Photography by Ash Carr.
One of the most genuine brides we have ever come across, Rayn and her hubby Ryan have shared so much amazing info with us – get ready to take notes! This wedding will have you pinning everything, from their colorful florals with plenty of wild foliage, to beautiful DIY touches including helpful (and fun!) wooden signage, mostly done by the creative couple themselves. But even better than their design ideas, these sweet newlyweds have shared with us their entire ceremony text, giving any brides and grooms-to-be great ideas for your own vows and readings, as well as their own wonderful advice on budgeting, and how to create a wedding that is true to the two of you!
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? My something old, borrowed, and blue (everything else was new) was a handkerchief my mom has that belonged to my grandmother that has little blue flowers stitched on it, which I kept stuffed in my dress for the entire night. Two of my sisters also got married with that same handkerchief.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? We are both graphic designers so the design of the wedding was important to us, and also another way we were able to save money. We designed all of our invitations and save the dates ourselves. I also found a great tutorial on some DIY signs so we designed signs that went everywhere on raw wood that we hand painted.
Your ceremony in three words. Non-traditional, intimate, playful.
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? We knew we wanted to have our ceremony outside but needed a venue with an indoor space just in case Texas weather does what it always do. Plus, The Grove is right off the road that used to be Ryan’s cycling route when we were in college together, so it was sentimental for us.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We followed some template guidelines from A Practical Wedding and pulled some passages from an online source of secular wedding ceremonies, then we wrote the rest together and filled in the gaps. Though it wasn’t religious, we wanted it to still feel really meaningful.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We didn’t have any family traditions or cultural traditions really, just the exchanging of the rings and the saying of “I do.” We wanted to be careful of appropriating anything that wasn’t actually meaningful to us. We did include the great American tradition of quoting The Princess Bride (if it wasn’t a tradition before I hope it is now!) I was glad we got to begin our ceremony surrounded by laughter.
If that The Princess Bride reference got you excited, we have great news – Rayn & Ryan were kind enough to share their full ceremony script with us! It included friends and family performing two readings, an excerpt from Winnie-The-Pooh, and Blue Like Jazz. Be sure to take a look at the wedding vows they shared with one another, too.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? Our friend who used to live on our street and worked with Ryan officiated the ceremony. When we first got engaged we joked with him about officiating our ceremony and found out he had was already ordained having officiated for another friend before, so we decided then and there we wanted him to do it. He really came through for us, flying in from the East coast for the weekend and did a wonderful job during the ceremony. (Although it might have been nice to have a professional around when it came time to fill out the needlessly confusing Texas marriage license – thankfully, we figured it out eventually!)
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? It stopped raining right before our ceremony started, and there was a point in the ceremony when the officiant was talking about the rings, and he had a line where he said the ring is “round like the sun…” and right then the sun peaked out from behind a cloud and I was looking up through tears and through the flowers into the sun, and everyone laughed in awe. I couldn’t have scripted it better.
(You can see the words they chose for their ring exchange right here.)
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? Writing the ceremony together in the month or so before the wedding felt like as much a part of the process of getting married as actually having the ceremony. I was so glad we did it that way and collaborated rather than just picking something completely prewritten or letting an officiant decide what to say.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? If you’re relatively young and have lots of young unmarried friends, be prepared to learn just how little etiquette people that haven’t planned a wedding themselves are aware of (and some of the older people that have, too!). It will drive you insane but you have to forgive them, they’ll understand if they ever have to plan a wedding themselves. It’s your family’s job to drive you crazy during this process but it’s also their job to help. If you feel overwhelmed don’t be afraid to delegate some tasks; ask for help before you hyperventilate over table cloths or a drink station. From the groom: Err on the side of genuine rather than fancy. Keep the focus on your guests. I often reminded Rayn that our friends and family coming from all across the country being in the same place for one night is the most important aspect of the evening. No one enjoys themselves when the overly fancy food doesn’t taste good and they don’t recognize any of the songs being played on the dance floor. Make those you love happy and your happiness will follow suit.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? I tried not to be too drawn in to overwhelming photo inspiration and instead focus on what we wanted as a couple and not what other people have done, but of course with the existence of Pinterest, that’s easier said than done. I was inspired by woodland weddings, and we got as close to that atmosphere as we could without leaving Texas (which is severely lacking in real woods). And I was inspired by my fiancé with his endless spirit of being in this together, and keeping me grounded throughout the hectic planning process.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? The best thing I read that we kept in mind from the beginning is to agree together on the 3 things that are the most important to you and build your budget around that. Unless you have an unlimited budget you’re not going to be able to have the best of the best of every single thing, and that’s okay! If flowers and photos are the most important, consider an iTunes DJ. You have to compromise, and no one will even notice. And be prepared to live in Excel or Google spreadsheets day in and day out. One more thing is that I read everywhere that whatever you do you will at least need a day-of coordinator and I really thought we could do everything without one. If you’re having a DIY-heavy wedding at a venue that isn’t all-inclusive, you really do have to have a coordinator. There’s no way around it. So either find a venue that does everything for you (rentals, food, staff) or budget for a coordinator from the beginning.
How would you describe your reception? We wanted to find the middle ground between the image in my head of this romantic woodland fairytale and the relaxed fried chicken dance party we knew would be the most fun, and I think we succeeded in combining the two. It was a perfect blend of our personalities because we planned it together from the beginning.
What was your wedding menu? We had fruit and veggie trays from Jason’s Deli for the cocktail hour after the ceremony and then had a buffet catered by Babe’s Chicken Dinner House. There was fried chicken, smoked chicken, fried catfish, mashed potatoes and gravy, creamed corn, salad, green beens, and biscuits, in true Southern fashion. About two years before we got married, I had a dream about our wedding and all I remembered was that we were outside and everyone was eating fried chicken, and I told Ryan about it as soon as I woke up. All he said was “well that sounds good we should have fried chicken at our wedding” so ever since then we knew exactly what we wanted, it was important to us to be able to have this simple meal we knew everyone would love and would put everyone at ease.
Did you have a signature cocktail? Nope, we stuck to beer and wine and cider and made sure to have good local craft brews to go with the meal. It saved us a lot of money and I don’t think anyone missed the liquor.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had a huge cake (way more than we needed!) that was half almond and half coconut, with cream cheese pecan filling and coconut shavings. We also (on top of our exorbitant amounts of cake) had peach cobbler in lieu of groom’s cake, which was fantastic with the leftover fried chicken. Wow, we had so much food!
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Our first dance was supposed to happen outside right before everyone went inside to sit and get food, but because of the weather and some miscommunication that didn’t happen. By the end of the night we ended up outside under twinkly patio lights with all of our best friends and one of our favorite songs came on, so we got to have our outdoor slow dance in the grass without everyone staring at us. There were way too many great moments but that was one of the best.
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. We spent months curating our playlists for cocktail hour/dinner and dancing. I was nervous about not having an actual DJ but we are very particular about our music and made sure we had a little something for everyone, and worked for hours on the dance playlist to make sure it was paced well, and we were so glad we did it that way. The flowers and photography were more important to us budget-wise than having a professional MC and we had way more fun getting to dance with our friends to all our favorite music. It was a lot of work but completely worth it in the end.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? In my sister’s maid of honor speech she reminded us to love each other even when we can’t stand each other. That’s good advice for any human.