Dustin Ohlman and Ashley Place Ohlman were married on July 26, 2008 in Plano, Illinois.
How they met: "I was born and raised in the midwest- Aurora, Illinois, to be exact, and Dustin is a Chattanooga boy through-and-through. We met at an arcade and miniature golf place when I traveled to Chattanooga to visit my cousin at college, and we got along really well. We hung out the rest of the weekend I was there, then stayed in contact for the next year. The following summer, I decided to move down to Chattanooga for a change of scene, and Dustin asked me out soon after I got here! We were married 3 years from the same weekend we met!"
Why a Green Wedding: "I grew up being taught to be very environmentally- and economically-conscious, and I still try to live as 'green' as possible. I didn't want to abandon those beliefs for one day, just because it would be easier or fancier." To this end, Ashley and Dustin tried to utilize the resources in their community. "Supporting the local economy was very important to us. We made a conscious effort to hire vendors that were from small, local companies, or to use the talents of family friends. We didn't want to contribute to large companies or imported pieces when we had small business and local products to use that were just as good." They also made a concerted effort to minimize waste. "We tried to rent and resuse as much as possible, because there was no sense in wasting things- for example, we rented china instead of having disposable plastic plates, the potted plants that were bought as tent decorations are now hanging at my grandparents' home, and we had our ceremony and reception during the day so no lights were needed."
The Location: After scrapping plans for "a large, traditional, Southern wedding in Atlanta," Dustin and Ashley decided to have a smaller, family-oriented wedding in her grandparents' backyard.
"We were the second couple to marry there- my aunt and uncle [had their ceremony in] almost the same spot, over 20 years ago. It was wonderful to have it there! I grew up playing in the same spots we got married, and I got ready in my grandmother's bedroom, among all my family's photos, and a photograph of my aunt, Yvonne, who had passed away before I was born and to whom I have always been compared."
Bridal Attire: Dustin and Ashley paired items from their wardrobes with things that could easily be worn again. "I wore shoes I already owned, and borrowed my mother's earrings. Dustin wore a navy suit, white shirt and shoes he already owned, as well. We bought him a tie that he will be able to wear again. My dress for the reception was a Jcrew "final sale" find, and I have since had it shortened and have already worn it again! The bridesmaids bought matching, navy JCrew dresses that can be worn again (although doesn't every bride say that?), and they picked out their own shoes. I gave them individual necklaces as gifts, and told them they can wear the gifts at the wedding if they wanted (only my sister wore the gift necklace- the other two girls wore their own). The groomsmen wore their own navy pants, white shirt, and shoes. Dustin gave them ties as gifts for them to wear (something that, as two of them are college kids going on interviews, they will definately wear again!).
For her 'something blue," Ashley chose a handmade blue and cream mantilla veil- from Etsy seller Honeycombveils. "It was my favourite piece of my ensemble."
Flowers: "The girls and I carried wildflower bouquets from The Wild Rose - a small, local florist shop run by two hilariously fantastic sisters. They also did all the floral arrangements for the wedding, including the centerpieces and the two hanging pieces for the entrance of the tent."
"After the wedding, we donated the centerpieces and hanging pieces to a local nursing home that had taken care of my great-uncle before he passed. My mom and grandmother collected potted flowers in the months before the wedding to decorate around the tent and yard, and along with my family, my grandparents' neighbours Rob, Adrienne and Cindy and their friend Mary worked tirelessly in getting the property ready for the wedding! There aren't words to describe their selflessness and generosity. Mary even brought three beautiful flower arrangements from her own garden to decorate the gift table, the beverage table and the bathroom counter. My parents, Randy and Rhonda, picked up stones from a local gardening center to line each side of the aisle and to serve as paperweights for our escort cards. The stones are now used in my grandparents' landscaping.
Paper Pleasures: "We wanted something unique, and we didn't want to give our business to some large corporation that churns out the same, boring invitations all the time. We ordered our invitations from Etsy seller InkyLivie, who designs and produces custom stationery from her home. I borrowed the design from the invitations for our programs, menu, escort cards, and favour cards, which were all homemade.
Food & Drink: We chose a local catering company called Upper Crust Catering for our meal. It was a little bit more of a headache to deal with a small company like that, but it was worth it in the end because everyone really enjoyed the food. It was more important to us that we give our business to local vendors and have good, homemade-tasting dishes that everyone recognizes, than to go with a bigger, trendier company with artistic, gourmet dishes that our down-home family wouldn't enjoy. The catering company even gave us all the leftover food, rather than throwing it away! For drinks, we borrowed two big beverage jars from my parents' church for our homemade lemonaid and the 8 gallons of sweet tea that Dustin made for all our southern guests.
Cake: Our cake was made by a very talented family friend, Sue Hipple. Oh my goodness, it was wonderful! One tier was a coconut cake, to represent Dustin's southern heritage, and the other tier was a cinnamon-vanilla cake with a Mexican chocolate buttercream filling that tasted like Mexican hot chocolate, to represent where I grew up. The cake was iced in white buttercream and decorated with conceptual fondant papeles picados, which mimicked the papel picado banners that fluttered under the reception tent. Sue even made us a small cake to act as a cake topper, because she knew we were staying for a few days in Illinois and then traveling to Chattanooga, so we wouldn't be freezing a top layer. We enjoyed that cake with my family on the last two nights we were in Illinois.
Favors: For favors, Dustin and Ashley paired a small gift with a charitable donation. "I am a childhood cancer survivor, so as favors, we chose to make a donation to the Children's Cancer Research Fund. We handed out butterflies made from natural resources (the butterfly is the symbol for the Children's Cancer Research Fund) in small organza bags, with cards explaining the donation."
Photography: "Our photographer was Stephanie Clark of Louis Joy Photography. She is amazing. She was so much fun to work with, and she was so laid back and easy going that it was wonderful to have her there. My gratitude goes out to her for not only capturing our personalities so well, but for so fearlessly putting up with our friends and family."