Allison Mills and Christopher Robinson’s love story began in a biology lab. They were paired up as lab partners the fall of her sophomore and his junior year at The University of Alabama, and initially, they exchanged phone numbers for homework assignments and study sessions. But soon they were smitten. “Naturally, we kept texting even when homework was finished,” Allison says. “I think we both had a crush almost immediately.” Over the Christmas break that followed, they were both glued to their phones, texting and calling each other constantly, and when they returned to Tuscaloosa the next semester they began spending most of their days together. By the time Allison left to spend six weeks studying abroad in Italy that summer, they knew it was love. They continued dating through college, graduated together in December 2012 and spent much of the next two years dating long distance while living in different cities: Birmingham, Raleigh, Atlanta and Birmingham again.
Does it get any dreamier than this lovely bride and groom?
Allison and Chris’ Gatsby-esque wedding even included a vintage Rolls-Royce for a glamorous sendoff!
Allison and Chris steal away for a kiss during cocktail hour.
In March 2014, Allison and Chris tagged along with her parents on a business trip to Kauai, Hawaii. They had been talking about getting engaged, but Allison didn’t want to get her hopes up — as picturesque as a Hawaiian proposal would have been, she was convinced that it wasn’t going to happen. But then, Chris finally convinced a stubbornly resistant Allison to go on a walk with him to see the Hawaiian sunset.
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“Chris asked if I wanted to go on a walk up a cliff to see if we could see the sunset, and I said ‘No! I’m wearing wedges. I’m not climbing up a cliff. Are you crazy?’” When Chris continued to insist, tears sprang to Allison’s eyes as she suddenly realized what was happening. She left her heels with her mother, and the pair climbed up to a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. As the sun dipped below the horizon, Chris got down on one knee and said, “No matter how stubborn you may be, I still want to spend the rest of my life with you.” He asked her to marry him and, through tears, Allison said yes!
On the morning of the wedding, Allison read a sweet note from her groom, which contained an extra-meaningful surprise for his bride. “I consider my dress, veil and the earrings Chris got me that day to be my something new. But the old, borrowed and blue falls under the other gift Chris got me that day,” Allison says. “Chris surprised me with his late grandmother’s stunning aquamarine ring. That was such a special moment and such a big part of our day. Chris and his grandmother were very close, so I know this gift meant so much to him. I consider it ‘borrowed,’ because she had given it to his sister long ago, but she and her mother so graciously gifted it to me. I told her I wouldn’t keep it, but wear it in their grandmother’s honor that day, which I did proudly. But of course she wouldn’t let me give it back to her! I even tried re-gifting it back to her on her wedding day later, but it didn’t fit! She said that was a sign it’s meant to be kept by me, for now.”
When they decided to use The Great Gatsby as their inspiration, Allison knew she had to have a Jenny Packham dress. “My mom, my sister, my best friend and my aunt came with me to Carriage House, and I tried on literally every Jenny Packham dress they had,” Allison says. “But before I tried on any of them, amazing Caroline Williams Eades, the owner of Carriage House, hung them all up on the wall and asked at first glance which one was my favorite. I pointed to the head-to-toe beaded beauty, and she said ‘Let’s try that one last.’”
As a designer and calligrapher herself, Allison knows how important the paper is. Jewel tones, monograms, glittering gold and just the right Art Deco touch made this the invitation suite of her dreams!
“After falling in love with literally every dress I tried on, we put on that last dress. The moment it hit the floor, it just shined from top to bottom. The bedazzle-loving child in me about burst, and I just grinned so big. Carriage House owner, Caroline Williams Eades, knowing the theme of the wedding, said ‘Hold on — I’ve got something.’ She went and got the most gorgeous cathedral veil with a ‘bustle’ to pin in around the back of your head. She turned me away from the mirror, pinned it on, turned me around, and my mom started crying. That thing just made it — she’s a magician. I started to cry, and we knew!”
The dashing groom puts on his 1920s-inspired finest to go meet his bride.
The bride and groom meet for an intimate first look before the ceremony.
Allison’s gown backlit by the sun is simply stunning.
After returning from Hawaii, Allison and her mom had one free day to begin their Birmingham venue search before she had to return to Atlanta. Their third stop of the day was The Florentine, a 1920s ballroom that had been left vacant for 50 years. It was still being renovated when she and her mom arrived, but even under the dust and rubble of construction, it took Allison’s breath away. When the renovations were complete, with its tall ceilings, Art Deco details and grand wall of windows overlooking downtown Birmingham, the 1920s ballroom would truly transport you back in time. Inspiration struck Allison and her mom simultaneously — this was the absolute perfect location for a Gatsby-inspired fête. “I had always loved the idea of a black tie wedding, but this was just so much more fun,” Allison says. “An elegant 1920s affair: black tie, touches of gold, sophisticated decor. I just couldn’t wait!”
An elegant color palette would enhance the beauty of the venue and capture the luxury and drama of the 1920s. Rich jewel tones were juxtaposed with black tablecloths, and gold accents added that extra bit of glamour and sparkle. The bride and groom stood out in white, she in a stunning beaded Jenny Packham gown and he in a white dinner jacket, while the bridal party added a hint of drama in all black. The groomsmen donned black tuxedos and the bridesmaids wore floor-length black dresses accented with beaded Art Deco belts. For a pop of color amid the classic black and white, the ladies carried lush bouquets featuring ’20s-appropriate jewel tones: ruby-colored poppies and berries; roses in shades of plum, deep pink and peach; and sprigs of silver dollar eucalyptus and ivy — all tied up with luxe velvet ribbon.
Dramatic florals tied up with velvet ribbon are the perfect balance of style and sophistication.
Allison’s cathedral-length veil and chic chignon absolutely make this wedding day look.
Allison’s love for Art Deco details carries over to her wedding rings as well — how gorgeous!
The bridesmaids’ bouquets take on a rich beauty when backed by elegant black gowns.
Allison loved the idea of having the wedding party in all black to contrast the white of her gown and Chris’ jacket. “It felt striking and memorable,” Allison says. “Plus, I knew I wanted to have a wedding that felt different than all the other weddings we had been to. I love the sophistication of it all, plus the whimsy of the Gatsby theme — it made for such a fun evening for everyone!”
At 6 p.m. on a chilly January evening in downtown Birmingham, 300 of Chris and Allison’s loved ones gathered at The Florentine to witness their marriage. Allison walked down the aisle on her daddy’s arm as a harpist’s music filled the historic ballroom. She reached her groom at the end of the aisle to exchange vows, grin through the entire ceremony and share their first kiss as husband and wife.
After the ceremony, the new Mr. and Mrs. celebrated alongside their family and friends with a sophisticated soirée that even Jay Gatsby himself would have envied! Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres during a cocktail hour downstairs, then returned to the ballroom for a night of delicious food and dancing. The Brandy Brothers kept the party going late into the night, and at the end of the evening, with the bride bundled up in fur, she and her groom were sent off with a dazzling sparkler display as they drove off toward their new life as newlyweds in a vintage Rolls-Royce.
The bride heads down the aisle toward her groom!
Allison’s mom was a huge part of the planning process, and this lovely bride couldn’t be more appreciative. “I’m super grateful for my mom. She is the only person who understands my wacky, artistic, colorful brain,” Allison says. “She’s also superwoman and took on all the hard stuff while we were away in Atlanta, did all the paperwork (she’s a lawyer though, so I think she enjoys it) and did everything she could to make sure we had a perfect day. I’ll never be able to say it enough, but thank you, Mom!”
Mr. and Mrs. Robinson head back up the aisle as husband and wife!
“The little details throughout were seriously the most fun for me,” Allison says. “My mom and I had a blast searching antiques stores for candelabras, cake stands, The Great Gatsby books, mirrors, votives, frames and feathers.”
Allison and Chris pulled their inspiration for their wedding cake from the venue itself. “During a visit to Birmingham one weekend during our engagement, the owners of The Florentine let us come over to get a peek at the progress of the renovation,” Allison says. “When we got there, they showed us the original dance floor they had uncovered, it was a stunning hardwood in a hexagon design, and I just had a thought to replicate that shape in the cake! I loved that it was simple, but dramatic because of the shape.”
“For the florals, after doing a lot of research on Art Deco inspiration, I came across a picture of mismatched, antique gold candelabras with this beautiful floral arrangement of cascading deep burgundy flowers with a ton of greenery,” Allison says. “I just fell in love with the feel of it, and sort of took that picture and ran with it.”
During cocktail hour, the dapper groom takes advantage of a photo opp with this beauty, the vintage Rolls-Royce that the new Mr. and Mrs. Robinson used as their getaway ride.
We’re such suckers for that after-ceremony bliss … These sweet smiles are contagious!
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The bride and groom share their first dance to “Until You” by Dave Barnes.
One of Allison’s favorite moments of the day was the dance that she and her dad performed together at the reception. How fun is this father-daughter pair?
Allison and Chris chose a mix of vanilla and red velvet layers in their wedding cake — the perfect mix of traditional and non-traditional, all in one slice!
How perfectly Gatsby to spend the night dancing on a 100-year-old dance floor. Allison and Chris had the time of their lives, dancing and celebrating with their loved ones. “Chris and I are pretty casual when it comes to the traditional wedding,” Allison says. “We just wanted everyone we loved to be there with us, to be able to enjoy themselves, and to just share all the love in that room together!”
At the end of the night, Allison and Chris were sent off with a shower of sparklers by their beloved family members and friends!
With two years of marriage under their belts, Allison says focusing on the big picture is the key to the perfect wedding. “Whenever I started to get frustrated or stressed about what I needed to get done, I would just remind myself that the most important thing is that we are getting married,” Allison says. “We will be with all of our favorite people, and no one will even know about those little things that didn’t happen, except me!” Great perspective from a lovely bride, indeed.
Thank you so much for sharing your glamorous wedding day with us, Allison and Chris! We wish you many years of wedded bliss!