Let’s start with a secret, y’all. When my husband and I registered for our own wedding gifts, we registered for only black and white items. My thought was that we didn’t have a home at the time and this way everything would match with my future stylings. Let’s be honest, the real reason we did this is because I’m obsessed with black and white. It’s classic, sophisticated and oh-so-chic! Much like Meridith + Patrick’s wedding! I’m smitten with their black, white and cameo pink color palette, but also the incredibly sweet details M + P incorporated into their big day. Especially the needlepoint silhouettes Meredith’s mama made, and her grandmother’s banana bread with Texas pecans in the welcome bags. And of course some good ol’ Blue Bell Ice cream!
We’re so glad Alyse French was on hand to capture this gorgeous fete!
I am not a girl to spend months trying on dress after dress after dress. A perpetual list crosser-offer, I was on a mission to find “the dress.” In one day. With my mom and best friend (and dad!) in tow. My only criteria was that it wasn’t overly ornate or something that would date. The December after our engagement, I came home to Houston for a long weekend for my mom’s birthday and while there, made appointments at three different bridal boutiques. I found a viable option during the first appointment and an even better — timeless meets preppy with pockets — option at the second. I didn’t have an emotional, teary-eyed moment, but definitely thought the dress was unique and reflective of my personal style. It felt right. Yet, we had one more appointment to go. After a massive (but comical) fail at the third boutique, I immediately called back the second — just minutes before their five o’clock closing time — to see if we could come back immediately to buy the dress. With luck and the kindness of our amazingly wonderful stylist, Fortunata, at Belle Mariee, we were able to procure the dress and open some bubbly, all the while meeting my goal of securing “the dress” in one day.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not?
Patrick and I did decide to do a first look for a couple reasons. First off, this is a really exciting moment for a bride and groom and one that we wanted to capture not only in our minds, but also in photographs, forever. Our church had photographer restrictions in the sanctuary, so a first look best enabled us to capture that moment up-close-and-personal. Second, it really helped with the flow of events for the day and alleviated some pressure on our timeline after the ceremony. We took bridal party photos in addition to the first look before the ceremony, which worked out really well.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: I think we have a tie for two different reasons. For its symbolism, we really liked the tartan hair flower I changed into for the reception because it was made from the tartan of Patrick’s family’s Scottish clan. It represented the transformation of my joining his family through our marriage. For its sentimentality, we really liked the needlepoint silhouettes my mom made that hung from our chairs at the reception. It was really special to have this handmade touch from my mom at the wedding, and we are still enjoying them now because they are hanging above each side of our bed at home.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? When we first started planning the wedding, some of our biggest priorities were making sure that out-of-town guests felt at home, that family traditions were honored and that everyone had a really good time. In other words, that the event was chock-full of Southern (and Texas) hospitality. Sure, we also included many traditionally Southern details — Bluebell ice cream, seersucker bow ties for the groomsmen, pearls for the bridesmaids, “Texas” alcohol in the bar, Brennan’s pralines as favors and my grandmother’s banana bread with Texas pecans in the welcome bags — but I really hope what stays with guests the most is the genuine hospitality they received and a new or rekindled appreciation for both the history and modernization of the South.
Did you write your own vows? We didn’t write our own vows, however we did ask that our minister use the vows from the Book of Common Prayer, which is slightly different from the vows in the Presbyterian Church. The language from the Book of Common Prayer is both clear and weighty: “…To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow.” That last part just has so much gravity and weight to it, reinforcing that you’re making this vow not just to your spouse but also to the Lord.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We tried to choose scriptures that brought to life several angles of God’s vision and design for marriage, so we had passages that spoke to Creation (Genesis 2: 4-7, 18-24), God’s love (1 John 4: 7-16), and the parallels between earthly marriage and that of Christ and the Church in eternity (Ephesians 5: 1-2, 21-33). We had two of our uncles and one aunt read these passages during the ceremony, so it was really meaningful for us.
Describe your wedding flowers: A black and white wedding couldn’t be complete without anemones, so we ended up using a blend of anemones and black berries to bring a “pop” of black to the bridesmaids’ otherwise white bouquets of vendella roses and hydrangeas. They were also used in Patrick’s boutonniere and the reception centerpieces with peonies, O’Hare roses, and hydrangeas. We wrapped the bridesmaids’ bouquets in black and white striped grosgrain ribbon, which was a detail we carried out in several places throughout the wedding. Our centerpieces were one of our favorite decor touches. We had two variations: three clusters of varying heights in black milk glass vessels, and fun black candelabras that gave several tables more height without obstructing guests’ views across each table. My bridal bouquet was also a lovely blend of peonies, Ella garden roses and hydrangeas with dusty miller, all wrapped in a blush satin ribbon to which we affixed my family’s gold wishbone pin. All of the women on my dad’s maternal side of the family (or marrying into it) have worn this on their wedding day, so it was really special to be a part of that tradition.
I’ve always loved Pachelbel’s Canon in D — it reminds me of ballet class from growing up — so my bridesmaids walked into the church with the organist playing this piece. My dad walked me down the aisle as Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary was played — a traditional choice, but we wanted a pretty traditional ceremony. For the recessional however, we followed a bagpiper, playing a traditional Scottish score called Scotland the Brave, down the aisle and out of the church. Patrick’s family roots are in Scotland, so having a bagpiper incorporated into the ceremony was a surprise that was meant to honor his family. At the reception, our bridal party entered to the up-beat song Walking on Sunshine, and Patrick and I entered to Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E,” a favorite of Patrick’s. Although most of our decisions erred on the side of timelessness, one that could date was our choice for the first dance, “Lucky” by Jason Mraz with Colbie Caillat. The lyrics and score are just so darn cute and meaningful for us, and it was really fun to dance to! My dance with my dad was to Heartland’s “I Loved Her First,” which was a sentimental but appropriate choice for a girl who grew up on country music. We closed the night dancing to Lady Antebellum’s “We Owned the Night” — a really energizing way to end the evening and one of Patrick’s and my mutual favorite bands right now.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Being from the Midwest, Patrick didn’t have the same desire for a groom’s cake that Southern guys do, however he also wasn’t a fan of the almond cake I fell in LOOOVE with during our tasting. What’s a bride to do? Add chocolate to the wedding cake. Within each tier of cake, we had an almond layer and milk chocolate layer sandwiching chocolate buttercream frosting and enveloped by a buttercream exterior inspired by the pintuck detail from my dress. It was the perfect compromise for our wedding cake.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. I grew up in Texas and moved to Chicago in 2006 after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Meanwhile, Patrick grew up in Chicago and, after graduating from Miami of Ohio, life took him to Africa, Texas and Notre Dame before returning him to Chicago in 2009. In May of 2010, we both — not having met yet — found ourselves attending a singles weekend retreat with our church in Lake Geneva, WI. As providence would have it, we both decided to join a group of friends-of-friends to rent a boat one day during the long weekend. We had actually eyed each other the day prior while playing ultimate Frisbee, but it wasn’t until we were on the boat that we had a chance to really talk and connect. Chemistry was instantaneous and after some expert sleuthing skills on Patrick’s part to get my phone number, we immediately started hanging out back in Chicago.
Describe the proposal. Patrick’s first visit to my home in Houston was in August of 2011. At that point, we had discussed engagement, but I knew before he would officially propose, he would talk with my parents. So, we arrived in Houston and after settling in, I took Patrick on a driving tour of my favorite Houston hot spots. On our way home, we swung by a local bakery to pick up a dessert that my mom had ordered (supposedly). Patrick offered to run inside for the dessert so I could stay cool in the car. He came back with a HUGE black and white hat box tied with a bright pink ribbon. I was suspicious, but again, didn’t think it could really be happening. We got home and my parents were strangely not there. Patrick insisted that I (an obstinate, unwavering rule-follower) open the dessert box. Of course, I said no. But he insisted and gave me a look like I really needed to just open the box. I did and I saw that our dessert was in the form of cupcakes spelling out “Will U Marry Me.” Patrick dropped to one knee and said some of the sweetest words a girl could ever hear. Of course, I immediately said “yes” and we called my parents so they could come back home and the celebrating could officially begin. It turns out that Patrick had asked my parents’ permission the month prior while they were visiting us in Chicago – completely unbeknownst to me.
In what month did you get married? August
How many guests attended your wedding? 123
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. I’ve always loved Pachelbel’s Canon in D — it reminds me of ballet class from growing up — so my bridesmaids walked into the church with the organist playing this piece. My dad walked me down the aisle as Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary was played — a traditional choice, but we wanted a pretty traditional ceremony. For the recessional however, we followed a bagpiper, playing a traditional Scottish score called Scotland the Brave, down the aisle and out of the church. Patrick’s family roots are in Scotland, so having a bagpiper incorporated into the ceremony was a surprise that was meant to honor his family. At the reception, our bridal party entered to the up-beat song Walking on Sunshine, and Patrick and I entered to Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E,” a favorite of Patrick’s. Although most of our decisions erred on the side of timelessness, one that could date was our choice for the first dance, “Lucky” by Jason Mraz with Colbie Caillat. The lyrics and score are just so darn cute and meaningful for us, and it was really fun to dance to! My dance with my dad was to Heartland’s “I Loved Her First,” which was a sentimental but appropriate choice for a girl who grew up on country music. We closed the night dancing to Lady Antebellum’s “We Owned the Night” — a really energizing way to end the evening and one of Patrick’s and my mutual favorite bands right now.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Planning a wedding long-distance while having a demanding full time job was definitely a big challenge. I couldn’t be more thankful and appreciative of everything Natalie and Ashley at Two Be Wed did throughout the planning process and on the big day to bring our vision to life and make sure everything was executed flawlessly. I would also be remiss not to be eternally grateful for my mom’s help on the ground in Houston and her ability to step in when I wasn’t able to handle things. Planning a wedding in general is a big challenge, and I was very lucky to have a solid support system to help throughout the process.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Finding the right reception venue was one of our earliest challenges in the planning process. We were torn between a less expensive venue and one that would cost more. The less expensive venue would have freed up money to do other things but also required more investment to transform the setting into what we had envisioned. The more expensive venue would leave less money for “extras” but require less transformation to achieve our vision. We ultimately went with the more expensive venue and at the end of the day, we couldn’t have been happier because the food was not only fantastic, but the setting was exactly what we were looking for — traditional with a modern sensibility.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? We had a lot of memorable moments, but the most meaningful was probably our vows. In that moment, everything else slips away and you just look into each other’s eyes with all of the excitement and gravity of the moment, making the most significant vow you’ll ever make to your best friend in the whole world, in front of God and everyone who matters the most in your life. It’s thrilling and emotional and weighty all at the same time, and something you can never forget.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Create a vision up-front and stick to it; decision-making is easier if you know what the overall aesthetic goal is. Also, avoid the temptation to over-saturate your brain with wedding stuff. Catch up with friends. Enjoy life. Don’t drive yourself crazy by continually second-guessing decisions because you’ve seen yet another new pin on Pinterest (aside: I didn’t join Pinterest until after the wedding because I knew I couldn’t handle the additional sea of ideas. Don’t get me wrong, Pinterest is awesome. But know yourself well enough to know your limits and create some boundaries).
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? At 120+ days in and counting, we’re still trying to get settled in at home; I feel like we have piles of randomness in every corner of our condo that need to be sorted through and either tossed or put away. But it’s been such a fun journey so far! It’s so great to wake up next to your best friend every morning and come home to them at night — to always have someone there to talk to (or just be with) and support you in every way. In 2013, we’re hoping to take a big step forward in adult responsibilities and get a puppy :) We are REALLY excited about this prospect. In the longer term future, I think we’re just really excited to see where life takes us, together. We literally have no idea where life will lead but we’re really excited to face everything together with the confidence that we’re not in this alone on several levels.