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Category: Real Bride Stories

  1. A beautifully eclectic event with this Texan, French and Vietnamese wedding, with a little bit of Moroccan added!

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    Melanie and Daniel skinny wedding beltmelanie and daniel steven ruud photography

    You can't get more of a mix than with the amazing wedding of Melanie and Daniel. In this blog, Melanie shares with us her story from the very beginnings and the key highlights of their beautiful wedding day. 

    "We met online via a dating website in 2013. That was my first time trying out online dating and I think I got lucky because my husband was the 2nd guy I met in person via the website. I am French Vietnamese and he is Texan. I was attracted to him right away but for him it took a little bit longer for him to call me back for another date. Love and attraction is very interesting in a sense that everyone moves along at their own pace and I really have the feeling that it took some time before we started being on the same wavelength. But once we got there, we were hooked to each other. He is passionate about photography, landscape and nature in particular and that was one of the main feature I loved about him. Also, I didn’t really care to take pictures of myself for the longest time, and as we were dating, he managed to make me feel beautiful in pictures as he would snap random ones every so often. He taught me how to camp, and get that adventurous side of me out which I always wanted to." 

    As with many couples (mine included!!), proposals don't always go to plan, and for Daniel a little bit of improvisation was required. Melanie recounts: "During the New Year holiday in 2015, we went to Colorado Springs, CO and he was hoping to propose at the top of Pikes Peak as we had planned on taking a train ride to the top of the mountain. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating with his plan and the train ride could not take us to the very top, but only midway. Therefore, he had to find another idea and he was quite bumped about it. On December 31st, 2015, we drove to the Gardens of the Gods (a public park in Colorado Springs) which faces Pikes Peak, to see the glorious fireworks display from the summit to usher in the New Year. We went a couple of hours early to make sure we would get a good parking spot. We were in the car, it was freezing cold and he proposed then… completely warmed up my heart and I of course said “Yes”! This made the firework celebration even more amazing for us!" 

    parvina vida dress steven ruud photographyThe couple wanted their wedding to represent them together, by combining elements that show who they are individually. Daniel loves mountains, so getting a hilly landscape was a good compromise. They chose to get married in a lovely town called Wimberley, in the Texas Hill Country. Both wanted the wedding to have a rustic feel and be close to nature, but also incorporate French gastronomy and Vietnamese culture. "We wanted the ceremony to occur under a big oak tree because a tree represents life, the idea of growing old together, and overcoming obstacles. We came across the perfect venue called “Rustic Ranch” which had all the elements we were looking for. Therefore we had the ceremony outdoor and the reception mostly indoor with a saloon and dance hall. The history of the venue itself was quite attractive to us as well: the owner, Kevin Fowler (famous country singer), picked out each of the buildings (Bridal house, Groom’s house, Reception building, …) and had them shipped to his land from everywhere in the US and to make it a wedding venue. These buildings include for example an 1800s log cabin and a 1900s farm house."

    melanie bouquet Jones Florals -minMelanie explains how the venue and wedding elements came together: "The venue itself already came with a lot of greeneries for the nature side of it, and the ranch for the country side of it, which both represent my husband quite well. We added my French touch with French wine, cheese platters with French baguettes for the cocktail hour and of course French “macarons” for dessert. We had displayed three of our favourite engagement pictures that where taken in Paris with the Eiffel Tower and at Versailles."

    The wedding colour scheme was a combination of red (main colour), light pink and white, which is beautifully summed up in the bouquet by Jones Florals, and continues across the wedding theme. The couple, in line with Vietnamese traditions, had a change of outfit after dinner - swapping the traditional white dress and tuxedo to traditional Vietnamese wedding outfits, bright red for the bride. In Vietnamese beliefs, the red colour is meant to bring luck to the young couple. Melanie continues: "We also picked that colour along with light pink because they represent the colour of LOVE. White was used to create a mood of peace and comfort for the two families and friends getting together for our marriage. This was used also for the ceremony decor." 

    traditional vietnamese wedding outfit steven ruud photography traditional vietnamese wedding dress steven ruud photography

    To add more to the uniqueness of their wedding, the couple had Moroccan souk food for dinner. With the other elements of their backgrounds already in the venue and other wedding aspects, Melanie explains: "We didn’t wanted to do Texas Barbecue or Vietnamese / Asian food and I knew The Flying Carpet restaurant (they are family friends) in Austin, TX. The caterers are husband and wife, the husband is French Moroccan and his wife is American Mexican. I have always loved Moroccan food and had my husband try it one night and he was hooked right away. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the dinner at the wedding, and it made it eclectic and unique."

    When asked about the most memorable moments of the day, Melanie responds: "The best part of our big day for me was to finally walk down the aisle with my dad, seeing everyone that came for us, all the familiar faces and my future husband with tears in his eyes as he sees me coming." 

    There were some funny moments too, notably: "For our ceremony, we had a French translator (who was my cousin), and for the last part of the ceremony speech, where the celebrant says “you may seal your vows with a kiss”, the translator may have been distracted as he remained silent for a while while us, bride and groom, were just waiting for him to translate because we eager to finally get to kiss. We both turned and looked over to him and he finally realised it was his time to speak! It made us and the entire guest crowd laugh to end the ceremony and it was great!"

    And of course, being a wedding, there were bound to be romantic moments. "Our first dance… neither I nor him can dance. We took dance classes - 12 classes in 2 weeks prior to the wedding! We think it surprised everyone when we started our choreography and we got a lot of cheering and screams from the guests. Our choreography was based on rumba steps included 4 figures and a dip at the end with a kiss on James Arthur’s song, “Say you won’t let go”. We may never do this again, who knows, but it will be a great memory forever." 

    Did everything go as planned on the day? The weather nearly got in the way, which can be a bit stressful for everyone planning an outdoor wedding. Our bride recalls: "The forecast predicted 90% chance of rain all week for that Sunday afternoon. I was really upset about it because the main reason for choosing the venue was for the outdoor ceremony under the big old oak tree. On the day of the wedding, my wedding coordinator asked if I wanted to setup the ceremony indoors, because of the forecasts. Looking at the sky, it didn’t look bad so I said no, and told them to keep base plan as is and setup the ceremony outside. My wedding coordinator agreed and kept plan B in her back pocket just in case. At the end, it didn’t rain at all during the ceremony! We had the sun and a little breeze to cool off from the Texas spring heat, and it was beautiful. We were so pleased. Rain came a few hours later at dinner time during the reception while everyone was inside already. We are very thankful for the weather we had that day."

    glenlivet 18 steven ruud photography"Everything did not go as I planned, but everything that happened did go as we imagined! Time did not allow to do everything that I had on our schedule but my wedding planner did a great job at coordinating everything and following the timeline as much as possible. I believe we got 90% of the timeline completed. For example, we skipped getting couple pictures done prior to the ceremony, what they called “no look” behind a door, and we have no regrets about those. Another example, during our first dance, we did not start in the correct orientation to end the dance facing our guests for the dip (and it was my fault!), but my husband managed to improvise at the end and get us in the correct orientation for the important dip and the pictures! Everyone had tons of fun during the wedding, especially with the photobooth by the Classic Photo Booth Co., which had a lot of success. We would recommend it to anyone throwing a party." 

    Photography socks steven ruud photographyorigami wedding steven ruud photography

    And finally, Melanie shares with us her advice to brides-to-be and couples planning their wedding:

    - Make sure you look at what the venue already has to offer as far as decor and ambiance. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with ideas with website such as Pinterest and wedding websites and wanting to do more than is required.

    - Ask your family and friends to help out with DIY. We saved quite a bit of money by doing that, and our family and friends did an amazing job for us on the wedding day to help us set up and decorate.

    - Take dancing classes if, like us, you don’t feel confident about your dancing skills. It was a great experience for us to meet a dancing instructor and to learn so quickly!

    - Talk with your wedding planner/coordinator with regards to timeline and confirm which event you would be really upset about if they do not occur, and which one you are ok to let go if time doesn’t allow it.

    - Have a plan B in case of rain.

    - Have a realistic budget and try to stick to it as much as possible.

    - Check out Etsy for hand made items that are unique and special! You can usually find a better deal than going to the mall or wedding stores.

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    Thank you to Melanie and Daniel for sharing their wedding day with us. The photo credits are for Steven Ruud Photography.  Melanie wore a Parvani Vida ivory dress, and her hair was done by the Bridal Beauty Salon. Blue Lily Magnolia supplied the made to measure skinny ivory wedding belt to match the gorgeous lace dress.  

     

  2. A traditional Scottish wedding down under, combining vintage and beach

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    Bagpiper at Scottish wedding in Coogee beach

    Vintage and beach come together beautifully in this traditional Scottish themed wedding in Australia. Carla and Donato met on Coogie Beach in 2008, and early this year, were back there to get married at Wylies Baths. But between the proposal at Byron Bay Lighthouse and the wedding, the couple had a lot on their plate - not only organising the wedding but also having a little girl! 

    Carla says, "After a lot of thinking and trying to plan the best destination, we always knew that we wanted to get married at Coogee and have a beachy wedding with a touch of vintage. I called it Bintage if there's such a theme... well there is now!"

    The couple wanted to weave in as much of Donato's Scottish heritage as possible especially as they were not marrying back in Scotland where he is from, nor England where Carla is from. "Donato is from a small fishing town called Eyemouth and we were always going to have kilts at the wedding in keeping with a traditional Scottish theme. My grandad (dad's dad) was also Scottish, so it was really special that it was an integral part of our day." True to Scottish traditions, a bagpiper welcomed the guests, accompanied the bride to the church, and also played while everyone walked out of the church and down the street to the pub for a few drinks. 

    The wedding day was full of little details and personal touches. Matching the Mackenzie tartan kilts worn by the groom's family, they also wrapped tartan ribbon around the table napkins, and on the bouquets. Little Mackenzie tartan flowers were also made for the bride's hair, and for the men's boutonnieres. In keeping with the Scottish theme, the grooms's party had engraved hipflasks and miniature whisky bottles and Donato also bought matching cufflinks for his bestman and groomsmen.

    Tartan bouquet, Scottish themed weddingCarla 3-min 

    Groom, best man, father of the groom, tartan boutonniere, tartan lapel pinsFather of the groom boutonniere, tartan lapel flower

    Carla continues, "I asked my friend to write everyone's name plates in calligraphy, as each envelope had a card inside with a little note for each guest, more of a keepsake really as we didn't have favours on the tables. And we did our own table setting centre pieces, with personalised initials on the mats (from Etsy), candles and gyspsophila, keeping it very simple."

    For a little vintage touch, Carla wore an ivory sash with a vintage buckle to accessorise her Karen Willis Holmes dress. The bridesmaids' vintage glam style dresses were Montique from a department store in Sydney. "I also found a French vintage oar that we used on the welcome table and hung hearts off it. My aunt, who travelled over to be here, bought me the beautiful vintage rope necklace that I found only a few days before the wedding."

    Vintage beach scottish theme wedding, vintage buckle sash

    The best part of the wedding day? "It was all great", says Carla. "The best part for me was the morning getting ready with my best friends and my daughter, having my dad and aunt call in too. Then the ceremony was beautiful and we had a good hour and a half on the rocks in Coogee having drinks, our photos and chatting with the bridal party, it was lovely. It was all very special, the venue, the speeches, the dancing, it was one big celebration."

    Scottish themed vintage beach wedding bride and father of brideBride and father of the bride down the aisle 

    Scottish vintage beach wedding, Mackenzie tartan, vintage buckle sash   Confetti Scottish kilt groom

    The final words by Carla, her tips to any bride: "Remember to eat a decent breakfast! I didn't and got a bit too merry too quickly! Haha!"

    Coogee beach wedding, scottish kilts, scottish groom partyCoogee beach wedding, Wylies Bath wedding, beach wedding Blue Lily Magnolia

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    For this wedding, Blue Lily Magnolia sourced a Mackenzie tartan fabric to make the hair flowers and boutonnieres, and also supplied the vintage buckle sash. 

    Photos credit: Kevin Cheung, courtesy of the bride

    A big thank you to Carla and Donato for sharing their beautiful photos and special moments. We wish them the very best for the future - and many more happy days at Coogie beach! 

  3. A perfect relaxed, classic and romantic wedding at Dromquinna Manor, Co. Kerry

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    Dromquinna Manor wedding Blue Lily Magnolia

    Jo and Gar met in Galway in Ireland in 2006 and went on to live in 3 other countries - separately and together - before finally coming back to Ireland in 2014 and getting engaged in 2016. They married in 2017 in Dromquinna Manor, Kenmare, Co. Kerry. Here's their beautiful story, as told by Jo:

    "We met in the summer of 2006, and within a few weeks together Gar told me he was moving to America, at first I wasn't too bothered, after all it had only been a few weeks, but pretty soon I started to realise I was! The nicest guy I'd ever met was moving away. I was heartbroken when he left in November and went on my first visit to Boston for two weeks in December. I went for another two weeks in the spring and moved there for the summer 2007. Every cent that year went to funding these trips and in between we lived on Skype. In October I moved to Montreal to be near to him (just a six hour drive...nothing compared to a six hour flight!) and the following spring he moved up to Montreal to me. In 2009 we moved to Edinburgh and in 2014 we moved home to Ireland. In 2015 we bought a house and found our dog Domino, so it looks as though we're staying put for now."

    The proposal was a big surprise for Jo: "It was an unusual day in that for some reason I happened to be up early on a Saturday (I usually don't stir till 11 or so). On this particular day by 9.30am Gar had somehow got me up and out for a walk on a local beach, Whitegate, one of our favourite spots and a hidden gem in Ireland. It was a lovely sunny morning and out of the blue he got down on one knee. I was totally taken by surprise! For some reason I always thought I'd have an inkling it was coming...I didn't!" 

    The couple was engaged for 16 months. "This felt like the perfect length engagement for us. It gave us enough time to plan everything at a nice pace and enjoy the process, but at the same time, by the time the big day rolled around we were ready for it. I wouldn't have liked if it had been too much longer. Wedding talk could get tiresome if it goes on too long and I think we were both happy enough to get back to other things." 

    Amongst other things, the venue of course is a big decision. "We saw a few venues prior to Dromquinna Manor, but upon pulling up in the drive there I think we knew this was the right place for us. We wanted a private venue, a fab ceremony location, amazing scenery, in a nice Irish town. Dromquinna ticked all the boxes. We picked a few key words to try to keep us on track with the wedding planning - I think our words were fun, relaxed, classic, romantic and personal. These words summed up the kind of wedding we had in mind and I think in retrospect we succeeded with all of them."

    Dromquinna Manor wedding bridal party, bridesmaid, grooms people The colour scheme for the wedding was muted and soft. Jo's dress was ivory with hand-painted blush silk flowers and a champagne coloured sash. The rest of the bridal party fitted in with this - blush pink and dusty blue bridesmaid dresses and grey suits. "I was delighted to find my lovely gold and pearl headpiece on Blue Lily Magnolia which went perfectly. Gar's sister was a grooms person so she had a grey dress to fit in with his side but in the same style as the bridesmaids - beaded Adrianna Papell gowns which I searched high and low for to get in the right sizes on sale!"

    Jo's advice to couples looking for suppliers for their wedding is to "Know what's important to you". "Good food and venue was very important to us and so once we had Dromquinna picked that all was sorted. Music was next - we ended up with two brilliant bands on the day; Souldriven and The Clandestinos - they really got the party started. We watched a lot of YouTube videos of bands. I think it's important to figure out what you want in advance and keep it firmly in mind till you find it...otherwise it can be overwhelming and confusing. There's a lot of options out there for everything wedding related and it takes a bit of research work so stick with it and hopefully you'll find what you're looking for."

    Not everything needs to be bought in, of course. "Myself and my mom did the flowers which turned out great and this was fun to do. We just watched a few YouTube tutorials and just went for it. Keep in mind though that they need to be done in the days right before the big day so finding the time needs to be planned."

    The big day itself was amazing. "I had been worried about the weather in the days leading up to it. On the day it was pretty miserable for the entire morning - it rained and drizzled until 3pm but when it came to it I just didn't care. I honestly couldn't have been happier so the weather didn't matter. Luckily however it did clear up during the ceremony and by the time the drinks reception started it had turned into a pretty decent day. I knew I didn't want to be a stressed out bride and my cheesy motto for the day was taken directly from Frozen ..."Let it go"! I actually surprised myself with how much I was able to do this. I didn't mind about the weather, I didn't mind that the wind and rain messed my hair or that my husband stood on my dress with a muddy shoe! It was all perfect regardless. My number one tip is let it go...and just go with it." 
     
    Dromquinna Manor bride Jo and Gar wedding, Dromquinna Manor, Co. Kerry
     
    "One of the best bits of the wedding was the honeymoon travelling around Mexico and Belize. We haven't had the opportunity to go away for that length of time (18 days) ever so that was really special." But thinking about the wedding day itself, "My most precious moments on the day were definitely the unplanned ones - chilling out by the waterfront at sunset, sitting around the bonfire and our last dance surrounded by family and friends. There's no point in over-planning and trying to map out every second...the best bits will just happen naturally."  
     
    Jo Dromquinna Manor wedding
     
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    A big thank you to Jo and Gar for sharing their story and photos, and congratulations to them both on their wedding!
    Photos supplied courtesy of Jo (and cropped and slightly blurred by me).
    Main photo by Marc Coombes. 
    Jo's wedding dress is by Alan Hannah.
     
    On her hair, Jo wore a Blue Lily Magnolia one-of-a-kind headpiece of golden wire, ivory beads and vintage lace flowers, part of the Bohemian Dreams collection.