“We all went to Chuy’s for lunch. We were sitting over there,” she says, pointing to a table in the corner. “I knew something was going on because he started getting nervous, and then he turned to me and looked me in my eyes and told me how much he loves me and how much he cares and how he wants to be with me forever. And then he got down on one knee and proposed.”
Surprisingly, not many people noticed. “I was surprised,” she muses.
“He had to be really bold to do that.”
“The Proposal” launches a married couple-to-be into the whirl of decision making known as “Planning Your Wedding.” Each step along the path helps create a wedding that will reflect two lifetime journeys that become one at the alter. Whether it’s a small, intimate affair or an epic adventure for family and friends, all wedding plans share some traits: excitement, research, a touch of nerves, details, lists and a catch of breath as the day finally unfolds.
This is the story of LaDoris Beckworth’s path to becoming Mrs. Jamal Bowers, a journey that began their senior year of high school and culminated in happily ever after at an elegant, traditional wedding celebration in January.
LaDoris Beckworth has just entered into the blissful and draining world of engagement. Her race to plan out the last detail before The Big Day arrives has begun on an intimate double date at Chuy’s. After saying, “Yes,” LaDoris can only think, “What’s next?”
LaDoris is the first child in her family to marry, so planning a modern wedding is a new phenomenon for the Beckworths. Luckily, LaDoris has the love and support of both her family and her fiancé’s family to make the journey a little easier. A Bryan/College-Station native, she first met her fiancé Jamal Bowers during their senior year of high school. Fast forward five years and the Beckworths and Bowers have formed a united front to make LaDoris’ dream wedding happen. Everyone was able to show their support, in ways both large and small. “It makes you feel good that so many people love your child,” the mother-of-the-bride says.
LaDoris has dived into the planning process with The Knot, an online website that has everything from color scheme ideas to advice on how to find the perfect honeymoon destination. LaDoris also has used local resources to research vendors in the local bridal market. “I attended a bridal show at the Expo Center here,” she says. “They had all the local vendors.” She stresses how vital the Bridal Show & Benefit has been to her success, a show that is held in spring and again in the fall at the Brazos County Expo Center. Vendors from the area and surrounding cities are on hand to answer every bride’s questions and concerns. A advantage of attending the show is the forms a bride-to-be fills out so that emails updates with the latest bridal events and special discounts on services can be sent during the planning phase.
LaDoris has decided to use all local vendors for her wedding and she emphasizes the need for experience. Using a vendor with knowledge of the latest wedding trends also is helpful. Flower decisions, for instance: LaDoris says she and her mother had no idea where to begin or what was traditional and the flowers prove to be a huge undertaking. Debbie Brooks at Post Oak Florists takes care of both the ceremony and reception. “I would recommend her to anyone,” Beckworth gushes. “She was very helpful.”
LaDoris also stresses the need to consider the small details that many people don’t think about when planning a wedding: the unity candle, the groomsmen’s boutonnieres, the party favors and table settings. Using local vendors as resources has kept the small mountain of details from becoming overwhelming.
As the big day draws near, it’s all coming together just the way LaDoris has wanted it to be since she was young – with a few changes sprinkled here and there.
“I wanted a turquoise dress, but that changed,” she says. Her idea of a mermaid-style dress transformed into an elegant ball gown when she discovered one at a trunk show in the Woodlands. “When you’re shopping for the dress and she puts on ‘the one,’ you know immediately,” LaDoris’ mother says. “We knew.”
There’s no doubt that planning a wedding can be stressful, and part of the reason is that opinions helpfully offered from every direction can become overwhelming.
“Dealing with people who don’t do what they say they’re going to do is frustrating,” LaDoris says, while explaining wedding planning woes. What she isn’t struggling with is pressure from family members to have her wedding a certain way. “A lot of people wanted to give suggestions to save money,” she says. LaDoris offers a lesson for other brides: the planning process is ongoing, right up until you say, “I do.” “It’s all the little details,” she says. “There are still a lot of things where you think, ‘Oh, I haven’t thought about that.’”
LaDoris advises future brides to deal with the stress by staying organized. It’s important to keep everything in line so you won’t become overwhelmed. She adds, “Think about the end result.”
“Everyone wants to give their ideas, but you just want her to be happy,” LaDoris’ mother says. The best news for the stressed bride-to-be: “We’ve never had a moment where we felt like we didn’t want to do this again.”
The Big Day
After almost a year of planning her dream wedding, the finish line is in sight for LaDoris Beckworth. The easy part will simply be saying, “I do.”
LaDoris says that she isn’t at all nervous before the ceremony begins. In fact, her quiet calm radiates to those around her as she waits for the ceremony to commence.
“Everybody else was nervous, [but] it was just what I always wanted,” she recalls afterwards. “I knew he was who I wanted to be with; I had no doubts.”
The Day starts early at Christ United Methodist Church in College Station with the wedding day coordinator helping things run smoothly. LaDoris and her wedding party set up tables and chairs, and everything else is left to the vendors. Her organization and planning is paying off.
“Everything came together perfectly,” she will say after. “It was pretty amazing how everything fell into place.”
LaDoris has used her local resources to find the perfect setting for her wedding as well as a day coordinator.
“When I was looking for a nice church I asked for information about wedding packages,” she says. “They had a coordinator, music; a lot was included in the price.”
Two words come to mind during the ceremony: traditional and elegant. The guests are holding custom-made, tiffany blue programs and are waiting patiently for the bride to walk through the doors. Light from the afternoon sun is streaming into the sanctuary, and the groom is standing at attention, looking for his bride.
There is a barely audible gasp when LaDoris walks through the church doors. Her beauty is radiant as she makes eye contact with her groom. The traditional feel is continuous throughout the ceremony as the pastor brings a message of true love from the Bible.
On a day that creates a new union, familial love and support fill the sanctuary and continue into the reception. Again, it’s the small details LaDoris has attended to that add to the moment, from the lavish candy bar with custom-made “LaDoris and Jamal” labels for the sweets to the tiny silver bows wrapped around the dinnerware. Guests are seated at tables adorned with intricate centerpieces and individually wrapped party favors, all with a hint of tiffany blue.
After the children visit the candy bar, those who were part of the ceremony take seats at their own table where wedding coloring books and placemats await them. LaDoris and her mother had found a wedding coloring book online that sparked the idea.
The bride and groom are seated at their own table at the head of the room, an oasis of intimacy for the newlyweds surrounded by family and guests. The reception proves to be the fun celebration LaDoris and Jamal have been dreaming of, a time to celebrate and share. Soon they will be off on their honeymoon adventure, but for now they are content to savor the moments that will become cherished memories for all the years to come.
Happily Ever After
The wedding and honeymoon have now come and gone, and it’s the rare bride who looks back with few to no regrets about plans that have gone awry.
“A lot of people said it was the most beautiful wedding they had ever seen,” LaDoris says. “It was elegant and classy.”
When asked if there was anything at all she would have done differently, she has only has a few suggestions. “Yes,” she says with a laugh. “I would have given the photographer more direction.” She encourages future brides not to assume that every vendor knows what you want.
“Vendor’s aren’t perfect; there’s a whole lot going on, but sometimes [things] can slip your mind.”
Above all, LaDoris stresses the need to stay organized because things can become overwhelming once the day gets close. “Stay calm, and if anybody asks to help, take advantage of it,” she says. “It really helps that people are supportive.”
From her new viewpoint on the other side of The Day, this bride returns to how important the Bridal Show at the Expo Center proved to be during the planning process: it’s not only an opportunity to get to know different vendors but also to see their work.
LaDoris has one final piece of advice: “Don’t let the vendors take advantage of you. They see stars in your eyes, and some people can use it the wrong way,” she says. “Stick with what you want.”