Unicorns, Food Trucks & An Explosion of Colour

Anna Jones Photography

August 31, 2017

Jessica and Don’s Iowa wedding was colourful, fun and unicorn inspired! They planned the whole thing from Chicago, where they live, which had it’s challenges, but they still manged to pull off a fun, laid back get together which totally felt like them.

“When I was planning the wedding, I really just wanted it to feel incredibly bright, fun and geometric”, began the bride. “It’s since been coined the ‘unicorn garden’ so I think we achieved our goals!”

The wedding took place at The Des Moines Social Club in Iowa. They loved the space, but planning it as a destination wedding had its challenges. “The Des Moines Social Club is just a phenomenal venue. It’s actually an old firehouse that has been rehabbed as a community centre and venue. Our ceremony was in the courtyard – which is actually just a really cool parking lot surrounded by incredible graffiti.”

“In planning a destination wedding, it was really important to anticipate the hard things and solve for them early instead of wanting to be heroes. Also working with a non-traditional venue has its challenges. We had to hire our own tent and rental company, provide our own linens etc. I completely understand the appeal of a one-stop shop venue that does all the things on this side of the event. Although I’m sure I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”

One of the key things for them was that the day was informal and enjoyable for their guests. “We knew we wanted the vibe to be incredibly informal”, she continued, “and we knew we could achieve that with food truck catering. Gastro Grub did a phenomenal job serving up fried chicken and waffle cones and PB&J burgers that made everyone feel like they were in their own backyards.”

“For the party, and to fill up the courtyard we created really awesome courtyard games like Life-size Beer Pong and Flamingo Toss. The guests grabbed drinks and socialised together during the cocktail hour and it was perfect. Literally everything was a DIY project. From the centrepieces, balloons and tassels to the really amazing aisle backdrop. We DIY’d it all.”

The bride wore a Hayley Paige gown with Sophia Webster unicorn heels. Her bridesmaids picked their own outfits and instead of bouquets, they carried balloons! “We had a gender neutral wedding party”, she said. “I had a Maid of Honour and a Man of Honour and Don had a Best Man and Best Ma’am. It was really important that the people standing beside us be true to the relationship rather than gender.”

Despite all this cool and colourful stuff, the most important part of the wedding for both the bride and groom was undoubtedly the ceremony. “The ceremony is probably the thing we spent the most time on. We’re not religious, so we stripped the tradition away and were left with a blank slate. Our best friend Nick married us so we worked really closely with him to set the tone. Our ‘theme’ was partnership and the sort of anti-romantic notion that. Love isn’t always enough and marriage takes work. On that particular day, we were vowing to work and that meant a lot to us. Music was also incredibly important. I was a music major in college and just-so-happen to be incredibly blessed by talented friends who were willing to lend their talents for free! I worked really closely with them to ensure we were walking down the aisle to up-beat, meaningful songs that would help everyone there understand our particular brand of love.”

“The best part of the planning was honestly that it was an awesome creative process. Don and I spent a lot of time just imagining the perfect day together. We’d create these jokes and say ‘wouldn’t it be fun it this happened’ and we realised a lot of them COULD happen! It was surreal standing there the day of and wondering how it all came together. The hardest part was that there’s just so much you don’t know.when you’re largely DIY-ing the event. You’ll run into frustrating snags every step of the way. Eventually we tapped in a wedding planner to be the air-traffic controller on the day and things took a turn for the better immediately. I wouldn’t underestimate the investment.”

“There’s nothing major we’d change,” she concluded, “maybe I regret not having had a videographer, but beyond that, it was pretty perfect. My advice to other couples is SPLURGE ON PHOTOGRAPHY. I mean it. You’re going to look at a boatload of expenses and figure out where to cut costs – don’t let photography be that place. Working with Anna was a dream, she understood the vibe of the day, she fully understood what it was I was trying to capture and create. Had we met a relatively non-traditional event with a traditional photographer, it would have been disaster. Imagine your mantel, imagine the story you want it to tell and find a photographer who is in line with that – and then drop the change for it. Also get a day of events coordinator if you don’t pull the trigger on a wedding planner. Free yourself up to enjoy the day if you do nothing else.”