Our photos are in and they are INCREDIBLE. It could be that I’m biased because it was my own wedding and I get teary every time I look through them, and also perhaps that I just adore our photographers and consider them dear friends. It also could have to do with the fact that our wedding day was the very best day of my life, the day in which I felt the most loved.
Starting from the beginning, here’s how it all happened:
On Saturday night we had a little rehearsal in the park and then our family and friends joined us for a casual dinner at Hog Haus, a local brew pub and restaurant. We drank delicious, house-made beers, enjoyed good conversation, and then ended the night with a celebratory gin and tonic and a round of pool at a favorite tavern. Most of our guests stayed at the same hotel my parents and I stayed in the night before the wedding, and so when we woke up at 6:30 a.m. the next morning I ate oatmeal with some dear old friends and greeted that special day with so much love. The wedding party and tons of family friends met us at the Pratt Place Barn to start decorating at 7:30 a.m., and this truly was one of my favorite parts of the day. My parents’ friends, members of my church family, my best girlfriends and their boys all pitched in to unload trailers full of DIY’d goodies and family heirlooms my parents hauled from home, chairs and plates and tablecloths from the rental companies…it was one of the greatest exercises in teamwork I’ve ever seen. And everyone’s willingness to help and sacrifice of their time and energies was incredibly special.
From the beginning of the wedding planning process, Andrew and I have always wanted our day to be about community. First and foremost, we wanted to celebrate our love and, of course, get married, but we wanted to credit our loved ones with the place they have had in our lives and to honor their love for us. The morning of the wedding was all of that and more, thanks to the great effort of family and friends. And it was fun.
Nearly everything we used to decorate the barn — our reception area — was a family heirloom, and what didn’t come from the attics of family members came from the many thrifting trips made over the course of our year-long engagement. Everything was hand-selected to match our aesthetic, which I ended up dubbing whimsical-vintage-countryside-casual, or something like that. We collected old books, mismatched brass candle sticks, mason jars, doilies, eclectic pastel-print calico, burlap, old photographs, floral-print china, and so much more. In the first moments of this wedding’s inception it all seemed very original, but as I continued planning and scouring wedding websites, I saw so many other events that were based around the same idea as ours. But what made ours so special was the history involved — everything told a story. Our special day was a very physical labor of love, from the hand-stitched bunting to the family quilts to the scavenged wood signpost. Everything present was touched by someone we loved.
Above: A photo wall displayed our past and our present, with family wedding photos and baby photos to boot. The head tables were draped with DIY burlap runners, homemade calico napkins, and floral plates collected from all over.
Above: This is the saddle my paternal grandfather made for my birthday one year. It’s small enough to fit an eight-year-old me and my paint pony, Shorty. We put it out in front of the barn with some potted plants from my mama’s garden and a hand-painted welcome sign.
Above: This is our cookie bar with sweet favors for our guests, with a quilt made by our family friend Lise in the background and my best friend’s Nanny’s borrowed tablecloth on the table. The sweets all held special significance for us: I made batches and batches of my Grandma Rosie’s nightie-night cookies; my grandma made batches and batches of my grandpa’s famous peanut butter fudge; our friend Christa made several dozen sugar cookies from a Van Genderen family recipe; and cousins from Montana with their own caramel company, Good Karmal, made customized caramels just for us. (You’d better believe they were gone in an instant!) Our programs are to the right, made at home with friends and family around the kitchen table.
Above: A talented family friend, Karen, made our red velvet cake, and a vintage book about marriage served as our ring-bearing vessel. It also showed up in our engagement shoot.
My mama and I left the barn around 10:30 to start getting ready, even though she never actually sat down until an hour or two later. My bridesmaids joined me while we were getting our hair done, and we all applied our makeup together in front of a wall of mirrors while drinking pink champagne from grey-striped straws.
They all got dressed — and looked so perfect in the dresses of their choosing! — and amidst giggles and tears they helped me to put on my dress. It was a magical moment. I finally felt like I was supposed to be getting married, that I owned the dress and that this day was my own.
My dress was the “Vanessa” style by Wtoo, purchased at Low’s Bridal in Brinkley, Ark. last summer. What an exciting trip that was, made with my mama and my childhood friend Makayla. My something old was from a little local vintage shop — two gold straight pins for my hair, with flowers made from pearls at the top. My somethings new were my dress and veil, and my something borrowed was the gold and pearl flower brooch I wore to cinch the ribbon at my waist, a token from my Grandma Rosie’s jewelry box. My something blue was pale toenail polish, inspired by Mille on her wedding day. Here are some of the bridal portraits I took in April with Bettencourt-Chase Photography.
With the help of my girls and after a hug from my sweet mama, I made my way up the steps of the Pratt Place Inn and, with my skirt hiked up around my legs, tiptoed to the grove of trees where Andrew was waiting for me. I was incredibly excited to show Andrew my dress for the first time — we were going to have our “first look” and do photos with the wedding party and families before the ceremony.
He loved my dress. He looked so handsome and happy. I gave him a hankerchief I made from a vintage tablecloth. He wore it as a pocket square and keeps it in his closet now.
After that, it was all a blur. Wedding party photos, family photos, seeing the decorated barn for the first time, watching our guests arrive in droves, and waiting with baited breath for our wedding to begin. The day was sunny and breezy and perfect.
Above: My handsome groom and some of his groomsmen. They wore grey slacks and vests, white oxfords, black shoes, and light blue striped cotton ties made by a local Fayetteville designer. Andrew’s chambray tie was from bowtieandcotton on Etsy. Andrew’s little brother was a ringbearer, and wore a bowtie that matched Andrew’s straight tie. I convinced my daddy to wear a bowtie (truthfully, he didn’t need much convincing) and it also came from bowtieandcotton.
Above: Our dear friends and family made up our wedding party. My girls picked out their own blush-colored dresses, and wore nude shoes of their choosing. I was initially a little nervous about leaving the dresses up to them (only because I’m a little bit of a control freak), but I trusted their collective good style and was not disappointed. Look how well those sweet girls matched with my blush peony bouquet! Unfortunately, one of my best friends growing up, Amelia, was supposed to be a bridesmaid but couldn’t make the trip from California to Arkansas because of a serious head injury. She is safe and healthy now, though, which is all that matters to me.
With everyone we loved there with us, nothing that went wrong could dampen my happiness. I was calm and incredibly happy.
And emotional, of course. Here is my precious dad and me, both trying our hardest to be brave. We did just fine, thanks to a certain joke-cake and the fact that the aisle was mercifully short. I’ve been so blessed with handsome, kind, and funny fellows in my life, and he is certainly one of my most favorite.
Our ceremony was beautiful and personal, thanks altogether to our pastor and friend, Mike. He’s known us both through our college careers, and guided us through pre-marital advice during our engagement. He read Scripture to us in a way that has continued to challenge us every day to choose to love one another, and to love one another with the gracious, giving love of Christ. He made us laugh, he made me tear up, and he was such an important part of our day — he married us, didn’t he?!
My dear friend Rona also read a special poem aloud during the ceremony — e.e. cummings’s “somewhere i have never travelled.” It has special significance to our love story, and was made all the more special by her reading. She came all the way from Korea to be there for us.
After the pronouncement of man and wife, we had a little alone time together before starting the reception with dinner, cake, dancing, and much merriment. Andrew and I danced to “Our Love is Here to Stay,” a duet with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, while my dad and I danced to “The Wedding Samba” by Edmundo Ros and his orchestra — and had a great time with it. The evening was all a blast and went by entirely too fast before we were out the door and on our way to the honeymoon, guided by the light of dwindling sparklers and a just-eclipsed moon. The day was exhilarating and almost too perfect for words.
And the day was incredibly photographed. I have a million more pictures I wish I could share but I certainly don’t want to overwhelm you all…unless, of course, you want more photos. Just give the word and I’ll be happy to oblige. It is a day I am happy to relive over and over again.
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Venue: Pratt Place Barn, Fayetteville, AR
Photography: Bettencourt-Chase Photography; videography, Chad Harcourt
Catering: The Event Group
Ceremony music: Su Hong and Austin Brown
DIY: decor, music, signage, invitations and programs
Dress: Wtoo “Vanessa” from Low’s Bridal; veil, custom