When a wedding has this much rustic, country charm, you know the bride and groom must have a strong connection to cowboys and moonshine. For Luke, 30, and Jen, 34, there was no question that their wedding would feature feathers, antlers, and plenty of cowboy hats. In 2009, Jen and Luke were both in Nashville for a Professional Bull Riding event. She was there to watch from the stands, while he was center-stage on the back of a bull. Jen quickly became familiar with the Professional Bull Riding world, falling in love with the sport as she fell in love with Luke.
In December of 2011, Luke got down on one knee in front of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center in New York City. The couple got to work planning their dream wedding in Missouri's Ozark Mountains, heading to a place they've loved and returned to for years - Big Cedar Lodge. They let the resort inspire their wedding, turning to nature and cowboy style, dressing it up for their rustically elegant celebration.
Just six days after competing in the World Finals, Luke donned his cowboy hat and Jen put on a gorgeous gown for a memorable night full of love and laughter.
The forest-themed invitation suite let guests know they were in for a woodland escape.
Jen wore a voluminous Lazaro ball gown with an embellished bodice. She topped her dress with a fur stole in honor of her late grandmother. She wasn't able to find her grandmother's, but purchased a beautiful stole at a vintage store. The stole has a hand-embroidered silk patch inside with a mysterious set of initials. "I'd like to think it belonged to someone else's beloved grandmother," says Jen.
Jen's simple bouquet featured white roses, scabiosa pods, dusty miller leaves, and ranunculuses.
Luke paired his tuxedo with a black cowboy hat. His boutonniere featured two pheasant feathers.
Jen's bridesmaids wore strapless chiffon dresses and carried bouquets that matched the bride's. The groomsmen, like Luke, wore tuxedos and cowboy hats. Three of the groomsmen were also professional bull riders.
Jen had both of her fathers escort her down the aisle to the outdoor wedding ceremony. Big Cedar Lodge's terrace and sweeping Ozark views provided a gorgeous backdrop for Luke and Jen's vows.
Jen's sister was responsible for the majority of the wedding's décor. Clusters of candles, logs, antlers, and feathers helped create the feeling of a gentleman's hunting lodge.
Vignettes of saddles and rope, books, feathers and comfy, worn leather furniture kept the wedding as far as possible from a traditional ballroom feel. Cozy seating (and buckets of ice-cold beer) encouraged guests to wander and mingle throughout the evening.
A board covered in moss and edged with horseshoes served as the place card display. Guests' names were written on simple tags and hung with horseshoe nails.
The simple, elegant tables were topped with troughs that appeared to be carved from tree trunks. Antlers punctuated overflowing arrangements of white roses, hydrangeas and fresh herbs.
The three-tiered wedding cake featured freshly-ground almond cake with layers of strawberry jam. The cake topper was a nod to the hunting lodge motif, as well as the bride and groom's love of the outdoors.
Later in the evening, guests headed outdoors to make s'mores over the fire.
The bride and groom's getaway car was a vintage pickup truck, complete with strings of cans.
Jen and Luke's advice is to stick with what you know and love. "We spent a weekend at Big Cedar Lodge a few months after we started dating. We both remember that weekend as the one when we first fell in love. It only seemed fitting to return for our wedding," says Jen.
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Big Cedar Lodge || Event Design: Julie Manna, Sister of the Bride || Bride's Wedding Dress: Lazaro || Hair: Jared Cluck of Studio 417 || Makeup: Melissa Britt || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Monique Lhuillier || Groom's Suit: Black by Vera Wang || Groomsmen's Boots: Ariat || Wedding Bands: The Jewelers of Las Vegas || Florist: Ron Johnson, The Thicket || Invitations: Tupy Boutique || Catering & Cake: Big Cedar Lodge || Favors: Moonshine from Big Cedar Lodge || Photography: Love Is a Big Deal