Erica & Doug

features: Real Weddings

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Venue: Buena Vista – Beverly Byard / Cake: Frankies Sweet Shoppe – Frankie / Catering: Legacy Catering – Eric Hill / Photographer: Jonathon Kohn / DJ: K&S DJ Service- Kenny Stiles / Rentals: American Tent and Rental- Dennis Campell

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
Well it was January 2012 and I was on a family vacation to Hawaii with my mom, stepdad, sister, and brother-in-law. At the time I was in the Air Force, stationed in California, and my brother-in-law was in the Air Force, stationed in Korea. While on our vacation one of my sister and brother-in-laws friends, who was in the Air Force and stationed in Hawaii decided to meet up with us to say hi to them. It just so happens that that friend of theirs is now my dear hubby! We met up at a beach near his house and sat and all of us just talked and watched the waves. A few days later, I was still in Hawaii but my sister and brother-in-law had left, Doug got a hold of me and asked if I wanted to take a hike to a local lighthouse. After that hike I knew he was going to be someone special in my life. My last day in Hawaii, I went with Doug and his friends to the ProBowl and we spent the morning tailgating! I left the tailgate to catch my flight and gave Doug a big hug goodbye! I went back to California and he stayed in Hawaii, we continued to talk and in April I decided to take a trip to Korea to visit my sister and brother-in-law. Doug had lived there with them for a while and asked if I would mind if he met me out there, and we have been together ever since then! We did the long distance up until April 2014, just over a month before our wedding. The only time we ever lived near each other was when we both got deployed to Afghanistan. From October 2012- May 2013 we were on a base in Afghanistan and as luck would have it we worked right across the street from each other while we were there. We have been through a lot and been apart a lot, but now here we are in Maryland, in our first place together as husband and wife! I feel so lucky to have him and to have the experiences we have been able to have together!

How did he propose?
Well as I mentioned earlier, Doug was living in Hawaii while we were dating and I was living in California. Every month or so we would try and take a long weekend to visit each other, I never complained about having to pay the plane ticket to go to Hawaii. But it happened this time we hadn’t seen each other for almost four months, needless to say I was super excited to see him! This trip Doug’s brother and sister-in-law were going to meet us out there. So I got in in the afternoon and his brother and sister-in-law were coming in the next morning, Doug and I had the night together! He had mentioned something about finding a place to watch the sunset and it sounded like a good idea to me! I really had no clue at this point! So he had bought this half tent kind of thing, to set up on the beach and give us some shade. He was getting the cooler together because we were going to stop and get some cheese and wine on the way. He had mentioned a few times he wanted to put something nice one, and I quickly shot him down saying I was just going to wear gym shorts and a tank because, after all, we were going to the beach! Then he tried to bring the fancy wine glasses, and again I was like no no no, just grab some solo cups, after all it was the beach! Needless to say, he tried so hard to make everything romantic I obviously was clueless lol! We stopped at the grocery store, and this is when I first noticed he was acting weird, he was so particular about paring the wine with the cheese! And of course was just in my own world, just happy to be hanging out with him, and it didn’t matter to me what cheese we had with what wine! So we got to the beach and it turned out it was private beach property! Doug had met a guy who owned a bunch of beachfront property and had asked the guy if he could bring me out there to watch the sunset. It was just Doug and I for as far as I could see, which is crazy on Hawaii because there are always people on the beach! So we found the perfect place to set up and we made a toast to being together after waiting so long to see each other. Then Doug started talking about this new camera lens he bought and he was kind of fumbling around his camera bag and acting all weird. That is when he pulled out the ring! He talked about how we had been through so much and we have so much to look forward to and he wanted to make the commitment to me! We have talked about it and neither of us remember exactly what was said, but we remember the feeling! It was so exciting and I was so shocked and he was so nervous! And it was just us two, out there on the beach (my favorite place!) sharing that incredible moment together! I think I squealed out a yes and then about two minutes later realized neither of us had service as I was trying to call all my family and friends. But we sat there and watched the sun go down and Doug took pictures of the sunset and moon and we had a perfectly relaxed evening with just ourselves and that special day!

What was your venue and why did you select it?
We got married at Buena Vista in Prattville Alabama. It is an old Antebellum home. See, I am from Michigan and Doug is from Alabama, and we went back and forth for a while trying to decide where to have the wedding. We picked Alabama because he has way more family there and the weather is a little more predictable in the spring! I have always wanted an outdoor wedding, I just love being outdoors and the atmosphere and outdoor event holds. And I wanted something with a southern feel. I am from the Midwest, but since the first time I visited Alabama with Doug I knew I loved the south! And so we looked online at different venues near Prattville for a while. Doug was in Hawaii while we were planning this and I was in California, so everything we did as far as researching a place was done online or via phone calls. Beverly was the one I talked to at Buena Vista and she was so pleasant and understanding to our situation. She was always there if I had a question about anything. Since I wasn’t able to go visit any of the places we were looking at I relied heavily on that butterfly kind of feeling, and I had that feeling when I starting looking at Buena Vista. Something about the pictures I saw and from talking to Beverly told me that was the place Doug and I would say our vows! The first time I saw the venue was in the middle of winter, when Doug and I went to visit family during Christmas 2013, just five months before the wedding. And even though it was the middle of winter and the grass was gone and the magnolia trees were still waiting on spring to blossom, I knew it was the right place! The house has so much character. They take great care of the house, but you can also see the history. It was everything I had expected it to be. And on the day of our wedding it was even more!

What southern traditions did you incorporate into your wedding?
Food! Haha, besides being married at an Antebellum home, the biggest hint of southern tradition in our wedding revolved around food! I went down to Alabama two weeks before the wedding, to get things ready and meet with the vendors. My family and friends came down one week before the wedding to help me out and get the southern experience! Doug and I had a couple’s shower the week before the wedding that was a traditional fish fry! His dad and stepmom set the whole thing up and all our family and friends were able to meet each other and just hang out and enjoy an evening of fried fish! Also our rehearsal dinner took place at his dad and stepmoms and for that we had a crawfish boil. Pounds and pounds of crawfish! And everyone from the Midwest just had a ball getting dirty, eating and drinking the night away! Doug’s mom also put on a traditional southern tea for my bridal shower. It was so sweet and nice! From the sweet tea to the cucumber sandwiches and all the ladies dressed to impress. I loved it! All my family and friends from the Midwest loved it! That was my favorite part about the week, not only were my family and friends there for the wedding but they also got to see some of the southern traditions Doug and his family grew up with. It was so special to Doug and I that our families got to know each other and hang out around some southern traditions!

Where did you find your dress?
Ohhh my dress! Haha, when I think back about my dress shopping experience I think maybe I was one of those people who just can’t try on enough dresses. So the first time I ever tried on dresses was in Prattville Alabama, at Prattville Bridal and Tux. I was with Doug’s mom and sister-in-law and we were out and about when they suggested we stop and just look at some dresses. I had been waiting until I was in Michigan so I could go with my mom and sister, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to look at some dresses while in Alabama, the wedding was only five months away. So I picked out several lace mermaid style dresses, because I was sure that was what I wanted. It was Doug’s mom who showed me a big princess dress, with a beautiful beaded belt. I figured I would try it on to just step out of my comfort zone. I put it on and took one look in that mirror, and the tears just started flowing! I had that moment, I just felt so pretty, so beautiful and special! I stayed in that dress for a long time before making the decision to leave the dress behind. There were two reasons I didn’t buy the dress right then and there. One, my mom wasn’t with me and I couldn’t imagine finding the dress without her. And two, I was shocked I fell in love with the style dress it was! I was sure I wanted a form fitting mermaid style with some lace. So I took a picture of it and the maker and dress number and went on my way. Fast forward to March, just two months before the wedding! I was in Las Vegas with my mom, and we went and tried on dresses, for almost two hours! Everything was just ok, I couldn’t get the dress from Alabama out of my mind, but let me tell you I tried on so many dresses! I kept thinking if I tried on more I would find another! So the next weekend my bridesmaids met me in Las Vegas and I tried on dresses with them, for almost another three hours!! It was at the end of that dress shopping experience I realized I had already found my dress, I just hadn’t admitted it to myself! It was in Alabama! Problem was is that the dress I tried on wasn’t there anymore. So as my sister and I drove from Las Vegas to Michigan, we called little wedding dress boutiques all over the state of Ohio and Michigan. We eventually found a store that had my dress. It was about 8 sizes too big, but I figured all I needed was to see it one more time to know if that was the one! I tried it on and just burst out in tears! It was the one, and had been the one all along! So I had it ordered in my size and picked it up three weeks later! And I loved my dress, so much, I couldn’t have felt more beautiful in anything else! But whenever I walked by a bridal boutique, even now, I have the urge to go try some of the dresses on!

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