Airlie Gardens Wedding | The Bridal Collection Real Bride

By TBC on October 28, 2017
bride and groom kissing at Airlie gardens wedding

How He Asked

Sawyer flew from her home in North Carolina to Colorado the day after Christmas for a belated celebration with Clay’s family. As with many winter flights, hers was exceedingly delayed, landing at Denver International Airport around 2am. After getting her bags, she hopped in the car with Clay and they headed for Vail. Sawyer was hoping to sleep in the car, but if you’ve ever driven through the mountains at night in the winter, chances are you would have had a difficult time relaxing. To make matters worse, the tunnel was closed, so the only way to Vail was on narrow, icy back roads. Finally, around 5am, they made it to their destination. However, Sawyer was still on East Coast time, so she was up and at it around 7am. She made breakfast to kill some time before her beau woke up. After enjoying a meal together, she began washing the dishes. Clay asked her to join him on the couch, where he proposed to her in her PJs and with pruny, wet hands.

Later on, her now-fiance shared that he and his brother-in-law (who happens to be a photographer) had spent time scouting scenic locations around town for the proposal. But Clay was too nervous and excited to wait, which led to their “very practical” proposal – which makes Sawyer love their story even more. After swooning over the perfect engagement ring and basking in newly-engaged bliss, Sawyer got dressed to find Clay’s family waiting for them to celebrate with a surprise party – featuring a mini wedding cake, life sized cutouts of the future bride and groom, banners, and balloons! It was the perfect day.

The “Dress Moment”

Immediately following the engagement and setting a date, Sawyer felt exasperated. Their engagement was 8 months long, so as people congratulated her on the engagement, they stressed the importance of finding a dress right away! Since her wedding dress was the detail she cared most about, it was imperative that she didn’t feel rushed and make the wrong decision. As she perused the Internet and Instagram for inspiration, she felt overwhelmed and couldn’t find all of the information she needed. Finally, she decided to look at a few boutiques and try on dresses with an open mind – hopeful that the perfect “dress moment” she’d read so much about, would happen.

Optimistic, Sawyer visited two bridal shops in the Denver area. The first was a smaller store with a selection of hip, trendy dresses. She liked the way she looked in one of the dresses, but was worried that the dress wasn’t elegant or timeless enough – something she would still love when looking at the photos 30 years from now. The next day, she visited The Bridal Collection, after getting recommendations from friends who had found their own dresses there. Immediately, she was blown away by the selection of dresses!  She was excited to start trying on. Her stylist added something a little different. At first sight, Sawyer was not a fan – it seemed too puffy and she was looking for fitted and sleek. She tried it on anyway, and then and there experienced the “dress moment” – tears and all! The gown, style 3650 by Lazaro, was sleek and fit her like a glove, while featuring the most dramatic and glamorous mermaid skirt she never knew she needed and wanted.  

Wedding Traditions

When asked about her favorite part of the wedding day, Sawyer shared a couple: One of our favorite aspects of our wedding is that it was held where we had our first date—a botanical garden by the beach. After connecting briefly at a work conference and then flying back to our respective homes in Wilmington, NC and Washington DC, Clay joined me for a huge annual Garden Party at our venue, Airlie Gardens, in Wilmington. The garden has tons of 300-year-old oaks full of Spanish moss and it fronts expansively on the sound of Wrightsville Beach, NC.

A favorite memory is the New-Orleans-style “second line” march that we used to lead guests from our ceremony to our reception. Though Clay was born and raised in Denver, most of his family lives in New Orleans and many family weddings are held there and feature authentic “second-lines”—parades, led by a Jazz band, of the wedding party and guests marching with umbrellas. I wanted to include this family tradition in our wedding, and it worked perfectly as our ceremony and reception sites were a short walk from each other within the same venue. As soon as we’d walked down the aisle after the wedding, the Jazz band followed behind us and got everyone to dance their way to the reception. It was such a fun surprise for our guests and the perfect way to shift into party mode!”

About the couple

Sawyer grew up on a tobacco farm in North Carolina. She met Clay at a conference while working in Public Relations. Clay is from Denver and was working for a think tank in Washington, DC when they met. A few months after meeting, he was able to relocate to North Carolina, where they lived for over a year until he moved back to Denver in December to start his own company. They got engaged on December 27, 2016 and tied the knot on August 26, 2017. Since the wedding, they have added a new family member –  an 8 week old Golden Retriever puppy named Soopy!

lazaro wedding dress and wedding rings bride getting wedding makeup done bridesmaids wearing floral robes bride getting ready on wedding day beautiful bride wearing veil bride and groom's first look outdoor wedding ceremony wedding ceremony unity candle Airlie gardens wedding ceremony kiss and walk down the aisle wedding parade with band groom twirling his bride bridal bouquet lazaro wedding dress details baby blue wedding tablescape and decor bride and groom's first dance and cutting the cake


Photography: Melissa DeLorme Photography,  Raleigh NC

Videography: Blueberry Creative, Wilmington NC

Venue: Airlie Gardens, Wilmington NC

Planning and Floral Design: Kickstand Events, Wilmington NC

Catering: Middle of the Island, Wilmington NC

Cake: One Belle Bakery, Wilmington NC

Live Band: The 919 Band, Raleigh NC

Jazz Band: Justin Lacy & Co. , Wilmington NC

Hair/Makeup: Bangz Salon and Spa, Wilmington NC

Engagement Ring/Wedding Bands/Bride Earrings: Trice Jewelers, Denver CO

Dress Designer: Lazaro

Bridal Shop: The Bridal Collection