This wedding is the definition of a sweet summer affair! Alli & TJ tied the knot at Ushers Ferry, an historical village in Cedar Rapids that was as practical as it was pretty – not many places would have fit all of their 275 guests! With the softest blush pink the key color for the day, the whole look was simple yet oh-so-romantic – think loose, undone florals, and a bride and groom who never stop smiling at one another. They also brought a touch of whimsy with plenty of fun (and largely DIY) details; we especially love how involved the bride’s dad got in bringing these to life, including their help-yourself popcorn bar!
Photography by Ivory + Bliss.
The story behind the handkerchief Alli carried with her on the day is so lovely. “I wanted to include the traditional something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. I had almost everything sorted, except I wasn’t really sure what to do about my something old, but my mom told me not to worry and that my aunt was taking care of it. The night of our rehearsal dinner, my aunt Wendy called me over and presented me with a satin handkerchief embroidered with TJ and my names, and our wedding date. She explained that the fabric had come from my grandmother’s wedding dress, and that she thought it would be nice to have something of my grandma’s with me on my wedding day. My grandmother is very ill and was unable to attend the wedding, so my aunt’s gift meant the world to me. I cried every time I showed it to someone!”
The Mrs Box makes the prettiest home for your special jewelery. Doesn’t Alli’s solitaire engagement ring look amazing against the blush pink velvet?
Sweet Alli has some very practical advice for all of you summer brides! When asked if she’d do anything differently about her day, she says “I think I would bring a fan and some tissues for myself. We got really lucky with the weather – there was a chance of thunderstorms all day, but it never rained at all – but it was really hot and humid as a result. Wedding dresses are pretty warm, so taking pictures outside resulted in one hot bride!”
The bride and groom decided to write love letters to one another, to open on the morning of their wedding. Alli explains, “we were long distance throughout the first year of our relationship, and we wrote each other letters throughout that time to ease the difficulty of being apart. In fact, the first time TJ told me he loved me it was through a letter! With all of this in mind, we decided to write one another letters to open the morning of the wedding. I can’t describe the emotions that passed through my mind and heart as I read TJ’s words of comfort, love, and surety that morning. TJ couldn’t get through my letter to him without crying! I know we will both always treasure those letters, and I’m so glad we wrote them.”
Don’t Alli’s maids look so fresh and pretty in this palest shade of pink?
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? We had always had Ushers Ferry in mind as a possibility for our big day. From a practical standpoint, we needed a large venue since we both have such big families, and we loved the option to have an outdoor ceremony with an indoor reception all in one place. The main square, with its intricate gazebo, mature trees, and unique historic buildings, is so sweet and timeless – there is simply no better way to describe it. It’s like something from a movie come to life.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? I began with a vision: I wanted our ceremony to be enjoyable for all in attendance, and I wanted it to feel extremely personal. We decided to ask our friend Pat to do our ceremony, and as he’s currently studying to become a pastor, he had a basic template that we went off of. We sat down one night and went through the entire template, line by line, and tweaked things, added things, or deleted things to make the ceremony feel like us. The little changes like that truly created an intimate, personalized experience.
What was your ceremony music? (processional, recessional, hymns, etc.) We asked two of our friends, Simon and Liz, to play our ceremony music. Simon played guitar while they both sang, and it was absolutely beautiful! When I walked down the aisle, they played I Will Not Take My Love Away by Matt Wertz.
Your ceremony in three words. Romantic, joyful, personal.
What were your ceremony readings? Our first reading was Romans 12:9-16, and our second reading was comprised of two excerpts from the untitled e e cummings poem sometimes referred to as “being to timelessness as it’s to time”.
What were your vows like? We knew from the beginning of the planning process that we wanted to write our own vows. We have always found great meaning through the written word, and we knew it would be special to choose the promises we were making to one another together, as a team. We spent a few nights working on them, and ultimately we decided to use the same opening vows, to include a few unique promises to one another in the middle, and to close with some more identical vows. Writing the vows together took some of the pressure off of both of us, and it also allowed us to have a deep conversation about what matters most to both of us moving forward. The wedding planning process can be stressful, and it was amazing to have it all put back into perspective through moments or conversations like that one.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? Our friend Pat is currently studying to become a pastor, and when it came time to choose an officiant, he was the obvious choice. He knows us both extremely well, and he’s seen our relationship develop over the years. He’s also hilarious and a great speaker, so we knew he could carry our vision of a joyful, personalized ceremony to fruition.
How would you describe your reception? We wanted to keep the personalized, laid-back, and romantic feeling going, and we also wanted people to have fun! We included the romance through our centerpieces and decorations, which featured a lot of whimsical florals, lanterns, DIY wood pieces, and candles. To make the reception feel like us, we added to traditional elements (food, a bar with wine and beer, and a dance floor with a DJ) with lawn games, a popcorn bar, a fire pit, and tables and chairs outside, too. The lawn games were a hit – the kids in attendance loved playing bags, and I don’t think the oversized Jenga game was ever out of use! Ultimately we wanted our reception to feel like a giant celebration of our love for one another, but also of our love for all of our guests, and I think we succeeded.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? I began with a Pinterest board, and realised over time I was pinning a lot of loose, romantic florals, which led me to the garden theme we ultimately chose. Nearly everything I pinned was in shades of blush or coral pinks, whites, golds, and greens, so a color palette emerged organically from those colors. I hesitated to tell people our wedding colors, however, preferring to describe our theme as a whimsical or romantic garden look instead. It was important to me that I was creating the look I was going for, not just selecting things based on color alone.
Not only does this popcorn bar look adorable (and delicious!), but it was all thanks to Alli’s DIY Dad! All tells us, “My dad created so much for our wedding – we keep joking that he needs to open an Etsy shop or become a wedding planner! He made all of the crates for our centerpieces, our popcorn bar, and our cupcake tables by hand. He also cut the log slabs and wine bottles we used as centerpieces, and he sanded down and stained the ladder we had by our guestbook table. He made the signs that I wrote things like our wedding timeline, hashtag, and various cute sayings on, as well. We are so grateful for all of the hard work he put into making our day perfect!”
In addition to this pretty butter pecan cake topped with soft peach blooms, the pair offered up cupcakes in butter pecan, red velvet, classic white, chocolate, and strawberry, which were a huge hit with guests.
What was your first dance song? TJ and I had our first dance to Sweet Pea by Amos Lee.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? I had a lot of other brides tell me to not sweat the small stuff. Ultimately, nobody will remember every detail of your wedding. Instead of stressing about the little things, it can be helpful to step back and think bigger picture and to always keep perspective. This is a day of celebration of love, and that’s the most important detail of all!