Caroline Collier still remembers the very first date she went on with her then high school crush, Cooper Harrington. “We hit it off in our high school computer lab class when I was a sophomore and he was a junior,” she says. “Our first high school date was at a Nelly concert and he was my first kiss!” The two eventually broke up, as teenagers tend to do, but then reconnected when they were both in college and became inseparable ever since. “We dated long distance for about four years during college and after,” she explains, “but like any good story, we had our highs and lows.”
One Friday night, after having dinner with friends, Cooper took Caroline on a surprise trip. “We were on our way to an undisclosed location—I’m pretty chill, so this didn’t tip me off in the slightest,” Caroline says. “It was a total shock to see him standing at a covered bridge with flowers! After the proposal, we spent an hour just soaking in the excitement, before he surprised me again with a party at my house.”
When deciding on the aesthetic for her wedding, Caroline says the goal was to create a casual yet elegant English-inspired party. “Some of my favorite elements were the beautiful invitation suite by Holly Hollon, the flower covered arbor for our ceremony by Kathy Miller, and the relaxing, seamless day thanks to our incredible wedding planner, Kalee Baker,” she explains.
While Caroline says she wasn’t one of those brides who had dreamed about her wedding since she was a young girl, she does admit she bought her wedding dress before she got engaged to Cooper. She found it during a trip to London, when she and some of her friends were trying on dresses in a vintage store. “It was the only white dress in the whole store and I fell in love with it. The retailer told me it was a custom-made designer dress from the 1950s and I was delighted when it fit me perfectly,” she adds. “The dress originally had a built-in corset and a curved neckline, which I had adjusted to modernize the look a bit.” Weeks before the wedding, Caroline serendipitously was going through the layers of tulle and finally found the label on the dress. “It was a Balmain! This was the cherry on top to add to the amazing memory of buying it.”
Caroline, who’s a designer for Fashionable and makes custom apparel on the side as well, took the matter of her bridesmaids’ dresses into her own hands. She settled on designing a basic jumpsuit in a taupe silk satin charmeuse. “I gave it a relaxed fit with extra wide leg pants to give the illusion that it was a traditional bridesmaid’s dress,” she says. “I had so much fun during the process of creating them!”
When it came time to walk down the aisle, Caroline arranged for a bagpipe player to play “Highland Cathedral” as she entered the chapel. “It is such a beautiful song and the bagpipes are my dad’s favorite,” she explains. The couple tied the knot under a large arbor draped with fabric and flowers at the center of a stage, making the whole experience feel more personal and intimate between the bride and groom.
The reception later took place at the Mountain Brook Club, where fried oysters during cocktails awaited. “Two of my must-haves were a fun band and Asian food,” Caroline explains. Their wedding band, Azz Izz, pulled off just that and ended the night with a bang to Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic,” while chicken and waffles on a stick were passed around. As for the speeches, Caroline and Cooper’s fathers both kicked off the toasts, and later siblings and friends shared stories and anecdotes about their long-term relationship. “I was overwhelmed with how many people had shared in our love story and showered us in so much love.”
For their first dance as husband and wife, the couple chose Ray Lamontagne’s “You Are the Best Thing,” which took on an added level of significance during their honeymoon in Belize, where they became friends with another couple celebrating their five year anniversary. “They took us under their wing and having visited the island several times showed us all the fun places to go on their golf cart,” Caroline says. “During the ride, ‘You Are the Best Thing’ came on the speakers and they told us it had been their first dance song as well! That connection was so meaningful to us; now the song holds an even more special place in our hearts.”