Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.

Morganne & J.R. wanted their wedding to really represent them as a couple. They created the perfect Spanish themed wedding with a romantic cranberry red and gold colour scheme. The rich colours infused with rustic charm really reflect the romance of Old World Spain.


I knew I wanted to marry J.R. the first week we spent time together. There was just something about him! We were together for almost three years when he proposed during the holidays. It was simple and perfect; a moment that we shared, just the two of us, as we exchanged Christmas gifts. It was the most wonderful timing because we spent the next several days with family floating in bliss and congratulations, without having to make any decisions.

At the time of our engagement, I was a social event planner at a resort. I had VERY limited weekends in my schedule to have my own wedding! My work season was pretty much every weekend March-October, so we decided on November. But, I loved the idea of a non-traditional month. Planning and working with weddings every day as a job definitely affected my decisions in the planning process. I love a lot of wedding traditions, but I also didn’t want to repeat a lot of the things I constantly saw.

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


Our wedding – a day every girl dreams of!

As I mentioned earlier, due to my job, I was consistently around the ideas, inspirations, and talk of weddings! From work to my own, I lived in the wedding world. So, the most important takeaway of my own wedding was that is represented us– not the most popular fads, the food, or the amount of money spent. I wanted people to walk away and say, “That was so Morganne and J.R.!” I have a love for all things Spanish, so I went for a “Spanish” wedding theme (including a surprise salsa dancing and sangria bar).

Our wedding was a common size for most weddings in the region – about 150 guests. We went back and forth between small and large, especially when it came to our budget, but we settled for a lesser tier of catering to accommodate more friends. One of the first things J.R. and I did (and I challenge every bride to do this!) was to rank our most important items for the budget. To us, the food was not as important (I know this is huge for others), but we felt other things were more important. For example, the honeymoon was #1 by far for us. We never went on a vacation together until our honeymoon, so we went all out! We also wanted to have good entertainment, an open bar (two words- baseball players!), and to be able to invite a majority of our friends. We felt that with the right setting and people, our wedding would be a fun time regardless of flowers and cake- and that’s what we wanted people to walk away with.

If I could describe our wedding in three words, they would be: intimate, classic, and fun!

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


Because of I wanted our wedding to be “us”-centered, I specifically asked our pastor to place elements in our ceremony specific to mine and J.R.’s relationship. We spent 6 months in pre-marital counselling with him, so he spoke about our strengths and what made our relationship different. It was exactly what I wanted, and it was wonderful!

We had our best friends present readings that pertained to us, including Taylor Mali’s “How Falling in Love Is like Owning a Dog”, because J.R. and I are obsessed with our golden-doodle, Wrigley. We decided on a tree-planting ceremony, in lieu of a unity candle, because we love the outdoors. And we exchanged vows in our alma mater’s chapel (J.R. and I met in college). With moving cities and changing churches, we wanted a location that will always be sentimental, regardless of our zip code.

Our reception venue was a dinner theatre, which was fun and different. We hung globe lights which made the space feel intimate and fun. We, unfortunately, had to make our guests travel about 25-30 minutes to our reception venue, but we made sure to have plenty of food and drinks when they arrived, plus we set up a hotel room block in the same complex so nobody had to worry about driving after. We loved the venue and we loved our chapel for our ceremony, so we made it work.

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


I had limited Saturdays to go dress shopping with my mom and sister, so the pressure was on to find “the one” on the first stop. We drove to MB Bride in Pennsylvania, recommended by a friend, and when we walked in, my mom immediately said, “Oh my gosh, Morganne! Look at this dress!!” Thinking my mom was being dramatic (hey, it happens), I said I’d be right there and proceeded to the ladies room. Of course, when I came back out, the dress had been taken by someone else.

Wedding dress shopping is difficult! You’ve never tried them on before, and you think you know what you want, but it may not fit your body type. I tried on about 10-15 dresses, but they were all just “O.K.”. My mom asked a store assistant to help us find the dress she saw earlier. We did; I put it on, came out to see myself in the mirror, and I lost it! I looked over and my mom and sister were emotional, too. That was it! Go figure, mom is always right!

The designer was Casa Blanca (ironically Spanish), and I had my alterations completed by a local seamstress.

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


I accessorised the simple, lace dress with a gold, diamond-studded belt, traditional lace veil, and gold chandelier earrings (less than $20 at the dress store!).

I was standing in Macy’s shoe department staring at these beautiful, unrealistic pair of gold heels on my feet when another shopper walks by me and says, “Whatever you’re thinking, the answer is yes. Those shoes are it.” I laughed and told her it was for my wedding, and we agreed they were “the” shoes. I doubt I’ll ever wear them again, but they were beautiful.

I decided to wear a hair pin in my hair to accent the traditional, Spanish-style. I couldn’t find the exact one I wanted, but I found a beautiful brooch with diamonds and rubies, so my mom and sister made the brooch into a hair comb for me.

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


I have very straight, fine hair that is difficult to work with for formal updos. I practised with my beautician, and I’m so glad we did. I showed her pictures of what I wanted and ended up disliking it! I was honest with her and we explored more options that fit my face shape, hair style, and wedding vibe. I was very happy with the result day of.

I’ve never had my makeup professionally done; I’ve always done my own. But I have a friend that I worked with a lot through my job. I’m a big-time crier, and I didn’t want racoon eyes on my wedding day, so I knew it would be a great stress off my day if she did it. She was great to work with and understood my difficult request of wanting a natural look without looking like I had no makeup on. She also helped me find the right red lipstick style even though I have pale skin and blue eyes.

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


If you’ve noticed a trend with us, it has been to keep costs extremely low. J.R. looked at renting suits, and he realised that they could buy cheaper than renting. And what guy doesn’t need a black suit? J.R. picked out a suit at a department store and they all managed to get it on sale. I let J.R. pick out what he was most comfortable in. I didn’t control everything! 🙂

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


I chose only family to be my bridesmaids; I had my sister, my sister-in-law, and my cousin. They are all married and at the baby stage, so I knew one of them was bound to be pregnant at the time of our wedding. We specifically searched for something stretchy and/or loose-fitting. My sister found a discounted “evening gown” at David’s Bridal that was perfect. It stretched, had a 1/3 sleeve for the November weather, and was the exact cranberry red we were looking for. It was an awesome bonus that they were less than $75!

…And if you’re wondering, yes, someone was pregnant!

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


As stated earlier, flowers were not at the top of my list for our budget (probably because I’ve seen them get thrown away at the end of the night!). But I worked with a local florist for our bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages. I looked at what would fit our budget, which flowers would be in season during November, and the colours.

I splurged on my bouquet, but I couldn’t have dreamt it better than what they created for me. I wanted to incorporate a Spanish-style with drooping flowers and an old-world, mossy feel. I didn’t think my budget could afford peonies, but we were able to incorporate beautiful deep red peonies (perk of November!), roses, and amrythus. My bouquet was still alive when I returned from my honeymoon. I decided to hang-dry it, and it is now in a vase on my mantle!

As far as the reception, we went for something totally different and unconventional! All of our centrepieces were decorations that are now used as house decorations (yay, budget!). We spent our year engagement bargain hunting for old vases, jars, boxes, candle votives, mirrors, and anything else we felt that matched our style. We chose a cranberry red, gold, and black colour scheme.

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


Funny fact- J.R. and I don’t like cake! We opted for a dessert bar with our favourite sweets (pie, cobbler and ice cream) instead. But we did buy a “wedding cake” for the mere traditional cutting of the cake and feeding each other. The chef at my resort offered to help me with the cake, so we got it at minimal cost.

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


I also have some marketing/graphic design experience, so the invitations were important to me. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on them, but I wanted them to be the first time our guests understood the style of our wedding. You learn a significant amount from an invitation when you think about it!

I wanted to convey our Spanish-theme in our invitation, so of course, I took to Pinterest for inspiration. When I found something I loved but was out of our budget, I started to brainstorm how I could make it myself. With some time behind the computer designing, I had the body of the invitation printed at our local college’s print shop for a super low-cost option. With many (over 40!) hours and friends, we hand-made every single invitation with gold doilies and ribbon! I topped them off with a hand-written address and a gold wax seal.

I started to set up a website but realised it was redundant with our save the dates and invitations. Sometimes, I felt like I had to “pick my battles” amongst the craziness of life and wedding planning. So I opted out of this.

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


Since we knew people were travelling to the reception, we wanted to make sure the cocktail hour was entertaining. We had guest books for people to write us notes, plenty of appetisers, an open bar, and our DJ playing during this time.

We also had handmade booklets (thanks, mom!) on every table for our guests to fill out throughout the evening. Each table had a booklet to write to us on our anniversary of the year that equated to their table number. For example, table 2 wrote something for J.R. and me to read on our second anniversary. We had a lot of tables, so we will have 30 years to read stories!

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


We joke with our pastor and his wife that they should offer wedding packages because he officiates weddings and she’s a photographer! We’ve known people to pay too much for a photographer and people who didn’t pay enough. We felt that we could find someone who was affordable but still gave us quality photos, and this is exactly Carrie! She does it as a side gig, so she’s incredibly affordable, plus she’s a dear friend who made us feel extremely comfortable (which I’m sure was challenging for a couple who doesn’t like PDA). She did our engagement session, too!

We did not book a videographer because everyone of quality we looked at started at $2,500. I worked with a lot of fantastic videographers at the resort, and almost every wedding seemed to have one, but we felt that we could put that money elsewhere (can you say, Costa Rica?).

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


When I was dancing in the middle of the reception with my girlfriends, I stopped for a moment to look for J.R. He was standing over with our friends, laughing, and I realised in that moment that this was our day, that he was my husband, and that everything was about to change. It was a great feeling; almost as though I woke up from the euphoria of the day to realise, “This is happening. This is your wedding, Morganne.” When we got in the car to drive away at the end of the evening, I thought I would be emotional with our wedding now over and driving away from our friends and family. J.R. asked if I was ready to go, and I realised that I had never been surer of anything than that I was ready to start my life with him.

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.

A Special Mention

One difficult situation I had to work through as a bride was not having my father with me. I was a daddy’s girl, so to go through the experience of my wedding day without him was really difficult. I wanted to honour my dad, but I also didn’t want to go so far as to be sad on my wedding day; I wanted to keep the day what it should be – a joyful one!

I managed to find this balance by incorporating small tokens in memory of my dad throughout the day (some of which I only knew about). I had my bouquet wrapped in one of his blue ties; my something borrowed and blue to walk me down the aisle. A dear friend also gifted me a small charm with a photo of my dad and me to wrap around my bouquet. My husband honoured my family by wearing one of my father’s pins, and we dedicated our wedding favours to him at the reception. My dad called me his “M&M”, so we placed small gold boxes of M&Ms at each place setting.

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


I’m an extremely type A person. I worked so many hours on our wedding. I stressed over details, stressed about the budget, and stressed about what stress would do to my body! But—I made sure that I kept my limits. I drew a timeline to when I could not “add” anything else. I didn’t want to be a bride that kept getting on Pinterest and trying to add last-minute details that didn’t get noticed. I stuck to our budget. It was so easy to get caught up with – “but it’s only going to happen once”. And lastly, I made sure I relaxed the week of. I had everything ready to go and finished by the week before.

Nothing is more important on your wedding day than you and your spouse. Yes, I wanted my dream wedding. I wanted people to have fun, and to feel pretty, and for it to be the greatest fairy tale of my life. But I planned as much as I could, and then the day of I tried to let it go. I married my best friend, work-out partner, future children’s dad, travel companion, and favourite person in the world– and that is the most successful moment of it all.

Real Wedding: Morganne & J.R.


Ceremony: Wesley Chapel   Reception: Gandy Dancer
Wedding Dress: Casa Blanca  Accessories: MB Bride
Hair: Ultimate Image  Makeup: Sarah Audia 
Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal    Groom & Groomsmen: J.C. Penny’s
Flowers: Anita’s Flowers and Boutique 
Entertainment: Bravo  Videographer: Paul Harries

Photography: Carrie Bowers Photography

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