Deep In The Heart of Texas (and Cedar Lake): Renee & Matt's Backyard Wedding


Renee and Matt chose Matt's family farm, Venditti Farms, as their ceremony and reception site; a beautiful sprawling property with green fields, pastures, tree lined pathways and a huge weeping willow in the center. The forecast was calling for storms on their wedding day and with storm clouds lingering in the distance, it gave the day a  bit of excitement and electricity, but no rain!

How did their love story begin?

"Matt was always the cute boy next door. I grew up in a different town but moved my Sophomore year in high school and little did I know, one of his closest friends was my neighbor. He was always next door and I tried my hardest to make sure he saw me. Well, that didn't work! He would talk to my mom and ask my mom to come over to the neighbors to hang out! I was baffled! A few years later I received a Facebook message saying "Hey Renee, hows your mom?" Taken by surprise I said "Good, how are you? How do you know my name when we never talked?" From that point on we kept in touch and I visited him back in Indiana around Christmas. I moved to Colorado for the summer for work and he asked me if I would move to Texas with him so being the rational 20 year old I was, I called up my mom and said "Mom, I'm moving to Texas for Matt." Let me tell you, that DID NOT go over well. The gentleman that Matt is, he flew home to meet with my mom and dad to smooth things over.  It went well and now we are happily married living the Texas dream together! 
(So the first official time we met is when Matt flew home from Texas to Indiana and we hung out at a friends house.)"

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What is your favorite way to spend time together?: "We love going out to our friends Ranch and doing outdoor activities. We are very lucky to have the same interests, so if it involved guns, Bronco's, grilling, cows and hunting we're down!"

How did you know HE was THE ONE? 

"I knew he was the one after out first trip home together. I started flying down to Texas once a month until I moved there in August. I couldn't put my finger on why he was so special, but there was something. I had to convince my mom that there wasn't a doubt in my mind that we wouldn't work out. He is the most sweet, caring, funny and smartest guy I know. He is too perfect!"

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The Proposal

"We were at our friends Ranch (Kindred Ranch) in Huntsville, Texas for one weekend in April. We had a herd of 30 cattle and were doing general doctoring that day with them. Let me tell you, this was a nasty, messy job. Wrangling these little rascals, tying them down, giving them medicine, etc. was no easy or clean job. Well the day was just about over and Matt promised me that we would go horse back riding that day. I gave up on that idea and told him to forget about it, it was too late, we were messy, sweaty and just plain gross! But he told me to go get some nice clothes on (jeans and a t-shirt) and we will make sure we get some pictures since we don't have very many of us. We were doing some casual trail riding out in the back pastures and there was one tall Pecan tree with no leaves surrounded in a field of greenery, I mentioned how creepy it was and that it should have crows in it since it looked dead. Well, we headed over that way and Matt suggested we hop off the horses and let them eat while we talk. After a few awkward minutes just staring at this tree, Matt looked me in the eye, said some kind words (that I do not remember, because I was freaking out, hoping that THIS was that moment) then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was beyond overjoyed that I actually didn't cry, I just kept laughing and smiling. After quite a few lovey-dovey moments, we turn around to go ride back to the Ranch and tell everyone what happened, our horses decided to head back to the ranch before us. They ran off! So we walked back to the ranch and a good 30 plus minutes later we celebrated! Even better news we have all of it on GoPro! It was the most chaotic day, but it was so perfect!

The Wedding Day

Both bride and groom got ready at the house.  Renee and her bridesmaids made great use of the horse tack room that's attached to the horse barn.  While Matt and the groomsmen got ready inside his childhood home.

Describe your wedding style in 3 words

"Unique, Rustic, Farm"

The ceremony was held in a huge pole barn overlooking the property with 30 foot barn doors open to view the landscape of cows in the pasture, ponds and rolling hills. The bride and her father rode up in the back of an old Ford pick up truck and were dropped off at the barn door and right before the ceremony started, the groomsmen opened the opposite side of the barn doors allowing light and scenery into the barn for the "wow factor".

"Traditionally you see a unity candle or sand as the 'two becoming one' but we decided to do something a little more unique. My now husband made a family brand and we branded a piece of wood during the ceremony instead."

The barn was decorated with farm equipment and tools that have been around the farm for many years as well as chalkboard signs, light up mason jars and tons of pictures.  The bride accented the decor with coral roses, sunflowers and navy. 

After the ceremony we were able to sneak away with Renee and Matt for some romantic bride and groom portraits, which also gave them time for lots and lots (seriously a lot) of newlywed kisses. We loved riding in the old vintage truck around the property. Their chemistry and connection was a beautiful thing, the kind of thing country singers write love songs about. 

When we were wrapping up the bride and groom portraits, we (half)joked how awesome it would be to include Matt's Mom's horses, Pencil and Tucky in some images.  Since Matt and Renee are so fun and laid back, they immediately said let's do it. We have to give major props to a bride who is willing to hop up on a horse in her gown!  What a cowgirl!

The Bridal Party

Matron of Honor: Rebecca Downs, my older and only sister
Bridesmaids: Anna Messier, my roommate from Elk Mountain Ranch (the horse ranch I worked at in Colorado)
Dyelynn Fasnacht, my college roommate
Alex Pampalone, a close high school friend

Best Man: Luke Palmer College Roommate & Childhood Friend
Groomsman: Nick Spannan (next door neighbor to Renee) Childhood friend
Alan Thibodeaux - Coworker and good friend in Texas (Relative of the Kindred Ranch)
Ben Rigby - Childhood friend
Josh Hayden - Childhood friend

"The reception was held in the same barn, with local BBQ that was smoked on-site! The smell was fantastic as it swept through the barn. Once we cleared out the food, it was dancin' time! Everyone let loose as the sun was setting we turned on our light-up mason jars and strung lights to soften the mood. There was a great variety of music, but line dancing with my family (especially my sister) made being away for so long seem like we were never apart. I wouldn't have changed a thing about our special day." 

"No it didn't go 100% perfect - all the isle mason jars with flowers fell off stumps when the doors were opened - but it didn't matter in the end, because I got married to the love of my life."

Vendor Recap:

  • Houston Diamonds, Houston, TX: Fantastic selection & worked with Matt to design the ring. 
  • Weddings by Debbie, Katy, TX: They had so many dresses that I liked and made me feel special. They listened to me and worked with my budget / desires. 
  • David's Bridal: Navy long one shoulder lace dresses. They were fitted enough and complimented all body shapes ( I had two pregnant Bridesmaids). It could have been cold or hot so this dress was a catch all. 
  • Dunhill, Schererville, IN: Tan Suits with navy vests and ties, and cowboy boots. 
  • Floraland of Lowell, Lowell, IN: I wanted subtle flowers with coral and sunflowers and she was willing to work my budget and my desires. The sunflowers were the most important to me. They looked so good against the Navy decor!
  • White Glove Entertainment: Ruben knocked it out of the park! He changed up the songs to what people were into. He really worked with the crowd and stayed late for us! 
  • I bought my bridal party Ariat boots as their gift. The groomsman got crates filled with homemade 'shine. 
  • Color Room Salon & Day Spa, Dyer, IN: I know quite a few people who go to The Color Room in Dyer, IN. They are high end stylist who took their time and made sure we all were happy. We looked amazing!

Bride's special recommendations: The Color Room, White Glove Entertainment, Weddings by Debbie and My PHOTOGRAPHERS! Without them, we wouldn't have all these memories to reflect on.

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Advice from the Bride:

Were there any challenges planning your wedding? "The hardest part about planning my wedding was essentially it was a 'destination' wedding. I couldn't try the cake/ cupcakes, look at the venue whenever, transporting decorations, etc. It was difficult and I really had to trust my family's opinion in the things I couldn't be there for."

What piece of advice would you pass on to future brides and grooms?: "Live in the moment - don't get caught up in the little things. At the end of the day, you're marrying your sweetheart and that's all that matters."

What made you choose CHC-Photography as your wedding photographer?: "Jamie was my Senior Photographer when I was graduation High School. I was shocked that she took so many amazing pictures and that I had more than a couple to choose from. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that I wanted to go through her again. Her and Carmen are so creative and patient in making sure everything worked out amazing. They both stayed late into the night well after they were allowed to go home. They made my day so special and I can't thank them enough for the great memories from taking dirt bike pictures to intimate pictures in a field on my wedding day. So amazing."

"You are awesome!!! Thank you and we will be working with you again in the future for something!"

Happy trails to you!
— Love, Carmen and Jamie