This Ranch Wedding in Texas Turned Into a Late-Night Country Music Concert
Kelsey and Jacob have known each other since third grade. They "always ran in the same circles," but were just friends—until sharing a ninth grade biology class led to a mutual crush. "He asked me to homecoming," says Kelsey, "and the rest was history!"
Though the high school sweethearts waited to get married until after Kelsey finished her master's degree, Jacob surprised her with a proposal 18 months early. During a visit to her parents' ranch outside Austin, Texas, Jacob enlisted Kelsey's father to lure her to the property's barn with the promise of seeing a baby animal. Instead, she says, "There were photos from our many years of dating, and after he proposed, our whole family was waiting to celebrate with Champagne!"
The couple planned a September wedding, which was attended by 250 guests, in the exact same spot where they got engaged. "Jacob and I love having our friends out to the ranch and showing them our favorite place," says Kelsey. "We wanted our wedding to represent that feeling." They decided on a color palette of green, gray, and purple inspired by prickly pear cactus: "We wanted it to blend in with the natural scenery of the ranch but have some color, too," Kelsey says. And though the details of coordinating an event of that size at a private home felt overwhelming at times, the couple found it easy to work together. "I learned that planning a wedding at a ranch has way more logistics involved than you could ever imagine!" says Kelsey. "But Jacob's only requests were for the guests to wear boots and to have Coors Lite, so he was easy."
A Second Ring
"Jacob picked out my engagement ring after asking my sister what I would like," explains the bride. "The ring I have now is actually the second ring, though—the first one got lost in the mail. Jacob was so nervous because he thought it wasn't going to be there in time for the proposal."
A Quick Stitch Fix
Kelsey took advantage of a girls' weekend in New York with her mother and sister to search for her perfect wedding dress. The winner: A spaghetti-strap Rue de Seine number with a high, crocheted-lace neckline and a ribbon accent at the waist. "I had loved her designs but never seen my particular dress before," says Kelsey. "When I tried it on, I knew it was the one!" But her wedding day brought an unpleasant surprise: "It was pulling in the front because I hadn't tried it on after final alterations," she says. "My sister took scissors to the inside and cut the stitch that was making it pull. Looking back, we laugh about it because it could have gone horribly wrong!"
The bride took the lead on the suggested dress code—which encouraged guests to wear cowboy boots—by donning a pair of Old Gringo boots with turquoise accents that she counted as her "something blue." Jacob's wedding gift was her "something new:" A pair of diamond earrings. "I was so excited to wear them for the first time," she says of the sparkling studs, "and still wear them every day."
Mixed and Matched
The bride chose to outfit her bridesmaids—a group that included her sister and five childhood friends—in six different dresses from BHLDN. "I have known all of my bridesmaids for over 10 years, so I picked which style I knew they would like best," she says. "I still love that they were all different!"
Friends and Family
Jacob and his groomsmen picked matching navy suits from The Black Tux, but their accessories forced a compromise: "Jacob fought me on wearing a purple tie," says Kelsey, "but all the groomsmen wore boots, so he let it slide!" The groomsmen were friends from Jacob's childhood and college years, with one about to make the jump to family: He's since gotten engaged to Kelsey's sister.
The flower girls wore ivory dresses from Etsy with crocheted-lace tops to coordinate with Kelsey's gown, and floral garlands finished with trailing ribbons as crowns.
A Calming First Look
Kelsey and Jacob's first look calmed their nerves—and amped up their energy for the party ahead. "Once I saw Jacob, my stress faded away and I was so excited for the rest of the evening," says Kelsey. "It felt like we got to throw the biggest party at the ranch with all of our favorite things and people. It was the perfect day to represent the fusion of our lives."
The ceremony programs—emblazoned with the couple's crest, which was created by Happy Menocal—were passed out just ahead of the service.
Down the Aisle
Kelsey and her father followed the bridal party down the aisle as The Lost Pines bluegrass band played Pachelbel's "Canon in D."
Tagged Ceremony Chairs
The ceremony aisled was lined with grassy arrangements; chairs for special guests were designated with calligraphed tags, created by Carolyn Jane.
I Now Pronounce You…
Kelsey and Jacob exchanged vows under a large oak tree by the property's pig barn—the same barn where Jacob proposed. Kelsey's cousin's husband, a pastor, officiated. "He did a great job because he knows me and Jacob so well," says Kelsey, "which made it really meaningful."
A Real Zoo
A wedding-day petting zoo was set up during the cocktail hour; the little zoo included piglets and rabbits as a nod to the bride's love of baby animals and the couple's passion for the fauna around the ranch.
Light the Night
Inside the barn, scripted escort cards were laid out on a single long table and held in place with small stones. White lights illuminated a display of leaves under glass domes. "Inside the dimly lit pig barn," says Kelsey, "it looked so pretty!"
Under the Tent
Kelsey and Jacob set up one tent for dining and a second for dancing. In the dining area, square and rectangular tables with neutral tablecloths contrasted light wooden cross-back chairs. Centerpieces in washed pinks and greens with darker plum and purple accents were kept low to allow for plenty of conversation, while string lights overhead kept the party going long after dark.
On the tables, taupe linens showed off classic white plates and rustic wooden chargers, while gold flatware caught the light from votive and pillar candles on the tables. A variety of small stones kept the napkins in place, and a printed menu displayed the family-style meal options from Kurant Events. "Jacob and I love the outdoors so our theme was hunting-style feast—think lots of game meat with Southern-style sides," says Kelsey. "The highlight was biscuit-topped chicken and dumplings—my favorite food is chicken and dumplings, and Jacob's is biscuits and gravy!"
Coco Paloma Desserts created the couple's four-tier wedding cake, which was covered in pale blue icing—creating a Wedgwood-inspired background for a lacework design that mimicked the bride's gown.
A Private Concert
Kelsey and Jacob booked country artist Aaron Watson for the entertainment at their reception.
A Special First Dance
They chose his song "That Look" for their first dance. "He is our favorite Texas country artist," says Kelsey, "and having him play live was a dream!"
On the Dance Floor
Watson and his band kept the guests rocking, from the couple's first dance to a surprise performance of "Baby Likes to Rock It," a song Kelsey and Jacob both loved as little kids. For Jacob, the party was the most memorable part of the evening: "Favorite moment," he says, "was spending time with all our friends and family on the dance floor!"
Sparkle and Shine
After a day full of love and joy, the sendoff at the end of the reception became one of Kelsey's favorite moments. "When we were walking out with the sparklers all around us," she says, "it was a mix of feeling so loved and happy, feeling sad that it was over, and feeling so relieved that I never had to plan a wedding again!"
Photography, Kristen Kilpatrick
Event planning, Flowers, and Stationery, The Nouveau Romantics
Catering, Kurant Events
Calligraphy, Carolyn Jane
Cake, Coco Paloma Desserts
Rentals, Whim Hospitality
Bride's gown, Rue de Seine
Bride's boots, Old Gringo
Hair, Janet St. Paul
Makeup, Lola Beauty
Bridesmaids' dresses, BHLDN
Flower Girl dresses, Etsy
Groom's suit and menswear, The Black Tux
Lighting, Ilios Lighting
Custom Crest, Happy Menocal