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MEMORABLE WEDDINGS
Ashley and Clay


Bride and groom share a tender moment in their winter wonderland.

Bride and groom share a tender moment in their winter wonderland.

Photography by Heidi Ann

Ashley Townsend had always joked about marrying an Aggie. Perhaps it was God answering prayers (as her mother reminded her), but she did just that! She and Clay Cole tied the knot in a beautiful destination wedding in Utah filled with adventures (both planned and unplanned), then returned to the Lone Star State to pursue their careers.

Ashley, a 2004 graduate of Cy-Fair High School, majored in communications with a double minor in psychology and business at Texas Christian University. She is employed as a special events coordinator at Texas Health Resources Foundation. Clay is a 2002 graduate of Aledo High School and received a political science degree from Texas A&M. He works as a supply chain analyst at Trinity Industries.

 

First Date

The couple met during a Friday night out at The Usual, a bar in Fort Worth, where they socialized amid mutual friends. “I immediately noticed Ashley and was bold enough to engage in small talk,” says Cole, who was wondering, “How could this girl be single?” She gave him a business card and he eagerly awaited the minimum two days before emailing her at work, hoping her employer wouldn’t block the transmittal. Ashley replied with her personal contact information so he could ask her out properly. They arranged a first date at Lucile’s, an upscale Italian restaurant in Fort Worth.

At first Cole thought he had been stood up after waiting 30 minutes. Ashley called to explain the delay, saying that she had a busy day at work. Still, she managed to arrive, and they talked about anything and everything. About six months later she confessed to oversleeping, and had intended to catch a 15-minute cat nap after an exhausting day… and then had no time to change clothes and spruce up!

Cole was nervous trying decide whether to kiss her at the end of the evening. By this time he was wondering if she could be “the one.” By the way, it wasn’t until their second date that he got that kiss.

“Our recollections of that date are so different,” notes Ashley. She got the feeling that Clay wanted a girlfriend, but didn’t necessarily want to hang out or have her meet his parents. She was totally the opposite and loved spending quality “together” time. He surprised her with an invitation to hang out with his friends the following weekend, and he wanted to be together every single day afterwards.

 

Courtship

Ashley had always heard that Aggie Corps grads were high caliber men. In fact, she joked with her parents about finding an Aggie with a boat, since she had recently learned to wakeboard. As it turned out, Clay owned a boat and was ready for the first time in his life to date exclusively. It seemed perfect, especially in her mother’s opinion, but Ashley wasn’t yet struck by Cupid’s arrow. Plus, she wasn’t sure about Clay’s beard.

“Okay, you want to date other people? Go for it,” Clay told her. “I will wait right here, because I know that I’m the best guy out there for you. Not the best guy in the world. But the best guy for you. So bring it on.”

And that was it! Ashley fell in love with his confidence and discovered that dating Clay was a lot of fun — boating, pool parties, football games, new restaurants and cooking together.

They talked about becoming engaged, but Clay insisted they wait at least a year. One day while he and his prospective mother-in-law watched Ashley finish a horseback riding lesson, he confided that after seven months of dating he was sure Ashley was meant for him. “Why wait, just for the sake of waiting a year?” he commented, and began to plan a surprise proposal. Of course, he scored big points with his future mother-in-law for including her in on the secret.

 

The Proposal

It turned out to be the best proposal ever, despite the fact that it was only 30 degrees outside! Clay lured Ashley to a Cole family photo shoot at Chander Gardens in Weatherford. They waited for his family members who were running late. “I kept telling Clay I wanted to go back to the car and turn on the heater!” says Ashley. Little did she know that Clay had custom designed an engagement ring made with his grandmother’s heirloom diamond. It sat at the base of a fountain on a black stone while Clay’s sister, Kelly, guarded it from behind the bushes.

Clay insisted that they walk around the gardens, and Ashley commented that it might someday be the perfect place for a proposal. Clay reminded her that they had to wait a year. At the fountain area Ashley spotted the ring (and a basket of champagne and glasses) and panicked, assuming they had interrupted someone else’s proposal.

Clay started laughing, took her hand and dropped to one knee… and Ashley began shaking, crying and laughing when she realized the elaborate “family photo session” was a ruse. The occasion was even more special because Clay invited Ashley’s family to drive up from Houston and share in the moment.

 

The Wedding

The bride envisioned a whimsical, woodsy, romantic winter wedding with hues of purples and berry. She and her groom, both “outdoorsy” types, chose the Grand Pavilion at La Caille in Sandy, Utah as their beautiful, snowy venue. She incorporated an elegant wintery theme with a modern twist. Instead of traditional silver, overwhelming reds, and evergreens, the bride selected warm plums and champagne colors with hints of dark pink for a fun and festive celebration.

Attire: The bride wore a diamond white satin sweetheart drop waist A-line gown from Allure Bridal. Intricate crystal and pearl beading on a ruched bodice cascaded to the hips; the flowing skirt was accented with pick-ups. Her wedding shoes served as the “something blue” — cobalt blue peep toe platforms with pearl and rhinestone adornment and pearl and rhinestone heels. The ensemble was complemented by a simple and elegant veil with rhinestone beading outlining the edges, a genuine pearl and rhinestone necklace, three pearl and rhinestone bracelets and pearl and rhinestone earrings.

As her “something old,” the bride wore her grandmother’s rhinestone snowflake brooch, and for her “something new” wore a faux fur lined reversible cape of claret satin and ivory fleece. Her “something borrowed” was her mother’s sable stole, worn during the photo shoot. Bridesmaids wore Xscape aubergine gowns with braided embellishment. Their necklaces, earrings and white fur wraps were gifts from the bride.

The groom wore a black tuxedo by Wilke Rodriguez with a Tuscany white vest and a white Euro tie. Groomsmen wore black Wilke Rodriguez tuxes with Venice amethyst vests and amethyst Euro ties.

Floral: The bride’s bouquet was a combination of roses, calla lilies, orchids, and hypericum with rhinestone floral picks, all tied with an aubergine satin ribbon. Flower girls carried fairy wands with red spray roses and jingle bells. The groom’s boutonnière consisted of the center pod of the safari sunset foliage, true red hypericum, a black magic calla lily encaged in curly willow with stems uniquely wrapped in grasses.

The Bridal Party: Pastor Patrick Lewis officiated as the bride’s parents, Craig and Annye Townsend, joined the groom’s parents, Danny and Kay Cole, for an utterly breathtaking exchange of vows set off by a landscape of snow-kissed woods.

Maid of honor Stacy Hasse served with bridesmaids Catie Schultz and Megan Gorham Pittman, as well as flower girls Olivia Pittman and Emma Darley. Best man Joey Rider stood with groomsmen Spencer Curry, Scott Cropper and Adam Rogers.

Top Wedding Moments: Several people had GPS malfunctions causing them to be late for the rehearsal, including one of the bridesmaids (who was also the mother of the nearly 2-year-old flower girl, Olivia). Olivia didn’t want to wake from her nap and repeatedly announced “I want to go home.” At that point, the bride recruited a second flower girl, 5-year-old Emma Darley, whose favorite pastime was “playing bride.”

On the day of the wedding, all guests were chauffeured to the venue in large buses — which  turned out to be too wide to fit through the elaborate iron entrance gates! Approximately 30 minutes before the wedding, a parade of staff members driving their personal cars made their way down the hill to shuttle the guests back up to the venue. In a Titanic-esque manner, all women and children were taken first!

The Wastach Chamber Players entertained the guests before the ceremony. The bride cried as she approached the aisle, dried her eyes, and then (like her mother had done as a bride) once again burst into happy tears while walking toward the altar.  “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri was played during the processional. Long-time family friend, Kent Williams, sang “Songbird.” The brother of the bride, Grant Townsend, read the scripture Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. The bride’s aunt, Katherine Gardner, read the poem “Blessing of the Hands.” The recessional was “I’ve Got a Feeling” by The Black-eyed Peas.

The pastor used the bus incident as a marriage analogy, pointing out, “Sometimes the bus is going to get stuck at the bottom of the hill and your guests will have to walk.” Since the bride, an event coordinator, had planned the entire wedding, the only surprise was the sound of jingle bells as she and her groom kissed at the altar — friends of the bride’s family had secretly made jingle bell poseys and passed them out to the guests on the buses.

 

The Reception

Table linens of crushed shimmer champagne set off bistro tables draped in eggplant. The table chargers were plum, and mahogany Chivari chairs were tied with champagne sashes. The bride’s table was covered in plum, sparkly sequined fabric.

Decor: The table floral arrangements consisted of an interesting arrangement in square glass vases lined with tea leaves, including sexy red roses, high and magic roses, black magic roses, black magic calla lilies, mango posey calla lilies, true red hypericum, James Story orchids, safari sunset foliage, magnolia foliage, and curly willow.

The Cakes: Both the wedding and groom’s cakes were made by One Sweet Slice, which won the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” in 2012. The wedding cake had three layers including chocolate mint, pumpkin chocolate chip and red velvet. The top tier was decorated to resemble snow, the middle layer was quilted, and the bottom layer was ombre’d in pink. Glitzy snowflakes, initials, and red roses added flair. The groom’s cake, flavored in coconut key lime, was a recreation of an Aggie Barn located north of College Station.

Dining and Treats: In keeping with the snowy theme, guests enjoyed a s’mores & hot cocoa bar, including a wide variety of candies and marshmallows. Guests were encouraged to grab a blanket and head out to the fire pits to cook their s’mores and enjoy the snowy view. A lounge area awaited with sofas, chairs and more blankets. All women received plum or pink pashminas and all men received sweet and spicy mixed nuts.

Music and More:  Music for the reception was provided by DJ Eli Filmore with Allurish Audio. Everyone was on the dance floor for hours. The couple performed choreographed dances which they had rehearsed at Arthur Murray Dance studio, to Clare Bowen’s “When The Right One Comes Along” and George Strait’s “The Big One” sung by Edwin McCain.

The bride and her father danced to “Walk With You” sung by Edwin McCain, and invited all the other fathers and daughters to join them for the remainder of the song. The groom and his mother danced to “Nobody in His Right Mind Would’ve Left Her” sung by George Strait, and also invited all of the other mothers and sons to join them.

The bouquet toss took place to the tune, “All the Single Ladies,” and all females were encouraged to participate. The bride’s cousin did a Michael Jordan-style jump and pushed the maid of honor aside to snatch the flowers in mid-air!

Behind the Scenes: The bride had originally chosen different champagne linens, but a few weeks before the wedding they burned up in a warehouse fire! Also, in order not to overshadow the brother of the bride’s birthday, a special OSU cake was prepared for him. And since the flower girl would turn 2 years old the day after the wedding, she was presented with a special birthday cupcake as the crowd sang “Happy Birthday.”

Departure: The bride and groom exited the venue via the rear steps, after running through a “blizzard” of synthetic snow thrown by all the remaining guests. The newlyweds left via private auto. Incidentally, the buses were able to make it to the venue via the service entrance and all the guests safely arrived back at their hotels.

 

The Honeymoon

The couple honeymooned in Utah and enjoyed dog sledding, a spa day, their cabin, walking around main street, amazing food and tons of snow!

A splendid locale, a perfect venue... and wedded bliss.

A splendid locale, a perfect venue… and wedded bliss.

A quick snuggle for this outdoorsy couple on the night of the rehearsal.

A quick snuggle for this outdoorsy couple on the night of the rehearsal.

Winter wedding and a red cape... a fairy tale wedding indeed! The bride poses on a horse in new fallen snow.

Winter wedding and a red cape… a fairy tale wedding indeed! The bride poses on a horse in new fallen snow.

The wedding party strikes a fun pose.

The wedding party strikes a fun pose.

Something blue! The bride wore peep toe wedding shoes with ornate details

Something blue! The bride wore peep toe wedding shoes with ornate details

Ashley and her mother Annye share a cozy embrace.

Ashley and her mother Annye share a cozy embrace.

Ashley prepares for her big moment with the help of her mother and maid of honor.

Ashley prepares for her big moment with the help of her mother and maid of honor.

Handmade touches! Ashley commissioned her mom to paint the sign for fireside s’mores.

Handmade touches! Ashley commissioned her mom to paint the sign for fireside s’mores.

Clay designed Ashley’s ring around his grandmother’s beautiful diamond.

Clay designed Ashley’s ring around his grandmother’s beautiful diamond.

Guests were treated to cozy blankets on the patio.

Guests were treated to cozy blankets on the patio.

The bride gazes out on a majestic snow-filled landscape.

The bride gazes out on a majestic snow-filled landscape.

Succulent bacon wrapped shrimp – how delicious!

Succulent bacon wrapped shrimp – how delicious!

The groom’s cake celebrated great Aggie spririt – “Gig’ em!”

The groom’s cake celebrated great Aggie spririt – “Gig’ em!”

Warming things up with tomato basil soup shooters and mini grilled cheese wedges.

Warming things up with tomato basil soup shooters and mini grilled cheese wedges.

One Sweet Slice bakery, 2012 Winner of The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, provided a delicious wedding cake in ombre’d hues

One Sweet Slice bakery, 2012 Winner of The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, provided a delicious wedding cake in ombre’d hues

The couple exchanged vows in a space that brought the outdoors inside.

The couple exchanged vows in a space that brought the outdoors inside.

Ashley and her father began the father-daughter dance, and then shared the spotlight with all fathers and daughters in attendance.

Ashley and her father began the father-daughter dance, and then shared the spotlight with all fathers and daughters in attendance.

The bride is radiant on the arm of her groom.

The bride is radiant on the arm of her groom.

Clay danced with his mother, Kay, while sharing the dance floor with other mothers and sons.

Clay danced with his mother, Kay, while sharing the dance floor with other mothers and sons.

The highlight of the honeymoon was a dog sledding trip!

The highlight of the honeymoon was a dog sledding trip!


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