Pecan Springs Ranch Bridal Portraits

I had my bridal portraits taken at Pecan Springs Ranch event venue outside of Austin, shot by Amy of Al Gawlik Photography. I say the words "incredibly talented" about a lot of people, but goodness gracious, not many people are as good at what they do as Amy. I was so lucky to have her, and we couldn't have asked for better weather or better sunlight that April afternoon.

I wish I could show y'all what my dress looked like before alterations. I wanted something with straps and a unique back, and this dress fit both of those bills, but there was a a big problem in the form of a giant peplum skirt coming off the waist. The style never made it to mass production (no wonder - all that extra material for the peplum was not flattering) so the store had it on major markdown. I took a chance on it with the promise that the peplum skirt part could be removed, and I'm so glad I did. We added more buttons to go further down the back (buttons on wedding dresses just make my heart happy) and a sparkly belt, and to me, it was the perfect dress for our big day.

 Sun flare. I love it. And can we talk about that settee?! I wanted to take it home with me. 

Thank you, Al Gawlik and Pecan Springs Ranch!

Our Wedding: Part 2

Finishing up the second half of our wedding post today. Our ceremony was a little different than most. Andrew's close friend and mentor, Shane, got ordained on the internet to officiate our ceremony. Yes, we were those people. But we wouldn't have had it any other way. Andrew credits Shane with helping him become the person he is today, influencing his work, his values, his priorities and his faith. Knowing Andrew to be the man he is and knowing Shane had a large part in that - what an honor to have him play a part in beginning this new chapter of our lives.

 Our pre-ceremony music made my 90s-country-loving heart so happy. Hal Ketchum and Restless Heart played as the guests took their seats. 

I walked down the aisle to the

MercyMe version

of my favorite hymn of all time, Come Thou Fount.

Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace

Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise

Oh to grace, how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be

Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love

Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above  

 This is one of my favorite images from the whole day and one word comes to mind: trust. The man who raised me, giving me away to the man about to say his vows to me. I wanted to freeze that bittersweet moment for just a little longer!

 Sweet Emma girl. Such a beauty, and she doesn't even know it yet.

As soon as my dad sat down and I stood across from Andrew and took his hands, he slipped a tiny piece of paper to me and opened his palm so I could read it. It simply said "home team." Those words have been a theme in our relationship since we got engaged. Knowing that we would soon be moving to a new city and encountering a lot of new challenges, we promised that we would face it all, all of the unknowns, as a team. With a million different things vying for our attention every day, we know that our priority is at home, in each other.

We asked Shane to speak a little on the meaning of the covenant. How it differs in nature and purpose from a contract or a promise, and how our relationship in marriage is meant to mirror Jesus's relationship with the church. He also talked about choosing joy despite whatever circumstances may come our way. 

Instead of lighting a unity candle, we joined jars of dirt. It doesn't sound pretty, or really even look pretty, but the dirt is from the land where we were each raised. His, dark soil from east Texas, and mine, rocky clay from the hill country. By joining those two together, we created our "common ground." We added sand from the Caribbean when we returned from our honeymoon, and we'll add to the jar with each place we live, wherever that may be. 

    My brother did what he does so well and played a medley of two other favorite hymns, In Christ Alone and Be Thou My Vision, before we said a final prayer.

 We did it! That right there is a face of pure bliss. And in true Bullard fashion, we had George Strait's "True" playing as we walked out :)

 The boys were ready to get the party started. Three cheers for Shiner Ruby Redbird!

 First dance with my love. We danced to "I Just Wanna Be Yours" by Full Throttle. 

 There was a whole lot of dancing. A whole lot. And we loved every minute of it.

 Looking back on our day, I honestly don't know how it could've been any more perfect. Our parents, our best friends, and our families all together in one place made it the best day of our lives. 


Memory Lane


Al Gawlik


Trudy's Four Star


Classic Cakes by Lori


Petal Pushers


Segner's Jewelers

Hair: Creative Hair, Dripping Springs


Austin Wedding Makeup

Our Wedding: Part 1

I explained in my last post about the changes coming to The Big and Bright. I took a long hiatus from blogging after getting married, and recently, my husband really encouraged me to get back to writing and helped me nail down my vision for the future of this site. So I figured what better way to embark on that transition than to blog about my own wedding? I don't ever want to forget all the little details and moments of that day. 

For our day, we wanted a look and feel that epitomized rustic hill country. I was born and raised in Dripping Springs, so returning there to be married at such a beautiful venue, Memory Lane, was really special for me. We used a lot of corrugated metal and mostly neutral colors to play off the limestone, but I also wanted to incorporate succulents and pops of bright colors to add some contrast. In the end, we just wanted the whole day to reflect who we are as a couple: nothing fancy. We wanted to feel comfortable and right at home, and for our guests to feel that way too.

We served Tex Mex (I never miss an opportunity for chips and queso), danced the night away to 90s country and Texas country, and overall, kept things pretty low-key and no fuss. Obviously this day was important, but to me, it wasn't about the centerpieces or a designer dress or anything like that - in fact, I had neither. I chose a few things as priorities for the day: a good photographer, good food, and music that meant a lot to us. The simplicity of everything else allowed us to focus on what's truly important: committing to each other and enjoying the one time in our lives where every single person that we love was together in one place. What a day!

My boots were my something blue, and my mom's bracelet was my something borrowed.

I designed our invitation suite myself and carried the kraft paper element through other details as well.

I still wear this gold necklace almost daily. It's such a strong reminder to me of the promises we made that day. And anyone who knows my mom knows that she cries at the drop of a hat, so I knew this handkerchief was a practical gift as well as sentimental. She and my dad really did do so much to make our day everything we wanted it to be.

Our ceremony was outside, in June, in Texas, so we had our programs printed on fans. For each member of the wedding party, we included a little snippet about how they met the bride or groom, and the fun facts section was a hit with our guests. We also had a trough full of lemon chills for guests to grab as they walked in. We didn't want anyone to melt!

It did rain for part of the afternoon, and as our ceremony time was approaching, the sweet Memory Lane girls finally had to ask me if I wanted to move the ceremony inside. I was so hesitant - I had envisioned saying our vows under those gorgeous oak trees. Thank God for weather apps on smartphones and their accuracy - my bridesmaids kept checking and assured me that the rain was moving right along, and they were right! We were able to keep it outside and the rain actually cooled things off by a few degrees, so it was a blessing in disguise. Hey, rain on your wedding day is good luck, right?

I put my dress on in a private room with just my mom and maid of honor (who had been with me on the day I picked it out), because I wanted to show the rest of my girls all at once. Opening the door to their surprised faces was SUCH a fun moment - I highly recommend doing a "reveal" with your bridesmaids!

 My bridesmaids each chose their own dresses, and my flower girl's dress was handmade by my aunt. Neutral colors are my love language, so this was my dream color palette.

Oh hey good lookin'... how handsome is he?? Andrew and I chose not to do a first look. I didn't really care either way, but he was adamant about not wanting to see me until my dad was walking me down the aisle. I'm not against first looks by any means; it's a personal choice and makes good sense in certain situations, but I ended up being so glad we went the traditional route. Seeing the emotion on his face as I was coming down the aisle was so special.

As the last of our guests were being seated, my mom said a prayer over the day and over our marriage. Sharing that moment with all of my closest friends, the girls who've been there for me through it all, was so surreal.

Seeing my dad for the first time that day right before he walked me down the aisle - be still my heart. 

More to come from our ceremony and reception...

Hemlock and Heather

For this husband-and-wife team, a one-time DIY project for a charity donation sparked the interest of several proud Texans, and as demand grew, soon became a full-time endeavor called Hemlock and Heather.  Kris and Kelley are the faces behind this homegrown, handmade business, which specializes in wall hangings, headboards, and other custom projects using reclaimed wood.  We talked to the couple to find out more about the company and what goes in to each unique piece.

TB&B: Tell us about your ties to West, Texas, and how that town is intertwined with the creation of Hemlock and Heather.

K&K: Although we got our start refurbishing and building furniture, the focus of our business has shifted to designing and building one-of-a-kind wall art.  We began making our Reclaimed Texas Wall Hangings when Kelley asked Kris to build something "Texas-y" for a benefit she and a friend were planning for the victims of the West fertilizer plant explosion (Kelley is from West).  The wall hanging was a hit, and pretty soon the demand for the pieces was taking up the bulk of our time.  We make our wall hangings and headboards from 100% reclaimed wood that we scour Austin and the surrounding areas for.  Each of our pieces is hand numbered, signed, and comes with a detailed thank you card explaining what each piece of wood was in its former life and where it was found.  Making these pieces allows us to save wood that would ordinarily be destined for the city dump, as, as a writer (Kris) and photographer (Kelley), it affords us the opportunity to exercise our creative need to tell a story about our work.

TB&B: Where do you find the wood used in your projects?  What kind(s) of wood is it?

K&K: All over, really.  We use everything from discarded and broken furniture, old doors, siding, and flooring, to picture frames, old cabinets, and even broken children's toys.

TB&B: From start to finish, about how long does it take to construct each Texas wall hanging?

K&K: It depends on the size of the piece and intricacy of the design.  We've built 48" pieces that have taken two days to complete.  Generally speaking, from start to finish, an 18" piece takes about two to three hours to complete.

TB&B: What are some of the unforeseen challenges and rewards of running a business with handmade products, and doing it with your spouse?

K&K: Finding enough wood in a broad array of colors is always a challenge, and when we do find a large quantity, having enough space to store it is sometimes a problem.  The rewards are endless.  We get to make something with our own hands and send it out into the world and know that it takes on a life of its own.  We also get the gratification of knowing that we are saving wood from the landfill and giving it another life.  Some of the wood we use has already been repurposed a couple of times by the time it reaches our shop.  That's extremely gratifying for me (Kris), because I have always had a kind of unwitting affection for wood.  I've always loved the smell of lumber yards, and have vivid memories of going to the local lumber yard with my Dad.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I found out that my Grandfather and Great-Grandfather on my Dad's side were lumberjacks and carpenters, so I guess you could say that it's in my blood. 

The most gratifying thing about all of it is that it is something that we share.  We share the responsibilities and the rewards.  We make decisions together, work on designs together, and we seem to be at our best as a team.  The whole thing is very representative of our relationship and the way we feel about each other. 

It's all made from love, in the end, I suppose.

TB&B: So you've mentioned before that Matt's El Rancho is a favorite hot spot of yours -

what are a few other places you like to frequent in Austin?

K&K: We try to support local businesses whenever possible, so we've been frequenting Stouthaus Coffee PubTacodeli, and Kerbey Lane on the weekends, and our favorite local bar is Gibson Street Bar.  The great part about living in Austin is that we can try a new restaurant every weekend.  We're still getting through the list of new spots we'd like to try.  We recently went to a play at the Salvage Vanguard Theater and that was a blast.  And, of course, what list of favorite Austin hangs is complete without the Alamo Drafthouse?

Getting to know more about this couple and the work they do was such a joy.  Their passion for supporting all things local, as well as their own contribution, is inspiring.  To see more from Hemlock and Heather, visit their website here.

Boerne Engagement Feature - Lauren & Jacobs

For this couple, an leisurely afternoon not spent on the road is a rare occurrence.  When I called to chat with Lauren, she and Jacobs were making the haul from Scottsdale, Arizona, pausing for a pit stop in Stephenville, and then heading on to Fort Worth.  Long days on the road are just part of life for Jacobs, a professional saddle bronc rider on the PRCA circuit and four-time WNFR qualifier, and his bride-to-be.  For this engagement session, Amanda Ward and Amanda Cross of Mint To Be Photography spent an early spring afternoon with the future Crawleys at Lauren's family's ranch.

Growing up in Cotulla, Texas, halfway between San Antonio and Laredo, Lauren was raised on the same ranch where her great-grandfather was born.  Both of her parents participated in rodeo, so she came by the sport naturally, participating throughout high school and college.  After a year of rodeoing at a junior college, she transferred to Texas A&M to major in Agricultural Business and continue with collegiate rodeo.  She befriended a familiar face during her student orientation - Jacobs also happened to be transferring to A&M that year to study Industrial Systems Engineering.  Knowing of each other from their high school rodeo days, they began a deeper friendship while balancing their studies with traveling as members of the Aggie Rodeo Team and competing in other rodeos.  Jacobs qualified for his first National Finals Rodeo in 2011, the same year he and Lauren both earned their diplomas (he Skyped in from Vegas to give his final presentation for a class - whatever it takes!). 

During the summer of 2013, Lauren decided to travel to the Northwest for a rodeo, and lo and behold, ran into Jacobs between events.  After running into each other at several more rodeos, they decided they better keep in touch, and both knowing first-hand the crazy unpredictability of the rodeo schedule, it was nice to have a friend who understood their way of life.  Eventually, the two friends realized that they didn't want to be apart, and fell in love later that summer, quickly realizing that this was a forever thing.

Fast forward to a Saturday morning in November of 2014 - Lauren was complaining to Jacobs as they rode around checking cows on Jacobs' land in Stephenville that she was missing home and really wanted to go visit her family.  He had promised her that they would go down to south Texas that weekend, but he was stalling that day and didn't seem to be in any hurry.  There was a spot in the pasture where they frequently brought sandwiches or burgers out to enjoy a picnic, but on this particularly windy day when she just wanted to get on the road, Lauren was irritated at Jacobs' suggestion of stopping at their picnic table to eat.  She obliged, and as they finished lunch, he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.  They immediately got on the road to go see Lauren's family and tell them the good news, which Jacobs swore he hadn't shared with anybody.  But when they got to her family's place, all of their close friends and family were there waiting for them to arrive to their surprise engagement party.

Lauren always thought she was Type A, but while dating Jacobs, she quickly realized that he might be the more organized of the two.  "He brought his planner to one of our first coffee dates - that's when I knew he was the one," she says.  For a professional rodeo cowboy who can travel 20,000 miles in a month, riding in dozens of rodeos all over the country, organization is pretty helpful.  Luckily, Lauren doesn't mind keeping him company on the road.  "I love traveling - seeing different things.  I'm along for the ride.  I just jump in and we go," she says. "But when you're on the road a lot, it's nice to just enjoy being at home with a glass of wine - you have to have that routine." 

Planning their May wedding around the hectic rodeo peak times, Lauren and Jacobs had to act fast to find vendors who were available on a short notice and could work with their schedule, but they didn't want to sacrifice quality in doing that.  "I found Mint To Be Photography on Wedding Wire.  I really wanted a photographer who was going to focus on us, and not the structures around us, " Lauren says.  "I wanted them to have a really natural, organic feel, and I immediately saw that in Mint To Be's style.  Plus, they were willing to work with us since we were kind of in a time crunch.  It really was meant to be!"

Lauren and Jacobs headed to the Tomolga Ranch in Boerne, a place Lauren's great-grandparents purchased in 1951, for their engagement session with Amanda Ward and Amanda Cross of Mint To Be, based in San Antonio.  For the soon-to-be Crawleys, it's back to the grind - every weekend between now and the big day will be filled with rough stock and road trips, criss crossing the map - and these two wouldn't have it any other way. 

Special thanks to Amanda Ward of Mint To Be Photography for helping coordinate this feature, and to Lauren and Jacobs for sharing their story.