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. Cue a visit to the Parent Trap house! 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 cross-continental plane, train and automobile rides, it was apparent that they shared a deep love for design, story-telling and authentic relationships. Having experienced so much together over the past months they knew they wanted to serve others by combining their love of travel and culture with the event design world to create meaningful events themselves.
Fast forward to present day and Ben and Alexis are now married and living in England. Haley and her rambunctious sheepadoodle, Scout, reside in Charleston. And after a combined 12+ years in the events industry with world-renowned planners, venues and wedding publications, Willow & Oak Events is here with studios in both England and Charleston, South Carolina. 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 - you could say we have a penchant for France and Italy too.
Our work is regularly published both nationally and internationally within leading wedding publications including Style Me Pretty, Martha Stewart Weddings, Ruffled, Once Wed, Wedding Sparrow, Amber & Muse and Grey Likes Weddings. And 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!