That morning, rain fell softly all around them, and filtered light streamed in through the treehouse windows. They read and relaxed; they talked and laughed together. Then Brian tied his tie and Jessica grabbed her bouquet, and they made their way down the path to meet the minister.
Jessica Hendrickson and Brian Sample attended the same high school, but their romance didn’t begin until a few years later when they were in their early 20s. These creative introverts initially bonded on Tumblr over a shared love of drawing, which progressed to long emails back and forth, and then to a collaborative art project via snail mail. Jessica drew some of the piece, then mailed it to Brian, who lived only 25 minutes away. He added to it and mailed it back to her, continuing back and forth until the drawing was complete. Then, finally, they arranged a date, which would ultimately be the first of many.
Six years later, Jessica and Brian planned a trip from Louisville to Atlanta to see a live recording of “Comedy Bang Bang,” one of their favorite podcasts. While they were in town, Brian suggested a scenic drive to Kennesaw Mountain before meeting his sister for lunch. “While we were up there, I noticed that he was acting strange … really nervous,” Jessica says. “But then I saw this adorable little lizard, and I was completely distracted by it. It ran past me, and I was trying to find out where it went. When I finally turned around, I saw Brian holding my great-grandmother’s ring.” Though they had discussed marriage and she suspected a proposal was coming soon, Brian had managed to play it cool the whole trip, so Jessica was completely surprised to turn around and find Brian on one knee.
Obviously, she said yes.
A romantic elopement was the perfect quiet and intimate option for this sweet pair, who found the idea of a traditional wedding overwhelming and a bit out of character for their more reserved personalities. “I was worried that if we had a traditional ceremony, I’d be too nervous to be in the moment and enjoy it as much as I should,” Jessica says. “We both felt that getting married was such a personal choice, and that if we were going to put the time and effort into planning this day, we would make sure it was exactly what we wanted.” A low-key, stress-free day was exactly what Jessica and Brian had in mind — a day special in sentiment, not in pomp and circumstance. “We just wanted it to feel like a really good day where we happened to get married.”
Nashville, with its fun atmosphere, cool aesthetic and close proximity to Louisville, was the perfect setting for their romantic elopement. They originally intended to find a botanical garden as the setting for the ceremony, but while planning, Jessica’s mind kept returning to a charming treehouse Airbnb she had visited a year earlier. Perched up in the trees and surrounded by two acres of wooded land just outside of East Nashville, The Fox House was the absolute perfect location. With approval from the property’s owners, plans for Jessica and Brian’s treehouse elopement were set in motion for May 12, 2017, exactly one year after Brian’s proposal. Soft colors, handwritten vows and a big, gathered bouquet spilling with greenery and pops of color would add special, personal touches to the day.
The morning of Jessica and Brian’s ceremony was completely calm and stress-free. They went out for breakfast and Brian dropped off his bride to get her hair done. They returned to the treehouse and spent a couple of hours relaxing and just taking in the moment. “One of my favorite things about the day is how relaxed our whole morning was leading up to the ceremony,” Jessica says. “It was so nice to spend our time getting ready together, talking and laughing, knowing we were about to be married.”
The minister arrived, and the bride and groom walked together toward a spot where blush-colored blooms climbed up an arch of branches blanketed in green moss. With the trees overhead and their minister as witness, they held hands and exchanged vows in a moment as special and intimate as they had dreamed. “Exchanging vows was probably the most special moment of the day,” Jessica says. “It was so nice to finally hear what Brian had written – his vows were so sweet and funny and perfect. I also loved reading mine to him and watching his reactions.”
After the ceremony, the newlyweds headed downtown in their wedding attire. They traipsed around town, soaking up those joyful just-married moments and pausing for some coffee and a slice of cake. “I love that we got to experience our first day of marriage savoring that ‘just married’ feeling without having to go right into celebration mode,” Jessica says.
The next day, the new Mr. and Mrs. returned to Louisville for a backyard reception that gave them a chance to celebrate their marriage with close family and friends in a low-pressure environment perfectly suited to them. “Even though our ceremony was private, we still wanted to be able to celebrate our marriage with everyone we love,” Jessica says. “I feel we got the best of both worlds doing it this way.”
The reception was a DIY dream with thoughtful, personal touches that combined to create a day that was casual, playful and personal. A pegboard doughnut wall, colorful selfie station and tiny gold cat figurines scattered throughout the decor captured the lighthearted side of Jessica and Brian’s personalities, while long tables draped with swathes of fern fronds and silver dollar eucalyptus, a lengthy custom Spotify playlist and the promise of an evening bonfire invited guests to relax and enjoy the celebration.
As the sun went down on a May day in Louisville, Jessica and Brian ended their first full day of marriage sitting in the warm glow of the bonfire, surrounded by their beloved family and friends.
Thanks for sharing your love story with us, Jessica and Brian! Cheers to a lifetime of happiness!
Jeweler: Clater Jewelers
Photography: Sarah Katherine Davis Photography
Bride’s attire: Jenny Yoo, via BHLDN and Nordstrom
Hair: Blowout Co.
Groom’s suit: Topman
Groom’s shirt and tie: Banana Republic
Cake: Sweet Surrender Dessert Café
Doughnuts: Nord’s Bakery
Ice Cream: Graeter’s Ice Cream
Flowers: Blooms by Essential Details
Venue: The Fox House
Catering: Ramiro’s Cantina
Psychic: Sharon Cassel
Music: Spotify playlist
Read more romantic wedding day stories in our “Weddings” section!