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It’s always fun to see what choices a bride who works in the events industry makes for her own wedding! When it came to Jenna and Dom’s big day, their focus was on creating an effortless experience for their guests and planning a celebration that truly reflected them as a couple. While reading their interview, one thing that stood out to me was how many memories they created as they planned for this day, from the many vintage china shopping trips Jenna and her mom took, to her meant-to-be dress shopping experience, and more. Although wedding planning can be stressful, sharing moments and experiences with people you love makes it so very worth it!

Thanks so much to Molliner Photography for sharing this day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My girls and I set out in Coral Gables on a mission! We went to David’s Bridal first, and while I liked one of the dresses a lot, I didn’t love it, so I left feeling a little discouraged. I told myself I shouldn’t go to Chic Parisian because I’d end up spending more than I really wanted to, but we went anyways. I showed my consultant a few pictures on Pinterest that I liked, and she walked in with the EXACT dress from my Pinterest, on sample sale!! I tried it on, and with a few minor alterations, it fit like a glove. The entire room went silent when I slipped it on, and both my mom and my sister teared up. I just knew that it was the one, as cliche as that sounds.

My first look with Dom was definitely my favorite moment. The whole week of setting up for the wedding had me so stressed out, and all I wanted was to get to the moment where I could see Dom, because that was going to make everything better. Realizing that in my most stressful (and worst) moments, all I need is Dom to make me feel calm again really struck a cord and made me realize once again why I was there that day: to marry the most amazing piece of me.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. The first time we met was in passing in an elevator at an after-prom party for my high school. He was dating a girl who went to my high school and she introduced us in the elevator on our way up to the party. The second time we met (and actually spoke more than two words to each other) was up in Gainesville at school, where he attended Santa Fe and I went to UF. We had mutual friends and kept running into each other at different social events. I knew from the moment we talked that he was someone special. He understood my sense of humor and truly made me feel like the most important person in a room.

We wrote our own vows, and they were amazing. We said some of the exact same things without ever having talked about them with each other prior. I think we would agree that the best part was when he said, “I promise to make the bed, pick up my dirty laundry off the floor, and take out the trash,” and then I read, “I promise to accept that fact that you will never actually make the bed, you just throw the cover on top of the messy sheets. I promise to accept that you prefer your dirty clothes on the floor rather than in the hamper, and I promise to learn to accept that fact that you must be asked three times before you take out the trash.” Both of our vows had moments that made both us and our guests cry, and then laugh, and then cry again. They were sweet and sentimental, but also lighthearted and fun.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I wanted a change of scenery from South Florida. I didn’t want palm trees and beaches–I wanted oak trees and moss. A lot of my dad’s side of the family comes from the Central/North Florida areas, and it feels like a second home when we visit. While I grew up in South Florida, I have always felt more connected to a slower paced, countryside lifestyle, and this space felt exactly like that. I also wanted all of my family members to be able to stay locally and enjoy a weekend-long event…so why not get married at a campground? My family (no strangers to camping) could pitch a tent and stay the weekend for free! The grounds are beautiful, there is a lake that provides the most amazing backdrop, and the old colonial building is everything I could have dreamed of. It was seriously in my top ten most beautiful buildings I have ever seen.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Probably the mismatched vintage china that was on the tables. My mom and I spent almost two years collecting different pieces from a bunch of different thrift stores. Not only did the china fully execute the look we were going for, but the memories I now have from my mom and I going to all those stores and collecting them is something I can keep forever. It was truly a blessing to get to spend two years with my mom picking out stuff for the wedding, I am so grateful to have her in my life.

We had a small, single-tier naked cake that we cut into, but the dessert for guests to eat were mini pies by the talented LePetit Sweet Bakery in Mount Dora, Florida. I have an insane love for anything apple cinnamon and Dom loves blueberry pie, so when we decided what dessert to serve, we thought that pies would be both unique and very reflective of our personalities. We had different chocolate mousse, blueberry, apple, and pecan options, and our guests raved about them for weeks. On our anniversary, we may just take a visit back and have her make them again!

What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Dom and I are most excited to just wake up every day next to each other as husband and wife, alongside our fur baby, Paisley. We are taking things day by day, with no rush for the next step. We are enjoying being young and in love in sunny Fort Lauderdale. We have a lot of dreams in our five, 10, and 15 year plans–one of which includes owning a farm in Central-North Florida. We want to buy a big piece of land where we can build our dream home, farm flowers, and build a vintage barn to maybe host someone else’s perfect day!

Tell us all about the proposal! I was supposed to go to dinner with my best friend Sarah, but cancelled because I wasn’t feeling much like going out. Little did I know, I was ruining his master plan! Dom convinced me to go to dinner with him instead, and told me that I should dress up, which of course, I refused to do. When we got to the restaurant, Dom wasn’t eating, saying he had a stomachache. I totally bought it. When we got home, he went to the back of the hallway and was being kind of weird, so I asked him what was up. He asked me to join him, and when I turned the door knob to the back room, I saw a line of candles and rose petals from the back all through the backyard to the dock over the river that our house sits on. He had our song playing in the background, muttered words I will never remember, and got down on one knee. Of course, I said yes! We then walked back up to the house, where he had all of our family members waiting to celebrate, including my sister, who had flown in from San Francisco. It was low-key and exactly how I would have wanted it to be.
When did y’all get married? December 5, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 75
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? My girls and I were all wearing cowgirl boots, we had vintage handkerchief invitations, Sonny’s BBQ catered (ribs, pulled pork and chicken, mac and cheese, corn bread, sweet tea), we used mason jars for glassware, pie was our dessert, we gave homemade jam (made by my mom and I) as favors to our guests, we had monogrammed getting ready outfits for bridesmaids, we gave embroidered handkerchief gifts to my mom and aunt, and our guests sat on hay bales during the ceremony.
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? I did A LOT of things myself. I bought all of the mismatched china from thrift stores (rather than renting from a vintage company), I made all my own stationery and signage, we provided our own alcohol and glassware for the drinks, the guest tables/seating were included with the venue, and everything was linen-less. I do also have the somewhat unfair advantage of working for an event coordination and floral design company, so I was able to save money in those areas, as well.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Hire someone to do the heavy lifting. I am an event designer professionally, so relinquishing that control to someone else was pretty hard. And while, in my opinion, my wedding turned out perfectly and I am glad I had a big hand in that, I would say that I would have been able to enjoy myself the week prior a bit more had I hired people to execute my vision for me. It is so important for the bride and groom to be able to relax and enjoy themselves. Your wedding day is emotionally exhausting and for you to add a level of responsibility to yourself to also set it up is unnecessary when there are people who can do it for you.

Photographer: Molliner Photography | Videographer: Nate+Lori | Planner and Florist: Event Bliss Design | Venue: Doe Lake Campground | Dessert Baker: Le Petit Sweet | Caterer: Sonny’s BBQ | Rentals: Wish Vintage Rentals | DJ and Lighting: Meister Productions | Bride’s Gown: Marchesa | Bridal Salon: Chic Parisien | Hair and Makeup: Pure Aveda Salonspa | Bride’s Shoes: Country Outfitter | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Free People, American Eagle, Tobi, and Macy’s | Menswear: Macy’s, The Tie Bar, and Tilly’s

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Sarah Chancey reply

    I absolutely love this wedding, having grown up with so many sweet memories surrounding a campground or park, I love that they keep the essence of that here, keeping things simple and elegant – just perfect.

  2. avatar Dana reply

    that twirling pic and first dance one…so presh!

  3. avatar Destination Wedding Planning in Ocala / Marion County reply

    […] state, Doe Lake Campground has become a favorite amongst lovebirds seeking a fairytale-inspired yet eclectic wedding celebration, complete with panoramic lake views and massive oak canopies. Within the campground, you’ll also […]

  4. avatar Destination Wedding Planning in Ocala / Marion County reply

    […] state, Doe Lake Campground has become a favorite amongst lovebirds seeking a fairytale-inspired yet eclectic wedding celebration, complete with panoramic lake views and massive oak canopies. Within the campground, you’ll also […]

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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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If you’re just tuning in, be sure to see part one of our Behind the Scenes of Bridal Market 2015 recaps here!

One of the most fun things about Bridal Market is the number of “is this real life” moments, and the Marchesa presentation was definitely one of them. We arrived a few minutes early, so we headed out to the balcony for a glass of champagne and pictures with the incredible skyline in the background! We lucked out with gorgeous weather for almost the entire week, and we loved soaking it in for a few moments outside. Also, I always joke with Emily that since I manage the Southern Weddings Instagram account, I’m on my phone in every “behind the scenes” picture of me–but I think the one below is by far the most glamorous of them all. Thanks, Kat! :)

The Marchesa Fall 2016 collection was packed with stunning gowns–from lace patterns to intricate beading, the detail work was incredible. We especially loved the silhouettes they used, like that lovely peplum! You can see another one of our favorite gowns here.

We had a little break for dinner in between Marchesa and the Claire Pettibone show, but first, Kristin and Kat couldn’t resist recreating one of Kristin’s Bridal Market photos from 2012! How darling is she? We’re so grateful to have had Kat with us again this year.

While Kristin and I polished off this meal at Cookshop, as per Kat’s recommendation, she headed to The Prince George Ballroom to shoot backstage before the Claire Pettibone show. Claire’s show is definitely a highlight every year–the gowns are like works of art, the styling is incredible, and the venue is always magical. This year was no exception, and we loved seeing these moments Kat captured leading up to the action!

How fun are these sweet shots? Love seeing those smiles and high fives after a fabulous show! P.S. That’s Claire Pettibone herself on the bottom right in the floral blouse!

That was only the first of five action-packed days, and you can see the rest on Instagram! Check out our #SWBridalMarket hashtag to see all our favorite gowns from Carolina Herrera, Lela Rose, Badgley Mischka, Ines Di Santo, Amsale, Christos, Kenneth Pool, Rivini, Monique Lhuillier, Hayley Paige, Jim Hjelm, Alvina Valenta, Lazaro, Sareh Nouri, Modern Trousseau, Liancarlo, Heidi Elnora, Kate McDonald Bridal, Romona Keveza, Olia Zavozina, Carol Hannah, and BHLDN. We hope y’all loved following along!

P.S. Huge hugs and thanks to Kat Harris for capturing this exciting day!

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

    Kat, you did an amazing job!! What a fun look at all of the behind-the-scenes action!

  2. avatar Elizabeth L. reply

    Ahh this trip to Bridal Market is like a dream! So glad y’all had a wonderful trip, and thank you for letting us readers follow along!

  3. avatar Jehnel Oboza-Davison reply

    I can’t blame y’all for picking Marchesa & Claire Pettibone to highlight in this post. They were serious wonders to me this NYBFW! The lace work and the embellishments and the detailing from these bridal houses just made me giddy.

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