Ballantyne Country Club {Ashley and Mike} Harrison United Methodist Church Charlotte Wedding Photographer

One thing you can definitely say about our fantastic couple, Mike and Ashley: Mike LOVES to keep a girl guessing!

Ashley is a marketing executive for Stout Brewing Company. Michael is in technology sales with Hendrix Business Systems. The two met after using an online dating service, the most popular way for couples to meet today.

After they met, Mike was attracted to Ashley, a vivacious executive who is close to her family. Mike soon realized Ashley was the woman of his dreams. One of the many things Mike loves about Ashley is her intelligence. She is very skilled at figuring things out. So, once he decided to ask Ashley to marry him, he decided to make a puzzle of his proposal.

“Mike and I had been talking about getting engaged for a couple of weeks prior to the day,” Ashley said. “I, of course was getting excited about planning our wedding and starting the next chapter in our relationship. Knowing me and my ways of figuring out surprises, Mike began laying the groundwork for the proposal about 10 days prior to getting down on one knee.

“Mike called me the Monday before and told me that he had made some plans for us and to put January 29th on my calendar for dinner at Capital Grille, as well as a spontaneous trip to Myrtle Beach from February 15th through 17th. I was going nuts thinking about when, where and how he would propose. But this was all a ruse for the real thing.

“Jim, a co-worker and close friend of Mike’s, let it slip at a party that their company’s annual party was on January 29th… this nixing the possibility of it happening that night. Ugh! Mike knew I was getting antsy, which was hilarious to him. With my birthday being on Monday, the 28th, we made plans to have dinner with my parents on Saturday and go see a jazz musician.

“I come home from work on Monday to find a yellow Post-it note on my door. It was an upside-down ‘1’ with ‘What am I?’ written on it with instructions to write my answer on the back and put it on the door. I immediately called Mike and gave him my answer, but he wouldn’t have any of it. ‘You have to write it down and put it back on the door.’ All I wanted to know was what does ‘1’ have to do with anything? You can’t just give me a little riddle like this and not explain it to me! It drives me nuts… which was all a part of Mike’s plan.

“The next day, I come home to find yet another riddle on my door… one that did not make any sense at all, mathematically. It was ‘What’s two plus two and the ladder times three?’ Um… six? (The answer was apparently 26, which meant January 26th , was the day he would propose, since one stood for the first day of the year.) I could not understand what he was trying to do at all… and the man would not give me any hints! Next day, no note… and trust me, I searched my entire apartment looking for a hidden note.

“Then, on Thursday, I got a post on Facebook from Mike. It was a phrase in Latin. He was going to make me work for this clue. I literally Googled every word and tried to translate the saying, but the only thing I could come up with is that our coldest months are the warmest for the Southern hemisphere. What? I sent the phrase to my mom, and she got something totally different, as in that Mike wanted to spend the rest of life with me. Awww… but really? You’re going to semi-propose on Facebook? I called Mike after work to report my haphazard findings. Apparently, both were ‘wrong.’

“I was so frustrated at this point. I really don’t like being teased like this… I have to know! To me, it’s like putting my favorite dessert in front of me and telling me that I can’t eat it… ever. It drives me crazy. Little did I know that I was close on the last clue. Thinking that I might piece it together and ruin the proposal, Mike convinced me that he had not purchased the ring yet and it was about two weeks away from happening. I was quite upset! I had gotten all excited because I could not wait to tell him ‘YES.’ Now, thinking that it wasn’t any time soon, I let my guard down and tried to focus on other things, especially dinner with my parents, who were fixing my all-time favorite meal (Christmas brunch). I became fixated on this because Mike and I spent Christmas with his family in Indiana.

“Saturday finally rolls around and I get butterflies. I started questioning everything, thinking what if Mike was really messing with me and it was happening soon. Like today, tomorrow, or even on Monday, my birthday! Over-analyzing everything, I started ruling out possibilities. No way would he propose on my birthday because I had mentioned how cheesy that would be. But would he do it? Nah. But what about today? Would he propose to me in front of my parents? Maybe… but no… he knows that that special moment should be just the two of us… so it had to be Sunday, the 27th! I decided that Sunday was the day. It had to be.

“Fast forward to later that evening when Mike came to pick me up to go to my parents’ house. We get in the car and start heading across town, when Mike misses a turn and starts driving away from the normal route. Me being a horrible backseat driver, I try to keep my mouth shut. I know it annoys him sometimes when I tell him which way to go. Mike could tell that I was dying to correct him on his mistake. After missing and second and third possible turns, I can’t hold it in any longer. ‘Dude, you know that’s the wrong way.’ He starts laughing and tells me not to worry, and that we’re going to take I-77.

“Okay, I think, but that’s totally dumb. Mike then starts to recite the clues he had given me during the week. ‘What’s two plus two and the ladder times three?’ I start spouting out random numbers since every answer I had given him was wrong.

“This delights him tremendously, and he finally announces that the answer was 26. What? How did you get that? During this, I realize that we are not in fact going to the highway, but heading toward Southend in Charlotte. Confused, I asked Mike what was going on. He told me that we were just stopping for a quick drink, then heading to my parents’. ‘Umm, okay, but we’re going to be late for dinner. Better call them and let them know.’ He brushes this off and tells me that he’d already spoken to them and that it was okay. Fine… just as long as I get to eat some of my mom’s AMAZING eggs Benedict, I’m a happy girl. We pulled into the Big Ben’s parking lot, and it struck me as a little peculiar. So we’re grabbing a drink at the place we had our first date? Okay, but it didn’t register with me at the time that something bigger was going on.

“We go inside and order a drink. Mike got a Cosmopolitan (sorry, babe, had to admit it), and I had an apple martini, my fave. Not even two seconds after getting our drinks, Mike starts fidgeting and checking his watch feverishly. My drink wasn’t even ¼ of the way from being finished, and Mike tells me that we have to go! He’s quite adamant about this, but I wasn’t about to leave without having a little more of my cocktail. This frustrated Mike a lot; he was checking his watch every five seconds. He keeps saying that we’re going to be late and that we had to go. I give in and get up from the bar and follow him outside. We start walking towards his car, and I noticed that Mike’s demeanor had rapidly changed. He was nervous!

“A normal person would have pieced it all together by then, but I was just in a state of confusion that was only amplified by us walking straight past his car and towards Sullivan’s. As we walked around the corner, it hit me. OMG, this is it!

“We were on the corner, the same corner where we had our first kiss a year and a half prior. We both got very emotional as Mike got down on one knee and proposed! I was so happy, crying, laughing, we were hugging. People were standing around watching, clapping, congratulating us. It was magical… until I realized that I hadn’t said ‘YES!’

“I quickly remedied that and was overcome with so many emotions! Mike grabbed my hand and we started walking (I thought back to the car), but he led me inside Sullivan’s. He then told me that we weren’t going to my parents’, but having dinner there instead. We spent the evening enjoying a bottle of champagne that my parents sent over, laughing about the night’s events, and were in a fog that we had actually gotten engaged!”

After a beautiful, sacred wedding ceremony at Harrison United Methodist Church in Charlotte, family and friends joined the couple at Ballantyne Country Club for a luxurious reception.

Ashley’s favorite part of her wedding day was “finally seeing each other while I was walking down the aisle.” The luxurious event had an understated Gatsby-like atmosphere, very romantic, dark, and sophisticated. “It was very intimate but huge party feel,” Ashley said.

After the celebration, the couple slipped away to St. Lucia for a week-long relaxing honeymoon.

Photography for wedding: Chuck Eaton and Whitney Gray

Cake: Wow Factor Cakes, Charlotte, NC
Flowers: Lilly GreenThumbs, Charlotte, NC
Gown: Hayden Olivia, Charlotte, NC
Designer: Modern Trousseau
Shoes: Glittery Peep-Toes Designer: Enzo Anglioni
Bridesmaids’ dresses: David’s Bridal
Tuxedos: Men’s Wearhouses Designer: Calvin Klein
Engagement ring: Diamond’s Direct
Wedding rings: Kay’s for Mike’s, Great Grandmother’s wedding band for Ashley
Hairstylist for wedding: Stacey Haley, Edge Salon
Make-up for portrait and wedding: Tamara Tate
Invitations/Stationery: Three Little Birds, Charlotte NC
Music/Entertainment/Booking Agency: Drex of Kiss 95.1
Clergy: Pastor Phillip Cole of Harrison United Methodist Church, Charlotte NC
Reception location: Ballantyne Country Club, Charlotte NC
Rehearsal dinner: Maggiano’s at SouthPark, Charlotte, NC
Wedding night hotel/inn: Ballantyne Resort

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About Chuck Eaton

Chuck Eaton is an experienced luxury wedding photojournalist based out of Charlotte, NC and shooting throughout the world. We love what we do and the clients who let us do it. We provide exclusive fine art portraiture and documentary wedding photography while having fun doing it!
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