Carly and Brian celebrated their big day at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio. Their guests traveled from all over the country to attend their event planned by Weddings by Diana, so the couple made it a priority to include some South Texas flare—the stone fireplace ceremony backdrop and a mariachi band at the cocktail hour. Flanked by classic details like white florals by Eden’s Ech, a lace gown by Emma and Grace Bridal and an elegant ballroom reception, the day is both timeless and personalized and it’s all captured beautifully by Grant Daniels Photography.
What made the wedding special and unique?
Thinking about the wedding, I can’t help but think that so many aspects were special for us. For one, we had so many people from across the country, from California to New York, fly and drive to the wedding. Having all of these people from around the country was so incredible, and it was fun to share my own history and culture with them. Our wedding definitely had a South Texas flare to it, with the stone fireplace and Mariachi band for cocktail hour, which gave it the uniqueness that we both were looking for. However, the wedding was special because of the people who came to help us celebrate, and we get giddy even remembering who all came to help us begin our life together!
Tell us about the gown and where/how you found it!
Oh goodness, do I love that dress! The gown was bought in Denver, CO at a store called Emma and Grace Bridal Studio, and it was their Private Label that designed the dress. My mom and four of my bridesmaids and I made a day out of it. We went to a total of two studios, Emma and Grace Bridal studio being the last, and we had a big fancy lunch in between at Union Station. The whole day we were having fun, drinking a little champagne, and just trying to enjoy the experience. I probably tried on about 20 dresses total, and tried on my dress towards the end of the day. It was the only one that I kept wanting to try back on and wear. I loved the simplicity but also the uniqueness of the dress. It just felt timeless and contemporary at the same time to me, so I knew it was the one. Within four hours, I had chosen my wedding dress and did not have any hesitancies or regrets. We bought it that day! And now, I stare at it in its preserved box and just desire to wear it all over again!
What were some touches added to make the wedding personal?
We intentionally tried to add some particular touches to make our wedding personal. Something special for us is that we included a photo gallery that had our parents’ wedding photos, our grandparents’ wedding photos, and our great-grandparents’ wedding photos. We loved having an honorable setting to show the weddings that came before us, and so many of our guests loved seeing our family members displayed!
Another special touch that we did was the Mariachi band. Although already mentioned above, the Mariachi band meant a lot for me personally. Growing up, we had them for all of the significant events in my family’s life. It was at graduation parties, big milestone birthdays, and my brother’s wedding. Mariachi music reminds me of my family and our love for San Antonio. It is something that signified that our wedding was important and it was a way to bring Brian into the family officially with our own traditions.
Lastly, our minister was a pastor from the church that Brian and I joined together, which was incredibly special for us. Being in a long distance relationship for four years, it meant a lot to us both when we were able to join the same church. After becoming close to the staff over the course of a year, we had our good friend and pastor, Jefff, officiate our wedding. It is a symbol of Brian and I living in community (finally) together, and it was truly special for us.
What was the most memorable part of the day?
I laughed when I read this question because after talking with friends and family after the big day, every one concluded that the band was by far the best part. I couldn’t have imagined a better dance party for our special day. Brian and I had decided early on in the wedding planning that the purpose of the day was a celebration of our marriage, it was not to be solely focused on us, but rather we wanted it to be a party! And we truly got that. From 18 years old – 82 years old (and in a wheelchair), all of our guests hit the dance floor, and the dancing did not quit until the band was finished. Our band, In10city, was by far the most entertaining and energetic band, and was a no-brainer when deciding for the wedding. During the dancing, we couldn’t stop – we found ourselves right in the middle of the dance floor and even on stage singing, dancing, and really just being free and having fun. It was truly euphoric. Having all of the guests (yes, even the older guests) dancing to today’s best music and yesterday’s classics, it was a dream come true for the groom and me. Our wish for a huge celebration definitely came to life, and we danced the whole night away.
Tell us how you met and became engaged.
Our story dates back to about 7 years ago in 2009. Both of us were attending an out of state Young Life camp before our junior year in high school. Me (Carly) from Texas and Brian from New York, we both ended up in Colorado at Frontier Ranch Young Life Camp. We talked during the week, and decided we could be friends so we exchanged our numbers. After texting, skyping, and talking on the phone throughout the next two years Brian came to Dallas, TX for a big soccer tournament a week after we both graduated from our high schools. Some friends and I decided to drive up from San Antonio to see him, since everybody knew he was a distant crush for me.
The weekend was, in all honesty, awkward. We hadn’t seen each other for two years, and before that we had only seen each other for one week at a summer camp. However, even through the awkwardness, Brian and I enjoyed the time together and had lots of laughs about the weirdness of the situation. After Brian’s last game, on the last day of his weekend trip, Brian was walking up to me to say his goodbyes and I received a call that I decided to take and make him wait a second longer to say goodbye. The call happened to be important because I was asked to be on work crew (a volunteer program for high school students and grads to work at a camp) at Saranac, a Young Life camp in upstate New York. It just so happens that Brian was also working at that camp, the same session, and it started the following week. We were both shocked and secretly excited to spend a entire month together in the same state. After a month of working at the same camp, Brian and I couldn’t lie to ourselves anymore. Even though we focused on serving and loving the kids at camp well, we couldn’t avoid how we felt about each other. A week before we both went to college, and a week after we left camp, we decided – let’s go for it, and Brian asked me to be his girlfriend.
For four years, Brian and I dated long distance. He was at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA, and I attended the University of Texas at Austin. Being poor, broke college kids, we saw each other at least once a semester and for longer periods of time in the summer and winter breaks. I graduated from UT in three years and moved to Denver, CO for a master’s program during Brian’s last year of college. After one long year of 2 hours time difference and the chaotic nature of our lives, Brian moved to Denver, CO in July of 2015 when he graduated.
From there, Brian, who once lived 1700 miles away, now lived 0.7 miles away from my house. It was a whole new world and adjustment, learning to balance life together and also to take advantage of living in the same city and being together. At this point, Brian and I had talked lots about if we would want to marry each other, and the conversation had always yielded true that we both wanted that. However, I remained in the dark that he had a ring and intentions to propose since June, the month before.
Brian and I planned a big four year anniversary and decided to take advantage of actually being together on our anniversary mark. We decided we would do a sunrise hike and spend the day together. Now most would think that a sunrise hike should indicate engagements, but Brian had told me earlier that week that marriage would be in the future but it wasn’t right now. So, I had no idea that I was going to get engaged, and therefore showed up for our 4:30am drive with no makeup, hair messy, and in jeans and a sweater. Brian and I did a short hike at Lookout Mountain, right outside Denver, CO which faces east. We hiked up, and he asked me to help set up his GoPro so he could get a good video of the sunrise (yes, I’m that clueless and helped him). Then halfway through us just relaxing and watching the sunrise, he pulled out a SnapFish book I had made him, of our 2 year anniversary. We laughed and joked through the pictures and were left in nostalgia. After putting that book away, Brian pulled out another book, and he said: “I thought we should catch up the last two years”. In this book, Brian picked up our timeline and filled the pages with the past 2 years. The book was precious, and well made. The last page, however, did not have a picture, and all it said was “will you continue this adventure with me?”. I looked up from the book and told him “hell yeah”, closed the book and said “that was really nice of you to make that”. Brian asked me if I could stand up with him, and at this point I was just thinking “maybe he wants to dance or something”. Brian and I stood up, and he began to tell me so many things that he loved about me, that he has seen in us, and how he has seen us grow. Throughout which, I thought: “man, he’s so romantic on our anniversaries”. However, as he began to reach in his pocket, and got on one knee, it clicked. The man of my dreams was proposing to me! He asked me if I would marry him, and between laughs, tears, and hysteria from being surprised I said yes. We danced, hugged, kissed, and celebrated on the mountain by ourselves. As we packed up to head back down the mountain, both of our parents were at the base with my cousin (who was my maid of honor) and Brian’s roommate (a groomsman). They had champagne, strawberries, and all kinds of goodies for celebrating (mind you it was 6:45am) and we spent the day with friends and family at a small backyard BBQ to celebrate and a nice dinner to follow that night.
It truly was a dream. And now, I like to think that through planning the wedding and now being married for 4 months, it just keeps getting better.
Photography: Grant Daniels Photography // Planner: Weddings by Diana // Florist: Eden’s Echo // Venue + Catering: Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa (San Antonio, TX) // Dress: Emma and Grace Bridal (Denver, CO) // Hair and Makeup: Emali Lane // Band: In10City // Cake: Cakes by Cathy Young