Ashley, who grew up in Voorhees, New Jersey, and Rich, who hails from the nearby town of Berlin, were introduced by a mutual friend in the library of Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees, New Jersey, in the spring of 2004. “We quickly bonded over our love of country music—Kenny Chesney, specifically,” says Ashley. “Rich was a senior and I was a sophomore. We had a great time that year hanging with our baseball team and lacrosse team, which is where most of our socializing was done that spring.”
The couple officially started dating later that year and spent most of their young relationship apart from one other. Rich left for college in Pennsylvania in the fall of 2004, and Ashley left for Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2006. “Fast forward quite a bit and our relationship spanned five states—New Jersey, Pennsylvania, D.C., Florida, and, finally, Colorado—and nine years before Rich popped the question,” Ashley recalls.
For the engagement, Rich chose the spot right where it all started—the couple’s high school library.
“We were living in Denver at the time but traveled back to New Jersey often for family functions and visits—emphasis on often,” says Ashley. In October 2013, the couple took one of their frequent trips to New Jersey for what Ashley thought was going to be a weekend of celebrating her mom’s birthday and her soon-to-be in-laws’ anniversary. “I got ready for their ‘anniversary dinner’ on Friday night and got a frantic call from my sister saying that she locked her keys in the car while at school and needed her spare,” Ashley recalls. “When I got to Eastern, our high school, I headed toward the library to find my sister, but instead I found Rich. It was the same spot where we had met nine years earlier.”
When it came time to start planning, the couple—who are financial software product managers and live in Southern New Jersey—decided to get married in Naples, where some of Ashley’s family members, including her beloved and ailing grandfather, lived. They chose The Club at The Strand as the site of their ceremony and venue, which took place on October 25, 2014.
Of choosing an aesthetic for the wedding, Ashley says, “I didn’t go into planning with a theme in mind, but it was neutral, simple, soft, and romantic.” Her bridesmaids wore billowy lilac gowns, and blooms in cream and pink graced everything from the altar to the groom’s and groomsmen’s boutonnieres. Ashley stunned in a strapless Monique Lhuillier gown, loose updo, and elegant veil.
The day was filled with so many special moments that Ashley says it’s impossible to pick a single favorite. “The whole day was amazing,” she says. “Almost everyone says that about their wedding day, but for us, it was 100 percent true.”
The couple agree that some of their favorite moments included seeing each other for the first time during their first look, and the time they had to themselves while taking pictures prior to the ceremony. “We laughed so much during that time because, sometimes, taking pictures is awkward—especially when you have to almost kiss for lots of pictures,” Ashley says. “It was a great way to spend out last hours together before becoming husband and wife.”
And while the day was filled with emotions, Ashley and her dad did their part to bring some levity to the occasion. “When my dad and I walked to the altar, just before he gave me away, we gave each other really big high-fives instead of a traditional kiss,” she recalls. “Everyone laughed, and then my dad sent me off with a kiss. It was a great way to keep the mood light, and it definitely reflected my dad’s personality.”
Another memory the bride and groom will always treasure is having Ashley’s grandfather on hand for the festivities. “Having my Pop there was very special to me,” she says. “He had been sick for a very long time. Knowing he was there and knowing he witnessed Rich and me vow our love to each other was such a blessing. My Pop passed away in February, after the wedding, and him being there, together with all of our family that day, is a memory I will have forever.”
The family’s togetherness, along with the couple’s union, inspired plenty of celebration that lasted throughout the evening. In addition to a first dance—they chose “Mean to Me” by Brett Eldgredge—Rich and Ashley also danced to a specially chosen last song, “Marry Me” by Train, during which all of their guests circled around them as they danced together.
After saying “I do,” Ashley and Rich continued their Florida vacation with a “Minnie Moon” to Walt Disney World alongside family for their niece’s and nephew’s first trip to the park. It’s safe to say that this princess bride felt right at home in the Magic Kingdom with her very own Prince Charming.
Venue: The Club at The Strand / Photography/Videography: Hunter Ryan Photography / Cake: Mikkelsen’s Pastry Shop / Flowers: Isn’t She Lovely / Bride’s Dress: Monique Lhuillier / Veil: Sara Gabriel / Sash: a.b. Ellie / Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bride’s and Bridesmaids’ Hair: Gail Lugo and Gail Van Blarcom of True Salon (Berlin, NJ) / Makeup: Sarah of Hope Artistry/ Invitations and Menus: Simply Inviting (Collingswood, NJ) / Entertainment: A DJ with Class / Personalized Cocktail Napkins: The Knot Shop / Guest Book: FancyPrints (Etsy) / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Jenny Yoo ‘Annabelle’ / Groom’s Suit: Ted Baker / Groomsmen’s Suits: John Varvatos / Ties: Burberry