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