Since 1888, the building overlooking Samford Park has been a distinguished feature in the life of the Auburn family. A former classroom setting and library, Samford Hall currently houses the university’s administration offices. The building has stood the test of time as history continues in Auburn. Rich in heritage and tradition, Samford Hall is a backdrop to the university scenery, a memento of days gone by, a symbol of education, hope and camaraderie, and now Samford Hall is a setting for union among Auburn family members.
For the first time in the history of Samford Park, Auburn University is allowing wedding ceremonies and vow renewals on the lawn of Samford Hall.
“Marriage is the ultimate commitment two people can make to one another — to stand together through difficult times and good times, to support each other whenever necessary, and to love each other unconditionally,” shares Terri Lynn Beasley, sales manager at The Hotel at Auburn University and event coordinator for weddings at the lawn. “Samford Hall is the building that represents much of this commitment for the Auburn family. It has stood tall in the center of campus and the center of town for well over a hundred years and has seen Auburn through significant history.”
With an increasing number of calls requesting a Samford lawn wedding after Auburn’s win in the 2010 BCS National Championship, Beasley worked with Teresa Whitman-McCall in the Auburn University Office of Communication and Marketing to propose a plan to university administration in order to turn the requests into reality. The proposal was approved, and the university, in coordination with The Hotel at Auburn University, offered the first Samford lawn wedding in May of 2011.
Matt and Melisa Montgomery met in Auburn and had dated for over five years when Matt proposed marriage to Melisa at the 2010 National Championship game. “It may be silly to some, but Melisa and I are huge Auburn fans. We always tailgate and attend every home game. Even our Christmas decorations are all Auburn,” explains Matt. “When we were beginning our wedding planning, the only thing that I wanted was to get married in front of Samford Lawn. To us and probably to the rest of the Auburn family, Auburn means family, spirit and tradition. It is where we met, fell in love, started our lives together, and where we plan to raise our family.”
Matt’s wish came true, and the couple celebrated their marriage union with an orange-and-navy-color palette, facing the Samford Hall backdrop against a blue sky. After Melisa’s father united the two, the couple walked down the aisle to the “Auburn Fight Song” as guests waved orange and blue shakers.
In May 2012, another significant wedding will take place on Samford Lawn. Katie Oliver and Slade Ponder, voted by the public as the War Eagle Wedding recipient spent several weeks allowing the Auburn family to choose the details of their wedding day, including the bridal gown, cakes, wedding party attire, reception cuisine, musicians and more.
Applicants to the War Eagle Wedding competition all had something in common: they either met at Auburn or had strong ties to Auburn. They encountered an experience that drew them to a place and created a commitment to the place. Samford Hall is iconic of the experiences, the memories and the relationships of Auburn people.
“A wedding ceremony location is often a reflection of the couple. Many of the applicants for the War Eagle Wedding were third or fourth generation Auburn alumni, and several of them became engaged on the lawn,” explains Beasley.
In the past, Samford Hall lawn has been the locale for events of high importance or reverence. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 a candlelight vigil was held on the lawn. In the past there have been Christmas tree lightings, memorial services and a sesquicentennial celebration. “An event on Samford Lawn has a special magnitude, and a wedding ceremony certainly falls within that realm,” says Beasley, “The opportunity to get married in front of Auburn University’s most revered building offers alumni and friends of Auburn a chance to enjoy Auburn’s campus in an exciting new way.”