A charming outdoor wedding with derby hats in Louisville, KY
Mel and Charles chose Louisville's Gingerwoods Event Hall for their adorable outdoor wedding last summer. The grounds are surrounded by a horse farm on one side and an animal refuge on the other – the perfect spot for an outdoorsy couple who loves the environment and their dog! Tall and Small Photography captured their celebration.
When we started to plan for our wedding, we knew we wanted to keep things simple and relaxed. We're both outdoor enthusiasts and have spent most of our lives in Kentucky and Indiana. We are obsessed with our dog, we love simple and natural foods, we have an amazing group of family and friends, we try to respect our environment, and we like to party. I think one of the biggest mistakes couples make when planning a wedding is they forget why they're getting married in the first place. Believe me, I had my moments where I let Pinterest, my mother, and all the adorable wedding blogs start to dictate how I wanted our wedding to look. Charles was really good about keeping me grounded. Did we steal some ideas from the internet? Absolutely. Did we let our families have some say in the format of the ceremony? Begrudgingly, at times, but it turned out perfect in the end. Every vendor we hired was independent and local to either Louisville or Bloomington. Our only additional conditions for hiring vendors were that they were affordable and that they were people we would want to be around on the biggest day of our lives. We really lucked out. Our dance floor guy charged us practically nothing and was an absolute pleasure to meet. Our bartenders were hilarious. Our caterer (and BBQ extraordinaires) gave us exactly what we wanted and made our guest feel at home. Our flower ladies took the cake. They set up their own little shade tent and arranged all the flowers on location while dancing around to rock n' roll and sipping on one of our specialty cocktails (only at my insistence, of course). I don't even know where to start with our photographers. Adorable. Talented. Perfect.
The other thing that made our day one for the history books was our family and friends. Our parents, siblings, and closest buddies and family friends spent two days moving hay bales, painting lawn signs, hanging bunting, arranging tables, wiring sound systems, mixing drinks, planning after parties, setting up chairs, shuttling us around town, arranging brunches and dinners, and a million other little details that kept Charles and I calm, cool, and totally collected. So much of our wedding was DIY that I'm not sure how we would have pulled it off without them.
The day of our wedding was absolutely incredible. Our location was on the lawn of a repurposed old church that had a horse farm on one side and an exotic animal rescue on the other. We had a cocktail hour with lawn games before our ceremony. My bridal suite overlooked the lawn so I got to watch everyone wander into the yard dressed in their Southern finest. I was shocked to see how many people wore hats! We made a casual mention on our website that we thought hats might be fun (getting married in the town famous for the Kentucky Derby and all) and damned if there weren't a ton of guests that showed up avec chapeau! The ceremony took place just as the sun was starting to set. We didn't have a wedding party (because, seriously, who wants to be in a wedding party). Charles' best man was our dog and our two best friends were seated in the front rows with our families so they were always close by if we needed them. I'll never forget walking down the aisle and seeing Charles for the first time in his wedding suit. He looked incredible. He took my hands and I turned to look back at all of our guests. There were people everywhere! People were sitting in chairs, standing in the lawn, lining the rail of the deck, and standing in the shade under the tent. That's the only time I almost lost it; holding the hands of my future husband (who was also holding the leash of our ridiculous dog in his wedding bow-tie) and looking into the faces of almost 200 of the kindest, funniest, most sincere group of people who have ever shared a lawn together. It was incredible. A close family friend of mine and a person Charles really admires got ordained specifically to officiate our wedding. I can't think of anyone who would have been better suited for the job. “Reverend Ron” was adorably nervous, genuinely funny, and touchingly honest.
The post-ceremony events are a bit of a blur. We escaped to the groom's dressing room to have a bit of quiet and eat a quick bite of food. I'm so thankful for that brief moment alone together. It was nice to share that time and it also forced us to get a bite to eat and calm our nerves before meeting the crowd. The reception was a whirlwind of congratulations, fantastic BBQ, hilarious toasts, way too many beers, and lots of dancing. I feel obligated to tell you that I am the member of a very elite gang that calls themselves The Cats. Our only mission is to party. Our only requirement is that you are always willing to facilitate a party. It's a party gang. Get over it. One of the other highlights of the evening was the wedding after-party where we “patched in” Charles. I can now officially call him my “old lady.” – Mel