College is often the setting for many exciting experiences, but for Meghan Sikkel and Ryan Chuang, their time at Southern Methodist University (SMU) was positively life altering. “SMU is a very special place for Ryan and me, not only because it is where our relationship began and developed, but because it’s also where we grew together spiritually,” says Meghan. “It was the perfect place to get engaged.” Prepared with an iconic little blue box that contained a sparkling diamond engagement ring, Ryan surprised Meghan on campus in front of Dallas Hall, and she excitedly accepted his proposal of marriage.
A single venue immediately came to mind for the couple’s vow exchange, making the selection utterly effortless. “We had a nuptial mass at Perkins Chapel, the same church we attended in college,” says Ryan, who converted to Catholicism while studying at SMU. The priest who presided over Ryan’s baptism and confirmation at the same house of worship was also on hand to officiate the wedding. “That was very special,” the groom concedes.
An abundance of blooms greeted guests upon arrival. “Floral designs framed the pathway to the chapel, and garlands lined the handrails that led up the front stairs,” recounts Meghan. Wreaths of flowers were positioned on the front doors, and the sanctuary was brimming with hydrangeas and roses. “It took my breath away,” says the bride.
Although the floral design was indeed dazzling, the groom only had eyes for his beloved. “Seeing my wife for the first time [on our wedding day] was an incredible moment,” he recalls. “I knew I was going to be emotional, but I didn’t realize I would be that emotional. It just hit me, especially when I saw her walk down the aisle.”
The exquisite ballroom of a luxury hotel was the romantic site for the couple’s wedding reception. “We aimed for a classic style with personalized touches,” describes Meghan, who incorporated a custom wedding logo into many of the details. Skillful lighting accented the room, and blossoms were lavished throughout the space. “Floral arches lined the entryways to the ballroom; floral runners ran the length of tabletops and lined the stage; and flowers also embellished the ‘Crystal Rain’ chandelier situated above the dance floor,” she illustrates.
Elaborate centerpieces also decorated tables, and fresh blooms separated each layer of the couple’s traditional white wedding cake. “It had seven layers with detailing modeled after the lace on my gown and veil,” says the bride, while the groom’s confection was a reflection of Ryan’s background and interests. “I wanted to incorporate everything about me,” he says of the unique design. “I incorporated Busch Stadium (St. Louis is my hometown); Shiner Bock (my favorite beer and symbol of my new Texas life); SMU, where I attended undergrad; and Rice University, where I will be obtaining my MBA. It was great!”
In addition, guests were treated to a “His & Hers” candy buffet and tray-passed fortune cookies complete with custom messages that teased the couple’s after-party, “Club Chuang.”
“Because our ceremony and reception were so traditional, we wanted the after-party to be incredibly colorful and give off a club-like feel,” explains Meghan. A lion dance (a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture) marked the transition by leading guests to a separate area of the ballroom. “This was a nod to Ryan’s Chinese heritage,” acknowledges the bride. “During this time, a mariachi band also joined the celebration and performed for guests as a nod to my Mexican heritage.” Paper lanterns and flowers brightened the space, and a DJ kept the party going until 4AM.
“I know it’s common advice to tell brides not to become wrapped up in the details of planning, but I think it is important to really think about – and act on – anything you have always envisioned for your wedding,” Meghan confirms. “Looking back, there isn’t anything I would have done differently – it was truly special and filled with love.”