Our annual wedding issue often comes with how-to’s and where-to’s. But this issue we chose to feature the stories of two couples from meeting to proposal, ceremony to honeymoon and beyond. Both tales unfold on the tops of mountains. Each relates details of beautiful and meaningful wedding days. While one couple’s vows were witnessed by a host of family and friends, the other chose an intimate ceremony witnessed by their officiant amid the tranquility of the forest. Best of all, each couple is living their own version of “happily ever after” in Huntsville.
Betsy Byrom & Lance Wallace
Huntsville natives Betsy and Lance Wallace were married high atop Sand Mountain at Gorham’s Bluff in Pisgah, Al. Read on as Betsy recounts the day.
Lance and I were both born and grew up in Huntsville. He attended Auburn University and I went to the University of Alabama. He currently works as an electrical engineer, and I am a full-time pharmaceutical sales rep and a part-time Child Life Specialist with Huntsville Hospice “The Caring House.” Living and working back home, we love having our families here in Huntsville with us.
Lance and I have always known of each other, but we officially met through mutual friends at the Iron Bowl in 2013, then started dating that following February.
It was a beautiful Saturday in October. We were riding around in the Jeep when he asked if I wanted to hike where we did on one of our very first dates. At the top of the Cecil Ashburn hiking trail was a beautiful view. He told me really sweet things, got down on one knee and I said YES! When we got to the bottom of the mountain, he had some of my closest friends and my family waiting. Then we went to meet the rest of our friends and family to celebrate at the Lumberyard.
It took about 10 months to plan. We are so thankful to those who helped us, especially my parents Suzanne and Buzzy Byrom and our wedding planner Susan Rutenburg. None of this would have come together without the preparation provided by our families, the venue, In Bloom florist, and Silver Spoon Catering.
We chose to get married at Gorham’s Bluff in Pisgah, only an hour away from Huntsville. My parents spent their 5th anniversary there more than 25 years ago. When we went to visit, we knew 100% that was where we wanted to get married.
Gorham’s Bluff has the most beautiful view overlooking the Tennessee River with a bluff-side pavilion for the ceremony, an expansive lawn where we enjoyed the reception, and an amphitheater which accommodated the band and dance floor. The lodge was perfect for the bridesmaids to stay and included a bridal suite as well as a dining area for the bridesmaids’ luncheon. With several cottages and homes, the property easily accommodated the groomsman, family members and close friends, providing a peaceful atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.
We chose not to do a “first look” so seeing each other at the ceremony for the first time was so sweet. We had our pastor officiate – Allen Pedram from Church of the Highlands, where Lance and I have attended the last six years. He led everyone in reciting the Lord’s prayer which I remember doing since I was young at First United Methodist Church. It was so meaningful, and we could feel the presence of the Lord throughout the ceremony. A string quartet played our favorite Christian music for the procession. One of my childhood friends read scripture from Colossians. One fun surprise was the lead singer of our band came to sing the exit song, “This Will Be an Everlasting Love.”
A mishap we never knew until after the ceremony was that Lance’s ring was left in my mom’s purse the entire ceremony, so my bridesmaids asked a groomsman to pass his ring for the ring exchange! We thought it was funny and were just glad we found out after the ceremony. We have a sweet memory of putting on his ring over our first dinner as husband and wife.
On the bluff lawn the guests enjoyed a main buffet, several specialty food stations, plus a dessert table made with love by the groom’s grandmother, Betty Ingram. We had a specialty drink, “The Walter,” named after our white Lab. After dinner, Lisa and the Elusion Band from Montgomery played in the amphitheater. With music from the Motown era to today…let’s just say a lot of dancing was done.We left in the groom’s grandfather’s Jeep, the car we were in when he proposed. As we left fireworks exploded in the sky – a perfect ending to the day.
Our honeymoon was to St. Lucia. We used Soohoo Travel Agency. We stayed in an overwater bungalow. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will remember forever!
Life as a married couple is wonderful but takes work every day. We have established a routine and have grown closer to each other and to the Lord. We’re learning how to serve each other and the meaning of marriage – to be a reflection of Christ and his church.
We have a white Lab who is now two years old and he keeps us busy! We can’t wait to see what the second year of marriage will hold.
Anything you’d change
SO thankful that we have zero regrets and wouldn’t change anything! If we had to say one thing is, we wish it didn’t go by as fast as it did!
Advice for brides
Take it all in and don’t sweat the small things. Engage a wedding planner, start planning early so all the details are in place prior to your wedding day. Remember that the wedding day is just one day and to focus on what truly matters, which is becoming one. Most importantly pray about your wedding day and hand it over to the Lord and he will make it perfect for you.
Emily and Bryan Earle eloped in a private ceremony in the Madison County Mountain Nature Trail. Emily tells their story:
Both of Bryan’s parents were in the military so he moved around quite a bit – but he claims his hometown as Gladstone, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. He’s an Air Force veteran and is currently completing his bachelor’s degree in professional studies while employed as a project manager at ATECH Inc. in Huntsville, Al.
I am from Tullahoma, Tenn. Both of my parents grew up in Huntsville, so I spent a lot of time here as a child and ended up moving here after college. I am currently a stay-at-home mom to our one-year old Emmett.
Bryan was here for the summer working in 2014, we went on a blind date and a few months later we flew to Chicago, rented a U-haul and Bryan moved to Alabama to work permanently.
New Year’s Eve coming into 2016, went out to dinner at Commerce Kitchen (the place we met for our first date.) Bryan had planned to propose outside prior to us going in for dinner but decided it wasn’t the right moment. We went to dinner as planned and finally just before midnight, he called me in the kitchen for a glass of champagne and got down on one knee and proposed. He had the ring in his pocket the entire night.
We decided to elope because we wanted the day to just be about us. I never pictured having a big wedding, and with a lot of our family out of town, it would have been a big production. We felt it was more intimate to just have us and the officiant (and the photographer- Ashley.) It didn’t take long to plan because we kept it pretty simple. I had my mother’s wedding dress redesigned for our elopement.
We got married on Green Mountain by the Cambron Covered Bridge. We picked the location because we had hiked there a few times and enjoyed our time there. It was pretty and seemed like the perfect spot for our big day.
For my bouquet and his boutonniere, we used artificial succulents and flowers, so we could keep them forever.
It was extremely warm that day (September 19, 2016) and Bryan was in a suit and hot, he’s usually not the type to dress up, but he was a trooper and made it through.
We had a reception about a week after our honeymoon at our house. We rented a tent and had catering for the event. It was mostly family and a few friends.
Memories of the day
We just had a great day, we really enjoyed sharing the moment together without all the distractions of a traditional wedding.
We flew to Vancouver, drove down to Washington and took a ferry to Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands. We spent a few days on the Island, went whale watching, explored the Island and fell in love with it. Afterwards, we went back to Vancouver and spent a few nights in the city. We biked the Stanley Park Seawall, toured the Granville Island Public Market and enjoyed great food along the way in the Gastown neighborhood.
We always try to laugh. Things aren’t always easy, but we usually humor each other. [The couple has a one-year-old son.] We currently have no pets.
Anything you’d change
No, it was the most perfect day. We would probably do it again, the exact same way.
Advice for brides
If we could make a recommendation to any couple, it would be to travel to a destination that is “out of the norm” for a honeymoon. We will definitely be going back to Friday Harbor someday and would also love to own a vacation property there in the future. When people think about the Northern West Coast, they think of rain, but during our time there the weather was perfect for fall and whale watching.
My advice to brides would be – elope, it is less stressful, you make the day about you and your soon-to-be husband. It is incredibly intimate to only have that one person with you that day.