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Laura and Jonathan’s Texas wedding is absolutely lovely, as you’ll see below, but what’s most inspiring about this couple is how much they prioritized what matters most during their three-month (yes, only three!) engagement. They left most of the details in the hands of Chrissie Stuntz and Branching Out Floral and Event Design, and spent their time as an engaged couple focusing on preparing for their marriage. Laura described their celebration as “casual and comfortable and good for the soul,” and from the looks of it, that is exactly what they achieved!

Thanks so much to Stephanie Brazzle for sharing this sweet day with us!

Describe your wedding flowers. Oh gosh, to be honest, I don’t have a clue what a single flower in there was called. All I know is that they were stunning! Debby Jewesson brought my dreams to life–beautiful greens and whites in a beautifully imperfect, but still elegant, combination. I remember explaining the vision for our wedding to her as “casual and comfortable and good for the soul.” She brought that to life in the best way.

Planning for our marriage was absolutely the priority for Jon and me. We prayed for our marriage–a lot. We worked hard to make sure the actual wedding took a backseat to our relationship. We read books that older, wiser couples recommended to us. We went to professional premarital counseling and had the opportunity to talk through our communication and conflict styles, our expectations, and other difficult topics, such as budgeting and families. We really recommend it!

Our vows were a hybrid of the traditional wedding vows and vows written by a pastor at Living Hope Church in College Station, Texas. I really love every line, but I will share just a few here! From Jonathan’s, “By God’s grace, I will love you and lead us towards Christ. I will provide for you, pursue you, and keep you safe.” From mine, “I will encourage you, support you, and in all things, fight to put your needs before my own.” From both, “I will never leave you, because God commands me, and because I love you.”

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I love trees and Jonathan loves anything outside, so I immediately started looking for a giant, majestic tree to host our ceremony in front of. I didn’t realize that most of the trees that serve as wedding venues are located a bit outside the city. After a LOT of searching, we found the Cooper Hotel and Fitness Center right in the middle of Dallas. We were able to have the ceremony and the reception outdoors at Cooper, so it was the perfect choice for us.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The food! Blue Bell ice cream, brisket, quesadillas, and cornbread. There is nothing like Southern cooking, and we enjoyed sharing these traditions with Jonathan’s family, who came from all over the country. Also, the fact that we had an outdoor wedding in late October was quite Southern–you can’t do that in the North!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Sitting down at dinner next to Jonathan and looking around to see everyone he loves and everyone I love together in one place, eating and laughing and enjoying the evening. These are the people who will stand by us through every hard thing, whose relationships we cherish, and in that moment, we were able to look around and remember “Every person here is a gift to us. We are thankful.” I will never forget that!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. I met Jonathan in India during our intern year at International Justice Mission, an NGO that protects the poor from violent injustice. We had both just graduated from college and moved across the planet to begin this work that meant so much to us, and we were initially a bit annoyed to find a really incredible, relatable, and distracting member of the opposite sex working in the department next door. We hesitated to begin a relationship for a lot of reasons, but after several months, Jonathan asked me to dinner at the nicest restaurant he could find. We fell in love over French-pressed coffee and chicken tikka masala, while driving his scooter through the streets of a city so dear to us, and constantly learning something new about our good and gracious God.
Tell us all about the proposal! Jonathan COMPLETELY surprised me, which is impressive because I was on high alert! Back in the States, I flew home from meeting his family in Milwaukee. We had a tearful goodbye, and I had no idea that he was totally faking it and jumping on the next plane to follow me to Dallas! I was walking through the Arboretum with my best friend Kellie, when there he was, this incredible man, asking me to be his wife. I said YES!
When did y’all get married? October 25, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 170
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our timeline! We wanted a three-month engagement, so we didn’t have the luxury of shopping around. Fortunately, we had Chrissie Stuntz (the greatest wedding planner of all time) to lead the way–she knew everyone and everything, and with her connections, we were able to make bookings very quickly!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We used a LOT of greenery, which was far more affordable than flowers and just as beautiful. We lined all our own envelopes and e-mailed out our save the dates. Cooper Hotel let us bring in our own alcohol, so we bought all the wine and beer at Costco. We also used Uber for our getaway car, which I highly recommend!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Make a list of things that you and your fiancé really, deeply care about including in your wedding. Stick to those priorities regardless of what challenges them. Take a deep breath and LET GO of everything else. Two other random suggestions: 1. Take an AdvilPM the night before your wedding so that you actually sleep, and 2. Give a bridesmaid the specific job of looking you in the eye about every hour or so and saying something like “Stop. Look around. Remember and give thanks for this moment.” I wish I had remembered better to stop and be so grateful for the incredible people surrounding me all day, and for all they were doing for Jon and me.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Jonathan and I are enjoying the cozy apartment life in our completely new city of Madison, Wisconsin (brrrrr!). We start law school (Jon) and graduate school for social work (me) in the fall. We loved living in India and are certainly open to moving back, but until then, we are learning how to be married and enjoying the American life–cheeseburgers, coffee shops, and baseball games included. :)

Photographer: Stephanie Brazzle / Planner: Chrissie Stuntz / Venue and Catering: Cooper Hotel and Conference Center / Florist: Branching Out Floral and Event Design / Cake Baker: Romano’s Bakery / Rentals and Lighting: Taylor’s Rental Equipment Co. / Band: Inside Out / Special Details: Destiny Foundation / Paper Products: Minted / Bridal Salon: Bridal Boutique of Lewisville and Olivia Caballero / Hair and Makeup: La Bichette / Bride’s Shoes: Vans / Bridesmaids’ Dresses and Groom’s Attire: J.Crew / Groomsmen Attire: J.Crew and Banana Republic

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Lee reply

    I love how you incorporated your Kappa pin! I am also a Kappa and have been trying to find a way to “wear” mine and my sisters’ pins as part of my something blue or something borrowed. This is a beautiful wedding!

  2. avatar Martha reply

    Such a great wedding story. Loved reading it! Any chance we could get the details on the designer and style of that gorgeous dress?? I absolutely LOVE it!

  3. avatar Featured: Southern Weddings » Dallas Wedding Photographers – Stephanie Brazzle reply

    […] If you missed out check out Laura and Jon outdoor wedding on Southern Weddings […]

  4. avatar Marisol Arguello reply

    Beautiful pictures and Beautiful wedding.

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Danielle and Richard wanted their wedding to feel like they were throwing it in their dream fancy backyard, and when it came time to choosing a location for their pending nuptials, New Orleans turned out to be the perfect place! It’s a city they both love, and to Danielle and Richard, it symbolizes “warmth, festivity, and fun”–all fabulous attributes of a Southern wedding, y’all! After checking out 10 venues in 36 hours (woah!), they said an “instantaneous and unanimous” yes to The Terrell House. Of course, when you top off a beautiful ceremony with a surprise second line, it’s a given that your celebration was a blast!

Big hugs to Blue Ribbon Vendor, Maile Lani, for sharing!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had an image in my head of the style of dress that I wanted and did a lot of research online to try and find it. I came across a boutique in Soho called Saja that seemed to have the type of soft, unstructured, simple, yet elegant dresses that I liked. My sister and I went together, and the very first dress I tried on, I loved. I tried on a few more there, and then a few at BHLDN, but soon, I went back to Saja with my mom. When I put that first dress back on, there was no question. I love my dress and I love that I didn’t stress about it.

We did do a first look. We wanted to take all our formal pictures before the ceremony so that our guests wouldn’t have to wait for us (and so we wouldn’t miss any of the party). I was really worried that the first look and our portraits would be awkward., but somehow, our photographer, Maile, made them not LOOK awkward. We were laughing and goofing around the whole time, so it ended up being really enjoyable.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Our first step was choosing New Orleans. We knew we didn’t want to get married in NYC or where either of us grew up (Boston and El Paso). New Orleans is a city that we both love and have visited frequently. It’s also a place that symbolizes warmth, festivity, and fun. On a short trip there, we checked out 10 venues in 36 hours, but our love for The Terrell House was instantaneous and unanimous. We wanted to get married somewhere that would feel like we were throwing a ceremony in our backyard (albeit a backyard nicer than one we’ll ever own!). Since we were going to have to plan everything from afar, it also helped that they do the planning, decorating, and catering themselves.

Describe your wedding flowers. Our flowers were all shades of pink with silver and turquoise accents. We wanted a unstructured, mismatched look with different shaped and sized vases, and no two bouquets looking exactly the same.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? It’s just one day and it goes by so fast. Enjoy the planning, because if you are not having fun, it’s not worth it. When decisions come up, make them and move on. There is no right answer, so stressing over the decisions will only make you miserable. Your guests will not judge you on the details (and if they do, they are missing the point), and when you are actually living in the moment, even the things that didn’t turn out perfectly will become endearing. A lot of my guests commented on how relaxed I was as a bride, and I really was. All I saw around me were my friends and family from all around the WORLD, and Rick’s smiling face. It was such a happy day and I’m so appreciative that the whole process leading up to it was an adventure, rather than something stressful.

We don’t feel particularly drawn to multi-tiered, white wedding cakes, and find that guests don’t often eat them, but Rick LOVES cake. We decided to go with the New Orleans theme and get three doberge cakes in three different flavors. They were a big hit!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Walking the second line, I was already having so much fun, but at one point, I remembered to turn around and look at my guests. We hadn’t told anyone about the second line, so it was a huge surprise. Seeing their gaping mouths and the thrill in their eyes as we danced through the street, chaperoned by the police, with revelers from the neighborhood coming out of their homes to wave at us…it was the most special moment of my day.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Rick and I are both television producers and we met when working on an MTV show. The first place we traveled together was Ohio State, and as we interviewed kids about their personal lives, a spark quickly grew between us. Once we returned home to NYC, we started dating, and it made the rest of our work travel a whole lot more fun. Almost exactly three years later, we were married.
Tell us all about the proposal! We had been talking about our future for a while and knew we wanted to make that commitment, but then I got a job working on a show where I would have to live in Chattanooga, Tennessee for three weeks a month for five months, so we put our plans on the back burner for a little while. Since both of us travel for work, we try to take advantage and visit each other when one of us is out of town at an interesting location. Rick came to visit me for a few days and we got to explore the city. One day, we went to a rock climbing haven at a golf course, and at one point, when we were resting on the top of a boulder, Rick proposed to me with my great-grandmother’s ring that he had gotten from my mother. It certainly wasn’t where I had expected to get engaged (I was wearing sweatpants and no make up!), but there was romance to the randomness of it. It symbolizes to me that no matter where life takes us, we can find a way to make any place we land special.
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 85
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? My 86-year-old grandmother traveled from Toronto to New Orleans–a very long trip. It was important to me to honor her by having her read at our ceremony, so she read “Blessing for Marriage” by James Dillet Freeman.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Having the love and laughter from our friends and family all around us. When all is said and done, that is 100 percent what we remember most.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into?
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? The Terrell House has a deal with a liquor distributor, so we were able to order bottles at wholesale cost and then return the unopened bottles. Our liquor costs were way lower than any quotes we received from caterers. Also, I taught myself photoshop so that all the programs, welcome letters, etc., were handmade.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We just returned from our honeymoon–a safari in Tanzania, Africa–and now, it’s time to enjoy our lives together. I would be lying if I said we haven’t both talked about being sad that our wedding is all over, but it’s nice to have the time together where we don’t feel like there is something we have to plan.

Photographer: Maile Lani / Venue, Flowers, and Caterer: The Terrell House / Cake Baker: Debbie Does Doberge / Band: 504eva Band / Bride’s Gown: “HB6633” by Saja / Hair and Makeup: Kiss and Make Up / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Groom’s Attire: Loro Piana

Maile Lani is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Charleston Wedding Videographer reply

    Absolutely love browsing through the photos of this wedding! Gorgeous greenery, floral arrangements and New Orleans theme. Simply stunning.

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When a couple with a passion for organic farming ties the knot, you just know their wedding is going to be full of homegrown goodness. Josie and Shawn used plenty of local, seasonal foods and flowers at their wedding, but they also took the cozy feeling of home one step further–their venue was a farm where they, and many of their guests, had attended grade school functions over the years. The sentimental location was a natural choice, and the fact that it was a farm was a perfect fit for Josie and Shawn!

Thanks so much to Ashley Relvas for sharing this sweet day with us!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes. We had a Quaker ceremony and we entered together. Since we both work outside and have been farmers for a long time, we don’t get dressed up very often. We thought it would be fun for everyone to see the whole look all at once as a surprise! We were so glad we did it–it was exciting!

We knew we wanted to be married outside on a farm. Quailhill Farm is very special, as it has always been a part of our school community. Elizabeth and Peter were extremely generous in inviting us to have our wedding there! Elizabeth is the librarian at the school we grew up attending together, and their daughters went to school with us. Fun school-related events were often held at their farm, so it was a special place for a lot of people who attended our wedding.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, and one of our favorite phrases was, “I will accept you for exactly who you are.” We have practiced this in our six years of dating and will continue to through our marriage. We will work to accept and support each other even as we change over time.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our wedding was all Maryland (yes, Maryland is technically the South)–the food and flowers were all grown, arranged, and prepared in Maryland! We were married on a working farm surrounded by mostly Marylanders, plus the occasional North Carolinian.

Our wedding flowers were gorgeous! Our friend Jackie from De La Tierra Gardens in Carroll County, Maryland grew and arranged them for us. We knew we wanted lots of texture, whites, greens, and little pops of color. She really blew us away. She used a beautiful mix of whites and greens with poppy pods, dusty miller, hydrangea, peonies, and so many other beautiful and seasonal flowers. They really made the tables special. Her dad even made the cedar boxes that the table arrangements were in!

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We made all the favors, place cards, signs, and other details for the day. We used hay bales that the farm already had for ceremony seating–we just had to help get them out of the barn and set them up! We decorated the ceremony with flowers in cheap metal bins from the hardware store and the caterer was able to provide cushions for the bales for a really low price per cushion. We only served beer and wine, and we were able to get a discount on both since we were working directly with the brewery and winery. Lastly, the dancing was going to go on for longer than the caterer was supposed to stay, so we had them put the beer and wine in a cooler and pack up on time so we didn’t get charged overtime for their staff! It worked out really well!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in middle school when we were 11 years old. We were good friends for all those years and went to separate colleges, but kept in touch on holidays back home in Maryland. After college, just before Shawn went into the Peace Corps (two and a half years in Morocco!), we started seeing a lot more of each other. We wrote a few letters back and forth the first year he was gone, and during the second year, we picked up the pace. I went to visit him for two weeks in May 2008 and we’ve been together ever since. Throughout our long-distance first year together, we sent a journal back and forth that we called “The Book,” where we wrote journal entries, letters, drew pictures, made collages, added photos and stickers–it was such a great way to stay close through all that time apart. When he returned, we apprenticed on a couple of organic farms together (spending as much time together as possible!) and we’ve both been in agriculture and farm education since then.
Tell us all about the proposal! We had recently moved and had been hoping for months to go on a camping trip. We finally got a date on the calendar to go for a hike in the mountains a few hours north. As we approached the peak, Shawn kept checking the map to make sure we were in the right place–which should have been a clue, since we usually just go with the flow! I kept saying, “I’m sure we’ll find it, we’ll just keep going up!” When we made it to the view he had in mind, we stood close to each other, side by side, just taking it in. He put his arm around me, held out the ring, and said, “What do you say we get married?” I saw the ring and my mind started racing–it was my grandmother’s engagement ring! How did he have it? When did he get it? That meant my parents knew! With my hands over my mouth, I looked up at him and said “WHAT??” He chuckled and went on to say so many nice things about me and us and how amazing it would be to get married after five years of dating and almost 20 years of friendship. We hugged, cried a little, jumped up and down, and I eventually remembered to actually SAY yes. After we bounced down the mountain on our way to celebrate, we signed out of the log book with the time and “We’re engaged!!”
When did y’all get married? June 14, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 150
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I knew the neckline and waistline I was looking for and found something affordable on Etsy! I had it fitted shortly after receiving it and I loved it!
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? During a Quaker ceremony, there is a period of silence after the couple says their promises where guests can share messages. We asked our mothers to end the ceremony with a reading or message that they wanted to share. They were both so special and meaningful, and they both quoted Wendell Berry (one of our favorite authors)!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our first dance was to Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am.” Not only does this song speak to the part of our promises I mentioned before, but we also passed this song back and forth while Shawn was in Morocco, so it is a little bit nostalgic for us.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had pies made with seasonal fruits, strawberry rhubarb and blueberry crumb. There was also a chocolate pie for folks who don’t love fruit pies. They were delicious!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It was a beautiful day with a bright blue sky and a cool breeze. The most memorable moment of this perfect day was sitting down after we finished exchanging promises and rings during the ceremony, and we looked around to see all our friends and family surrounding us. It was so exciting and comforting to have everyone there.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We recently moved to Brooklyn and both have jobs working with urban farms and gardens. We are looking forward to settling into our new lives here, but we miss our family down South!

Photographer: Ashley Relvas Photography / Venue: Quailhill Farm / Florist: De La Tierra Gardens / Catering and Pies: Ridgewells / Rentals and Lighting: ABC Party and Tent Rental / DJ: Josh Rhett of My Deejay / Invitations: Paperless Post / Bride’s Shoes: Modcloth / Groom’s Attire: J. Crew

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Emily reply

    LOVE their Quaker marriage certificate! We had one at our wedding and it’s my favorite!

  2. avatar Ashley Relvas reply

    Thank you ladies so much for the beautiful feature!!

  3. avatar Mandy Volpe reply

    Love the chicken as a part of the wedding pictures! Love their take on the wedding vows “as you are” is a beautiful reminder of the change that happens in a marriage!

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