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. 

Venue:

Memory Lane

Photography:

Al Gawlik

Caterer:

Trudy's Four Star

Cakes:

Classic Cakes by Lori

Floral:

Petal Pushers

Rings:

Segner's Jewelers

Hair: Creative Hair, Dripping Springs

Makeup:

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...

Bridal Portrait Feature: Chelsea

Get ready to pick your jaw up off the floor - Chelsea's bridal session, shot by Misty Doyle, is ethereal, beautiful, and one-of-a-kind.  Misty Doyle Photography is based in Wichita Falls, but for this session, the ladies actually traveled to Western Oklahoma to get these stunning shots.  Going for an editorial vibe with artistic influence from Native American culture, Chelsea went out of the box for her portraits, showcasing her unique style while paying tribute to traces of family history. 

TB&B: What was your inspiration for these portraits?

Chelsea: I certainly don't fit the model Indian having blonde hair and blue eyes, but I've always been intrigued and obsessed with Native American culture and history.  Buffalo, war horses, feathers, turquoise, beading, teepees, you name it, I've got it in my house or closet!  The Cowboys and Indians era is definitely my favorite to learn about and I so wish I could've lived during that time.  I have started research into my ancestry and found that my great, great, great grandfather on my mom's side lived in Township 7, Chickasaw Nation in the early 1900s.  I don't know many more details right now, but we're working on learning more.

TB&B: What did you enjoy about working with Misty?

Chelsea: Misty is amazing and her work proves it!  I am pretty shy and awkward when the focus is all on me, so I was a little nervous about a photographer I didn't know coming to take pictures of me.  When I decided to go a different course than the traditional bridals, I was afraid she would think I was crazy - but she was so excited!  That was a huge relief.  She drove two hours to some stranger's house in Western Oklahoma to photograph a bride she had only spoken to through email, text, and phone, but there was an immediate connection.  It was a HOT and humid July evening, the gnats and bugs were attacking us and the horses were running around like crazy.  If she had any doubts, I never knew. 

All she cared about was making me happy and getting the exact pictures we wanted.  How can it get any better and easier than that?

TB&B: Before the dress and the portraits comes a love story - let's hear yours.

Chelsea: Clay and I met at the Stockyard Saloon during the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.  How romantic, right? :) Neither of us walked into that bar with our friends expecting to find our soulmate.  Apparently, when he saw me he told my friend, "She's the most beautiful girl I have ever seen."  Of course I was flattered and eager to meet him.  To this day he tells me that I am beautiful every single day and I love it. 

I was working on the road and he was on the rodeo trail so we didn't see each other after that night for two months.  We lived almost five hours apart so it was tough at times to find a spare second to see each other; a full weekend was very rare, but now you rarely find us apart.  There was no doubt in our mind that the Lord had definitely brought us together.  They say "when you know, you know" - that is the truth.  Met at the beginning of February 2013, I moved from San Angelo, Texas, to Sayre, Oklahoma in August 2013 and married on August 2, 2014.  Short, sweet, and to the point and we've never looked back since.  He is my favorite!

He's her favorite and these portraits are ours.  Bold, colorful, and intriguing.  Misty Doyle, your work is fabulous.  Thank you for sharing these incredible shots with us.  Chelsea and Clay, best wishes to you two! 

Misty is based in North Texas and serves brides and families with wedding and lifestyle photography. 

Images used with permission. 

Ringgold Ranch Wedding - Macy & Clint

There's something so special about backyard weddings, and when that backyard is the ranch where you grew up, it takes on a whole new meaning.  Macy and Clint's big day was filled with beautiful personal touches that helped tell their story. 

TB&B: How did you meet Clint?

Macy: When I met Clint in Snook, Texas, I had just moved to College Station.  I saw him as soon as I pulled up to the arena where he practiced, sitting on an old picnic table fixing his spur leathers, talking with his friend.  We were acquaintances, then friends, and then dating.  We actually started spending the most time together on the day we both graduated, he with his masters, and my undergrad from A&M.  Little did I know the rest of the story would be so wonderful! 

TB&B: Tell us the abridged version of the Hopping love story.

Macy: Saw him, had to have him, married him.

(Ha! Pretty much how it goes, right??)

Really, it had more to it - a move or two, a few jobs and job changes, summers, winters, etc.  We both know that the Lord matched us.  He says he always felt God's presence around me, I say I'd never met anyone like him.  We both knew the rest of the story early into it.

Y'all.  Is that cowhide rug aisle not genius?!

TB&B: Which little details of the day were most special to you? Had you always known you'd want to get married at your family's ranch?

Macy: Each time we greeted a different friend or family member was memorable.  It was a whole weekend's worth of fun, so having everyone dear to us there was the most significant.  And having those friends with us at my home made it even more special, because I have always dreamed of getting married there.  I remember feeling very full and so much peace with everyone we love with us.  Being married and having all those memories in a place we know we'll be often is special - it's easy to vividly remember.

TB&B: Tell us what you love most about the guy you married, and what makes you two "click."

Macy: We spend about 95% of our time together.  We work together every day, travel together every weekend, and help each other with one another's chores on the ranch. We're exactly the same in our humor, our work ethics, our goals, and most importantly, our faith in Jesus.  My sister would also include weirdness in our commonalities.  In her Maid of Honor speech she said, "I don't understand your jokes, and I quit trying to understand them a long time ago." We both think we are hilarious.  Laughter is probably the theme and our favorite part of being together.

TB&B: What song did you two dance to for your first dance?

Macy: Ray Lamontagne, You Are the Best Thing

TB&B: And finally, tell us what marriage means to you as a couple.

Macy: We both believe in the covenant of marriage, that it was a promise made first to God and then to each other.  Like the Gospel, marriage is about love, sacrifice, and grace.  God brought us here and we will spend the rest of our lives with one another.  "We love because He first loved us." -1 John 4:19

Thank you to the Hoppings for sharing their story and giving us a glimpse into their special day, and to Ashley Monogue of Ashley Monogue Photography (based in College Station) for sharing her work.