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Today we have another beautiful wedding from Embrace Life Photography (who shot one of our top 5 favorite weddings of 2011)! Abby and TJ's simple outdoor wedding is brimming with details that are sure to inspire you. Tired of cupcakes? Take a cue from this wedding and serve mini-bundt cakes instead (is it okay to want cake before 8am?).  Need centerpiece ideas? Abby chose gorgeous and varied flowers that reflected her laidback theme. Read below for more advice from Abby on how to plan the wedding you both truly want.

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Did your wedding location hold a specific significance to you?

TJ and I found McCormick Home Ranch through a wedding venue website and had not heard of it before.  When we visited the venue we knew it was exactly where we wanted to get married. It fit the vision for our wedding perfectly: outdoors and completely beautiful. We wanted to be surrounded by nature and have a casual, backyard feel to our wedding and this venue was perfect for that.

What was the most meaningful part of your day?

The most meaningful part of the day for me was when my sister, who was my maid of honor, gave her toast.  I had made it through the entire ceremony without crying, but hearing her talk about the significance of our relationship made me tear up.

Did anything funny or out of the ordinary happen?

One of the funniest parts of the ceremony was our ring bearer, who was only 2 years old.  He walked down the aisle swinging our ring cushion, occasionally dropping it, and just hamming it up in front of the crowd.  He was so adorable his whole time down the aisle.  We were glad we hadn't actually tied the rings to the pillow though!

Tell us details of the events surrounding the wedding.

The wedding and reception were our biggest focus, so TJ and I both had low key bachelor and bachelorette parties surrounded by our closest friends.  We had a rehearsal at TJ's family church because our venue had another wedding the day before ours, and then went out to a rehearsal dinner with all of our friends and family.  While the week leading up to the wedding was stressful, that weekend was filled with really quality time with those who mean the most to us.

How did you know your partner was "the one"?

There were so many random circumstances that led to TJ and I meeting each other there was no denying that we were meant to be together.  We met while studying abroad at Oxford University, and happened to be placed in the same study abroad house.  He stood out to me because of his great sense of humor. We developed a friendship and then a relationship.  After that year we spent a year and a half in a long distance relationship, which only reinforced to us that all of the phone calls, skype conversations, and plane trips between Massachusetts and California were worth it. We wanted to be together.  There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I wanted to move to CA after graduation so that we could be together again, and here we are a year later!

Any advice you'd give new brides who are just getting started?

Decide what you care about and spend your time and money on those details.  TJ and I had three main priorities: a beautiful and natural venue, great food, and the chance to have all of our friends together. Determining these priorities in the beginning definitely helped us decide what we wanted to spend our budget on, and what we didn't care about.  Certain traditions that didn't mean anything to us (the garter toss, for example) were not a part of our day--and we didn't miss them at all!  Also, be open to new ideas, but stick to what you feel represents you.  I had a great brainstorming session with my aunt, cousin, and mom, and while some of their ideas did not end up at our wedding, certain ideas that they brought up were perfect and became main themes of our big day.  Lastly, when you find something that you love, make the decision and don't look back.  There are hundreds of options out there for each detail of the wedding, and you can burn yourself out trying to find them all.  When you find something that you think is perfect for your day, commit to it and don't continue looking at other options.

One of my favorite DIY details at the reception was the design for the place cards.  We had a travel theme for our reception because of all of the traveling we did together, so we made each person an antique-looking train ticket that had their name and their "destination."  Each table was designated a place that we had travelled together, and that was their "destination" for dinner.  I made them by using a bus ticket stamp and black ink pad that I found at Michael's to stamp cardstock, and then printed each person's name and destination in typewriter-style font.  I then used coffee to make them look aged and punched holes for our wedding date.  I used another stamp to make vintage-looking postcards which had the name of the place we traveled and a picture from that location, and put them in the centerpieces.  I loved how they turned out!

Vendors:

Photographer: Embrace Life Photography

Venue: McCormick Ranch

Dress: David's Bridal

Shoes: American Eagle

Accessories: Bracelet from Macy's

Groom's Attire: Friar Tux

Groomsmen's Attire: Friar Tux

Catering: Stonefire Grill