d tell brides to take time for yourselves. You have the rest of the night to mingle and dance, but there are few opportunities to take a quiet moment with your new spouse.”
Congratulations, Mr & Mrs. Saxon! We wish you many happy years together!
Photography: BANG Images | Flowers & event design: Wild Things | Consultant: Engaged Wedding Library | Wedding Dress: BHLDN | Bridesmaids Dresses: BHLDN | Groom: Hong Kong Tailors | Groomsmen attire: Mr. Burch Formal Wear | Cake: Olexa’s | Venue: Private home | Catering: Shindigs Catering | Band: Emerald Empire Band | Hair: Jessie Moore | Makeup: Meredith Castleberry | Merchandise: Annabelle’s | Stationery Design: Crane & Co. | Details: Gracefully Made Art | Getaway Car: Coats Classic Cars