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Simply the Best

Mr. and Mrs. Brown

Photography by Lauren Folk, Folk House Photo

Depending on whom you ask, rain on your wedding day may signify good or bad luck. We favor the first option because superstitions are vacuous when real love is in question. Love has a way of guiding us toward a silver lining more often than not. Sometimes that silver lining comes in the form of a rainbow, or maybe your favorite Prince song, or both. Such was the case in the stark white town of Alys Beach on February 13, 2021, as the purple rain began to fall and Dawn Wiley and Cody Brown said “I do.”

The story began in Atlanta, Georgia, when a girl met a boy while shopping at a charming food market called Krog Street Market. It was divine intervention for Wiley, a graduate student and graduate teaching assistant at the University of Alabama, and Brown, owner and operator of Brown Farms. Their love story quickly progressed into vacations and day trips to the Emerald Coast to visit Brown’s parents. It was here in this enchanting place along the coast where the two realized they wanted to spend their lives together.

Surrounded by pristine white buildings and impeccable landscaping, it would be hard to think of a place more appropriate for a proposal than Alys Beach. For Wiley and Brown, a proposal in the area where their love blossomed was a dream come true. The moment was joyous as the two celebrated their futures together and sipped champagne at Caliza Restaurant afterward. It would not be until two years later that these two would find themselves back at the same spot walking down the aisle toward forever.

A thorough planner, Wiley was in no rush to make sure the big day was nothing short of perfection. With the bride-to-be still in graduate school pursuing her doctorate and the onset of the global pandemic, a more prolonged engagement was imminent. “I didn’t want to be rushed or stressed at all,” she insists. All of the extra time allowed the two to plan their perfect day with no details left unturned. Deciding to get married in Alys Beach was an easy one.

“It was the only place we ever wanted to get married, and nowhere else would have compared,” notes Wiley.

The pandemic only offered a few roadblocks as Alys Beach restrictions allowed just fifty guests to participate in the ceremony. It was a sacrifice worth the delight of saying “I do” in the same place the couple was engaged and fell in love. Despite this, and with a list of friends and family far beyond fifty people, the couple wanted everyone to feel included—even if that meant many could only attend the reception. The couple moved their reception to the community of Watersound Origins, where everyone could join them to celebrate.

Wiley credits her mother and the incredible wedding vendors on the coast who helped make the big day as seamless and stress-free as possible. “My mom is incredibly special to me, and she played a heavy hand in guiding me on how to design much of the wedding and reception space.”

With all the details in place, it was time for the wedding weekend to commence. The weekend kicked off with a beach bonfire, complete with s’mores, drinks, and food from Pizza by the Sea. The rehearsal dinner took place at the Red Loggia at the Caliza Restaurant. The decor for the rehearsal dinner was tailored to the groom’s liking with rustic farm tables and chairs, sophisticated floral decor, and soft candlelight. The night ended with a nightcap at The Pearl Hotel before the bride and groom went their separate ways, anticipating the day to come.

The bride looked beautiful on the big day in her wedding dress designed by Eve of Milady, which she purchased at Bridals by Lori in Atlanta. The icing on the cake was her custom twenty-foot veil designed by Toni Federici. “Yes, twenty feet! I bought it before Hailey Bieber and Meghan Markle made it a thing,” she laughs. Her shoes were Christian Louboutin, and her stunning jewels were from Marlena DuPelle. The bride’s mother was a sight to see dressed in Adriano Samar Couture, and the bridal party dazzled in Amsale from Bridals by Lori. Unfortunately, things were not quite as seamless for the groomsmen, whose suits would arrive late due to a polar vortex. Left with no other options, the men journeyed to Destin the day before the wedding for alternatives from Men’s Wearhouse. Nonetheless, it was a minor glitch in otherwise flawless preparation.

The ceremony began on the iconic Gulf Green as the clouds started to rumble.

The bride, being Filipino, honored her cultural tradition by having the best man and maid of honor place a unity cord over their heads during the ceremony.

“It symbolizes an unbreakable bond during the marriage,” she explained. Another memorable moment was when the bride’s two nephews walked down the aisle next to the bride’s mother holding candles to symbolize God’s light and presence at the union. The bride and groom exchanged rings, hers being a classic 2.1-carat oval diamond center stone set in rose gold with diamonds around the band and on the prongs, which she personally designed and had crafted by Solomon Brothers in Atlanta. His white-and-yellow gold band was more understated but equally as perfect.

The weather allowed the couple to say their vows before the rain came—with two minutes left in the ceremony. It made for a stunning moment as the bride and groom walked hand in hand down the aisle while their ceremony guests showered them in white rose pedals. The other guests cheered them on from a balcony with signs and more rose petals, of course. Even the rain couldn’t keep the couple from admitting that this was their favorite part of the ceremony.

The remainder of the guests joined the fun for the reception, which was equally as dreamy. Guests entered the reception to the sounds of a string quartet playing songs from the Schitt’s Creek soundtrack (James Morrison’s “Precious Love” and Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best”). “It was a hit!” Wiley gushed. For the two self-described music lovers, music was a big part of their evening. The couple hired the Shimmer Band from Atlanta to provide the dance music and chose one song, in particular, to play while they savored their first dance as husband and wife. The iconic “Purple Rain” by the late Prince had always held an extra special place in their hearts as they would dance to it every year on New Year’s Eve. It had become symbolic of starting fresh during the new year. “Our guests went wild when purple confetti rained down over the dance floor! It was pure magic!” The couple’s unique connection to this song only reemphasized their inclination to find the silver lining when actual rain christened their wedding weekend.

The night was a success as all of the guests raved that it was one of the best nights of their lives—a true testament to the bride’s diligent attention to detail. Yet, she still praises her mother with how wonderfully it all turned out. “She has the most unique and sophisticated taste, and I credit her with a lot of how beautiful my wedding turned out.” As far as advice to other to-be-wed couples looking to minimize stress on the big day, Wiley swears by taking bridal photos on another day. The two turned it into a fun day by drinking wine, smoking cigars, and just enjoying each other without worrying about the weather or the other million things you deal with on your wedding day. “I think we look 100-percent better, more energized, and happier than on our actual wedding day!”

The couple’s plans to honeymoon in Tulum were postponed for obvious global pandemic reasons. However, they were able to sneak away to take a “mini-moon” to the gorgeous town of Sedona and stayed at the Enchantment Resort. It is safe to say this couple’s love story is nothing short of enchanting, no matter the forecast. We wish these two the best as they continue their lives dancing in the rain—especially purple rain.

— V —

Alys Beach Weddings are now offered exclusively to Alys Beach homeowners. You must be a member of the Alys Beach homeowner community to book wedding events in the town of Alys Beach.

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