An Elegant Texas Wedding With Southern Charm

Here's how to do a rustic outdoor ceremony and a glam ballroom reception

Updated 05/19/17

Photo by Jenna McElroy

They say there's something about weddings to get you in the spirit of love! Well, that's exactly what happened to Chris Dolence, who proposed to Kara Perez on a trip to another friend's wedding in Alaska. They were hiking with some friends, and when they reached the top of the mountain, Chris took Kara’s hand and led her to an even higher point of the trail. There, he surprised her with an intimate proposal, just the two of them. She says, “We were practically in the clouds, pretty romantic, right?”

The happy couple dreamed of a romantic garden wedding with Southern charm and found their perfect spot at Ma Maison in Dripping Springs, Texas. And, on September 10, 2016, they invited 225 guests to witness a very-Texas wedding, complete with a mariachi band, Southern fare, and a cigar roller!

Keep reading to see how the couple, with the help of planner Ellen Westcott, created a rustic-meets-glam event, as photographed by Jenna McElroy.

Gold and White Invitation Suite

Photo by Jenna McElroy

The couple's invitation suite set the tone for the day, and gave a preview as to what all the other paper products (menus, ceremony programs, and escort cards!) would look like.

<p>Monique Lhuillier Illusion-Back Wedding Dress</p>

Photo by Jenna McElroy

<p>Calvin Klein Bridal Shoes</p>

Photo by Jenna McElroy

Kara found her Monique Lhullier gown, which featured an deep-V in the front and an illusion back with a detachable tulle skirt, at Joan Pillow Bridal Salon in Houston. “It was the first dress I tried on and I just knew,” she says. She paired her dramatic down with earrings and a long veil from the same salon and added classic Ralph Lauren heels. As a final touch (and as her "something old"), the bride honored her late grandmother by wearing her wedding ring on the big day.

White Bridal Bouquet

Photo by Jenna McElroy

The bridal bouquet, created by florist Bristol Lane, featured a variety of white blooms with greenery.

<p>Groom with Groomsmen</p>

Photo by Jenna McElroy

Bride with Bridesmaids

Photo by Jenna McElroy

The groom wore a classic tuxedo by Combatant Gentlemen, while Kara's bridesmaids wore floor-length navy dresses in varying styles from Bella Bridesmaids.

<p>Bride and Groom at Ceremony</p>

Photo by Jenna McElroy

Since the ceremony venue was outdoors, the bride decorated the altar with natural greenery and white blooms (placed in barrels!) to accentuate the natural setting. A string quartet played Joy of Man’s "Desiring" as Kara made her way down the aisle arm-and-arm with her father. “The most special part of the entire day was being able to see Chris for the first time while walking down the aisle, I will never forget his expression,” she says.

Instead of personalizing the ceremony with personal vows, the couple asked their loved ones to choose readings that reflected their relationship and asked everyone to take communion. “It represented our shared belief in our Christian faith and how important it was to begin our marriage with celebration of the spiritual foundation upon which it was built,” Kara says.

Bride and Groom Ceremony Exit

Photo by Jenna McElroy

After the ceremony, the newlyweds lead everyone to cocktail hour, where they tasted authentic Southern grub, like okra and bacon hush puppies with smoked paprika sauce, and listened to a Mariachi band. And as an added bonus: They surprised guests with a personal cigar roller!

<p>Escort Cards on Vintage Doors</p>

Photo by Jenna McElroy

<p>Escort Cards</p>

Photo by Jenna McElroy

<p>Reception Decor</p>

Photo by Jenna McElroy

Guests found their table numbers on escort cards that were placed on vintage doors embellished with greenery. Inside the space, they covered tabletops—a mix of long farm tables and round ones—with ivory linens and tall vases holding lush greenery.

For dessert, Kara and Chris served a four-tiered white wedding cake, which was decorated with ivory blooms to match the rest of their decor.

<p>Bride and Groom Dancing</p>

Photo by Jenna McElroy

The pair kicked off a night on the dance floor with "Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You" by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons before inviting everyone to join. Other hits included "My Little Girl" by Tim McGraw for Kara’s father-daughter dance and "September" by Earth, Wind, and Fire for the mother-son dance.

<p>Sparkler Exit</p>

Photo by Jenna McElroy

At the end of the night, Kara and Chris’s guests lit sparklers and sent them as husband and wife! As for what Kara learned from the planning process, she says this: “Enjoy it and don’t stress about the little things because no one notices the tiny things!”

Venue: Ma Maison || Coordinator: Ellen Westcott || Bride's Dress: Monique Lhuillier, purchased at Joan Pillow Bridal Salon || Bride's Shoes: Ralph Lauren || Groom and Groomsmen's Attire: Combat Gent || Bridesmaid's Attire: Bella Bridesmaids || Hair & Makeup: Urban Betty Salon || Floral Design: Bristol Lane || Music: Terra Vista Strings, Mariachi Estrella, The Night Owls || Invitations & Paper Goods: The Inviting Paper || Cake: Sweet Treats || Rentals: Marquee Rents || Photo Booth: Silver Cloud Photo Booth || Cigar Roller: Bobalu Cigar Co.

|| Catering: Royal Fig || Photography: Jenna McElroy || Videography: Henry Weddings

Related Stories