When Sara invited Evan to a Medieval-themed birthday party, the now 28-year-old lawyer showed up with a paper crown and an English accent. "I knew I had found a keeper," Sara jokes. The Iowa-born-and-bred couple would later move to London, where they perfected their accents together.
For their September wedding, Sara and Evan flew from London to Des Moines, Iowa. "We were set to arrive just a couple days before the wedding," Sara explains. "We didn't have the luggage space to transport do-it-yourself projects, nor the time to take on many projects once we touched American soil." The Temple for Performing Arts, with its "beautiful and grand ballroom," offered no-fuss elegance for the couple.
"We picked the venue as our base, which was pretty grand," Sara explains, "and then chose everything else from the flowers to the programs to be very minimal. It's pretty easy to go overboard with weddings, I think. We really didn't want to look back and think, 'That was embarrassingly over-the-top.'"
The couple's color palette centered around poppy-hued bridesmaids dresses from J.Crew. "I chose them because I loved the bright color and thought it would be flattering on all of them," Sara says.
Sara couldn't wrap her mind around the idea of spending big bucks on a big-name bridal gown. "So I went online to find a dress in a cut and fabric similar to one I really liked," she says.
She found a dress at David's Bridal, which she ordered and immediately took to a tailor.
The seamstress "created the mesh top and matching sash for me," Sara says. "The final product was something I really loved."
Sara's pear-shaped earrings were a gift from Evan. "I wanted a little bit of sparkle, but I'm not a flashy girl, so they were perfect."
The bride's white and pink bouquet was made from peonies, roses, dahlias and ranunculus and was accented with green hypericum berries.
Evan kept his look classic in a bow tie tuxedo from John Lewis.
The hypericum berries in Evan's white rose boutonniere matched the bride's bouquet.
While Sara's five bridesmaids wore the same J.Crew dress, her 11-year-old sister and maid-of-honor chose her own pink dress. "She was too small to wear most of the bridesmaid dresses out there," Sara explains.
The couple exchanged vows at the Temple for Performing Arts, in a room across the hall from where they would host their reception.
Sara's uncle, a pastor, served as the couple's celebrant, while Evan's uncle led a three-piece string ensemble during the ceremony.
The Temple for Performing Arts "required little decoration," Sara says of the couple's "simple and classic" reception.
Sara coordinated with her florist from across the Atlantic Ocean. "It was probably difficult for her to work with me, because nearly all our correspondence was via e-mail or phone," she says. "But she made it pretty easy for me."
Clusters of small glass vases, each containing a single type of flower in the couple's red and white color palette, made up the centerpieces.
On tables without flowers, "my mom picked up several lanterns to set on tables for candlelight," Sara says.
Each table was assigned a simple black and white number.
Sara and Evan used dim lighting to play up the Temple for Performing Arts' dramatic gold columns.
"The food was great," Sara says of the buffet dinner, which included sweet corn and a warm spinach salad served with bacon dressing.
While a few toasts were offered up at the couple's reception, one stands out to Sara. "Someone told my sister that it was the maid-of-honor's duty to deliver a speech during the reception," she says. "She showed up on the day with a speech she had written. I knew she would be nervous once she saw the audience, so I told her she didn't need to give any speech. But she moved forward, took the microphone and opened with lawyer jokes. It was pretty cute."
"We really like cake," Sara gushes. "We had a hard time choosing because everything at the cake-tasting session was delicious." In the end, the couple chose a two-tiered cake made with chocolate stout and raspberry filling. "Incredible," Sara says.
Photos: Julie Sterling Photography
The reception wrapped up with music by Knight Life Productions. "It was fun to have so many family members involved in the wedding," Sara says.
Ceremony Venue: Temple for Performing Arts || Reception Venue: Temple for Performing Arts || Bride's Wedding Dress: David's Bridal || Groom's Tux: John Lewis || Bridesmaids' Dresses: J.Crew || Groomsmen Attire: Men's Wearhouse || Mother of the Bride's Dress: Nordstrom || Florist: Lori McKenna || Stationery: Wedding Paper Divas || Cake Baker: Cake Me, I'm Yours! || Entertainment: Knight Life Productions || Photography: Julie Sterling Photography