What happens when a rocker and an event planner get married? A mixture of “classic southern traditional and dramatic style” culminated in a “Hallowedding” for Brian Conner and Ashleigh Pair. This was a wedding that was dramatically romantic.
“Getting married the weekend of All Saints Day was important to us because many cultures believe it’s the day to celebrate the lives of the deceased that have gone before us,” says Brian. “We felt like this was the only day for us, not only because it is one of the most magical nights of the year, but also because our family and friends who have passed could be closer to us.”
Brian, lead singer of the band Villanova, and Ashleigh, event manager at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, were high school sweethearts – even attending her junior and senior prom together.
A born planner, Ashleigh says she’s been hashing out the details of her wedding since she was a little girl. However, over the years her tastes evolved into what she calls edgy elegance.
“Every detail was important. I wanted a real haunting beauty, like in Tim Burton films,” he says. “We ended up getting a lot of ideas for the wedding from the film Sleepy Hollow.”
Brian and Ashleigh’s wedding party consisted of 26 members – what the couple refers to as a wedding party of debonair devils and dashing damsels. Brian wanted to wear a tuxedo similar to the one Brad Pitt wore in Interview with a Vampire, so they chose a charcoal-colored Joseph & Feiss tux with a single-button, center-vented, cut-away jacket paired with hickory-striped and pleated pants. The ensemble included an ascot and a matching gray vest.
Ideas for the bridesmaid dresses came from the movie Legend. The result was a black silk, v-neck, high-collared and open-backed gown.
For her dress, she found a white, modern, couturier-styled Maggie Sottero gown in Godavari silk with zebra-printed shoes. Setting off the dress were floral bouquets of white hydrangeas, white lilies, white larkspurs, white delphiniums, white orchids, twisted willow and various greenery. For the wedding party, the flowers were dark red with black calla lilies with accents of real pheasant feathers.
The wedding drama began the night before the ceremony, as Brian’s parents hosted a rehearsal dinner at Saluda River Club. Zebra-printed Chinese lanterns and creepily elegant chandeliers set the tone. Besides a fall menu provided by Jack Brantley of Aberdeen Catering, Brian was surprised by a groom’s cake made into the shape of the guitar he plays in his band. Guests were offered a New York-style cheesecake decorated with a zebra-print design.
The Oct. 31, 2009, 6 p.m. ceremony took place at Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church in Lexington. After the ceremony, the couple and the wedding party rode a trolley to the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center for the reception. The group made a grand red carpet entrance at the Center to the Phantom of the Opera theme song.
Explains Ashleigh, “Because Brian is a musician, the music had to be perfect. And who else than DJ Jon Ruff to rock the reception with help from WARQ’s Rock 93.5 radio station emcee, Matt Lee. We danced the night away to songs such as Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and Frank Sinatra’s ‘Witchcraft.’”
Ashleigh described the reception colors as richly dark and romantic, with zebra-printed linens and dramatic red fabric hanging from the ceiling. In the Center’s grand ballroom was an enormous arrangement of tropical foliage and several hundred red ginger lilies. Special surprises for guests were a flame eater/dancer and a zebra-printed backdrop photo booth with a life-sized witch and a life-sized Frankenstein monster to accompany guests in pictures. The wedding cake by Jane Wallace of Lexington featured layers of red velvet, carrot and pound cakes frosted with cream cheese icing and embellished with zebra print strokes.
Guests went home with party favors of zebra-printed boxes with a Bartlett pear inside dipped in milk chocolate and drizzled in white chocolate to create the zebra-print design.
“Our wedding day was the best day of my life,” says Ashleigh. “Halloween now has greater significance for us, since we can celebrate our wedding anniversary on that day.”