I remember the first time we saw Carrie and Grant’s West Texas wedding–from the fabulous cowboy boots, to the miniature donkeys handing out programs (!!), to Carrie’s darling pink reception dress, every last detail had us smiling! Carrie and Grant’s 175 guests made up a big portion of the population of tiny Marathon, Texas during the wedding weekend, perfectly setting the scene for a laid back, family-focused celebration. My favorite thing about this sweet couple is the fact that they weren’t afraid to think outside the box when it came to planning a day that truly reflected their relationship and personalities. As a result, I’m sure I’m not the only one who wishes I could’ve celebrated with them and enjoyed strawberry shortcake and a two-step under the Texas stars in person!
When planning our wedding, we knew we wanted to incorporate our love of the outdoors and our Texas roots by being surrounded by nature and our closest loved ones. For our venue, we chose a remote and historic hotel, The Gage, located in Marathon, Texas. Everything in Marathon is within walking distance and, with most of our guests making up the population of the small town, there was always a friendly face around every corner! We chose summer because we wanted all of our friends and family to be able to make a vacation out of the weekend.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? I loved that I had the honor of wearing my mother’s wedding dress she wore in 1983. My whole life, I grew up seeing photos of her in it and it felt like a dream to have my own special day in the same dress. I worked with a wonderful designer to remake the dress while still maintaining its original charm. We took her long sleeves off, used the lace on the bodice, and put a sweet layer of blush organza over the skirt. I also had the honor of wearing Grant’s mother’s veil that she wore on her wedding day in 1979.
Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? My sister and maid of honor, Wheatley, helped me choose the dresses. We wanted something that would be light and airy, but still glamorous. The color reminded us of the desert cactus flowers that bloom all across West Texas. We chose several different styles so that each girl could choose the style she felt most comfortable in.
What was the design inspiration for your wedding? Why was this design special to you as a couple? My mother is an artist, and with my background in graphic design, she and I had a blast teaming up on the designs for the wedding. We were inspired by Grant and I’s Texas roots, as well as the Mexican influences in West Texas. For our save the dates, we hand painted a miniature donkey amongst West Texas cacti and florals. My grandparents raise donkeys and even brought them to our wedding–they were a huge hit with guests! The donkeys were always a large part of my childhood, as we were taught that the miniature donkey symbolizes selfless love and loyalty. Therefore, Grant and I thought it would make the perfect emblem for our upcoming nuptials! I wanted the invitations to be fun, romantic, and embody our Texas roots. I had them printed on a cactus-flower pink paper with gold foil printing. One of Grant and I’s favorite things to do together is look at the stars, so it was fun to play off a “Stars at Night are Big and Bright” theme.
My grandparents have raised miniature donkeys all of my life, and surprised us last minute by bringing them to the wedding! My mother made cute little baskets for them to hold the programs as our guests walked in to the ceremony. It also was a great way to tie back to our emblem of the miniature donkey used on our save the dates.
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? My mother and father built a cross to stand behind Grant and I at the altar out of Colorado pine trees found near our family cabin in Creede, Colorado. It stood in remembrance of our loved ones who had passed away and could not be with us. My “something old” was a lucky sixpence that had been worn in the wedding shoes of my mother, aunt, and five other women in our family. Two beautiful brooches belonging to my great-grandmothers lovingly adorned my bouquet. We also decided to use an old Irish tradition of using bells during the ceremony. We passed little bells to our guests to ring as Grant and I were announced husband and wife. Now, every time we hear bells chime, we are reminded of our vows to each other.
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? I will always remember looking into Grant’s eyes during our ceremony and thinking I had never seen him so happy. I will never forget our pastor turning Grant and I toward our guests during the ceremony and seeing all of the love and joy radiating from them. My heart will forever be filled with joy when I remember that perfect moment in time.
Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: Instead of a guest book, my mother painted our miniature donkey emblem on some old barn wood. We had all of our guests sign it. I love that we can now see it every day hanging in our home, reminding us of our first day as husband and wife!
Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? For our cocktail hour, we had passed appetizers of Texas quail and corn salsa quesadillas, served alongside our signature drink, “Ranch Water,” a delicious twist on a margarita. All of the drinks were served with blush and white bandanas as the cocktail napkins.
What was your reception like? For our reception, we wanted great music and a party under the Texas stars to celebrate the wonderful weekend! We had lights strung above the dance floor, glowing cotton candy served to guests, and I even changed into a pink party dress to dance the night away!
What was the design inspiration for your reception? Our design inspiration came from the West Texas theme of the historic hotel and the native plants in the area. We used succulents and cacti as centerpieces, and had twinkling lights to light up the dance floor. The best décor we could have asked for were the bright Texas stars sparkling above us!
Our cakes were inspired by our favorite desserts. Grant has always loved chocolate chip cookies. For his cake, we surprised him by having dozens of cookies piled up on top of each other. For my birthday, my mom always bakes my favorite strawberry shortcake. The Gage Hotel beautifully recreated it into a wedding cake.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. During college, Grant and I were set up by our friends to go to a football game together. Whether our team won or lost, we will never remember, but it ended up being a day we will never forget! After that date, I cannot remember a day we have gone without seeing or talking with each other.
Describe the proposal: We both love the outdoors, and many of our favorite times together are hiking, camping, and spending the day in the sunshine. Grant and I were dating long distance at the time and decided to meet for a weekend in the small town of Fredericksburg, Texas. We woke up Saturday morning to hike one of our favorite trails, aptly named “Enchanted Rock,” overlooking the Texas Hill Country. Once we reached the top of the mountain, Grant dropped to one knee and asked the question that forever changed our lives for the better. Grant had snuck some mini champagne bottles in his hiking pack and we toasted to the happiest day of our lives. The whole hike down, I could not stop smiling. We enjoyed the rest of the day visiting vineyards in the area and celebrating. I had no idea the weekend could get any better till I drove home the next day and all of our friends and family were waiting at my house to surprise us and celebrate the good news!
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? Our wedding was officiated by a wonderful Scottish man, the chaplain at the elementary school I had attended. He took us through a series of questions and topics to initiate conversations. Writing our vows together and planning out our ceremony really encouraged us to discuss what marriage meant to us and how we could better serve each other as husband and wife.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Loving, joyful, and fun
What was the weather like on your big day? Everyone thought we were crazy for planning an outdoor wedding in Texas in the middle of the summer heat, but Mother Nature was on our side! The day was overcast and we enjoyed a light sprinkle during our reception, but the dancing never slowed! One of the sweetest gifts we received was from Grant’s brother and his wife. They caught the rain from our wedding day in a mason jar for us to baptize our future children with!
How many guests attended your wedding? 175
Bride’s favorite detail of the wedding: My favorite detail was having our dog, Luna, by Grant and I’s side as we said our vows. She has been with me since we started dating and is truly one of my very best friends!
How did you spend the morning or afternoon before your ceremony? My family is full of girls, and it has been a tradition that every year, my cousins and I all get together, wear pink, and proclaim the day “Pink Day!” In the morning before our ceremony, my aunts put together the biggest pink party we’ve ever had. The party consisted of pink drinks, pink food, and pink boas everywhere! Imagine 50 women decked out in their best pink outfits, from the cutest two-year-old little girls to my 90-year-old grandmother. It was so much fun for everyone! Also, I loved having my mother and sister do my hair before the ceremony. It gave us a chance to enjoy the day together in an intimate setting.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Grant and I sat down and wrote our vows together. This was such a wonderful process and helped us both to learn what we really found important in our marriage. My favorite line is short, but it sums up so much: “I promise to love you with a faithful, patient, and unselfish love.”
What songs did you use for your ceremony? I walked down the aisle to the music from “La Vie en Rose.” We wanted something unique that would always remind us of this perfect moment of seeing each other for the first time on our wedding day.
Who was one of the most special guests at your wedding? Looking back now, the answer is easy. My dad was definitely one of the most special guests. He unexpectedly passed away two months after our wedding. We are so grateful to have gotten to share those memories with him and will never forget the joy on his face walking down the aisle as a proud father giving his daughter to a man he would consider one of his “best buds.”
Tell us a bit about your first dance. Our first dance was to “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” by Frank Sinatra. It was an apt choice for a song, since we found ourselves slipping every which way from a light rain shower that had sprinkled the dance floor.
What was Southern about your wedding? We centered our wedding around family, so many of the special memories of our wedding were not just from the day-of, but also from the preparation for our big day. I loved getting to go to my dress fittings with my mother and grandmother and to see their faces light up when they saw me. I will never forget when my mom, grandmother, and Grant’s mom took a road trip to do a site visit and taste wedding cake with me. It was such a fun day together! There was also the time my whole family, including all of my cousins and grandparents, got together to make 100 paper flowers to line the aisle Grant and I would walk down. Those are the memories that I will never forget.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We look forward to traveling, late nights of board games, and growing gray-haired together!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Have fun! Celebrate what makes the two of you…you! Do not worry about wedding trends or what may be hip at the time. The whole day should be about the love you share for each other, the love for people around you, and the love that brought you together.
Photographer: Helen Byrd Photography | Paper Goods: Pearly Gates Designs | Calligraphy: Tara Jones | Venue, Caterer, and Cake Baker: The Gage Historic Hotel | Florals: Eve’s Garden | Bride’s Gown and Party Dress: Angelina Mata | Bridesmaid Dresses: Various Styles in Ginger by Dessy | Bridesmaid Robes: Sunset to Sunrise | Flower Girl Dresses: Yucu Ninu | Groomsmen Suspenders: El Rey Apparel | Band: Memphis Soul Band