A Tale Of Five Cities

Designed and handmade with family.

Ashley, College Professor, Freelance Graphic Designer and Artist & Devin, Account Manager

Photographer: B&B Portraits

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: A colorful and creative event that reflected our interests and values: great food, great music, lots of laughter (and some tears, too) with our family and closest friends.

Soundtrack for reading: “Without You” by Eddie Vedder (Alternate soundtrack for reading: “Underneath It All” by No Doubt)

Other cool stuff we should know about

The ceremony was a true reflection of our love of family. We didn’t want an overly religious ceremony, but we wanted our closest family members to be a part of it. Using a Lutheran ceremony as a template, we chose readings, prayers, and blessings that were universal across beliefs and had our siblings and parents read them. Our pastor also included the letters that Devin and I wrote to one another, which helped explain our love to our guests and provided some laughter during the emotional ceremony.

The things that brought Devin and I together were our life paths, interests, and strong connections to family. We lived in three of the same cities before meeting and have lived in two cities together. That is how I came up with the theme “The Tale of Five Cities.” Throughout the wedding, we incorporated details from the cities and described our connections to each place. We worked very closely with our event designer, Hillary, to get the wedding we really wanted. Since the event was so connected to our backgrounds and families, Hillary developed a design plan that worked in elements from our lives. Each table at the reception was represented a spot that either Devin or I, or both of us, had some connection to within the selected city. The food also described the five cities: each item for the cocktail hour (including the beers) and dinner were connected to a specific place.

As an artist and designer, I couldn’t help but make a bunch of stuff on my own. Since I have the summers off as a college professor, I was able to design, illustrate, and produce all of the printed materials, signage, and gift items. I also hand-painted our cupcake toppers, ring bearer box, note card box, and a few of the table decor items. My mom and I had some bonding time while assembling and mailing RSVP cards and invitations, making program fans and ribbon wands, and putting gift bags together. Yes, all of this was a ton of work, but it was SO worth it. All of those personal touches helped to make the wedding a true reflection of my husband and me.

Favorite thing about the wedding

My favorite part was the dancing. The band learned two songs to play while Devin and I had our first dance, as well as special requests for the father-daughter and mother-son dances. Then, as soon as the first dances were over, my mom and her sister were the first out on the dance floor. We got to dance to some of our favorite music with our favorite people. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a later curfew at the venue!


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  • Alynae

    All. that. color! wow! It just looks happy! Stunning.

  • Emily

    You are breathtakingly beautiful in your photos! Also, what led you to using the Lutheran ceremony as a template? We are also trying to stray from having a “religious” ceremony, but both of our families would like us to stick to the traditional, so I am looking for ideas that are more our speed but will still feel comfortable to our very Irish-Catholic family

    • Kayjayoh

      We also started out with the ELCA (green book) ceremony as our starter template. It’s hardly recognizable at this point, but it gave us our first structure.

    • Ashley Hairston Doughty

      Thank you! I joined the Lutheran Church later in life (I was 25) and I’m a member of an awesome ELCA church in Knoxville. The officiant from our ceremony is one of the pastors (and she’s the one in all black in one of the photos, dancing at the reception!). Devin was raised Episcopalian, but doesn’t align with any particular faith now. I really wanted a Lutheran ceremony, but Devin didn’t want it to feel overly-religious. I did some research and found this site called “Lutheran Weddings” (convenient, eh?). It lists a wedding service order by a pastor in Australia, adapted to speak to non-Lutheran guests (http://lutheranweddings.blogspot.com/2009/02/wedding-order.html). My pastor also had a sample Lutheran ceremony, so we combined elements from the two. We really wanted our family involved, so we had our wedding party (my best friend, Devin’s brother and his sister, and my brother) read prayers, my dad and his mom recite readings (Bible verses with universal messages), and my mom and his dad reading blessings (a Maya Angelou poem and a Native American blessing). There was still a lot praying and “Amens,” but it was a lot more laid back and inclusive that more religious ceremonies, IMO.

  • ardenelise

    This is in my hometown! I love it! I’m might have to check out some of those vendors, because this wedding is gorgeous!

  • Kayjayoh

    Wonderful. I especially love the purple beaded necklace.

    The photo where your eyes are closed and you are holding the fan radiates such a spirit of celebration.

  • I’ll admit I don’t always put on the music when reading these but I did in this case and…omg! I love all the sweet and moving your photographer captured and the first song totally enhanced it.

  • ART

    SO gorgeous, you both look radiantly happy. i love it.

  • Elise

    LOVE the amazing pops of color w your dress. Fabulous!!!!

  • Julia27

    So beautiful, and especially playing the first song with it. Oh my goodness.

  • BreckW

    Your make up is stunning!! I don’t think it hurts that you’re so obviously full of joy :)!

    • Class of 1980

      Yeah! The makeup is great, though it’s plain to see she is beautiful regardless of makeup. ;)

  • Chiara M

    In the first picture, it looks like you’re wearing a turban veil, and my first thought was “that’s genius”! Turns out you wore a normal veil and looked beautiful, but I really think someone needs to rock a turban veil.

    • Ashley Hairston Doughty

      Yeah, that would have been cool! I was just lifting it up for my mom to put my necklace on. ;-)

  • StevenPortland

    All of the photos are fantastic! I really like the theme of the 5 Cities. Such a great way to make it your own.

  • Jess

    I needed this today! There’s so much joy. Congratulations on what looked to be an amazing celebration of your love!

  • Jo

    Hey, where did the groom’s fabulous red shoes come from!? No info on that? I loved seeing what is usually a ladies trend on a guy! Also, shout out to my Tennessee homies. :) Lovely wedding!!

    • Ashley Hairston Doughty

      Thank you! He got them from Zappos. Devin has cerebral palsy, so he wanted to change into sneakers for the reception to be more comfortable. And our favorite sports team is the St. Louis Cardinals, hence the red sneakers!

  • Sarah

    Wow! Love love love this wedding! Clearly you have heaps of style – amazing colour combination with your shoes and necklace. Do you have more photos online somewhere? Also, your handmade cake toppers are adorable.
    Anyway, congratulations! Looks like it was a really happy day :-)

  • Bethany Armstrong

    This was the most wonderful wedding I have ever been invited to! Everything was perfect, beautiful, delicious, and the reception was SO MUCH FUN!

  • Rosalind

    Thank you for sharing! On a totally superficial note, you look lovely with your blusher veil, which is something I feel really into but have been waffling about.

    • Ashley Hairston Doughty

      I put off getting a veil until the last minute. I wasn’t sure if I wanted one or not, or what kind to get. I think after seeing my matron of honor (a.k.a. “sister from another mother”) get married in a veil a month before, I knew I wanted one. It especially worked for me because it made my look for the ceremony different from my look for the reception, if only slightly. I didn’t have a second dress—just bustled my gown for dancing—so between the veil and the bustling, I did have two different looks.

      BTW, if you are getting married in the summer and having the ceremony outside, consider the length and the weight of the veil. You don’t want anything too long because it might get caught on something. You don’t want it super heavy, cause you will drown in sweat. :-P

  • ElliotClaire

    Everybody’s having a great time…Love it!!!=) best wishes to the beautiful couple <3 for bridal dress inspirations, check out elliotclaire.com

  • Beezzer

    The bride looks radiant and super beautiful in her wedding gown. I love how it hugs her body in the right places. :) I wonder where we can get a similar dress. :)