Texas weddings are in a league of their own. It’s true. They always seem to be filled with style and substance yet with an air of casual, making you feel right at home. This Salt Lick BBQ fête is no different. With a talented Bride at the planning helm, this stunning soiree captured by Braden Harris Photography is a perfect example of why we love Texas wedding so very much. See more here.
From the Bride…Clay and I met in college in Austin but we did not start dating until we were both living in New York City after graduation. We fell in love in New York and with New York at the same time! When I was accepted to a Ph.D. program in Dallas last year I made the tough decision to move back to our home state after five great years in the big city. When I started school, Clay was still living in NYC and proposed to me when I came up for a weekend visit. The thing about our proposal that we talk about most is what happened after I said “Yes!” Clay had made a dinner reservation at a fancy restaurant. When we sat down, the couple next to us asked if we were celebrating anything and I told them that we had just gotten engaged. They congratulated us and then told us they had been married for 30+ years and loved every minute of it. We chatted for a few minutes longer and resumed our meals.
At the end of the night, the couple said goodbye and we continued our dinner with dessert. When the dessert came out, the plate said “Congratulations!” I looked at Clay and asked if he had told the restaurant and he said no. We laughed and said the waiter must have overheard us talking to the other couple. However, when our bill came, there was a zero balance. The waiter told us that the couple next to us had paid for our meal. It was so surreal and incredibly generous! They had left before we had a chance to thank them. Hurricane Sandy hit NY two days later so I was unable to get their name or information in order to thank them. We vowed to tell the story in order to “pay forward” their good deed and celebrate the kindness and generosity of strangers.
Clay moved to Dallas soon after we got engaged. We knew from the beginning of the planning process that we wanted to find a place to get married in Texas that would be memorable for both our Texas friends and family but also to our New York friends (many who had never visited our home state!) Also, since Clay and I have different religious backgrounds, we wanted to find a venue that had an outdoor ceremony site as to not alienate any family. We thought Austin would be a great compromise between our hometowns (Houston and San Antonio) and be a fun destination for our out of state visitors.
I drove to Austin to visit a few of the popular outdoor venues. A friend recommended I take a look at the Salt Lick BBQ’s event spaces so we drove out to Driftwood (about 30 minutes from downtown Austin). Arriving at the Pecan Grove (formerly Salt Lick Pavilion) was a revelation! It was everything I dreamed of: huge pecan trees, a creekside ceremony site and a large, air-conditioned (!!!) reception hall with huge glass windows and dark wood that could be customized any way I saw fit. It immediately reminded me of summer camp. My husband loves his childhood camp experiences, and I knew that is was where we had to get married. Plus, when I told him we could serve the famous Salt Lick BBQ for our wedding food, he was sold!
For budget reasons, I decided to take on the planning process by myself. It was a labor of love – and the day would not have been possible without my creative family and friends. There were many things I had to learn throughout the process, but the most important was how to communicate the look and feel of the day (looking through SMP helped me with that immensely!) My vendors responded well to having a specific color palette, a few words that I could use to describe my vision or theme and some images. I started considering this the “elevator pitch” of my wedding, but I will say that having that hammered out at the beginning made my vendor meetings much easier and ensured that my look was cohesive. Also, I created a “secret” pinboard on Pinterest and took an Ipad to all of my meetings with the images that I had selected.
I wanted a vintage romantic wedding with gold, blush, nude and greens as my colors. Clay proposed with a gorgeous ring he designed with a jewelry maker named Anna Sheffield. The ring is yellow gold with a vintage 1920’s European-cut diamond and inspired the whole look and feel of the day. I had the idea in my head of wanting it to feel like an elegant “camp” party, like some of the gorgeous camps that are popular on the East Coast. I started the planning process by selecting my dress, a silk tulle lace gown and matching veil by Catherine Deane (from BHLDN) that had the perfect amount of vintage romance I was dreaming of.
I was also so grateful to enlist the help of some great vendors. Rifle Paper Company designed my save-the-dates and invitations and visually communicated exactly what I wanted the look and feel of my wedding to be. I did not even have to offer them much in the way of instruction. The team at Loot Vintage Rentals helped select gorgeous vintage furniture (including an old railroad cart to hold our cake). Tyler Ryan at Westbank Flower Market worked his magic, transforming the space inside the venue with candles and flowers and creating the most breathtaking Chuppah I have ever seen. Ashley O’Bryan at the Salt Lick was incredible at event organizing. She was absolutely professional (and very patient!) when I explained my vision and helped me execute the look and feel exactly as I had imagined. Braden Harris Photography (a photography team of sisters out of Dallas, TX) captured every moment perfectly – both the formal and the fun. In another budget-related decision, we selected them because they were much more affordable than some of the Austin photographers we had looked at, so hiring them to travel for the weekend was a great investment. Sometimes, looking at vendors in other cities may be the more affordable option (especially if you don’t have a lot of lead time with planning).
I also have to largely thank Jane Fischer, from Austin, TX, whose chalkboard art, calligraphy, and design help solidify the feeling of the event. She designed images that I was able to use in printing my own napkins, coasters, programs and fans, which ended up saving a lot of money.
There were a few other small touches I included to make the day feel more personal.We incorporated some New York favorites into the evening – a black-and-white cookie cascade on the groom’s cake and hot pretzels served with spicy mustard at the end of the night. We set up a Fujifilm instax camera and had my house party take photos of each guest coming in. Our guest book was created by Iris Grimm (from Etsy) and accommodates photos of this size. It is a beautiful souvenir from our night and we have images of each guest that was there alongside their signature. We included some descriptions of Jewish wedding traditions in our programs as many of the guests attending were not familiar with them.My dad helped make an escort card piece out of wood and chicken wire. It was one of my favorite touches of the night and he was so glad to be involved.
Admittedly, there were a few challenges in planning the wedding myself. I didn’t have experience so a lot of what I did was learned along the way! A helpful hint is to figure out where you want the majority of your budget to go. For me, it was my paper goods, florals and day-of coordinator. I was lucky that the barbeque was an affordable option for us, so we could save in that regard. I decided to hire a coordinator for the day of the wedding and it was worth every penny. Jessica Moore from Something to Celebrate spent the time itemizing and coordinating where each small detail needed to go. I used powerpoint to pull images together into a presentation I could send to her (since I was planning from another city). When I arrived at the venue on the wedding day, it was all set up and looked exactly as I had planned. This was on advice from a friend of mine who also coordinated her own wedding. When you do most of the planning yourself, you don’t want to have to worry about getting things set up on the wedding day because you want to sit back and enjoy it.
Further, rely on the expertise of your vendors! They have done hundreds of weddings and often know how things work best (i.e., what length tablecloths to use, how many appetizers you should order, etc.) Also, Etsy is a great source for unique, customizable wedding details. Many vendors are open to making custom pieces if you do not see exactly what you are looking for – just ask.
When reflecting on the wedding with Clay, we both agree that it was absolutely perfect for us! We would not have changed a single thing. We took a private dinner immediately after the ceremony so we could have a chance to reflect on the ceremony and eat something. One of my favorite accessories of the night was the BBQ bib I had to wear over my dress as I had ribs and champagne with my new husband.
We loved watching our guests sit under the pecan trees and chase fireflies outside. Many of our NY guests had never eaten real Texas BBQ and said it was some of the best wedding food they had ever tasted. My favorite memory was the two of us singing “Don’t Stop Believing” with the band to all of our family and friends at the end of the night. Realizing that all of these people came in from all over the country (& some from overseas) to celebrate your love is absolutely humbling. I also now have an immense amount of respect for the amount of time and effort that goes into planning these special occasions.
Photography: Braden Harris Photography | Invitations: Rifle Paper Company | Engagement Ring: Anna Sheffield Bridal | Wedding Bands: Catbird NYC | Hair: Stasia at Milk + Honey | Band: Juice the Band | Groom's Suit: Jos A. Bank | Cake & Black & White Cookies: Michelle's Patisserie | Cake Toppers: Jonathan Adler | Calligraphy, Chalkboards, Decorative Images: Jane Fischer | Ceremony & Reception: Pecan Grove at Salt Lick BBQ | Day-Of Coordination: Something to Celebrate | Florals and Decor: Westbank Flower Market | Getaway Car: Vintage Rides Austin | Gold Party Dress: Lovely Bride | Groomsmen Ties: The Tie Bar | Guest Book: Grimm | Ketubah: Urban Collective | Makeup: Avery Allen Makeup | Printing Services (Fans, Programs): Dave the Printer | Printing Services (Napkins, Coasters): For Our Party | Vintage Furniture Rentals: Loot Vintage Rentals | Wedding Dress & Veil: BHLDN