When Michael and Erica contacted me , I was so blown away by these two and their vision and outlook on the wedding.  We let at Devils Lake State Park for engagement photos and they were so fluid together, and didn't want any posed photos rather they just hung out together and I photographed it. It was magic, these two are magic.  Later in the wedding process Erica emailed me about some changes to the wedding location and vision.  She shared with me that plans change (they almost always do at weddings!) and they we able to have a bigger wedding than expected, it would be at Silver Oaks Chateau in St. Louis Missouri.  A wedding where everyone can attend and they can make it a whole day to enjoy rather than a quick ceremony.  When I looked up this venue and seen Erica and Michael's vision I was taken over.  I mean  truly, this wedding with all their loved ones present and the feel of St. Louis and this chateau and the design behind it absolutely blew me away.  Here's Erica's words:


What was your favorite memory? 

Michael and I have the same favorite memory! Our favorite memory is our wedding vows we said to each other during the first look. Sharing our vows together in private made them that much more personal and intimate. We were able to hold each, laugh, cry, wipe away tears, and comment on them before we shared them at our ceremony. It was something we were able to share between us two, and I will cherish that memory for the rest of my life.


 What could you have done without?

I know this sounds silly, but I could have done without my wedding shoes. I purchased Jimmy Choo shoes, but I switched out of them immediately after the ceremony. They were so uncomfortable! They were beautiful, but definitely not worth it in the end. 


What was the best advice you received?
Take some time to be alone with my husband, because the day goes by so fast with so many people wanting to shower you with love and affection. I really made it a point to enjoy all of our wedding activities together and have alone time in between the moments of being with friends and family. They day still went by fast, but we still got to enjoy the day together. 


What did you book first? Venue, Dress, Photographer.....what order would you suggest?

I booked the photographer first! I knew I wanted Dani to photograph our day before we were even engaged! If you have your heart set on a wedding photographer, I recommend booking them first and then your venue shortly after. Or the opposite if you have your heart set on a venue. I think the dress can come after the main vendors are booked, because photographers and venues need to be booked in advance in order to guarantee a date. I also picked my dress after we finalized our venue, because I wanted my dress to match the venue. Personally, I think you could have the nicest venue and most beautiful dress in the world, but you need a photographer who can capture it all. 


What were you nervous about and was it worth it?

I was most nervous about our ceremony. It was supposed to thunderstorm during our outdoor ceremony, but it turned out to be sunny! We had to decide by early morning whether we would move our ceremony inside. We took a huge risk by not moving it, because the radar was not looking good. It all worked out though! We also wrote the ceremony ourselves and selected our readings, so I was worried it would not be enjoyable for our guests. It was perfect in the end! The ceremony fit our personality and style, and we got so many compliments on it. 


What tips do you have for planning brides?

It can be really overwhelming to fully articulate what you want, especially when you are not 100% sure. Creating a vision board helped me see what I was really going for! I took images I loved and copied/pasted them onto a single collage. This helped me in making most decisions, and it saved me from overthinking things. I also went with vendors that I fully trusted. I sent them my vision board and they did the rest. Going with trusted vendors who knew exactly what my vision was saved me so much headache and planning, and I never once doubted what they were doing.


If you could do it over again what would you change if anything?

I wish I could have taken home all of the leftovers! We had so much food at our wedding. I really made it a point to eat throughout the day, but I was so full by the time I had our wedding cake...I only had one bite of it! We also forgot to grab our leftover cake and didn't designate anyone to get the leftovers. For our anniversary we are going to get a small cake with the same flavors from our baker, so I am excited to eat some of our cake then. 

Other than that, I would not change anything else! Sure, I can look back and think of how I *could have* done things differently, but then it would not be our wedding! Trends will come and go over time, but our memories will last forever. And brides...there will be things that do not go as planned, and that is okay! I was so happy on our wedding day, so the bumps and hiccups never once bothered me. 


Tell us about how you chose your dress and bridesmaids dresses
I am incredibly picky when it comes to fashion. I wanted something timeless and elegant while also very modern. I originally wanted a long sleeve gown with lace and tulle, but a late June wedding in St. Louis would not allow for that! I ended up with a body-hugging lace dress with a plunging neckline. It came with a pearl and crystal belt, but I had a vision of a giant bow belt. I looked around forever and could not find anything. So I had my tailor attach the belt to organza in order to create the dramatic bow I was dreaming of! It took my dress to another level and made it unique to me and my individual style. 

I knew I wanted a French countryside theme with the central colors of lavender, mauve, blush, and cream with elements of gold, plum, navy, and greenery. I had a very specific vision! I wanted my bridesmaids in the main colors with one or two in a patterned or floral dress. At the same time, I wanted them to feel beautiful and comfortable in what they were wearing and with what they were spending. I selected approximately 30 dresses of various colors, patterns, and budgets from Asos, Bhldn, etc. They were all different, but they all went together. I told them they could pick whichever dress they wanted and to use the dresses as inspiration if they did not like any of them. Two of them selected from the list, one asked me to pick one from the list based on her budget and my vision, and one found a similar dress on Ebay for less than $50. 


ow did you stay organized? 

I had a wedding planner/coordinator, Events Luxe, and they kept me organized. Seriously, I do not know what I would have done without them! I sent them my vision board, and they made it come to life. They helped me stay organized with a budget spreadsheet, to do lists, and reminders to send out our save the dates and invites. 


Anything you'd like to add?

There will be things that will go wrong and minor details that were missed, but do not sweat it! Just enjoy your special day, live in the moment, and celebrate the love you and your partner have! It will be perfect in the end, because it is your wedding.