Tara and Jaxon had the most beautiful June wedding at Juniper Gardens in Fair Grove, Missouri. Their special day was so meticulously crafted with love, was romantic and heartfelt, and gave a classy boho back-yard BBQ feel.
Now, if you have followed my blog or social media for any time at all, you know that this couple is pretty near and dear to my heart. Jaxon and I are cousins, and Tara is the cousin-in-law I always dreamed of having. These two modeled for me when I first started my business and was dying to have a couple in front of my camera. When sweet little Josie came along, I was able to capture their maternity photos and newborn photos as well! Long story short, I have so much love for them and have loved getting to capture some of their most special moments.
Back to their day – as I walked into Juniper Gardens, I instantly felt relaxed. The tranquility of being in nature is something I will never get tired of and this little piece of Heaven on Earth has perfectly achieved the balance between natural elements and the venue without taking away from the beauty of either. As I walked through the shaded courtyard and past the reception pavilion, I caught my first view of the stone fireplace. Wooden pews decorated with glass jugs of eucalyptus lead the way to this gorgeous tower of stone and created the most romantic aisle for a bride to walk down. Up from the ceremony space, the getting ready room was nestled into the trees. The blue door welcomed you in to the beautiful natural-light-filled room. It was an unusually hot June day, so simply the air conditioning alone made you appreciate the space. This eclectic-boho space featured two full length mirrors, sheer curtains, macrame window treatment, vintage style fridge and décor, and a velvet couch that was absolutely to die for! It also had the cutest getting ready tables that made you feel like you were a movie star or Broadway actress getting ready for a show. I feel like there is so much I could talk about, just with the venue alone but to sum it up, if you are looking for an earthy, contemporary, relaxing place to have your wedding or event, Juniper Gardens tops the charts – I’ll also add that its owner, Mandi, is so incredibly sweet and helpful! You’ll easily fall in love with her and the vision she has created!
Back outside to the reception pavilion, which would also be a gorgeous ceremony space, I found stone floors that matched the fireplace, vaulted ceilings with string lights, and gorgeous tables that lined each side of the space. A great sized bar nestled itself in the back corner and behind it a fun neutral-colored balloon arch was hung. The dark wooden tables were gorgeously decorated with dusty rose chiffon runners, golden candlesticks, and vintage glass that held dried flowers and pampas grass. Another one of my favorite decorations were the giant bouquets of pampas grass that stood in wooden vases all around the space. The bride and groom’s table was so dreamy with its string lights, pampas grass, and antique bench. The entire space was put together flawlessly. Tara’s mom, Michelle, has such a keen eye for detail and absolutely nailed the decor! Aside from help from Michelle’s best friends Wren and Rachel, they also had help from Kayler from The Knack Company. Kayler was so sweet and talented and helped with styling, set up, and created the incredible giant JOY letters that were the most perfect and fun photo op for a wedding! She also brought the most amazing vintage pink chair – which we definitely used for some bride and groom portraits!
Back in the dressing room, Tara's hair and makeup was finished and all the final touches were being made. Michelle helped Tara get into her dress. She then gave Tara a special necklace to wear down the aisle - the necklace Tara's father had given her back when they were dating! Once everyone was ready, it was finally time for Jaxon and Tara to have their first look. I don’t think either of them could have waited any longer, they were so excited and ready to see each other. They both lit up as they turned to face one another and in that moment, all the stress that comes with a wedding melted away. They shared a quick kiss and began reading their personal vows to each other – which was the sweetest, most heartfelt moment (I feel like I can’t go without mentioning that Jaxon shed a tear as Tara read her vows to him)! After their first look, Tara and her dad also had a first look together (Which is something I highly recommend)!
Next on the agenda was bridal party portraits, which were so much fun with this group! We found a little bit of open shade in the field nestled by some trees and went to work. There was so much laughter shared during this part of the day, most of it directed at the guys because they were having the hardest time focusing on the task at hand. Jaxon and his groomsmen looked so sharp in their grey suits from H&H Creations in Bolivar, MO., and the bridesmaids looked incredible in their satin champagne-colored Lulus dresses! Of course, Tara stole the show in her phenomenal fitted lace gown with the most gorgeous train you have ever seen, from The Dress in Springfield, MO! To complete her bridal look, Tara’s bouquet from Ciara’s Floral Designs in Bolivar, was the perfect whimsical pop of color against the group’s neutral palette! The look of this group with their accessories and bouquets could not have been more perfect!
As guests started to arrive and take their seats in the ceremony space, I grabbed a few photos of sweet little Josie laying on the train of Tara’s dress (which was beyond adorable!) and then went out to find my spot. As Jaxon and their officiant, Pastor Mike Bruce, came down the aisle I caught the sweetest photo of Jaxon smiling at his dad, which instantly made me tear up. As the bridesmaids were escorted down the aisle by the groomsmen, we saw Tara step out of the bridal suite to be greeted by her dad. Sweet Tara held back tears as they made their way down the aisle. At the end of the aisle their pastor led them in prayer and Jaxon and Tara stood together to exchange vows. There was a ring situation due to the best man forgetting them in the dressing room (he will never live this down) – but Katie, Tara’s sister and maid of honor, was quick to save the day! Once the rings were in hand vows were exchanged and the rings were exchanged. Jaxon and Tara were pronounced husband and wife and shared a kiss! They celebrated and shared another kiss as they walked back up the aisle which was the icing on the cake for this beautiful ceremony!
The reception started with a bridal party bomb entrance, followed by Tara, Jaxon, and Josie! Dinner was Jimmy Johns sandwiches – which were delicious and perfect for a hot summer wedding! They were also really aesthetically pleasing in individual brown baggies on the food table. The food table was covered with these, along with veggie and fruit cups. Now, my favorite table (the desert table) was arranged with fruit sugar cookies and three different flavors of the most incredible cupcakes you will ever see or taste in your entire life! The bride and grooms favorite – Oreo! The wedding cake was placed on a small decorated table and was a simple but gorgeous white and gold two-tiered cake. What kind of cake, all of you equally-addicted-to-cake readers may ask – a velvety white cake with raspberry filling that made your heart sing. All Caked Up by Kayla over-delivered on these amazing sweets, and I can’t help but recommend her business to everyone who asks!
The Joy’s cake cutting was followed by a heartfelt first dances and speeches from the bride’s father, her maid of honor (sister), and Jaxon’s best man. Next, we disappeared into the golden lit field for the remainder of their couple’s portraits. We captured the most romantic and beautiful moments of the two of them, the now Mr. and Mrs. Joy. After getting all of the images we needed, the couple headed to the bridal suite so Tara could change into her amazing reception dress and then headed back to the pavilion so they could eat and enjoy their reception with family and friends! The night was full of laughter, fun yard-games, and a fire pit! The DJ, Live Events, was awesome and was even able to get a few brave souls out on the dance floor! The night brought a much-welcomed coolness and ended with dancing, the guys enjoying fine cigars, and sweet little Josie falling asleep on her her mama’s shoulder.
Jaxon and Tara’s wedding was the longest wedding I have photographed and my whole body ached by the end of the night (and for about 2 days after), but I just didn’t want the occasion to end – it was so perfect! Getting to capture this incredible day for them and their families was a dream and I can’t thank them enough for choosing me to be there to do so! It’s been an honor to watch them grow in this life together and I can’t wait to see them continue to grow through life side by side.