“One Big Party” Wedding in Arkansas

Ahh, just the thought of a wedding brings so much joy and happiness. What better way to celebrate this memorable milestone than with an all-out Arkansas party! Literally a good old fashioned Big Party! This is exactly the vision that came true for one couple recently when they got married in front of their family and friends in an extravagant wedding reception filled with love, joy – and of course partying! Read on to find out more about this memorable celebration.

Sammy + Ryan’s gorgeous wedding took place at Venue at Oakdale in North Little Rock, Arkansas.  Delicate colors splashed onto their venue’s white canvas and beautiful grounds makes this wedding perfectly pretty.


How did you meet?

We met during our Junior and Senior year at Ole Miss in Oxford, MS. Ryan is from California, and I am from Arkansas. We were both not looking to date anyone and out of nowhere our mutual friend suggested we would be a good match. Ryan actually sent a message after seeing a picture of Sammy for the first time and said, “That’s my future wife.” Funny how things work out. We hit it off from the start and became best friends immediately. Fast forward years later we are graduating, moving to Nashville, moving to Little Rock and having so much fun in life. 

What is your proposal story?

Ryan planned everything out with so much detail and love. We have 2 dogs now but at the time we had our first pup named Stevie. Ryan said he wanted to get pictures taken for his new office of all 3 of us. He planned out everything and we went to an area in Little Rock called, “The Old Mill,” which I had gone to several times as a kid. As we were taking pictures Stevie started to get a little wild (as a puppy does) and I turned to get her settled. When I turned back around, Ryan was on one knee, and it happened! He also planned out the biggest surprise of having all of our best friends from college come into town and surprise us. It was truly the sweetest weekend. 

Tell us a little a bit about your wedding

Our wedding day could not have been more perfect. We talk about it to this day how literally nothing went wrong throughout the day and how everyone was so helpful in making that happen. It was filled with laughter, happy tears, and love. We made sure that the day reflected who we are as a couple. We wanted to have food that we love to eat together rather than the traditional steak or chicken. Music was heavily involved throughout the ceremony and reception and all songs had meaning to us. If I could describe our wedding in one sentence I would say, “One BIG party with all of our closest family and friends.” Our wedding vision and style came from searching Pinterest and Instagram for ideas, but it all came together once our vendors stepped into help bring together all of our ideas into one. Location choices for everything were based on what would be easiest for guests and us which is why we decided to keep all of the wedding weekend activities in central Arkansas.

Tell us about your attire choices.

Attire choices for the wedding party and groom all revolved around the color scheme. The bridesmaids wore sky blue dresses. We picked Azazie as the site for purchasing the dresses due to everyone living in different parts of the country. This made it easier for everyone to purchase their dresses and they had a helpful return policy. The men, including the groom, all wore suits from Men’s Warehouse which were fitted at their local store and then they were all able to pick up their suits the week of the wedding from the local Men’s Warehouse. Our Officiant (close family friend) and the Father of the Bride also wore the same suits. Mother of the Bride chose her dress from David’s Bridal. The wedding dress came from The Bridal Cottage which is located in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Lindy Blackstone Lanford is the owner, and she made the experience so special. They had several dresses picked out for me upon my arrival and they were all based on ideas I had previously sent them or my answers from the questionnaire they sent me. I tried on 6 or 7 dresses. I was stuck between the one I chose and another one which was completely the opposite of what I thought I wanted. I ended up going with the exact dress I had originally wanted, just by seeing the picture. It was an off the shoulder, fitted gown with a long lace train from Essence of Australia designer. 

What was the most important to the two of you while planning? Was there anything that you chose to splurge on or skip?

The most important part of planning for the both of us was not letting other’s opinions get in the way of what we wanted. We had heard nightmare stories of vendors or friends/ acquaintances stating their personal opinions on other’s wedding and then later having it affect what they chose to include. I was so shocked by that, and we both said we are not selfish people, but this is our day and how we want it to look is how it will look. We chose to splurge on the food and the venue. Those were two of the most important factors to us. Our DJ was also very important to us. Out of all the things included at our wedding, all of our guests still talk about the food and reception as a whole TO THIS DAY. Most people never remember the food at weddings, but we can honestly say people could not stop talking about it from ours. We chose to skip the extra rentals you can include such as a photo booth, built in dance floor, and extra florals. We thought they were all unnecessary and we were wanting to spend our budget on other items more. We decided to skip those items because we thought they were just a waste of extra money. 

What were your favorite parts of the day?

Our favorite parts of the day included our first look, the moment we were acutally married, our wedding party entrance game of flip cup, Arkansas vs. Ole Miss Chant with all of the guests, all of the guests dancing and never leaving the dance floor, our beer tap truck, and the bride crowd surfing during, “Time of My Life.” We will never forget these moments and our videographer (Wanderbloom Films) captured all of those moments PERFECTLY. 

Tell us about your wedding flowers.

Our wedding flowers were all based on the color scheme I had ready during our first meeting. We decided to have blues, gold, white, and greenery mixed into the pieces. Dale Aldridge was truly the artist behind helping our vision come true. They even incorporated thistles into my bridal bouquet, which is the national flower of Scotland, where Ryan’s family is from. For the ceremony, we limited the number of flowers because the venue was so beautiful on its own with the large glass windows and woods behind it. We included 2 larger floral pieces on pedestals at the chapel that would stand on both sides of us as we were married. On the first three rows of chairs, we included greenery, thistles, and white roses as a marker for reserving the first three rows. The other florals in the chapel were a centerpiece on the guestbook table and greenery for all of the signs. We wanted to have a variety of pieces across the reception. 

Tell us about your wedding cake.

OUR CAKE was just as amazing too from Sweet Lavender BakeShop. Hannah was the sweetest soul and made sure everything about our cakes were perfect. We did not want to have a bride and groom cake, we just wanted to have two cakes because we love cake. We had an Ole Miss cake to represent where we met. Then we had a more traditional tier cake that matched the color scheme we had in place of blue, white, gold, and greenery. Everything looked so beautiful and fit perfectly into our day.

What did you do for favors?

Wedding favors were based around our experience at Ole Miss together. At Ole Miss, football and tailgating are a BIG deal. We decided to have koozies with our wedding colors and we also had Game Day stickers for our guests to wear at future football games. One of my bridesmaids, Meagan Sanders, (MeagByDesign) made the stickers and they were adorable.

Please describe any DIY, handmade, or personal details.

We tried to make our wedding unique to us as I think I have mentioned already. We decided to do a first look with Father of Bride and then the Groom. During the ceremony we decided to have all of the groomsmen walk in with the groom and then have the bridesmaids walk in one-by-one. There were two maids of honor, so they walked in together. Our ceremony was very short. We wanted all of our focus to be on spending time together and having a LONG reception. I think our ceremony was only 10 minutes or less. We had our best family friend be the officiant which made it more personal. All of our ceremony music was classic rock, but the acoustic versions, since that is the music, we love to listen to together. I am truly not the crafty one so everything we had made was through another source, but in ways to save money within our budget we would order the downloadable version of signs or other items that we could edit on our own and then send to the local print shop! All of our signs were made by us to fit our theme. Personal details we had included our guest book, In Memory of table, signature drinks, cornhole boards, and my wrap around my bouquet. Our guest book was not a traditional one. A lot of our wedding revolves around our love for music and records. The artwork we used was a blank piece with a record in the middle that had the date and our first dance. Everyone signed around it. We also had the corn hole boards that people signed as well for us to put in our backyard. The memory table was for all of those we have lost that couldn’t be at the wedding. Our signature drinks were based on our dogs, and we had a sign made with both of their pictures. For our wedding party entrance, we decided to do something completely different. We did not want to do the planned dances or silly entrances. Since almost all of us went to college together, we decided to enter the reception to a game of Flip Cup. We had the father of the bride and the officiant be our coaches for girls vs. boys. It truly made the guests go crazy and got the reception off to a loud and fun start. I also changed into a reception dress due to the heat and dress malfunctions. I am so happy I changed because I loved my reception dress which was from ASOS. It had a white bow on the back and was a short, off the shoulder dress. It was perfectly paired with my white Adidas sneakers so I could easily dance all night. The dance floor was NEVER empty. Lastly, I wanted to include something of my moms for my wedding day. We were able to use her veil and have it transformed into the wrap that held my bridal bouquet together which was very special to me.

Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?

Our advice for anyone planning their wedding now is to MAKE IT ABOUT THEM. From having a tap beer truck, to making all of our ceremony music acoustic classic rock, to changing for the reception, we made it all our own. We did not follow tradition in many ways, and we made it exactly the wedding we wanted. Another piece of advice would be to have a private dinner with just the couple alone. We knew we wanted to eat dinner alone before seeing everyone at the reception because we’ve always heard how couples never get to eat or feel like they’re so busy they don’t even get all the time they want together. We loved having those moments after the ceremony to eat together and really take it all in that we were MARRIED! Do not get caught up in the, “you have to have this or no one will like that,” stuff. All that matters is that you are getting to marry the love of your life and that what surrounds you that day should represent your relationship and personalities. Also, when it comes to budget, tips we have would have to be if you know you are going to have a budget in general, then have it ready first and foremost. Once you start getting into the planning process and you start receiving all of these invoices, it can be hard to narrow down what you want/ need to cut out for your budget. It is best to go in with the budget before you start booking and paying for down payments. If you have no idea where to start with a budget, use social media and wedding/ bride blogs as help for researching average prices in the area you are thinking about having your wedding in. Also, make a list of your “have to have” and your “not that important” factors so it may help you narrow down your options for vendors and such even more. 

Did any of your wedding pros deliver a standout experience? Let us know the details!

Honestly… every single vendor we used stood out. We had absolutely no complaints and could not believe how they all came together to make our day absolutely perfect. If anyone has the opportunity to book with any of them I HIGHLY suggest it.