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There are SO many amazing venues in the South, but there’s nothing quite like a family home when it comes to adding an extra layer of meaning to a wedding celebration. Darcee and Hunter were married at the adorable chapel on Hunter’s family ranch, and as Darcee said, it’s what brought their relationship full circle–“My prayers started there, he proposed at the chapel, and we were married at the chapel!” I’m sure all 400 of their guests felt just as home as they did while they then gathered for a cocktail hour under the big Texas sky, a family-style dinner that felt as joyful as Thanksgiving, and one of the most darling pie spreads I’ve ever seen!

Hugs to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Jen Dillender for sharing this sweet day with us!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed a necklace from Hunter’s sister, which was given to her by their grandmother. It was one of the sweetest and most special details from that day. My something blue were my blue Manolo Blahnik pumps, which were a fun find with my mother-in-law! Something old was a flower pin from my mom’s side of the family that I had on my bouquet. Something new was a handkerchief from a sweet friend that was embroidered with a quote by my mom–it sure came in handy (pun intended!), as it caught a lot of tears that day!

Finding my wedding dress was the hardest part of all the planning. We had a pretty short engagement, so I was under a bit of a time crunch. I remember my bridal consultant holding up what would eventually be “the dress” and I told her I didn’t even want to try it on! Eventually, I gave in, and loved it! But the over-analyzer in me just had to see if there was something better out there. I ended up going to three more appointments, and at the last appointment, I saw the same dress, and even without trying it on again, I knew that was the one. Ironically, regardless of how stressful it was, I would do it all over again–there’s nothing quite like getting to play dress up with all the girls in your life that you love the most. Those appointments still hold some of my fondest memories.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Hunter and I decided to forgo the first look. It was one of the few things that we didn’t really have to think twice about because there was something really special to me about the thought of my dad walking me down the aisle to Hunter and I really wanted that moment to be the first time we saw each other.

Hunter and I were married on his family’s ranch. The ranch holds countless special memories for him and his family, and therefore, it’s super special to me as well. His grandmother built a chapel on the ranch a few years ago, and any chance I would get, I would go there to just sit and reflect on how grateful I was that I had met Hunter…and there were certainly many prayers said there that one day, I would become Hunter’s wife! This chapel would end up being the place where things came full circle for us: my prayers started there, he proposed at the chapel, and we were married at the chapel!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Hunter and I met a few months before my mom passed away, and unfortunately, he never got to meet her. It was the most heartbreaking time for me and it still blows me away how kind, patient, and understanding Hunter was, to be able to walk through something on that level with someone he had just met. When it came to picking out the song I would walk down the aisle to, “Mama’s Song” by Carrie Underwood summarized my feelings perfectly. Hunter is exactly what moms pray for for their daughters.

How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Lots and lots of prayer, honestly. Hunter is a police officer who works a lot of crazy hours, so we weren’t seeing each other much. I was working and planning a wedding, and while it was so much fun, it was hectic and left little time for us to see each other. I remember praying that I would be prioritizing my time well, seeing what was important and what was not, and that above anything else, that I was focusing on what it meant to become a wife.

I think the biggest Southern detail was our venue. During pictures, horses were sneaking up in the background. We had our reception in a barn that is typically a home to tractors and tools. We served dinner family-style, where each table passed around food to each other. While we were eating, I remembered looking up and seeing people chatting as they passed the rolls and butter and thinking, “This feels like one huge family Thanksgiving meal,” and I was so grateful for that!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Call us crazy, but neither Hunter nor I are really big cake eaters. We were extremely fortunate to not only have the best caterer around, but also one who is known for their AMAZING pies! We had a pie bar complete with a chocolate chip wedding pie, pies in mason jars, big pies, and mini pies!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We had some mutual friends who consistently told me how highly they thought of Hunter and how they really wanted us to meet, and I was just not having it. Eventually, they got us to the same place at the same time to introduce us, and I’m not saying it was love at first sight, but it was something close!
Tell us all about the proposal! It was around 8 A.M. one Saturday morning when an alarm started going off. It wasn’t my phone or my alarm clock, so I got a ladder out thinking it was the batteries in my fire alarm. It wasn’t, and I wandered around my house for five more minutes looking for the source of this noise, until I found an iPad under my dresser with a note on it from Hunter sending me on a scavenger hunt. Out of pure shock and not wanting to get my hopes up, I crawled back into bed, wondering what was going on. Eventually, I got back up, got dressed, and followed my clues. My last stop led me to find Hunter at my favorite spot at his family’s ranch. A few minutes after he proposed, his family showed up, and to my surprise, he had also gotten all of my brothers and my dad, who lives 13 hours away, there too! It was sweet, simple, and perfect.
When did y’all get married? April 9, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 400
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Planning a wedding without my mom. It was downright hard and super emotional not having her there for this, but thankfully, my mother-in-law and I were able to have the best time planning the wedding. She was gracious, kind, and made sure that we were always having fun, and if we weren’t, we stopped and came back to it later. I know my mom is thankful for the way she took care of me during that time, as am I, always.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Don’t overthink it. Get to a point where you stop looking at another people’s weddings and just think about what really matters to you and your soon-to-be husband.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? What’s next for us is just slowing down and spending time together. Planning a wedding, getting married, honeymooning, moving, etc. has made for a crazy few months, and I’m looking forward to sitting outside on our rocking chairs just spending time together without a to do list.

Photographer: Jen Dillender Photography | Videographer: Rethinkvideo | Planner: Thirty Day Dash | Venue: Pegasus Ranch | Florist: Moosefeathers Florist | Caterer and Dessert Baker: Royers Cafe | Rentals: Loot Vintage Rentals and Aztec | Lighting: American Outdoor Systems | Band: Danny Ray and the Acoustic Production | Paper Products: Archer and Olive and Gracelaced | Bride’s Gown: “Severine” by Monique Lhuillier | Bride’s Accessories: Jennifer Behr | Hair and Makeup: Sunkissed and Made Up | Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Aidan” by Jenny Yoo | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse

lisa Written with love by Lisa
6 Comments
  1. avatar Michele reply

    Could not have been more beautiful! Wedding and people!

  2. avatar Abbi Hearne reply

    This is beautiful!! What a dream. Great job Jen!

  3. avatar Julian Zacsfalvi reply

    Beautiful details and cool outfit with the cowboy hats!

  4. avatar Cindy reply

    What color are the bridesmaids dresses?

  5. avatar Greg Coltman reply

    Great set of natural images. Great lighting!

  6. avatar julie reply

    What a BEAUTIFUL wedding, Darcee! I was wondering, do you know what color were your bridesmaids dresses were? Mineral? Dusty blue? Denmark blue? Gorgeous!!

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My favorite details from my wedding were the ones that looked gorgeous on that day, but could then be reused or incorporated into our newlywed home. Not only was this a win for our budget, it also now makes me so happy to see those items on a daily basis and be reminded of their first use. Callie and Chris struck gold when it comes to wedding details that can be part of their home for years to come–Callie’s dad built the gorgeous wooden farm tables that were used at the reception by hand! One now lives in Callie and Chris’ dining room, and I can only imagine how special it is for the two of them to pull up a chair there every day to relax and reconnect over a meal. Thanks to their shared love of big, family-style, Southern dinners, I’m sure they’re not the only ones who get to continue enjoying that table, too!

Thank you so much to Becca Lea for sending this joyful day our way!

I found my dress at Lewisville Bridal Boutique. I knew I waned something long-sleeved that reminded me of Grace Kelly. Other than that, I knew I didn’t want anything with lace or beading. I tried on maybe two or three dresses and couldn’t stop smiling when I put on the last one. It was a long-sleeved Berta gown with a long train, lace, and beading…of course.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Chris and I did do a first look. We chose to after talking to some of our friends and decided that we wanted an intimate moment alone together before all the craziness of the day began. We also wanted that time to have our pictures done so we wouldn’t feel rushed after the ceremony.

I chose to walk down the aisle to “Ever Be” by Bethel. It’s a beautiful song about Christ and the love He has for His bride. Throughout the song, there’s a chorus of God’s devotion, faithfulness and endurance for us. This was a sweet picture to me of what our marriage should be. It was meaningful and mirrored Christ’s heart for us.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows, but when Chris and I took communion together, he read some verses out loud to me as we broke bread. We then prayed together over our marriage and our new life together. It was one of my favorite parts of our wedding day.

I had seen the White Sparrow Barn on Instagram a few months before we got engaged and absolutely fell in love with it. It had just opened a few weeks earlier and I knew I wanted to get married there. We wanted an outdoor ceremony with a relaxed, family-style feeling for the reception, and we didn’t want our guests to have to travel too far outside of Dallas. The White Sparrow ended up being the perfect fit.

My dad has a knack for building things and he made all of our head tables with wood from our ranch. For the sweetheart table Chris and I sat at, he used curved branches to create a more detailed look. It meant so much to me to know that my dad took the time to build our tables from scratch. We even use one as our dining table now!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Chris and I LOVE Texas and all things Southern. We had custom corn hole boards made with our monogram and wedding colors for our guests to enjoy during cocktail hour. We wanted everyone to feel comfortable and enjoy themselves. For dinner, we had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits, gravy, corn, and sweet tea, all served family-style in big bowls on farm tables, which was exactly what I had always wanted. I love the Southern tradition of eating family-style, and really wanted to bring all our guests together this way. We also had a large fabric sign made to say “Texas Forever” in calligraphy that we hung at our rehearsal dinner and above our guest table at the wedding.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Fireworks! Chris and I love fireworks and I had always dreamed of getting married on the 4th of July, but our timing didn’t quite work out. Instead, my parents guided everyone outside after we cut the cake for a surprise fireworks show! We also used a Bible as our guest book, which has been so sweet to read now that we’re married. We asked our guests to highlight their favorite verse and write a note to us about their prayer for our marriage, or why that verse is significant to them.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Chris and I met in college at Texas A&M (whoop!). We were friends for five years, but we always liked each other. Several years after college, we finally started dating and knew instantly we wanted to spend forever together.
Tell us all about the proposal! Last August, I went on a weekend trip with my parents to visit my grandparents, who were volunteering at Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs. The Glen is one of my favorite places because it has such a beautiful view of Pike’s Peak, Garden of the Gods, and a castle on site! Chris knew that and had a surprise up his sleeve. After arriving, my grandpa and I decided to go for a hike up to one of my favorite lookouts. As I rounded the corner at the top of our hike (my 70-something grandpa keeping pace behind me), I looked up, and much to my surprise, Chris was waiting for me a few feet ahead! This whole time, he had told me he was visiting his parents in Houston, but he had actually jumped on a plane the night before and had been waiting in Colorado to surprise me. He took me by the hand and guided me to an even better spot, where he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. And of course, he had a photographer hiding in the bushes. I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better!
When did y’all get married? March 19, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 225
Describe your wedding flowers. I had a large bouquet with lots of greenery, peonies, Juliet roses, and pops of light pink and peach. My bouquet was one of my favorite things from our wedding. I am a huge fan of flowers, and Briley (of OhDeery Floral) made all my floral dreams come true. I was absolutely blown away by all of her creations. We had long farm tables and placed greenery all the way down them. On the head table, we used bridesmaid bouquets and some fillers that were gorgeous. Above one of the archways inside the barn, Briley also made a stunning arbor of flowers and greenery. I could not have been more pleased with the result.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had so many flavors of wedding cake! We chose several mini cakes to put on display. On top of that, we had mini cobblers (to fit our Southern theme), cookies, and tarts. We also had fire pits set up outside with s’mores stations on cute gold bar carts, and a hot chocolate bar.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Chris and I went through premarital counseling prior to our wedding. We went through a book called “Catching Foxes” and met with an older couple each week who counseled us throughout our engagement. It was such a blessing to have their wisdom and encouragement during our engagement, and it helped us start praying and planning for our marriage, not just the wedding.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? My grandma and mom made all of our napkins. They sewed fabric that fit into our blue color scheme and worked on them over the course of our engagement. My mom also started buying Walmart out of all their silver utensils so we would have plenty for our family-style meal without having to rent them. Instead of putting flower arrangements on all the guest tables, I chose to re-purpose our bridesmaid bouquets on the head table, and use simple greenery on the guest tables.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We just bought a fixer upper and have been renovating it ourselves! We’re enjoying learning how to do life together as a married couple.

Photographer: Becca Lea | Videographer: Paul Bailey | Planner: Lindsey Brunk | Venue: The White Sparrow | Florist: Oh Deery | Dessert Baker: Sugar Bee Sweets | Caterer: Seven Loaves Catering | Rentals: The Olive Bench | Band: In10city | Calligraphy: Fig and Flourish Calligraphy | Paper Products: Confetti Grey | Bride’s Gown: Berta | Bridal Salon: Lewisville Bridal Boutique | Hair and Makeup: Tracy Melton Artistry | Bride’s Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Annabelle” by Jenny Yoo | Groom’s Attire: Tommy Hilfiger | Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux | Custom Cornhole Boards: West Georgia Cornhole

Sugar Bee Sweets is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Becca Lea reply

    Thank you so much for featuring this beautiful wedding!

  2. avatar LAURI KENT reply

    BEAUTIFUL!!

  3. avatar Callie and Chris Wedding – Southern Weddings | The White Sparrow Barn reply

    […] SOUTHERN WEDDINGS FEATURE […]

  4. avatar Skylar Caitlin reply

    That “Texas Forever” sign is so adorable!! Also, love how they used the cafe lights outside. Not only do they provide aesthetically pleasing light, but they practically define the reception space.

  5. avatar Dallas Outdoor Wedding Venue | The White Sparrow, Outdoor Weddings reply

    […] photos in this post are courtesy of Becca Lea, and were recently featured on Southern Weddings. Be sure to take a […]

  6. avatar Madeleine reply

    Hi! That Texas forever sign is BEAUTIFUL and I want something similar for my wedding. Which vendor is it from? Thanks!!

  7. avatar Wedding Planning Update – Kyla Mary reply

    […] source: Becca Lea via Southern Weddings […]

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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
2 Comments
  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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