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Dana and Ian’s Colorful Austin Wedding, Part 1

Real Weddings

At long last, I could not be more THRILLED to put my wedding magazine editor hat back on this week to share a very, very special celebration with you! After posting about my sister Dana’s engagement and bridal shower here on Something Pretty, I’m honored to wrap things up with a good old real wedding feature…it sure has been a while :)

For as many years as Dana loyally read Southern Weddings, there were only a select few things she really wanted in her wedding someday: incredible flowers, photography by Jen Dillender, and a biscuit bar. I’m happy to report that each of those things was indeed part of this magical celebration, but the rest was completely inspired once she met her groom. Sure enough, Dana and Ian’s hearts for their family and friends, their sunny personalities, and their love for the city of Austin, where their love story began, exuded from every aspect of their day. While I can’t imagine a day more perfectly “her,” even more so, I can’t imagine a day more perfectly “them.” As someone who knows and loves these two so very much in person, I hope that anyone reading this gets even a little sense of their love and joy, and has a brighter day because of it!

Since Dana always wanted her someday-wedding to be featured in the pages of Southern Weddings, I couldn’t resist dusting off the old SW interview for her to fill out :) Enjoy her memories of this beautiful day in her own words, alongside their gorgeous photos by Dana’s dream-come-true wedding photographer, the lovely Jen Dillender!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. My roommate and I were going to a restaurant opening party, and while on the walk over, she mentioned that the guy she had just started dating was meeting us there with his friend. I agreed to entertain the friend and we all had a fun night, talking and laughing. A few days later, I got a text from Ian that I could tell took him a really long time to come up with. He suggested a date of mini golf and dinner at a tourist trap restaurant, so I politely offered him three options that sounded more fun to me and let him make the final choice. He chose happy hour at Salty Sow and a performance of one of my favorite books, Fahrenheit 451. The week before our date, he texted me a picture of himself reading F451 and I desperately tried to be unimpressed by how thoughtful that was (and reassured him I would not be quizzing him on major themes and symbols of the book). A few dates later, he built me a bookshelf and I could no longer pretend to be unimpressed by this man who was working so hard to charm me. We quickly fell in love and he continues to woo me on a daily basis!
How did you get engaged? From Ian: Once I decided I was going to propose to Dana, I knew I had to make it perfect for her. I started doing research on rings and Dana’s ideal engagement. I asked Dana’s sisters what her non-negotiable elements for her engagement were and learned that first, she wanted a small, more intimate setting. Second, when she was a teenager she said that she wanted to be proposed to with Dashboard Confessional’s “Stolen” playing in the background. Third, there should be a photographer there to take pictures, and her dream wedding photographer was Jen Dillender. I decided I would do the proposal after I got back from a month-long training exercise. I took Dana out to a nice dinner and then brought her to walk the Trail of Lights, which was my first mistake. I thought the light show would only last a few minutes. One house later, I started panicking that I was going to lose the photographer because we were so late. I started rushing Dana through the trail, essentially forcing her to run in heels. When we finally arrived back at her house, I ran outside to get set up. Dana was not happy with me, obviously, and angrily kicked off her shoes. When she came outside, I laughed a bit because I knew how angry she was when I saw the slippers. The next second, I started getting choked up because I knew that she was my forever. I said, “Dana, I know I made you mad at Trail of Lights, but I hope I can make you happy for the rest of my life. Will you marry me?” After she said yes, the next few hours were filled with Totts champagne and celebrating with her family and friends.
What was your wedding date? May 25, 2019
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Fun, meaningful, and joyfulTell us about finding your dress. My sisters and my mom came to Austin and we had appointments at three salons. I had been eyeing some Hayley Paige dresses, but also felt like I had seen them a million times, so I wasn’t set on any in particular. At the second salon, Lisa spotted an A-line dress with a linen skirt, and when I tried it on, we all got very excited. The linen made it special and different from anything we had seen before (and with two sisters who have worked in the wedding industry, we have all seen A LOT of wedding dresses over the years). Ian also loves linen, so I knew he would appreciate it. The dress was designed exclusively for the salon and called the “Austin” dress, which felt very appropriate. I didn’t love that the back was all lace, but the stylist said they could alter it into a V with lace scalloped edges. My mom started tearing up, but I wasn’t totally sure yet, since we had one more stop. I really liked another dress at the third salon, but ultimately decided that the Austin dress was the one for me. I’m only the second bride to have worn it and the first with the alteration to the back, so my dream of having an original dress was fulfilled!
What did the bridesmaids and gents wear? The bridesmaids wore cream linen dress by Gal Meets Glam Collection. The house party chose their own dresses in blush for a beautiful mix of lace, floral, and texture. The groomsmen wore their army military uniform (ASUs) and my brother, who is not military, wore a navy suit from J. Crew. Did you do a first look? Of course!!! First looks are my favorite! A first look photo was the reason I decided Jen Dillender was going to photograph my wedding someday back in 2014. After reading letters to one another separately, we did our first look and Ian squealed, “It’s linen!” when he saw my dress. It was one of my favorite moments of the day!
Tell us about your venues. St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Austin is stunning. They don’t usually do weddings over holiday weekends, but I begged until they agreed. We loved having the ceremony in the heart of Austin. The Winfield Inn was exactly what we were looking for: tons of live oak trees and a naturally beautiful space that we wouldn’t have to decorate too much. Although it was further away than we wanted, the owner and coordinator were so lovely, we knew it would be worth it.
Tell us about your ceremony. Did you include any special songs, readings, or traditions? The ceremony was in a beautiful cathedral. We chose the music for the organist and the readings. My close family friend, Celeste, read Tobit 8:4b-8 (which also happened to be the first reading at Lisa and Dave’s wedding). We love the part about being husband and wife as a “noble purpose.” Ian’s mother read Romans 12:1-2, 9-13. The part that really resonated with us is “Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” Our Gospel was John 12:9-12, which is about loving each other as Jesus loves us.
Did you include any military traditions in your wedding? Our favorite military tradition that we incorporated was the saber arch. The saber arch guys are like the house party for a bride; some of Ian’s closest friends were a part of the saber arch and it’s a big honor. They rang the bells at the church as we were exiting, which was magical. When you get to the end, the last two guys hold down their sabers and say, “The toll for passage is one kiss.” Then you kiss, and most grooms will dip their bride because it makes a pretty great photo! Then, they put their sabers back up and the person closest to the bride says, “Welcome to the army, ma’am” and taps her on the booty with the saber. We were so excited about the saber arch because we knew it would look so amazing against the gothic church and the steps! Jen did not disappoint with the photos she captured! They are some of our favorites!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning their wedding? As crazy as it is, it is fun! Don’t do it alone. Ask for help and delegate. Cry if you feel like it. Go to ALL the venue open houses because they have free food and alcohol and usually a photo booth. Even if you’ve already chosen your vendors, keep going to open houses because you deserve it (I think I went to eight?). Always remember the most important part is that you’re getting married to the love of your life and, really, nothing but that matters. What were your flowers like? My flowers were perfect. I was so stressed about them because they were so important to me and I had to put all the trust in my florist (who was great!). I even had a nightmare before the wedding that the boutonnieres ended up being all artichokes. I wanted ranunculus, my favorite flower, a coral peony, and some yellows to tie into the army uniform. When the florist brought me my bouquet, I almost burst into tears. It was everything I wanted it to be!

Part two coming up tomorrow! :)

Photographer: Jen Dillender Photography | Videographer: PhotoHouse Films | Ceremony venue: St. Mary Cathedral | Reception venue and coordination: The Winfield Inn | Florist: Petals, Ink. | DJ: Made from Skratch | Bride’s Dress: “Austin” by Elizabeth Dye | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Michka | Bride’s Earrings: Zoe Comings | Bridesmaid Dresses: Gal Meets Glam Collection | Hair and Makeup: Jessica Roop | Paper Goods: Minted | Map: Watercolor ATX | Calligraphy: Lettered by Valerie

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  1. Dana says:

    I’m famous!!!! What a dream!!! Thank you!

  2. Jadzia says:

    Such a joyful and beautiful wedding! Just love re-living it through the photos and memories. Dana’s and Ian’s happiness set the tone for a wonderful, special day! Love you both so very much!!

  3. Nicole Yang says:

    Basically alternated between laughing and crying for the entirety of this post! Jen Dillender is one of my favorite photographers, too, and that photo of Dana’s veil right after the ceremony is dreamy (along with all the other photos ;) ).

    Also LOVED that Dana’s skirt was linen — It’s one of my favorite fabrics too, and overlooked!

    I’m so excited to see this on the blog and can’t wait for more. So happy for you, Dana!!!

  4. Emma says:

    WOW!!! what a love story! did the roommate intentionally set Dana up on a blind date or was it an accident they fell in love?
    Everything about this is so beautiful! Congratulations!

  5. Richard says:

    Wait a second, there were biscuits? Two universal truths revealed that day; my wife and girls grow more beautiful and my sons in law keep getting taller. Go Dana and Ian!

  6. Abbi Hearne says:

    This is so sweet! I used to intern for/second shoot with Jen, and she photographed my wedding in 2014! I’ve been following you since then and loved seeing these photos. It looks like their wedding was absolutely beautiful!

  7. Em says:

    Love these photos and love this interview so much!! Thank you for sharing, Dana! Such a treat! And yes, those saber arch photos are particularly fantastic! :)

  8. […] If you missed it, find part one of Dana and Ian’s wedding here! […]

  9. Erik says:

    So fun to read about the planning process!

  10. Kristen says:

    Open houses forever!!!!! Joy!

  11. Kristina says:

    What a beautiful wedding! And as a former Southern Weddings lover I definitely appreciated that you pulled out the old interview format for this post. Felt like reading the SW blog again ;-)

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