Happy Father's Day!

As a wedding blogger, I go through a lot of wedding photos... I see a whole bunch of sappy photos that never make it to this blog! ;) Some of the most emotional photos are of brides and their dads. It's always really precious to see a weepy father at his daughter's wedding... Seeing a dad's emotions as they "give away" their little girl is bittersweet, to say the least. 

Happy Father's Day to all you dads, grandpas, and step-dads! We owe you A TON, and we're so thankful for you. Good dads are hard to find. Cheers to all of you who are doing a great job! We hope you feel spoiled and extra loved this weekend.

Here are some of our sweet brides with their dads on their big day! 

Meredith Melody Photography , from  Ashley + Ivan 's wedding. This photo is of Ashley and her dad... during her father-daughter dance with her stepdad, he pulled out this photo so Ashley was able to share the dance with him, too. We're not crying, YOU'RE crying!

Meredith Melody Photography, from Ashley + Ivan's wedding. This photo is of Ashley and her dad... during her father-daughter dance with her stepdad, he pulled out this photo so Ashley was able to share the dance with him, too. We're not crying, YOU'RE crying!

Stephanie Parsley Photography , from  Samantha + Danny 's wedding. Samantha and her dad had the BEST father-daughter dance.

Stephanie Parsley Photography, from Samantha + Danny's wedding. Samantha and her dad had the BEST father-daughter dance.

Andrew Arceri , from  Megan + Daniel 's wedding

Michelle + Brandon's Colorful Boho-Western Elopement

This gorgeous elopement included tons of bright colors, prickly pear cactus, longhorns, and our brand new western teepee altar, so you KNOW it was right up our alley! Michelle and Brandon got hitched on a Wednesday, and it was such a perfect day! Who says you can’t get married on a weekday?! This couple was easygoing and let our team handle totally handle their details, and it all turned out spectacular. Lance and Kathryn Shingleur from Shingleur Photography photographed this wedding so perfectly… they’re always some of our favorite photographers to work with, and we were thrilled to work with them on this one!

Photographer: Shingleur Photography | Venue, Coordination, Design, Florals: The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch | Hair and Makeup: Abbey Lee at Southern Grace Salon | Bridal Gown: David’s Bridal | Cake: Kneading Hands Bakery 

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Michelle and Brandon were married at The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch on May 1, 2019. Michelle’s only requirements for her wedding day were bright colored florals, turquoise, and western-meets-bohemian vibes. “I gave Lesleigh free rein to use her creative style and she went above and beyond our expectations to fit my style perfect,” she said.

Michelle’s punchy colored florals stole our cactus-loving hearts! They were full of corals, pinks and loads of greenery. “And of course the prickly pear cactus to totally fit my style!” she said. We finished off her bridal bouquet with a turquoise ribbon and a gold cactus concho.

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Michelle’s bridal gown was from David’s Bridal and it was absolutely jaw-dropping. The all-over lace, beading, belt, and plunging back were all stunning. Michelle also wore a great pair of boots! LOVE. Her hair, makeup and jewelry were all gorgeous, and she was seriously the most beautiful bride!

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Michelle and Brandon’s ceremony details were full of bright, punchy colors, and bohemian and western inspired details. We debuted a brand new teepee shaped altar on their big day, and would you just look at it! This thing is so fun and beautiful, and it was perfect topped with a few prickly pears, bright colored florals and turquoise ribbons. We (obviously) included a cowhide rug and a steer head in their ceremony details, too.

“Lesleigh and her team did amazing incorporating all of my favorite things to make our wedding fit my style,” Michelle said. “The steer heads on my altar and cake display, the cowhide rug, and the prickly pear cacti all fit me to a T!”

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Their ceremony, which was held on the lawn in front of The Barn, was intimate and sweet. “The entire day was so special and we will always remember the intimacy of spending it with each other and our closest family,” Michelle said.

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As always, I am OBSESSED with these portraits! This couple is gorgeous, and their post-ceremony portraits are giving us ALL the feels. (If y’all think these are pretty, just stay tuned for their portraits with our longhorns at the end of this post!)

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When looking for a venue we knew we wanted a small intimate ceremony with parents and grandparents but didn’t want to deal with the stress that comes with wedding planning. We were thrilled The Barn offered an all-inclusive elopement package that fit our exact wants! Not only was it completely stress free, the venue was absolutely breathtaking!
— Michelle
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Our elopements don’t include a full-on reception, but they do include a cake cutting for our couples and their guests. And our elopement cake set-ups are always the BEST. Michelle and Brandon had a simple scraped cape topped with more of those bright colored florals, sitting atop some stacked wood discs. Their table also included rustic candlesticks, old barrels and crates, a steer head, and pops of turquoise. And that adorable mini teepee, though!

“I don't think I could pick a favorite detail,” Michelle said. “Everything was so perfect! From the amazing altar and cake display to the beautiful pictures we took with the longhorns. Every single detail was so unique and special.”

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And then after their cake cutting, something purely magical happened. These two newlyweds went out in the pasture with some of our longhorns and horses, and these photos are EVERYTHING. Major heart eyes! (Excellent job, Shingleurs! These are stunning.) Michelle said the longhorns were actually one of her very favorite things about getting married at The Barn (her #1 favorite thing was “how easy and stress free” planning her wedding was with us, she said!).

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Words alone cannot express the gratitude for everything Lesleigh and her crew did to make our wedding day perfect. It was an experience we will never forget and we will forever be grateful for the simplicity and hospitality we experienced at The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch.
— Michelle
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Michelle and Brandon headed off to New Orleans to begin their Southern honeymoon! “We started our honeymoon in New Orleans for several days visiting Jackson Square, the French Quarter, swamp tours and of course eating the best Cajun food,” Michelle said. “Then we drove down the coast to Destin, Florida and relaxed on the beach for a week.” Sounds perfect!

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Michelle and Brandon, we adored EVERY detail from your wedding day! We’re so, so thankful we got to plan it with you! We wish you two the best! xoxo

Personalizing Your Wedding Ceremony

When it comes to the actual wedding ceremony, many couples use the exact same ceremony format - with the same vows and same readings, all in the same order. If tradition is your thing, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! There's a reason why the "traditional" ceremony things have become tradition - they are beautiful, timeless and meaningful. Many couples want their ceremony to be more unique and personalized, and we are totally all about that too! But it can be kind of tricky to know how to do just that, so here are a few suggestions! (Some of these are not new/unique, but I'm hoping this list will help out at least a few brides out there!)

Use special items in your ceremony decor. This could be photos of you and your new spouse lining the aisle or at your altar, a special altar built just for your big day (for example, Jessica + Daniel's altar was an arbor built by Jessica's dad, which they now have in their back yard at home), or decor items that tell your story

Write your own vows. This idea isn't exactly unique or new, but it's something that I think a lot of brides are afraid to do, either because they're not sure of what to say or because they feel like they have to use traditional wedding vows. There are about a billion alternatives to traditional vows online, or you can start from scratch and write your own. A little piece of advice: write whatever is on your heart. Even if you feel embarrassed to say those things in front of a crowd, your spouse will adore you for it. And your guests will probably cry their eyes out, too. ;) 

Ask your officiant to tell a story or two from your relationship. And that brings me to another point: choose someone important to both of you to officiate your ceremony. They'll make your ceremony even more special and meaningful. Ask them to tell a story from your relationship, like how you met, all about your first date, how you got engaged. Your guests may not know these stories already, and it'll be so special for you to hear them again on your big day! 

Walk down the aisle (or back down the aisle as husband and wife) to a meaningful song. Again, this isn't a new idea, but it can add so much personality to your wedding ceremony. Walking down the aisle to a song that is special to you and your new spouse will mean so much more to you than the same ol' wedding march everyone else walks down the aisle to.

Have a friend do a special reading or perform "your song." Do you and your fiance love a specific poem, Bible verse, book passage or song? Why not incorporate it into your ceremony? Ask a close friend or family member to read a poem, verse or passage, or if you're friends with someone who's musically inclined, ask them to perform a song you both love. 

Have your church's worship band/leader lead a few songs during your ceremony. Religion is very important to many of our couples, and we love it when they incorporate a time of worship into their ceremony. It's super special and says so much about a couple's beliefs and what's important to them. 

Do your own thing instead of a unity candle. I've talked about unity candle alternatives and how much I love them a few times on this blog! If a unity candle ceremony means nothing to you, choose something that does. A fun paint ceremony, a romantic time capsule to be opened on an anniversary, or a tree planting ceremony are all meaningful ideas!

Choose your bridal party carefully. Your bridal party plays a very important role during your ceremony; after all, they are the people standing beside you as you promise the rest of your life to the person you love. That's a big deal! You should include whoever you really want in your bridal party, and exclude anyone who doesn't belong (even if they used to be your best friend/they're your family member/you were in their wedding/whatever... don't include anyone because you think you have to). We wrote a post all about unique bridal parties

Honor your heritage by incorporating any special customs. At Kelsey + Gueorgui's wedding (their wedding was full of unique, personal details!), they asked some of their guests to take place in a ring warming ceremony, which is a Bulgarian wedding tradition. Several of their guests took Kelsey + Gueorgui's rings into their hands and said a quick prayer or blessing over them before the exchange of rings. Incredibly special! If you come from a unique background, definitely pick some traditional customs to use during your ceremony!

I hope this inspires you to make your wedding ceremony all about you! It's your big day... make the details of your ceremony as unique and personal as you'd like them to be!

Rachel + Jimmy's Woodland Bohemian Wedding

A sweet ceremony on the most beautiful spring day, surrounded by gorgeous dogwood blooms. A stunningly unique altar. Wildflower bouquets. Bohemian, woodland themed details. Those are just a few of the good things about this uniquely beautiful wedding! Rachel and Jimmy are such a precious couple, and they were so full of joy and excitement on their wedding day. Seriously, just wait until y’all see these smiles! Their wedding was truly a breath of fresh air for us; it was so different from our “normal,” and it was just the most special day. We loved every free-spirited, boho, woodland inspired detail!

Rachel and Jimmy hired an amazing team of the most talented vendors to pull off their wedding day, and we loved what she said about how they chose each vendor. “Our head photographer and videographer were good friends of mine in college; we also went to school with the second shooters too,” Rachel said. “We wanted to use friends of ours and their talents to capture our day to make our wedding even more of a community thing where so many of ‘our people’ got to play a part.” This made every part of their wedding day even more personal! Their photos are so beautiful and special, and I had the most difficult time narrowing them down for this post… I cannot wait for you to see these!

Photographers: Abby Tran Photograpy (head photgrapher) and Ashel Parsons (second shooter)  | Venue, Coordination, Design, Florals: The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch | Videographers: Jacob McCall (head videographer) and Evan Swearingen (second shooter) | Hair & Makeup: Elizabeth Arrowood from Serenity Skincare and Salon | Bridal Gown: David’s Bridal | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: David’s Bridal | Cake: Kneading Hands Bakery    

Rachel and Jimmy were married at The Barn at Twin Oaks Ranch on April 20, 2019. They chose a bohemian, woodland theme and a color palette full of earth tones. “We both love nature and wanted to do something pretty with a natural feel, so we went neutral using earth tones and then let the greenery and wildflowers do their job by adding pops of color just like in overgrown fields and forests,” Rachel said.

We were absolutely head over heels for Rachel’s wildflower florals! “I. LOVED. THEM,” she said. “I was crazy about the bouquets. Obsessed. I wish we had someone grab them for us. I wanted us to use wildflowers, and Lesleigh took what I wanted and ran with it. When we first started talking about it she presented the idea of the bouquets looking like ‘a bunch of wildflowers...kinda wild looking...looking like they'd just been picked from a field.’ That was it. She made it happen.”

Rachel was such a beautiful bride! Her bridal gown was from David’s Bridal, and we loved every detail - the gorgeous lace, the sleeves, and especially the plunging back! We LOVED her gorgeous flower crown, and also that she wore it with a veil. This girl smiled from ear to ear all day long… she was absolutely beaming! Oh, and she tied the knot while barefoot, which she said was her dream! We love her.

The bridesmaids’ and groomsmen’s attire were perfectly coordinated with the bohemian theme and neutral color palette. The bridesmaids’ dresses also came from David’s Bridal, and Rachel gave them four earth tone color options to choose from. “Each one got to choose their own style of dress that was the color they chose to reflect their personality,” Rachel said. These dresses are stunning!

Future brides, borrow this idea from Rachel! Each of her bridesmaids wrote on a chalkboard how they knew Rachel, as well as the year they met. What a fun photo idea!

The groom wore a navy suit, and the groomsmen wore navy pants, white shirts, brown suspenders and mismatched floral ties. “We chose the floral ties for the groomsmen last minute,” Rachel said. “We bought them from different vendors (mainly on Etsy) and loved how they turned out. We thought the mismatched earth toned feel went well with the wedding theme.”

Let it be known that we love ALL types of first looks. This one between Rachel and her bridesmaids was the most fun, and we wish more brides would do this! This girl has some good friends!

Rachel and Jimmy’s first look was intimate, emotional, and so very sweet. The portraits that followed were stunning and unique, and we’re always thrilled to see more unique photos of our couples, our venue and its surroundings. I could have included WAY more photos, but I tried really hard to narrow it down! (Those dogwoods, though!)

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The natural beauty The Barn brings is incredible. It was my dream to get married in the woods barefoot, and it was better than I imagined. The Barn has its own charm to it. You honestly have to see it to understand. The tall trees, the fields, the barn that’s made from reclaimed wood-its all awesome. The flowers and rustic decorations they incorporated just accentuated its beauty. Our favorite thing about getting married at The Barn was knowing they take care of everything and that, no matter what, it will be good. From the incredible southern food to the schedule, it will all be well done and taken care of.
— Rachel
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Rachel and Jimmy’s ceremony details brought all the boho vibes, and they were unlike any we’ve done before! They were not only beautiful, but they were personal and sentimental, as well.

“The Barn called our wedding ‘the stick castle wedding’ because they made our altar literally out of sticks found around The Barn with wildflowers woven into it. We were fans,” Rachel said. “My husband and I were best friends in college...and that was it...just best friends who hung out every week for hours...in the friend zone. We didn't figure out what we had until a year after college and (finally) started dating. We loved our friendship that built our dating relationship...and then our marriage, so we have details dedicated to that. Our aisles were lined with pictures from our friendship. We had railroad ties from an old railroad bridge we used to explore.”

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Rachel and Jimmy’s ceremony was intimate, personal and so full of love - not only between the two of them, but also poured out upon them by their family and friends. There were so many special components to their ceremony: a worship service, communion as their unity ceremony, readings by their friends. This one was extra special.

“In our ceremony and reception, we had friends tell stories about our friendship and relationship,” Rachel said.  “My old boss who was the principal at the first school I taught at officiated our wedding. Our faith was also woven into our ceremony. We had communion as our unity event. Our instrumentalists (also friends from college) played worship music and led us in worship at the end. We centered our ceremony around the theme that God turns conclusions into introductions… We also had our recessional song be the A team theme song because Jimmy offered me $20 to walk down the aisle to it, and I refused... so we compromised.”

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When people ask us how it went we usually say, ‘It was the dream,’ because it truly was everything we hoped it would be. We knew The Barn would make it that way though. Every detail we talked about and more was there. Our only regret is that we wish we had more time. People told us the day goes so fast. It did. Our wedding was fun, sentimental, and beautiful. We were fans of every single thing. We wish we could relive it!
— Rachel

This altar… totally, insanely amazing and gorgeous!

^^That feeling when you’re finally married!

Rachel and Jimmy’s reception tables included neutral tablecloths and burlap runners, with pops of colors from the turquoise napkins in their place settings and their wildflower bouquets in mismatched vases and jars. Their reception details felt lighthearted and fun and really set the tone for their fun evening of celebrating with their guests!

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Kneading Hands Bakery did an amazing job with our cake,” Rachel said. “It was scraped with alternating layers of chocolate with raspberry icing and wedding cake with buttercream. We had many people tell us how much they loved it!”

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This reception was truly FUN. There were activities inside and outside The Barn for guests to enjoy. Out on the lawn, guests played games and indulged in some seriously delicious goodies from the all-time cutest s’mores bar.

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Inside The Barn, Rachel and Jimmy shared their first dance, which was just as fun and joyful as these two themselves! “Our first dance was You Make My Dreams by Hall and Oates,” she said. “We actually choreographed it ourselves. It was so much fun to do together and was a sweet surprise our guests loved. Definitely memorable.”

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There was dancing, toasts, and amazing memories made with their family and friends who traveled from all over to celebrate their marriage with them. “The stories will be the one of the biggest things I'll remember,” Rachel said. “Hearing people we love who have walked with us through different stages of our relationship share their thoughts. I'm from Tennessee. Jimmy is from Louisiana. We went to college in Arkansas. Our people are all over the place. Having loved ones from everywhere come to our wedding...having all of our people in one place...was a truly special thing.”

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At the end of their wedding day, they headed off to the Pacific Northwest for their honeymoon! “We landed in Seattle, Washington and roadtripped down to Portland, Oregon eventually,” Rachel said. “We alternated between staying in the city and in the mountains. We experienced the best of both while exploring that area.”

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“BATOR did a wonderful job!” Rachel said. “They never hesitated to answer any question quickly and thoroughly. During planning, they were innovative and creative, which we are so appreciative for. On our wedding day, they made sure everything went smoothly. From the start, they were 100% for us and what we wanted with our day. We are thankful!”

Rachel and Jimmy, we LOVED planning your incredible wedding with you! It was so, so special. We’re so thankful you chose The Barn, and we wish you the very best! xoxo

Etiquette for Wedding Guests

Let's talk about something that's kind of boring, yet extremely important: etiquette! We get a lot of questions about invitation etiquette and bar etiquette, but there's another etiquette topic that needs to be addressed. If you're attending an upcoming wedding and you need to brush up on your wedding guest etiquette, this post is for you! I understand that wedding etiquette is kind of tricky, especially because every couple, venue and wedding is different. Whether the wedding you attend ends up being totally relaxed or really fancy, here are a few good rules of thumb to follow! 

Stephanie Parsley Photography , from  Amber + Matt 's wedding at  The Barn . Notice that there are no cameras or phones being held up in this photo... Thumbs up to that! 

Stephanie Parsley Photography, from Amber + Matt's wedding at The Barn. Notice that there are no cameras or phones being held up in this photo... Thumbs up to that! 

Be respectful with your phone and/or camera. Unless the bride and groom are extremely laid-back, they probably don't want every single detail from their wedding posted on social media until their professional photographer posts them. Even if they don't specify that they're having an unplugged ceremony (which means that no cameras or phones are allowed during the ceremony or certain parts of the reception, like the first dance or cake cutting), you should stay out of the way if you're going to take photos. No one wants to see someone standing in the middle of the aisle taking photos during their reception, or a bunch of phones blocking the photographer's perfect shot during their first dance. Trust me. (Some couples create hashtags for their big day, which means that you're free to post photos on Facebook, Instagram or other social media and tag it with their hashtag. But it's always better to leave some things to the imagination! Don't post 500 photos from your friend or family member's big day... Leave that up to the photographer. ;)

Shingleur Photography , from  Cassie + Kyle 's wedding at The Barn. Kids having fun and behaving... this is what we like to see! ;)

Shingleur Photography, from Cassie + Kyle's wedding at The Barn. Kids having fun and behaving... this is what we like to see! ;)

Watch your kids! At The Barn, our team doesn't enforce this rule to be mean or uptight. I mean, have you seen this venue and our weddings?! The Barn and everything around it is beautiful, and every wedding and reception of ours is detailed and absolutely gorgeous. Please keep an eye on your kids... We want them to have a great time, too, but we also don't want a damper put on a couple's big day because something pretty got knocked over or destroyed! Sorry not sorry, y'all. 

Martin's Photography , from  Monica + Luis 's wedding at The Barn

Martin's Photography, from Monica + Luis's wedding at The Barn

Don't show up three hours early. This has seriously been a problem lately. Once again, we are not trying to be rude. But our team is still making every detail perfect three hours before a wedding begins, and the bride probably doesn't want you seeing her in her wedding dress before the ceremony! Our couples often schedule first looks for a couple of hours before the ceremony, and that's a very private time for them... Having an audience sort of ruins the moment! Not to mention, you're probably going to be bored, because our team is going to be too busy to make sure you're enjoying yourself! 

Melissa McCrotty Photography , from  Bayley + Lucas 's wedding at The Barn

Melissa McCrotty Photography, from Bayley + Lucas's wedding at The Barn

Please, please, please RSVP. Here's how most weddings work: you've got to get your final headcount to your venue and caterer at least a couple of weeks ahead of time to ensure that there are enough tables (complete with decor, of course), seating at the ceremony and reception, food and cocktails. Also, if you say you're coming, show up unless you absolutely can't! And if you say you're not coming, stick to that response unless you make sure the bride and groom are okay with it. Another thing: unless the bride and groom have specifically stated on your invitation that you can bring a plus one or your children, just don't! (If you're a bride or groom and you're not sure how to deal with guests who don't RSVP, don't worry, because I already wrote a post about that!) 

Danielle Davis Art/Photography , from  Emily + Blake 's wedding at The Barn

Danielle Davis Art/Photography, from Emily + Blake's wedding at The Barn

And just a few more common sense, self-explanatory rules that any good wedding guest should follow: Don't get obnoxiously drunk. Turn your phone on silent. Dress according to the invitationDon't talk to the bride and groom forever... they've got lots of other people to visit with! Never outshine the bride and groom. Stay out of the photographer's way... we know you want photos, but that's what the photographer is there for! Show up on time. Take your favor... the bride and groom have put time and effort into them. Don't wear white. Have a good time! 

Follow these rules, and you'll be the best wedding guest ever. :)