Fashion / Weddings

This Texas Wedding Brings Art and Law Together for the Sweetest Dip Ever

A Montrose Love Story — How Ashlyn Davis and Luke Burns Found Love

BY Catherine D. Anspon and Sasha Vermeil // 01.12.21
photography Mustard Seed Photography

In PaperCity’s ongoing wedding series, we follow couples from first date to wedding bells. Here an exclusive look at a marriage of art and law that triumphed over a pandemic.

Bride’s profession: Ashlyn Davis Burns is the immediate past executive director and curator of the Houston Center for Photography.

Groom’s profession: Luke Burns is a lawyer at Baker Botts L.L.P.

Meet-Cute Story

Ashlyn Davis Burns: We met at Camerata, a local wine bar on Westheimer.

Outside the Menil Drawing Institute
Ashlyn Davis Burns and Luke Burns pose for their wedding portrait at The Menil Drawing Institute.

We chose it because we were both budding oenophiles. Luke arrived an hour early to get a head start on liquid courage and to make the best impression. We talked for hours about a wide range of nerdy topics, like our amateur fascination with quantum physics and Jungian psychology.

The first thing you noticed about your partner that attracted you?

FERN FREEMAN

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Luke Burns: Ashlyn’s confidence, empathy and her gorgeous eyes.

ADB: From our first date, I knew that Luke and I would never run out of things to talk about. The depth and range of his life experiences echoed my own so well, from growing up in a rural place to our love of writing, literature and music. From the start, I could see that our sense of who we are and what we value was very aligned. And, of course, I thought he was handsome!

When you knew he was the one for you?

ADB: We spent a few days in New Orleans, exploring the city and adding to our nascent art collection with antique paintings. There we found that we not only survived being around one another 24/7 but loved and perhaps needed it.

Funny story from your dating time?

ADB: For our friend Victoria’s annual Twelfth Night party, we made up the lyrics to a duet called the “Christmas Hat Song,” in which we both had a singing part and special matching Christmas hat costumes. We expect an encore this year.

The proposal — where, how, when?

ADB: Luke spontaneously proposed on the bank of a lake at his family ranch in the Rio Grande Valley — a working farm that has been in his family for generations.

The Vows

ADB: July 11, 2020, at 6 pm, at our home in Montrose.

How COVID affected where the venue, and which restrictions/precautions were required?

ADB: Originally we had intended to get married at the River Oaks Garden Club in September, but once the lockdown began, we couldn’t see continuing to plan for September with so much uncertainty. It didn’t seem plausible to us that things would change by the fall. So, we made the unusual decision to move our date up to July.

We had just signed a contract with the Garden Club for our new date with a much smaller guest list of around 20, and they decided they would not host any events until the fall. So, we moved it to our home and reduced the guest list even further for the safety of those we love

It was all so difficult — but for us, the purpose of our wedding was to celebrate our families coming together, and their safety was paramount to every decision we made.

Bride and her mother before the ceremony.
The about-to-be Mrs. and mom, Jill Davis

What the bride wore?

ADB: A dress found online after the lockdown began that was heavily altered.

What the groom wore?

ADB: Bespoke tuxedo from Sid Mashburn.

The Rings

ADB: We designed the engagement ring with the help of Tenenbaum Jewelers, using a diamond from Luke’s mother’s engagement ring, which is very special. It’s a three-stone, Edwardian-inspired yellow-gold ring. We love how it references the past, present and the future. My band is an antique yellow-gold band with diamonds, and Luke’s is a two-tone yellow-gold and platinum band, also from Tenenbaum.

How you would describe your nuptial day?

ADB: Intimate, joyful, colorful, a little eccentric — very us!

Special decor details:

ADB: The flowers totally blew us away. The florist created an elaborate installation on the mantel, and bouquets irreverently overflowed their vessels around the house. It was so magical! We also had fruit and individual bottles of Underberg scattered down the dining-room tables for guests to enjoy. It felt like an opulent but unpretentious summer dinner party. It was so perfectly us.

The Music

ADB: We created a Spotify wedding playlist, which we shared with everyone invited to our originally planned wedding to dance to in their own kitchens. Highlights from the playlist include Louis Armstrong’s rendition of “La Vie en Rose,” to which I walked down the stairs with my dad; some classics like Fleetwood Mac, Van Morrison, and Sam Cooke; and some newer artists like Devendra Banhart, Vetiver, and Solange, with a little Townes Van Zandt thrown in.

Our families are big music lovers, so it was a great, tiny dance party, largely headed up by Luke’s little brother, Zack.

Table settings with the couples’ Daniel Gordon photograph.
Flower Power Productions powered the table arrangements. The couples’ Daniel Gordon photograph hangs on the wall.

Flowers.
ADB:
Flower Power Productions.

Attendants: Who was in the wedding party?
ADB: Matron of honor: Molly Simpson
Matron: Debra Barrera
Bridesmaid: Victoria Ridgway
Best men: Dylan Burns and Zack Burns

Guest count.
ADB:
Nine.

The two families.
The happy bridal party of nine

 

Leading up to the main event:

ADB: We were really limited with what we could do. Originally, we had each wanted to take trips with our wedding party, so everything was really up in the air after the pandemic hit. My matron of honor, Molly Simpson, and the bridal party threw me a surprise socially distanced, outdoor bridal shower that was perfect and so sweet.

Luke’s family hosted a rehearsal dinner the night before at the house they were renting. It was lovely to be able to spend so much time with those closest to us during the festivities, and the pandemic really allowed that to happen.

Wedding-day feast:

ADB: A Faire Extraordinaire catered our dinner, which was a very rustic Italian-inspired menu with prosciutto-wrapped melon, honey-drizzled fig crostini with blue cheese, salmon, beef tenderloin and our favorite: a grilled-peach caprese salad. It was delicious.

Signature cocktail:

ADB: Negroni Bianco Bergamotto. We’re obsessed with this Italian liqueur called Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto, which is a re-creation of an Italian liqueur from the 15th century made with rose petals. We also added it to our champagne.

The toast:

ADB: Veuve Clicquot.

Common Bond cake
Common Bond crafted the minimalist cake.

Who made the cake?

ADB: Common Bond.

You’ll never forget?

LB: Our first dance, in which I perfectly executed a dramatic dip. It only took many weeks of dance lessons through Zoom. Nailed it.

ADB: He nailed the dip! With so many months of planning and replanning, and a few very high-risk family members, I was worried we wouldn’t be able to have everyone be together safely. The fact that we pulled it off and had our parents and Luke’s brothers with us was so special. I’ve always been close to my dad, so when he stood up to give his toast (which was really a five-page speech) in front of everyone, of course, we all cried. It’s a memory I will cherish forever.

After everyone left
Mr. and Mrs. Burns

Honeymoon

ADB: We had originally planned a huge trip to Italy, but instead we rented a house near Blanco, Texas, for the week after the wedding. It was so nice to escape the city, and the house had no Internet, so it really allowed us to disconnect. We still hope to have our dream honeymoon once it’s safe to do so.

Silver lining to how the pandemic reshaped your plans?

ADB: We will always fondly remember our home wedding. During such a difficult time, we were able to celebrate with the people who matter the most — without all the distractions that can come with any big celebration. We were able to focus on what was really important to us: coming together with our families and committing our lives to one another.

Having the event in our home also allowed us to customize things in a way that would be much more difficult with an outside venue. From the unique cocktails to the precise wine selection and totally custom playlist, it was all authentic to us.

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