Life changed for Cole Arledge one day during his freshman year of high school. He saw a beautiful, older girl studying by herself in the library. Although Cole had no idea who she was, he experienced an unfamiliar feeling – what he describes as “nervous and blown away at the same time.” After asking around school who she was, he learned her name was Sarah Aragona and gathered the courage to join her in the library for study sessions. A year later, Cole told his best friend that one day he was going to marry Sarah.

Of course, it was too early for Cole to pop the question then, but eight years later, the timing finally seemed right. “I realized that life could be a real journey, and I wanted someone to be with me through it all. I knew Sarah was perfect,” he explains. Cole bought an engagement ring from the same jeweler who provided his mother’s ring 30 years earlier, and proposed at Sarah’s family home during what she thought was his birthday party. “Everyone was there: my family, his family, and he had called a few of our friends and extended family to come over. It was an engagement/birthday party all in one!” Sarah exclaims.

The couple wanted to marry in a comfortable and unique environment that held significance for them both, so they decided to have the celebration at Sarah’s parents’ home – a charming estate overlooking serene Lake Austin. Sarah maintains that she is not a “pink girl,” so the entire event was planned with a color scheme of neutrals, including light coral, taupe, and shades of white. Guests took their seats for the ceremony on rows of ivory benches that faced a round podium at the lake’s edge, underneath a cluster of stately trees. Tall, modern vases filled with calla lilies elegantly sat atop the stage, which was encircled by vanilla hydrangeas.

After a procession of bridesmaids clad in full-length taupe gowns and groomsmen wearing matching ties walked down the aisle, Sarah made her grand entrance through two walls of ivory hydrangeas and roses that flanked the doorway to the backyard. She looked radiant in a modern, strapless ball gown embellished with a silver beaded bodice and flowing silk skirt. To the couple’s delight, one of Cole’s best friends officiated. In addition to their stellar officiant, Cole says that the nontraditional pop songs Sarah selected to accompany the ceremony were the highlights of the entire wedding. “The music was so genuine and none of it was picked because it was ‘supposed’ to be played at a wedding,” he affirms.

Guests needed only travel a few steps to the reception, held in an airy white tent that allowed lake views and sun to shine through. Rows of long rectangular tables were adorned with simple ivory linens and small arrangements of snowy candles and neutral flowers in crystal vases, which were kept minimal to accommodate the family-style dinner. Lucite chairs seamlessly blended into the breathtaking scene, while contemporary-style couches mixed with high-backed armchairs provided comfortable seating outside the tent. During dinner, several of the newlyweds’ family members delivered speeches that guests raved about for the rest of the night. “Sarah’s sister was fall-out-of-your-chair funny, and both of my brothers delivered awesome messages despite telling everyone how ‘nervous’ they were to get up there,” Cole laughs.

After dinner, the couple cut two cakes: a light-pink, flowered confection that alternated between chocolate-chip cake with salted-caramel icing and vanilla cake with cream-cheese icing; and a German chocolate groom’s cake that resembled an ice cooler filled with beer. The podium used for the ceremony was transformed into a dessert station, so guests could gather additional sweet treats while admiring the flowers up close. Directly following the cake cutting, an awe-inspiring fireworks show illuminated the sky. Taking a few minutes to be alone, the newlyweds briefly sailed around the lake in a boat labeled “Just Married,” then returned to continue celebrating late into the night.

“Unique, personal moments are crucial to creating a truly memorable wedding,” Sarah affirms. She encourages couples to stay true to their own personalities. “It’s so worth it to be yourself and do what you want instead of trying to be traditional or wonder what others will think if you do something out of the ordinary,” Sarah says. Cole admits that having previously attended only a couple of weddings, the outpouring of excitement and love he and Sarah received on their big day was surprising. “It was one of the most energizing days, if not the most energizing day, of my whole life,” he marvels. “Standing near the lake with the sun on your face and officially becoming husband and wife is just about as cool as it gets.”