Real Wedding by Hope’s: Sarah and Ryan

Sarah and Ryan’s June 26th wedding may have had some classic touches, but these Iowa transplants made it anything but traditional! Read on to swoon over their love story and be inspired by their vintage chic barn wedding with DIY flair!
After both moving from out of state to Oskaloosa for agricultural jobs, Ryan and Sarah happened to meet one night at the local watering hole. “I was the new girl in town and couldn’t resist his perfectly coiffed hair. Ryan and I spent that night talking about life and how we ended up in the middle of Iowa, and he made me try some of his nasty beer. I went straight home and found him on Facebook—the rest is history!” Their courtship was a whirlwind, and about a month after starting to date, Ryan whispered to her on Christmas Eve that he was falling madly in love with her.
Within a year, they had moved to Washington, IA, bought a house, and started new jobs. On a weekend getaway to Des Moines, they visited the Botanical Gardens. As they walked by the waterfall for the second time, she teased Ryan they should go shopping for a ring. Ryan said, “Well, why would we do that?” She turned around to see he was holding a gorgeous ring in his hand, asking her to marry him. “I’ll never forget the way I felt at that moment, it was a rush of emotions – excitement, love, and holy crap he just asked me to marry him!!! Of course I said yes… Needless to say, it was the best day ever! We celebrated with a lovely dinner and great bottle of wine at one of our favorite restaurants.”
Ryan and Sarah bring out the best in each other, and he reminds Sarah of her late grandfather, exactly what she wished for in a spouse. One of her favorite quotes is from the movie Juno:
Look, in my opinion the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what-have-you. The right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.
“I have found that person!” Sarah shares. And now she knows that all her hesitation and homesickness when she moved to Iowa was worth it so they could meet each other.
While they planned their June wedding at Celebration Farm, Sarah found the lace wedding dress of her dreams online. She and her mom called all over Missouri and Iowa trying to find it, finally locating it at Hope’s. She accessorized the Maggie Sottero “Londyn” dress with a belt, veil, and earrings from Hope’s along with a beautiful pearl necklace that was her great-grandma’s. While there were a couple of issues with Sarah’s ordered gown’s length and fit, everything worked out. “Diane and Jody stood by me the whole way—during such a stressful time, they ensured that everything would be perfect… and it was!” Sarah says.
Sarah speaks from experience when she tells brides to not stress too much and slow down the day of the wedding to realize why you are there. “No matter if the weather is bad, you can’t find the microphone, or your necklace breaks during the first dance (this all happened!), it will all be great. All the nerves and stress go away as soon as you see your groom at the end of the aisle! And the mission is accomplished once you say I do!”
Sarah remembers the day of her wedding being pretty crazy—from the weather to running around decorating the venue. She appreciated some shared quiet moments with her mom while they were getting ready. She laughs thinking about how her mom got her wedding dress all buttoned up, only to realize she missed one of the first buttons and had to start over! (Check out the picture below! It happens!)
Sarah and Ryan chose not to have attendants, instead incorporating their parents closely. Sarah’s mom and dad walked her down the aisle, and both of their moms signed their marriage certificate as witnesses. They also asked a close family friend to officiate their wedding. To honor her late grandparents, Sarah attached her grandfather’s wedding ring and grandmother’s jewelry to her bouquet. And Sarah will always cherish the memory of having her 90-year-old great-grandma there from over six hours away to celebrate with them!
Sarah says, “Ryan is not a man that shows much emotion. During the whole engagement I told him that my goal was to make him cry when he saw me for the first time walking down the aisle. After my dad had given me away, I took his hand and we stood there staring at each other while the officiant was talking. I remember him squeezing my hand and as I looked up, I noticed a little tear in his eye… mission accomplished!! The best part of the night was the few minutes after the ceremony. It was so great to really talk to each other and hold each other. It hadn’t hit me until then that it was all real.”
The painted wine bottles and candle holders, signs, and styled antiques were all DIY’ed. They used Sarah’s grandma’s china and antique chairs from Ryan’s mother at their sweetheart table. Sarah and her mom even painted a variety of glasses for the guests’ favors and designed a gorgeous flower chandelier.
Many aspects of their ceremony and reception were not “traditional”—including serving dinner for their guests while they took pictures. This kept the night flowing. “Almost all of our guests traveled from out of state, and we really wanted to make it an enjoyable evening for all of them… Just remember to do what makes you happy as a couple on your big day; traditional isn’t always for everyone!”
The couple enjoyed a week in Punta Cana after the wedding and have been taking time to relax with each other since the big day. “Let your person know how important they are! And it will finally hit you that you’re married and have a husband when you introduce yourself as a MRS!” Sarah advises.
Sarah and Ryan were able to accomplish such a beautiful event with handmade touches that made it truly special. Thank you so much for being a Hope’s bride, Sarah, and congrats to you and Ryan!

Photographer: Seth Morris Photography

Venue: Celebration Farm, Iowa City
Florist: Wolf Floral, Washington, Iowa
Hair/Make-up: Kelsey Van Kooten – Headquarters Salon, Oskaloosa, Iowa
DJ: Marske Music Productions
Sarah said, “I am quite proud of my family for helping me so much!! My Mother (Lee Williams) and family catered the meal for us and made the desserts– she used to own a catering company. Her and I also did all of the decorations (hand painted centerpieces, painted favors, cute signs throughout the wedding, etc.). We couldn’t have done it without her.”



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