COUPLES WHO SAID “I DO”
Ashlee Sargent and Bryan Jones
Married Jan. 5, 2019
When Bryan Jones asked Ashlee Sargent to marry him, he got it just right, taking advantage of a special evening that included three things very important to them both — faith, family and football. At Ashlee’s parents’ Arlington home on Christmas Eve, after their crew got home from a Cowboys game, he knelt down to wash her feet, symbolizing Christ’s humility and service, and asked for her hand. “He had brought everyone outside to the backyard, and our song ‘Better Today’ by Coffey Anderson was playing, and my dad walked me over to him,” she says. “It finally clicked, in front of our closest friends and family. It was very thought out and just incredible.”
The couple first met at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton. Ashlee, a freshman basketball player, left her research paper open on a library computer; Bryan, a senior football player, found the file and reached out to her through Facebook. Ashlee wasn’t immediately smitten, but as the two college athletes became friends, she started to notice that he could always make her laugh. It wasn’t until after he moved away for his football coaching career that their connection deepened; after two years of dating, much of it long distance, they’d begin planning their wedding with the help of Lucia Bitnar of Foster Blue.
Important to Ashlee was documenting the day and finding the perfect venue, which turned out to be The Brooks at Weatherford; both she and Bryan were drawn to the sweet chapel for the ceremony and the reception building’s handsome stonework.
Their January wedding day was a mild 60 degrees, so the sides of the chapel were left open for the ceremony. The bridesmaids walked down the aisle in pale blue chiffon gowns in various designs, while the men wore navy suits.
As Ashlee made her entrance in a gown with a beaded bodice and tulle skirt and a chapel-length veil, the couple’s favorite up-and-coming country singer, Coffey Anderson, appeared in person to perform the song that was playing when they got engaged. The pastor who’d baptized Ashlee and served as her high school basketball coach led the couple in their vows.
On their way to the reception, guests first stopped in an elegant cocktail area set up in a tent, with green velvet couches and gold accents. Come dinnertime, they entered the stone building with a warming fire in the hearth. The mantel and tables were decorated with pottery in Ashlee’s favorite shade of green, filled with flower arrangements in hues of white, pink and red. A coordinating floral runner added a lush look to the head table.
The high-energy dance band and open bar gave the reception the fun, party feel the couple wanted. While Ashlee chose a dreamy, traditional white wedding cake, Bryan took a hand in designing his own cake, drawing out a football play that the baker re-created on the cake’s top tier.
The couple, now reunited in Louisiana, where they both work, took a honeymoon to St. Lucia a few days after the festivities.
“The best advice I could give is to spend money on a planner,” says Ashlee. “Having Lucia oversee everything — I hands-down believe that made for the perfect day.”
— Laura Samuel Meyn
Megan Rommel and Ted Watt
Married March 23, 2019
Megan Rommel and Ted Watt are not shy about what brought them together.
“We swiped right!” they say, referring to the dating platform Tinder.
The couple, who met in Dallas, quickly found a lasting connection, forged by their mutual love for family and friends, the outdoors and good food.
On March 23, 2019, #WattisLove proved more than a hashtag when they were united in marriage at Dove Ridge Vineyard in Weatherford.
Megan, whose parents live on a ranch, knew she wanted to find the perfect outdoor location. “At first, we focused on venues in Dallas,” she says. “But as we were looking, we became interested in Dove Ridge. We realized nothing beat the feeling of being on the hill.”
Add to that the fact that the destination had “a great Plan B in case it rained,” Megan says, and she and Ted were sold. “We definitely wanted to get all of our friends and family in one place,” she says. “Plus, it’s just so beautiful there with the Texas countryside.”
Late that March afternoon, as the rain that was forecast thankfully held off, 135 guests gathered to witness the windy ceremony, held outside under a rustic flower-festooned canopy. The service was led by Alex Badour — Megan’s friend since junior high — who recognized that the couple had something special early in their relationship, offering his approval shortly after meeting Ted. “Alex told me, ‘This is your guy,’ ” she says. “He called it before even I knew!”
The bride, escorted down the aisle by her father, wore a lace fit-and-flare design
Erin Graft and Wes Bugg
Married March 9, 2019
When Erin Graft began her job at an investment firm, she didn’t anticipate that she’d meet her future husband through the guy sitting next to her at work. Sam Howell introduced Erin to his girlfriend, Hannah Gunzelman, and also to his roommate, Wes Bugg, who worked in a different department of the same company. The four became fast friends; over time, Erin and Wes drew closer and began to date. The couple would serve as attendants at their mutual friends’ wedding. Eventually, Sam and Hannah would return the favor.
After three years of dating, while on vacation in Chicago, Wes asked Erin to marry him after dinner at The Signature Room, on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center. As they closed their tab and asked a waiter to take their photo, Wes proposed with a ring that he’d gotten Hannah’s approval on weeks earlier.
Erin knew that she wanted to work with photographer Kate Panza, who’d shot a friend’s wedding, but she had no interest in micromanaging the rest of the plans (“I didn’t care what color napkins we had”), so she found a venue that could take care of most of the details in-house. Aristide Colleyville, formerly known as Piazza in the Village, hosted both ceremony and reception and provided a wedding coordinator, catering, place settings, lighting and much more. The venue even live-streamed the wedding. “Our grandmothers are both unable to travel, but they were able to watch it,” she says.
Following the groomsmen’s appearance in black tuxedos with white calla lily boutonnieres and the bridesmaids’ procession in cabernet-hued dresses, Erin stepped into the chapel in a lace overlay Allure Bridals gown accented with crystals; she wore sparkling Betsey Johnson heels with a laser-cut floral pattern. With her hair up to show off the gown’s illusion back, Erin added a simple pearl-trimmed veil. Her father walked her down the aisle, which was lined with lit candles and strewn with rose petals; her brothers and Wes’ sister stood alongside the couple’s friends in the wedding party.
The ceremony wasn’t perfect: Wes presented the wrong hand for his ring, Erin had to ask the officiant to repeat himself when she was too nervous to listen to the vows she was supposed to be reciting, and the unity candle was, well, dropped. But the easygoing couple laughed it off. “It was very ‘us’ in the sense that there were some unplanned comical moments in the ceremony,” says Erin. “We’re both laid-back, and I think it’s one of the reasons why we work so well.”
At the reception, Erin enjoyed dancing with her 93-year-old grandpa, who still delights in getting out on the dance floor. The couple indulged their love of cake with three selections — a three-tiered wedding cake, a golf-themed cake for the groom and a University of Oklahoma-themed cake for the bride. “The cakes were amazing,” she says. “Each tier was a different flavor.”
Erin left the honeymoon trip completely in Wes’ hands — asking only that it be an international destination with a beach, somewhere they’d never been before.
“I didn’t know where we were going until we were at the airport,” she says. “We went to a resort in Jamaica; he did a phenomenal job.”
— Laura Samuel Meyn
Melissa Purvis and Doak Raulston
Married May 5, 2018
For bride-to-be Melissa Purvis, planning a wedding with 500 guests was a piece of cake. Looking back, the Fort Worth native credits her mother, her wedding planner Melanie Tatum and her now-husband Doak Raulston with keeping any bridezilla moments at bay.
“My mom and Melanie were both integral parts of the wedding planning process. I definitely could not have done it without them,” Melissa says. “And Doak was great about reminding me to not stress about the details and to enjoy the process.”
Veteran event planner Tatum was up to the task of staging the epic evening, where 11 bridesmaids, 10 groomsmen, six house party attendants and five ushers participated in the ceremony at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in downtown Fort Worth.
And that’s not even counting the giraffes, who were special guests at the dinner reception at the Fort Worth Zoo’s African Savanna exhibit. When guests weren’t enjoying mini beef Wellington, pulled pork tacos or ahi tuna wontons during cocktail hour, many could be found feeding lettuce fronds to the towering animals.
For Melissa and Doak, having their party at the zoo dovetailed nicely with her family story — Melissa’s dad is a longtime member of the board — as well as their mutual love for the outdoors.
“We loved that the venue’s landscape and the open-air tent allowed us to achieve the outdoor feel, and we wanted to continue the lush greenery throughout the beautiful tent there,” Melissa recalls.
Decorated by Dallas-based Branching Out Events with truckloads of white flowers and touches of pink — garden roses, hydrangea, peonies, ranunculus and orchids were on prominent display — as well as “tons of naturally flowing green foliage,” the tent was transformed into a lush habitat — or, as Melissa calls it, an “elevated garden party.”
An 8-by-8 flower-studded feature, suspended over the dance floor, offered the “big wow factor” and included a mix of wisteria, orchids and greenery; vintage chandeliers added Old Hollywood charm. The decor could be topped only by the bride’s almond cake, a seven-tiered, cream-cheese-frosted white-and-pink confection from Creme de la Creme Cake Company, featuring an ombre effect and delicate origamilike flowers on the base, which nearly matched the bride’s simple yet elegant gown.
Custom made by Melody Stafford Couture, who has been designing clothing for Melissa’s family for almost 23 years, the ethereal blush-undertoned dress was intricately adorned with hundreds of silk appliqued flowers. All of which granted the bride an effervescent quality, as she and Doak floated from table to table, talking to guests, purposely together, which made it easy to transition to the dance floor.
An impromptu dance-off was a highlight, when Melissa, Doak and their parents were playfully pitted against one another onstage, orchestrated by the Memphis-based band The SoulSations.
Late-night revelers were treated to a sugar high — glazed doughnuts and sausage rolls from Doak’s childhood favorite, Dale’s Donuts — and then continued the party downtown, at Studio Eighty nightclub.
“Thinking back to the evening, it still feels like a dream,” Melissa says. “I will forever be grateful for Doak, my best friend and soulmate; the vendors who made our vision become a reality; and our family and friends who helped us celebrate our special day.” — Anna Caplan
Molly Cross and Christian Filigrana
Married Sept. 29, 2018
For a family-oriented couple who met on a soccer field, there was no better way to start their new lives together than by saying “I do” under a massive American elm tree on a perfect autumn evening, with the bride’s brother officiating the ceremony.
A clinical rotation during her doctor of physical therapy program took Molly Cross to Houston. A lifelong passion for soccer brought her out for an adult league. Upon seeing Molly play, her future husband recruited her to his own team. Four years later — on July 30, 2017 — Christian Filigrana proposed during a trip to Clearwater, Florida, which his bride-to-be had planned for his birthday.
Weeks later, Hurricane Harvey upended their lives. In short order, the couple moved to Fort Worth, where Molly continued to hone her skills working with brain-injury patients. Christian was able to keep working with schools around Texas to steer their fundraising efforts. Most of Christian’s family lives in Colombia, while Molly and her people hail from Indianapolis. Considering that the couple’s network of friends is centered in Houston, the nuptials became a destination wedding of sorts, with nearly everyone traveling to Cowtown.
Five minutes after their initial visit to Artspace111, Molly and Christian knew they’d found the perfect venue to swap vows and celebrate.
“We love that the art gallery supports local arts, and the gardens are breathtaking, as are the incredible views of the city,” says Molly. “The fact they let dogs inside and outside of the gallery meant it had every single thing we were looking for. Plus the staff was unbelievable.”
When it came to shopping for a dress, Molly looked for clean lines with a bohemian vibe and an eye toward something that would not overwhelm her slim frame. Her dress boasts laser-cut lace and spaghetti straps with an open back. She gave her attendants almost complete freedom in selecting their own dresses. Her lone request was that they choose shades ranging from ivory to champagne.
For the couple’s dogs, 15-year-old Charlie and Ritter Ray, 5, Molly had bow ties custom made by an Etsy store to coordinate with Christian’s tie. A niece and nephew walked the pooches down the aisle in advance of the ring bearer and flower girl, roles filled by another niece and nephew.
“We have so many children in the family — and most of their parents were involved in the wedding, either as speakers or attendants — so we put down blankets and pillows up front to make them comfortable and give them a chance to see everything alongside our dogs,” Molly says.
Once the bilingual ceremony wrapped up, the children played outside with a babysitter, enjoying pizza, games and the dogs. Inside, their parents feasted on Colombian-themed food and cake, which the couple sliced with the same knife the bride’s grandparents used to cut their 50th wedding anniversary cake.
Cake pops were passed out at 10:30 p.m. The high-energy DJ kept everyone on the dance floor with a selection of songs in English and Spanish. At the end of the evening, Molly and Christian retreated to the garden to dance alone to “Solamente una Vez” by Trio Los Panchos.
“We chose to do a private last dance, instead of a send-off, so we could spend a few extra intimate minutes together just celebrating us,” says Molly. “It was a perfect way to end the night.” — Lisa Martin
Tran Le and Adam Hockensmith
Married Oct. 27, 2018
For Tran Le and Adam Hockensmith, the third time was the charm.
They had their first real conversation in a Houston cafe, where she was studying for medical boards and he was writing short stories. After breaking the ice, the two talked for hours, getting no work done.
Tran learned that Adam, a lawyer, had moved to Houston to clerk for a federal judge. Tran, it turned out, was training to be a surgeon. They learned about each other’s interest in books and music and how both had spent time in New England (she at Brown University and he at Yale Law School). Before Adam left the coffee shop, he asked Tran out.
After their date, Adam had an epiphany: He and Tran had crossed paths before — once briefly at her birthday party a year earlier and once when he sent her a sweet message on a dating app that went unanswered, as she had signed off the site days before. They agreed: Fate had conspired to bring them together at the right place and time.
Fast-forward to today. Their young marriage is long distance at the moment, while Tran begins a surgical fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and Adam works at a New York firm. But last fall, they gathered their families and friends in Fort Worth, Tran’s hometown, for a festive wedding.
“Our three most important things were food, dancing and having close friends and family there,” Tran says. They celebrated at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. They relied on the talents of wedding planner Tami Winn, who, in addition to orchestrating the party, took the lead on the florals and the autumnal color palette.
Adam and Tran put their stamp on key details by blending cultures and defying conventions. They each wrote highly personal vows, a highlight of the outdoor ceremony that also included readings from Corinthians, Kahlil Gibran and Thich Nhat Hanh. Tran chose her dress, by Israeli designer Galia Lahav, “because the fit resembled a Vietnamese wedding dress.” Midway through the evening, she changed into a bold and modern look: a white jumpsuit by Rime Arodaky. “I wanted to dance in something comfortable but stylish,” she explains. And in addition to cake, guests were treated to a selection of pies. “Adam loves pies,” Tran says.
Even the first dance had a twist. “Our first dance was to a swing rendition of ‘This Must Be the Place’ by the Talking Heads,” says Adam, who praises the band, In10City, for nailing it. “It’s a wonderfully romantic version of a wonderfully romantic song.”
But if there’s one decision that shows how free thinking this couple is, it’s that both have changed their last names. “I’ve always had an independent streak,” Adam explains. Tran was on the same wavelength. Both considered it important to forge a new and shared identity for the family they’d build.
After settling on “Hockley” — a combination of Hockensmith and Le — the couple learned just weeks before the wedding that the name would require jumping through some legal hoops (a long story, but “all because of the letter ‘y,’ ” they say). They had resolved simply to keep their names until, one night over a notepad and a bottle of wine, Tran found the perfect new name: Locke. “We loved the look and sound.” Adam agreed, adding, “We’ll have a dog named Rousseau in no time.” — Marilyn Bailey
Ashley Reed and Levi Barnard
Married June 6, 2017
Ashley Reed and Levi Barnard know how to have a good time, which goes a long way toward explaining how they chose Bali as their wedding destination. The two met in 2014 in Fort Worth playing kickball in a league that Levi owns. “We began dating after having too much fun together at the Texas Tech-TCU game,” says Ashley, a Houston native who had moved a couple of years earlier to Fort Worth for an engineering job with XTO Energy.
When Levi, a Fort Worth native and Air Force veteran, proposed in 2016, the two knew they wanted an intimate wedding in an outdoor venue; they searched for a far-flung location and nearly settled on Hawaii. When sticker shock sent Ashley looking beyond those islands, she found that Bali, which she’d visited on a family trip years earlier, would work. “We realized a Bali wedding could absolutely be done on our minimal budget and enable us to take an amazing vacation with our nearest and dearest.”
With the help of Instagram, finding vendors and planning the details was rather easy. “Since we knew it was going to be small, we sort of had the we-can-figure-it-out-once-we-get-there mindset. The biggest challenge was envisioning everything and communicating via email with a language barrier and 13-hour time difference.”
Welcoming their 14 guests the first night with a fabulous seven-course dinner at Ku De Ta, the wedding party celebrated for days at Potato Head Beach Club. The rehearsal dinner was at Sea Circus, and their wedding took place beside the six-bedroom villa’s large private pool at The Bli Bli Villas & Spa. Ashley wore a white lace spaghetti-strap top with sweetheart neckline paired with a white tulle skirt. “My mom let me borrow her garter, which was very special to me,” she says. Levi kept cool by finishing his look with a linen blazer and loafers.
Ashley and Levi’s wedding was a self-officiated ceremony, with an exchange of vows they’d written privately and rings from their respective great-grandparents. Both the ceremony and reception music came from a personal playlist and Spotify, with friends serving as DJs. Because the wedding took place in the morning, a doughnut tower subbed for a traditional wedding cake. And the couple figured out a creative way to solve the issue of alcohol being expensive and hard to obtain in Indonesia. “Instead of gifts, we asked our guests to bring in their maximum alcohol import limit of 1 liter,” she says. “We were able to buy mixers and amazing fresh-squeezed juices locally and had a killer bar set up during the reception.”
Among the few decorative items they brought from home, a balloon banner declared them “Married AF,” which they explained to a grandmother as meaning “always and forever.” After photos and food, they donned swimsuits and escaped the heat with pool time. Later, changing back into wedding clothes, they set out for Pig Stone Beach for more photos.
In all, the Barnards spent more than two weeks in Indonesia, touring Bali and the island of Lombok, filling their time with daily massages, island snorkeling, jungle and forest touring, and riding around on a scooter. “Being able to experience new places and cultures together is our favorite thing to do,” says Ashley. Her job with XTO moved the two to Houston last year, where Levi still operates Fort Worth-based Texas-Kickball and runs 625 Design, a graphic design and custom apparel company. The two will welcome their first baby this summer. — June Naylor
KATIE FROST and CHRIS FULLER
Married Oct. 19, 2018
Intrepid travelers Katie Frost and Chris Fuller spent nearly 10 hours searching for the perfect backdrop for their “first look” wedding photos at Glacier National Park in Montana. “There are so many things that Instagram doesn’t show you with a destination wedding and how to get those beautiful shots,” says Katie, who works as a Southlake-based wedding planner and frequently travels for work. “You have to have an adventurous soul to get the most out of a destination wedding.”
Katie and Chris connected on Tinder in 2015 and soon realized they were meant for each other. After two years of dating and traveling, Chris was ready to start their biggest adventure yet and proposed at the Grand Canyon, a bucket-list trip for the couple. When deciding where to exchange vows, they chose another national park on their list, also with gorgeous scenery. Katie and Chris were thrilled when 40 friends and family members agreed to join them for their nuptials at Glacier National Park.
Katie has a hectic schedule planning other couples’ weddings, so the pair relied on faith, Google and Instagram to find their wedding vendors in Montana. Meanwhile, she worked to find a balance between her role as her own wedding planner and being the bride. “At some point you just kind of say, ‘It is what it is,’ and enjoy the day,” Katie says. “When it came down to it, the most important thing was exchanging my vows with Chris. Everything else just fell into place and was perfect.”
Getting the invitations just right was also important to Katie; she chose cards printed with a watercolor mountain scene in vibrant blues and purples, made for her by a past client who became a friend. “I just really wanted to create that level of anticipation and excitement for all of our guests to be coming to this magical destination.”
The couple enlisted the help of park rangers to scope out the best location for their ceremony and landed on a scenic spot beside Lake McDonald. The location came with a challenge — when they arrived in town, they found that the road leading to it was closed for construction. But on their wedding day, a private escort led them to the ceremony site, where they and their guests were the only people for miles around.
The bride wore a custom-designed dress with a white lace overlay bodice and an ice-blue layered tulle skirt, created to give Katie the twirl factor she was looking for. The bridal party navigated a steep, woodsy trail to meet the groom at the ceremony site, where the couple exchanged vows they’d written just before the wedding, a last-minute request from Katie.
The reception, held at an Airbnb on a nearby mountain, was a warm, casual celebration. The newlyweds two-stepped to Lanco’s “Born to Love You” before sharing pizza, bubbly and a s’mores-flavored cake with their nearest and dearest. A custom cake topper featuring the bride and groom with their five dogs in the mountains gave a nod to the destination.
Their wedding adventure may be over, but the newlyweds are far from done with their travels. Katie is currently planning an elopement for a client at Enchanted Rock in the Hill Country, along with two upcoming weddings at a scenic location she and her favorite travel companion have a special affinity for — Glacier National Park. — Megan Hemmelgarn