2024 February Featured Bride

"I will recommend to any bride I can to pour your energy into things that are important to you and your guests, and let everything else fall as it will. Brandon and I knew we wanted the meal we served and the party we created to be the focal points of our day, so we dedicated our time and budget most to picking our caterer and DJ. We knew our guests would most remember the meal they ate and the energy the party held, so we made sure that these were the backbone of our event. Everything else was just extra!"
Brandon and Mikayla Cook

Tell us about your love story!

How did you meet?

Brandon and I met during the pandemic on Bumble! We chatted for a couple of months before meeting in person. We had our first date at Fossil Rim Wilderness Safari, which is a drive-through “Safari.”  We talked non-stop for the entire afternoon!

How did you know he was “The One”?

Bride’s perspective: I don’t necessarily believe in love at first sight, but there was definitely a connection with Brandon from the moment I saw his Bumble profile! I actually swiped “no” at first because his profile showed he “wasn’t looking for a relationship.”  I kept returning to his profile because I felt something inside me drawn to him… Almost like divine intervention!

Groom’s perspective:  People have asked me this a lot. I could never pinpoint exactly when I knew. I have always felt at home and comfortable with Mikayla. Every conversation was a trip into her mind, every date was a chance to see life through her eyes. Once I knew her, I knew she was the one.

How did he propose?

Brandon was away in Florida at Walt Disney World completing his internship with the Disney College Program during the spring of 2022, and I was flying out to see him for long weekends every four to six weeks. During one of these visits, he took me to visit EPCOT, and while we were posing for a photo in front of the Winnie the Pooh topiary in the UK pavilion, he got down on one knee! Brandon, ever the romantic, had managed to bring together three of my favorite things, Disney, London, and Winnie the Pooh, for the most perfect proposal!

Describe your wedding planning process.

What planning tools did you use?

When we started planning our wedding, I knew organization was going to be key to keeping my Type A personality in check. I downloaded a Wedding Tracker Excel Sheet from The Knot and let that be my Master Key for all things wedding. I modified the comprehensive checklist to match more with my vision and brainstormed all the decisions I could easily make.

Did you DIY any aspect of your wedding?

Although I did not want to DIY our wedding, there were a couple of things I ultimately did myself because of the price impact. We designed our wedding programs/ceremony fans using an Etsy template, printed these at a local print shop, and assembled them ourselves. I also wanted a photo booth style area at our reception, but did not have room in our budget to rent a complete set-up. Instead, we got creative and curated a small area by repurposing some furniture from the bridal suite at our venue and adding a neon sign that now hangs in our home. ALWAYS ask your venue/vendors for permission and help, but don’t be afraid to use non-traditional methods to reach your vision.

Did you have a specific theme?

Our wedding was not directly themed, but I was wildly inspired by the whimsical florals of a Bridgerton style party. I wanted our 150 guests to feel as though they were at a modern party within a magical garden. So we chose more neutral, white, and pink roses with lots of greenery to boost the visual volume of the arrangements with a slightly smaller price tag. We also reused several of our ceremony pieces for the reception which provided some savings as well!

Where did you splurge?

Very early in our planning process, we knew that we would choose to splurge on the food at our reception. I was sure I wanted a plated meal for a more elevated feel, and we began to think about what we remembered from other weddings we had attended. The answer was always the same: the food. Consequently, we let our planner introduce us to the caterer we eventually chose even though it was a bit out of our original price expectations. Even so, we decided we were willing to spend more here to give a meaningful meal all of our guests would enjoy. I feel it’s also important to mention that we did NOT offer options when it came to the meal we offered. Everyone was served the same chicken wellington dish unless they expressed a specific allergy. While I wrestled with feeling “inconsiderate” by not offering a choice, we had zero complaints, received many compliments, and were able to save a few dollars on our food.

What was your most stressful decision?

The most stressful time during our wedding planning process was having to switch wedding planners three months out from our wedding date! Thankfully, I had kept copies of all our contracts and tracked all our progress myself so the transition between planners was significantly less stressful than it could have been. 

Tell Us About

Your dress:

I purchased my dress from the same bridal shop my mother purchased her dress from 30 years ago! I chose a simpler style and accented with family heirloom pearls from my grandmother which coordinated perfectly with the floor length buttons down the back bodice and entire train.

Your flowers:

As mentioned above, I wanted our flowers to set the tone of our event – I desperately wanted that whimsical garden feel, but I knew I didn’t have Hollywood’s Bridgerton budget. So we embraced the look of greenery and in-season roses to get the biggest bang for our buck. We also repurposed the bridal party’s bouquets and the backdrop from our ceremony as centerpieces to reduce the number of arrangements we needed. Don’t be afraid to reuse flowers from one purpose to another, and embrace the asymmetrical look (some tables can have tall pieces, some have short, some have candles instead of flowers).

The food:

Groom’s perspective: The food was probably one of our biggest pro’s for the wedding and what we received compliments on the most. Sylver Spoon catered plated service including a refreshing salad as a starter and chicken wellington as the main course. We also had guests who were gluten free or vegetarian who were provided equally excellent dishes.

The cake:

Our wedding cakes were the most disappointing part of our wedding experience… Neither the traditional cake nor the groom’s cake were aesthetically what we hoped, but not one guest noticed! Even though Brandon and I were sad that our vision for these did not come to fruition, I think we were both relieved to know that everyone loved the taste of our cakes. No one else paid them a second thought. I hope this can reassure other couples that NO ONE else will notice the one thing that you’re wildly disappointed or frustrated with on your wedding day no matter how big it is. 

Recap your big day for us

What made you laugh?

My only sister, the Maid of Honor, gave the most wonderfully hilarious speech! As mentioned above, we met on Bumble and before our first meeting the Maid of Honor had lent me a can of pepper spray “in case he’s dangerous or something.”  Obviously he wasn’t, but I never returned the pepper spray. During her speech, the groom was given his own can of pepper spray since the Maid of Honor lived with me for our entire childhood, she knows that Brandon is now the one who needs protection.

What made you cry?

Groom’s perspective: The father of the bride, who is never an emotional man, choked up a bit while giving his speech. He was truly overjoyed that his eldest daughter was getting married. Everyone in the audience was touched that the father of the bride, the life of the party, was sentimental.

What were the most memorable moments?

Groom’s perspective: The processional and the timing of the music was perfect. We really enjoyed how that moment played out. Additionally, our dance floor was always packed which was a major concern for both of us. It was perfect to see all our friends and family having so much fun since all we wanted with our reception was to have a giant party!

Did anything unexpected happen?

In addition to our cakes not exactly meeting our aesthetic expectations, we always wanted to have unity candles as a party for the ceremony. Unfortunately, the breeze of the afternoon just wouldn’t let our parents light the candles! Our officiant was wonderful and navigated the situation with grace, but our candles were never able to light. Now, it’s just another funny memory about how our parents couldn’t use a lighter!

What’s the best advice you can give a bride and groom planning their wedding?

Groom’s perspective: Focus on what you as a couple want, and do not let anyone tell you how your wedding should be. At the end of the day, the wedding is a celebration about the two of you not about anyone else. That is one boundary Mikayla and I  kept that really helped us have the wedding of our dreams.

Bride’s perspective: Stay as organized as you possibly can from the very beginning of the process! It’s so much easier to rest easily if you know where all the information you might possibly need lives. This can prevent as many surprise invoices or issues as possible. That said, it’s also SO important to remember that you’re only in this exciting process because you love your fiance! At the end of the day, even if every other detail  of your day goes wrong, you’re still marrying the love of your life and will be spending forever with them!

What did you look forward to most as Mr. and Mrs.?

Brandon and I (sort of) jokingly say that the best part of our wedding day was the relief knowing we never have to plan another wedding again! But beyond that, we looked forward most to spending the normal, every-day moments together. We’ve always loved spending exciting times and making big memories together, but before we were married we both couldn’t wait to share weekday dinners and Saturday lunch dates and mundane house chores together!

Anything else you’d like to share?

I will recommend to any bride I can to pour your energy into things that are important to you and your guests, and let everything else fall as it will. Brandon and I knew we wanted the meal we served and the party we created to be the focal points of our day, so we dedicated our time and budget most to picking our caterer and DJ. We knew our guests would most remember the meal they ate and the energy the party held, so we made sure that these were the backbone of our event. Everything else was just extra!


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