Ashton + Austin: Romantic, Literature-Inspired Wedding

September 04, 2020 · by Ashton Dorow

Books are a major factor in my life (I’m a writer, author, and avid reader), and the idea of a “fairytale romance” has been a part of my and Austin’s love story from the beginning. 

I had prayed for God to give me a love story to rival anything I had ever read in a book, and He did just that--but that’s another tale for another day!

I had always known that books would play a role in my wedding, so for our theme, I chose to marry my love of books with my love of all things vintage. I dubbed the style “Vintage Romance,” but I suppose the more apt name would be “Literary Romance” because of the book/love story details.

As our guests entered the foyer of our church, I wanted it to feel like they had stepped into the pages of our love story. For the main focal point of the room, we recreated our proposal scene. Austin’s mom had stenciled this quote (which was so fitting for our theme!) onto a white backdrop, and they hung it from the trees in the woods surrounding their home, with the path leading to it lined with candles and Christmas lights. We brought this outdoor scene inside by hanging the cloth backdrop on a stand and draping it in greenery. The lanterns and small end table (which was the first piece of furniture we bought for our future home) were also a part of the original proposal backdrop.

All of the furniture we used in the foyer and in the rest of the decor, was either owned by family/friends or was thrifted. This saved us so much money compared to what we would have spent on rentals! The best example of this is the dressing table we used for our guest sign-in table. It was given to us for FREE by my parents’ neighbor! The mirror in the middle section had broken, so we filled in the empty space with old book pages.

This guest area was filled with many more bookish details. My favorites were the 100-year-old typewriter that belonged to my aunt’s grandparents, our programs that I designed to look like little books and tied with dusty blue ribbon, and the mirror painted with the words “Welcome to our love story."

The biggest part of the decor design was, of course, the church platform. This was the first thing I planned and what the entire decor style branched from.

Years ago, I had seen pictures of Charity Walter’s wedding (if you’re reading this, you probably already know that she is the designer and CEO of Dainty Jewell’s!). I fell in love with how she had built a wall on their church platform and made it look like a parlor in an old house. I knew from then on that THAT was what I wanted for my own wedding one day!

With the help of my dad, my uncle, and my father-in-law, we built a 16’ fake wall across our church platform. To save money and construction time, we used ivory curtain walls on either side to complete the “room” shape. On the central wall, we mounted antique wall sconces and wired them so that they could be plugged into an extension cord from the backside of the wall. We also mounted an old fireplace mantle and covered it in fresh greenery, silk roses, and brass candlesticks, with stacks of books, candles, and moss spilling from the hearth. The rest of the space was decorated with more borrowed or thrifted furniture: a darling green settee and matching chairs, a record cabinet, tall candelabras, and a beautiful coffee table that my parents bought for their very first home.

I loved the way the ceremony decor turned out, but the reception decor ended up being even more fun to put together! Our church foyer was too small to hold our 300+ guests, so we rented a nearby community center.

I wanted to give this space a romantic, elegant feel. The tables were arranged in long rows, banquet style. Atop the ivory tablecloths we layered branches of greenery over bookpage runners that I made. For the centerpieces, we used stacks of old books with an assortment of silver candelabras and silver pitchers filled with fresh flowers. My mom and I had so much fun hunting down these beautiful silver pieces for great prices in resale shops and antique stores! To this day, I can’t go into one of those stores without my eyes automatically hunting for anything silver.

The tables in the overflow room were very similar, but with a silver tray and glass candle holders as the centerpieces. Each vignette at every table also featured gold frames with romantic quotes from literature and the Bible. Above each quote was a chapter number, which was actually the table number. This was one of my favorite DIY projects I did!

In the pictures you’ll notice all of the lovely vintage dishes at every place setting. No, we didn’t actually wash all of those plates! We used them as chargers and served our guests their food on plastic plates, though those were made to look like cut crystal, so they looked a little fancier than the typical plastic plate. A dear friend of ours who does wedding decorating graciously offered to loan us all 300+ place settings of dishes! This saved us hundreds of dollars and made my dream of using vintage china a reality!

All of these lovely details gave the reception a striking, elegant look, but the real star of the design was our cake and punch table area. For this space, we built a wall of books! We ordered bulk quantities of old paperbacks online and used a staple gun to secure them to a piece of plywood. This thing was a monster to transport, but it was the perfect crowning jewel for our bookish theme.

Overall, our wedding day turned out to be everything I had ever dreamed of as a little girl. It wasn't perfect. There were a few hiccups in our schedule. We ran out of time to get to some of the pictures we wanted, and it rained when we were headed to the reception. But those were tiny, insignificant things compared to our joy, the presence of God we felt during the ceremony, and all of the beautiful, special memories that were made.

Our day was filled with so much love coming from every side and within our hearts, that I thought I would burst with it all! The entire day I felt like I was floating on a cloud. I can still remember that feeling when I think back on it, and it's one I hope I never forget.

**All photos by George Tshuma with Infallible Proofs Photography**

Ashton Dorow

About Ashton Dorow

Ashton Dorow has loved reading for as long as she can remember, and she began writing her first book at age fourteen. Since then, she has written more books, launched her blog, Life & Lit, and is in the process of publishing her first novel. She currently resides in Conroe, TX, with her hubby and their two spoiled-rotten furbabies. They attend the church Ashton grew up in, Abundant Life Church in Willis, TX, where they are both involved in music, youth, and children’s ministry.

Connect with Ashton on Instagram at @life.and.lit