I was a free spirited Texan through and through when I met Samuel, who was down in Texas from Missouri for college. All he needed was a week-long summer camp and a soccer field to catch my young eye.
After a four-and-a-half year romance that included a proposal in Naples, Italy, as well as a bit of heartache and some time apart, Sam made his way back into my life last summer with a solitary agenda — to marry me. Armed with unrelenting resolve, one beautifully written original love song, and several months’ time, Sam met success. The date and terms were set quickly.
We had two months and less than $5000 to plan a wedding for 250 guests. Most importantly, the wedding had to be sweet and exciting — just like our love story! We needed to create a simple yet vibrant wedding that was all our own. Trees and sunsets do something special to our hearts, so we were certain of one thing — an outdoor ceremony. Our dear friends opened their woodsy backyard to us. It was the perfect venue for our special day. Having our wedding somewhere that already held meaning was one of the best decisions we made.
The bridesmaids chose their own gray dresses, while the groomsmen were outfitted in clean-cut gray and white. The neutral palette created the perfect backdrop for stunning orange and red flowers. The bouquets and boutonnieres were all handmade from cotton and silk fabric. It took several laughter-filled late nights with the girls of the family to complete them.
My dainty wedding bands were ordered from June Designs and Nadine Jewelry. But the most precious things I wore were my grandmother’s light blue lace wedding gloves from 58 years ago. She and my grandfather are still married and have learned to love well. It was special to wear something that symbolizes such a legacy.
Since I’m a visual artist and Sam is a singer-songwriter, there was no question that personalized art and music would be an integral part of our big day. I designed a fresh watercolor invitation portrait of us from a photo taken on one of our dates. This set the tone for a fun yet reflective celebration.
The day before the wedding was our big set up. Sam’s first guitar was perched on the welcome table for guests to sign. Freshly picked flowers and carnations were stuffed into vintage and thrifted vases scattered around the ceremony and reception site. My mom and I spent several hours covering scores of mason jars in colorful tissue paper. Tiny candles were dropped inside and the jars were hung with string to provide a twinkling atmosphere. The groomsmen spent the day stringing up lights over the grassy ceremony site. I hand-painted wooden signs to guide guests around the venue.
On the big day, Sam and I spent the morning handwriting our vows. Having his brother-in-law officiate gave the wedding a deeply personal touch and allowed for some hilariously candid stories. Sam sang his original love song to melt my heart (and everyone else’s) directly before my dad walked me down the aisle. His talented musician friends formed a jazz trio, setting a soft mood for the rest of the ceremony. We chose to forego a unity candle and painted together instead. Most everyone thought I was a bit crazy for painting in my wedding gown, but what a wonderful memory it made!
We kept the reception simple with dessert, dancing, and crazy fun props for our little photobooth. Our colorful candy bar quickly became the food focal point. I hand-stamped and lettered labels to identify all the candy options. A popcorn machine and vintage dresser stuffed with peanuts gave the guests something salty to nibble on. The super cute retro popcorn bags were from Hey YoYo. The tiered red velvet and chocolate wedding cakes made by our friend, Dianne Cagle. It was her first wedding project and proved to be as delicious as they were beautiful. After consuming more cake than necessary, we all crammed onto the makeshift dance floor and danced the night away.
Whirlwind planning and countless helping hands transformed a normal day in September into a memorable celebration of what has been and what is to come. As the dreamy evening came to a close, our friends and family lined the footbridge to usher us into the night amid dancing sparklers and smiling faces.