We adore weddings with personal touches. When the bride and groom really celebrate both what makes them individuals, and what brings them together.

Robert and Rachel’s romantic and rustic wedding did just that, with DIY details, help from their talented families, and lots of nods to their passions and hobbies.

And capturing all the pretty features and special moments, were the wonderful Two Birds Photography aka Jake and Jennifer Moreland, whose bright, yet romantic style was the perfect blend for Robert and Rachel’s contrasting photography tastes.

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We’re kind of obsessed with Rachel’s stunning bouquet, her gorgeous dress, and beautiful bridesmaids. Those flower girl fairies are simply two cute for words. And we love Robert’s initiative to keep his attire as secret as the dress, and give himself something to stand out from his groomsmen.

But what we love most about this wedding, is that it was a collaborative effort. The groom’s Chinese heritage and love of Latin dance, paired perfectly the bride’s penchant for all things fairytale and her equestrian hobbies.

Swoon over their stunning pictures (of course!) but read Rachel and Robert’s account of their day too. If you and your partner are struggling to make decisions together for your wedding, this wonderful pair, are an inspiration!

Wedding Day Snapshot

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Our Love Story

Robert was at his niece’s birthday bowling party. Instead of going out for dinner, she decided she wanted to have pizza at home. Robert decided to go to Jewel with his brother-in-law, Will, to pick up ingredients for brownie sundaes for dessert.

While walking in, he noticed Rachel. He didn’t want to walk up to her in a crowded aisle and possibly be rejected in front of a bunch of strangers. He vowed that if he ran into her again, that he’d ask her out.

Robert went about his shopping and purchased his ingredients.  Upon walking into aisle two, he saw Rachel. “This is my chance” Robert said to himself. He started to approach her and say “excuse me” when she began to turn to walk away.

Robert knew she hadn’t heard him and was going to just let her walk away, when all of a sudden, Rachel sneezed. “Bless you”, Robert said. “Thank you” Rachel responded.

She looked at Robert as though she expected that he was going to say something else and Robert knew that was his “in”. “I hope this isn’t too forward, but I think you’re cute and wondered if you’d like to go out to dinner or for drinks some time”.

Rachel, not being one to talk to strange men was hesitant at first; but as she spoke to Robert, she realized he seemed like a nice man.

Rachel had just moved to the area for her new teaching job and was hoping to meet new people, and this was her first opportunity. She dialed her phone number into Robert’s phone and the rest is history!

That’s how a “bless you” in aisle two turned into a walk down the aisle to say “I do”.

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Our Wedding

We wanted an outdoor country, fairytale, romantic, magical, spring celebration with bits of rustic details. The petal pink and aqua blue were meant to be soft contrasts and pops of color.

Rachel loves her magic and fairytales (like Harry Potter and Tangled) and dreamt of her own fairy-tale wedding. She is also a cowgirl and always dreamt of horses being involved on her wedding day. The equestrian center was the perfect venue for the ceremony.

Robert and Rachel exchanged their written vows on a small dock in front of a picturesque pond near some weeping willows.

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The Attire

Rachel’s wedding dress was a lace and organza piece with hints of sparkly beading. It has a sweetheart neckline and a scalloped lace hem. The cap sleeves, buttons, and open key-hole back were added to make it Rachel’s perfect dress.

This dress, when bustled, was the absolute perfect spinny dress for Robert and Rachel’s latin first dance!

Robert was very involved in the planning of every detail of the wedding. He didn’t think it fair that the bride should choose the groom’s attire when she keeps her dress secret, so he picked out his and the groomsmen’s’ suits himself, and kept them secret until she saw them on the wedding day.

Rachel and Robert held a traditional Chinese tea ceremony after the western wedding ceremony. Rachel picked out her red and gold cheongsam (traditional Chinese wedding dress) in China-town with Robert’s family.

The bridesmaids wore a chiffon, strapless, full length, petal pink dress with and empire waist accented with a flower appliqué. This dress added to the romantic feel of the wedding day.

Rachel volunteers working with the horses at Ellis House & Equestrian Center, where the wedding ceremony was held, and found it only fitting for herself and her bridesmaids to wear cowgirl boots under their dresses.

The groomsmen wore a lighter grey suit than Robert’s. Rachel and Robert agreed that the groom should stand out on his wedding day as much as the bride does.

Rachel’s little cousins, Lindsay and Lilyanna, were flower girls and wore soft pink and ivory tutu dresses, floral head wreaths, and whimsical fairy wings.

They were so precious and added another fairy-tale element to the wedding day.

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The Music

Our musicians played instrumental of songs we love on cello and classical acoustic guitar.

Robert processed to “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz Rachel rode up on the horse drawn carriage (a surprise from her mom) then processed to instrumental of “Then” by Brad Paisley.

This song is about the stages of a relationship and how, no matter how much you think you love your partner then, that your love will only grow with the next big moments of your lives.

At that moment, you realize how your love has grown and how you thought you loved that person “then”.

We had our musicians also play “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts during our mother unity candle tradition.

This song represents the unity of our families and their wishes for our lives to become all that we want them to.

Robert and Rachel’s recessional song was instrumental of “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line. 

Our first dance was to Prince Royce’s “Stand by Me”. This song is danced to using a latin dance called bachata. Robert is a phenomenal Latin dancer, and Rachel can follow his lead well enough.

STAND BY ME 6-8-14 is engraved on the inside of the couple’s wedding bands.

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The Ceremony

As a reading, we chose “Union” by Robert Fulghum. 

We wanted an original and personal way for our family and friends to participate in and bless our union. We came up with our wedding wreath blessing.

We purchased an empty branches wreath and displayed it during our ceremony. Each program had a sprig of greenery with a clip attached.

During the ceremony, we asked our guests to hold the sprig and put their prayers, well-wishes, blessings, positive thoughts, positive energy, good magic (any of that good stuff) into it. After the ceremony, they all clipped their sprig on the wreath as a symbol of their blessings.

We have placed this wreath in our front entry way in our home. We pass it every day and see our wedding wreath blessings. It reminds us of the love and support that surrounds us.

We like to decorate it with the changing seasons; leaves, pumpkins, and woodland creatures in the fall/ lights and ornaments in the winter months, and this coming spring we will add flowers and two birds next to a nest with a little egg inside; as we are expecting in July!

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Favourite Moments

Robert and Rachel have pretty different tastes, so the combinations and compromises on decisions are what made the wedding day so unique, special, and made the planning process a bonding (and learning) experience.

We loved our wedding wreath. Each sprig on the wreath represents a blessing from a loved one. It hangs by our front door and we pass it everyday.

Our first dance was magical, romantic, and fun. Our ceremony, Robert was thrilled to watch Rachel walk down the aisle. 

The carriage ride, after leaving the ceremony, gave us some time to enjoy our first few moments together as husband and wife. After pictures, Rachel was even given the opportunity to drive the carriage!

Our sunset photoshoot was a time for us to get away from it all and have some time to look into each others’ eyes and absorb a few moments together as husband and wife on our wedding day.

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The Photography

Rachel and Robert had different ideas on the type of shots they wanted from their wedding day. Robert wanted crisp and saturated photos while Rachel preferred softer and more romantic shots.

They couldn’t decide on a photographer until they found Two Birds Photography. Jake & Jen capture romantic shots without the hazy look that Robert disliked.

They are able to capture every detail of the day so as to tell a story of the day’s proceedings. The same was so with finding a videographer who’s work represented what the bride and groom both wanted to be captured from their wedding day.

We watched many sample videos form many videographers before we chose Ingrid with White Lily Productions.

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The Budget

Our budget was approximately $22,000. We had a Sunday wedding, which helped us to save A LOT on our venue cost. Besides the venues, not many other vendors offer discounts for Sunday weddings. We had approximately 225 guests.

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The Refreshments

We had a cocktail hour, buffet, and ice cream with the cake. 

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The Decor & Details

We chose, ranunculus, peonies, hypericum berries, succulents, lisianthus, astilbe, dusty miller, and alstromeria. 

Rachel’s Uncle Jon, with A Plus Landscaping in Gurnee, IL, provided the wood rounds for the centerpieces.

The clementine boxes were collected by Rachel’s family and painted by Rachel. Rachel and Robert’s family and friends tinted and decorated the aqua centerpiece jars.

Rachel and Robert made the table markers and guest seating cards. Each table maker contained a fun fact or detail about Robert and Rachel’s relationship.

Rachel’s Grandma Anita created and carried the gorgeous ring-bearer pillow. She made it from silk, lace, and she hand embroidered the silk ribbon flowers. 

Rachel’s Grandmother and Aunt Sandy made the flower girls’ dresses and decorated their adorable fairy wings.

My big brother, Jake, designed and printed all of the beautiful programs for our ceremony.

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Advice for Other Couples

Get a head start on planning so that you know your options and don’t have to make an uninformed last minute decision.

I could not find the correct peachy-pink colored bridesmaid dress (My original color palette was peachy-pink and seafoam). I looked and looked, but could not find it. I at least knew I had put the effort in and exhausted all other options when we finally decided on Bill Levkoff’s petal pink.

Take time for yourselves on your wedding day to enjoy it as a couple. Try not to rush through the day. Absorb every moment.

Before leaving the “altar”, after your first kiss, take a moment to just look at and appreciate at all the smiling faces who came out to witness your union. You can schedule time away like we did for our carriage ride and sunset photo shoot.

Do what you want on your wedding day. You have a gut decision or a vision you’ve always dreamt about; some opinions will have you changing your mind and second guessing. Do not let this happen; stick to what you (as a couple) wanted.

Any small details I regret, as a bride, are the ones I was swayed to change. It can be as simple as the way you wear your hair, to the whole style of the wedding you envisioned.

Take in opinions and ideas, but make sure you end up with what you really want, not what others persuaded you to go with.

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Enjoy the process of wedding planning. I know it will get stressful, especially in the end, but try to embrace all that is happening to form your big day.

Our family and friends participated in the many details and DIY projects. This gave us time together to get excited and celebrate before all of our hard work debuted.

I kind of wish I had brought a video camera to the bridal shops to record trying on dresses so as to capture the moment when I found my dress. I was convinced that I would not have the “moment” of “this is my dress!”, and when I did, all the ladies in my party felt it at the same time! 

This “moment” may not happen the same way for everyone, but it’d be a great memory to have on tape no matter how it happens.

Read the reviews! Good and bad. You know what’s important to you on your wedding day. Make sure your vendors have the same priorities.

Oh, and do not book someone and give them your money without a contract. 

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So special, right? Seriously those bouquets by Katy Did It Flowers, are some of our favourite we’ve featured, so gorgeous!

Thanks so much to Two Birds Photography and of course to Robert and Rachel for sharing their romantic wedding with us. And congratulations on the new addition to your family – how exciting!

Be inspired by more beautiful real weddings

Photographer: Two Birds Photography, Jen & Jake Moreland / Bride’s Dress: Jordan Bridal M282 / Bridal Salon: A Joyful Occasion / Groom’s Attire: Blacktie Formalwear / Bridesmaid Dresses: Bill Levkoff 777 in Petal Pink / Ceremony Venue: Ellis House and Equestrian Center / Reception Venue: Whitetail Ridge Golf Club / Flowers & Decor: Katy Did It Flowers / Cake Baker: Creative Cakes Bakery / Invitations & Stationery: Carlson Craft Online / DJ: Sounds Abound, Tony Ho / Ceremony Musicians: Moeller Music, Paul & Kerena Moeller / Horse Drawn Carriage: Jim & Becky’s Horse Drawn Carriage / Hairstylist: Heather from Elegante Salons / Makeup Artist: Christina with Tamara Makeup / Ceremony Officiant: Reverend Victoria Burnett / Alterations: Mary Catomy Bridal Alterations / Wedding Rings: Mark Peter’s Diamond Designs / Videography: White Lily Productions, Ingrid Schwoerer