There’s something so wonderful about saying your vows under the branches of a huge oak tree, don’t you think? Follow that up with a family style dinner, dancing with a lake view and surprise fireworks, and you’ve got the makings of a pretty perfect day. Of course that’s a total oversimplification of Caroline and Conner’s beautiful Texas ranch wedding, so read on for all the delightful details!
“We were lucky enough to have our entire wedding both ceremony and reception on the same property. Throughout middle school and high school I frequented the Meyer’s ranch house, and it was always everyone’s favorite place to go on an adventure,” shares the bride. “A short drive from my hometown of Katy, Texas, the Meyer family graciously approached us and offered up their ranch for our wedding! We were blown away by their kindness and generosity. I couldn’t have pictured a more meaningful, beautiful place to get married. There is actually an old photograph of me climbing the very same tree we got married under. The reception was held at the Meyer’s beautiful house on the property only a short walk from the pasture where the ceremony took place.”
What was the best advice you received as a bride? I think the best advice I received was to not only look forward to my wedding day, but more importantly look forward to life after that special day is over and gone. By focusing on how excited I was for everyday life with Conner it took so much pressure off of me to plan a “flawless” wedding day. I realized that regardless of how our wedding day turned out I was still going to get to wake up next to my best friend for the rest of my life. It is truly freeing to come to that realization.
“The sun was going down over the horizon, and there was a light breeze. I mean, it was perfection for Texas in August. I loved that we chose to have our ceremony at dusk, it was pure magic.”
Your ceremony in three words. Authentic, joyous, and effortless.
Who officiated your ceremony? My Grandad (Clois Smith) officiated our wedding. It was a done deal ever since I can remember that he would officiate my wedding. Having him officiate the ceremony was really icing on the cake to a beautiful event. I look up to my Grandad more than anyone else probably, so to have him stand there with us was extremely impactful.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We worked very closely with my Grandad on all of the details and progression of events. He’s done so many weddings that he’s an expert. It was awesome having someone so close to your heart help you plan one of the most important events of your life.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We wanted our ceremony to be spiritual and meaningful yet simple and sweet, so we kept things as such. We chose to focus on music, prayer, and scripture as our main traditions.
What was your ceremony music? We are so fortunate to have so many talented friends. My cousin plays violin beautifully and a close friend of ours is a gifted singer and guitarist. Processional : What a wonderful world -Louis Armstrong (violin + guitar version) / Recessional : I decided to surprise Conner (groom) with a song from the Lord of the Rings movies that we both love (nerd alert!) It’s called The Shire (violin) / Other: Oceans by Hillsong (violin and guitar), Come Thou Fount (violin and guitar), Garden (Needtobreathe on violin and guitar)
What were your ceremony readings? Philippians 2:1-2 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, have the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”
What were your vows like? We chose not to write our own vows for the ceremony merely because I wouldn’t have been able to hold it together up there in front of everyone! We chose to share our own personal vows to one another privately. We got together with my Grandad and talked through what our vows would be, we went with something pretty traditional. It’s actually pretty cool uttering the same wedding vows that so many couples before our time have said; the history behind traditional vows made it an easy choice.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? I was not prepared for the nerves! I don’t love being the center of attention so I practically sprinted down the aisle. Also, the feeling after your wedding ceremony is like nothing else. You are finally married to the one you love most in this world and it feels like great big exhale. We were on cloud nine. It’s crazy to look out and see the faces of all of your closest family and friends and realize that they are all there to share in this life-changing experience with you.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Our advice to other couples is to not get hung up on the details. We were so shocked with the overwhelming wealth of choices you can make when planning a wedding. I remember getting so hung up on the color of the bridesmaids dresses because I had so many options and I liked all of them in every color. I could have done blue, sequins, blush, you name it. It’s really a blessing and a curse in the wedding industry today, we have more resources and amazing options to chose from that sometimes it can really get frustrating. At the end of it all color palettes are trivial because you’re still getting married and it’s going to be one of the most beautiful dadgum days of your life.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? We laugh all the time about how crazy the season of wedding planning was and how some things just didn’t pan out on the actual day. But in all honesty, we wouldn’t do anything differently because we can’t imagine it going any other way, and we love being married too much to do it all over again! If we had to chose something to do differently though, it would be to wait a day before flying out on our honeymoon. Traveling the morning after your wedding that ended at midnight is just not a very good idea if you need your sleep like we do.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Prioritize is the word I used through the entire budgeting process. I would say to put your money toward something that matters most to you and your fiance. For us it was the photography, but for you it may be something like a killer band or upscale decor. You want to pick one or two things that you have always wanted and see if you can make it happen! Everything else will be wonderful and fall into place, plus you probably wont even notice if it doesn’t.
“Our reception was very laid-back and family style. We wanted the meal to feel like a great big family sitting at the kitchen table so that’s exactly what we did! It was very important to us that everyone felt like an important piece of our story so we tried to make our reception feel like family coming together to celebrate something wonderful. Naturally, there was also a lot of dancing throughout.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We were inspired by the natural landscape out at the ranch. We really wanted the backdrop to be the true aesthetic that shown through everything, the natural beauty of God’s creation is impossible to beat.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Bride: My favorite part was sitting down to dinner with everyone and looking out over the lake, it was just so beautiful to see everything unfold and get a chance to sit and see everyone in conversation enjoying themselves. // Groom: Definitely when I shattered a wine glass trying to call for toast at dinner. Other than that shining moment, my favorite part was the same moment that Caroline mentioned. There’s just something about breaking bread with loved ones.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? One of my love languages is baking and cooking for others, so I felt like I could use that love of mine and incorporate it into our unique touch. I whipped up some homemade chocolate chip dough about a week in advance and then we baked them the day before as favors for the guests. It was so much fun to do and I know going home with a chocolate chip cookie made our guests happy. My husband is a very talented woodworker so he made several signs for directions and chalkboards for the menu and reception.
Please tell us about any special details or moments from your reception. My brother prayed over dinner, that was a very special moment for us. Also, the Meyer family surprised us with a firework show over the lake towards the end of the night. It was breathtaking and so thoughtful of them to put even more extra time and energy into pulling that off. We also had a Polaroid camera with a scrapbook for our guests to take pictures and leave notes. I’m really glad we decided to do that because the end product is hilarious and priceless. Conner and I look through that book all the time laughing and smiling at what everyone said.
What was your wedding menu? A selection of cheeses and crackers, grilled rosemary chicken, penne pesto pasta with roasted tomatoes, my dad’s corn and black bean salad, and watermelon wedges.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? I actually don’t love icing (I’m a weirdo, I know) so we went with a naked cake with fresh berries. We also served brownies with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge.
Did you have a signature cocktail? We did not have a signature cocktail. We served wine, beer, lemonade, and had ice water in pitchers on each table.
Special music: Our first dance was to Ray Lamontagne’s You Are The Best Thing. My dad calls me “sweetpea” so we danced to Sweet Pea by Amos Lee. Conner danced with his mother to You Send Me by Sam Cook.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? Our family and friends are the reason our wedding was so incredibly wonderful. Every single person played an important part in pulling it off, which makes it that much more meaningful to us. Whether it was a talent, extra pair of hands, creativity, or love, the people closest to us were an integral piece to our wedding day. We are so grateful for everyone’s authenticity and love.