When reading over Lauren and Clif’s interview, I liked them immediately. Wedding pictures aside (and they are gorgeous, I can assure you) — these two are one fun loving couple. Kids jumping into the pool mid-reception? No problem. Casual BBQ served up with blue bell ice cream bars and all the cupcakes you can handle? You got it. Oh, and cocktail hour before the ceremony? Check. One family affair tucked away in the Arkansas mountains? Oh yeah, you’re going to love this one.. Photographed by Arkansas wedding photographer Jamie Fender Photography.
Can you give us an overview of the event? Although we met in new york city, we’re both southern kids at heart. i’m from Arkansas and Clif from Mississippi. we wanted a wedding that would reflect that – our history, our upbringings and the things we love most! I grew up in the beautiful Ozark Mountains and knew, one day, I would want to share that special place with my husband. we wanted something chic and elegant, but at the same time something that made guests feel welcome and comfortable, all while incorporating elements that my husband and I love and that represent our southern heritage and upbringings.
Continued: My dad and brother set to work on clearing out a space for our ceremony and building a gorgeous waterfall (that would eventually flow between the ceremony and reception sites) made of large stones from a nearby rock quary. We focused on natural, vintage colors and textures, lots of personal details, and nothing over the top. For us this meant delicious food, great music and an intimate guest list. we also knew we wanted the reception to feel just like a huge party. My parents have a swimming pool in the backyard and we thought, why not just host the reception around the pool. Lights were strung over the entire reception site to give a romantic vibe. tables were intertwined around the pool and among trees and pathways. It turned out beautifully!
Was there a specific theme or style? There was no specific theme or style, but early on in the planning process I came across the phrase “a homegrown wedding.” That kind of stuck with me… I wanted all the elements to be natural and simple. Very chic and clean but nothing too over-the-top. That’s not my style but I know sometimes wedding details can quickly spin out of control. It was my goal to keep things simple and natural and I think we did a nice job of sticking to that.
What inspired the theme or style? My parents backyard was a big inspiration. I say backyard, but really it’s the side of a mountain. The Ozark mountains where I grew up are so beautiful and my husband and I both knew we wanted an outdoor wedding in my backyard with the Ozark mountains providing the backdrop for the whole scene. Also, I have always loved The Great Gatsby and took a bit of inspiration from the ’20’s style and details of Jay Gatsby’s house as portrayed in the book: all the hanging twinkle lights that canvased the area, our band that provided smoky jazz tunes, and some of the vintage elements on my wedding dress that felt sleek like Daisy Buchanan!
What were your playful twists that made the event unique? Well, I think having the entire event (ceremony & reception) at my house is pretty unique in itself. Not many people do that and I was proud of my family and friends that helped us pull it off! Besides that though, we did a cocktail hour BEFORE the ceremony. I didn’t come out, but the groom and all his groomsmen were outside to welcome guests. We had a large table set up by the ceremony site with drinks and an olive bar. My husband and I love olives and we wanted an olive bar, even if it didn’t make much sense. Then we thought to do the pre-ceremony cocktail hour and it worked out perfectly! This gave my husband, who had the majority of out of town guests, a chance to say hello before the ceremony got started.
Continued: This way there wasn’t so much pressure to meet & greet so many people during the reception and we could enjoy it more! I also liked that we served ice cream sandwiches and BBQ right off the truck; I thought those were unique elements that are a bit non-traditional. Lastly, once we were pronounced husband & wife, the song we walked back down the aisle to (the recessional) was “Pick up the Pieces” by Average White Band; a funky little tune that my husband picked out. It was really unexpected and I think everyone was a little taken back. Before they started dancing in their seats, of course.
Did you DIY any of the details? We tried to DIY as much as possible but when it came to some of the larger projects we were quick to hand them over to the professionals. We knew we wanted some DIY elements, but not enough to stress us out the day-of. One thing we did that I liked was the ‘escort cards’ for table assignments. We tea stained the little note cards and then used a vintage-looking stamp to accent the corner of each card and create a place to write each guests’ name and table #. My mom found a beautiful, old screen at a flea market which we used to clip the escort cards onto with twine and mini clothespins. We also put our floral centerpieces into white-washed clay pots (instead of traditional flower vases). Lastly, I wanted a creative way to display the table numbers for each reception table and also list our different types of drinks on the drink table. It didn’t hit me until two days before the wedding, but we ended up using rocks collected from the river close to my house and painting a square of chalkboard paint onto each. Then my friends with nice handwriting used chalk to write each table # and the name of each drink onto the rocks.
What was the most memorable moment? We had MANY memorable moments- the night was such a blast, but one that stands out in my mind was when I looked over during the middle of the reception to see two little boys swimming in the pool with all their clothes on. My nephew and our Pastor’s son, both who are about 7, just got too antsy and couldn’t stand it anymore. They both jumped into the pool, which was in the middle of our reception area, and started swimming around. My nephew eventually found a frog and proceeded to show all of the guests. It was quite hilarious. I think some of the guests thought “oh no, they’re not supposed to be in the swimming pool!” But you know what? I LOVED it. My husband and I wanted the evening to feel welcoming and comfortable for all who were invited, and these two little guys displayed just that! Also, running out of our reception under the canopy of sparklers was kind of amazing. That moment where it was completely dark but all our best friends and family were lighting the pathway with sparklers and screaming loudly for us… I will never forget that. It was one of the most fun moments of the entire evening.
If there was one thing you could change, what would it be? We never booked a videographer for the wedding and I could still kick myself over that. I fully intended to, but the time just got away from us and I couldn’t find anyone in the area that I really liked. Before I knew it we were a few days away and I resigned myself to the fact that we wouldn’t have one, but I really wish I would’ve gone with someone, anyone in the area really, just to be able to have those memories preserved on tape. I love our photos so much, but to have the video would be extra special.
Tell us how you met! We met in New York City through a mutual friend. I was in a small group bible study that was hosted in the apartment Clif lived in. Clif was not in the group but would sometimes be around afterward. One night in 2009 when the Yankee’s were in the World Series, my group stuck around to watch the baseball game together. Clif wanted to watch the game too, of course, so he came out of his room to join us. Our first introduction was there, and we like to give a little credit to the Yankees for bringing us together. We also both discovered the other was from the South and from that point on Clif was hooked. Clif added me on Facebook that night, although he swears he waited a couple of days… A few weeks later he asked me out for coffee, which turned into a three hour conversations and ended with him asking me on a formal date. The rest was history!
Now for the proposal…details! My old apartment in New York was on a gorgeous tree-lined street with old Brownstone buildings near Columbia University. On the stoop outside my place was where a lot of “firsts” happened in our relationship. That was where Clif asked me on our first date, where we shared our first kiss and where he first told me he loved me. Besides these big moments, we spent a lot of time getting to know each other on those steps. It was only fitting that when the time came, Clif proposed to me there on the steps where he had asked me out almost a year prior. Before the big moment, sneaky Clif flew to Arkansas to ask my parents for their blessing. He flew to Arkansas and back in 24 hours. I didn’t know where he went but I did have a hint; although I didn’t think the proposal would come so quickly after. The day he arrived back in town he asked me to meet him off a specific subway stop because he wanted to take me to dinner. I even asked on the phone “you aren’t going to propose tonight, are you?” Once I met him, we started walking toward my old apartment and he handed me a new moleskin journal in which he had written a letter to me. Then he handed me some beautiful red roses. I noticed we had stopped walking and were close to that stoop – he asked me to walk over and stand on the stairs there and then proceeded to pull out a ring box. I think we all know what happens from here; but it was a wonderful, magical moment. Afterward we went around the corner to one of our favorite coffee shops (the place where
Tell us about your wedding gown and what your wedding party wore: My gown was from the J.Crew Bridal boutique here in New York. It was a simple, strapless gown with a sweetheart neckline. I had a vintage rhinestone belt that was sewn around the waist and tied in the back. There was a very slight train. I wore my hair back with a flower hair piece I ordered from Etsy. I really didn’t want a long veil and when I came across the flower hair piece I knew it was exactly what I wanted. I wore vintage earrings from my great-aunt and a borrowed elegant bracelet from a friend. My shoes were a light green sandal that I ordered from Nine West because I wanted something flat and comfy and a bit fun. My bridesmaids wore their own black dresses. I didn’t want to ask them to purchase a dress they probably wouldn’t wear again and I also happen to think the look of slightly mismatching is exciting and unexpected. It adds some texture to the look of the wedding party and allows for the girls to wear something that flatters their own body type and that they feel good in.
What was the best wedding advice you received? Eat at your reception. Everyone said “you’ll be so busy you won’t have time or want to eat” but that they always regretted that because by the end of the night they’re starving and exhausted. Well, I was not going to let that great BBQ and those yummy cupcakes go to waste. I made sure to assign my husband and I a table and we sat down immediately (before we walked around to greet guests) and ate as much as we could. My maid of honor helped out because she already had two plates prepared for us as soon as we sat down and also took care of getting us drinks. I would definitely recommend this to any bride – force yourself to eat, even for just a few minutes. Your stomach will be glad you did later in the evening and besides, you paid for all that fancy food, you might as well get to enjoy it yourself!
What were the honeymoon plans? We went to a gorgeous all-inclusive on Riviera Maya, Mexico just south of Cancun called Zoetry. The resort we chose was a bit smaller – only 90 rooms as compared to a lot of those large resorts that have hundreds – and this made it feel a lot smaller; almost like we were alone on that tiny part of the beach. We were never fighting for space in the pool or on the lounge chairs by the beaches. The food was amazing, too. We had a wonderful week; I want to go again soon, even though we won’t be honeymooners anymore.
Catereing & Favors : Ricky Morris BBQ & Neighbor’s Mill Bakery & Cafe | Photographer: Jamie Fender Photography | Floral: The Nest |Rental Equipment: All Occasions | Musicians : The Meghan Stewart Quartet | Stationary: Savannah Smith Design