Chelsey Roberts and Josh Casey
Liberty, Okla. – Aug. 13, 2011
Planning an August outdoor wedding in Oklahoma can be risky. But Chelsey Roberts had her heart set on marrying Josh Casey in the backyard of her parents' rural Liberty, Okla., home, with her minister dad, Johnny Roberts, officiating.
Last summer's record-breaking heat wave and a wedding eve storm that rained out her rehearsal threatened to ruin Chelsey's carefully planned special day. But on Saturday, the weather magically behaved and the bride's vintage-themed dream wedding came true.
Treasured antiques and keepsakes from the families of the bride and groom - including furniture, lamps, a typewriter, milk glass cake platters, doors from a great-grandmother's old home and even a grandfather's classic 1957 Chevy - were prominently displayed or used in the wedding or reception.
"We wanted to honor the memory and legacy of some of our family members by using a few of their things that have been passed down," Chelsey explained. "We used a Bible and wedding ring from a grandpa who spent over 30 years traveling from Muldrow, Okla., to Hartford, Ark., every week to preach; another Bible from a great-great-grandpa who was also a preacher; a cane from another great-grandpa and an old tambourine played in church by yet another great-grandpa."
Involving current family members in the wedding also was important to the bride and groom. Chelsey's brothers, Luke and Jake, were groomsmen for Josh, whose brother, Merv, was his best man. Josh's sisters, Caitlyn Casey and Abbi Paulson, were two of Chelsey's bridesmaids.
"My family means the world to me and I'm very close to all my cousins, so they all had a special place in the wedding, from ushers to bridesmaids," Chelsey said. "My cousin Zach played his ukulele and sang a medley he wrote for us while our wedding party walked down the aisle. When my brother Jake sang a song he wrote for us at our reception, there wasn't a dry eye."
Chelsey's mom, Allison, said one of her favorite moments of the ceremony was "watching Josh and Chels as they took communion and knowing that it was their heart's desire to put God first in their lives and marriage."
A crush on a college boy
Chelsey had a "crush" on Josh for nearly four years before they dated. She was still in high school and he was a freshman at the University of Arkansas and best friends with Jake, who introduced them at a Razorback football game in Fayetteville in 2006.
"That's when the crush began," Chelsey said. "Throughout college, Josh and Jake remained friends and I would see Josh from time to time, but I was always younger and thought we could never be together. Little did I know, he had the same feelings. Looking back at it after we did start dating reminded us of one of those movies where two people keep encountering each other but don't connect - and everyone watching the movie wanting to scream, 'Just get together already!' "
In November 2010, while Chelsey and Josh were both still UofA students, Josh showed up at a meeting of a student ministry Chelsey was involved with. That time, "sparks flew" between the two and they finally began dating, Chelsey said.
Within five months, Josh was having the "dad talk" with pastor Roberts and plotting an intricate, surprise proposal that included fireworks exploding in the skies all around them when she said yes. Four months later, they were getting married.
The couple now lives in Fayetteville, where Josh is a registered nurse and Chelsey is a professional photographer.
Advice from the bride and groom
Chelsey's advice to other brides planning a home wedding is that while hers turned out as wonderful and special as she dreamed it would, it wasn't necessarily any less expensive or less work. In fact, she said, it was probably more work.
Keeping the lawn watered during last summer's heat wave and keeping people off the grass so it would look pretty for the big event became daily chores. The family also had to make sure there would be adequate parking and shaded seating available for 600 invited guests.
"My biggest tip is, make your wedding the way you want it," Chelsey advised. "Be original and match your wedding to your own taste, not how someone else might say it should be. The same goes for your dress. Also, choose a great photographer. Your photographs will be a huge part of how you remember your day. Surround yourself with people you love and take time to enjoy yourself. You're marrying the love of your life, so don't let the little things stress you out. It's OK if not everything goes as planned."
Josh's tips are concise: "Support, encourage and stay out of the way."
But, he added, try to spend time with and get to know your new family. Show your appreciation to people who worked hard to make your day special. Consider a remote-controlled helicopter as your thank-you gift to the bride's family. The one he gave Chelsey's family was, and still is, a big hit. Don't leave your car unlocked during the wedding - he's still finding confetti strips in every nook and cranny of his car.
One of Chelsey's favorite wedding memories is of dancing at the reception with her dad to the song "Butterfly Kisses."
"That's been our song together for as long as I can remember and before it ended, my dad brought my mom up with us. So, I got to spend a special moment with two of the most important people in my life encouraging me in the new journey I was beginning."
As the newlyweds left their party, a transportation surprise was waiting.
"When my brothers and I were growing up, we always had golf carts we played on and learned to drive on, so I was thrilled to see one of our golf carts all dressed up for our getaway," Chelsey said.
But they did need cars and planes for making their next getaway - a honeymoon trip to Cancun, Mexico.
STORY BY LINDA SEUBOLD
WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY BY BENFIELD PHOTOGRAPY
Bride's dress – Danielle's Bridal, Clarksville, Ark.
Bridesmaid dresses – Beau's Bridal, Fort Smith
Bridal party flowers – Collections Floral, Mary Charlton, Fort Smith
Catering – Golden Corral, Fort Smith
Cakes – Sweet Boutique, Van Buren, Ark.
Flowers – Sam's Club, Fort Smith
Rentals – Unforgettables, Fort Smith
Tents – B&A Tents, Greenwood, Ark.
Music – MS Soundworks, Fort Smith
Photography – Benfield Photography, Fayetteville, Ark.