When Billy Riddle dropped out of Appalachian State his senior year to launch the non-profit Hope Grows International, he knew the decision would dramatically change the course of his life, but he didn’t know that following his calling to minister to and serve the people of South Sudan would lead him to his wife, Allie Paulson.
The child of missionaries, Allie grew up in Kenya, and like Billy, her heart holds a special place for East Africa. During her freshman year at Appalachian State, Billy returned to campus to finish his degree, but the two didn’t meet until the night he spoke at a campus ministry. “When Billy began to talk about his love for Africa – I was sold,” says Allie. “What a small world that I would meet someone as passionately involved with Africa as I was – and in Boone, NC!” With uncharacteristic confidence, Allie introduced herself to Billy at the end of his talk, but the interaction stopped there until a few weeks later when they found themselves at a mutual friend’s birthday party. There was a spark. “After that, I found my myself continually running into him at a coffee shop where I would do my homework,” says Allie. Many cups of coffee later, the two were officially dating.
The couple dated for nearly three years before Billy proposed – and Allie was convinced he’d wait even longer. “I thought he’d wait until I graduatedso when he proposed in December, it was a complete surprise!” Billy proposed at Forsyth County, NC’s Tanglewood Festival of Lights, with both his family and her parents present to share in the moment. “I was overwhelmed,” says Allie, “but so so happy that he had both of our families there – that was very special to me.”
Allie knew going into the planning process that weddings can become very expensive very quickly, so she recruited her crafty mom, knowing that together they could make whatever she wanted for much less than it would cost to buy. “This wedding is a true testament to my mom’s creativity,” says Allie. “I could have never done it without her.”
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From the fabric flower sashes that each bridesmaid wore to the glass bottle centerpieces to the wooden arbor that the couple stood under for the ceremony, nearly every element of Billy and Allie’s wedding was handmade – right down to the amphitheatre in which the ceremony was held. “Billy’s dad runs Camp Manna, a day camp for kids and had plans to build an amphitheatre. When Billy and I got engaged, he finished the amphitheatre so we could use it,” says Allie. “There was just so much love poured into this wedding, and it fit our vintage-elegant-outdoor-family-homemade theme to a T!”
Continue reading real wedding stories! Up next: "Family Charm"