How to Relax and Enjoy With Beauty & Style
By Chaney Barton
When your wedding planner doubles as your personal friend as well as the person you can credit with the introduction of your future husband, it puts a new twist on wedding planning. Such was the case for bride Caroline Gunn and wedding planner Ashley Sanders, owner of Ashley and Company in College Station.
Sitting in the conference room of Ashley and Company, future bride Caroline tells the story of her introduction to future husband Brian Rogers.
“Ashley and her husband Jeff introduced us. Brian had just gotten a job at Stephen F. Austin as a professor for animal science. Brian drove from College Station to Nacogdoches four days a week for a year so that we could date. Jeff and Ashley were a part of our relationship from the get-go!”
After two and a half years of dating, Christmas of 2012 brought the proposal that, although Caroline was expecting it, still surprised her. Caroline and soon-to-be fiancé Brian flew to Indiana to spend Christmas with Caroline’s family. Caroline described the proposal as, “Perfect for our group.”
“I opened this purse that wasn’t my style. There was no tag on it or anything, but the wrapping paper matched what my brother and sister-in-law had wrapped with. I looked in the purse and saw a bag with the jeweler’s name on it. Brian moved from the couch and got down on one knee.”
With a December 28, 2013, date already in mind even before the proposal, Caroline and Ashley launched into wedding planning almost immediately. According to Ashley, “We started together from the beginning – we began last December looking at venues and booking everything. Caroline’s mother is from Indiana so when she comes down you have a very limited time.”
Because Ashley was aware of Caroline’s style, she suggested Traditions Club, which was able to accommodate Brian and Caroline’s vision for their big day. Caroline’s mother appropriately describes the style as “Ralph Lauren Country” because of the classy elegance with a rustic touch that the décor of both the venue and the wedding radiate. Caroline did not want a Christmas-themed wedding despite the wedding’s close proximity to the holiday. After seeing Traditions Club at Christmas just after the proposal, Caroline was able to pick and blend colors to the existing decorations knowing nothing would clash. Caroline settled on dark navy and dark gold, black undertones with maroon and chocolate accents.
Ashley explains, “Planning is different with your friends because you know them on a different level. Picking out design aspects with Caroline was super easy because I knew her style. It was also easy to pick vendors. I knew what personalities would fit with hers. Caroline was no-nonsense throughout planning, and didn’t really want a lot of meetings.”
Brian and Caroline’s wedding was planned to reflect their personalities from beginning to end. Caroline knew she wanted her guests to have fun, which prompted her to choose against attendants standing next to them on their wedding day. Ashley also attended the wedding as a guest so a different coordinator from Ashley and Company was assigned to oversee the day.
“There are lots of nontraditional aspects,” Caroline said. “I have six nieces and nephews, but no attendants. My oldest nephews are going to be ushers, and I will have flower girls and a ring bearer.”
Brian’s personality was reflected in the dessert choice – tres leches and a sopapilla bar. Opting out of the traditional wedding cake was a decision the two made over dinner at one of their favorite restaurants, Chuy’s, sharing Brian’s favorite dessert, tres leches. Though Brian and Caroline had a traditional “first dance,” the father/daughter and mother/son dance was combined, and the couple opted out of the garter and bouquet toss.
“Most fiancés have funny, strong opinions about things you don’t think they would have. Caroline and Brian have been good about finding that middle ground about everything,” Ashley said.
Caroline’s family flew in from Indiana to spend the holidays and the week leading up to the Texas-style wedding. Brian wanted to have the rehearsal dinner at the home that he shares with Caroline and Brian’s 14-year-old daughter, Lindsey. With more than 100 people attending the rehearsal dinner, Brian felt it would give their guests a peek into the life he and Caroline share.
Brian and Caroline’s out-of-town guests got the ultimate Texas hospitality treatment by staying at the Casitas at the Tradition Club. These beautiful houses feature Texas A&M themed décor and all the features of a home so that time leading up to the wedding was relaxing and stress-free. The day before the wedding, the guys went out and enjoyed the private golf course.
On Caroline’s wedding day, her make-up artist and photographer were in the Casita as she got ready. Surrounded by her sisters, future daughter, mother, mother-in-law, and other family members, Caroline experienced a relaxing day with family as she prepared to walk down the aisle.
Mother of the bride Janet Gunn described the wedding planning experience as delightful, and named off more than 40 out-of-state visitors who had made the trip to Texas for the wedding. “We had Christmas here in College Station, and we even shipped our gifts and Caroline had them wrapped for us!”
Caroline’s sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica, both beamed with happiness as they chatted about their soon-to-be married sister and reflected on their time spent in Texas reminiscing with family and creating memories.
As Caroline was getting ready to get into her wedding dress, she explained that nothing had been chaotic or stressful leading up to her big moment. She laughed as she described her motto of the day: “As long as I’m pretty, I don’t care.”
Before the wedding began, mother-of-the-groom Marie Rogers, who has been married to her husband for 37 years, shared this piece of advice: “Love and respect each other 30 years from now as much as you do today.”
In the late afternoon, guests began filling up white garden chairs that had been arranged to face a beautiful, flower-adorned arbor. Beside the sign-in table was a large stone with Caroline and Brian’s names engraved, as well as their wedding date. Caroline’s father, Steve, called it the “wedding rock,” a traditional gift that he had also given to his other two daughters for their marriages. Views of the golf course and wooded areas surrounded the ceremony space, making it feel serene. A guitarist and vocalist filled the air with soft music as guests patiently waited to see Caroline walk down the aisle. At the cue of “Love Me Tender,” the crowd turned to see Caroline emerge in a beautiful strapless gown with lace detailing.
The ceremony was filled with loving words as well as a verse from Corinthians read by Caroline’s sister. Cowboy hats, including the groom’s, were removed as a prayer was said. After the long-awaited kiss, the guitarist and vocalist broke out into a cover of the song “I Feel Good” by James Brown, which prompted laughter among the guests. The song was chosen in honor of Caroline’s dad’s habit of singing it a cappella. Following the ceremony, guests made their way to the reception inside Traditions Club to continue the celebration. To end the afternoon, Caroline and Brian even received a little Texas-themed surprise.
“Probably the most unexpected part of the evening was when some of our friends had a horse saddled and waiting for us to ride off on when leaving the reception! We were supposed to drive away in a truck, but as we were walking out our friends led this horse in front of us. Me, being the horse girl that I am, asked if it would be ok with my big dress, and when I was assured that he would be, hopped right on! My poor husband, being the cowman that he is, almost had a heart attack at the thought that he was going to have to ride this thing double with me! But he was a trooper and got boosted on the back; we did a little circle around on the horse, who behaved like an angel, and then got in the truck and left as originally planned!”
Caroline and Brian ended their night in true Texas Aggie fashion with friends at The Dixie Chicken. “I will never forget the look on some of those people’s faces as we walked in, me still in my wedding dress and Brian still in his suit, and asked if there was a wedding there! I can officially say I went to the Chicken in my wedding dress.”
Caroline describes her favorite part of the day as being officially introduced as “Mr. and Mrs. Rogers.” Along with that moment, she says, “Getting ready with my Mom, mother-in-law, my now daughter Lindsey, sisters and nieces was so fun. We all got to talk and laugh about silly things, and be entertained by the little ones! Playing ‘Ring Around the Rosie’ with my nieces and cousin’s daughters while taking pictures was so cute. I remember loving every bride I ever saw when I was little and wanting to be near them at weddings. I hope that they all remember doing that when they are my age and getting married, and it will be a good ‘I remember when’ moment!”
With her big day behind her, Caroline confidently says there is absolutely nothing that she would change. She credits the success of the day to Ashley and her team of coordinators, the master florists at Post Oak Florist, Traditions Club, her photographer Mallory Beinborn of Impulse Photography, and her hair/makeup professionals.
Her advice to brides-to-be? Do not sweat the small stuff, and have fun.
“All that really mattered about that day is that Brian and I officially became Mr. and Mrs. Rogers in front of God, our family, and our friends!”