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When someone tells you that they’re getting married at Honey Creek Ranch, doesn’t that make you immediately excited? For a couple like Madeline + Jake, who met when they were 12 years old (while shooting shotguns competitively for Texas 4H shooting sports, no less!), the ranch on the Llano River served as the sweetest place to say “I do.” We love that Madeline + Jake waited to do see each other until she walked down the aisle. I’m sure it was especially emotional since they spent most of their engagement long-distance and didn’t see each other until two days before the wedding! Big hugs go out to The Nichols for sharing this with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I knew that I wanted to get my dress in New York and I wanted my mom to be there. She flew up and we had four appointments in two days. Vera Wang was my second appointment and while I liked a couple of dresses at each place, the one I ended up picking stood out to me from the very beginning, even though the sample was pink! When I tried it on, it was just so perfect. After all the appointments, my mom and I each ranked our favorite dresses separately and it turned out that both of us put the Vera Wang Isabella dress as our #1. The ladies at Vera Wang were so sweet and they squeezed us in the next morning to come back before my mom left. Jake was with us so he had to patiently wait in the waiting room downstairs while they pulled out the ivory sample from the back and I officially decided that was my dress. After I decided, they hid the dress and brought Jake upstairs so that he could celebrate with us!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Everyone was seated to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” My bridesmaids and I walked down the aisle to “Canon in D” and our recessional music was Vivaldi’s Spring from “The Four Seasons,” movement 1: Allegro. Our first dance was to “Carried Away” by George Straight and our last dance was to “Then” by Brad Paisley.

We took some vows that Jake liked and edited them a little so that they would be fitting for our life together. My favorite line was, “I will cherish you when we are together and when we are apart” because Jake is in the Army, and we will have to spend a lot of time apart over the next years. It was really important to us to have that line because of how important it is to continue to love each other deeply despite the challenges we will face being apart often.

My brother did a reading of Ephesians 4:1-3 New Living Translation (NLT) for us. “4 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We had the wedding at a ranch, in a barn. There were chickens wandering around the grounds and I gave my husband a gun as his wedding gift — I supposed that is a rather Southern thing to do!

I really wanted simple, loose flowers. I love tall blooming flowers and wanted tons in buckets and boxes that resembled more of a polished but natural wildflower look. I wanted to use beautiful flowers everywhere, to look full. We used purple and white stock flowers, purple and white snapdragons and purple larkspur. We combined that with sand dollar eucalyptus and seeded eucalyptus. I have a close friend from high school who is incredibly talented and creative and she did all the flowers, from the table arrangements to the bouquets and boutonnieres!

Our cake was four tiers and two different flavors. We decided not to do a groom’s cake, but instead to alternate white and chocolate cake tiers so that we were still offering two different flavors. Our white cake flavor was almond cake with a Bavarian cream filling and our chocolate cake was a Guinness beer chocolate cake with raspberry filling. The whole cake was covered in a white almond buttercream icing. My mom made our cake topper!

Eek! I could look at this sweet first dance image of M + J all day. From the looks of this photo, their joy was abundant — and that’s exactly what they wanted their guests to feel at their wedding.

I think my favorite thing about the whole wedding was the atmosphere. I really wanted it to be fun and filled with happiness and it was just so much better than I even imagined. I can’t begin to describe the feeling of having all the most important people in your life there to celebrate with you, on such a precious occasion. There was so much love in the air!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Jake and I met when we were 12 years old. We both shot shotguns competitively for Texas 4H shooting sports. Despite living five hours away from each other, we developed a great friendship over the years and would spend weeks during the summer staying at each other’s houses. Jake was the first boy I ever kissed and then we started actually dating later in high school. We broke up my senior year of high school but remained friends. I went to college in Texas at Baylor University and he went to New York at the United States Military Academy at West Point. In the summer of 2010, I took an internship in New York City and Jake came into the city to have lunch with me. After that, we started to communicate more and a few months later he invited me to his formal for West Point in January. I think that was the weekend I knew that things were changing between us and I felt like he was the man I was going to marry. After the formal, Jake took me to the airport and as we were saying goodbye, he told me that he loved me and that he was going to marry me. After this, we started dating long distance again as I finished school and graduated. After Jake proposed, I moved to New York City to work, putting us the closest we had ever lived to each other. After 12 years of knowing each other, we are finally in the same place!
Describe the proposal. I was invited to go to the US Virgin Islands with Jake’s family for Christmas of 2011. Jake asked me to go on a walk one evening and I could tell he was a little nervous! We were walking on a hill on St. John, where we were staying. It was getting dark, but we could still see the ocean and parts of the island. After talking a little, Jake got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. It was so exciting and such a happy time! After the proposal, we went back to the house to meet up with his family and we ate grilled cheese and drank champagne. It was so fun and perfect!
In what month did you get married? July
How many guests attended your wedding? About 170
Did you decide to do a “first look”? We decided we did not want to do a first look because my favorite part of weddings is seeing the groom’s face when his bride is walking down the aisle. I didn’t like the idea of him seeing me before that moment, so we waited!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? When we started planning our wedding, I was living and working in New York City, my mother was finishing graduate school in St. Louis, Missouri, my father was living and working at my parents’ home in Spring Branch, Texas, and Jake was trying to finish and graduate from West Point, about an hour north of New York City. It was extremely challenging planning that far away from each other! When Jake graduated, he had to stay at West Point to work, but my mom and I both moved back to Spring Branch. It was really helpful to be back with my parents to plan but I didn’t see Jake from the end of May until July 12, 2 days before our wedding!
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Hands down, the photographer. Jennifer and CJ Nichols are so incredibly talented. Their photography stood out to me from the second that I discovered them and they were the first vendor we booked! I could not be happier with our photos and I haven’t even seen them all yet! Also, having a month-of coordinator was amazing! Beth from 36th Street Events was so incredible and we would not have had the wedding we had without her.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Jake and I both feel like it was the moment we saw each other for the first time, it was so special to walk toward him down the aisle.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Pick the things that are most important to you and focus on those, then fill in the rest. I really stuck with a few things that were important to me and I am really happy with how those details and vendors contributed to the wedding. Also, I couldn’t have done it without our month-of coordinator, Beth. I wish I could put into words how awesome she is and how much she helped make our wedding happen. We brought her all of the little pieces and she put it together into this beautiful evening.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are heading to Georgia for Jake to start his training as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army. I will be continuing to make art and develop my career. We will spend the next eight years with the Army and so I will be following my husband wherever that leads us. We are looking forward to learning about life together and we are so appreciative of the time we have together right now. It is amazing to finally live in the same place! There will be many challenges ahead with the time we will spend apart but I am so grateful to have him and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I guess by now we are getting pretty good at this long distance thing!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Elizabeth reply

    This wedding is absolutely gorgeous. Such a sweet story of how Madeline and Jake came together. Madeline’s dress is beautiful, and I love the flowers and use of eucalyptus. And that cake is pretty spectacular. Mom did a great job on the cake topper, too :)

  2. avatar Emily Lawrence reply

    Her dress could not be more breathtaking! And I hope I can find a place as amazing as her’s to have my reception in.

  3. avatar The Nichols reply

    Such a lovely wedding to document! Thanks to Madeline and Jake for including us and thank you to SW for featuring this charming wedding!

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  7. avatar Angela Rando reply

    Beautiful! Love the flowers, especially the bride’s bouquet. The barn is gorgeous.

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  9. avatar Linda reply

    What a beautiful wedding. I love all of the purple touches as well as the rustic feel.

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Sometimes, the overall ambient tones of your wedding are the hardest to pinpoint and execute, but I think most people will agree, when it comes to the look and feel of a wedding, it’s the tiniest details that can make the largest impact. For Xaviera + Chris, it was the addition of some papel picado details that really made their wedding come together. Hugs go out to Jenny DeMarco for sharing this wedding with us!

I’m so happy I splurged on the details of the wedding. Seeing all those little details I spent hours picking out come together was AWESOME. It felt amazing to be done planning and see it all come together like one awesome puzzle. My husband and I feel like planning a wedding is a rite of passage every couple should go through. It’s an amazing feeling completing it together on your wedding day. A close tie to that moment is when we arrived in our honeymoon suite that night and, as I was helping my husband take off his boots, we realized he had torn the back of his pants seam to seam! We couldn’t stop laughing when we realized he’d been dancing so hard that night, he tore his pants! It was a great party.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress: I really enjoyed looking for my dress. I decided that I’d go looking for my dress first with my bridesmaids at Blush Bridal and then cull it down to my top three picks for my mom and sister to help make the final decision on once they came into town. The second dress I ever tried on ended up being “the one” and my Matron of Honor shouted, “That’s the one, we can stop looking!” Many dresses and stores later, she was right. That was the perfect dress for me and when my sister and mama came into town, they heartily agreed!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? No, we didn’t do a first look. My husband was not very demanding on what he wanted for the wedding but one of his only requests was that he see me for the first time as I walk down the aisle. Even though it would have been easier to do a first look, I’m so happy we waited for the big moment to see one another. It is one of the best memories of my life, and I was happy to oblige his request!

Describe your wedding flowers: My flowers were amazing. I loved them. It was a mix of light pinks, muted greys, and light or deep purples. We had lots of succulents, amaranthus, Juliet roses, and tons more!

Aside from the adorable flower girl, this photo below is tres Southern, no? The Barr Mansion’s gardens are surrounded by beautiful buildings and were a beautiful place for X + C to tie the knot.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? During our engagement, my husband and I chose a family verse that we felt would get us through good times and bad. We also want something for our children to cling to as they grow up. We ended up picking Ecclesiastes Ch. 4: 9-12 and had it read at our ceremony.

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. During the processional we chose our favorite hymnals (“Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “Jesus Paid it All,” “Come Thou Fount”) for the family and wedding party. However, my dad wanted to have input on the song that played while he walked me down the aisle. He chose “Con Te Partido” (Time to Say Goodbye). It was a beautiful, moving walk down the aisle as he was giving me over to my husband and saying goodbye as the lead guy in my life. At the end of the ceremony, as soon as we kissed, mariachi’s played La Negra, which is the traditional piece played to announce newlyweds as a nod to my Tejano heritage. The wedding party and family recessional was to traditional mariachi music which then played into the appetizers and happy hour! For our first dance, my husband chose a country music song by Keith Urban, “Making Memories of Us.” It was the first song he sent me the lyrics to over instant message years before, at work. Every time I hear it, I’m back at my desk falling in love with him all over again. For the father-daughter dance, we danced to a rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” by Willie Nelson.

The chalkboard sign below might be one of my favorite signage details that I’ve seen. Who need escort cards when everyone is family?

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The papel picado! We had it handmade in Mexico and it took months to arrive. Additionally, we loved our invitations and menus that our dear friends at Andrade Design created. They were the perfect fit for our wedding. We now have the papel picado hung in our home in gorgeous wooden frames. It is a great piece to have to remember our big day. We also loved the handmade pinata and door hangers at the reception. They really stood out!

The bridal cake was a traditional four-tiered white cake with white floral cut-outs. However, my favorite cake was the groom’s cake, named after the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars. It was a three-tiered chocolate cake with Star Wars characters and fleet cookies all over it. On top, I had the bride and groom painted on wooden dolls to look like Hans Solo and Princess Leia. Even more, we had our two dogs and cat also painted on wooden dolls as C3PO, R2D2, and Chewbacca! My husband and guests absolutely loved the cake.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met at work — I was his intern! We fell in love over instant messaging and working out together outside of the office.
Describe the proposal. We went to a Lyle Lovett concert and then he proposed on the roof top of a downtown parking garage. It was exactly like our first date five years ago — same parking spot on the top of the garage, he said exactly the same thing, except this time he had a ring!
In what month did you get married? March
How many guests attended your wedding? 150
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? My wedding was a fusion of Tejano and Country/Southern styles to pay homage to both of our backgrounds. We had a traditional Christian ceremony, with Southern Baptist hymns playing on the strings, but followed that up with mariachi music at the recessional. Our sign-in table was reclaimed wood from an old barn on my parents’ ranch. They refinished it and are making it into our kitchen table. We’ll be able to read everyone’s well-wishes every time we sit down to breakfast! And of course, my husband wore the Lucchese boots I gave him when he graduated with his MBA. No Southern wedding would be complete without boots!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Time! I own a small business and there is never enough time to get everything done. Adding a wedding on top of that becomes a challenge. I hired BZ Events to help with our coordination, look/feel of the wedding, and weekend-of management. They saved the day many times! I couldn’t have done it without them.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Hire a wedding planner. Also, if you live in a hot state, consider asking your makeup and hair vendor to stay for the reception. They can touch you up if humidity and heat wreak havoc.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are relaxing and enjoying life, going to tons of concerts, nice dinners, movies, vacations, Bible studies, and spending time with family. Generally, enjoying each other!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Megan ~ BZ events reply

    I loved planning with Xaviera + Chris! Thanks to our amazing vendor team for all of their hard work!

  2. avatar Jenny DeMarco reply

    Love this wedding and this couple. Xaviera had such incredible vision and taste and BZ pulled it off beautifully (including sourcing that amazing papel picado!)

  3. avatar Abby Daigle reply

    Congratulations Xaviera and Chris!! We loved how everything turned out, and we so enjoyed working with you! Thanks to all the vendors who made it possible!

  4. avatar Brass Tacks Events reply

    Wow! What a stunning bride! …and the groom’s cake is hilarious.

  5. avatar Xaviera Laijas Szeman reply

    I am so grateful for all the help from Jenny, Megan & the BZ Events team, Stems, Andrade Design, and our family/friends. It was an exciting time and I look at the pictures almost everday and get a big ol’ smile on my face reliving some of the ‘details” and moments. You guys are FANTASTIC! I wish you all the best!!

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  10. avatar Mama Bear reply

    Where did you order the Papel Picado from? Love them and looking for some for the wedding.

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Courtney + Chris are a couple that knows the way to my heart. Their barn reception was complete with string lights and s’mores by the fire pit. My favorite details didn’t work alone, though. The newlyweds’ reception boasted the best of Southern culture. Guests were met with cool and fruity drinks to quench their thirst, wheat sprays looked sophisticated in tall metal pails and burlap dressed the round tables outside. Good ole Southern eats and red velvet cupcakes from the dessert bar topped off the evening. We wouldn’t have had it any other way! Big thanks again to Something Pretty Fine Art Photography for sending this city-meets-country wedding our way!

See all the photos from Courtney + Chris’s wedding in their Real Wedding Gallery!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Guests were offered sweet tea and strawberry lemonade upon entering the ceremony, which was on a farm. Vintage galvanized peach buckets holding abundant baby’s breath lined the aisle and programs were housed in peach crates. Antlers served as centerpieces at the reception. Our band played bluegrass music during the ceremony and country music during the dinner and first part of the reception. Our first dance was to Randy Travis. Our paper goods had elements of burlap, and the men wore purple gingham pocket squares. The flower girls had monogrammed sashes on their dresses, and the list goes on! As a New Yorker who has always loved the South and now lives here, it was important for me to juxtapose city and country elements. I wanted to honor the setting without abandoning my roots and style. So I blended Southern influences with some unexpected city elements.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: I am a huge dessert fan and, thus, wanted an assortment of desserts rather than a cake. The amazing Hallie Janes created a lovely dessert bar with everything from red velvet cupcakes and mini fruit tartlets to Georgia pecan bites and homemade cookies. We also had s’mores down by the lake-side fire pit.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Limiting the guest count. I come from a large family and we are lucky to have so many wonderful friends, but we really wanted the wedding to be around 130 people. It was hard to draw the line.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? The moment after walking down the sun-lit aisle standing in between my father and my soon-to-be husband. Ok, that and the moment during the reception when I saw that things were getting rowdy!
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not write our own vows but we were able to create the wedding ceremony wording. Our favorite part is as follows, as it celebrates the shared past we had, and how much it molded us: “You are all especially welcome here because you form a circle of love. Courtney and Christopher are who they are, in part, because they have known all of you. The loved ones in this circle have shared concerns, have shared both agreement and disagreement, have shared tears and laughter. Through that sharing, Courtney and Chris have become more as persons, as have you. You are not spectators today. You are all a part of their past.”
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Take everyone up on offers to help – and ask if you fall short on offers. And if you work, take a full week off before the wedding as countless things crop up. I really regret not doing that.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We both feel so blessed to have found one another again and are happily enjoying life in Atlanta. We are looking forward to growing our family that already includes Chris’ amazing 7-year-old son.

Photographer: Something Pretty Fine Art Photography // Videographer: Scott Felsen of Golden Weddings // Planner: No Regrets Events // Venue: Private Barn in Greensboro, GA // Florist: Le Petit Jardin // Caterer: Hallie Janes // Rentals, Linens, Lighting: Hallie Janes // Paper Products: Stationary by Tickled Ink, Burlap Invite Backers from The Blue Envelope, Personalized Items from KaydenAshley on Etsy // Bride’s Dress: Carolina Herrera // Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil: Veil custom made by Ruby V // Bride’s Shoes: Miu Miu from Bergdorf Goodman // Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Haute Hippie

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Deana reply

    On Rustic Lakeside Wedding from Something Pretty Part II– is there any way to find out where that barn is besides “private barn in Greensboro GA” because I live in GA & is the picture perfect venue I want– I saw the picture of the barn with the tables and string lights (afternoon picture a few down from the picture of the pink drinks) and fell in love with it. I really want my wedding there and if there was any way to find out that’d be amazing. That way I don’t have to go search all of Greensboro GA to find it :)

    Thanks so much! :)

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