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One of the most fun aspects of working at Southern Weddings is seeing firsthand just how many ways there are to have a “Southern wedding.” From classic ballroom celebrations to rustic ranch soirées and everything in between, Southerners embrace so many distinct styles! One look that we don’t see too often is colorful, Southwestern-inspired weddings, which is why I immediately fell head over heels for the way Alicia and Ian celebrated their marriage. They dreamed up an outdoor wedding full of their favorite Tex Mex details (y’all, they even had a queso bar!) and only the traditions that meant the most to them as a couple. They also did an amazing job of showing their guests the utmost in Southern hospitality–be sure to take a peek at their advice about this below!

Thank you so much to Archetype Studio for sharing this beautiful day with us!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We decided to do a first look despite my reservations about it. I loved the idea of Ian seeing me for the first time walking down the aisle, but in reality, I didn’t want to spend any time after the ceremony posing for pictures. Once the ceremony started, I wanted the evening to be about the wedding, the celebration, and being around the people we love rather than the photos.

Ian and I knew that we wanted to get married outside in San Antonio in the fall. I wanted to get married in Ian’s parent’s backyard, but Ian wanted to get married at the McNay Art Museum. We compromised, deciding to have the rehearsal dinner in his parent’s backyard and the wedding at the museum. They’re both beautiful outdoor locations, but the museum’s architecture more closely matched our Tex Mex-inspired vision.

We wrote our own vows and it was probably my favorite part of the entire wedding. I think about them and carry them with me in my heart. I have two favorite lines from our vows. From Ian’s: “I promise to always nurture your dreams and help you exceed your goals. I promise to always listen and always comfort you, in the best of times or the blurst of times.” Not only is his promise to help me exceed my goals and comfort me critical to our daily life, but “the blurst of times” is a reference to a Simpson’s joke, and it always makes me smile when I think about it. It’s such a classic Ian joke, and I love it. From mine: “I promise to remember that the quality of our inner life together is more important than anything I can create or accomplish in the outer world.” I think about this line from my vows nearly every day. It really resonates with me because I’m a determined attorney in Manhattan practicing criminal law, and I have to remind myself that the greatest accomplishment, the greatest privilege, and the greatest responsibility in my life is the happiness of my marriage to Ian. Living my vows is the best homage to pay our beautiful wedding.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Start with the macro, the bigger goals. For Ian and I, we started with the ultimate goal of wanting our wedding to be easy on our guests. We didn’t want our guests to feel that a lot was expected of them monetarily or in terms of their time, and we wanted the people we love to really feel that love. With that main goal in mind, all the other questions were easy to answer–yes to ceremony and reception at same venue, no to a seated dinner with pre-planned meal, yes to a great variety of food and seating options, yes to transportation being provided, and no to a wedding party and the expectations that go along with it. It’s easy to get caught up in the frame of mind that, “This is MY day,” or, “This is what I want,” which sometimes leads to cutting things guests enjoy. But, if you get to live with the love of your life forever, you’re getting your way every day. Make the celebration about the people who taught you how to love, and the day will be even more special for everyone.

Describe your wedding flowers. We had a fresh and bright, watercolor-ombre, Southwestern palette with a fusion of cacti, succulents, and soft-petalled blooms in every shade of pink (except peach) peonies, garden roses, dahlias, and ranunculus. Our wedding flowers were out of this world.

Most of our wedding details were south Texan with Mexican flavor. Our save the dates were a hand-drawn watercolor of a man’s bullfighting/mariachi jacket and a woman’s embroidered dress, fabulously painted by a college friend of mine. The decor on the tables at the reception included Mexican textile runners and geometric brass terrariums. Our south Texan-inspired food included fried quail with jalapeno gravy, hand-pressed gorditas, avocado halves stuffed with shrimp, ceviche, or vegetables, and a table dedicated to queso, a melted Mexican cheese dip.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was vanilla with caramel filling and a vanilla buttercream frosting. The design was classic and simple in white with the wedding flowers on and around it. We also had a groom’s cake, which was a collection of about 15 chocolate cakes decorated as cacti.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Ian and I went to high school together in San Antonio, Texas in the early 2000s. We became friends over instant messenger my sophomore year of high school (Ian’s junior year), and were on the cusp of becoming romantic when I went abroad to Spain during my junior year. That year, we religiously kept in touch over phone and email, and Ian planned to visit me for his senior year spring break. He booked tickets and reserved a hotel room, and then, the day before his flight, terrorists attacked Madrid. Ian cancelled his trip and we lost our momentum. Over the five years that followed, we both dated other people, we both went to undergrad in Southern California, and both periodically kept in touch. After graduating from undergrad, we also both happened to move to Austin. I had just sworn off of eternally pining for Ian, but within a week of both living in Austin, we were dating. We moved to New Orleans together so I could attend law school, then moved to New York. We dated for six years before getting engaged.
Tell us all about the proposal! One frigid day (March 7, 2015, to be exact), I dragged Ian to a brunch with me and about a dozen of my girlfriends in SoHo. I had been misinformed and didn’t know that none of their boyfriends were coming to brunch, but we had a ball. Afterwards, we walked across Washington Square Park to get a cab home, and Ian just took the ring out of his front jean pocket, held it up, and said, “Wanna get married?” like it was no big deal. Of course, I said yes! We called the girlfriends we had just been at brunch with, met at a bar in West Village, and celebrated all day into the night. Neither Ian nor I like formality or over-the-top gestures, so it was true to us and, in my opinion, that made it perfect.
When did y’all get married? October 31, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Ian and I were only having a six-month engagement, so I couldn’t spend a lot of time searching for a wedding dress (which I wasn’t sad about). I’m really not into shopping, so I knew I could only go to one or two stores before starting to hate the experience. Based on some internet research, I knew I wanted my dress to be from an Israeli designer because I loved several Israeli brands online, especially the lace they used. I brought one of my best girlfriends to a boutique on the upper east side of Manhattan, where they carried several Israeli designers. I tried on about seven dresses and narrowed it down to two. I went home to sleep on it and realized the next morning that one of them was much more “me,” and the other was more who I wished I was. I went back to the store the next day to put down my deposit.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? In writing our own vows, we really had to reflect on who we were, our weaknesses, and what was important to promise to each other for all time. Confronting those things with love in front of your guests is very powerful and freeing. Saying every line sincerely and not for show or because everyone has that specific thing at their ceremony makes you really think about what’s important and relevant to your unique relationship.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? After dating for about six years and knowing each other for 12 years, Ian and I knew exactly what we wanted: a short engagement, a small(ish) wedding in San Antonio, and lots of delicious Tex Mex at the reception. However, our biggest challenge was picking the venue and the date. We had a six-week window in which we wanted to have the wedding, and we wanted to accommodate our family and friend’s schedules. It worked out that Halloween was the best date for most people, and the venue was available. I wasn’t thrilled to get married on Halloween, but it ultimately became a very special part of our wedding. Our niece and nephews dressed up, making everyone laugh.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We decided not to have a videographer. We frequently see wedding videos on social media of people we only distantly know, and we wanted our wedding experience to be somewhat private–only for us and the guests we invited. We wanted to remember the events the way they happened, and not through the eye of a camera.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? After such a fun wedding and honeymoon in South Africa and Mozambique, we’re looking forward to traveling more together, including traveling to attend our friends’ weddings.

Photographer: Archetype Studio | Planner: Sweet August Events | Venue and Lighting: The McNay Art Museum | Florist: Clementine | Cake Baker: Cakes by Cathy Young | Caterer: Don Strange Ranch | Rentals: Aztec USA and Luxe Event Decor | Band: The Royal Dukes | Special Details: Sogi’s Honey Bakeshop | Paper Products: Girl General | Bride’s Gown: “Veronica” by Flora | Bride’s Veil: L’Fay Bridal | Bride’s Earrings: Bloomingdale’s | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Madame Make-Up and Hair | Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik | Groom’s Attire: Club Monaco and Cole Haan

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Adrienna reply

    Oh wow, those succulent cupcakes are SO CUTE!

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I love talking about weddings (probably a good thing, considering my job!), but when I scrolled through Jo and JT’s celebration, I found myself a bit speechless. It’s so evident that they were truly present as they became husband and wife–they soaked in and really felt every single moment. It’s breathtaking and inspiring to see, and I know y’all will love taking a peek into their special day as much as I did!

Didn’t Brandon Chesbro capture these moments perfectly? We’re so thrilled he shared Jo and JT’s wedding with us!

The venue that we chose was a private residence where my cousin grew up. The current owner doesn’t typically do weddings on her property, but when she found out about my family, she invited us to have the wedding there. It was so special to us to be married in such an intimate and gorgeous setting.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? JT and I decided to do a first look, mainly because we were both nervous, and we were able to ease each other’s nerves by getting to spend some time together before the ceremony. The few glasses of champagne we shared helped as well!

JT and I are both musicians, and it was important for us to use songs that were meaningful to us. Some of those songs included the Harry Potter theme song by John Williams, “There She Goes My Beautiful World” by Nick Cave, and a few Max Richter pieces. During the ceremony, my bandmate Louis Johnson sang “But Beautiful,” which is a special song for my dad and I.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had The Prayer of St. Francis read: “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.”

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? When JT and I sat down to eat brunch at the head table, we had a view of everyone sitting at their tables, laughing and sharing a meal. It was exactly what we had planned for our wedding day, and finally getting to see all of our loved ones in front of us was just perfect.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was the place cards. We had a poem from a book I bought JT for our one-year anniversary, “I Like You,” printed on them. It was a very special and personalized touch that meant a lot to us.

Having Brittany from Ring The Bell as our planner was such a treat. She made the day of our wedding stress-free and kept everything running smoothly. Since our wedding was very DIY-heavy, it was really nice to have someone there the day-of to make sure none of our details were overlooked.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Go easy on yourself. Don’t sweat the small stuff. At the end of the day, you are marrying your best friend and all of the rest is just icing on the cake…pun intended.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. JT and I met at a 4th of July party in Nashville. I was new to town and didn’t know many people there. He had been a local for 10 years and quickly noticed the “new girl.” He had noticed some of his friends checking me out, but when no one made a move, he decided to introduce himself. We talked and flirted all night, and after some much-needed liquid courage, I decided to ask if he would take me on a motorcycle ride. I put my number in his phone, and we made plans to meet up later in the week. Since that night, I can’t think of a day that I haven’t talked to JT. I always think it’s corny when people say “love at first sight,” but JT and I knew quickly that we found something special.
Tell us all about the proposal! Our proposal was very intimate and special to us, so we’re keeping some of the details to ourselves. What I can tell you is that it was raining, JT was on one knee, and I cried. It was Halloween, so we went to Target afterwards to find finishing touches for our costumes. We ended the night with a bunch of friends at a dive bar in Nashville, dressed as Wednesday Addams and a hand grenade (JT is pretty inventive with his costumes). Of course, there was a lot of showing off the ring.
When did y’all get married? November 8, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 120
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I didn’t do the typical dress hunt like most brides. My brothers-in-law actually found my skirt for me and had it shipped to my house! It fit perfectly and made the process really stress-free. I did go try on a few dresses at a store with a girlfriend as well, just for fun.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We wanted to keep our vows traditional, but also specific to us. We wrote them with the help of our good friend and officiant, Raleigh McCool.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We joked to friends that our marriage counseling was watching the show Parenthood and discussing it after each episode. Our real marriage counseling was spending a lot of time with married couples that we respect and look up to.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? JT and I didn’t feel we needed all of the bells and whistles to make our wedding special, which definitely helped us keep the cost down. Simple was best for us.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are enjoying sharing our first holidays and birthdays as husband and wife, and are looking forward to all of those to come.

Photographer: Brandon Chesbro / Planner: Ring The Bell Weddings / Venue: Private Residence / Florist: 57 Treasury / Cake Baker: Sweet Weddings / Caterer: Culinary Outfitters / Rentals: Taylor Rental / Band: Chad Howatt and Louis Johnson / Calligraphy: Megan Towle / Paper Products: St. Augustine Paper Co. / Menswear and Bride’s Skirt: J. Crew / Bride’s Top: Louloudimeli / Bride’s Hair Accessories: Urban Outfitters / Hair and Makeup Hues Hair Salon / Bride’s Shoes: Seychelles for BHLDN / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Annabelle” in Mayan Blue and Lapis Blue by Jenny Yoo

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Gwen Usina reply

    I don’t usually have the patience to sit through anything that lasts longer than five minutes. But as I started seeing the pictures and then this, I couldn’t stop! It all was above and beyond what I would expect. Your wedding planner went off the chart! And you and JT could never have, and never will, look any more in love! Loved all the colors and the flow of everything! May God Bless you both for ever and have everlasting “LOVE.”

  2. avatar Dana reply

    this photographer is awesome!

  3. avatar Jen reply

    Where can I find that skirt?? I love it. I search j crew and ebay for it but couldn’t find it :(

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BDK and I actually celebrated our reception in the lobby of the historic Lakeside Inn! So, I love seeing couples transform non-traditional venues into beautiful reception sites that represent their own personal style and love story. Tess and Bernard wanted to show off where they’re proud to live, so they chose to hold their reception at the historic Etoile Polaire Lodge built in the 1830’s. No one had ever held a wedding reception there, so Tess and Bernard worked with their planner Clandestine Events, and Blue Ribbon Vendors Pret a Fete and Kim Starr Wise to develop their vision for a swamp-inspired, romantic vibe into the beautiful reception celebration Tess described as “perfection.” Keeping with their South New Orlean’s feel, they even ended the night with a “bounce” (new Orleans-style rap) performance by Vockah Redu!

Big thanks to Heirloom Collective for sharing such a fun day with us!

We met at the Voodoo Experience music festival in New Orleans in 2008. I was dating someone else at the time, but we became good friends. Bernard, as he likes to say, played the long game — and we got together for good in the spring of 2012. By the time we started dating, we didn’t need to worry about uncovering each others’ skeletons in the closet — we already knew all the dirt there was to know about each other!

Tell us all about the proposal! I came home from breakfast at my dad’s house to find a puppy (our second mixed breed rescue) on our bed with a ring on a gold cord around his neck. It was 9:30 in the morning and I was not expecting it in the slightest! The diamond was my great-grandmother’s, and my mom had helped Bernard design a contemporary setting.

How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? The ceremony was only 40 our nearest and dearest — then we celebrated with 215 wonderful guests at the reception!
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? We wanted all our wedding weekend events to be right in or around our neighborhood — we love where we live and wanted to show it off to visiting family and friends. Preservation Hall is a gorgeous, historic space that just screams New Orleans, and it’s small and intimate. The reception was at a masonic lodge built in the 1830’s — again, a gorgeous historic space. The coolest thing about the reception venue was that no one had ever had a wedding reception there — that also made it a ton of work as they had minimal infrastructure!

Did you write your own vows? We wrote our own vows, and we incorporated bits and pieces of various traditions. My favorite part was a vow we modified from a Buddhist ceremony we found online: “Tess and Bernard, just as we are a mystery to ourselves, each other person is also a mystery to us. Do you pledge to seek to understand yourselves, each other, and all living beings, to examine your own minds continually and to regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and joy?”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Tess’s sister officiated our ceremony, which was wonderful — so sweet and intimate. Each of our moms did a reading — Bernard’s mom read “[love is more thicker than forget]” by e.e. cummings and mine read “The Two of You,” by Czeslaw Milosz. Bernard’s friend Barry read a selection from a gorgeous poem that moved us to tears the first time we read it, called “Little Sleep’s-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight,” by Galway Kinnell.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We were psyched to work with Emily Shaya from Pret a Fête rentals in New Orleans. She has an awesome selection of vintage furniture that helped us give the reception a distinct style beyond the typical table-chairs-centerpieces.

South Louisiana is a bit of its own animal as far as the South is concerned, but our wedding was certainly chock full of unique South Louisiana elements. Instead of a rehearsal dinner we had a crawfish boil for all our guests on Friday night — and a Cajun band, Soul Creole, played. On our wedding day we represented quite a few New Orleans musical traditions: traditional jazz at Preservation Hall, New Orleans funk from Dumpstaphunk, and even a bounce (new Orleans-style rap) performance by Vockah Redu to close out the reception!

Describe your wedding flowers. The interior of our reception venue was pretty stark, so we knew we’d need to go big with the flowers. Bernard wanted to stay far away from the typical ivory-and-pink palate — we developed a vision for a swamp-inspired, rustic, romantic vibe that our florist Kim Starr Wise executed to perfection. The vines all over the interior were her (brilliant) idea.

When did y’all get married? 3/29/15
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I spent a weekend shopping for wedding dresses with my mom in New York, where I grew up, and didn’t find anything perfect. On a whim, I stopped into Town & Country, an old school bridal boutique in New Orleans, during my lunch break one day — and found the perfect dress!
Did you decide to do a first look? We didn’t do a first look. We had a small ceremony followed by champagne hour just with the ceremony guests — so we did our photos right after the ceremony. Everyone we wanted in photos was at the ceremony, so it was easy. Also, from being with friends the day of their weddings, it seemed that once they had their hair and makeup done, and their dress on, they were anxious to get the ceremony underway!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I walked down the aisle to “Such a Night” by Dr. John — a New Orleans classic and a nod to our shared history before we got together. Our first dance was “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson — we took dance lessons to prepare, which was a blast.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had a wedding cake — coconut lime cake with lime curd filling and cream cheese frosting — as well as a groom’s cake, which was Super Mario-themed and complete with a fondant Yoshi (the name of our puppy, who delivered my engagement ring to me).
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We bought and renovated a house together before we even got engaged, which we felt was the big test of our relationship. We also started a joint checking account to pay all our shared expenses, which helped ease the transition and build trust!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? It was definitely a second job, and the work fell (surprise, surprise) mostly on the bride. Planning an event in a space without the typical wedding infrastructure allows you to be way more creative — but it can also end up costing a lot more, and taking a huge amount more time and effort to plan.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? When my mom got confused about the order of the ceremony and stage-whispered loudly from the front row, “When are you going to kiss?”
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? The main thing your guests care about — and the main thing they will remember — is how happy you look. And believe it or not, all the stress of planning will melt away once you turn to each other to hold hands and say your vows.

Photographer: Heirloom Collective | Planner: Clandestine NOLA |
Ceremony Venue: Preservation Hall | Reception Venue: Étoile Polaire Masonic Lodge | Florist: Kim Starr Wise | Wedding Cake: Shake Sugary | Caterer: MoPho NOLA | Vintage Rentals: Pret a Fête | Rentals: Event Rental | Lighting: Firefly Ambiance | Musicians: Little Maker, Dumpstaphunk, Quickie Mart, Vockah Redu | Paper Products: Sarah Mangerson Design | Bride’s Gown: Watters Wtoo | Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil/Jewelry: Ted Muehling | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Blush and Bashful | Bride’s Shoes: London Sole | Groom’s Suit: Paul Smith | Groom’s Shoes by Cole Haan | Photo Booth: Deep Fried Photo

Kim Starr Wise, Firefly Ambiance, and Pret a Fete are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Janna reply

    What a gorgeous wedding! And I love the Lakeside Inn- growing up in the Altamonte Springs/Apopka area, I know Lakeside Inn well!

  2. avatar Emily Sawyer reply

    Marissa, I am curious! Is there a post of your wedding at the Lakeside Inn? I love Mount Dora and have been to the Lakeside Inn. What does a reception in the lobby look like?
    Thanks!
    Emily

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