A Romantic, Italian-Inspired Wedding in Texas

charla jesse wedding couple outdoors
Apryl Ann Photography

Charla Storey and Jesse Anderson met in 8th grade when they were just 13. He was a new student and started dating her best friend, so they hung in the same circle but weren't close. When Jesse finished college, he moved back to Dallas, where Charla had a room for rent. After some persuasion, he became her roommate, then slowly her best friend, and then things got awkward when he presented the idea of taking things further. They went on their first official date—meeting in the living room and at the end of the night, he walked her to her bedroom door—and the romance blossomed. "It has been pretty amazing to fall in love with your best friend," says Charla (a fine art photographer) of her relationship with Jesse (who works in medical equipment).

Though they'd known each other for 20 years, they were a couple for seven when they booked a trip to Europe with just about a month's notice. They went with their son and on the first day (in Paris), posed for a family photoshoot. At the end of the session, with the Eiffel Tower in the background, Jesse popped the question. They continued on their adventures in France and Italy as soon-to-be husband and wife.

On May 18, 2017, the Texas twosome got hitched at Villa Del Lago in Austin. The Italian-style venue "makes you feel like you're on the other side of the world," according to the bride, so the pair had a wedding that felt like a destination celebration without leaving their state. In total, 85 guests joined them for the European-inspired nuptials that played up the trip they had taken months prior.

Birds of a Feather helped incorporate the bride's favorite Southwestern colors into the plan for the big day, and The Southern Table's flowers added a romantic touch. But it was all of the time spent with family and friends that the couple note as the most special part.

Watch Charla and Jesse's wedding film by Splendor Films.

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The Invitation Suite

charla jesse wedding blue stationery
Apryl Ann Photography

The stationery combined hand calligraphy and typography, with a design that celebrated negative space. Charla loved the deckled edges and sketch of the venue that Southern Fried Paper incorporated into the suite.

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So Chic

charla jesse wedding bride and groom on path
Apryl Ann Photography

Charla originally wanted a wedding dress with flowing fabric. On a business trip to New York City, Charla's friends surprised her with an appointment at Kleinfeld Bridal, where a consultant told her she would end up in a fit and flare gown—and he was right. After much resistance, she tried one on. Back home in Texas, Charla was at another dress appointment, this time at a&bé bridal. As someone who works in the industry, she follows the bridal market shows and the dresses that launch each season. She had seen one she loved but didn't think it would be in production by the time she needed to pick her gown. But she spotted the "Sasha" by Made with Love Bridal on a hanger and instantly gave it a go (trying it on over her clothes as she was about to leave the store), and knew it was the one. The laser-cut lace with a tan underlay and illusion neckline made her feel elegant, classic, and beautiful, but still like herself. She plans on altering it to be cocktail length so she can wear it to anniversary dinners for years to come.

Jesse sported a dark blue velvet jacket, black pants, a blue-and-white floral tie, and crisp white shirt. "I absolutely love my suit for our day," he says of his custom ensemble by Oak Hill. "We wanted something custom, that fit the way a tailored suit is supposed to fit, feel, and look. Being a bigger guy, it was just a better option for us to buy. We knew on the day there would be no surprises and all would fit right."

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Well Heeled

charla jesse wedding brides shoes
Apryl Ann Photography

"While we were on the trip we got engaged on, I tried on this pair of Valentino shoes and immediately knew I was making my first wedding purchase," says the bride of these rockstud pumps. "Jesse even snapped a photo of me happily walking with them through the streets of Florence."

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The Rings

charla jesse wedding rings
Apryl Ann Photography

Jesse designed an engagement ring with Megan Thorne, but proposed with a wedding band by the designer—presenting it with a sketch of what he wanted to give her. This way, she could pick out the cut of the diamond. Charla loved the drawing and went with the piece exactly as it had been imagined. Jesse actually popped the question with a band that had broken in half during the trip, but Charla loved it anyway. "Nothing Jesse and I do is partially easy and finding joy in a moment without material things was refreshing," she explains.

The rose-gold pieces were tucked inside a vintage box in the perfect shade of blue for the day.

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The Bridal Bouquet

charla jesse wedding bouquet
Apryl Ann Photography

The bride's favorite golden tones were highlighted through the wedding flowers, and the hues complemented the otherwise rose and blue color palette. Maxine Owens of The Southern Table crafted this bouquet using a variety of different roses, ranunculus, hellebores, peonies, heuchera leaves, sweet pea, spirea, oak leaf hydrangea, and golden bougainvillea. The loose arrangement was held together with long streamers of hand-dyed taupe silk ribbon.

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Puppy Love

charla jesse wedding dogs
Apryl Ann Photography

The couple's boxers were dressed for the occasion—with Brutus in an ascot and Lucy wearing a floral wreath—and joined the couple for a few photos before heading home.

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The Bridesmaids

bridesmaids bride black dresses
Apryl Ann Photography

The bridal party was more nontraditional than most. Charla asked her ladies to wear black dresses and Jesse asked his guys to sport black suits. Some of them got ready with the bride and groom, but Charla and Jesse mainly wanted to keep it easy for everyone without too much required.

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The Ceremony Spot

charla jesse wedding ceremony outdoor site
Apryl Ann Photography

The ceremony was set on the overlook with views of Lake Travis in the distance. The Southern Table created an Italian-inspired environment with arrangements of golden bougainvillea, several varieties of roses, peonies, and some other flora. The displayed framed the couple while still keeping the scenery visible. "The asymmetrical, potted backdrop was built to accent the couple, with climbing floral at the base transitioning into greenery native to Texas at the top," says Maxine.

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Becoming Husband and Wife

charla jesse wedding ceremony with officiant
Apryl Ann Photography

Since Charla and Jesse were best friends before they started dating, they thought it was perfect to walk down the aisle to "You're My Best Friend" by Queen—sung acoustically and performed on a ukulele.

The ceremony was personalized by officiant Rocky Garza, who sat down with the couple a few times before the wedding to better understand their likes, loves, and their story. On the big day, he covered parts of their past, the good times and the life struggles, and how they got to where they are today. Charla and Jesse opted not to hear what Rocky had put together until the actual service, trusting that he would say all the right things. "We got to be surprised and fully in the moment with our guests," says the bride. "It was really amazing to hear the things he decided were important, and we have quotes from the ceremony that we will never forget."

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A Special Surprise

charla jesse wedding bride with son
Apryl Ann Photography

The couple told their son, Seth, that they intended to have him join Rocky in praying for them at the conclusion of the service, but when he came up he just started praying for them alone. "It was so unexpected and amazing," Charla says. "His words were so beautiful and we were all moved." Jesse notes the moment as the most meaningful and memorable part of the day.

At the reception, there was another surprise during the reception—when Seth took to the mic to deliver a speech.

11 of 21

Little Ladies

charla jesse wedding flower girls
Apryl Ann Photography

Charla's friend's daughters wore gold-accented dresses as the flower girls. Later, they showcased their dance moves at the reception.

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Find Your Seat

charla jesse wedding escort cards
Apryl Ann Photography

After enjoying cocktail hour in the pavilion with Italian charcuterie, passed appetizers, signature drinks (French 75s and Old Fashioneds), local beer, and acoustic music, it was time for dinner.

Escort cards were pinned to a linen-covered board tucked under an arch that guests passed by on their way to eat. Florals dressed up the wooden stand that held it in place.

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The Escort Cards

charla jesse wedding escort cards detail
Apryl Ann Photography

Each guest's name was calligraphed with white ink onto vellum and affixed to blue cards with a wax seal.

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One Long Reception Table

charla jesse wedding outdoor banquet table
Apryl Ann Photography

One big table was set so that it felt like everyone had gathered for a family dinner or Thanksgiving meal. "Not only did it feel like the holidays, but it also had that intimate, Italian, alfresco feel," Charla says of the setup and the family-style menu.

As for what went atop the table, Charla has long been a big fan of velvet and, after getting engaged, she saw that La Tavola Fine Linen had launched a collection of tablecloths in the material and knew she had to have them. Rose-colored linens covered the tables, with ochre-hued napkins placed on each plate.

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The Centerpieces

charla jesse wedding table and centerpiece
Apryl Ann Photography

Asymmetrical floral arrangements in oval-shaped marble vases by The Southern Table were spread out between black taper candles (which added a slight masculine feel to the mix). Blooms spilled out of the vessels onto the tablecloths to leave room for the family-style platters. Claire de Lune peonies and golden and taupe roses were the focus.

16 of 21

On the Menu

charla jesse wedding menu
Apryl Ann Photography

The menu matched the invitation design and was sealed with velum and a wax seal to mimic the escort cards. Guests enjoyed a mista salad, chicken picatta, and penne Bolognese, paired with housemade focaccia.

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The Wedding Cake

charla jesse wedding cake with blue detail
Apryl Ann Photography

Layered Bakeshop created the wedding cake. "They make the best red velvet I have ever tasted and it's Jesse's favorite," says Charla. The design focused on two strong tiers—one with carved fondant to give a stone texture and Old-World feel, and another with painted tile-like patterns in shades of soft grays and blues.

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More Sweets!

charla jesse wedding desserts
Apryl Ann Photography

A spread of the couple's favorite Italian- and French-inspired desserts included eclairs, tartlets, and canolis. Charla is a sugar addict and could not wait to get her hands on all of the goodies!

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The First Dance

charla jesse wedding couple first dance
Apryl Ann Photography

Charla changed into the "Frida" dress by Catherine Deane so she could dance (and show off her wedding shoes) and pulled her hair back before joining her husband for their first dance as newlyweds. They chose TV Carpio's cover of the Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" from the movie Across the Universe. The song played a pivotal part in the pair's relationship—going back to when they were just friends driving in a car and they started singing it. Jesse grabbed Charla's hand while they sang and that was the beginning of them discussing their feelings for one another in a deeper way.

In lieu of a father-daughter dance, Charla took a spin with her son and uncle to one of her late dad's favorite tunes: Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight." And Jesse and his mom danced to "Mama" by BJ Thomas—a song his mother chose because it was the first one that came to mind and one she felt was written for Jesse.

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A Sparkling Ending

charla jesse wedding sparkler send-off
Apryl Ann Photography

The sparkler send-off was a special way to end the night. "It was great to see family and friends cheering for my new wife and I," says Jesse. "I was pretty emotional. And our venue made it even more perfect with the lake breeze and light reflecting on the water."

Guests were sent home with kettle corn and cheddar-flavored popcorn from Jesse's father and step-mother's popcorn company.

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charla jesse wedding couple on balcony
Apryl Ann Photography

Photography, Apryl Ann Photography

Location, Villa Del Lago

Event planning, Birds of a Feather

Catering, Mandola's Italian Kitchen

Flowers, The Southern Table

Videography, Splendor Films

Officiant, Rocky Garza

Stationery, Southern Fried Paper

Calligraphy, Pretty Post Calligraphy; Blue Eye Brown Eye (invitation)

Cake, Layered Bakeshop

Music, Noah Galaviz; DJ Jason Esquire

Rentals, La Tavola Fine Linen; Loot Rentals

Bride's gown, Made with Love Bridal from a&bé bridal shop

Bride's reception dress, Catherine Deane

Bride's accessories, Megan Thorne rings; Valentino shoes

Hair and makeup, Beauty and the Blush Artistry

Hair change for reception, Natalia Issa (reception hair change)

Groom's attire, Oak Hill

Valet, Texas Valet

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