A study abroad trip in a small town in Italy, a scavenger hunt through Rome and a long-distance relationship that ended with a wedding. Our story includes fate, travel and romance, all of which are such important parts of Willow & Oak Events. Let us begin…
During their final year at Auburn University, Haley and Alexis both separately set off on a study abroad trip in Ariccia, Italy - a small town just outside of Rome. An international studies minor that promised lessons in art, music, gardens, lifestyle, cooking and Italian culture. The biggest take aways of all though were so much greater…
Having met for the first time that morning and after walking nearly 20 miles around Rome on a scavenger hunt, Haley and Alexis decided a celebration drink was in order and discovered an Irish pub in the city center.
Ben, originally from England, was on a weekend trip with friends and staying in a 17th century apartment beside the Spanish Steps. On a mission to see Rome and enjoy all the pizza and pasta on offer, he and his friends had settled in to that same Irish pub to watch a soccer match. It was that night, in that Irish pub, that Alexis and Ben met, exchanged numbers and had no idea of the journey to come.
The months in Europe brought trips all over Italy and Europe, including France, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and of course England. Ben kept his promise to Alexis to show her around London, take her to a play and check off every item on the way-too-touristy to-do list. After a couple of trips, Alexis and Ben both knew there was something special.
A semester abroad went by too quickly and although it was over, Haley and Alexis walked away knowing the seed of what is now Willow & Oak had been well and truly planted. Across all of the trains, planes, buses and cars they shared their love for design, story-telling and authentic relationships. Having shared so much together over the past months, they were now best friends and knew they wanted to work together, combining their love of travel and culture with the event design world to create meaningful events themselves.
Returning to the States, Haley and Alexis graduated and completed events internships at Fortune 500 companies before both signing on to work with world-renowned wedding planners. Meanwhile, Alexis and Ben were managing a long-distance relationship and preparing for her move to the UK.
Fast forward to present day and Ben and Alexis are now married and living in England, Haley and her sheepadoodle, Scout, are living in Charleston and after 12+ combined years in the events industry and months of dreaming and planning, Willow & Oak Events is here with studios both in England and Charleston, South Carolina (link here to weddings in Charleston page). And just as you might expect from our story, we could not be more excited about designing and planning weddings not only in the United States and England, but in destinations all over the world, especially Italy and France, which both have special places in our hearts.
Whether you are a couple looking for a wedding planner or designer, or an industry professional looking to collaborate, we would LOVE to hear from you - tell us your story!
ALEXIS: My heart is fullest when connecting with others and traveling. Give me a village in the South of France, with a market, fresh flowers and a dog by my side! When not working, I can't resist a gorgeous brunch spot with a flat white, browsing interior designers on Pinterest (especially bookshelf art) and trying to convince my hubby that we need the whole Anthropologie home section.
HALEY: traveling to new places (I’ve lived in both Italy + England, so let’s talk Europe!), fresh peonies, Mumford + Sons, pinot noir, hand-painted ceramics, Harry Potter marathons, blue + white plates, Chipotle, doggos (but especially sheepadoodles), Anthro candles, banjos, Geechie Boy Grits, and binge-watching Friends
BEN: I love motorsport, doing trackdays with my brothers, music and the guitar. I also love skiing and am desperate to go again soon, and a US road trip is also high up on my to-do list. An evening in with a good film is also always welcome!