Today, we’re excited to have Dara on the blog sharing her gorgeous wedding with our readers. Dara, how would you describe your wedding theme?
Our wedding décor/theme was what I would consider “vintage country chic.” My church wasn’t going to be big enough to seat everyone, but we were working on a new building for our church camp that could seat 700+ people, so we ended up using that building for our venue! I loved it though, because the unfinished look gave it more of a natural vibe.
My aunt and another sister from my church sewed material to be draped through the rafters in the ceiling and to cover the unfinished walls. (The unfinished walls weren’t as pretty as the rafters . . . haha.) It was beautiful! My uncle had also made a couple sets of wooden doors for the building that were absolutely GORGEOUS, and they added so much to the look I was going for.
There are a lot of windows in the building, and I had originally planned to close/cover the windows during the ceremony and then have them opened during the reception; but I loved the natural light that was coming in from those, so we ended up keeping them open the whole time.
The flowers for our bouquets were pink and white roses, white peonies, and eucalyptus. I LOVE flowers, so we also did a lot of decorating with the roses and eucalyptus as well!
We actually had our ceremony and reception all in the same building. Honestly, our original reason for doing this was because we were having a hard time finding a venue that was available that day and that was big enough to seat everyone that would be attending. But I am so glad we decided to do it this way. We had the tables already set up and decorated, and that’s where everyone sat during the ceremony. We had a buffet-style dinner, so the ushers dismissed people to get their food for the reception, and then they came back to their tables. It worked out really well!
Since we had done most of our pictures before the wedding, we were able begin the reception right after the ceremony, and the guests didn’t have to drive somewhere else or wait a long time to be served. It also gave Patrick and me more time to talk with everyone who had come to support us, and that was really important to us.
One of the things I loved about our wedding was how intimate and personal it was. Our songs were all sung and played by friends and family who are close to us. Also, because the building wasn’t finished, there had been so many of my family and church family working on it up until the day before the wedding. Hanging chandeliers (and straightening them with fishing wire . . . lol), sewing material, wiring the building for lighting and sound, sweeping and mopping (and re-mopping when the workspace got dirty again!), building and carpeting the platform, etc., etc., etc! So many of the people that I love the most had their work and their own personal touches sprinkled throughout the entire building, and it meant so much me!
I’m also so thankful for the Spirit of God that was evident during the whole ceremony. I remember 10+ years ago, praying and praying that someday, when I got married, the Holy Ghost would be present in such a way that it was undeniable that God’s Hand was on our marriage. And in the weeks and months leading up our wedding, I began to pray that prayer again – that the witness of the Holy Ghost would be there and that people could feel the presence of God. And those prayers were definitely answered. Especially when our families and ministers prayed over us, you could feel the presence of God in such a powerful way. There were multiple people that told us it was the most beautiful wedding they had ever been to. I know it wasn’t just because of decorations and flowers. There was a certain “feel” that is hard to describe unless you were there! And I am so, so thankful!
What are some of your favorite/special memories of your wedding day?
I had two “first looks” before my wedding. One was with Patrick, and the other was with my dad and my three brothers. Those were both so special! The look on Pat’s face when he turned around and saw me was absolutely priceless! And I loved having a first look with my dad and brothers. I am very close to my family, so it was really emotional for all of us. In fact, when they all turned around to look at me, almost immediately, my dad said, “Well, that didn’t take long.” Apparently, he had previously told my brothers that he didn’t think he would cry. But he was wrong! Haha.
Singing down the aisle:
Patrick and I both love music, so it was really important to me to have the “perfect” songs for each part of the ceremony. One of the hardest to decide on was the song to be played/sung when I walked down the aisle. Finally, late one night, I found the song, “I’m Sure It’s You,” by Shelea. I loved it and decided that’s the song I would use, but I was planning to have someone else sing it. It turned out, the lady who was supposed to sing it ended up not being able to come to the wedding. My mom recommended I sing it, and Patrick wanted me too as well, so I decided to sing it while walking down the aisle. That was such a special moment! Patrick isn’t a big crier, but he cried during most of the song. I AM a crier, but somehow was able to hold it together! It was a beautiful moment for us.
Night before the wedding:
One of the most memorable events surrounding our wedding actually took place the night before. After rehearsal, when almost everyone else had left, a few family members and those in our wedding party gathered around the piano at our venue and started playing and singing worship songs. We have connected with many of our friends and loved ones through music and worship, and it just seemed fitting to have one more special, intimate time of worship together before our big day.
I cannot tell you how the presence of God came into that room and just blessed and ministered. The Spirit was there in such a powerful, beautiful way. It makes me emotional just remembering it! To me, it was yet another confirmation that God’s Hand was on our union and that He was with us.
After we had sung a couple songs, Patrick’s best man requested that everyone there gather around Patrick and me and pray for us, that God would continue to bless and lead us. The Spirit of God again just touched and ministered. We then continued to sing, worship, and linger in the presence of God. I’m so thankful for such amazing family and friends that support us, worship with us, and pray for us. We are truly so, so blessed!
Were there any funny moments or things that didn’t go according to plan?
As part of our wedding vows, I wanted to make some promises to Patrick’s little girl, Ava. I was an emotional wreck during this part of the ceremony. But I also had to laugh, because she absolutely would NOT smile. Haha! Patrick was holding her, and I was talking to her (but barely, because I was crying so hard I could barely speak); and she was just looking at me with a look you would only understand if you knew her. Patrick was even trying to use reverse psychology and say, “Don’t smile,” just so she would, but she was embarrassed and it just wasn’t happening. Haha! But we have a great relationship, and she smiles at me all the time now.
How did you find the perfect wedding dress?
To be completely honest, I bought my wedding dress on eBay for $102! I wanted a simple, modest wedding dress, which can be difficult to find in your typical bridal shop, so I began searching online. I looked on multiple websites and finally found exactly what I wanted on eBay through a vendor who makes custom dresses. I submitted my measurements and about a month later received my dress in the mail. I know that ordering wedding dresses online can be risky, and it’s not for everyone, but it worked for me. I have no regrets!
Any advice you have for future brides?
Make it your own!
There is no wedding rule book that says you have to do or not do things a certain way (and if there is, don’t read it :p). Don’t succumb to pressure to do things a certain way just because that’s the way it’s always been or that’s the way someone else thinks you should do it. This day is for you and your husband-to-be! Add your own personal touches, and make your wedding a reflection of your personalities and who you are as a couple.
Enjoy your day.
This is the day you have waited for and been preparing for! This will be one of the happiest days of your life! As much as possible, get things done ahead of time so you can enjoy those last few days leading up to your wedding.
My wedding coordinator, my mom, and many others helped me so much during the 3 months (yes, only 3 months!) that we were engaged. The more detailed you plan during prep time, the less there will be to stress about in those last few days. I THOROUGHLY enjoyed my wedding day, and I am so thankful.
Also, planning a wedding is a huge job. Don’t be afraid to delegate. You don’t have to delegate everything; if there’s a certain job that you want done EXACTLY the way you want it done, then do it yourself (or give that job to someone you trust with your LIFE). But if there are certain things that you aren’t as good at or you’re a little more flexible with, give those jobs to someone else. It will take the pressure off of you and hopefully allow you to enjoy the process (and your big day!) even more.
While planning for a beautiful wedding, don’t forget to prepare for a beautiful marriage.
It’s easy to get so caught up in the wedding planning that you forget to invest in your relationship with your honey! I strongly recommend premarital counseling.
Premarital counseling is preventative in nature. It’s not like the antibiotic that you take when you’re sick. It’s the Vitamin C you boost your immune system with so you don’t get sick! There are a lot of changes that will take place after you get married. Premarital counseling will help you better prepare for and understand these changes.
Also, Patrick and I read a book together called, Ready to Wed, while we were engaged, and we HIGHLY recommend it. It covers everything from conflict management to expectations in marriage to physical intimacy. It is a fabulous book from Focus on the Family, and we have recommended it to multiple engaged couples!
Anything else in particular that you’d like to share about your wedding or your love story?
I loved our wedding, and I love our story! I know that God ordained our relationship, and I’m so thankful for the way He directed us to one another. Our story is much too long to share here, but you can read about it in detail on www.theknot.com/us/daraandpatrick!
With that being said, fall in love with your story! There is no other story like that of yours and your fiance’s, so love it and be proud to tell it!
Photographer: Kim Smith, Memphis, TN