Gabrielle and Brad have one of the best engagement stories! Warning for any guys reading this, Brad is professionally trained. Please do not try this at home. Lots of vendor details after the pictures!
While attending Michigan State University Brad and I were neighbors in the same apartment building. I lived on the third floor and he on the first. One afternoon while I was sitting on my balcony, I spotted a very handsome fella walking towards our building with a group of guys. He must of noticed me because he shouted for me to come down and enjoy a get-together he was hosting. It wasn't long after we were an item.
Brad and I drove to Michigan for the holidays and it happened over the course of our trip. He had made four wooden ring boxes, and he staged four fake proposals to build suspense/ to torture me. The first he handed to me non nonchalantly, "I wanted to wait to give this to you, but thought you would want to show it off to our families." When I opened the box inside was a seatbelt cutter. Something I had jokingly asked for to prepare for a zombie apocalypse. Definitely not what I expected. I knew then I was in for a long Christmas vacation.
One evening we attended a Christmas party at a friend’s house. After several drinks Brad said he wanted to take me for a walk. We walked through the neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights, and after some nervous words Brad opened the second box and said, “Will you take a concealed handgun class with me?" Inside the box was a bullet. Again, something I told him I wanted to do, but not what I expected. He even pretended to be nervous to throw me off.
The third proposal came as we drove from the east side of MI to the west side. We stopped at the Michigan State campus, our alma mater, to stretch our legs and let our dog out. It was 10pm and freezing cold, but Brad insisted we walk by the Sparty statue. Once there he got down on one knee, opened a third box, and inside... beautiful rose gold earrings! He got me again! Awkwardness followed as a car full of girls passing by saw him on one knee and wanted to share in the excitement. Brad, not wanting to explain that he had just pulled a mean joke on his girlfriend, got them to carry on.
As our trip neared its end, I thought there might never be a real proposal. We needed to get our dog out of the house for a while, so Brad suggested we walk him up the trail to our picnic spot on the north point bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan. We got coffees and started walking up the trail. It was freezing cold and I was weary that he was planning to trick me again. He promised he wasn't. I didn't believe him, but we continued on. When we reached our picnic spot overlooking the lake, Brad pulled out another box. Inside was a memory card. He told me it was so we could get family pictures taken. As he laughed and reveled in another successful con, I planned how to push him off the bluffs. He composed himself and asked if I was disappointed. Of course I was! He made me hike up a frozen mountain just to mess with me. Aware that I was ready to lose it, he said he had one more gift and pulled out an envelope. He opened it and recited a poem he had written about us. For those who don't know, writing colorful, Dr. Seuss-quality poetry is one of Brad's many hidden talents. It was a beautiful poem and at the end it poetically instructed me to remove the frame from the fourth box and inside would be a message. "Hit it guys!" (A running joke about a flash mob proposal.) As I read the message he got down on one knee with another box. Inside was the most beautiful ring i had ever seen. I said "YES!" And followed with, "About time, jerk!"
Stick up for the things that are TRULY important to you. Don't let others talk you out of your vision; (hanging large chandeliers in trees, string quartet, having your fur baby part-take as best man, etc.).... but be flexible with the little things. When it came to our guest list we wanted to keep invites to a minimum keeping it small and intimate. To ensure this process is painless, set a strict deadline for invites. We ran into issues when my “amazing” groom forgot to tell me of a few guests he invited verbally. Luckily moving things around was not that difficult and in the end their presence made a world of difference. There will undoubtably be family and friends who offer suggestions and opinions for your special day. If someone wants to contribute something to your special day by asking to include a family heirloom or photos of loved ones, it really does not hurt to say “yes, of course” Just don't go overboard. In the end it is your special day.
Poem by Brad displayed at the wedding:
Story of us
Twas a college bonanza, a Friday I think,
We gathered to mingle and have a few drinks,
A friend and I struggled to lug the keg in,
A heckler appeared on her face a great grin,
“Whats with all the beer you handsome young fellow?"
"Thats more than enough to make all the town mellow."
I replied with a quip and a wink of the eye,
I invited her over to the party that night,
We drank an obscene inappropriate amount
Our hearts stood no chance they were down for the count,
There started the story of Brad and of Bree,
I in love with her and her in love with me,
An inseparable pair from there we became,
My rock, my compass, my unwavering flame,
So join us in Austin for one final bash,
We'll give you drinks if you give us cash
By Brad Herm
Romantic, vineyard style, gold accents – we wanted an outdoor wedding and reception, but did NOT want a rustic wedding. Being Michiganders, we love Texas live oak trees and wanted to have them at our venue. Unfortunately no venues in Houston had the look and feel we were going for, so we ventured to Austin. In addition to the large oak trees, we also wanted the venue to reflect a romantic feel (in hopes of hanging large chandeliers). Our requirements were met when we visited the lovely Vineyard at Chappel Lodge. The venue had the amazing asks we were looking for with breathtaking outdoor ceremony, reception and cocktail areas, beautiful rainy-day backup plan for both reception and ceremony, and on site lodging for our out-of-state guests, which made up the majority of our wedding party.
We really didn't want to have “wedding colors” we wanted things to seem natural and organically elegant. We chose a neutral color scheme (tans, creams, blush, champagnes, golds, etc.)
I wanted to continue the neutral flow by having whites and creams with only a few light blush accents (to match my dress). I think hydrangeas are a very romantic and the aroma they give off made them my number one flower choice. After meeting with my florist team (Magpie Blossom Boutique) and showing them my MANY pintrest inspiration photos they understood the vision. Lead designer, Nikki, suggested using Juliet roses for my blush accent, which has since become by FAVORITE flower. I would recommend having them in every bridal bouquet! Another recommendation would be having the Magpie florist team for your special day! They listened and truly shared my vision! Décor was very important to me, as I wanted to make sure the wedding seemed elegant and not rustic. They made that happen, and in turn greatly exceeded my expectations.
Martina Liana, strapless, sweetheart, ivory and blush organza – my dress is a love story in itself. I fell in love with my dress while playing dress up in college, long before the engagement in 2012. I worked in wedding and event planning and needed to stay in the loop with bridal trends. I brought Brad along for one of my spontaneous dress shopping trips and ended up falling in love with the gown that I got married in 3 years later. Of course after getting engaged I shopped at every bridal boutique in Houston and finally had my dream dress brought in because nothing compared to how I felt in that dress 3 years prior. After trying it on again, I knew it was my dress.
Kristin Johnston Alterations - All brides have a few panicked moments. Mine was a less than adequate dress alteration. The first place I went wasn't attentive to what I wanted and rushed me through my fitting. After a small panic attack and some research, a friend (Manager, Aisha Osanyin of La Réve Bridal Couture) sent me to Kristin Johnston, who is very knowledgeable and took the time to listen to what I wanted. I felt like she truly cared about me looking beautiful for my wedding. I loved the dress when I bought it, but after seeing Kristin's work I was completely blown away.
Minted.com – Minted made our invitation process very painless. Its simple to create custom save-the-dates and invitations and having the ability to have them pre-addressed means all you have to do is drop them in the mail. We were thrilled with how they turned out.
The Knot – Personal wedding website, guests list manager, and check list/timeline tasker.
Naava Spa - Samantha Grua (the most amazing salon wedding coordinator!), Micki (the most wonderful hair stylist!), Amber (SPECTACULAR nail artist! - she came in to the salon outside of her work hours to make nail design adjustments), Amber Griffin (most talented make-up artist!). I was so blessed with this style team! I have NEVER in my life felt so beautiful. I huge thank you to all of them!
Fred Astaire, Leah Brown - I've always been able to bust a move on command, but Brad on the other hand only has a few awkward dance moves in his repertoire. Leah at the Fred Astaire dance studio in Sugar Land Texas was very patient with us (Brad), and created a beautiful choreographed dance to “Time of our Lives” from Dirty Dancing.
Barton Strings, Tracy Seeger - Barton Strings were amazing to work with. They have an extensive list from which to choose your music including both traditional and modern selections. They are also willing to learn songs specifically for your occasion. Having a string quartet was one of my “must haves” from day one and I couldn't be happier with my choice.
Look No Further DJ, Keith Jones - Keith from “Look No Further DJ” made sure that we didn't have to worry about a thing. After providing him with a few of our favorite songs and an itinerary for the wedding day he made sure everything stayed on track and that the dance floor stayed full. Keith surprised us after the wedding with a playlist of the songs he played at our receptions so we could enjoy them for years to come. I felt like that personal touch was the cherry on top of an already great experience.
Mike Reed and Barbara - This duo makes for one amazing photography team. When meeting with photographers we expressed a need for direction. Striking a pose can be cheesy and uncomfortable and on a day with so many distractions, we wanted to make sure we weren't bumbling our way through photos. Mike and Barbara were organized and artistic. They knew exactly where to shoot, when to shoot and how to control the situation. They made the process very smooth and very fun. I was amazed at the lengths they went to get the perfect shot; laying in the dirt, climbing on chairs and creating interesting noises to get the attention of our overstimulated puppy. If there were one thing that truly impressed us on our wedding day it was how fabulous it was to work with Mike and Barbara. Thanks guys.
Big Night Catering, Chef Dan Arnold - Having so many out of state guests we provided several meals aside from the reception dinner. The Big Night Catering team provided us with four unique meals for breakfast, brunches and dinners. Brides always say that they are so busy on their wedding day that they don't get to enjoy their meal. I can say that with this food it was impossible not to. The food was amazing and so was the staff. They were attentive and efficient and I would recommend them for any event.
Michelle's Patisseries - My groom and I are not big cake people. We passed on the traditional wedding cake and went with a selection of very unique and very delicious bite sized desserts. We were asked repeatedly by our guests where they could get more of the lemon bars and mini cheese cakes. Some even said they were going to stop by the bakery before flying home. Needless to say their creations were a huge hit.
Marquee Rentals, Amberley Adams - Amberley with Marquee rentals worked meticulously to get us what we needed for our special day. She was always available and very patient with the dozens of changes we made to our order throughout the wedding planning process. The item that we feel completed the look of the reception were the beautiful dark wood vineyard tables. They have a great showroom to choose from and their team, especially Amberley, are very pleasant to work with.
Trevor Herm (Father of Groom) - A purveyor of the Lord for over twenty-five years, Brad’s dad, Trevor, was the obvious choice as our officiant. He was able to create a very thoughtful and personal service that meant a great deal to both of us. Not everyone is lucky enough to have an officiant in the family, but having someone who knows you as a couple makes the experience all the more memorable. I would highly recommend it.
Wedding party and special thanks:
Murdoch Herm (Fur baby) – Best Man