If you follow Southern Weddings on Instagram, you’ve probably seen that for the past five days, Kristin and I have been in New York City! Not only is the Big Apple where Bridal Market is currently taking place, it’s also the place today’s sweet couple, Jessica and Chuck, currently call home. While they got engaged and planned their wedding from NYC, they decided on Jessica’s hometown of Austin, Texas for their late spring celebration. Her mama scoped out dozens of venues in the area, and as soon as Jessica and Chuck pulled up to Pecan Springs Ranch on a weekend trip, they knew it was the place for them! It turned out to be just right for their celebration, complete with a beautifully mismatched bridal party (hint: keep an eye out for one of their photos in V8!), a prayerful ceremony, and Jessica’s dream twinkle lights at the reception.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My parents are the absolute sweetest. They flew to visit Chuck and I so that my mom could help me find a dress. With coffee in hand, we began the day’s journey and visited different stores in the city. We finally found ourselves at Lovely Bridal, where I tried on a bunch of different dresses before finally slipping on the Watters Persiphone gown. I looked over at my mom, who was tearing up, and knew it was the one!
Describe your wedding flowers. Magical. Absolutely magical. The flowers for the wedding were mainly neutrals and greenery. I wanted it to be natural and a little wild looking–more “Secret Garden” than refined. There were little touches of florals throughout the ceremony and reception site with hanging flower rings, a garland and a flower wall over the cake stand, and bird cages intertwined with greenery and candles on the tables.
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did decide to do a first look. We wanted a special time for just the two of us before the ceremony. The moment he turned around and we saw each other for the first time that day, I knew we had made the right decision. It was one of those unique moments that just the two of us shared, and it’s a moment in time we will remember forever!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose not to write our own vows; we went with the tried and true, but we also exchanged personal letters before the ceremony.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Two close friends I grew up with are not only some of the sweetest people, but they also play the harp and violin like a dream, so we asked them to play for the ceremony. The processional for the bridal party was “Bittersweet Symphony,” and I walked down the aisle to “Be Thou My Vision,” our favorite hymn, which holds deep significance for both of us. I asked two of my best friends if they would sing a worship song called “Holy Spirit” during communion. Some of my favorite memories from college include these gals and listening to them play music together.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? My sweet mom actually visited most of the venues, because Chuck and I were both at school in NYC while wedding planning. I think she visited about 25 different venues in the Austin area! I came home for a weekend trip to look at a few of the venues we had narrowed it down to, and when we pulled up to Pecan Springs Ranch, I knew it was the perfect place for our big day! It had a gorgeous area for an outdoor ceremony, a great rain plan option, and a beautiful indoor reception room. There were also special areas for both the guys and the gals to get ready in.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. The cake was a naked cake with flowers and greenery for décor. The bottom layer was carrot cake, the middle was Italian cream, and the top (Chuck’s personal favorite) was key lime. Chuck’s only regret is not going back for a second piece of the key lime! We also had delicious pies; it was a Texas wedding, after all!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? My family and Chuck all know of my love for twinkle lights. My dad designed an exquisite chandelier out of twinkle lights, which was hung in the reception hall, and we had more lights that stretched out from the chandelier, creating a magical setting for our reception.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. According to me, Chuck and I met at the campus coffee shop at Oral Roberts University. According to Chuck, we met in the cafeteria two weeks before, as he distinctly remembers choosing the food line that I was in so he could introduce myself. No one truly knows! I do remember vividly that he was what my close friend called “my celebrity crush.” He was a junior and I was just a freshman at the time, but the first time I saw him, I knew he was the only person I would date in college. Amazingly, it worked out. Through a roommate date event, we ended up becoming friends, and our relationship just continued from there!
Tell us all about the proposal! The day began like any other Saturday in New York City, except that Chuck had planned a special day before school picked up for the fall semester. It began with a stroll through Central Park, across Bow Bridge, and winding around Bethesda fountain, then onto row boating in the lake, and finally, to a picnic by the boat pond, where he popped the question! When his legs started shaking, I could tell something was going on, and when he got down on one knee, I knew what was about to happen. We ended the day sharing ice cream and taking in the city lights from the top of the Rockefeller. Both our families already knew he was going to propose, but they definitely kept it a secret!
When did y’all get married? June 7, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 260
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! Something blue was the bottom of my shoes, something new was my wedding dress, and something borrowed was my mom’s ribbon and pearl pins she used for her own wedding bouquet. Also, my dad gave my mom a heart locket the day I was born with my birthday inscribed on it and a verse, and my mom gave it to me the week before the wedding. I had no idea she had had it for over 22 years, and I wore it for the rehearsal dinner!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We met with our pastors from C3 Brooklyn to do marriage counseling before the wedding. This couple has been such an incredible example of marriage to us, and they have never stopped encouraging us as individuals and as a couple. Chuck’s brother and sister-in-law, who are pastors in Miami, also counseled us before the wedding. These couples are awesome, and through their life experiences, they gave us bits of wisdom that will stay in our hearts forever.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The suspenders. Definitely putting the buttons on the suspenders the day before. To make an unnecessarily long story short, don’t stress over the little things.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Here are a few things that helped us stay within our wedding budget: 1. Being organized early on so that we could take advantage of sales. 2. Keeping the reception centerpieces to a minimum. 3. Not serving wine or beer–just a champagne toast. 4. Using flowers strategically–at our outdoor venue, we didn’t need too many. 5. Having a bridesmaid flower crown-making party the day before the wedding. So fun!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? The day goes by really quickly, so don’t spend time stressing over the little things. Enjoy the day and the process leading up to it. Try to take in the most important moments, especially those with family. Having your loved ones there to celebrate with you is the sweetest thing!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Chuck and I moved back to NYC, where he is finishing up law school and I am finishing my undergraduate studies in psychology. We’re looking forward to graduating this year and starting our new life together. The only additions to our family in the near future will be a great dane and a dachshund (his and hers dogs!).
Photographer: Jen Dillender / Planner: Donna Aleman / Venue: Pecan Springs Ranch / Florist: ZuZu’s Petals / Cake Baker: Sweet Treets / Caterer and Rentals: Papa’s / Lighting: Commercial Property Resources / Band: The Cave Dwellers / Paper Products: Mary Sue Evans / Paper Printing: Global Printing / Bride’s Gown: “Persiphone” by Watters / Bride’s Veil: Melissa Frye / Hair and Makeup: Adore / Bride’s Shoes: Blue by Betsey Johnson / Groom’s Suit: Jos. A Bank / Tie and Bow Ties: The Tie Bar / Groom’s Shoes: Cole Haan / Groomsmen’s Pants: Banana Republic / Groomsmen’s Shirts: Macy’s / Coffee Bar: Stouthaus Coffee Pub
Jen Dillender is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!