D*S Team Tours: Lauren & Austin’s Outdoor Wedding

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Austin and I got engaged mid-December 2015. After the holidays were behind us, we sat down to talk about what we wanted our wedding to be like. Right away we knew three things: We wanted it to be beautiful, we wanted it to be personal, and we wanted it to be outside. We drove through a prairie reserve, but the space would only handle about 20 guests. We searched online, but nothing seemed special enough that was close by Des Moines, IA. On the way home from a venue one day, Austin took a detour and drove us behind the property of a family friend’s home where he used to go hunting with his brothers and cousins when he was a boy. It was breathtaking, even in January in Iowa. Austin called Walt Johnson, the property owner, and we met with him and his wife and we all agreed that this would be a perfect location for a wedding in July.

As an interiors enthusiast and designer, I was having a hard time, internally, wrapping my mind around designing in an open pasture. A wedding tent wasn’t really an option because the main point of the location was the beautiful view, and we didn’t want to hinder it. I wasn’t finding anything when I’d look up “wedding pergolas for rent” so the next step was to try and design one. Getting Austin to trust that this wouldn’t be a disaster took a little convincing, but once we enlisted our friend Henry Elgersma and the design/build firm he works for, Austin was on board. We realized that we were going to save about $700 by building a reception structure instead of renting a tent. From there, almost everything we could build or DIY instead of renting, we did. Our wedding would feature pieces from around our homes, things we’d build with our families, and florals to cover anything and everything.

Our colors and details came easily. Austin’s favorite color is dark green and my favorite color is a peachy blush. We went with it. Our friend Meg Gleason of Moglea received our Save the Date and reached out about doing our invitations with one of Austin’s photographs wrapped around the hand-painted, gold-foiled invite. Personal, check. Beautiful, check. I purchased some gold vases and some blush planters for the flowers, built credenzas for the food tables, painted origami-like pendant shades, and pulled accessories from around my house for finishing touches. The structure was built and painted much faster than expected, making the final days before our wedding less stressful and more intentional with those closest to us. The wedding day itself was magical and we couldn’t stop crying by how much love we felt for each other, the people who helped make our wedding design a reality, and the friends and family that came to support us. Flip through the gallery above to see some of our favorite personal and design touches that made all of the work so worth it. –Lauren

Photography by Logan Clement

  1. Kristin says:

    Gorgeous! Everything was beautiful.

  2. Such a pretty set up. I absolutely loved the details, especially those peacock chairs.

  3. Rhonda says:

    So Beautiful!! I’m so happy for you both, may god bless you with a lifetime of happiness!! love you………. Rhonda

  4. Lisa Kearns says:

    How absolutely beautiful. Stunning photography, too. Good luck in your married life x

  5. Congrats! What a beautiful event!

  6. Penny says:

    This looks beautiful. If you were out in a pasture what was your power source for sound and lights? Thanks

    1. Lauren Chorpening says:

      Hi Penny! We had a small, quiet generator for our ceremony for the sound and then used a more powerful generator for our reception for the lights and sound.

  7. Amy says:

    Beautiful! Did you have a rain plan?

    1. Lauren Chorpening says:

      Hi Amy,

      Thank you! We didn’t have a rain plan for the most part. We probably would have rented a tent or invested in hundreds of umbrellas if the week of the wedding things looked bad. Thankfully, our weather for that day was low 70s with a slight breeze. Couldn’t have asked for a better day for a July Iowa wedding.

  8. Liz says:

    Lauren, thank you so much for sharing! I’m planning an outdoor wedding myself and found this so helpful (as I’m currently overwhelmed yet excited to try to DIY it myself). Would you mind sharing how you did the pallet dance floor? Or do you by chance have any pictures/references? Again, thanks so much! I can only hope our wedding turns out as lovely as yours looked!

    1. Lauren Chorpening says:

      Hi Liz!

      Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! We picked up 16 4-foot pallets and laid them in a perfect square. The dance floor was 16×16 feet. We purchased eight 1/2″ thick smooth plywood in 4×8 foot sheets and arranged them on top of the pallets and secured everything together with a drill and screws. We gave the dance floor two coats of white paint to polish it off. If I were going to do it all over again, I’d maybe create a 20×20 dance floor instead.

      Free pallets are listed on Craigslist all the time so I’d start there! Just make sure they are all the same size.

  9. Liz says:

    Thanks so much! This is so helpful, searched a little online, but it’s good to have instructions from someone who is design oriented :) Thanks again for sharing your beautiful wedding!

  10. old lady says:

    it is the wedding I wished I could have had though we are now happily married for 38 years. Never lose your creative energy.

  11. Dallas says:

    Lauren, I love the use of peacock chairs, and I’m looking to do that myself for my wedding! Where did you find rentals?


    1. Lauren Chorpening says:

      Hi Dallas,

      I found one of them on Craigslist for $15, one on the side of the road and I rented two of them from a wedding rental warehouse called Vintage Love Rentals in Des Moines, IA. Hope you find some!

  12. cynthia Betts says:

    Lauren, thank you for letting us be a part of your wedding celebration. We were glad that you found your arbor, cocktail tables, linens and peacock chairs to rent from our studio – Vintage Love Rentals and annessi.

  13. Fantastic blog! Heeft u nuttige tips voor aspirant-schrijvers? Ik ben hoop om mijn eigen te beginnen website binnenkort maar ik ben een beetje verloren op alles. Zou u raden te beginnen met een gratis platform zoals WordPress of ga voor een betaalde optie? Er zijn zoveel keuzes opties die er zijn dat ik totaal overweldigd .. Elke suggesties ? Waarderen !

  14. Sarah says:

    I love the vases you used for the cocktail tables! Where’d you get them?


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