Real Weddings


Rachel & Jon: A Rustic, Woodsy Winter Wedding in Iowa

Photos By Katie Lindgren



A Christmas engagement followed by a cozy winter wedding seems serendipitously fitting for a bride like Rachel Bunting, whose home typically assumes a Christmassy air long before the holiday arrives. “We always have our tree up the week before Thanksgiving,” says Rachel’s now-husband, Jon, who popped the question amid a mess of crumpled wrapping paper and scattered boxes after the last gift had been opened. The Iowan couple worked with White Willow Events to design their December nuptials at Barnes’ Place, a family-owned barn venue in Adel that’s short on frills and long on charm. Making decorative use of acorns, evergreen, and even mistletoe, the two tapped into the magic of the season with wintrily rustic details but sidestepped an overly overt nod to Yuletide cheer by opting for warm jewel tones—think ruby and emerald—in lieu of typical reds and greens...

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Yasmin & Alex: A Magical Destination Wedding in Antigua, Guatemala

Photos By Daniel Lopez Perez



After Yasmin Maldonado accepted with many heartfelt yeses Alex Stitt’s proposal beneath the cool, rainbowed mists of an Icelandic waterfall, the world-wandering couple set their sights on a wedding in warmer climes, some five thousand miles southwest in Antigua, Guatemala, at Casa Santo Domingo, an archaeological hotel and museum formed from the remains of the Santo Domingo Monastery, which crumbled in a series of 18th-century earthquakes. “We picked the venue after falling in love with the sprawling ruins of the old convent,” Yasmin says. Being busy professionals—Yasmin is a physician, Alex an architect—with precious little time to spare, the couple relied on Yasmin’s generous mother to do the lion’s share of the planning. “My only big requirement was that there be flowers everywhere,” says Yasmin, who wanted the botanical elements to look less structured and more wild, as though they had come from the vibrant surroundings. Native flora took center stage. Lush greenery and sangria-hued orchids were woven throughout with beautiful abandon...

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Justin & Nathan: An Urban Autumn Wedding in Washington, D.C.

Photos By Casey Hendrickson Photography



When Justin Hartsell and Nathan Smith met eight years ago at a mutual friend’s house party one November eve, it was as close as it comes to love at first sight in the real world. Neither had wanted to attend the gathering, but both showed up anyway, never imagining it would be, for them, the beginning of everything, the start of a life beautifully shared. Despite an initial communication blunder, the North Carolinian undergrads hit it off right away. Pleasant chitchat quickly turned to deep conversation that lasted until the stars disappeared into dawn. Naturally, this led to a first date the very next night, and a relationship was kindled. Though the duo had to navigate the perils of a long-distance romance six months later, they discovered in the process that their love for each other was of the enduring kind...

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Lauren & Ben: A Classic Destination Wedding in Mexico

Photos By Cameron Reynolds Photography



Things have been known to go hilariously awry in instances where family and friends play matchmaker, but when loved ones of Lauren Burtis, a real estate agent, and Ben Tidwell, a high school math teacher, decided to set the two up, they wound up facilitating a match made in heaven. After dating Lauren for only a year, Ben felt sure she was the one and surprised his sweetheart with a heartfelt proposal in colorful Charleston, South Carolina—her favorite city. For their March nuptials, the coastal-loving couple set their sights on a breezily chic destination fête along a more tropical waterfront: palm-dotted Playa Mujeres, an unhurried seaside haven just outside bustling Cancún...

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Iwona & Angelo: A Peony- and Citrus-Filled Summer Wedding in Austria

Photos By Tony Gigov



Austrian couple Angelo and Iwona Laub, both techies, first crossed paths at a twittagessen, a Twitter meetup, or “tweetup” as it’s commonly called, in their home city of Vienna. At first blush, Iwona found Angelo’s jokiness to be “slightly annoying,” and she left with a less than favorable impression of him. Many months later, after she had all but forgotten their encounter, Iwona received a one-line text from Angelo asking her out to breakfast. Since she hadn’t taken his number, she had no idea who was behind the invitation, and being of the mischievous sort, he wasn’t about to tell her, so the message took on a kind of mystery. “My curiosity was piqued, and something—call it destiny or divine intervention—told me to go to the selected dining spot to investigate,” Iwona recalls. “And there was Angelo. From that time on, I saw him through different eyes.” Though the pair got engaged casually (there was no pre-selected ring and no rehearsed speech, just a refreshingly fuss-free decision, made together), they pulled out all the bells and whistles for their June wedding, which took place on the fanciful palace grounds of the Schloss Laxenburg, once the summer seat of the Habsburg dynasty and just a stone’s throw south of Vienna. Vows were exchanged in the English-style garden, and the reception was held in the imperial theater’s lofty Oval Room, which features a frescoed ceiling strung with the delicatest of crystal chandeliers. Ruffly peonies, bright citrus fruits, and a profusion of greenery imbued the grand setting with a cheerful, sunny vibe. “We wanted it to appear as though the blooms and branches had been freshly picked from the gardens and groves,” Iwona says...

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Bethanie & Alan: A Romantic Red Wedding in Arizona

Photos By Unfading Beauty Photography



Alan Swanson, an Air Force pararescueman, and Bethanie Hay, a medical school student, were one-time high school sweethearts who had an opposites-attract kind of relationship. “Alan was laid-back, witty, and one to embrace being different, while I was the trendy cheerleader who tended not to venture outside my social circle,” Bethanie says. “However, I couldn’t resist his charm and contagious laugh.” Although the two parted ways after graduation, they rekindled their relationship a few years later, when Alan bumped into Bethanie’s aunt at a local restaurant and realized that his first love had never been far from his mind. Following a mountain hike one Saturday afternoon, Alan turned to Bethanie with a gleeful expression on his face and said, “I love you, and you love me, so let’s get married!” The impromptu proposal, Bethanie says, was “simple, perfect, and felt exactly right.” The two tied the knot on New Year’s Eve at Alan’s family home in Peoria, Arizona, with a casually elegant celebration marked by personal touches and meaningful details...

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