A Garden Wedding with Australian Flair in Austin, Texas
Carlee Couch and Sean Ryan first met at a Texas ranch party when Sean, on a year-long trip across America, stopped to visit friends. They kept in touch by meeting up all over the country—in Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; and Beaver Creek, Colorado—before they officially began dating six months later. Several years later, they were living together in Sydney, Australia, when Sean proposed overlooking the ocean at Clovelly Rocks.
The jetsetting couple decided to tie the knot in Texas, choosing Barr Mansion, located just outside Austin, as their big-day venue; the spot was close to Carlee's family and held plenty of sentiment for the couple. "This is where our relationship began, and we wanted the location to mean something to us both rather than host a destination wedding," says Carlee. Since they were planning the wedding from Australia, they relied on local wedding planners from Wild Sky Events to pull the on-site details together in time to host their 180 guests on April 28, 2018. To Carlee, their planning team was invaluable. "A planner is a must! We could not have pulled something that amazing together so far away without Wild Sky Events," she says. "It also just eases the stress and helps to make sure the small details get attention so you can relax and actually enjoy the day."
The boundless florals, minimalist space, and all-night dancing were everything the pair had hoped for, but for Carlee and Sean, the best part was seeing their friends from all over the globe come together. "We had guests fly from across the world—about 50 percent of the wedding ended up being Australian," adds the bride. "And getting a bunch of Texans and Aussies together makes for a great party!"
The couple's invitation suite, designed by Jolie & Co, paired ivory cardstock with pale, sage-colored envelopes, and alternated block text with delicate script. A printed map helped out-of-town guests find their way around the area, while custom monogrammed stamps incorporated a blue-and-white watercolor element from the RSVP card and map background.
A Modern Frock
When Carlee began shopping for her wedding dress, she had only two requests: "I wanted a simple fabric, and I wanted the dress to be unique," she says. "I always wanted a wedding dress that didn't necessarily look like a wedding dress." She chose the off-the-shoulder "Lola" gown from Mariana Hardwick for its unusual but elegant silhouette. "The shape was interesting and modern," she says, "without being over the top." Strappy Stuart Weitzman sandals and drop earrings—her only accessories—kept her look minimalist and chic.
Carlee's nine bridesmaids included her and Sean's sisters. The women all chose their own gown from Fame and Partners in a matching gray that Carlee selected. "I wanted something timeless and simple with neutral colors that let the surrounding gardens and décor speak for itself," she says of her attendants' ensembles.
The couple also included two of their younger cousins in their wedding. The ring bearer wore a dark suit and plaid tie, while the flower girl floated down the aisle in a tiered tulle skirt with a crown of baby's breath on her head.
Aisle of White
Carlee's father escorted her down the aisle to The Beatles' "In My Life." The ceremony space, set up outside of the mansion, featured white wooden chairs and an aisle defined by delphinium-centric arrangements from Stem Floral.
Carlee's childhood best friend officiated the non-religious ceremony, during which Sean and Carlee exchanged vows they'd written themselves. They also broke from routine by setting up their ceremony in a lesser-used spot on the grounds: "Most people pick the large oak tree at Barr Mansion," says Carlee. "We wanted to use the lush gardens and the flower arch as our background."
Sunset and Champagne
After the ceremony, the newlyweds posed for portraits around the grounds—"just the two of us and a bottle of Champagne," says Carlee. "It allowed us to spend some time together. The day goes quickly and it's often never just the two of you. I was able to enjoy the sunset with him during our first few hours of marriage alone—that was pretty special."
During the cocktail hour, an outdoor lounge gave guests space to enjoy their celebratory drinks while a string group performed covers of some of the couple's favorite contemporary songs. The interlude put the location's scenery on full display: "We wanted a beautiful garden wedding and this venue had it all," says Carlee. "Simple and rustic—with some modern touches."
The couple's social media-ready guest book station included a black letter board with their hashtag and the instruction, "It didn't really happen unless there's a photo of it!" Polaroid cameras and extra film let guests take their own shots to include with custom messages.
Friends Near and Far
A conversation-starting sign reading "Where Are Y'all From?" showed how far guests had traveled to celebrate. "With so many people flying in from all over the world, we wanted to illustrate that," says Carlee. "It's pretty special to us to see how our relationship has connected so many people across the world—something we never imagined."
Inside the ballroom, unfussy white tables contrasted with dark wood seating; a long stretch of tables framed smaller square ones. Carlee kept the look deliberately minimalist, so that the floral and wooden accents stood out. "I wanted the lighting and the flowers to be the main attraction," she says.
Muted foliage offset creamy blooms to create elegant, subtle centerpieces.
Black and White
The couple set the white tables without tablecloths, instead choosing gray linen runners that provided a backdrop for collections of candles in glass and metal holders. Black plates were paired with white-and-gold flatware and textured napkins to create elegant, modern place settings. A menu that doubled as a place card completed the look.
Sail Away with Me
Carlee and Sean prepared for their first dance with three dance lessons—and a lot of careful thought about their song choice. "We wanted something upbeat and classic," says Carlee. "'Islands in the Stream' by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton was fun, and we had spent many fun nights listening to this song with friends."
The couple's florist hung a large-scale installation over the dance floor, accenting the space with bare hanging bulbs and string lights behind the band. It created an atmosphere for a night of wild dancing to music from Drywater Band that included a performance of Australian classic, "Eagles Rock." "The tradition is for the men to drop their pants," says Carlee. "We had the band DJ this song and the Aussie groomsmen surprised guests by dropping their pants at the chorus. Normal for Australians, but quite a surprise for other guests!"
The couple had sourced a neon sign that read "All You Need Is Love" for guests to use as a photo backdrop, but it also created a bright background for the newlyweds as they poured out a Champagne tower during the reception.
A Taste of Home
In addition to the Earl Gray and lavender confection from Feathers and Frosting, the couple served a cake flavored like Tim-Tams, a popular Australian chocolate biscuit.
After the reception, guests bid farewell to the couple with a sparkler sendoff outside the mansion.
Photography, Sarah Falugo
Location and catering, Barr Mansion
Event planning, Wild Sky Events
Flowers, Stems Floral Design
Videography, Wild Light Films
Stationery, Jolie & Co
Cake, Feathers and Frosting
Music, Dry Water Band
Rentals, 10th Collection; Birch and Brass Vintage Rentals
Bride's gown, Mariana Hardwick
Bride's shoes, Stuart Weitzman
Hair and makeup, Lola Beauty
Bridesmaids' dresses, Fame and Partners
Lighting, Ilios Lighting Design