This Saint Louis, Missouri, Wedding Was All About the Gateway to the West
When Lauren and Chris tied the knot on October 5, 2019, it wasn't the first time they'd stood together at the altar. "Chris and I were the best man and maid of honor for our best friends," says Lauren. She and Chris planned a joint bachelor and bachelorette celebration for the couple on Block Island in 2017—but didn't exactly plan for each other. "We certainly didn't expect that when we went out that Friday to kick off the weekend, we would actually be kicking off the rest of our lives!" she says. With Lauren, a nurse practitioner, living in New York City, and Chris working as a first responder in Boston, the couple spent their weekends traveling the Northeast Corridor until Chris proposed in October 2018 on a trip to Captiva Island, Florida.
As the couple began planning their 250-guest wedding, Lauren already had her mind set on a location—her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. "I always knew I wanted to get married in St. Louis," she says. "It holds such a special place in my heart, and I wanted to celebrate the best day of our lives in our favorite place." The couple chose the iconic The Busch Family Estate for their outdoor ceremony and tented reception. "The Busch Estate is full of St. Louis history," says Lauren. "It also didn't hurt that 2019 was the first year the St. Louis Blues defeated the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup! Despite this rivalry, our Boston guests fell in love with St. Louis, too."
The couple incorporated the Budweiser Clydesdales, popular St. Louis snack foods, horseshoe escort cards, and a late-night snack from Shake Shack to create a hyper-local event for their nearest and dearest. "Chris and I love our friends and family deeply," says Lauren. "These are the people that guided us to one another, and for that, we are eternally grateful. We wanted to celebrate these people and their importance in our lives with a weekend full of love."
Welcome to St. Louis
Lauren and Chris used St. Louis as a recurring design element throughout their celebration. "We really leaned into the St. Louis theme!" says Lauren. They planned a Meet Me in St. Louis-inspired welcome party and put together gift bags with local staples—including snacks from The Billy Goat Chip Company and Gooey Louie butter cake.
Feeling the Blues
The white-and-cream invitation suite from On Three Designs showed off Lauren's favorite color: "Blues!" she says. "I love any and all shades of blue." Dusty blue accent pieces came in the form of envelopes and ribbon, while a custom monogram included a silhouette of a Clydesdale in a nod to the venue; the schedule of events featured a hand-drawn sketch of the estate.
Two of a Kind
Lauren had "such a blast" trying on wedding dresses that she couldn't narrow her search down to a single gown. "I really fell in love with a lot of different styles, so it was hard to pick one," says Lauren. Instead of choosing, she purchased two: A custom Galia Lahav strapless ball gown with a "secret sparkle" layer for the ceremony and a Vera Wang fit-and-flare for the reception. For the ceremony, she added a Galia Lahav cathedral-length veil and heirloom jewelry: "My something borrowed and blue was my maternal grandmother's sapphire ring that has been worn for three generations in my family," says Lauren. "Every bride has worn it on her wedding day."
The bride carried a "classic Midwest style" bouquet of peonies, roses, dahlias, ranunculus, and astilbe from Ashley MacDonald Floral Designs.
At the end of the reception, she traded her pearl-studded Jimmy Choo heels for white Converse sneakers; Chris wore a matching pair.
For her bridesmaids, Lauren selected gowns from Joanna August—a designer she'd worn at a previous wedding—in a color called Morning Dew, and asked each woman to choose her favorite style. "I knew the dresses were classic and comfortable," she says.
The groom and groomsmen wore custom navy blue suits from Jos. A. Bank—Chris added a vest—with their own choice of custom lining.
Love You, LK
"As a surprise, Chris had his [suit's lining] embroidered with 'Love you, LK' on the inside breast pocket," says the bride.
So in Love
Lauren and Chris set aside time for a private first look on the grounds of The Busch Family Estate before posing for formal portraits with their bridal party. "We loved it," reflects the duo. "It was a quiet moment we could celebrate our commitment to each other, just us two."
A Pre-Wedding Drink
Carts serving Prosecco and Budweiser (with custom wedding-day labels) greeted guests ahead of the ceremony. "Many of our guests took advantage of visiting the Anheuser-Busch brewery as well, where they got to sample Budweiser beer made the day of our wedding," says the bride.
Back of the House
The ceremony was held on the property's lawn, within view of the historic estate.
Under the Arch
A lush flower arch, comprised primarily of white roses, anchored the altar.
Those white blooms also reappeared along the aisle; small, grounded arrangements added a touch of garden-inspired whimsy to the space.
Order of Events
Another nod to the bride's favorite color, the ceremony programs were printed on barely-blue card stock, and included the duo's custom crest (originally seen on the invitation suite).
Down the Aisle
Musicians from The Mix performed Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and Pachelbel's "Canon in D" for the couple's processionals. Lauren's father escorted her out of the estate and down the aisle wearing a tie she personalized with a photo of them and embroidery reading, "I loved you first." "He still wears it all the time," she says. "My parents are my best friends, and I'm so grateful for their love and support, so these special moments I will cherish forever."
The couple also found ways to incorporate their guests into the ceremony, asking three attendees—Lauren's attending doctor, a mutual friend, and her brother—to "honor the importance of strong mentorship, friendship, and family to marriage," and adding in a ring warming ceremony. "We passed our wedding rings around to all of our guests for them to each impart their own blessings to us," says the couple.
From the Heart
Lauren asked her best friend's father to officiate the service. "They have been my New York family since I moved there in 2011," she says. "It was so special to have him standing up there with us and definitely put us both at ease with his humor and kind words."
Chris and Lauren wrote their own vows, which, they say, "celebrated not only the grand moments, like our wedding day, but the love of the every day, the quiet love—like road trips to our favorite music and walking our dog, Bodie."
The Busch Family Estate inspired many of the reception details, including the table names—which incorporated the East Coast and Midwest Budweiser Clydesdale hitches—and the escort wall, which led guests to their seats via lucky horseshoes.
During the cocktail hour, Lauren and Chris offered a signature sip named after their dog, Bodie—a green tea martini in honor of the drinks they ordered on the night it all began. "It was the first cocktail that led to the first kiss," says the couple.
A Stunning Space
A spacious tent offered room for a large dance floor flanked by lounge seating and three types of tables: A long head table with upholstered chairs; square tables topped with powder blue tablecloths and a white vine tulle overlay; and half round tables covered in white oxford. Overhead, candleabras were draped in greenery for natural, organic texture.
Lauren and Chris chose to leave the head table bare, decorating it instead with a 32-foot-long runner of abundant white flowers, including peonies, roses, and dahlias. Navy blue napkins on gold-rimmed chargers set off pristine white anemone blooms, while deep blue pillar candles on crystal stands coordinated with blue goblets.
Smaller tables showed off centerpieces of loose greenery and blush-colored dahlias in ceramic vessels; taper candles perched on slim gold holders were surrounded by minimalist glass cylinders. Individual sprigs of navy viburnum dentatum berry sat on white oxford napkins, adding a garden-inspired element to place settings of brushed gold flatware and gold-rimmed chargers.
Lauren and Chris had one immediate priority for their reception: "Our family loves hosting parties," they say, "so we knew we wanted an amazing band to keep the party going all night." The Mix delivered, and the couple wasted no time getting the dancing started. "We brought everyone out on the dance floor to dance before dinner," they say. "It really set the mood of a fun party!"
Dance with Dad
Lauren danced with her father to "Toes" by Zac Brown Band—it's one of their favorites ("We play it on repeat in the car and at the beach in Captiva, and dance to wherever we can!" she says). "The lyrics, 'Life is good today' definitely rang true on October 5!" the bride adds.
A cigar bar was stationed outside; personalized labels were added to cigars for guests to take home.
Photography, Mike Cassimatis
Venue, The Busch Family Estate
Event Planning, Kristin Ashley Events
Catering, Butler's Pantry
Flowers, Ashley MacDonald Floral Designs
Stationery, On Three Designs
Cake, The Cakery
Music, The Mix Music
Rentals, Aries Rental; Exclusive Events Inc.; Nuage Designs
Bride's Gowns and Veil, Galia Lahav (ceremony); Vera Wang (reception)
Bride's Shoes, Jimmy Choo
Hair, Brides by Brady; Clare's of Clayton
Makeup, Fleur Bridal Styling
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Joanna August
Flower Girl Dresses, Pippa & Julie
Menswear, Jos. A. Bank
Lighting, Exclusive Events
Transportation, Best Transportation
Live Painter, Florelle Studio
Photo Booth, Fete
Rings, Michel Absi Jewelers
Tent, Traube Tent