Like a lot of southern romances, Refinery29 Executive vice president of sales and brand partnerships, Ashley Atiyeh Miles, and restauranteur Sam Miles’s story started at a college football game. “We were in Tuscaloosa, and everyone went to Galettes after the game,” says Ashley. “All of our friends knew each other, but somehow we’d never met.” After returning to campus, Sam looked up Ashley’s number in the campus directory and promptly called her dorm room to ask her to the SAE Christmas party. “I remember asking my friends: ‘Does anyone know Sam Miles because he just asked me out?’ All of my friends then proceeded to go on and on about how amazing he is. I was so confused because I didn’t remember him. But sure enough, a week later he picked me up, and we went to the party. We danced all night. I didn’t want the evening to end.”
The couple dated casually on and off throughout college. “As Sam says, we had our fair share of test runs,” laughs Ashley. Then, Sam graduated a year ahead of Ashley and moved to New York. “When he left, it really woke me up to the fact that I may never see him again, and it completely freaked me out,” admits Ashley. “We started randomly phoning each other to catch up. We were both dating other people, but we would just call each other to talk about life. I graduated, moved to New York, and got a job at In Style—and Sam made a beeline as soon as I arrived in the city. He ultimately invited me to his uncle’s fiftieth birthday party at Cipriani. I went and pretty much met his entire extended family in one night.”
Even though they’d been dating for years, the engagement was a complete surprise for Ashley. “We decided to take a week-long trip that started with a friend’s wedding in Mobile and was followed by a week in Destin, just the two of us,” says Ashley. “At the beginning of the vacation, Sam and his guy friend got into a wrestling match, and Sam dislocated his shoulder. We had to go to the hospital, and for the rest of the trip, Sam had a sling on. I was a little frustrated by his immature behavior, so I went to put boxers on, make cheese dip, and partake in a little alone time when literally out of nowhere, Sam approached me and proposed with a ring that his grandfather had given his mother, Kay Blount, as a high school graduation present. I was shocked because the whole interaction was such a departure from how he’d been behaving over the past two days. He did show a lot of courtesy by taking the sling off before he proposed though.”
The ring had a sapphire center and was surrounded by six diamonds in a platinum setting. “Sam remember his mom using it to slice open CDs and other things growing up,” laughs Ashley. “My mother-in-law and I are incredibly close, and I think of her every day when I look down at it.”
Ashley always knew she wanted to get married in New Orleans, where she grew up spending a lot of time. The New Orleans Museum of Art appealed to the couple because it had a New York City feel to it. It was the perfect mix of north and south according to Ashley. The ceremony had an old-school romantic feel, complete with 3,000 votive candles surrounding the cathedral where they got married and a New Orleans gospel choir singing the hymns.
Ashley’s wedding dress was designed by Anne Barge. “I love the one-shoulder look and that it went into a mermaid skirt. I tried on a lot of dresses, but ultimately, I felt like I needed the drama of this silhouette as our church has the largest aisle in all of New Orleans.” Halfway through the reception, Ashley changed into a short party dress custom made by Blue in Soho.
Garden roses, peonies, and fowl feathers were used in the bouquets and arrangements, and custom white umbrellas were give to all of the guests so they could participate in the traditional New Orleans–style wedding parade post-ceremony. There was a “smile booth” decked out with Mardi Gras masks on site at the reception and “Blushing Bride” and “Glowing Groom” specialty cocktails.
The buffet-style menu was all New Orleans–inspired. “My grandmother is known for her caviar pie—diced eggs, onions, lemons, Ritz crackers—and she made five for the big day, which was such a special touch,” explains Ashley. “After eating, drinking, and dancing all evening, we ended the night with my friend Jill and I doing the New Orleans ‘gator’ and completely destroying my dress,” recalls Ashley. “Then, Sam and I got into a Rolls Royce and went to The Roosevelt Hotel, where my parents got married, to stay for the night. The next day, we had brunch at a friend’s house on St. Charles Avenue before taking off for two weeks in Thailand.”