Ashley Gross And Brandon Minor

“Surprise me.” Ashley Elizabeth Gross told her wedding planner. “ ‘You plan it all,’ I told him.” And she kept her word, entrusting details of the ceremony and reception to the planner, a longtime family friend who had handled her two aunts’ weddings, as well. “I had no idea what I’d see until I arrived at the ceremony. It turned out to be the best decision ever. I got to focus on getting ready to spend forever with my soulmate.”

Ashley and Brandon Scott Minor of Hannibal met online. Shortly thereafter, in October 2014, Scott and his daughter, Siena, now 10, came to Columbia to meet Ashley in person. “It was a big family weekend,” including a Mizzou football game and a visit to Canvas on Broadway, Ashley remembers. From the start, Scott was completely open about how central his children (Siena and her brothers, Sean, now 13 and Brett, now 2  were to his life and the future of any relationship.

“We knew almost immediately that this was it,” Ashley said. By December 2014, they were engaged. The following New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2015, Ashley and Scott were married in a private candlelit ceremony at the Country Club of Missouri attended by about 30 close family members and friends. The Rev. Shay Roush of The Crossing officiated. Walls of white chiffon and a ceiling of gold ribbon streamers flowing from the chandeliers created a celestial, intimate space. Candles and rose petals lined the aisle runner. Guests sat in white covered chairs — a single rose on each seat — tied with bands of gold satin. Guests entered to classical string music.

The couple exchanged vows before a draping of tiny white lights tied back with gold tassels. Scott’s children flanked the couple during the ceremony — Sean and Siena serving as best man and maid of honor. The bride’s nephew, Hendrix Kolb, was the ring bearer. As the newlyweds recessed, guests showered them with rose petals.

Ashley wore a Yumi Katsura designer gown of ivory silk satin with a raised waistline and bodice encrusted with scallops of pearls, crystals and tiny organza roses. The A-line skirt flowed into a chapel-length train. Jeweled straps secured the neckline; silver thread embroidery, crystals and miniature organza roses adorned the chapel-length veil. She carried a bouquet of white Casablanca lilies, pearl sprays and crystal blossoms, tied with multiple-width ivory streamers knotted with tiny gold glittering leaves. A Swarvoksi crystal necklace and earrings and silver glitter Kate Spade sling-back pumps completed her ensemble.

The groom wore a charcoal gray tuxedo with a polka-dot print bow

tie and complementary black and white polka-dot socks. His boutonniere was a simple evergreen sprig with pearls and crystals.

The reception took place at the Country Club of Missouri, where the ballroom had been transformed into a winter wonderland for the 300 guests. Silver chandeliers illuminated the tented entrance. Twinkling lights lit the softly draped walls of the entrance foyer. A towering arrangement of white snowball flowers and branches of pearls and crystals centered the guest-book table where silver-framed pictures of the groom’s parents, the bride’s late parents, Jamie and Kimberly Gross, and her adoptive parents and grandparents, Anna and Lawrence Gross — all on their wedding days — were on display.

Guests entered the ballroom along a corridor of golden light. A glossy white dance floor bore the couple’s names painted in the center, flanked by towers of candles and bordered in baroque gold filigree. The cake sat atop a gold sequin lace table surrounded by ostrich feathers.

Guests sat at tables covered in gold and silver brocade linens with gold Chivari chairs. Gilded silver tapers in crystal candelabras were surrounded by dozens of Mercury glass votives, nestled in “snow banks” of white rose petals.

After a short video that encapsulated the day, a live telecast of the New Year’s countdown with hats, whistles, glow-stick necklaces and sparkling Champagne began. The newlyweds joined the band on stage as dancers shouted out the countdown. Showers of rose petals filled the air as “the ball dropped” and an outdoor screen streamed images of fireworks and personalized messages from the couple. Guests enjoyed a late-night buffet of pizza and fresh doughnuts before they departed. An artist captured the magic of the evening live in a painting that now hangs in the couple’s home.

Following a honeymoon to Cancun, the couple is at home in Columbia, where they own Show Me Golf Performance academy and People Chief, a human resources and leadership consulting firm. The bride is the daughter of Lawrence and Anna Gross. The groom is the son of Richard and Susan Minor of Hannibal.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Kansas City wedding planner Michael Nolte, who founded and operated the original Nolte’s Bridal and Nolte’s Flowers in Columbia in 1980, contributed to this feature.)