Real Bride: Kara K.

We love how easy yet glamorous Kara and Ryan’s vineyard wedding in Iowa was. Photos were perfectly captured by the talented Chelsea Donoho. Kara made the trip to Kansas City to find her stunning Anna Campbell gown and we are truly honored to have played a small part in their day. Take a peek at Kara and Ryan’s story below to see how they met and fell in love! We are absolutely swooning.

From the bride: It was a cold, snowy night in December of 2013 when I took a dance with destiny and met Ryan Lavern Brooks. I was living in Austin and had returned to DSM for the holidays when we were introduced by mutual friends at an establishment formerly known as “Breck’s.”  Ryan was out making his rounds, lady-hunting at his usual stops. I was out with a couple of girlfriends, secretly hoping that someone would take a photo of me in new sweater for DSM Juice Magazine. 

The lights were dim at Breck’s, so naturally, we hit it off.  He was wearing a camel-colored peacoat with black toggle buttons and I thought he was a total babe.  We soon realized we shared similar passions such as fiscal policy and protecting endangered animal species from extinction. After a two-dimensional conversation and several intense games of Naked Photo Hunt, I told Ryan his trial was up– and I wasn’t referring to the 5 free games of Naked Photo Hunt we just played. Alas, it was time for me to go (I’d borrowed my dad’s car and he was blowing up my phone wondering when I was coming home.) I wish I could say that  the evening ended with candles, soft music, and German chocolates, but it didn’t. We embraced in a short, G-rated hug and I went on my way. Although I tried to play it cool, I was fully aware that the man in the toggle-button peacoat had made quite an impression on me.  Maybe it was because I thought he was Paddington Bear for a minute, but regardless, Ryan definitely wore it better.

The following night, I received an unexpected text from Ryan asking me to meet him for a drink at a nearby watering hole. Should I go meet him?  My mind was telling me no…but my body…(R. Kelly reference) was also telling me no. I was already snug as a bug on the couch, wearing XXL sweatpants my dad bought me at Sam’s Club earlier that day.  Not a shot in hell would I let him see me like this. Not this soon.  The next morning I flew back to Austin, and over the next couple months, Ryan and I exchanged a few texts here and there. I was definitely intrigued, but didn’t really think anything would become of our one-time encounter. 

The following May, I headed back to Des Moines to attend a friend’s wedding. Date-less in Des Moines, I asked Ryan if he’d fancy being my arm candy at the wedding, to which he obliged. The morning of the wedding, Ryan and I got together for a well-rounded breakfast of mimosas and headed down to the Des Moines Farmer’s Market. This was a pivotal moment for many reasons. For starters, neither of us had seen the other in direct sunlight. Would he sparkle? Would I melt? Additionally, I needed confirmation that we could hold a conversation lasting several hours, otherwise a potentially painful evening lied ahead. Much to my relief, the conversation flowed easily, neither of us melted,  and we had a great time that day.

Later that evening, we reconvened for the wedding held at the Four Seasons of the Farmland: The Iowa State Fairgrounds. At the reception, we delighted in the mini-corndogs and fair-themed finger foods. The skyglider was running, so we refilled our libations and decided to check it out. I wasn’t sure if it was because I overindulged in the corn dogs or if it was the pure adrenaline rush of carnival rides, but I had a funny feeling inside. Turns out it was my fondness for Ryan which was quickly growing.  We were attached at the hip (not like that, mom)  for the rest of the week.  As I traveled back to Austin, I knew I had found the man I’d been waiting for, and the  romance began.  Ryan planned a trip to visit me in Austin, and we visited one another every few weeks from there on out. The remainder of 2014 consisted of lots of time spent on the road and in the air like “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.”  We had many amazing trips, adventures, and memorable moments. 

By the time 2015 rolled around, the goodbyes were getting harder and the time between visits seemed like eternity. We were willing to do whatever it took to make our relationship work, and we decided it made sense for me to move back to Iowa.  By June of 2015, the right time had come. Ryan flew down to Austin to help me pack up my things and whisk me back to Iowa like a Knight in Shining U-Haul. 

June 25th, 2015 was my last day at work and Ryan flew down to Austin to attend my going-away party that evening. I picked him from the airport in late afternoon and we stopped at my apartment to drop off his bags and freshen up… and that’s when Ryan started acting peculiar.  He’d taken a sudden and overbearing interest in Oscar, my pet. He’s very cute. Ryan kept taking Oscar for walks outside and showering him with excessive amounts of Beggin’ Strips.  Little did I know, he was using Oscar as a proposal prop and had attached a ring box to his collar with the most BEAUTIFUL ring inside. Confused by his new piece of collar flare dangling from his neck, Oscar ran and hid under the bed.  Meanwhile, Ryan was down on one knee, ringless. After Oscar refused to emerge from under the bed, Ryan army-crawled under the bed and grabbed Oscar by the arms and dragged  him out. Once he had a solid grip on our pet, Ryan thrust him up in the air like baby Simba in the Lion King, the ring still attached to his collar. It was perfect. And I said yes, yes, YES! 

I  truly can’t imagine a more perfect partner than Ryan. I’m incredibly grateful for his love and for the life that we share. Ryan makes me the happiest I’ve ever been and he inspires me to be better version of myself every day. I’m so excited for this next chapter of our lives and to see what God has in store for us as Mr. & Mrs. Brooks!    

Ryan & Kara

October 22, 2016

Venue for Ceremony and Reception: The Chateau at White Oak Vineyard

Gown: Harper by Anna Campbell

Headpiece: Dita Hair Ribbon by Sara Gabriel

Beauty: Hair by Refinery Hair, Make-up by Vanity & Glamour

Photography: Chelsea Donoho Photography

Videographer: Michael Wilson

Flowers: Mary Elwell-Steele

Violinist: Tracy Finkelshteyn

Band: Final Mix

Doves: White Doves of Iowa