Traditional Church Ceremony + Forest-Inspired Reception in Houston

Ashley and Lucas

Photographed by: Michael Carr PhotographyLocation: Houston, Texas, United States

After meeting at work, Lucas Mendez invited Ashley Rovere to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. “We talked for hours and hours, and the conversations were intelligent and engaging. We just didn’t want the night to end,” he remembers. As their relationship evolved, Ashley’s mother gifted Lucas a diamond from a pendant that Ashley would borrow from her when she was younger. When the time came to propose, Lucas had the sentimental jewel set into a stunning, custom engagement ring that almost didn’t make it onto the bride-to-be’s finger. He had planned to slip the bauble under Ashley’s napkin for her to find at dinner with her parents one night; however, when she returned from the bathroom, the waiter grabbed the napkin to offer her before she was able to discover the ring on her own. “He started immediately apologizing thinking he had destroyed the proposal. I was just so happy that I didn’t care!” she exclaims.

To ensure loved ones would be able to attend the festivities, the couple chose to keep the wedding location close to home. In fact, Ashley and Lucas were married at the same church that the bride grew up attending. On the afternoon of the traditional ceremony, the altar was flanked by two gilt vessels filled with lush floral arrangements in white, green, and blush hues that sat atop mirrored pedestals, and the aisle was lined with lanterns that flickered with candlelight. Flower girls held baskets adorned with moss and filled with vanilla rose petals, and a handsome ring bearer carried a pillow made of moss to hint at the nature-inspired affair to come.

The bride walked gracefully down the aisle to the melodies of a string quartet and organist, who played Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” Ashley was beautiful in a lace gown with a long, flowing veil and carried a bouquet of roses, peonies, ranunculus blossoms, lilies of the valley, orchids, and stock that appeared freshly picked from the garden. Gleaming, she met her groom at the altar for a special service conducted by a family friend in the same spot where the officiant’s father baptized Ashley as a baby.

Since the bride had always dreamed of having a wedding set in a forest, wedding consultant Ann Whittington and her team recreated the lush look indoors for the reception. Guests passed through a hallway lined with moss and adorned with flowers that draped from the ceiling on their way to a stunning ballroom, which was illuminated almost entirely by candlelight. Round tables were swathed in neutral-toned linens embellished with light green fabric leaves and topped with a variety of centerpieces that had a natural appeal. The first group was decorated with trees comprised of branches and verdure set in a bed of moss and topped with blooms; the second featured pillar candles housed in lanterns and encircled by blossoms and handpainted gold butterflies; and finally, the third style displayed mossy runners bedecked with fresh florals, candles, and butterflies. “We really wanted to have different heights and tablescapes to make everything interesting,” Ashley shares. “My jaw actually dropped when I saw the room for the first time.”

Following the sit-down dinner service, attendees enjoyed slices of a picturesque confection. The impressive six-tiered cake was displayed on a mirrored table beneath a lavish, wrought-iron structure embellished with cream hydrangeas, peach roses, and cascading garlands of ivory orchids. Each layer was frosted with white buttercream icing and decorated with hand-sculpted sugar gum roses, as well as elegant “lace” designed to resemble the details of Ashley’s wedding dress. Loved ones took home delectable French macaron favors displayed in small boxes tied with a note from the bride and groom.

As a surprise for the newlyweds and their guests, the bride’s parents shared a same-day edit video of the evening, and both Ashley and Lucas agree that watching their love story unfold in front of their friends and family was one of the most memorable moments of the evening. The couple was amazed by how many details were involved in their big day and admit that they would not have survived without the help of their wedding planner. “Go with your instincts and don’t worry about what other people may think of your choices!” Ashley suggests. Lucas agrees that the evening went off without a hitch: “It was a perfect day.”