Lucky in Love
Audra Redden and Matt Lucas
Fort Smith – March 31, 2012
Newlywed Matt Lucas has some advice for future grooms: If your bride-to-be hasn’t made finding her wedding dress a top priority in planning your wedding, do everything you can to encourage her to do so.
Matt and his recent bride, Audra Redden, who now live in Roland, agree they probably would have had to turn down a free wedding ceremony if she hadn't found her wedding dress the weekend before winning the prize.
Matt proposed to Audra on Christmas Day last year and they chose July 14 as their wedding date.
But while Audra was attending bridal fairs in December and January, and signing up for all sorts of freebies, she and Matt won a free wedding ceremony from Harvest Time in Fort Smith. The church was offering eight free weddings to promote and encourage healthy marriages that begin with a church wedding. But all eight weddings had to take place at the church on the same day, March 31.
“Matt already had our honeymoon trip planned, but I'm such a procrastinator, you can't imagine,” Audra said. “I was already stressed out because I had barely started planning our July wedding. When we won the free wedding and it had to take place on March 31 and I only had seven weeks to plan for it, I wasn't sure I could do it. We had to let our family and friends know – especially the ones out of town – that we were moving our plans up by nearly four months. All that was stressful enough, and if I hadn't just bought my dress, I don't think I could have done it.”
It truly was a blessing, she added, to receive free, professionally prepared wedding invitations, flowers, photography, videography, music and other services that included pre-ceremony preparation, pre-wedding counseling and the wedding ceremony officiated by the church’s lead pastor, Marty Sloan.
Finding a reception venue was still a challenge, however.
“I spent most of my time stressing out about not being able to find a reception venue. I couldn't believe how far ahead they're booked,” Audra said. “Finally, I discovered the Fort Smith Convention Center Annex and got it. Then, I hired a reception decorator. That was money well spent for us – she did a great job.”
Audra and Matt also recommend hiring a videographer for the entire reception and a different person to be in charge of music for dancing. Audra said her uncle Roger Redden handled the music and lights for their reception and did an amazing job because he had the couple’s interests at heart.
“There were at least 20 kids from 2 to 13 years old on the dance floor at our reception and they were so much fun,” Audra said. “One of my best memories of the reception is the little boys who were second and third cousins telling me they thought I was a princess – they had never seen me all dressed up before that night.”
For couples planning their weddings, here’s a summary of Matt’s tips:
• Most important three: Get the dress. Get the reception location. Hire a decorator for the reception.
• Special tip for bridegrooms: Do not sing to the bride while you’re doing your first dance. Photos of that will not turn out well. Matt said, “I even made Brad Paisley sound bad.” Also, your videographer preferably should not be a family member.
• No. 1, overall tip: Don’t be stressed out. Just enjoy the day. “My only stress about our wedding was Audra. I knew if I could help her keep her stress in control, everything would be fine.”
Matt and Audra enjoy watching the video of their wedding and have attended some services at Harvest Time since they married.
“We’re thankful to everyone who helped make our wedding day so special. We were very blessed,” Matt said. He also said taking his vows with Audra in a church ceremony was a meaningful experience, “especially the part about being together till death do us part.”
“My grandparents Floyd and Georgia Pilgrim just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary,” Matt said with a big grin. “I want us to try to match or beat that!”
STORY BY LINDA SEUBOLD
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY BY MASON KESNER PHOTO
Bride’s dress – David's Bridal, Fayetteville, Ark.
Bridesmaid dresses – Dillard's, Fort Smith.
Bridal party hair – Paradise Salon, Roland, Okla.
Cakes – Harps, 74th Street, Fort Smith
Caterer – Sister's Gourmet Bistro, Van Buren, Ark.
Flowers – Expressions Flowers, Fort Smith
Reception venue – Fort Smith Convention Center Annex
Reception Decorator – Janece Morehead, Save it for the Honeymoon, Fort Smith
Rentals – Unforgettables, Fort Smith
Photography – Mason Kesner Photo, Fort Smith