So we’re not going to lie.

When it comes to swooning over real weddings, (while we love hearing what brides and grooms have so say about their big days,) all too often, we skip the story and head straight to the pictures. Admit it, you do the same, right!

But this time, we urge you to read the words behind these beautiful pictures of Christian and Sara’s wedding, by the wonderful Lydia Jane Photography.

Because this is a lesson in what weddings are really all about.

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With careful planning and a great photographer, your wedding will look like the dream day. But what you often don’t see in the pictures are the thoughtful gestures, minor mishaps and dramatic moments.

This stunning bride in her Reem Acra gown (which she bought from a charity shop!), the beautiful weather (a sweat-inducing 90 degree day – in October!), the wonderful parents who helped create the perfect day (but left the wedding in an ambulance) and the sweet, normally shy groom, (who stepped in at exactly the right moment).

In three words, Christian and Sara describe their chic barn wedding as sweet, rustic, and joyful. But we say it’s a feat of style, creativity, and most importantly, love.

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The Inspiration

My color palette was based around a mustard yellow color that I love, and warm neutrals (greys, creams, etc.). I already knew that I wanted to be married at the Glasgow Farm, so that location played a huge role in my inspiration. 

I was also inspired by herbs and wildflowers, vintage French kitchens, and several songs:  “Five Years’ Time” by Noah and the Whale and “Not With Haste” by Mumford & Sons.

We are both musicians (I am a music teacher) and I got a lot of inspiration from the feeling of certain music. 

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Advice for Other Couples

My wedding day is proof that two timeless wedding adages are true: First, that something will always go wrong, and second, that as long as you end up married to the love of your life – it is all okay.

If you looked just at pictures, you would think everything went off with a hitch.  And truly, all of the things that I had been expecting to go wrong like food, favors, place cards, etc., went perfectly. However, several big things happened that were totally unexpected and, if you had told me beforehand that they were going to happen, I would have thought would ruin my wedding day.

First of all, it was 90 degrees in October. This was some kind of cosmic joke from the universe, because I had been adamant that I “didn’t want to sweat on my wedding day.” One of my clearest memories from the outdoor ceremony is sweat running down my legs.

Secondly, I had strep throat and a fever the entire weekend. I was one month into my first year of teaching elementary school, and all of those precious little germy children had given me a lovely strep throat infection.

I didn’t know it until I went to the doctor a few days after the wedding. All weekend whenever I complained of a sore throat or feeling tired and woozy, everyone assured me it was nerves and stress.

My bridesmaids kept me doped up on Tylenol all weekend and that plus adrenaline got me through.

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Finally, my parents left my wedding reception in an ambulance. About an hour before our scheduled departure, my mom had a severe allergic reaction to, we think, the silk in my dad’s tie.

Her face got swollen and puffy, she went pale and limp, and actually lost her eyesight for a while. It was absolutely terrifying.

The wonderful DJ and wedding coordinator kept most guests occupied on the dance floor, while my siblings and I stood around her on the patio holding ice chips to her forehead. The ambulance came and they went to the hospital while the party went on.

After they left we halfheartedly did the cake-cutting and my brother gave a beautiful toast in my dad’s place. I held it together until we arrived at our hotel room later that night, when my husband let me just cry it out in his arms. Thankfully, she was completely fine and we got to see her the next morning looking healthy again.

When I think back on these events, it is kind of miraculous to me that I have fond and positive memories of my wedding day. But none of these things ruined it for me. The love that was all around us on that day, from our community and for each other, trumped everything else.

People had a wonderful time, everything looked beautiful, and I got to marry my best friend.

So, my advice to future brides? Plan. Be organized. Dream. Get excited. But please know (and I, of all people, can say this): It is going to be a wonderful day. No. Matter. What. Happens.

The Beatles had it right (at least when it comes to weddings) that, “love is all you need.”

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The Flowers

Flowers were something I had less of a vision for, so I was pretty loose in my descriptions of what I wanted. 

I definitely wanted lavender and herbs like rosemary, and I knew I wanted some kind of cream roses–preferably the small tea roses and ranunculus. 

I don’t know how much of that got completely realized, but since I didn’t have a specific vision, I trusted my florist to find one.  She did a great job.

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The Attire

I wore a gorgeous Reem Acra designer dress that I purchased at a bridal consignment shop for a fraction of its original price.  This shop is actually a nonprofit that donates proceeds to a womens’ shelter, so even my purchase was a donation! 

I got it fixed up and altered by a wonderful woman in Richmond. My total price after alterations for the dress was $325.  The dress would have originally been $2,000!

I knew my group of bridesmaids had a wide variety of styles and personalities, and that none of us are exactly rolling in it.  So I gave them a color palette and some inspiration boards and helped them find dresses that they loved–all under $100 dollars.  I was going for more of a feeling than a set style:  cream, taupe, lace, satin, soft, and romantic. 

I wanted the groomsmen in grey, but I liked the thrown-together look (and again, didn’t want them to have to spend a tonne of money, since most of us were either in college or had just graduated). 

If they already had a grey suit I told them to wear that; if not, they found one at Men’s Wearhouse. 

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The Ceremony

We crafted our own vows, which was so special.  We combined the traditional wording with some extra thoughts of our own.  We had scripture read by friends and my brother and sister sang the hymn “Be Thou My Vision,” which was beautiful. 

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The Photography

I was actually a wedding photographer for 3-4 years in college, so this was an important decision for me because I knew the intimate role that they play in your wedding day.

I knew Lydia personally through mutual friends and had watched her business grow over the years as more and more people discovered how awesome she is. 

I chose her because I knew her relaxed, sarcastic, funny, and sweet personality would fit with the laid-back feeling I wanted for our wedding day.  I also knew that I would be able to trust her implicitly to get the job done and take amazing pictures.

On the wedding day, I didn’t think about the photography once. It was partially a conscious choice to let her do her job and trust that I had hired her for a reason, and partially because she was there for every big moment.I was not disappointed. 

Our wedding videographer was a friend who I knew was an incredible artist, and was just breaking into the wedding film scene.  She has a creative eye and actually grew up on the farm where we got married, so I knew she would make its’ beauty come alive.

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The Refreshments

Our caterer was actually a food truck from Richmond that served incredible wood oven-fired pizza made from mostly local ingredients.

They served pizza like the “Fig & Pig,” which had fig preserves, gorgonzola cheese, and proscuitto. Incredible.

We had appetizers like antipasti and bruscetta, and they even had gluten-free pizzas available (which is great because I am wheat intolerant). It was a little unconventional, but we LOVE pizza, so it was the totally natural choice for us. We also served wine and beer.

Our desserts were all lovingly handmade by friends and family – mostly all of my aunts.  There were cakes, cookies, pies, bars, brownies…you name it.  For our “cake cutting” we actually cut a heart-shaped gluten-free pumpkin bar. 

We had a coffee, tea, and hot chocolate bar set up, but then it was 90 degrees outside – so that didn’t really get used!

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Decor & Details

For the tabletops, we collected tonnes of glass bottles and jars and two of my friends filled them with sprigs of flowers and herbs before the wedding. 

We used burlap table runners (recycled from a friend’s wedding) and silver platters borrowed from family and/or found at thrift shops. 

At each place setting we had a menu, mustard yellow napkin (sewn by my mother!) and a sprig of rosemary tied together with twine. My aunt harvested all of the rosemary from a bush at her house and brought it with her! 

My dad built the ceremony backdrop and my mom sewed the fabric to cover it, and my dad built the place card display.  I was inspired by herb-drying racks and so we hung each place card with a little bag full of dried lavender and stamped with a custom stamp from Etsy. 

Guests threw the lavender on us when we left instead of rice.  The stamp had our initials and a robot – my husband is a huge nerd so I had to throw something like that in somewhere.

Our wedding favors were twofold.  We collected hundreds of mugs in the neutral color scheme from thrift shops and tied a tag to each one that said ‘Thank You!”.  Guests were encouraged to take one of those home. 

We also had mixed CDs available to take home with songs that friends and family wrote, either previously or specifically for our wedding.  It was incredibly special for us. 

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The Music

We were both music majors in college (we met in conducting class!) so music was very important to us. 

I walked down the aisle to a song my brother wrote called “This is How it Feels to Come Home.” Our recessional was “Not With Haste” by Mumford & Sons. 

Our first dance was to “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes.  My father and I danced to “When You Come Back Down” by Nickel Creek.  My husband and his mother danced to “In My Life” by The Beatles. 

We entered the reception to the Star Wars theme song.

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Favourite Moment

When I think about what made our wedding special, I think of all the labors of love that went into it from our family and friends.  My bridesmaids and groomsmen helped set up the reception, my parents did so many DIY projects, my extended family stepped in and helped so much.  It was truly a community effort to give us the wedding of our dreams and I am so, so grateful. 

One of my favorite moments was when my dad saw me for the first time.  We have a close relationship and he is a total weeper, so I knew he would lose it as soon as he saw me–and he did. 

Another favorite was when we said our vows.  Just the feeling of saying them aloud and knowing that our community of friends and family was listening and agreeing to support us in our marriage was priceless. 

The moment that I will remember the most (and if you haven’t read the “advice” section yet, stop and read that first before reading this!) was after my mom and dad left the reception in an ambulance.

We were about to do toasts and Christian and I had gotten up to thank our guests.  I felt like I needed to address what had just happened with my mother, so I told the guests that everything was okay, she was going to the hospital, etc. 

We are people of faith and so I told our guests, “I know not all of you share our faith, but I want to take a moment and pray for my mom together.”  I was about to start praying on the microphone when I just lost it. I knew as soon as I started talking I would begin to cry. I silently handed it over to Christian (who does not like to talk in public as much as I do) and without missing a beat, he prayed a beautiful prayer for my mother. 

It was in that moment that I knew he was my husband–that we were a team.  I knew I could rely on him and that we were strong together and for one another.  It was a beautiful reminder of what the wedding day was really about. 

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Wow, such a beautiful wedding.

But what great advice from Christian and Sara – and proof that you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to create the “perfect” day, because even behind the most gorgeous wedding pictures, is plenty of drama, mishaps, and perspiration!

Thanks so much to the talented Lydia Jane Photography and of course Christian and Sara for sharing their rustic barn wedding with us.

Love this wedding? Check out more Rustic + DIY Weddings. 

Photographer: Lydia Jane Photography / Bride’s Dress: “Orchid” by Reem Acra / Bridal Salon: Church Street Bridal / Alterations: Charla Bjostad / Groom’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Bridesmaid Dresses: Mod Cloth / Bridesmaid Dresses: Ruche / Videography: Rachael Curry / Wedding Planner/Coordinator: Designed Events by Cindy / Venue: Glasgow Farm / Catering: Pizza Tonight