Austin & Brooke
First Meeting – November 2015
First Date – May 22, 2016
Engagement Date – January 28, 2017
Wedding Date – October 14, 2017
However, Brooke was determined to befriend Austin and from the final curtain that November the two were inseparable friends. “I didn’t know why at the time, but I was so drawn to him. I thought, ‘I want him to be my best friend’,” Brooke noted.
Their friendship and shared interests blossomed over the following months. Finally, on a trip to Holland, MI—the bride’s favorite place in the world—Austin decided that he loved Brooke as much more than a friend, and he ought to confess his feelings. Austin remarked that “once I saw Brooke’s happy place, I saw her. I knew that I loved her, and I couldn’t keep it in any more. I wanted to marry her.”
The news that the two had decided to date came as no surprise to their friends, who had been waiting for the news since the two of them first met. Both Austin and Brooke knew that they were agreeing not to a date, but to a future together. Three days after their first date, Austin made a pinky-promise to marry Brooke, and the strength of that promise would lead to their ceremony of lifelong commitment a year later.
Austin did not immediately fall head over heels in love with Brooke when he first met her in the Fall of 2015. In fact, despite their acting in a play together at Hillsdale College, he could not for the life of him remember the name of “the redhead who was always carrying a ton of books and wearing green headphones.”
“Austin—a friend of mine from our middle and high school days—showed up at my house unannounced during the summer after our freshman year of college with Brooke beaming beside him. He introduced her with, ‘This is Brooke! I’m going to marry her,’” Grace, a Grooms-woman remembers, “And he did. Their relationship reminds me that in a world telling us to keep our options open, there are some things worth being sure about.”
During their early relationship, Austin began to write Brooke fairy tales based on their story. The tales of knights and queens where love always triumphed filled the pages of a leather-bound book, but their real love story ran much deeper than words on a page. It made them each a better version of themselves, and they began to grow and dream together.
Their dreams and fairytales would become a reality on January 28th, 2017.
Although those closest to the couple were supportive of their relationship, many thought the couple was too young and becoming too serious too quickly. Austin and Brooke would not be dissuaded, however, and started planning their future together that August.
Brooke awoke on January 28th and looked at her alarm clock, which mocked her with the early hour she saw. Her mood would not be dampened, even if the sun was only just beginning to peak out of the horizon. It was the first time Austin and she were returning to Holland, MI since the winter had hit.
“Nice. Dress nice,” he had told her the night before. The frigid air called for snow pants and a marshmallow coat, but she grabbed a dress and heels from the closet instead. As she made her way out of the house and into the truck, she noticed how quiet Austin was. “I thought something was wrong, or that he was mad at me,” Brooke remembers.
The two-hour drive to Holland was quieter than usual, and their breakfast at Alpen Rose Restaurant was awkward and silent. Nevertheless, Brooke was determined to make the most of their day in Holland together. At least until Austin suggested going for a hike up eight flights of stairs along the sand dunes of Lake Michigan.
In a dress and heels, complaining the whole way, Brooke clung to Austin as they ascended the snowy stairs. “She kept yelling that there better be donuts at the top,” Austin recalls.
Once on the top landing, Austin dropped on one knee and opened an upside down blue box revealing a pearl ring he had made, and asked Brooke, officially, to marry him. Through tears that froze on her face Brooke said “yes!”
“I wanted to propose to Brooke the way I fell in love with her: in her favorite place, at her favorite restaurant, doing all the things we did that first time. I just didn’t count on those steps being so icy,” Austin reflects.
The Celebrations - Bridal Shower
A bachelorette weekend was hosted by Maid of Honor, Madeline Martinez. The ladies stayed and played at the New York Hotel in Las Vegas in late June. Fried chicken, shopping, good conversation, and a risqué Circ show made for an unforgettable weekend with those closest to the bride.
Fast forwarding to October 12th on the week of the wedding, Brooke had an intimate bridal lingerie shower in place of the traditional bridal shower.
The shower was held at the mid-century house in which the bridal party stayed for the week. Apple cobbler and ice-cream filled every plate and gift-bags full of tissue paper and lingerie littered the floor during the all-women shower.
The Celebrations - Week-Long House Party
Friends came from all over the country for Brooke and Austin’s wedding. In order to maximize the time everyone had together, Jodie, the mother of the bride, rented a large mid-century home to house the groomsmen, bridesmaids, and family.
“I remember the shenanigans that came with so many people sharing one house. We tried to fit five of us in one bed because we were so excited to all be together again,” Madeline, Maid of Honor, recalled.
The week overflowed with fun, food, and laughter.
The Rehearsal Dinner
After making many new fond memories that week, the night before the wedding, Brooke and Austin wanted to share the prologue of their next chapter with their wedding party and family.
The rehearsal dinner was held at Alpen Rose Restaurant in Holland, MI, where the couple first fell in love a year prior.
Austin’s mother, Ashley, hosted the dinner, which was a plated affair of bourbon glazed chicken and herb roasted salmon. On each plate, as a favor, was chocolate toffee in the shape of Texas—the groom’s home state.
Little touches like this one made for a truly personal event for the intimate dinner of 28 people, all of whom had traveled to share in Austin and Brooke’s special weekend. Following dinner, Steve, father of the groom, gave a congratulatory toast.
The Big Day
Saturday, October 14, 2017 was here.
The wedding party awoke at 8:00 am, some a little worse for wear, to the sound of pouring rain in their rental house. Boys were banished to the basement and girls to the top floor.
Jodie, mother of the bride, called the girls down first for a homemade breakfast of southwestern hash, coffee, and mimosas. As a surprise, she had cut fresh hydrangeas from the yard and brought them upstairs to Brooke once everyone had been served.
The wedding would start at 6:00 pm, which allowed the bridal party time to enjoy hair and makeup and for the rain to clear up for the outdoor ceremony. With the girls all ready by 2:30 pm, Brooke gifted each bridesmaid with a hand-chosen pair of pearl earrings.
“Do we move the wedding?” was the question on Brooke’s mind all morning. At 2:30 pm a decision had to be made concerning the thunderstorm outside.
“I kept telling myself, ‘It’ll clear up. It just has to.’ It didn’t, and I couldn’t have cared less. I was marrying my best friend, so we moved the ceremony to the reception space,” Brooke reminisces.
With the top down vintage car and the outdoor ceremony cancelled, the wedding party piled into cars and left for the reception site, Seven Steps Up at 5:00pm.
Brooke and Austin wanted to honor both their Christian upbringings and Brooke’s Scotts-Irish heritage with their ceremony. A traditional Irish hand-fasting took place in a circle created by the wedding party, with Brooke and Austin at the center. Hand-fasting is a declaration of intent where the couple clearly states that they are making an eternal bond and marrying of their own free will.
Daniel Hieber, a philosophy professor and step-father of the bride, was ordained for the occasion of officiating their wedding. He conducted the ceremony in a way that only someone intimate with the bride and groom could.
With their hands bound in rope, Austin and Brooke exchanged vows they had written for one another. A symbolic exchange of rings followed.
The deeply personal ceremony spoke to the deep love not only between the bride and groom, but between their 50 friends and family in attendance.
“What will always stay with me about our wedding ceremony was this: that everyone in attendance stood in a circle around us. It was very intimate. And that’s one of the incredible things about Brooke’s and my relationship: the closer we grew to each other, the closer we grew to everyone around us. Our wedding ceremony perfectly reflected that,” Austin said.
The reception, a true celebration of love and friendship, began as soon as the couple was pronounced husband and wife.
The night continued at their backup venue, Seven Steps Up in Spring Lake, MI. The music of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole danced across the room, as cocktails were served and guests began to mingle.
The warm and saturated lighting dimmed making the room feel smaller, and everyone feel closer. The guests buzzed with conversation and laughter as they found their seats. “Seven Steps Up is a small concert venue that has a maximum capacity of 70 people for events. It was the perfect size for our day,” Brooke remarked.
The classy and warm affair was reminiscent of a 1940’s soiree, with champagne, charcuterie and jazz. In lieu of cake as the main dessert, Bonnie Shaw, a friend of the bride and groom made hand pies. Apple, cherry, pecan, and pumpkin pies filled the dessert table along with cinnamon rolls and hummingbird cake.
Brooke’s favorite singer-songwriter, Erick Baker, led the evening with sincere music that complemented the day seamlessly.
The evening drew to a close with a quiet blessing rang in with a bell to wish the couple well in their new life together.
The Vendor Team
Rehearsal Dinner Site: Alpen Rose Restaurant, Holland MI
Ceremony Site: Duncan Woods, Grand Haven, MI
Backup Ceremony Site: Seven Steps Up, Spring Lake, MI
Reception Site: Seven Steps Up, Spring Lake, MI
Rental House: VRBO
Day of Coordinator: Jessica Lacey
Officiant: Daniel Hieber, bride’s step-father
Caterer: Bride’s Family
Cake or other Dessert: Bonnie Shaw, family friend and Marie Catrib’s, Grand Rapids, MI
Florals: Smith’s Flowers, Hillsdale, Mi
Photography: Brad Glidewell Photography, Eldon, MO
Music for Ceremony: Micah Heinz, violin and Heather Woodhouse, flute
Music for Reception: Erick Baker, Knoxville, TN
Hair: Tina Smythe, Springfield, MO