August 3, 2019. The Best Day Ever.
For our wedding video, full blog write-up recapping the day and design details, as well as a full vendor list, scroll all the way through! View our rehearsal dinner here.
Our Wedding Video
Design + Details
Our wedding was a magical blend of artful personal touches and beautifully curated design choices. Being a wedding photographer myself, I’m incredibly detail-oriented and wanted to make sure that Jon and I’s unique style and story would come through in every part of the weekend.
The very first wedding decision I made was choosing my photographer. It was very important to me that the photographer was someone who would reflect my style, personality, and capture the true vibe of the wedding. I have admired Jenna’s work for a long time, and knew even before being engaged that I wanted her to shoot my engagement and wedding pictures. Jenna is based in Michigan, where Jon and I both went to college. While it didn’t work for us to have the wedding there, I wanted to incorporate Michigan’s significance to our relationship in some way, which is why Jon and I had no problem taking a road trip from Iowa to the northern shores of Lake Michigan for our engagement pictures.
I drew inspiration from Mandy Moore’s wedding, especially her bouquet, as well as Jon’s Vietnamese heritage and our Midwest roots. I didn’t want to follow traditional wedding rules of choosing colors and themes. I wanted the wedding design to be a reflection of my feminine, bohemian, whimsical style and founded in texture and light: natural grasses, neutral colors, an airy sailcloth tent, and a dance floor under the stars.
I found the perfect gown during my very first appointment at Schaffer’s Bridal in Des Moines. I had a few styles in mind that I liked, one of them being a full skirt, but I wasn’t completely sold on that at this point. However, I knew that if I did end up with full skirt, it had to be a Hayley Paige – her skirts are simply the most stunning on the market.
The last dress I tried on was the Jax gown by Hayley Paige and knew instantly that this was the one. The layered full skirt was so beautiful paired with the dainty bodice, covered in the most gorgeous, intricate beading and complete with an edgy back detail. It was the perfect combination of boho and feminine for me. I usually have an awful time with decisions and to this day I’ve never been so sure of myself when saying yes to something, other than when Jon proposed of course!
I don’t wear a lot of jewelry normally, and I didn’t want to feel unlike myself on my wedding day, so instead of chandelier earrings, I chose a statement headpiece by Twigs & Honey and a delicate pair of earrings from Local Eclectic.
My bridesmaid dresses were simple, clean, and chic. We worked with one of my favorite Australian boutiques, Sabo Skirt, to achieve the look. I found block, bone color, wrap heels, also from their Bridesmaid line, to compliment their dresses and a little texture to their looks. For the girls’ gifts, I gave them each a dainty, gold, custom necklace from a small Michigan boutique, Pieces of Me. Each necklace had charm with a unique design representing my favorite personality trait of each girl.
Many of our guests came from out of town and had never experienced Pella, our small Dutch town in Iowa before. We wanted to make sure we showcased the beauty of our home and give them an experience to remember. This included receiving welcome bags upon their arrival full of local goodies that included an assortment of snacks, donut holes from our favorite bakery and a custom hand drawn map illustrating landmarks and local recommendations that were important to Jon and I.
An intimate rehearsal dinner took place at my childhood home, in the backyard, right at sunset. It had a vibrant Vietnamese feel, complete with bamboo chairs, tropical colors, Asian-inspired cocktails, yard games and Jon’s favorite Vietnamese dishes prepared by his mother.
Something I always knew I wanted for my wedding was for it to be outside. I personally feel that some of the most beautiful and meaningful venues are created from scratch by the bride (and her amazing wedding planner!). Although the risks were many and the planning was intensive, the reward of having an entirely unique place to celebrate our marriage, where Jon and I had a hand in every single element that built it, was a reward far worth it.
Originally, the wedding was planned to take place in a field near Jon’s childhood home. Two weeks before the wedding the location fell through, and we were forced to quickly find a new location. Thankfully, we found an ethereal meadow that opened up off the side of a winding gravel road, canopied by trees that we were able to use. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
The girls and I got ready in the house I grew up in, something that was very important to me! I wanted to feel as normal and comfortable as possible. Detail photos are some of my favorites to look at and take at weddings – so it was so fun for me to see how Jenna Borst and Christie Lee styled everything throughout my home.
When wedding time arrived, our wedding party walked down the aisle to a cover of the Chainsmokers song, “Closer” by a guitar soloist and I followed them with my dad to “Beautiful Soul” by Jesse Mcartney. I really love cover songs, specifically the artistry that goes into adding a unique flare to someone else’s work and I wanted to add modern twists to our music selections by incorporating pop songs, in a romantic way.
I imagined the ceremony to be intimate and exude warmth for both us and our guests. Even in a large open meadow our design team was able to achieve this. The ceremony had a backdrop of green and Jon and I were surrounded at the altar with grasses and feminine florals, with hues of pink, to soften the setting. We lined the aisle with natural rugs and handed out hand woven fans for each guest as they arrived.
After such a crazy and unpredictable few weeks, it felt as if time had suddenly stopped, and we were able to be fully in that moment.
After the ceremony Jon and I drove away in my Grandpa’s classic Mercedes convertible, the same car my parents drove away in on their wedding day. During cocktail hour, the guests enjoyed handcrafted drinks and hors d’oeuvres including peach sangria and frozen rose adorned with flowers.
The first thing I noticed in the tented space was the jaw-dropping, magnificent, hanging floral installation by Shelly Sarver Designs. It was truly a captivating statement piece.
I wanted the reception design to be airy, fresh, detailed and a bit unexpected. For the tables, we focused on mixing beautiful patterned linens with natural fabrics, soft and light tones in the flowers and the prettiest green candles to compliment the greenery and grasses used in the centerpieces – a true table-scape version of Mandy Moore’s bouquet. We even had each of our guest’s names written in calligraphy on the top of the menus, for an added personalized touch. The setting felt incredibly romantic, especially as the sun started to set and the tent began to glow.
We kicked off our reception with our first dance to a cover of Lauv’s “I Like Me Better” underneath the stunning floral installation in the center of the tent. A plated duet for dinner was served by Taste to Go, followed by toasts and dessert, paired with cà phê đá (Vietnamese iced coffee). It was simply to die for!
After giving a short speech together, we cut the cake. I was a little jittery after saying an emotional thank you, and I actually forgot that the bottom layer of our cake was artificial, which explained why it was so hard to cut! So hard, that I actually broke our new cake knife. It was a funny and lighthearted way to transition into the party!
The dancing started after and it was my absolute favorite part of the wedding. Our dance floor was an extension of our tent and was lit entirely with basket lanterns from Thailand, which made the setting feel magical. I was a little nervous about dancing because I’m a bit shy and hesitant about busting a move in front of a crowd of people. However, the thought didn’t cross my mind one time! The dance floor was packed until the last song of the night. Jon and I were surrounded, shoulder to shoulder by all of the people we love most in life and we sang, ate late night tacos, danced and laughed our hearts out under the clear sky.
Photography: Jenna Borst
Second Photographer: Christi Lee
Venue City: Pella, Iowa, United States
Design: Kate Elizabeth Brides
Planning: Kate Eliazbeth Brides
Florals: Shelly Sarver Designs
Dress: Hayley Paige
Hairpiece: Twigs and Honey
Bridesmaid dresses: Sabo Skirt
Getting ready outfits: BHLDN
Hair: Lindsey Mollenhauer
Makeup: Ivy Boyd
Groom’s Suit: Calvin Klein
Videography: Aaron Van Maanen and Good Era Film
Paper: Natalie Datyon
Catering: Taste To Go
Cake: Molly’s Cupcakes
Tabletop Rentals: Milestone Event Rental
Linens: La Tavola
Music: Chris Ranallo
Lighting: Unique Events
Tent and Draping: Milestone Event Rental
DJ: Nick Nystom
Ceremony Chairs: Pella Rental
Tent chairs: Unique Events