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Jo and Ryan always knew they wanted to have a wedding day filled with their friends and family, but after a battle with skin cancer derailed their 10/10/10 wedding plans, they opted for a small wedding in Ryan’s parents’ backyard instead. The two continued to dream about a vow renewal or blessing of their marriage someday, but with the busyness of life and two sweet boys, it kept being placed on the back burner. When Jo realized their fifth wedding anniversary fell on a Saturday in 2015, she knew this was the time, and immediately staring planning the colorful Hill Country celebration we were thrilled to share in V8! With the help of Without Wax, Katy‘s beautiful blooms, including Jo’s favorite peonies, the JW Marriot in San Antonio came to life for a celebration we’re sure was worth the wait!

Big hugs to Jenna McElroy for sharing Jo and Ryan’s sweet day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? I first saw it on Pinterest after the 2015 Marchesa runway show pictures were posted. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it by chance when I went into Saks to see other dresses. It was even more exquisite in person! The tulle and beading are incredible.

When we got married five years prior, I didn’t have any bridesmaids, so I did feel like I missed that part of the experience. There is something special about bonds between sisters and girlfriends, so I did want to have some time with them to celebrate. Once I knew which girls were attending, I started figuring out dress options that would work for each of my best friends. Since my dress was blush, I decided to go with a mismatched look, and I specifically picked out a color and style for each girl once it was narrowed down. Everyone looked stunning!!

Tell us a bit about the ceremony. What part was most special to you? Did you include any special readings? The entire ceremony was special to me! My childhood best friend, Alex, had recently gotten married to a wonderful man of God, and we were honored to have him create our ceremony for us. It was perfect!! Since the ceremony was about our five-year marriage and our baby boys, we all stood together during the blessing.

We had talked about a vow renewal or blessing of some sort over the first few years of our marriage. We moved from Danville to Katy, Texas in the beginning of 2011, when Ryan got a job in the oil/gas industry. Another big move put plans for a blessing on the back burner. In February 2012, we had our second son, Wyatt, and again, with life being so busy, didn’t talk about celebrating anytime soon! Before we knew it, it was summer 2014 and we were attending our friends’ wedding at the JW Marriott Hill Country here in San Antonio. The resort is incredible, so I checked dates for the next year, and when I saw that our fifth anniversary would be on a Saturday in 2015, I instantly started planning. The Hill Country part of Texas is beautiful! It has the spectacular views I am used to being surrounded by, having lived in Phoenix and the East Bay Area. We wanted all of our family and friends to come to Texas, because it is where we have built a life over the years.

Tell us about your flowers. I love peonies, so that was the one flower I knew I wanted the most! I made sure Katy knew the colors I loved, and she created breathtaking arrangements! For my girls, I wanted to do something a little different to make sure they stood out amongst everyone else, but I didn’t want to do the traditional “bridesmaid” thing. Along with coordinating the colors of their dresses, I had flower hairpieces made that they could wear instead of carrying a bouquet.

We did three single-tiered cakes on individual stands. The cakes were red velvet, lemon, and chocolate, and were decorated with the same flowers that were used in our arrangements. We also shared my two go-to treats with our guests: bite-sized cupcakes by Baked By Melissa, and my favorite macarons from Dana’s Bakery.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met through our mutual friend, Nick. I grew up with Nick and Ryan met him when he started at ASU.
Describe the proposal: Ryan was back in Danville to celebrate Christmas in 2009 with his family, while I spent it in Phoenix with mine. We had discussed an engagement because Ryan was enrolled in the MBA program at St. Mary’s near his hometown, which was set to start in January of 2010, so I was planning to go with him. He had a ring designed and brought it back to Phoenix when he came home after Christmas. He asked me to marry him on New Year’s Eve when we were alone in his house before going to dinner and out to meet friends to ring in the New Year. The sweetest part was that he surprised me and included my parents and sister in our dinner plans.
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? I had many serious health issues quickly surface once I moved to Danville, so our wedding plans changed and we bumped everything up. Initially, we planned a 10/10/10 wedding back home in Scottsdale, but then I found out I was expecting, and had skin cancer, which needed surgery immediately. The skin cancer was stabilized in time for us to have a small, but beautiful, wedding in my in-laws’ backyard vineyard. I continued to go through some scary health issues with my pregnancy towards the end, but thankfully, everything ended up being okay for both the baby and me. After our first son, James Ryder, was born, I had radiation for my skin cancer, and the bells palsy I had gotten started clearing up. We just needed to do what was best for the moment in our lives, and always said that one day, we would celebrate with all our family and friends!
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Colorful, family-filled, dreamy
How many guests attended your wedding? About 120
What did the groom wear? We didn’t follow tradition with the groomsmen thing at all, so when it came time to take photos, my husband gathered his best friends that were near us. We got some great shots of them all just being themselves!
What was the most memorable or touching moment of your wedding day? After going through the complications and scares I had with my health and during pregnancy, I was just thrilled to be able to have this moment five years later with all our family and friends together.
Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: I wanted lots of flowers! We also had some gorgeous china plates for each table setting and some beautiful vintage furniture to create more seating for our guests.
What kind of food did you serve at your reception? We wanted a buffet-style meal so everyone could get what they liked and as much as they wanted of it! We had a macaroni bar, a meat carving station, a salad bar, and chicken and waffles.
What is the one thing that made your wedding different from anyone else’s wedding? I think what was most special about what Ryan and I did was that we blessed our marriage of five years and our two beautiful boys with the people we love the most.

Photographer: Jenna McElroy | Videographer: Jason & Daris | Planner, Designer, and Florals: Without Wax Katy | Venue, Catering, and Cake: JW Marriott Hill Country Resort San Antonio | Macarons: Dana Bakery | Mini Cupcakes: Baked by Melissa | Bride’s Gown: Marchesa | Bridal Salon: Saks Fifth Avenue | Bride’s Shoes: Valentino | Bride’s Jewelry: Roberto Coin | Bride’s Clutch: Nancy Gonzalez | Bride’s Rings: David Yurman | Bridesmaid’s Dresses: BCBG Max Azria, Jill Stuart, and Jenny Yoo | Streamers: Studio Mucci | Candy: Sugarfina | Sugar Cookies: Jolie Delights | Hair and Makeup: Maitee Miles Hair & Makeup | Groom’s Fashion: Suit Supply | Paper Goods: Stationery Bakery | Cake Plates: Layla Grayce

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Sarah reply

    I’m absolutely, completely obsessed with this wedding, loving the bold use of color and obvious joy!

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I firmly believe in love at first sight. I knew the very moment I met BDK that he was the one I wanted to marry, so I can completely understand why Ellen jokingly asked Robert to marry her on the night they met! Though he turned down that “proposal” in lieu of his super sweet one just a few years later, I’m sure Ellen was completely fine with that, especially since Robert included their family in such a momentous occasion. For Ellen and Robert, their family and a sense of community also played an important role in their wedding design, from the rows of estate tables to a total of twenty wedding cakes in three different flavors to encourage sampling and mingling. Ellen and Robert celebrated their wedding day in true Southern fashion, surrounded by those they love!

We’re sure glad Matt & Julie were there to photograph such a lovely day!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted: a lace, fit-and-flare gown with delicate sleeves. My mom, sister-in-law, and I went to the original Neiman Marcus in downtown Dallas, and my dress happened to be the first I tried on. After trying on a few more, I kept going back to it and knew it was the one. I added a crystal and pearl belt, and had a fingertip-length drop veil made with Alencon lace edging to match my dress. The veil was incredibly important to me, because I have been obsessed with drop veils since Kate Middleton’s wedding. I also had my mother’s wedding dress altered (no more poofy sleeves!) and used it as my getaway dress.

We used garden roses for the bouquets, plus LOTS of greenery. We had three of the prettiest vintage pink and cream ribbons hanging from each bouquet. At the reception, we decided to forgo traditional floral arrangements and put individual garden roses on the 19 cakes that were used as centerpieces. We used garlands made of salal, podocarpus, and eucalyptus greens that extended the lengths of the tables–it looked gorgeous and smelled amazing. Our altar flowers were made up of white hydrangeas and lilies.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Last minute, yes. Robert had originally wanted to wait, but after talking to the photographers, we knew it was the best option and we are so glad we did it. Not only were the photographers able to capture such a sweet moment, it definitely calmed our nerves before and during the ceremony.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? No, we did not. We had a very traditional Episcopalian ceremony.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Given the formality of the church and ceremony, we chose traditional songs played on the church organ. My dad and I walked down the aisle to Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary” and we recessed to “Hornpipe” by Handel.

I had always known I wanted to be married at my family’s church, so that was never a question. The reception venue proved to be a little harder, but as soon as we saw it, that decision became easy, too! Robert and I met, dated, got engaged, and bought our first home together in Dallas, so the Downtown/Uptown area is such a big part of our relationship. After researching and visiting several venues, we came across the 42nd floor at Cityplace Tower, which happened to be across the street from our church. We were blown away by the views of city and I loved its urban, lofty vibe. The giant windows let in so much natural light, but without the 100 degree August heat.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our cakes were amazing. Instead of getting a bride and groom’s cake, we decided to give every table their own. We chose to make our cake cutting participatory, and we all cut the cakes together. There were eighteen one-tier cakes, plus a two-tiered cake for the wedding party. Heidi from Sugar Bee Sweets did a fantastic job designing the cakes, which incorporated all of our wedding colors: blush, gold, emerald, and mint. We offered three flavors, so people walked around sampling the different varieties, which encouraged mingling.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The long rectangular tables with the gold sequin tablecloths, garland, and cakes looked so beautiful in the room as the sun set. I love the look of rectangular tables, so we used three super-long tables that expanded the length of the room. It created such a grand statement when you walked through the door!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We formally met at the beginning of 2012 at a mutual friend’s birthday party. We had seen each other around prior, but had never actually spoken. At the time, I was living in Spain teaching English and was home for the holidays. I was supposed to go back in March, but that was not meant to be! I didn’t even want to leave the house on that particular night, so I know it was fate when we met. Robert came up to me, introduced himself, and immediately started dancing. I knew there was something different about him, and he said the same about me. I thought he was funny, and jokingly, I even asked him to marry me! We stayed up talking and joking about how our “grandchildren” would laugh that I proposed to him the night we met. We went on our first date the next week, and when I got home that night, I cancelled my flight and wrote down that I had finally met the man I was going to marry!
Tell us all about the proposal! For Robert’s 30th birthday, I had planned a big party on a vintage trolley that would take us and our friends around town while we celebrated. Before the party, Robert and I had a “scooter date”–one of our frequent trips together on his scooter–and went to dinner at our favorite local pizza place. Robert was acting a bit strange, and I was slightly upset because I thought he was mad at me. As soon as we got home, I saw both our families standing in the living room. When I turned around, Robert was on one knee. It was all a blur, but I do remember him saying I was the only thing he wanted for his birthday and for the rest of his life. We then joined our friends on the trolley and celebrated his birthday/our engagement for the rest of the night!
When did y’all get married? August 1, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 165
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We had a special monogram created of our initials printed on our save the dates, invitations, cocktail napkins, cups, and cake boxes! Robert gave his groomsmen monogrammed leather flasks, and they all wore paisley print bow ties! We both had very large wedding parties (eight for me, twelve for him), which I think is definitely more popular in the South.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We went to a couples’ weekend at our church, which was extremely beneficial. If your church offers one, I highly recommend it! Each couple was given a mentor couple and ours was such a blessing. They gave us great marriage advice, as well as helped us work through the challenges we had already faced as a couple.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Making sure everything came together! My sister-in-law and I planned the wedding. We have our own event planning business, E+Mc², and our resources were a huge help. At the same time, as the bride, staying calm and not stressing over every detail (while in charge of it all) had its challenges.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Planning a wedding can put stress on your relationship at times, but don’t lose sight of what the day is about. Remember that it is just the beginning of your life together, and that is the most exciting part. Also, have your budget figured out before you buy/decide on ANYTHING!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are currently living in Louisiana for Robert’s job, so we are concentrating on settling into our new home, making friends, and having fun as a newlyweds! We love to travel and want to take a few extended trips abroad before we start a family.

Photographer: Matt & Julie Weddings / Planner: E+Mc² / Ceremony Venue: Church of the Incarnation / Reception Venue: 42nd Floor Loft at Cityplace Tower / Florist: HEB Blooms / Cake Baker: Sugar Bee Sweets / Caterer: Andrew Ormsby Catering / DJ: Jeff Burris / Special Details: Garland / Paper Products: Studio3eleven / Bride’s Gown: Liancarlo / Veil: Toni Federici / Hair Stylist: Tovah Prue and Savanah King / Makeup Artist: Taylor Frettoloso / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Joanna August, Erin Fetherston, and Jill Stuart / Bow Ties: The Tie Bar / Flower Girl Dress, Shoes, and Flower Crown: Playful & Posh

Sugar Bee Sweets is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Studio 3 Eleven reply

    Yay! This wedding is beautiful! It was so much fun pressing Ellen’s custom Save the Dates and wedding invitations. She was such a great bride to work with!

  2. avatar Sarah Walters reply

    Where is that gorgeous ring from?!

  3. avatar Elegant Dallas Wedding by Matt & Julie Weddings – Southern Weddings | Salam Alikoum reply

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