Carolina Bride

Campus courtship

While adjusting to college life several states away from her home in Charlotte, Ashleah Hughes met Blake Boehringer, another North Carolina native. Their paths crossed in 2003 during their first year at The University of Tampa, while Ashleah was a cheerleader and Blake played for the men's basketball team. Off the court, their romance quickly blossomed after Blake asked for Ashleah's phone number.

Several years later in 2009 on a couples' vacation with their friends, Ashleah and Blake enjoyed a relaxing cruise that foreshadowed what was to come. "It was very ironic that during the first 20 minutes on the ship we saw three brides, and countless other newly engaged or newlywed couples throughout the rest of the trip," says Ashleah.

Although she was convinced that Blake would propose while on the ship, it never happened. After the cruise, the two found themselves back on the campus of their alma mater. As they toured the university with their friends, Blake had his video camera in tow. Since he usually documented most outings with the camera, Ashleah thought nothing of it. They started out at the gym, where Ashleah and Blake first met. They meandered through the familiar campus paths, reminiscing and telling stories along the way, until they reached the location where Blake first asked for Ashleah’s phone number. "When we made it to the place where Blake asked for my number, we reenacted the moment and it turned out to be very funny," Ashleah laughs. As the tour came to an end, the couple walked along while a friend was filming, and that's when Blake asked Ashleah, "I bet you don't remember what happened here?" Before she could even answer, Blake was on one knee offering Ashleah a ring. "Of course I said 'yes,’ I was ecstatic!"

At their wedding, Ashleah and Blake commemorated their love with personalized vows they wrote to one another. They also completed a sand ceremony – similar to a unity candle ceremony – which symbolizes the joining of two lives by pouring different colors of sand from separate containers into one container called the unity vase.

Ashleah wore a strapless, silk gown with fitted ruched bodice and hand-beaded embroidery that she fell in love with at Poffie Girls. Her bridesmaids followed suit and wore navy full-length Bella chiffon dresses for the special occasion, while carrying satin clutches instead of flowers. She chose special details like wearing the veil that her mother had worn on her wedding day 27 years earlier.

After the ceremony, guests who had traveled from all over the country and different parts of North Carolina celebrated with the couple at the Hilton Charlotte University Place hotel. They savored the delicious flavors of the vanilla and chocolate peanut butter wedding cake baked and monogrammed by Cheesecake Etc., and enjoyed the décor rented from Party Reflections. Fusion Photography was on site to capture all of the special and even surprising moments, like the DJ's "interruption" of the father-daughter dance for a James Brown tribute of "I Feel Good,” played especially for the bride's dad. "It was a big surprise to him and everyone got a good laugh from it," remembers Ashleah.

Featured Vendors


Cheesecake Etc.



Fusion Photography


Reception location

Hilton Charlotte University Place


Rental provider

Party Reflections


Wedding gown and bridesmaids’ dresses

Poffie Girls


Continue reading real wedding stories! Up next: ’Amazing chemistry’