Karen & Ben | Anthony Chapel Arkansas Wedding

November 10, 2015

I honestly didn’t know how to put this wedding into words. Back and forth for about two years with this sweet girl made for such a unique, sweet journey. After trying to figure out what to type out, I gave in and asked Karen to narrate her own day. Hopefully you can pull some gems from her advice on how to have a day that perfectly reflects you as a couple.

How did you nail down your style/vision?

I didn’t. I think that’s the key. Let things evolve. The only thing you should be married to for your wedding is your husband, everything else should be negotiable. Hire creative people and let them do their jobs. Show them a few ideas and let them run with it. The truth—my vision was to allow everyone involved to envision with me, yikes, right? What I mean by this is that I chose everyone I worked with for specific reasons, as do all brides. I deliberately trusted each of these wonderful people to do the jobs I asked of them without giving too much direction. They are good at what they do for a reason after all. I will say that where we landed overall was a “whimsical Gatsby” theme, which I like to think we achieved fairly well due to a combination of trust and happy accidents. The day was so imperfectly perfect.

Let’s talk about the dress for just a second:

I knew I wanted a dress that screamed ethereal and unique, but I’m also obsessed with all things shiny. So, onto problem #2, how do I achieve sparkly Fern Gully status without looking like a cheap Halloween costume? Enter my fairy godmother, Kim Istre. Truly, the vision for this shindig was her. Dress shopping started and ended at BHLDN. I tried on the Ava gown by Theia third. As soon as the overskirt was tied to my waist, I knew we were onto something. It had my least favorite neckline ever and was the total opposite of what I thought I wanted, so clearly I bought it. Then, I let Momma Kim work her magic and watched in amazement as not only the dress morphed into something incredible. She’s amazing y’all. With her vision and guidance my family helped pull it all together and it was more than I could have ever imagined, a valiant group effort indeed. Infinity of thanks to all involved.

How did you figure out what was most important?

Besides having a dessert table, the next most important “must have” was a unique venue, so that’s where our journey to the altar began. Ben and I desperately wanted to get married outdoors, but those of you who’ve also been graced with a Louisiana upbringing know that the struggle is real. So, how do you achieve outside status by staying indoors? Glass chapels to the rescue. Thankfully one lived a mere five hours from us, was gorgeous, and within my budget, BAM. Venue=done. The Anthony Chapel was my blank canvas. Knowing this would be an out of state wedding; we decided a more intimate affair was more of what we wanted. Keep in mind our families are huge, so still about seventy-five people were in attendance, twenty-ish of those being children (queue the kid parade).

The next step was to nail down a photographer, and by nail down, I mean find and give complete control. I think I knew in the back of my mind that I would know when I found my person. Just like marrying Ben, this was that level of commitment. I had the same chat with a ton of people and right when I thought I had my mind made up, in swooped Kristen with her vivacious personality and endearing creative spirit. I loved that she was just getting into wedding photography full-time when I contacted her. To me this meant she hadn’t yet found her way around it completely and wouldn’t have a go-to shot list or checklist created. I wanted to find someone with their own perspective and vision to create. She was perfect. When I hired her, I handed her the reins. As a fellow creative, I know that the possibilities are endless when you instill a bit of trust in other creatives. We are at our best when you give us control to create something beautiful without a list of rules. You’d think creative freedom would be something given often, but it’s actually quite the contrary, so I was happy to give her just that.

I think the most important thing was working with the right people. If you truly trust those you hire you shouldn’t have to prioritize, it will all come together. Like Kristen says, the most important thing about your wedding is that you do you. If you want to skip part of your reception for portraits, do it. If you want to have 10 different desserts plus a wedding cake, do it. If you want a custom dress, do it, or actually, maybe let someone else do that one for you 😉

What did the day feel like?

The day I got my forever best friend, the day I saw my dress completed for the first time, the day twenty something children below the age of twelve pranced down the aisle in front me before I so humbly and completed screwed up my vows and burst into laughter. From Kristen playing photographer and babysitter to Jessica Humerick working her artist magic on the less than ideal palette known as my face, the day came and went so quickly. Our poor videographer, Jessie Swaffar was surrounded by a sea of hormones and wine, lots of wine. It came together in that beautiful chapel, it came together during our hour long just married couple’s shoot right after the wedding (everyone should do this), and it was still perfect when our DJ played a myriad of random songs no one asked for, HA!

Why didn’t you have a large wedding?

The go-to answers might be that it was a long drive and because that shit’s cray and expensive. All of the above, plus the more we thought about it, the more we realized as long as we had the most important people there with us, that was all that mattered. The latter being the main reason, obviously. Crazy enough, even with less people, we still didn’t get to interact with everyone there.

Was it worth taking an hour of portraits?

Umm, duh. Sure we missed a little of our reception, but my favorite photos from that day came from that session. The focus was on us and the fact that we had just committed our lives to each other without other people wanting to talk to us, dance with us, or cheers to us. It was peaceful, beautiful, and fun. Nike had it right. Do it, just do it

What was it like giving creative control to me?

I loved it. Sure I got worried leading up to the day, but not about her, about having enough stuff worthy of her talent to shoot. I think every bride wants to think that their big day is the best, but I wanted Kristen to remember our day like we do. I wanted her to remember it being a new beginning. A new way to shoot a wedding, the way she wanted, without question. I hope I gave her that. Sure, I may not have had the most glamorous party or details, but I hope she is as proud of the work she did they day as we are, because she totally rocked it. No other person on this earth will have wedding photos like ours, and for that, I’m forever indebted.