Jess & Raquel met on Tinder, and the spark was instant. Their incredible wedding was held in a chapel in Dallas, Texas. Surrounded by romantic florals, they spoke their personal vows, let tears flow, and became wife and wife.
Tell us about the proposal.
J: I remember watching an episode of Shark Tank a while back and hearing about Paparazzi Proposals. I thought it was a very cool idea for a proposal in an unfamiliar place.
One of the areas that Raquel and I had always talked about going was Boston. She loved the scenery, the food, and the feel, while I loved the Red Sox. About six months out, I booked our trip and added it to our joint calendar; then I played Boston by Augustana on my phone. Raquel checked her phone notification and heard the song and just smiled ear to ear. She loved the idea of spending our 2nd anniversary in Boston. I contacted Paparazzi Proposals and told them I wanted to propose in the Boston Public Gardens on our last day.
Next was to find the perfect ring. I knew that it had to be unique. I ventured onto Etsy and discovered NY Fine Jewlery. There, I was able to customize a beautiful oval pink moissanite ring with a diamond surround that looked a bit like the Great Gatsby.
On the day of, we went exploring the Museum of Science (I love dinosaurs and science!) before heading to the Public Gardens. I was so nervous and had to readjust my suit jacket and hair a million times to make sure everything was perfect. We walked hand in hand through the park and towards a picnic. Our hidden photographer had laid a spread for us with champagne and roses.
I pulled out my scroll with my proposal speech. Then, I got down on one knee to ask Raquel to be my wife. She was in complete disbelief. She didn’t even say yes because all she could manage was to smile and cry and grab the ring! Raquel was over the moon and I was elated.
The only one more excited to see the ring than Raquel was the squirrels in the park. Raquel took every opportunity to show them as we walked around taking pictures in the beautiful sunlit scenery.
Afterward, we snuck away to a cafe to tell our families the big news before our dinner reservation at a nearby speakeasy.
It was the perfect day.
How long was your engagement?
J & R: Our engagement was a little bit over a year! We wanted the 23rd of Sept (like the song), but our venue, which we fell in love with, was booked. So, since Jess was a teacher, we decided to do it a month later, around Thanksgiving, because it gave us a full week to enjoy our honeymoon right after the wedding.
How did you find the time leading up to the wedding?
J & R: It was a super stressful time for us but also very rewarding. I was finishing my degree, working two jobs and planning a wedding. Jess started a new leadership role with her teaching and kept busy with field trips and school projects leading up to the wedding.
We started with excellent support for our wedding but ended up losing some long-term friends who were bridesmaids along the way. It was heartbreaking, but we tried not to let it shadow our day.
One of the shows we got hooked on during our wedding planning was Four Weddings, and we ended up in our own version of it with three friends all getting married within the same year as us. We made it a game to go to the other weddings and give our ratings on dresses, venues, food and the overall experience. This was a fun game for us, and even though each wedding we went to was amazing in its own way, we definitely think our wedding took the cake!
How was the process of finding a venue?
J & R: Being in Texas, we had to find a venue that was ok with same-sex ceremonies there. We had a couple of places that turned us away, so the initial search started a bit choppy.
When we found Stillwater Meadow, we knew that we were finding a hidden gem; it was perfect. Sharon, the venue owner, was kind and understanding, with the mission to give brides their dream Pinterest wedding, without the typical wedding price tag. She worked with our budget and offered an ample storage shed filled with free to use decorations and gave us the liberty to make the ceremony and reception what we wanted.
What was the inspiration behind your wedding?
J & R: Our vibe was definitely jewel tones, boho chic, romantic. I love a great rust color, so we wanted to incorporate it into our wedding.
Being in Texas, we wanted to stay away from a rustic country feel, and we wanted to keep an intimate, cozy feel. We wanted to have lots of light, so we loved the windows in our ceremony chapel and made sure to have lots of candles in our reception space.
We were able to find some beautiful linens to bring out all the colors we liked, mostly neutrals with pops of rust, wine reds, and lots of greenery everywhere. Then pops of gold and colored glass to make everything feel a little whimsical and lavish.
Did you take on any DIY projects?
J & R: Our venue had an entire shed of things previous brides had donated and created. It saved us time and money to pick and choose decor from there.
We designed our own signature drinks menu and came up with our own recipes for those that made for a great date night before the wedding as we played mixologists for fun! Jess also made her mini cake toppers, gold dinosaurs with a veil, and diamond ring on one and a bow tie on the other.
Tell us more about your incredible outfits.
R: I found my perfect dress pretty quickly, which I loved but a bit bummed about because I wanted to try everything on. I went once with friends and didn’t find anything. On Black Friday, my sister saw a Facebook ad about a bridal shop having half off dresses, so we decided to check it out last minute. It was the second dress I tried on, and it just felt different. I knew from then it was the perfect dress for me except for the price!
Jess wanted a custom suit and fell in love with the styles at Indochino. She got to pick her fabric, a lush velvet green, the suit’s cut, and her vest, which was gray to match her bridal party. Her suit was made to measure and fit her perfectly, making her feel super confident on the big day. For her mixed-gender bridal party, she chose The Groomsman Suit, which had just launched a female line that would match the fabric for the men in her party.
The end result was perfect all around.
And, was the wedding day everything you imagined?
J & R: The day looked a little different to each of us leading up to our ceremony as we chose to stay in separate hotels and try the traditional route of not seeing each other before the big reveal. The anticipation had us both very excited and a bit nervous.
Raquel got ready with her sisters, mom, grandmother, aunts, nieces, and her girls. They were in the bridal cottage early to get their makeup and hair perfected, including the bride herself taking some time to work on her beautiful niece’s hair, so they were ready to walk down the aisle as our flower girls.
Jess was out in the old ranger’s station and didn’t start getting ready until a little later in the day. She hung out with her parents, aunt and uncle, cousins, playing ping pong for a while.
We each wanted to write our own vows. We wanted them to be private, so we wrote each other love letters with our promises we had for each other before going into our marriage and had them delivered to each other. Raquel added an amazing touch by writing hers on a Yahtzee scorecard, and Jess was able to break out a laugh as she saw this and read the sentiment that their love story was already like rolling the perfect score when all the dice line up perfectly.
When the doors opened, and Raquel walked down the aisle, the only thing running through Jess’s mind as she tried to hold back tears of joy was how stunning her bride was.
The ceremony was almost perfect, except the minister accidentally calling us Jeff and Rachel, to which everyone laughed. We couldn’t let go of each other’s hands and were elated to be looking into each other’s eyes as Rev. Fricke read the lines to Adam Sandler’s song from The Wedding Singer. Our requested reading instead of a poem or Bible quote.
Once we were married, we walked back down the aisle with our ring bearer Peppa (our dog) and headed back to the bridal cottage to celebrate alone. It really was perfect!
We signed our marriage contract and took some photos in the golden hour. We were announced and started the best party either of us has ever been to. Our DJ kept the music going. The energy was high as our guests literally danced while in line to get their food.
There was so much love and laughter in the room that we were overwhelmed with joy.
Did you incorporate any traditions into the day?
J & R: We did a ring warming with both of our families. It meant a lot not only to get the approval of our marriage, which was not something that came easy for either one of us, but to get blessings and well wishes from our parents, families, and friends to send us into a happy life as wife and wife with their love and support to help guide us.
Do you have a stand out vendor?
J & R: Yes, our florist was AMAZING! We knew we wanted to do flowers, and it was super important to us but didn’t know what to expect. On the day of the wedding, she was our savior. She provided the most beautiful floral arrangements, but she also got there early and helped bring together our romantic vision.
Any advice for other couples planning a wedding?
J & R: Trust your gut; this is YOUR wedding! Take some time to yourselves and think about the aspects that are most important to each of you before you seek advice from others. Make it unique for you.
We are also glad we invested in florals, lots of advice we read and got was to forgo that part, but it was really one of our favorite parts.
And, lastly, what does marriage mean to you?
Marriage, to us, means knowing that we have chosen each other forever.
We are each other’s best friends. By taking vows, we commit to being there for each other for all the good and bad that life throws our way.
In a sense, nothing changed by getting the legal contract signed. But, everything changed to be able to walk down that aisle and celebrate our love for each other in front of those that mattered most to us. We are still the same two squirrels that love to sit around the house with our dog and play Yahtzee with friends. More than that, though, we are the one person that the other can count on never to judge each other and always support each other in everything we do.
Photography & Cinematographer The Tucks
Bridal Boutique Bliss Bridal
Cake Backhome Bakery
Catering The Patriotic Pig
Ceremony & Reception Venue Stillwater Meadow
Flower Girl Outfits JC Penney’s
Florist T & T Flowers
Gown Designer Essense of Australia
H&MU Tease to Please , Makeup By Vgarza
Lighting & Sound Hire Danny Munoz
Officiant A Day Made For Us
Photo Booth Happy Photo
Prop & Furniture Hire Posh Couture Rentals
Suit Designer Indochino
Venue Stillwater Meadow
Wedding Party Outfits The Groomsman Suit
Wedding Rings NY Fine Jewlery, RCornejo Jewelry