Wedding Planning

Allison and Stephen’s Lovely Rustic Wedding by Aaron Courter Photography

When I was a little girl there was only one thing to consider when dress shopping, and that was twirlability. With each dress came a test spin and a select few were pronounced worthy.

When I was a little girl there was only one thing to consider when dress shopping, and that was twirlability. With each dress came a test spin and a select few were pronounced worthy. To this day, I believe that all a woman needs to feel truly pretty is great lipstick, loads of pearls, and a dress with optimum twirl.  Clearly, Allison agrees. She is just about the most beaming bride ever. And why shouldn’t she be? She gets to marry cutie pie Stephen at a gorgeous rustic event. Thank you so much to Aaron Courter for sharing this wedding that is shaping up to be one of my very favorites!

I’d love to hear about any specific details and DIY projects

When planning the wedding, I started to describe it as shabby chic or rustic elegance. I loved the old and textured look of burlap and wood, but I still wanted it to be clean and modern. All the decorations came from thrift stores and antique shops – mixing and matching bottles, crates, books and birdcages ’til we found what we liked! The table runners, pennants, goody bags, and the banner (‘Forever and a day, with all my heart’ is something Stephen and I have been saying to each other since we were dating. We incorporated it on the save the dates and wedding invitations as well!) were all made by my mother (who was the only reason the wedding looked as beautiful as it did!). We rented the tables, chairs and lights, but put all the rest together ourselves. I had a lot of help from wedding blogs and family willing to help! But mostly, more than any specific theme, I just wanted it to be fun! I wanted a wedding that would represent us! I didn’t want my guests to worry about breaking any fine china or if they were sitting in the right seat… I wanted them to dance and eat and talk and laugh the night away! I wanted a wedding that would give them the chance to do that!

What was the most meaningful part of your day?

Having Stephen’s dad officiate the ceremony, dancing with my dad to a song we picked out when I was 12, hugging my mom before I walked down the aisle… Truly, every moment of our day was meaningful. But our favorite was the ceremony itself.

During the ceremony Stephen and I chose to write our own vows. One of our best ideas, ever (And I still have the tear stained pieces of paper framed in a shadow box!). It’s an incredible moment to be standing in front of your family and friends across from the one you love just moments away from hearing ‘I now pronounce you husband and wife!’ But I do think hearing Stephen vow his love in his own words made it all the more incredible. It was so much more personal and meaningful and sincere. We were able to convey stories, thoughts and feelings that traditional vows wouldn’t have let us do. Standing at the altar I am obviously in love with this man, but hearing his sweet words, his confession of love and vows of forever, solidified me standing there across from him and made me so happy and so sure that I was making the best decision in my life.

Did anything funny or out of the ordinary happen?

One of my favorite moments in our day happened during the ceremony. After my vows were through (I requested to go first because I knew I would be a teary mess after Stephen read his! …I was right.) Stephen leaned in to kiss me! I knew it was his natural reaction after I had just finished my vows, and it wasn’t easy to hold back! But we were in the middle of the ceremony and I had patiently been waiting for ‘You may now kiss the bride!’ I threw my hands behind my back and yelled, ‘You’re not allowed to kiss me yet!’ (Maybe a little too fast and loud!) His face turned every shade of red and it took a moment of composure for us and our family and friends to cease the laughter!

Tell us details of the events surrounding the wedding as well.

It was a crazy summer for us. I graduated college on June 11th, moved in with Stephen the following day, started my summer internship on the 14th, finished planning a wedding, got married on July 11th, packed up and moved to Alaska on August 10th! Crazy as it was, the wedding and events surrounding it were truly the highlights of our summer!

Our family and friends flew in from all over the US to be with us and we got to spend the few days before the wedding showing them around town and campus where we’d both gone to school and introducing them to other family and friends. We had rehearsal at the barn the night before, and a rehearsal dinner at a park following. Catered by Qdoba (our favorite college eatery!), it was super relaxed and casual. The kids were playing on the playground while we had games going on in the fields, eating on picnic tables, talking and laughing…

The day of the wedding called for some last minute set up before us girls could all get ready at the barn together. Pictures were taken before the ceremony (something I recommend!) and seeing Stephen for the first time was wonderful! It was just us and the photographers and it was perfect! (I was so giddy and excited!)

And then, before we knew it, it was time to walk down the aisle! The ceremony was perfect and the reception a blast! Stephen and I chose to stay in our little home that night (carrying me across the threshold and all!), and the following day we recovered from all the dancing in the company of our family, opened presents, and did a lot of ‘do you remember when…’ about the night before.

How did you know your partner was ‘the one’?

Stephen and I met in swing dance class in October 2009. I was sitting on the bleachers with the rest of the class waiting for the instructor’s direction when I saw him walk in from the corner of my eye. He was tall. He was blonde. And I was bound and determined to make him my dance partner.

As soon as Mr. Green told us to get up and get a partner, I jumped off the bleachers, turned around, pointed right at Stephen, and said, ‘Wanna dance?’

We only got to dance for a few minutes before we had to switch partners, but I continued to flirt with him from across the room.  I was determined to talk to him again before we all left, so I made sure I was walking out of the gym the same time he and his friend were. Turns out they were both heading home and their home was across the street from mine.

I knew little about him. He was extremely tall and extremely good looking. He was in the Delta Chi fraternity. He was from Fairbanks, Alaska. He wanted to be a doctor.

Stephen, the gentleman that he is, walked me home from class every day for the rest of the year. It took him nine days to ask for my phone number (nervously and awkwardly on the front steps of Kappa Kappa Gamma as he dropped me off), eleven days to kiss me, and exactly one month to ask me to be his girlfriend. We’ve been inseparable ever since!

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

Don’t sweat the small stuff. It may be a cliché saying, but when it comes to planning your wedding, it’s oh so very true! The guests aren’t going to know that there were going to be flowers along the aisle or that your hair was going to be done differently. If you don’t have the time for those last minute projects, don’t do them, and certainly don’t get stressed out over them! It’s more important to spend that time with your husband-to-be and all the wedding quests that came to see you! Weddings represent the beginning of a marriage, and that’s what matters most! Whether there are flowers along the aisle or not, you’re getting married! And really, what could be better than that?!


Photographer: Aaron Courter Photography

Venue: Beazell Memorial Forest

Dress: David’s Bridal

Shoes: Vintage Corral

Bridesmaids’ Attire: I asked each bridesmaid to pick their own dress and shoes after giving them a color scheme and a few ideas. I love what they came up with!

Groom’s Attire: Nordstrom

Groomsmen’s Attire: We provided the ties from varying department stores and asked them to pick out their own brown pants, hoping to get a variety of shades and styles.

Catering: New Morning Bakery

Flowers: Stargazer Florist 

DJ: Matt Bixby