Arboretum Wedding By The Lake | Dallas Wedding Photographer Jeff Brummett
Stella and Joe’s Dallas Arboretum wedding had lots of color and whimsical style. The couple lives in Austin, but chose Dallas to be closer to family and friends. They got ready separately before heading to the Arboretum for their first look. The festivities took place in one of my favorite places, the Lay Family Garden. The garden is stunning and always full of beautiful light at sunset. It was a magical day with wonderful people!
I asked Stella to tell us about her and Joe’s story, the planning process, and the wedding day:
Stella and Joe
Joe remembers the moment he first saw Stella; it was her eyes that caught his attention. Not only because they are big, beautiful or hazel but because they were kind and honest. Although Joe considers himself good at reading people, Stella was far more complex. He was drawn to her genuine vibes.
The story started as all great love stories do – at a political campaign office. “We went from being complete strangers, to flirty desk mates (until Stella relocated to another office to actually get work done), to close friends.”
Anyone who’s worked on a campaign knows that “work-life balance” is a joke; the lines are inherently blurred. Stella and Joe became inseparable. They spent most of their waking hours triaging the chaos that is a campaign office. They attended candidate events, block walked, registered voters, and ever so slowly, fell in love. Before that election cycle finished, Joe knew he had to let Stella know he’d miss their daily lunch, and happy hours.
The first couple of times Joe tried to ask her out, Stella kept inviting friends. The third time, he took a more direct approach. Joe asked, “When are you going to stop inviting other people on our dates?” Stella was confronted with the feelings she’d tried to push aside for months. She let herself melt into his patient persistence and was swept off her feet.
To them, this was a very low-key, under-the-radar evolution. To everyone else it was obvious, and a long time coming.
As luck would have it, Stella’s landlord sold her unit. It set up the perfect way for Joe to make his pitch for her to move in with him. “Over the years, we realized that you are always home when you are with the one you love. And with that in mind, we are so excited to begin our new family, together.”
We rented a modern loft in the center of downtown Dallas. Everyone donned silk monogrammed robes and took turns getting hair and makeup done. It was a relaxed day and I felt so surrounded by love. I made the last minute decision to bring a mutual friend of my ‘maids, Lizzie, to do makeup. We loved having her there with us while Megan with Elm Beauty whipped our hair into gorgeousness. They’re both absolute masters of their craft.
I had six bridesmaids, a matron of honor, and a maid of honor. Each one represented a unique time in my life and lifelong friendships. It brought tears to my eyes seeing all these incredible women together to help me marry the man of my dreams.
The Wedding Dress
My dress was a family heirloom, and after trying on almost 20 other gowns, I knew I’d found the one. I had this Cinderella moment when I put it on, I wasn’t expecting it to work. But it zipped up, was the perfect length, and I felt comfortable and beautiful. I loved the champagne sheen and bespoke vibe. I made a few slight alterations. We took some fabric from the skirt to make the off-the-shoulder sleeves. Other than that, it remained completely intact.
The Arboretum Wedding Inspiration
I wanted a timeless Midsummer Night’s Dream-inspired garden wedding. It’s a formal, lavish take on a backyard wedding. Color was also important. The color palette transitions from summer into fall. Sapphire, the birthstone for September, is incorporated into my wedding band. There were even some Beauty and the Beast references happening. The dress had those Belle vibes. The cloche dome flower arrangements remind me of the rose under glass in the movie.
I wanted the vibe to feel exclusive, but not in a cold way. Family focused, with special roles for them throughout the evening.
The First look
We hadn’t planned to do a first look. But we’re both suckers for good lighting. The time of day and wanting to ease our nerves lended itself to doing a first look. In doing so, we got to take advantage of gardens I adore (Sunken Garden and Magnolia Glade) but which weren’t part of the wedding. Win, win!
When we saw each other, Jeff captured our looks of adoration and exhilaration. We were so natural in that moment, I knew it was the right choice for us. Having some quiet time before the whirlwind allowed us to soak up all the love and beauty around us. I wouldn’t trade those portraits for anything.
We wanted a more editorial look than what you often see in wedding photography. A mix of digital and film that would create a timeless quality to the images. Jeff is an artist first, photographer second. He masterfully captured moments from our big day that we will treasure forever.
The Arboretum Wedding Venue
I knew we would want to be outside, and I grew up in the White Rock Lake area by the Dallas Arboretum. Flowers were the most important aspect of the wedding to me. Having an arboretum wedding on the lake was an obvious choice!
One of my bridesmaids and I were flower girls in her mothers arboretum wedding at the Camp House when we were little. That was another sweet full-circle moment about our wedding venue. I love how that area is separate from the rest of the arboretum, it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves!
The Arboretum Wedding Ceremony
My cousin, Collin, was our officiant. He was my first wedding planning call after getting engaged. Collin incorporated lines from Kahil Girbran’s “The Profit” into the ceremony. He tucked his script into my grandfather’s copy of the book that he’d given to my grandmother. He and I are both super sentimental and these little elements were so special. Joe and I wrote our own vows for each other and managed to make it through them without sobbing; success!
Our ring bearer was our godson, Kai, who is Joe’s best man’s son. He particularly enjoyed being front and center ;-). Our flower girls Claire and Eloise, are best friends and the daughters of two of my cousins. Ed Smith and Robert Aberg, two of my parent’s longest friends, played the music for the ceremony. Joe and I have a connection to the Beach Boys. So they played a gorgeous rendition of God Only Knows for my (very long) walk down the aisle that Ed re-arranged for the vibraphone.
We didn’t want anything too extravagant that competed with the Arboretum. I wanted florals that complement and highlight what’s around the garden and Camp House. I also wanted to avoid white flowers as much as possible. Floral arranging is also my love language, favorite hobby, and creative outlet. I knew picking this vendor would extra important.
I knew right when I met Kate that she “got” me. I knew exactly what I wanted, but rarely knew the name of the flower, but that didn’t hinder Kate. I’d say “I want pale squigglies” or “purple floofs with yellow balls and brain/coral reef flowers.” She knew exactly what I meant. That’s a special bond!
The Wedding Cake
The cake decoration was inspired by one of the linens we chose from a BBJ recommendation. It had this great texture that looked almost like ropes of silk crisscrossing over it. I left Crystal at XO Cakery with a sample of the linen and a picture, and she nailed it. We wanted a modern take on the classic three tier wedding cake. The result was this stunning double-barred, tall layer with a dainty shorter one on top. I loved the white on white detailing.
The lemon cake with layers of raspberry jam and lemon curd was so delicious. We barely had any to take home! We also had pastries as a second desert option to round out the breakfast for dinner theme. Apple date turnovers, strawberry danishes, almond chocolate croissants and more.
The Arboretum Wedding Reception
The reception featured a fourteen piece band. It was an assembly of some of the best Jazz musicians in North Texas. My parents are both musicians, and also played during the reception. My mother sang “The Nearness of You” for our first dance. Then my dad played electric bass and sang to get the dance party started. I’ve grown up with these guys playing music; many of the musicians were also guests. It was so fun to showcase them to our friends and new family!
Joe and I love breakfast food, and often make it for dinner. Over the course of five years, we have eaten our fair share of chicken and mashed potato wedding dinners. We knew we wanted something different for our wedding.
We opted for a breakfast theme and worked with Beyond the Box Catering. They served guests chicken and waffle skewers and spinach and feta quiche bites with Bloody Mary’s and mimosa bar for cocktail hour. The dinner featured a build-your-own omelette station, ham carving, with roasted potatoes, mixed green salad, and fruit.
The exit was hilarious. These streamers were made to be thrown about 10ft further apart than the walkway allowed. We almost got caught in a web of white paper trying to get to the car! I wasnt sure if I would make it without falling on my face. It was one of those classic couldnt-have-planned-for wedding moments. We were dying laughing, which at least made for some great pictures!
Thinking about a Dallas Arboretum Wedding? Learn about me and what makes me different than other photographers. I’m excited to connect and tell your story!