On a beautiful September evening, with the first breath of autumn crisp in the air, Ivy Henderson and Josef Schuster stood under a canopy of trees alongside the river at Swann Lake Stables and exchanged wedding vows.
Ivy and Josef’s paths crossed by chance — first at a party, then again in Highland Park several months later. Josef felt a connection at their first meeting, asked for Ivy’s number and soon afterward invited his future bride to come out with some friends — but the outing was scheduled for too late on a “school night” for Ivy, and the plans were forgotten. Several months later, they happened upon each other again at Rojo, and it was then that their love story truly began. “We talked some more, and he called me that night and asked me to go to dinner later that week,” Ivy says. “I often wonder if our paths hadn’t crossed again, would we have ever reconnected.”
Fast forward to a weekend trip to the coast with friends. The pair arrived at the beach house several hours before the rest of the group and stole away to the beach with a bottle of wine to enjoy a few quiet moments together before the festivities of the weekend would begin. “When we were ready to go back up to the house, I stood up and, when I turned around, Josef was on one knee with a wooden box he had made with the ring inside,” Ivy says. “The humidity had made the box sweat a little and we had to really try to get the top off. Once we did, there was a beautiful ring inside and I, of course, said ‘Yes!’”
An outdoor autumn wedding seemed like the perfect fit for Ivy and Josef, who spent much of their early relationship hiking and enjoying water and the scenery at beautiful Little River Canyon. “I immediately knew I wanted it to be outdoors and to have a more rustic feel,” Ivy says. “We both love the fall and the spring and the feel of the seasons changing.” With its breathtaking property and barn, Swann Lake Stables was an easy venue choice for the couple but it was its location — tucked along the edge of the Little Cahaba River — that made it an absolute perfect fit.
To complement the rustic, cozy theme for the day, Ivy chose a romantic color palette for her florals: soft grays, whites and greens with touches of pink and coral. Her florist, Buffy Hargett, executed Ivy’s vision perfectly, giving each bridesmaid a unique arrangement while still maintaining a cohesive look. Green and white pumpkins incorporated throughout the venue gave an elegant nod to the season, and groupings of bud vases arranged on the dining tables added the perfect relaxed-yet-refined finishing touch.
Ivy’s main focus while planning the wedding was crafting a day that was thoughtful and intentional and was focused first and foremost on the marriage that would follow the actual wedding day. “Josef and I wanted the day to be a celebration of our marriage and for people to really witness the love we have for each other,” Ivy says. “I wanted it to be a wonderful day but I didn’t want to lose sight of the bigger picture that we were committing ourselves to a lifelong relationship.” Ivy and Josef, together with wedding planner Mariée Ami, created a comfortable atmosphere for their day that was brimming with personal touches throughout.
The ceremony took place beneath a canopy of trees on the grounds at Swann Lake Stables, where antique pews were arranged before a stunning arbor. Following the ceremony, the couple hosted a Southern supper for their guests that incorporated all of their favorite foods — and they even served chicken fingers and cheesecake bites for a late-night snack. Nods to Josef’s experience as a woodworker were present, from the hand-carved arbor they were married beneath to the wood grain incorporated into their invitation suite. As proud Alabamians, they included the shape of the state in their engraved wooden save-the-dates, as well as on cookies and napkins at the reception.
Ivy’s advice to brides-to be? “Enjoy the process and don’t let little things worry you along the way. It’s hard to not be stressed, at times, when having an event like a wedding but focus on the bigger picture of your marriage and what is really important,” Ivy says. “It’s a joyous celebration no matter what the circumstance!” Sound advice from this beautiful bride.
Here’s to many happy years to come, Ivy and Josef!
Photography: W&E Photographie
Wedding planner: Mariée Ami
Wedding dress: Custom Olia Zavozina purchased from Carriage House Weddings
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Custom Made
Groomsmen and groom’s formalwear: Jos. A. Bank
Cake: Barb’s Cakes
Flowers: Buffy Hargett Flowers
Venue: Swann Lake Stables
Catering: Savoie Catering
Band: 2nd Coming
Hair: Jason Wilkerson of Harbuck Salon
Stationery design: Mary Baugh with Mariée Ami
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