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Emily and I are on our way back to the South after four days of admiring hundreds of beautiful wedding gowns at Bridal Market (check out #SWBridalMarket on Instagram for pictures from our trip!). Throughout it all, it was surprisingly easy to identify dresses that you, our lovely readers, would love as much as we did. Like us at Southern Weddings, we know that you value tradition and love all things classic, but you’re also not afraid to be yourself and do things your own way, both in your dress and in your wedding. Brooke and Carlos are a perfect example of this balance–they honored tradition through elements like their ceremony music and having their first look while Brooke was walking down the aisle, but they also embraced a unique, super fun “swingin’ Sixties” theme through their black and white decor.

We’re so grateful to Akil Bennett for sharing this fabulous wedding with us!

I was looking for a dress that was unique and modern, but still romantic and sweet. When I found the Contessa dress from BHLDN, I knew I had found my dress! I was immediately drawn to the innovative screen-printed lace and the fit and flaire silhouette that was that perfect mixture of traditional and mod.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We were both enchanted with the idea of having that moment when the church doors opened, our eyes locked, and we lost our breath for a moment. We thought it too good to not share with our friends and family!

For the ceremony, we chose All Saints Catholic Church, not only because of it’s 100+ year old history in the Houston Heights, but also for its simply stunning interior. Its Byzantine-style ceiling and images whisk you away to another time. For the reception, we knew that using a standard ballroom would simply not work for our vision, so we set out to find the perfect raw venue. After countless tours, calls, and drive-bys, we stumbled upon Silver Street Studios, the oversized warehouse of our dreams!

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We fashioned some of our own custom linens. We decided on family-style tables with long black and white striped runners (all made by my mom with fabric from Ikea). For each place setting, I folded 200 black napkins that we purchased online into bow ties.

Once we had our larger than life venue, we knew we needed a few details that could hold their own in such a big space. That’s where the marquee letters came in! I passed along my oversized marquee letter idea to my uncle, a talented carpenter, to see if he would be willing to create a 5-foot “B+C.” The finished product was beyond my expectations! This project was a labor of love–Carlos and I painted the letters with a total of six coats of metallic paint in order to get that golden finish, popped in several strands of outdoor lights from Target, and voila!

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Classic/cool was the name of the game, so I went with a retro four-tiered cake from Alphorn Bakery, complete with a vintage bride and groom figurine on top that I found on Etsy. Finding a couple that looked like us was tricky, so I was over the moon when I found a gent with a dashing stache! Carlos loves the Rollings Stones, so there was no better groom’s cake than one modeled after the cover of Let it Bleed, flawlessly executed by Jodi Fernandez of Silver Cake Studios. We were blown away by the amount of attention she paid to the details!

Music has always connected Carlos and I, from the first time we had a conversation to when we carefully curated a soundtrack to our wedding. During the reception, we chose music that not only had meaning to us, but that fit the theme of the swinging sixties–music that people of all generations could boogie to! Our first dance was a combination of Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell,” where we did our own version of the Pulp Fiction dance, and the Lou Reed love song “Perfect Day,” which has been a song of significance throughout our relationship. Music was such a big factor at our wedding that our favor for our guests was a soundtrack to commemorate the evening.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met through a mutual friend in high school in 2002. We made an instant connection through our sense of humor and kept each other laughing until Carlos went off to college later that summer. The distance could not keep our friendship from blossoming. Of course, every tale has two sides, and this love story is no exception–I knew Carlos was the one shortly after meeting him! It took Carlos a bit longer to realize I was the perfect girl for him. As the universe brought us both to Austin, Carlos realized I was the one for him.
Tell us all about the proposal! On November 1, we took a trip to Marfa, a small town in West Texas, 10 hours away from Houston where we reside. I surprised Carlos with the trip in honor of his 30th birthday in June, but little did I know, I would soon receive a surprise of my own. We ended the first day of our trip with a sunset tour of the Chinati Foundation, 330 acres of land. The tour consisted of just Carlos and I and one other couple. It began with Donald Judd’s 100 Untitled Works in Mill Aluminum. As we approached the end, I saw a miniature version of the aluminum boxes. I said, “Aw, look! A little one!” Carolos said, “Oh, that’s cool! It looks like it has a lid. You think I can touch it?” “NO! Don’t touch it!! You cannot touch the art! You’re going to get in trouble!!!” In total disregard of my warnings, he bent down on one knee and proceeded to carefully pull the lid off the perfectly polished box. Nestled inside was a dainty ring box. He pulled it out and turned around to reveal a glistening diamond ring, and I watched as my one and only love asked, “Brooke Joanna Manning, will you marry me?” Fighting back tears, I said, “YES!” I soon found out that EVERYONE was in on it! The “other couple” turned out to be photographers Carlos had hired to capture this wonderful moment. The docent, who had placed the box, brought out wine and gave a toast to our engagement. It was truly a perfect day.
When did y’all get married? November 9, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 185
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We went traditional, as we wanted vows that could truly withstand the test of time.
Describe your wedding flowers. I decided to alternate succulents in white tulip vases, gold candles, and gold vases with exotic flowers like mink protea (a flower that looks like it doubles as a man eater). For the bouquets, I wanted something fun and a little funky, but still soft. My lovely best friend, owner of Sweet Sunday Events and Rentals, chose mink protea, white ranunculus, white dahlias, and eucalyptus.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? My most memorable moment was ending the night next to my husband on the dance floor while “Buddy Holly” by Weezer was playing in the background, everyone was dancing around us, and a confetti cannon went off, letting metallic confetti/streamers slowly drift down onto the people we care about most in the world!

Photographer: Akil Bennett / Planner: Two Be Wed / Ceremony Venue: All Saints Catholic Church / Reception Venue: Silver Street Studios / Florist: Flowers for Olivia, Sweet Sunday Events & Rentals / Cake Baker: Alphorn Bakery / Catering: A La Carte / Rentals: Aztec, Swift & Co. / Lighting: Bright Star Productions / DJ: Jose Diaz from LG Entertainment / Floor Decal: Sign Guys Houston / Paper Products: The Stationery Bakery / Favors: Night Owls Print / Bride’s Gown: “Contessa” by BHLDN / Bride’s Hair Accessories: BHLDN / Hair and Makeup: Southern & Adorn / Bride’s Shoes: Seychelles / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Nordstrom / Groom’s Attire: J.Crew / Photobooth: PhotoMoto

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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Finding a venue can be a challenging part of wedding planning (at least, it was for both me and Emily!), but for today’s couple, the decision was one of the simplest they made. From the sweeping lake views to the dramatic architecture, it’s easy to see why Katie and Ben fell head over heels in love with Villa del Lago–it was the perfect setting for their romantic, elegant, outdoor wedding. With the help of the prettiest blush florals and a touch of sparkle, the talented gals at Keely Thorne Events brought Katie’s wedding day vision to life!

Thank you kindly to Akil Bennett for sharing this beautiful wedding with us!

Tell us all about the proposal! I kind of knew it was coming when he told me, “Don’t plan anything for this weekend because I’m taking you on a special trip to the W in Austin…” He found out through the grapevine that I knew it was happening that weekend, so he decided to surprise me at his house before we left instead. I showed up with my bags packed. He was in the front entryway on one knee with roses strewn all over the floor, and he said, “Kathryn Leigh Sheen, will you marry me?”

My bridesmaid and wedding planner, Emily Moise, did a wedding at Villa del Lago and showed me pictures from the event. After I saw the pictures, I never even looked at any other venues. It was the first and only venue I looked at and I knew immediately it was exactly what I wanted. With a gorgeous pavilion, a perfectly cut lawn, a waterfall, and a ceremony site that overlooked Lake Travis and the Hill Country, it felt like a dream.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? No, I wanted him to be surprised. As the ceremony began, he turned around and faced the water. When I came down the aisle, he turned around and saw me for the first time. I couldn’t stop smiling and he was tearing up.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had beautiful music for the ceremony. We hired Hill Country Strings and they were amazing–they played the harp, guitar, and violin. I especially loved the song I walked down the aisle to: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” That was one of my favorite moments of the day.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we really liked the traditional vows.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Ben and I read surprise poems for each other. We each picked a poem that reminded us of one another. I choose “Sonnet XVII” by Pablo Neruda for Ben and he choose “These I Can Promise” by Mark Twain. It was really special to finally hear what his poem for me was.

A few of my favorite things I remember that made the day more perfect were my gorgeous bouquet, fried macaroni cheese appetizers, the rose-decorated cake, my father’s speech, our first dances, our final dance, and our heart-shaped sparkler grand exit. It was everything I had hoped for and more. All of the planning my amazing wedding planners and I had done really paid off. Of course, none of it would have mattered if I hadn’t had the perfect guy to say “I do” to, but luckily, I did.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The outdoor setting, wooden benches and table, and lanterns added a Southern feel to our wedding. Fried macaroni and cheese appetizers were pretty Southern too! Our band also played a lot of country music, and our first dance was to a Southern song, “Feet Don’t Touch the Ground,” by Stoney Larue.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We went to high school together and knew of each other. He was a few years older, and we hung out with a similar crowd, but our paths never crossed much. It wasn’t until after college that we met again. I went up to him at a bar and started chatting away. When he asked for my number, I was so nervous that I ignored him and changed the subject. He messaged me on Facebook a few days later. We went on our first date the following weekend, and after that date, I knew he was the one, despite the fact that he took me to see Borat.
When did y’all get married? October 5, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 190
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I went to Brickhouse Bridal in The Woodlands with my mom, sister, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law. They each picked a dress that they wanted me to try on and I wound up choosing the first one I tried. I especially loved my veil–the lace on it matched the lace on the dress perfectly.
Describe your wedding flowers. My wedding flowers had a very soft, romantic feel. I wanted muted colors like white, ivory, blush, and champagne. My bouquet had hydrangea, majolica spray roses, ivory ranunculus, gardenias, champagne vendela roses, and blush Keira garden roses. The stems were exposed and wrapped in ivory satin ribbon and topped with pearl beads. The bridesmaids carried spray roses, ranunculus, sweet peas, dahlias, and Juliet garden roses wrapped in ivory satin ribbon. The groom and groomsmen wore ivory ranunculus, accented with ivory snowberry and wrapped in natural woven ribbon. The reception flowers were similar, and we also chose to include a lot of candles, lanterns, and mercury glass accents.
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 saved money in our floral bill because the wedding venue was so naturally beautiful that we didn’t need an excessive amount of flowers. Our wedding planner, Emily Moise, also advised me on where and when to cut costs. She was really good at telling me where I needed to spend a lot and where I should save.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Keely Thorne Events wedding planners, Emily Moise and Sydney Mafrige. They made sure everything went perfectly! Our photographer, Akil Bennett, was amazing too. He not only did an excellent job at our wedding, but also on our engagement and bridal portraits. Ben liked him a lot. He made our engagement photos so easy and relaxing–nothing was forced or awkward.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Get a wedding planner!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are expecting our first child this June. It’s a boy! We can’t wait to meet him!

Photographer: Akil Bennett / Videographer: The Pros Wedding Videography / Planner: Emily Moise of Keely Thorne Events / Venue: Villa del Lago / Florist: Merveille / Cake Baker: Simon Lee Bakery / Catering: Pink Avocado Catering / Rentals: Premiere Party Central / Lighting: Illios Lighting / Band or DJ: The Grooves / Bride’s Gown: Enzoani / Bridal Salon: Brickhouse Bridal / Alterations: Beautiful U / Hair and Makeup: Nicki from The Perfect Face / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Amsale / Groom’s Attire: Tom James / Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A. Bank

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Emily Moise reply

    Thanks so much for posting Katie & Ben’s wedding from KTE!!! It was a beautiful wedding for one beautiful, sweet couple.

  2. avatar Christen reply

    What a stunning wedding!!! Katie is my sister in law and was not only the most beautiful bride but the most gracious through the entire process! Akil did an amazing job. Great memories!!!

  3. avatar Nicole reply

    Oh guys. That line of banquet tables under the string lights kills me!! So beautiful.

  4. avatar Dana reply

    beautiful venue and that flower girl picture is so adorable!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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