A Rainy, Flower-Filled Wedding in Texas
Cameron and Michael
Although Capitol Hill seems like an unlikely setting for a love story, that's exactly where Michael Babyak and Cameron Hardesty's began: at a party on H Street during President Obama's second inauguration week in January 2013. Michael caught Cameron's eye from across the room, and she asked Jessica, her best friend and future maid-of-honor, about him. Jessica, who helped organize the event, told Cameron that Michael worked with her on the Hill and offered to introduce them over cocktails before she moved to New York. Since Cameron was not looking forward to being without her best friend in D.C., she was very open to meeting new people—especially tall and handsome ones like Michael. So Jessica made the introduction but Michael didn't pick up on Cameron's flirting while they were talking.
Fatefully, Michael had left his credit card at the bar, and emailed Jessica about getting it back. She delivered some sad news: They had already cut up the cards that were left behind. Being a good friend and wing-woman, she asked if she and Cameron could buy Michael a drink to make up for it. Again, Michael did not catch Cameron's advances, but that night the trio devised the idea for a now-defunct newsletter dedicated to translating professional sports news for laypeople. Michael and Cameron became co-founders and business partners of the venture as feelings developed. After a couple of weeks, Michael acted on his urge to go in for a kiss, and that deal was also sealed.
Three years later, the D.C.-based couple went on a two-week European adventure. Cameron didn't know that Michael had brought some precious cargo: a ring. They biked around Vondelpark—the Holland equivalent of Central Park—while the diamond burned a hole in Michael's pocket. After a few missed opportunities, Michael guided Cameron to a field by a pond. He led her into the frame of his GoPro camera and asked for a picture in front of the water. After snapping some selfies, Cameron asked if they could head out to the museum they were visiting that day. Michael responded by pulling the ring out of a secret jacket pocket and asking, "Okay, but will you marry me first?" They called their parents and spent the rest of their trip basking in their engagement.
When it came time to plan the big day, Cameron (who hails from the Dallas area) had two parameters: It had to take place outside and it had to be in Texas. Prospect House in Dripping Springs checked off both of those boxes, and on March 4, 2017, the couple held a Hill Country-modern wedding at the gallery-like space surrounded by 150 loved ones. A joyous, honest, and fun affair with a little rain, the day combined metallic elements with freestyle florals for a bright and airy affair with a Texan twist.
Build Your Own Bundle
Michael's ensemble featured a mix of designers: He paired a Calvin Klein tuxedo, bow tie, and studs with a Brooks Brothers shirt. Cameron fell in love with this Rue de Seine dress—a silk satin slip with mesh overlay and metal hand-embroidered details—as soon as she put it on. She accessorized with an Aleksa Karina Couture veil, diamond-and-emerald earrings from her mother, and Badgley Mischka kitten heels.
The bridal party—made up of Cameron's best friends from high school, college, D.C., and Michael's sister—wore custom gray sequined dresses by Kit. A longtime fan of the company, it was an easy choice to have the e-commerce retailer make the matching frocks. "I'm obsessed with Kit," Cameron says. "I have four of their dresses and plan to let them take over my entire wardrobe eventually."
The groomsmen—made up of hometown, D.C., and college friends—sported their own tuxedos, renting from Men's Warehouse if they didn't have one.
Off the Wall
In addition to meeting Cameron's two parameters, choosing Prospect House as the wedding venue came with an added bonus: The space, with its white walls, was a blank slate that could be decorated with anything. With the floral design and ordering on her, Cameron enlisted the help of industry friends—Campbell McKinney and Valerie Wolf—to help bring her vision to life. They created this rose-and-smilax wall at the front when the ceremony was moved indoors. "I had never orchestrated the end-to-end floral services for a wedding that big before, so I learned a lot," Cameron says.
Cameron's father walked her down the aisle to Wagner's Bridal Chorus. Once at the altar, federal judge Barbara Lynn—a mentor and dear friend—officiated the ceremony. "I've looked up to her since high school, and while I didn't know when I was younger who I wanted to marry, I knew that she would be the one to marry us one day," the bride says. An English major in college and overall word-lover, the bride's favorite moments of the day were the speeches—Judge Lynn's included."Sonnet XVII" by Pablo Neruda and "Love III" by George Herbert were read at the ceremony before the couple exchanged their vows.
"We both played sports growing up and in college, so high-fiving comes pretty natural to us, but especially for me," Cameron says. After she read her personal vows, Judge Lynn turned to Michael and said, "Top that!" He did, and, reacting as she normally would when there's something to celebrate, Cameron went in for the high-five. "It was totally reflexive. I promise I wasn't trying to embarrass him!" the bride says.
The Escort Cards
The escort cards were made by a bridesmaid's mother, who owns a calligraphy company. A clear trough of white double Dutch tulips from Holland and a greenery runner decorated the table.
The reception took place in the main area of the Prospect House, where a mix of round and long tables were set with taper candles and rose centerpieces in silver vases from Tuesday Morning.
There is a large metal wheel affixed to the weather vane on the venue's ceiling, and Cameron knew when designing the arrangements that she wanted to cover it in smilax, which grows wild near Houston. So she sourced some from Pikes Peak of Austin, and brought her vision to life.
Cameron has loved "vanda" orchids ever since she used them at a floral design workshop in Germany, and was able to visit the largest grower in Holland while traveling with Michael. From there, she was set on incorporating the flower into her wedding, and did so by adding them to the hanging installation.
In the Round
A round floral installation was hung near where the band played and included mix of roses, hydrangeas, and silver dollar eucalyptus.
On the Side
Rain on your wedding day is a sign of good luck. And a flexible venue is good fortune. Although Cameron and Michael had to move their cocktail hour indoors, the bench seating on the side walls of the Prospect House helped make the transition easier.During this time, Aaron McDonnell and the Neon Eagles played while guests grabbed drinks from the bar and nibbled on passed hors d'oeuvres like smoked oysters and grilled pork belly sliders with truffle mustard.
Purposeful Place Settings
The flowers took center stage at the reception, so table settings were intentionally kept simple. The botanical-themed menus from Paperless Post outlined the family-style fare, which included beef tenderloin with lobster grits and arugula, seared Gulf red fish with crawfish sauce, and green chili mac and cheese—a spin on Michael's favorite food—all prepared by Royal Fig Catering. LZ Calligraphy calligraphed the lettering on the name cards on top.Café du Monde beignets were passed out as a late-night snack at the end of the night, an homage to the bride's mother, who was born and raised in New Orleans before moving to Dallas.
The First Dance
Cameron and Michael danced to "Lovin' You, Baby" by Charles Bradley, performed by Aaron McDonnell and the Neon Eagles. "We love Aaron McDonnell and his band, and really wanted him to play it," the bride says. "He said he would learn it, as long as we were fine with it sounding like Alan Jackson covering Charles Bradley."Cameron also danced with her father to "You Are My Sunshine," which he sang to her as a little girl.
Dance the Night Away
The dance floor was turned into a bona-fide country honky-tonk during the reception, with guests in cowboy hats and boots to do some two-stepping.
The flower wall from the ceremony was also used as a backdrop for the photobooth during the reception. Guests got silly with props like lobster hats and glittery garb.
A non-Texan (he's from a small town in North Carolina), Michael didn't know what a groom's cake was until their tasting at Sweet Treats Bakery. After that, he had to have one. The fun confection reflected both bride and groom—it featured a map of their neighborhood on Capitol Hill, with three-dimensional versions of their red-brick row house and two dogs, Brody and Pretzels.
Bye, Bye, Bye
Michael wanted "Come Sail Away" by Styx to be played as they left the reception. His groomsmen and bachelor party friends serenaded the couple with the rock classic as they walked under white gladioluses—inspired by a graduation tradition at Cameron's high school—to their getaway car. They went right from their wedding to sunny Tulum, Mexico, for their honeymoon.
Photography, Rachel Meagan Photography
Location, Prospect House
Event Planning, Gillian Calley of 36th Street Events
Catering, Royal Fig Catering
Videography, Bring Works
Officiant, Federal District Court Judge Barbara G. Lynn
Stationery, Paperless Post
Calligraphy, LZ Calligraphy
Cake, Sweet Treats Bakery
Rentals, Bee Lavish Vintage Rentals
Bride's gown, Rue de Seine
Hair and Makeup, All Dolled Up
Bridesmaids' dresses, Kit
Groom's suit, bow tie, and studs, Calvin Klein
Groom's shirt, Brooks Brothers
Transportation, Roadrunner Charters
Photobooth, Pixster Photo Booths