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Alex may not be a born and raised Southerner, but if she isn’t a Southern belle at heart, then I don’t know who is! As she and Andrew planned their Louisiana wedding, their minds were never far from their goal of making their guests feel cared for and part of the celebration. As a result, everything about this chic day, from Alex’s gorgeous Amsale dress, to the late-night passed doughnuts, to the bridesmaid cake pull, helped guests get to know their love story and personalities even more. We were overjoyed to learn that Alex and Andrew found their talented photographer, Kelly of Spindle Photography, through our very own Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory, and we think she did a fabulous job of capturing every sweet moment and gorgeous black and white detail!

My something new was my dress, veil, and Kate Spade shoes! Originally, my something old, borrowed, and blue was going to be my mother’s garter, but 30 years did not yield a usable option. She had one made with the same silks and a blue pearl that had our initials and wedding date, which was even more perfect. I also had the sixpence in my shoe that all the women in my family since my great-grandmother have worn.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Believe it or not, this was probably the easiest part of my wedding planning journey! My mother, grandmother, and matron of honor accompanied me to Mia Bridal Couture in Houston days before Christmas. I told our wonderful consultant, Tina, about my traditional-with-a twist-style, love of horsehair-trimmed veils, and that I wanted a full skirt with “twirlability”–a very important dressing term I coined in my toddler years. I put on her first selection (an Amsale dress I had pined over–and pinned!) and instantly knew it was the one. I was hesitant to say “Let’s pop the champagne!” after only one gown, so I asked to try on everything I said I did not envision: fitted skirts, strapless, lace, beading… just to make sure that I was positive. Finally, I put on the first gown with a double horsehair-trimmed veil and triumphantly announced that we were done! The stars truly aligned when we found out the name of the dress: “Newport”–the name of my mother’s hometown in Rhode Island, where my parents were married almost 30 years ago. The whole experience felt surreal!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes! While Andrew was a little hesitant in the beginning, we eventually decided it was the best way to try to prolong a day that everyone had told us would end in a flash. We are forever grateful we made this decision. We were able to savor the day together, and the photos are just divine. One of our favorite memories of the day was when Alex’s father accidentally crashed our first look. We forgave him since he was looking so dashing in his uniform!

We said traditional Catholic vows used during the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It was such a powerful moment to repeat the words that entered us into the same covenant as so many couples before us. During our vows, we experienced what a sacrament truly is–a physical sign of God’s grace. It was the most impactful feeling we have ever experienced.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Choosing one favorite detail is simply too hard! All of the details that reflected us as a couple were our favorites because our guests saw our personalities throughout the day. Andrew wanted me to point out the “snack tables,” meaning the oyster bar, antipasti bar, Meche’s donut display, and the Maryland favor table of Berger cookies, Fischer’s Popcorn, and Utz Crab Chips. We loved watching our guests enjoy all of our favorite treats!

During our first meeting with our florist, Mia from Root Floral Design, we told her we wanted an effortless garden look without too much symmetry. She used a neutral color palette of garden roses, jasmine, anemones, scabiosa, ranunculus, lisianthus, and astilbe to bring the vision to life. My mother and I used our silver collections for all the flowers (an idea that came from SW’s own Emily Thomas’ wedding!). The entire wedding’s inspiration started with an image I found of a boxwood garland draping a cocktail bar. Mia recreated the bar swag, miniature boxwood wreaths were used at the church as pew markers, and large wreaths were placed on the historic home’s doors. The boxwood garland now sits on our fireplace mantel, and we have a wreath hung in our home as well.

“Southern” in our eyes is a mindset that embodies hospitality, love, and celebration. I did not grow up surrounded by magnolias or eating grits, but I’ve always identified with Southern values and charm. The entire day was designed to feel like the perfect Southern fête, honoring us, family, and the friends that feel like family. A large clear-top tent with bistro lighting was pitched in front of one of A. Hays Town’s historic, Southern homes (the architect is one of the area’s most famous). Bridesmaids received well wishes through cake pulls. A soul band with an excellent horn section resulted in a packed dance floor the entire evening.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? At one point, Andrew led me off the dance floor to the lawn space in front of our tent, and we stood hand in hand, watching our reception. He said, “You’re my wife! This is our wedding!” The twinkling bistro lights, clinking of glasses, laughter of family, and seeing dance moves galore is a sight we will never forget.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Alex: I moved a lot as a military child, but our adventure to the Gulf Coast would eventually lead me to Andrew. After moving back to Annapolis, Maryland, I knew I would return to Louisiana for college. I received my LSU acceptance letter not only on my birthday, but also on the night that the Tigers won the 2007 National Championship. It was fate! From Andrew: I was born and raised in South Louisiana, but I grew up in a wonderful combination of Polish (my mother is a Polish immigrant), German, and Cajun cultures. This diverse (and entertaining) upbringing is probably the reason I was rather accepting of Alex’s northeastern roots when we first met. We formally met when a group of fraternity and sorority presidents came together to design and facilitate leadership development programming for the Greek community. We became fast friends–the type of friends that suddenly shared everything with each other very easily. We laugh now because this was in large part due to us thinking we would NEVER become more than friends. Within months, that friendship took us both by surprise and evolved into a great love of true understanding, compassion, and FUN.
Tell us all about the proposal! I am very much hoping that my little sister will follow in my footsteps and attend LSU, so a college visit was planned for the whole family during Homecoming Weekend. Andrew thought that weekend was the perfect time to propose, but if we’re being honest, so did I! I was slightly perturbed when I arrived at Andrew’s house to discover he was not yet ready to leave for the trip, making us late for our dinner reservations with my family. After storming up the stairs, I found Andrew standing in his living room holding a very small box. After tears and laughter and the slowest proposal ever (I made him pause and repeat everything so I wouldn’t forget any of his words), we heard knocking on the door. It was our dearest friends, who sent us off to Baton Rouge with cupcakes and wedding magazines! Those few hours were so special. We took time to soak in the moment and call some of our loved ones. We were supposed to pick up my best friend in Lafayette on the way, and when we exited, Andrew took the scenic route and drove by the historic home (now a museum) that I had always said would be the perfect wedding reception site. He wanted to get out of the car so we could have a moment, and when we walked up to the museum, he handed me an envelope with the date “October 17, 2014” inside. He had already secured the museum and the church! When I turned around, both of our immediate families were there. I was told that we were not actually going to Baton Rouge that night, but would be having dinner with our families in Lafayette instead. When we walked into Andrew’s family’s house, a beautiful engagement party was in full swing!
When did y’all get married? October 17, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 275
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was learning to understand and compromise on our own list of wedding “normalcies.” With a born and raised Southern gent and a military child raised on the East Coast planning a wedding, we quickly realized we had grown up with different experiences regarding everything from the size of the guest list to the reception dinner service. We exercised more patience, listened more intently, and sought clearer understanding. In the end, compromises were made, and new traditions were embraced.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Our biggest cost savings was having the talented people in our lives share their talents with us rather than ordering items from a rental company or the endless possibilities of Etsy. All of our table runners were sewn by a family friend, others were always on the lookout for extra pieces of silver to use, and our signage was crafted by one of our supper club ladies. This made the day increasingly more special.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our remarkable photographer, Kelly! I looked at Southern Weddings’ Blue Ribbon Vendors in Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama for options that were still relatively close. Within seconds of being on the Spindle Photography website, we knew the creative genius behind these photographs was it. I am also grateful for finding someone who loves dresses that twirl as much as I do.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? This was a big year for us! After getting engaged, I finished graduate school and started work, Andrew began a new work assignment that takes him away from home half of each month, we built a house, and we got married! We are now welcoming the holiday season with rest and enjoying waking up on Saturday mornings with nowhere to be. I also hope we will have a dog by the time you read our story!

Photographer: Spindle Photography / Planner: Southern Fete / Ceremony Venue: St. Genevieve Catholic Church / Reception Venue: Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum / Florist: Root Floral Design / Cake Baker: Crystal Weddings / Catering: Sam Trahan / Rentals and Lighting: Event Rental, Lafayette / Band: Phat Hat / Chalkboard Signage: Amber Hicks / Donut Table Signage: Anna Broussard / Paper Products: Val Marie Paper / Bride’s Gown: “Newport” by Amsale / Bridal Salon and Veil: Mia Bridal Couture / Bouquet Ribbon: Hyman Hendler & Sons / Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Heather Veillon of Bleu Coiffure / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “G837U” in black by Amsale / Menswear: Mary Ellen’s Tux Shop / Bow Ties and Cummerbund: High Cotton Ties / Cups, Koozies, and Coffee Cups: Inkling Design Studio / Calligrapher: Patricia Leith

lisa Written with love by Lisa
9 Comments
  1. avatar Robyn Van Dyke reply

    LOVE this wedding! Especially all the striped accents, and polka-dotted bow tie and cummerbund!!! :D

  2. avatar Kelly Cummings (Spindle Photography) reply

    Thank you so much for sharing Alex and Andrew’s gorgeous wedding! Since Alex found me through Southern Weddings I am thrilled to see their beautiful love story shared here! Hooray for kindred spirits!

  3. avatar lena reply

    L O V E this gorgeous celebration!

  4. avatar Amy reply

    It’s an absolutely gorgeous wedding to behold!

  5. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

    Such a beautiful wedding and a radiant bride! I especially love the striped ribbon bouquet wrap and the personal touches that were put on the foods served.

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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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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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