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Real Wedding | Leah & Stephen

Bride:  Leah Aigner
Groom:  Stephen Yancy
Wedding gown style: Vera Wang Luxe-Hilary
Wedding date: September 1, 2012
Boutique purchased:  Ever After, Miami FL
Location:  New Harmony, Indiana at The Rapp Owen Granary
Photographer:  Jordan Barclay

First things first, where did you meet your husband?  How did you know he was the one?

Stephen and I first met in Jr High School in Lynnville, Indiana.  The first moment I laid on eyes on him I had a crush.  He was such the epitome of cute and cool, that I actually made it my goal to make him my boyfriend.  After sometime and convincing we starting dating in 8th grade. Even at a young age I knew we had something special, but most Jr High relationships aren’t supposed to last once you enter high school, and we let the statistics convince us it wasn’t meant to be.  Throughout high school we kept each other’s interest, and by senior year we we began dating again.  However, by that time I had already committed to go to fashion school  in Miami, FL and once again, the odds were against us.  So we decided not to use the terms “boyfriend and girlfriend” , and just enjoyed the time we had together until the school year was over.  But one week before Christmas 2004, Stephen brought me one red rose every day to my house, explaining they would all make sense on Christmas.   On Christmas day, he handed me one artificial rose.  Stephen proceeded to tell me that the seven roses he had given that week represented the seven months we had together before we both left for college.  He said that six of those roses would die and eventually mean nothing, but he was hoping this rose wouldn’t.  Inside the artificial rose he pulled out a promise ring, he told me that our relationship meant more than just a few months together, and asked me if I’d be his girlfriend.  That was the moment I knew he was the one.  Needless to say, I said yes.  We spent the next four years in a long distance relationship as I went to school in Miami, FL and he attended Indiana University.  It wasn’t until July 2009 that Stephen joined me in Miami, FL to finally start to live out our fairy tale.  It was a long, long, journey and took a lot of sacrifice, but it taught us that even the most unlikely of odds can be overcome if the love is strong enough. And for him, I would do it all over again.

How did he propose? Tell us the story!

It was March 20th 2010 on my 23rd Birthday.  Stephen being the hopeless romantic he is planned a wonderful evening in celebration.  We had a delicious seafood dinner on the Miami River and then knowing my love of musical plays, surprised me with box seat tickets to see Jersey Boys.  After the play he took me on an evening picnic to the beach to enjoy wine and birthday cake.   It was the perfect evening for a picnic, the weather was amazing and there was the most beautiful full moon that lit up the beach.  After an adorable attempt to light birthday candles and then enjoying our cake, he held me in his arms and said that after all this time apart he didn’t know what we were waiting for anymore, and he asked me to be his wife.  He then got on one knee and presented me with a ring that I pointed out at a jewelry store 3 months prior.  With no better way to describe it, I became a hysterical crying mess of joy and after a few moments I was finally able to make out the word, “Yes”.

Once the wedding plans started, what made you decide on a Vera Wang gown?

Selecting my wedding gown was probably one of the easiest decisions I made throughout the entire wedding planning process.   Since March 2007, I had been working at the amazing bridal and evening wear boutique, Ever After.  Over the years I had the amazing opportunity to work with the most gorgeous creations from the greatest bridal designers in the industry.  However, the intricate details,  beautiful silhouettes, and soft feminine laces of Vera Wang bridal always spoke the most to my personal taste as a hopeful bride-to-be.  In April 2010,  one month after my engagement, I attended the New York bridal market with Ever After owner,  Camille Russler.  I had always attended New York market with much enthusiasm, but I knew this trip would be different as I would be viewing each gown with a much more personal point of view.  I remember going in to watch the Vera Wang Spring 2011 fashion show, Camille and I had taken seats across from each other on the runway and anxiously waited for the show to start.  Each gown that came down the runway was more gorgeous than the last, and it was amazing to see all of the beautiful touches of lace each gown had to offer.  Then, “Hilary” came down the runway.  The minute the model stepped into the lights of runway in that gorgeous dress, Camille and I locked eyes with each other.  Without saying a word, we both immediately knew that gown would be the perfect dress for my wedding day.   In bridal we talk about “the moment”,  the second you know that you’ve found the perfect dress.  For me, seeing that gown on the runway, was my “moment”.

Still, following the code of good bridal stylists everywhere, no final decision was made until I personally tried on the dress.  I anxiously waited three months until our Vera Wang trunk show in July.  After Saturday appointments were finished, I tried on the beautiful gown for our wonderful Ever After staff and the consensus was quite clear.  It was indeed, the perfect gown.

How did you accessorize to make your wedding day unique?

I accessorized my bridal look by adding a beautiful Vera Wang grosgrain sash to give a little touch of fashion.   I also selected a vintage style set of earrings, bracelet and hair piece to add to the rustic theme of my wedding. For my shoes,  I selected a very adorable pair of Vera Wang Lavender heels with crystal floral accents that complemented the lace pattern of my gown (And were most importantly under 3 inches so I wouldn’t tower over my husband to-be!).  Lastly, I  completed the look with a dark ivory Vera Wang runway tulle veil for a soft, feminine finishing touch.

What was the inspiration or theme for your wedding?

The theme and inspiration for my wedding was “Rustic Country”.  In the community where Stephen and I grew up, farming is very prominent.   The history of the surrounding towns were built around the world of farming, as well as the history of my personal ancestors.  I had grew up around farms my whole life, and I figured what better way to pay to homage to our history and our future than by making it our wedding day theme.

Also by selecting this theme and holding it near our home town, we were able to use personal sources which made the day even more unique and special.   We used straw bails from my grandfather’s farm for  decoration and additional seating for the ceremony .   The vintage tractor used for our bridal party hayride was one that my father personally restored.  My mother made homemade jam for our wedding favors using fruit from her garden.  Vintage items used for our decorations came from local antique shops.  Our wedding cake was a delicious spice cake of Stephen’s grandmother’s recipe. And all of my bridal party bouquets and decorations were made of wheat and dried local flowers.  It was such a fun experience putting a personal touch on so many elements of our wedding day, that not only meant so much to us, but to our family and guests as well.

Did you stay true to the Old English wedding rhyme: Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. If so, what were yours?

Yes.  My something old was an embroidered handkerchief worn by Stephen’s grandmother and  mother on their wedding day.   My something new was, of course, my Vera Wang bridal gown.  My something borrowed was my wedding day jewelry.  My something blue was a blue Ever After tag sewn into my wedding gown ( A traditional piece Ever After provides to all of their lucky brides!)

What tips do you have for new brides picking out their wedding dress?

The selection of my wedding gown was an easy one only because of the fact that I had spent years working in the bridal industry.  I had come to know exactly what I personally wanted in a wedding gown: what silhouette flattered me, what fabric I liked, the theme I wanted it to compliment, etc. and once I saw it, I knew.  The tips I have to give are not only from what I discovered about personally selecting the right gown for myself, but for the years I spent helping  other brides select the gown of their dreams.

First, always be open-minded.  It’s absolutely a good idea to go into a bridal appointment with some ideas in mind of what your looking for in a wedding gown, but don’t shun away all suggestions.  You may think that you know exactly what you want in a gown, but the truth is, you honestly don’t know until you try!  The gown you had your eye on in that magazine maybe less than mediocre when you try it in-person.  You may have also sworn off wearing satin,  but you could be missing the opportunity to try a gorgeous gown that may compliment you in all the right places  Try different silhouettes, different fabrics, and let how you feel in the gown be the deciding factor of what you identify with.

Second, keep the number of opinions to a minimum.  This is an important decision in your life and of course EVERYONE wants to be a part of it, but bringing your entire family to select your bridal gown can be a recipe for disaster.  In my opinion,  three people should be the most anyone brings to a bridal appointment.  Whether it is your mother, your sister, a friend, the people you take with you to your bridal appointment should be the people whose opinions you value the most.  At the end of the day,  you will be one wearing the gown and the decision should rest in you and the ones you hold most dear.  As for everyone else, invite them to one of your bridal gown fittings so they can still feel included in the process- AFTER the decision has been made.

Lastly, every brides’ “moment” is different.  As I had mentioned earlier, that when it comes to selecting a bridal gown, many brides talk about experiencing “the moment,” the point when they’ve realized they’ve found the perfect gown.  This experience is greatly anticipated by most brides, and for that reason, many new brides go into the gown selecting process thinking that if they don’t explode into to tears when they find a great gown, it isn’t the one for them.  This is truly not the case in all scenarios.  Every bride is different and therefore makes decisions differently.  That moment of confidence that you’ve found the right gown can come in all different shapes and sizes.

 

What was your favorite part of the day? And, are there any other anecdotes you would like to share?

My favorite part of the day was honestly walking down the aisle.   It is the one point of the day that I truly remember quite vividly.  Right before I was getting ready to walk down the aisle, I was standing with my dad anxiously listening to the music, waiting for the change of song to give our cue to start walking.  My dad looks at me and says “Are you ready?”.  I was so concentrated on listening to the music for the cue, I replied “No Dad, not yet. We have to wait for the music to change.”  He looked at me puzzled and said, “No Leah, are you ready for this?”  I was so caught up in making the perfect entrance, I had completely forgot to take in the moment and focus on the joy of getting married.   Because of my wonderful Dad, I let all my anxieties of wedding stress  go and took in every second of walking down that aisle.  I remember seeing all of the faces of family and friends who came to share the day with us.  I remember finding Stephen at the end of the aisle, locking eyes and then exchanging the biggest smiles, so happy that our big day had finally come.   I remember seeing the tears in the eyes of my bridesmaids as I reached the end of the aisle, and them silently apologizing for crying so soon.  Every second of that brief moment was truly treasured, and it is a memory that I’m so thankful to have for the rest of my life.  Thanks Dad!

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