My husband, Alton, and I met by chance when he swam for Hampden Sydney College and his championship tournament was held at the Greensboro Aquatic Center, where I worked at the time. I wouldn’t call it love at first sight, but I would say that we held eye contact for longer than most do off and on for 4 days until he asked me on a date within an hour of him leaving to go back to Farmville, Virginia. We had 5 years of a blissfully, tough long distance relationship. They say long distance is not for the light-hearted and it’s so true. It will shake even the firmest foundations of a romantic relationship, but I am so thankful for the journey that led us to where we are now.

These were the earrings my mom wore on her wedding day
My ring was actually made from Alton’s mother’s diamond

On October 27th, 2017 Alton asked me to marry him in Blowing Rock, North Carolina and 3 months later, on January 27th, 2018 we got married! Although it sounds like a shotgun wedding, it wasn’t. Alton was in the process of getting hired by the City of Tampa’s Fire Department- which is a 6 month grueling process- and we knew we wanted a January wedding, so we made it happen. My mother-in-law is the coordinator at the church we planned to marry at, and luckily, she had most of our vendors lined up for us within a week of getting engaged! Planning a wedding in 3 months was challenging at times, but overall, it was so delightful.

We were so ready to start our lives together after being long distance for so long and it’s the most romantic thing- to want to be with someone so badly that you go against the grain and completely re-write the typical wedding script.

I wanted more than anything to have a family-only ceremony and dinner to celebrate our wedding, but Alton talked me out of it. I was so against spending thousands and thousands of dollars on frivolous details that would be thrown away or forgotten about. I’m so glad he talked me out of my original plan, because the minute we walked into our reception and saw everyone’s faces our hearts filled with so much joy! We spent money on the things that really mattered to us, like the experience for our guests and our pictures, but we saved by staying true to ourselves and having minimal decor and our reception in the church’s fellowship hall. Yes, it was a little outdated and not the most luxurious background, but if we had not had it at the church, the Pope wouldn’t have blessed us with his presence!

At the end of the day, what mattered most to us was celebrating the love we share and beginning our lives as husband and wife together with the people who matter most to us.

I am so thankful that we took time on our wedding day to step away from everyone and just be with each other. Time stood still as we took these pictures together and I will cherish those moments forever.

 Because we were married in the Catholic Church, we had to have an early afternoon due to the mass schedule which was very challenging for us to take photos before the ceremony with the bridal party. I can’t sing Kiley Schiffman’s praises enough. She was my saving grace, my rock, and the best. damn. photographer a girl could ask for. She held me as I cried at one point because the wind was blowing so badly we could barely get through bridal party photos. There is so much emotion as a bride on your wedding day and it can be overwhelming. Kiley kept me grounded as my my anxieties crept up on me before the wedding. I can’t imagine how challenging it was for her to travel to a destination she had never been to and shoot a wedding, but she did it with so much confidence and love. I love you Kiley!

Everyone keeps telling us how amazing our wedding cake was! Publix has the best wedding cakes and they did such an amazing job.

Somewhere during dinner and dancing someone brought the Pope onto the dance floor. It was one of the highlights of our wedding and this photo of my dad and Alton is one of my favorites.

Our wedding day was filled with so much love it was incredible. While there were so many things that didn’t go as planned, like a funeral being scheduled to end 45 minutes before our wedding was to begin, the entire day went exactly the way it was meant to. If I had to pick my favorite part of our wedding day, it would have to be our ceremony. It was filled with music that we chose to honor loved ones and the love that we share and the most beautiful sermon and scripture. We both could feel the presence of God surrounding us with his love, which was truly incredible.

The best part is although our wedding day is over, our marriage has just begun. It’s so fun being newly married and figuring out how to live together and grow our love together. These past 3 months have been the best 3 months of my life and I am so excited for what the future holds for us. Due to Alton’s job, we weren’t able to take a honeymoon right after our wedding. We have been brainstorming ideas for our honeymoon for 2019. Our top pick right now is Bali, but Croatia is a close second.

Any recommendations for honeymoon destinations? If you’re married, what was your favorite part of your wedding day?


Salem Brieske

Dress: BHLDN Penelope Gown

Cake: Publix Bakery

Photographer: Kiley Schiffman Photography






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