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Bride Felicia’s lovely Lone Star State wedding.

I’m really excited for y’all to meet today’s bride, Felicia, because her wedding to Gideon is giving me all the Texas feels! Though I only lived in Texas for a short time, it’s a state that you’re sure not to forget easily. And Felicia and Gideon did their home state proud with a semi-destination wedding at Travaasa Austin filled with lots of cowboy hats and even more cowboy boots! When planning their wedding, they envisioned their friends and family participating in activities together and seeing each other often through the weekend. So they worked with Travaasa Austin to reserve the entire resort for a magical wedding weekend of fun events (like horseback riding and ropes courses!) and, most importantly, a four-part marriage celebration! Of course, with a wedding weekend so packed full of gatherings, there are many beautiful details and sweet moments to talk about, but my favorite thing is Felicia’s advice to those planning a wedding. She said, “Do not let the joy of this most precious day get lost in a sea of expectations that will distract you.” Oh my stars, what sage advice. Keep scrolling for more goodness from Felicia!

Big SW hugs to Nichols Photographers for sharing!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Gideon and I really wanted a destination wedding where all our closest friends and family could spend a weekend together. We envisioned friends and family participating in activities together and seeing each other often through the weekend. We liked the idea of guests not having to drive from one venue to the next with all wedding-related events in one convenient location. We also both really love Texas! So we wanted a destination-type wedding, but we couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else but the state we so dearly love. Travaasa Austin was perfect. We reserved the entire resort for our wedding weekend to provide that destination and community environment we were looking for. I am from San Antonio, and Gideon is from Dallas, so Austin was a great place for us to meet in the middle. And who doesn’t love the Texas Hill Country?

Gideon designed my ring. The center stone is a round diamond from his mother’s ring. The two side stones are pear-shaped. I have two daughters, so Gideon liked the three stone ring to symbolize me and my girls. For his wedding band, Gideon picked the largest gold band he could find! He loves gold as it matches the watch he inherited from his grandfather.

My gown is a one-of-a-kind custom couture gown created by Nardos Design and inspired by the Italian heritage of my family. The silhouette is a fitted draped french silk in pristine white with an Italian hand beaded lace bodice and delicate eyelash details. My grace and femininity were the inspiration for Nardos from the sketching to the final fitting.

Gathering our friends and family in one place for the weekend was of the upmost importance to us, so Travaasa was the perfect venue. Guests checked in on Friday for a full day of scheduled resort activities (horseback riding, yoga, spa appointments, ropes course, etc.!), followed by “An Evening Under the Texas Stars.” The evening kicked off with a rehearsal dinner at the resort’s Solidago Gardens, where guests sipped bourbon cocktails and dined family style (literally, under the stars!) in the open-air courtyard. The menu consisted of Southern favorites such as short ribs, quail, grits, and Texas sheet cake. On Saturday, we utilized all of the remaining space at Travaasa for a four-part marriage celebration! We were married in the late afternoon in the Live Oak Courtyard–a gorgeous lawn with views of the Hill Country.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Pretty much all our music was nontraditional. We had a string quartet play the music, but it was all contemporary. We also had two close friends sing a beautiful song during communion, “Divine Romance” by Phil Wickham. Max Helmerich was our vocalist and guitarist (he is in the band Wilderado) and Jesse Ihde sang harmony.

What were some of the most meaningful or special parts of your ceremony? Having communion was an important part of the ceremony for both Gideon and I. We felt strongly that this sacred act should be the first thing we do together in our marriage.

Gideon has brought immeasurable joy into my life. My favorite moments are when we read and dream together. He is intentional, thoughtful, fun, and genuine.

I wore a fitted silk and lace gown, and Gideon and his groomsmen were perfect Southern gentlemen in crisp blue jeans and cowboy hats.

It is so easy to get caught up in the details of a wedding. You can go crazy looking at Pinterest at what others have done that has been beautiful or creative and you may feel pressure to have everything perfect or exactly how you’ve always dreamed it would be. My advice is to focus less on the details and more on the moments you will be creating with your new husband, family, and friends. The details will not seem as important as time rolls forward. What you will hold dear in your heart is how you felt when you walked down the aisle…you will remember the time you spent with your girlfriends getting ready for the big event and celebrating after the ceremony. Do not let the joy of this most precious day get lost in a sea of expectations that will distract you. Take the time to visit with each guest (if possible) to thank them for sharing this special moment in time with you. Soak every joyous moment in.

Following the ceremony, guests traveled down to the pool deck for cocktails and appetizers. The pool deck has an incredible view and looks out over Lake Travis–the perfect spot for watching the sun set. One of my favorite details was set here–an escort card wall filled with native blooms. We hand tied each invitation with the organic plant dyed silk ribbon. Escort cards used various flowers and plants found on Gideon’s ranch. He actually hand painted each one! The flowers were then attached to a card with each guest’s name hand calligraphied in navy ink.

When it was time for dinner, guests were invited up to the Mesquite Patio, which earned its name for the gorgeous trees whose branches cover the space. The band, Ice House, kicked dinner off by leading guests in “Texas Our Texas,” and then, following the blessing, guests dined at long tables under twinkling lights. When dinner wound down, everyone was invited to the Lone Star Ballroom for dessert and dancing. The band kept everyone on the dance floor until the final, confetti-filled song. We departed under a sea of rose petals on a golf cart decked out with a Texas flag.

The bridal cake was red velvet. It is my favorite! It was topped with beautiful flowers. The groom’s cake was decorated like an oil rig complete with geology under the surface (Gideon is in the oil and gas business). The groom’s cake was chocolate.

When did y’all get married? October 29th, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? I would say, “Hire Ellen Westcott to do EVERYTHING!” My only regret was not paying her more to do more!! She was amazing. All our vendors were phenomenal. Aside from Ellen I would also recommend The Nichols for photography. They were wonderful to work with and very focused on getting everything done in a timely manner.

Photographer: Nichols Photographers | Planner: Westcott Weddings | Venue and Caterer: Travaasa Austin | Florist: Sprout Flowers | Makeup Artist: Makenzi Laine | Rentals: La Tavola, Loot Vintage, and Marquee Events | Wedding Cake Baker: Sweet Treats | Lighting: ILD | Band: Ice House Band | Paper Products: The Inviting Pear and The Boarding School Collective | Bride’s Gown: Nardos Design | Hair Stylist: Kate Leatherwood at Last Satellite Salon

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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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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In the Sweet Tea Society, we believe that while details are nice, true love always, always wins. When the heritage and family that we value so much becomes part of a wedding day through the details, it’s incredible, and I think Amber and Patrick found that magic combination with their family wedding portrait display! I love how they not only honored their families, but also strong marriages, by sharing how long each couple had been married. I can only imagine the stories those couples could tell, and the sage advice they could give!

If you know me, you know I also can’t pass up giving Amber props for her AND her bridesmaids’ stoles–so chic!

Big hugs to The Nichols for sharing this sweet day!

Tell us all about the proposal! The night of the proposal, Patrick planned dinner for us at The Driskill, a beautiful, historic hotel in our hometown of Austin, Texas. I think Patrick knew I would say yes after he treated me to red wine and a juicy steak! After enjoying dinner, we walked around downtown until we came to a special bench near Patrick’s work building, Frost Bank Tower. The bench has special meaning because we sat there and prayed together the day before his job interview over a year ago. We prayed for a lot of things that day–obviously, that his job interview would go well the next day, but also for our future together and that God would use us and our relationship to glorify Him. We sat on the bench and started talking about how much we had grown in that year, and then Patrick got down on one knee and proposed! After the proposal, we walked to The Belmont, a really cute concert venue nearby. We saw one of our favorite local Texas country artists, Wade Bowen, and Patrick surprised me by having a bunch of our close friends at the concert waiting to celebrate with us! Later that night, we also made a stop by J.Blacks, the bar where Patrick and I first met! The next day, both of our parents came up for the University of Texas football game, and then we all went out to celebrate with some Mexican food!

Describe your wedding flowers. Our florist used large, lush, organic mixed greens and red and burgundy flowers, including dahlias and ranunculus, with a few pops of plum and fuchsia flowers for depth. The bouquets were accented with trailing burgundy velvet ribbon.

We knew we wanted our wedding to feel cozy, so we kept that in mind when we were looking at venues. It seemed right when we saw an indoor fireplace and an outdoor fire pit with rocking chairs around it at the venue we chose. It was out in the Hill Country of Austin, so there were beautiful views. Chandeliers hanging from the ceiling made the venue feel very elegant, while still maintaining the cozy feel we wanted.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had a solo acoustic guitarist play the music during the ceremony. The most significant song during the ceremony was “Come Thou Fount,” which we had him play when we had communion. It meant a lot to both of us because our faith is the most important thing to us. Our first dance song was “Oh Tonight” by Josh Abbot Band. We both love Texas country music and have always loved singing this song together in the car, so it just seemed right that it was our first dance song. My father-daughter dance was to the Texas fight song, because my dad and I are both University of Texas alumni. Our whole family went to The University of Texas, so we are very big Longhorn fans, and it is a big part of our bond as a family.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? I would advise wedding planning over wine, cheese, and especially chocolate! What helped take stress away from us was remembering that the wedding is only one night, but marriage is forever.

Our wedding cake was a four-tiered vanilla pound cake with vanilla frosting. The groom’s cake was a pecan pie from Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop. We also had chocolate cupcakes topped with salted caramel and vanilla cream cheese frosting, drizzled with salted caramel. Patrick’s favorite dessert is pecan pie, so his mom always makes one before we visit them. For Patrick’s “grooms cake,” we had a pecan pie, and his mom also made 150 mini pecan pies for the guests.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met through mutual friends at a bar in downtown Austin, Texas. We saw each other again the next day at a church service and ended up going out the next week for our first date.
When did y’all get married? February 7, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 275
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We prepared for marriage by doing pre-marital counseling through our church. We read books and material on specific subject matters like finances, in-laws, communication, etc.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I am a people pleaser and love for everyone to be happy, so when planning, telling someone I didn’t like something was very hard for me. My wedding planner, Ellen Westcott with Westcott Weddings, was very helpful with taking care of the challenges!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We kept the alcoholic beverages to beer, wine, and champagne, rather than liquor. Instead of doing a bunch of different appetizers, we did one big appetizer, and we opted for a DJ instead of a band. All of these decisions saved us a lot of money and turned out great.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Patrick and I gave a speech together after the maid of honor and best man toasts. It meant so much to stand in front of our friends and family and thank them for their love and support on this journey.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are looking forward to learning how we can use our talents together to help serve others.

Photographer: The Nichols / Videographer: Moonlit Weddings / Planner: Ellen Westcott of Westcott Weddings / Venue: Ma Maison / Florist: Meredith of Brisol Lane Floral Design / Wedding Cake or Dessert Baker: Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop / Caterer: Whole Foods/ DJ: James Jumonville / Paper Products: Minted / Bride’s Gown: Lazaro / Bride’s Hairpiece, Earrings, and Sash: Sabina K W / Hair Stylist: Mandy Silver / Makeup Artist:Makenzi Laine / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew / Groom’s Attire: Banana Republic / Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A Bank

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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