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Interior designer Alli Simmons and commercial portfolio manager Hunter Roberts met on the first day of classes at Samford University. They struck up a friendship that appeared platonic until just before their graduation senior year — that’s when Hunter leaped at the chance to ask Alli out on a date before they went their separate ways. Three years later, an engagement was on the horizon!
In the process of closing on their first home together, the couple received a message from their realtor, who told them she was out of town and needed them to stop by the house for an inspection-related issue. “I was like, ‘No, we don’t have time; we can go tomorrow,’” says Alli. “We were going to be late for our reservation; I was so frustrated!” But when the couple arrived, it turned out the realtor’s message had been a ruse, and Hunter pulled off the perfect surprise as he got down on one knee and proposed in their future abode. They celebrated over dinner at Char in Green Hills, then met up with family friends for even more celebration at Alli’s parents’ house.
The planning process for their big day began immediately, but Alli and Hunter ran into a bit of a snag when it came to planning the date. “Hunter’s sister had actually just found out she was pregnant, and her due date was the original date that I picked,” chuckles Alli about the coincidence. “We re-looked at dates because we wanted her to be there!” They finally landed on May 22, 2021, and began looking at local Davidson County venues to accommodate their large guest list.
Ultimately, they opted to have it a little closer to home … In fact, it doesn’t get much closer. “We landed on having it at my own house,” says Alli, referring to the stunning home off Tyne Boulevard where she grew up, owned by her mom, Sissy, and dad, Mark Simmons of Mark Simmons Interiors. The couple chose Hillsboro Church of Christ for the ceremony, which is the first church Alli attended as a child. “It’s a really pretty church, so I always thought it’d be pretty cool to get married there,” she tells us.
Given Alli’s creative background, she set about planning most of the wedding on her own, enlisting help from a planner, The New Eclectic, for recommendations, vendor consultations, additional ideas, and day-of coordination. “As an interior designer and a creative, I can see things,” says Alli. “I wanted a planner because I’ve never planned a wedding, but I really just needed guidance. I also didn’t want me or my parents to worry about anything the day of!”
The bride also began her quest for the perfect dress, managing to find the perfect classic beauty on day one of her search. “I scheduled to go to The Bride Room in Green Hills and actually found my dress the first day!” she admits. “I wanted something simple and timeless — nothing frou-frou — but I also didn’t want it to feel like it was a prom dress; I wanted it to have some drama.” Her ideal find, she chose a Monique Lhuillier stunner with an eye-catching back.
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When it came to her bridal party, which consisted of family and friends, Alli had a specific shade of champagne that she wanted her 11 bridesmaids to wear. “True champagne is hard to find,” she admits. “You can go yellow or brown pretty quickly. We tried on a lot of bridesmaid dresses, but it all ended up flowing together.” Sticking with her classic, neutral-toned motif, the couple chose Stella Rose Floral to create luscious white-and-green bouquets with just a hint of pink mixed in for warmth.
Held at the Hillsboro Church of Christ, the ceremony was filled with love, music from none other than Alison Krauss, and plenty of memorable moments — particularly when the adorable flower girls made their way down the aisle. “I don’t think they dropped one flower,” laughs Alli. “One of them started sprinting down, and the other one walked down the aisle with her hands over her eyes. Then she stopped to say hello to her grandmother.” Following the sweet (and somewhat unpredictable) flower girl antics, the couple exchanged traditional vows and rings. Then, guests hopped on shuttles to head back to the Simmons’ residence for the grand reception.
Greenery adorned the length of the regal stair railing in the front of the Simmons’ home, adding dramatic flair to the cocktail hour, as guests feasted on mini BLTs, brie, and Tennessee strawberry canapés with whipped honey cinnamon spread, and house-made pimento cheese on mini sweet potato biscuits.
The pop-up bars served beer and wine, and for a personalized touch, a signature cocktail named after Zeke, Alli and Hunter’s beloved Boxer. “We were trying to decide what cocktail to do, and then Hunter and I went to our tasting with the caterer,” says Alli. Though Hunter isn’t typically a fruit tea kind of guy, he fell in love with the caterer’s recipe, and they decided to incorporate it into their big day. Hunter was like, “What if we just put bourbon in this fruit tea?” Alli tells us. With a special nod to their favorite pup, they named it Zeke’s Famous Tennessee Tea.
The bride used her interior design savvy to create a summer-inspired, somewhat formal (but certainly not stiff) aesthetic for the reception theme. “I wanted patterns, but I’m so particular,” says the bride, who spends her life making her clients’ design dreams come true at Mark Simmons Interiors. “I wanted these floral tablecloths that I had in my head,” she tells us, “but none of the florals were right at the rental places. We ended up ordering floral fabric from the office to go on the tables instead.” A checked pattern on the lighting fixtures hanging from the reception tent also tied in the blue-and-tan color scheme she had in mind.
For the seated dinner from Flavor Catering, guests feasted on a summery starter salad that featured spiced walnuts and Mandarin oranges, marinated and grilled chicken with lemon-artichoke cream sauce, sautéed green beans with caramelized shallots, and sour cream and chive mashed potatoes. After dinner, the bride tossed her bouquet; the couple cut their cake and shared their first dance to Michael Bublé’s “Everything,” and guests hit the dance floor to enjoy music from Skyline Drive Band.
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The bride and groom opted to stick around for a few days to avoid the stress of an immediate departure, leaving the following week on their honeymoon to Cancun rather than the morning after the wedding. As for the advice Alli would offer to future brides, she suggests not sweating the small stuff. “Don’t overthink things,” she recommends. “If you stress, it takes a lot of the fun out of it. Those little details you stress over won’t make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, so find ways to make it fun!”
Thank you, Alli and Hunter, for sharing your day! And thanks to Liz Allison of Liz Allison Photography for the beautiful photos.
Reception venue: Simmons residence