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I went to college in Austin, so I have an extra soft spot for all our ATX couples–especially when they’re as sweet as Rachel and Chris! These high school sweethearts grew up together, and when the time finally came for them to tie the knot, I can only imagine how incredible the energy at the Barr Mansion was as their loved ones gathered to be a part of their next chapter. Everyone was completely present as Rachel and Chris saw each other for the first time when Rachel walked down the aisle, they recited traditional vows, and they read touching letters to one another during their ceremony. As Rachel said, “I think maybe it’s because we had both waited so long for that moment, there was no way we weren’t going to be totally focused and enjoy it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so happy than I did when I was up there with Chris!”

Thank you so much to The Nichols for sending this lovely day our way!

The dress I wore (Brisa by Christos) was the first dress I ever tried on. When I first tried it on, I really liked it, but it was significantly over our price range, so I decided to just block it out of my mind. Over the course of a year, I would try on dresses and think I found the one… but when it came down to purchasing one, I could never get myself to do it. It got to the point where I had seen every dress in Austin and I didn’t feel like I had found one I wanted to wear. I was so frustrated! Then, one day, I was looking through Instagram and saw the pictures of Emily (Southern Weddings gal!) wearing the Brisa dress and I realized that I had to have that dress. I had always felt so bad asking for it because of the price, but at this point, my mom knew how desperate I was, so I thought maybe it would be okay. I asked my mom if we could go back so I could try it on and she said yes! When we arrived at the store, I told the woman what dress I wanted to try on again and she just gave me this look…I knew instantly what had happened. About a month prior, the dress had been discontinued, never to be made again. When she told me, I didn’t cry…but boy, was I crying on the inside. She brought out several dresses for me to try on, but I didn’t like any of them. Then she told me she still had the size 10 sample Brisa dress in the back and she brought it out. I thought maybe I could get it altered to fit me. The dress was the floor model and it looked pretty bad, but I was convinced I could get it all fixed up! As I was looking in the mirror convincing myself that this plan would work, the consultant remembered that she sold the dress in my size to a girl eight months prior. She decided to text the girl and ask if she would want to sell her dress to me. The girl immediately responded and said she already had it in a resale shop in town and that it hadn’t sold yet! My mom and I sped over there and we got my dream dress for a great price. It was a crazy day that I’ll always remember!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Barr Mansion is just so beautiful. I didn’t look anywhere else because I knew that was the place I wanted to get married.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No. Chris and I have always talked about that moment and how special it would be to see each other for the first time during our ceremony. There is something so awesome about walking down the aisle to your groom and seeing the look on their face. I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.

We wrote letters in addition to saying traditional vows. My favorite thing Chris wrote was: “From this day forward, our lives will be one binding thread, and each new knot we tie will be a decision that we make as one. I won’t ever leave you behind or wandering, I’ll catch you when you stumble, I’ll dry your tears when you cry, and I’ll revel in your joys. I will always be faithful to you, and I will never, ever stop praying for you.” His favorite thing I wrote was: “Yes, we’ve gone through many arguments and times of disappoint in each other, but no obstacle has ever pushed us apart and no obstacle ever will. I give you that promise on this day, I will never give up on our love and if I ever think about it, I will run towards the Lord until he brings me right back to you. We’ve always found a way back to each other’s arms and I know that we always will.”

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Right after we got engaged, we took a marriage class at our church for newly married/engaged couples. We learned so much about the true meaning of marriage and how to make God the center of it all. It got our minds focused on what really matters and reiterated how serious the commitment we were making is. About four months before our wedding, we also began premarital counseling with the pastor of the church Chris grew up at. We dug so deep and solved so many issues. One thing we are so happy that we did, and would recommend to anyone getting married, is to make sure there is nothing you are keeping or have kept from the other person. Being completely honest and open with one another about everything in our lives brought us even closer than we could have imagined, and it has made our transition into married life feel so much more natural and easy.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Think about your guests. It was so important to us that people had a good time at our wedding, and it made it that much more fun for us to see people enjoying themselves throughout the night. We tried to pick music that would get people up and dancing, food and drinks they would enjoy, and we tried to talk to as many people as we could. All of that made it feel like an awesome party.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Not going over budget! There are so many beautiful options out there and so many cute, extra things to add, but we had to say no to some things.

Our desserts were made by Barr Mansion and were the yummiest desserts we’ve ever eaten. Chris decided on the homemade apple cobbler and I chose the four-berry naked cake with whipped cream. As if it couldn’t get any better, we also had ice cream from Lick (my favorite ice cream shop ever–it’s better than the gelato in Italy!). The flavors we chose were Hill Country Honey Vanilla Bean and Ladybird Lavender Crisp.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Chris and I met in high school and started dating a few months later. I had never felt so comfortable around someone as I did around Chris. He is not just the love of my life, but also my closest friend. I love that we’ve grown into adulthood together. We have some of the best stories since we’ve been together through high school and college! I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else.
Tell us all about the proposal! I pretty much saw the entire thing coming, but that didn’t make it any less special. We went on vacation with my parents to Martha’s Vineyard, and one night, they told me we were going to dinner. We drove for a very long time–it looked like we were headed to the middle of nowhere. As it turns out, Chris was taking me to the most beautiful beach. He definitely set the scene perfectly. He walked me down to the beach and we didn’t speak–we were both just smiling because we both knew that the other knew what was coming. It was after a walk down the beach that he asked me to marry him. It was a very sweet moment and I’ll never forget how excited we both were. One of my favorite memories from our proposal is that he put the engagement ring on the wrong finger. It was pretty cute!
When did y’all get married? May 7, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 165
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We began choosing music together very early on in the process, and it was probably one of the most fun and collaborative parts of planning our wedding. We wanted to choose music that everyone would enjoy, but that still felt special to us. I walked down the aisle to the main theme from the movie “One Day” by Rachael Portman. Chris and I love that movie and could watch it together over and over again. The score is so lovely and emotional; just hearing the sound of those strings in the main theme can make me start to tear up. We walked back up the aisle to the second, upbeat half of “Lover’s Carvings” by Bibio, which was a great way to signal that the party had officially started. For our first dance, we danced to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley. Our dancing music was a mix of so many things: top 40, 70s dance music, rap, country, and classic wedding songs.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We didn’t have a full bar–just wine and beer. It was still so much fun and literally everyone was dancing.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our ceremony is something we will never forget. People had told us that it would zoom by and that we wouldn’t remember anything, but we were both so present, it was almost unbelievable. I think maybe it’s because we had both waited so long for that moment, there was no way we weren’t going to be totally focused and enjoy it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so happy than I did when I was up there with Chris!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Our honeymoon in Tulum was so beautiful and fun, it made us excited to plan our next trip together. Chris and I really want to see as many pretty places and eat as much delicious food as we can over the course of our lives. Right now, we are just working and enjoying our nights together. I love to cook, so after work, I normally come home and make something tasty. We’re also excited to continue to decorate our apartment together; it’s so fun when your place really starts to feel like the two of you. We recently bought a plant and we are very excited about that!

Photographer: The Nichols | Videographer: Michael Larkin | Venue, Caterer, Dessert and Rentals: Barr Mansion | Florist and Rentals: Stems | Lighting and DJ: Greenbelt DJ | Paper Products: Oak & Orchid | Bride’s Gown: “Brisa” by Christos | Veil: “Peony” by Christos | Jewelry: Nordstrom | Hair Stylist: Jeni Hoover Brady | Makeup Artist: Maris Malone Calderon | Bride’s Shoes: “Felicia” by Sam Edelman | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Banana Republic | Groom’s Attire: “Hugo Boss | Ties: The Tie Bar

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Dana reply

    love so many details in this wedding!

  2. avatar Jennifer Nichols reply

    Thank you Southern Weddings for sharing this beautiful wedding that we were fortunate enough to document! Congrats to Rachel and Chris!

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For all our dear friends who have been enduring such a mean, frigid winter, Madeline and Hunter’s wedding will warm your heart right up! With their pretty pastel palette, their wedding at the Barr Mansion looks exactly how I think spring should feel–warm sun shining down, the loveliest blooms, and tons of joy! And how neat is it that they said their vows under a huge pecan tree that is over a hundred years old? So very, very Southern!

I’m so glad Sarah McKenzie shared this sweet day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My only criteria for the dress was that it couldn’t be strapless. The first place I went was Nordstrom, and I picked five to try. Despite one being strapless, I immediately knew the dress was the right one when I put it on!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? No, I am very traditional. I wanted to see his expression the moment that I was walking down the aisle.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We did pre-marital counseling through our church in Houston.

As I was looking at pictures of other weddings in Austin, every picture that I liked was taken at the Barr Mansion. The venue is absolutely gorgeous, and I have always loved historic houses.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The vintage furniture that was set up around the cocktail area really sticks out in my mind, especially the pink couch!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Choose the things that you care about most and spend time working on those things. Do not stress over the tiny details; you will not even remember the small stuff the day after the wedding (and neither will your guests).

We had an all-organic carrot cake frosted with cream cheese icing, featuring no artificial dyes–the color was beet-juice based–and real flowers.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met through mutual friends during our senior year at Texas A&M University. My mother was always telling me that I would never meet a man if I didn’t get out of the house more, but he came right into my kitchen one day! Over the course of several months, I drew him in with baked goods and home-cooked meals. He eventually invited me to dinner at his parent’s house in Houston. After that night, we officially began dating.
Tell us all about the proposal! He proposed on Valentine’s Day. We went to dinner at a nice restaurant, and then went to a local park. When we arrived, he pulled a backpack from the car, and when I asked what it was for, he just said, “You’ll see.” After strolling along one of the paths, we stopped to rest on a bench. He then opened the backpack to reveal a thermos of hot water, mugs, and a variety of tea bags. We made tea and enjoyed the quiet of the night. After he finished his tea, he got down on one knee and asked me to be his bride.
When did y’all get married? Summer 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our ceremony took place under a huge pecan tree that is over a hundred years old. Right in the middle of the ceremony, one of the limbs began to crack and fall. Fortunately, it was on the other side of the ceremony and some of the lower limbs caught it, preventing it from crashing to the ground.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are expecting our first baby this summer!

Photographer: Sarah McKenzie / Venue, Cake Baker, and Caterer: The Barr Mansion / Florist: STEMS / Rentals: Bee Lavish / Band: Terra Vista Strings and Royal Dukes Band / Paper Products: The Stationery Bakery and Minted / Bride’s Gown: “Mila” by Hayley Paige / Bride’s Accessories: BHLDN and Veils by Studio Alma / Hair and Makeup: Celeste at Austin Wedding Hair & Makeup / Bride’s Shoes: Betsey Johnson / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Heidi” by J. Crew, “In Due Corsage” by Modcloth, “Mikado Corded Lace Illusion Neckline Dress” by David’s Bridal, “Annabelle” by BHLDN, ASOS / Groom’s Attire: Al’s Formal Wear / Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Sarah McKenzie reply

    Awwww yeah!!! Thanks for the feature!!!

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Sometimes, the overall ambient tones of your wedding are the hardest to pinpoint and execute, but I think most people will agree, when it comes to the look and feel of a wedding, it’s the tiniest details that can make the largest impact. For Xaviera + Chris, it was the addition of some papel picado details that really made their wedding come together. Hugs go out to Jenny DeMarco for sharing this wedding with us!

I’m so happy I splurged on the details of the wedding. Seeing all those little details I spent hours picking out come together was AWESOME. It felt amazing to be done planning and see it all come together like one awesome puzzle. My husband and I feel like planning a wedding is a rite of passage every couple should go through. It’s an amazing feeling completing it together on your wedding day. A close tie to that moment is when we arrived in our honeymoon suite that night and, as I was helping my husband take off his boots, we realized he had torn the back of his pants seam to seam! We couldn’t stop laughing when we realized he’d been dancing so hard that night, he tore his pants! It was a great party.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I really enjoyed looking for my dress. I decided that I’d go looking for my dress first with my bridesmaids at Blush Bridal and then cull it down to my top three picks for my mom and sister to help make the final decision on once they came into town. The second dress I ever tried on ended up being “the one” and my Matron of Honor shouted, “That’s the one, we can stop looking!” Many dresses and stores later, she was right. That was the perfect dress for me and when my sister and mama came into town, they heartily agreed!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? No, we didn’t do a first look. My husband was not very demanding on what he wanted for the wedding but one of his only requests was that he see me for the first time as I walk down the aisle. Even though it would have been easier to do a first look, I’m so happy we waited for the big moment to see one another. It is one of the best memories of my life, and I was happy to oblige his request!

Describe your wedding flowers: My flowers were amazing. I loved them. It was a mix of light pinks, muted greys, and light or deep purples. We had lots of succulents, amaranthus, Juliet roses, and tons more!

Aside from the adorable flower girl, this photo below is tres Southern, no? The Barr Mansion’s gardens are surrounded by beautiful buildings and were a beautiful place for X + C to tie the knot.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? During our engagement, my husband and I chose a family verse that we felt would get us through good times and bad. We also want something for our children to cling to as they grow up. We ended up picking Ecclesiastes Ch. 4: 9-12 and had it read at our ceremony.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. During the processional we chose our favorite hymnals (“Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “Jesus Paid it All,” “Come Thou Fount”) for the family and wedding party. However, my dad wanted to have input on the song that played while he walked me down the aisle. He chose “Con Te Partido” (Time to Say Goodbye). It was a beautiful, moving walk down the aisle as he was giving me over to my husband and saying goodbye as the lead guy in my life. At the end of the ceremony, as soon as we kissed, mariachi’s played La Negra, which is the traditional piece played to announce newlyweds as a nod to my Tejano heritage. The wedding party and family recessional was to traditional mariachi music which then played into the appetizers and happy hour! For our first dance, my husband chose a country music song by Keith Urban, “Making Memories of Us.” It was the first song he sent me the lyrics to over instant message years before, at work. Every time I hear it, I’m back at my desk falling in love with him all over again. For the father-daughter dance, we danced to a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” by Willie Nelson.

The chalkboard sign below might be one of my favorite signage details that I’ve seen. Who need escort cards when everyone is family?

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The papel picado! We had it handmade in Mexico and it took months to arrive. Additionally, we loved our invitations and menus that our dear friends at Andrade Design created. They were the perfect fit for our wedding. We now have the papel picado hung in our home in gorgeous wooden frames. It is a great piece to have to remember our big day. We also loved the handmade pinata and door hangers at the reception. They really stood out!

The bridal cake was a traditional four-tiered white cake with white floral cut-outs. However, my favorite cake was the groom’s cake, named after the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars. It was a three-tiered chocolate cake with Star Wars characters and fleet cookies all over it. On top, I had the bride and groom painted on wooden dolls to look like Hans Solo and Princess Leia. Even more, we had our two dogs and cat also painted on wooden dolls as C3PO, R2D2, and Chewbacca! My husband and guests absolutely loved the cake.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met at work — I was his intern! We fell in love over instant messaging and working out together outside of the office.
Describe the proposal. We went to a Lyle Lovett concert and then he proposed on the roof top of a downtown parking garage. It was exactly like our first date five years ago — same parking spot on the top of the garage, he said exactly the same thing, except this time he had a ring!
In what month did you get married? March
How many guests attended your wedding? 150
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? My wedding was a fusion of Tejano and Country/Southern styles to pay homage to both of our backgrounds. We had a traditional Christian ceremony, with Southern Baptist hymns playing on the strings, but followed that up with mariachi music at the recessional. Our sign-in table was reclaimed wood from an old barn on my parents’ ranch. They refinished it and are making it into our kitchen table. We’ll be able to read everyone’s well-wishes every time we sit down to breakfast! And of course, my husband wore the Lucchese boots I gave him when he graduated with his MBA. No Southern wedding would be complete without boots!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Time! I own a small business and there is never enough time to get everything done. Adding a wedding on top of that becomes a challenge. I hired BZ Events to help with our coordination, look/feel of the wedding, and weekend-of management. They saved the day many times! I couldn’t have done it without them.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Hire a wedding planner. Also, if you live in a hot state, consider asking your makeup and hair vendor to stay for the reception. They can touch you up if humidity and heat wreak havoc.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are relaxing and enjoying life, going to tons of concerts, nice dinners, movies, vacations, Bible studies, and spending time with family. Generally, enjoying each other!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Megan ~ BZ events reply

    I loved planning with Xaviera + Chris! Thanks to our amazing vendor team for all of their hard work!

  2. avatar Jenny DeMarco reply

    Love this wedding and this couple. Xaviera had such incredible vision and taste and BZ pulled it off beautifully (including sourcing that amazing papel picado!)

  3. avatar Abby Daigle reply

    Congratulations Xaviera and Chris!! We loved how everything turned out, and we so enjoyed working with you! Thanks to all the vendors who made it possible!

  4. avatar Brass Tacks Events reply

    Wow! What a stunning bride! …and the groom’s cake is hilarious.

  5. avatar Xaviera Laijas Szeman reply

    I am so grateful for all the help from Jenny, Megan & the BZ Events team, Stems, Andrade Design, and our family/friends. It was an exciting time and I look at the pictures almost everday and get a big ol’ smile on my face reliving some of the ‘details” and moments. You guys are FANTASTIC! I wish you all the best!!

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