Allison & Clark
Text by Melanie Saxton
Photos by Katie Lamb Photography
Allison Heather and Clark Needham met quite by chance one year out of college. She loves champagne, chandeliers and dinner parties, while he favors boots, beer and breakfast tacos. Proving that opposites do indeed attract – and stay attracted — they fused her sense of elegance and his more rustic preferences at their storybook wedding on Sept. 27, 2014.
After attending Clements High School, Allison graduated with honors from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in public relations. She was a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. She later graduated cum laude from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston with a B.S. in nursing. Allison is a registered nurse in the Neonatal ICU at Texas Children’s Hospital.
Clark was valedictorian at his graduation from Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Texas A&M University and later earned his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Rice University. He works as a product engineer at Alcon.
Introductions And First Date
The couple met after Allison started her first job downtown, and Clark was in grad school. They crossed paths when they went out two-stepping with mutual friends at a midtown country bar. Clark asked Allison out to a sushi restaurant a few weeks after their country dancing encounter and ordered himself an appletini to make sure she had a sense of humor. It surprised her but didn’t steer her away!
During four years of dating, they traveled to Europe and Destin, Florida with the Heather family and to Puerto Rico with the Needhams. Plenty of fun couples’ trips landed them in Cabo San Lucas, Colorado, Santa Barbara, Austin and the wine country of Fredericksburg. One of their most unique trips was to New York City where Clark was a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. “We didn’t become millionaires, but we did meet Meredith Viera, which was just about as good,” says Allison.
The couple also had fun with friends participating in lots of themed pub crawls and music festivals. They raised money for multiple sclerosis and successfully finished the BP MS 150 bicycle ride from Houston to Austin. They even made peace with their college rivalries as Allison attended Aggie football games, and Clark supported Longhorn football by wearing a white shirt to UT games.
Allison and Clark became engaged on a gorgeous Texas fall day after a picnic on top of Enchanted Rock amidst sweeping views of the Hill Country. They celebrated with winery tastings after enjoying the special moment with each other and sharing the exciting news with family and friends. “It was a truly perfect day that we’ll remember and cherish forever,” notes Allison. She was so excited to soon be marrying Clark that she couldn’t sleep that night.
They were engaged just over 11 months and had a vision of what kind of wedding they wanted, but the planning process was quite consuming both emotionally and time-wise. To add to the pressure, Allison and Clark bought a new house in Houston and closed 10 days before the wedding.
The couple’s generous friends and family gave them several showers. Allison’s bridesmaid and long-time friend, Lindsey Coffman MacLeod, and her mother, Sunday Coffman, threw a kitchen-themed shower in Sugar Land. The Needhams hosted a nice shower in Brenham, where many of Clark’s relatives live. The bride’s sister Emily Heather, Courtney Noonan Post (her bridesmaid and sorority sister), Donna Phillips (a family friend) and their spouses threw a fun “Stock the Bar-B-Q” themed party.
The couple achieved their vision of a rustic, elegant, Texas-chic and Christ-centered wedding surrounded by loved ones at the limestone chapel of Briscoe Manor — a reflection of their Texas roots and both of their personalities. They infused many of their opposite personal touches that were also reflective of their families and loved ones. “It is easy to lose to sight of the true purpose of the day amidst all the planning,” says the bride. “But the ceremony was one of the most special parts of the day and truly represented us.” Their mothers lit unity candles as they walked down the aisle, symbolizing two families becoming one. During the ceremony, the bride’s cousin read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, and vocalist Stephanie Spratt performed “In Christ Alone” and “My Beloved.”
Attire: The bride wore an elegant mermaid gown designed by Pronovias of Spain with a scalloped hem with a sweetheart bodice covered in delicate rebrodé lace with a chapel-length sweep train. The bride completed her ensemble with a beaded and crystal belt worn at her waist, a custom-made cathedral length veil and Jimmy Choo glitter lamé peep-toe flats.
The bride’s “something old” was the ruby ring that her late paternal grandmother was given when the bride’s father was born; it passed to the bride’s mother when the bride was born. Her “something new” was a pair of Nadri earrings, her “something borrowed” was lace from her mother’s wedding gown wrapped around the bridal bouquet, and her “something blue” was an embroidered maiden name and wedding date monogrammed inside the skirt of her wedding gown. Bridesmaids wore floor-length, crinkle chiffon Amsale dresses in varying necklines in the beautiful color “Pacific.”
The groom wore a classic black tuxedo paired with a white shirt and black bow tie, black cowboy boots and argyle socks to match the bridesmaid dresses. Each groomsmen wore a classic black tuxedoe paired with a white shirt, black buttons, a black bow tie, argyle socks given to them by the groom and patent leather black shoes.
The Bridal Party: The ceremony was officiated by Pastor Charles Brinkmeyer, a great-uncle of the groom who had married the groom’s parents, James and Alicia Needham of Corpus Christi, 30 years prior. The parents of the bride, Bruce and Susan Heather, have been Sugar Land residents for more than 25 years. Emily Heather, sister of the bride, served as maid of honor. Lauren Kasper Alletag, sorority sister of the bride, served as matron of honor. Kate Olson Wright and Courtney Noonan Post (both sorority sisters of the bride) served as bridesmaids, along with college friend Laura Sollers, sister of the groom Lauren Needham, and Lindsey Coffman MacLeod, a high school friend. Lindsay’s daughter, Layne MacLeod, and Natalie Anderson were the adorable flower girls.
The groom’s brother, Kent Needham, served as best man. Groomsmen included grad school friends Allan Henslee, Robert Langsner, Matt Kyrish, Richard Thibault and Joe Hoffmann, as well as high school friend Paul Geffert.
Décor: The bride carried a bouquet of dusty miller, Queen Anne’s Lace, succulents, white O’Hara garden roses, white freesia, anemones, Eskimo roses and seeded eucalyptus wrapped in lace from the bride’s mother’s wedding dress. The church floral pew markers consisted of white hydrangea, pink majolika spray roses, Queen Anne’s Lace, white stock, seeded eucalyptus and senorita roses each tied with an elegant heavy blush-colored ribbon. A large, rustic, wooden cross adorned the center of the altar with a cascade of white hydrangea, pink majolika spray roses, white stock, seeded eucalyptus, senorita roses and Queen Anne’s Lace. The two candelebras on either side of the altar also were embellished with these floral arrangements. A rustic wood-framed chalkboard with elegant hand-lettering welcomed guests in front of the chapel.
Top wedding moments: The bride prepared for the big day at her parents’ house and childhood home, treating each bridesmaid to an up-do and styling. “Seeing my dad for the first time after I was in my dress was emotional and brought more happy tears than I expected,” she notes, and adds that she presented him monogrammed cuff links and a handkerchief with a sweet message on it.
The couple opted for a “first look” before the ceremony, which immediately quelled their nerves and reminded them of the reason for the day. They embraced one another and exchanged sweet words. The groom gifted his bride a David Yurman heart bracelet. The bride notes that the youngest of her flower girls — a 2-year-old — was encouraged to face the crowds with the help of gummy bears, and held one in her hand all the way down the aisle. This precious moment occurred just before Allison and her father walked down the aisle, which was a nerve-wracking and overwhelmingly happy occasion all at once, especially when the bride saw her handsome groom standing at the end of the aisle. Walking back down the aisle as husband and wife was also a top moment.
Generations of family wedding photos were displayed in the reception foyer of the Briscoe Manor ballroom honoring those who had passed and were present lovingly in spirit. The newlyweds were introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Needham and, just as they had on their first date, they two-stepped to “Memories of Us” by Keith Urban. The bride and her father had taken dance lessons, but jointly decided to simply sway to “Daughter” by Loudin Wainwright III and laughed the whole way through. The groom danced with his mother to “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts. Then guests helped themselves to baskets of flip-flops by the dance floor labeled “Bless your Soles.”
Floral and Décor: Guests signed a square of the couple’s “guest quilt” as they entered the reception, commemorating the night with a piece the couple will use in their home forever. Rugged burlap runners and wooden farmhouse tables were mixed with elegant blush, champagne and ivory linen-covered tables all adorned with mercury glass votives, candles and lush floral arrangements. Reception centerpieces included tall princess vases composed of the same flowers that decorated the church plus curly willow flowing out of the top. Each place setting had a hand-lettered menu tucked inside a napkin with a rosemary sprig peeking out, which were individually cut by the bride’s mother the week of the wedding.
Cocktail hour tables beneath strings of lights in the courtyard were replaced with wine barrels that held centerpieces of boxed succulents, which were planted by the bride and her family the week of the wedding. Guests found their tables via escort cards written in elegant calligraphy pinned on a burlap-inspired board outside of the entrance to the reception. Another wood-framed chalkboard displayed the bar menu alongside antlers, custom monogrammed napkins and koozies.
The fireplace mantel in the bar lounge displayed a light-up “LOVE” sign, hand-made as a true labor of love by the groom. The signature drink of Texas Tea (tea plus vodka and lemonade) was served in a mason jar and garnished with a lemon and a custom drink stir with the couple’s monogram. Guests enjoyed custom wedding monogrammed koozie favors and Whataburger “what a wedding” to-go taquitos upon departure.
The Cakes: The cakes sat on a rustic door supported by wine barrels. The bride’s cake was a three-tier buttercream wedding cake with strawberry filling and a floral cascade including succulents and anemones. The groom’s cake was an oversized Texas-shaped red velvet buttercream cake with fondant details including a surfboard in Corpus Christi (an ode to the groom’s favorite sport and pastime), a Texas A&M symbol over College Station, a Rice symbol over Houston, and an engagement ring over the Enchanted Rock area (the couple’s engagement site). Displayed next to the cake were photos of the groom surfing in Costa Rica and of the couple on their engagement day.
Top reception moments: While dancing with all of her guests, the bride stopped for a moment and looked around the room and saw all of her loved ones celebrating. According to the bride, “It was a once in a lifetime feeling to have all of your favorite people together in one place, celebrating such a joyous day.”
The Exit: The couple made their escape in a vintage Rolls Royce.
The newlyweds spent seven blissful days on the beautiful beaches of Antigua.
MEMORABLE WEDDINGS Allison & Clark