A Colorful, Fiesta-Inspired Tennessee Wedding

Caralee and Zach

wedding couple portrait walking
Jenny Haas

In a place as fraught with politics as a high school cafeteria, few freshmen would dare approach a group of upperclassmen. But Caralee Fox was not a shy teenager. Homeschooled until she turned 14, she didn't know any of her peers except for a few seniors, including Zach Pridemore, whom she'd recently met at Ohio's Great Darke County Fair. So at lunchtime, she sat down at his table and began telling jokes. "She was pretty bold," says Zach, a construction foreman. "I played it cool, but we all thought it was charming."

The two became friends, keeping in touch while Caralee finished high school and Zach attended college nearby. Then in 2011, nearly six years after they'd met, "something shifted and I said, 'Hey, I like you,'" says Caralee. Though opposites in many ways—he's bookish, and she's happy-go-lucky; Zach's family is small, while Caralee has five siblings—they bonded over little things like a mutual love of Top 40 pop music, and found they shared values, like the importance of family. Five years later, on Caralee's 25th birthday, Zach proposed over breakfast in bed at their home in South Dayton.

The couple wanted a destination wedding that would feel like a vacation for their 46 loved ones; they settled on Parkside Resort in the Great Smoky Mountains, where everyone could stay together in cabins. "I love bold colors and texture," says Caralee, a hairstylist, and one of the first decisions she made was her dress with a brightly embroidered bodice. "It felt a little Mexican, a little boho." Wedding décor followed suit, with cacti and maracas mingling with ribbon wands. Nearly every detail was a DIY for Caralee, who spent months crafting and scouring thrift ores with help from her mother and sisters. "It was hard work, but we had fun," says Caralee.

The weekend kicked off with a pizza dinner at the bridal party's cabin, setting a relaxed tone for the festivities. The next day, September 24, 2016, Caralee's brother-in-law led the outdoor Christian ceremony; then guests returned to a taco-bar buffet. As dinner segued to a dance party, the couple cranked up music from a Spotify playlist and grabbed the mic for a duet of the Chainsmokers' "Closer," the perfect tune for longtime loves who are now tighter than ever.

01 of 16

The Stationery Suite

wedding invite
Jenny Haas

Desert plants were hand-painted on the invitations by Pencil Box Art & Design and then sent in envelopes calligraphed by Caralee's sister Abbie.

02 of 16

Ornate Embroidery

wedding dress sleeve detail
Jenny Haas

"I used it as inspiration for everything," says the bride of her Sherri Hill gown, which featured vibrant floral embroidery.

03 of 16

Vibrant Heels

red wedding shoes
Jenny Haas

Carolee's Nina Cherie sandals picked up on the day's bold color scheme.

04 of 16

The Bridal Bouquet

wedding bouquet
Jenny Haas

Caralee carried a cascading bouquet by Floral V Designs, made of king protea, garden roses, ranunculus, salal leaves, seeded eucalyptus, bay leaves, and Italian ruscus.

05 of 16

Pretty in Pink

bridesmaids pink dresses
Jenny Haas

The bridesmaids, dressed in pink tops and skirts, held garden roses, ranunculus, and seeded eucalyptus. The bouquets were tied with bedsheet fabric cut into strips.

06 of 16

The Boutonnieres

Jenny Haas

Caralee's mom and sister Jenny yarn-bombed boutonnieres, by Floral V Designs, of blush ranunculus, bay leaves, and local gomphrena.

07 of 16

The Ceremony Setup

ceremony site
Jenny Haas

Caralee's mom grew the mandevilla and portulaca plants that framed the ceremony marker. The bride and her family painted the wicker stands and arches.

08 of 16

Ceremony Revelry

wedding streamers
Jenny Haas

Streamers, glued to yarn-wrapped dowels, awaited guests. Caralee and Zach spent all summer on the project. "DIY weddings are a ton of work," says Caralee. "I spent so much time visualizing what I wanted, but without the help of family and friends, we wouldn't have been able to implement any of it." One of Caralee's favorite moments was seeing everyone waving them after the ceremony.

09 of 16

Colorful Centerpieces

wedding tablescape
Jenny Haas

Arrangements of Italian ruscus, pink king protea, seeded eucalyptus, and roses, as well as potted cacti and tapers, lined the picnic tables.

10 of 16

Themed Décor

cactus and potted flower
Jenny Haas

For the smaller centerpieces, Caralee's mom potted cacti, from Lowes, and then painted the tiny vessels. She also arranged the bouquets on the Wayfair linen runner.

11 of 16

The Place Settings

Jenny Haas

Maracas, from Amols', topped colorful Target plates. Caralee's mom and sister Abbie painted flowers and cacti on the maracas; Caralee and a friend wrapped each handle in yarn.

12 of 16

Fun Fringe

wedding tassels
Jenny Haas

Yarn tassels and ball fringe hung from a clothesline above the bridal table. Caralee and her mom made over 100 tassels. "My mom would sit at home every night and just do tassels for two hours," says Caralee. "She loved tasseling. It almost became a hobby for both of us."

13 of 16

A Bountiful Buffet

wedding taco bar
Jenny Haas

Salsarita's set up a taco bar with chips and three kinds of salsa. "I love bold, bright colors, and a fiesta style felt like the right fit," says Caralee.

14 of 16

A Petite Cake

wedding cake cactus topper
Jenny Haas

Fondant cacti crowned the red velvet and buttercream cake from Dayton Cakery.

15 of 16

Cookie Time

wedding cactus cookies
Jenny Haas

On the dessert table, a basket held iced sugar cookies from Bumbles Bake Shop, made in cactus shapes or painted with a cactus image.

16 of 16


wedding couple portrait kiss
Jenny Haas

Location, Parkside Resort

Catering, Salsarita's

Flowers, Floral V Designs

Photography, Jenny Haas

Stationery, Pencil Box Art & Design (design); World Digital Imaging (printing)

Cake, The Cakery

Cookies, Bumbles Bake Shop

Rentals, Prime Time Party Rental

Bride's gown, Sherri Hill

Bride's jewelry, Francesca's

Bride's wedding band, Michellia Fine Jewelry & Designs

Hair and makeup, Sweetly Pinned Hair & Makeup

Bridesmaids' attire, Pink Republic tops; Revelry skirts

Groom's suit, Michael Kors from Jim's Formal Wear

Groom's tie, Azazie

Plates, Target

Robes, Silkandmore

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