Valley couple wins War Eagle Wedding; voting begins Monday for bridal gown

AUBURN – Katie and Slade from Valley, Ala., have won the online voting contest for Auburn University’s first War Eagle Wedding.

Starting Monday, Jan. 23, will accept votes on three choices for Katie’s bridal gown. The dresses were designed by Auburn apparel design students Lauren Mellor, Heather Hall, and Eloise Faber. Voting will last one week.

The trio was selected for the competition by a committee who reviewed wedding dress designs from students in the Competitive Design class offered through the Department of Consumer Affairs in the College of Human Sciences. Professors Lenda Jo Connell and Pam Ulrich deliberately altered the goal of the class to accommodate the needs of the campus wedding and provide students with a unique challenge.

“The students know the setting will be on Samford lawn, but they don’t know the bride,” said Ulrich. “Nevertheless, the dress has to be fun, feminine, elegant and appealing.”

Katie and Slade will tie the knot on May 26 on the lawn in front of Samford Hall with a reception following at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. The event is sponsored by Auburn’s Office of Communications and Marketing, The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, Opelika-Auburn News, WRBL and through contributions from the local community.

Students in the Competitive Design class generally spend the year-long course vying for a chance to show their competitive designs at the annual meeting for the International Textile and Apparel Association, the leading professional organization for professors of clothing and textiles. Connell said the show is highly competitive, with students from around the world trying to earn a coveted spot.

But the course objective changed once Ulrich learned there were plans to host a wedding on campus. And Connell agreed.

“This is a chance for us to not only showcase Auburn’s fashion design program, but the talent of our emerging fashion designers,” she said. “It’s one thing to design for the runway. It’s another to design for the aisle.”

Other students in the class have been developing designs for the bridesmaid dresses. Online voting of the top three designs begins Monday, Jan. 30.

The unique chance to have their bridal gown design used for the big day is not lost on the future designers.

“The wedding dress is what everyone – especially the women – notice at a wedding,” said Faber. “And it’s not just if we like the dress, but the overall look and how the dress accentuates the bride’s best qualities and makes her look exquisite.”

Mellor appreciates the opportunity to be a part of a university-sponsored wedding, but more importantly, to highlight Auburn’s apparel design program.

“It just proves how amazing our teachers are and how hard they have worked to make our design program so successful,” she said. “To be a part of something like this for our university is so exciting for all of us.”

For Hall, it’s an experience like this that she said can set Auburn students apart from those at the elite design schools across the country, such as the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons in New York.

“We compete with them for jobs and the more experience we can get doing projects, like the War Eagle Wedding, the better off we are upon graduation,” she said.

The trio credits Auburn for preparing them for the challenge of a War Eagle Wedding. Faber created a half scale wedding dress for her senior year design class last year. Hall took a wedding dress she made to the International Textile & Apparel Association competition last year. And Mellor did a wedding dress for Connell’s Advanced Design class last spring. She also did a summer internship at Stephanie D. Couture in Portland, Ore., where she worked on custom wedding dresses.

No matter which dress gets the most votes, it will not be sewn by the winning student. Instead, Sieu Tang Wood, owner of Tang’s Alterations in Montgomery and five other locations across the southeast, will handle the construction.

“Sieu is a high-end designer and very accomplished at what she does,” said Connell. “We are fortunate to have her support for this project.”

(Written by Amy Weaver)

Contacts: Lenda Jo Connell, College of Human Sciences, (334) 844-3789 (, or
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (