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I’m Melanie, the girl behind the lens at Melanie Foster Photography. Whether you’re getting ready for your upcoming OU senior or your Bartlesville or Tulsa family photography experience, I hope you’ll stay a while, pick up a few tips, and be inspired for your own MFP photo session! 

The Grand Ivory Wedding – The Russells – Our Favorite Moments


The Grand Ivory Wedding – The Russells – Our Favorite Moments

It’s my first blog as Melanie Russell!!!!!

How fun is that!? We took a much needed hiatus for the month of September to celebrate all things wedding & honeymoon (and home renovation!) but I am glad to be back to share some of the fun. I actually wasn’t even planning on posting this until next Tuesday, but when we got our full wedding gallery back ONE WEEK AFTER THE DAY (!!!!! SHE IS AMAZING!!!!), there was no way I could wait any longer!

This blog post isn’t a traditional wedding blog post – I’ll leave that one to our INCREDIBLE photographer, Katelyn James!! Instead, I want to share an un-curated glimpse into the behind the scenes of our intimate September Grand Ivory wedding!! All the things I loved and want to remember, a few iPhone photos, and some insight into details, moments, and decisions that may not be as obvious!

Jonathan and I left Bartlesville on Tuesday the week of the wedding to travel down to Texas. We spent a few days running last minute errands and spending time with family, including a dinner with both sets of parents on Wednesday! Thursday was our rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, planned and hosted by my wonderful in-laws, and then Friday was the big day! I HIGHLY recommend Friday weddings. While I know it can be difficult for guests and accommodating travel/work schedules, as the couple, we really enjoyed kicking off the weekend with the big day (and the venue discount for a non-Saturday date!).

Katie, Claire, and my bridesmaids took SO MANY iPhone photos for me! This was a HUGE blessing. I barely had my phone on me and I was so grateful they took the initiative to snap away, even in moments I wasn’t able to ask for photos of. If you are in a season of life where you’re in a lot of weddings, or about to be, be this person!! Take photos for the bride, even when she may not ask for them or realize she wants them! I cherish these photos and am so grateful I didn’t have to worry about having my phone on me the whole time.

Some of our favorite people we got to work with made this day above and beyond. I’m insanely grateful for our photographer, videographer, and beauty team. Everyone always told me the day is a blur, and while I didn’t feel like it totally passed me by, it did happen FAST. And there were so many moments, details, and elements that I just totally missed or didn’t get to fully appreciate. The photos and video bring it all back to life in a new way, and from a perspective that we didn’t get as the bride and groom! I absolutely ADORE getting to see these precious moments from the outside – I lived them and loved them, but nothing beats getting to re-live them all over again! You can’t miss our sneak peek video – I’ve watched it almost every day since we got it!

Katelyn, Michael, and Emy traveled from Virginia to be here with us to celebrate and capture every detail of our wedding day, sacrificing time with family and at home for our big day. I’ll treasure them FOREVER. While I don’t have a photo with Clint and Lauren, I could sing their praises all day. They filmed my sister’s wedding in 2012, and I interned with them the summer of 2013! Talk about a full-circle moment! Our video looks like a Hollywood movie!

When it came to hair and makeup, I would recommend Meagan 100 times over again. I knew I was going to love her right off the bat – she runs her business in a way that allows her potential clients and brides to get to know her before ever meeting her. When I met her for the first time at her house for my bridal portrait trial a few weeks ago, I felt like we had so much to catch up on – just simply by following her home updates and Instagram stories! She made me feel SO beautiful, of course through her craft, but also through the way she treated me and my bridal party. I’ll never forget her sitting on her hands and knees helping Em dab a stain off the side of my dress before my first look. A+++++ team right there.

I HIGHLY recommend a first look. This was when we shared our personal vows to one another. We did traditional vows during the ceremony!

Speaking of the ceremony – Jonathan LOST IT as I walked down the aisle. Absolutely lost it. The sweetest. I also loved our first kiss as husband & wife – watch our video sneak peek to see it!!

groom watches his bride walk down the aislefall at the grand ivory wedding

Little known fact – I ended up designing all of the day-of paper myself. I hated to spend money on things that I knew wouldn’t be multi-purposed or just thrown away. One of the things I wanted to be very personal was our guest book. My mom gifted us a Russell family bible. We asked our guests to highlight their favorite verse and leave a note. This will live on our coffee table and be our guest book for our home as well! My other favorite paper-good was our table numbers! We included a childhood photo of both me and Jonathan on each table with the corresponding age! So for table 1, the photos were of us at age 1, etc.!

unique wedding details at the grand ivory wedding

My Poppa wrote and gave the blessing at my sisters’ weddings in 2006 and 2012. Because of COVID, he couldn’t be there to celebrate with us. I knew as soon as we found this out that it was that much more important to me that he still write the blessing for us. My mom offered to read it in place of her dad, and of course we barely kept it together. It is so special to me to have this in his handwriting, too. I will cherish it forever.

grandparent blessing for a wedding at the grand ivory in leonard, texas

Our first AND last dance! I dreamt about these moments probably more than any other part of the day. We danced to “True” by George Strait – we wanted the first one to be classic and country – something that didn’t feel too sappy or trendy. I was set on having this song be played all the way through because I wanted to savor in the moment as long as I could. About half way through the dance, I told Jonathan I was regretting that hahaha. I think we both ended up loving our final dance more, which was to “Better Together” by Luke Combs. It brought us into the moment a bit more and was a really special few minutes we had alone.

september wedding at the grand ivory

Two of the best decisions: wearing a long, lightweight veil and Jonathan’s Brackish Bowtie. I borrowed this gem from my matron-of-honor and best friend, Claire. It is so sweet to me that she was willing to share this piece with me. These sunset portraits with it on are my FAVORITE! And Jonathan’s tie was the star of the show – he got SO many compliments on it and it was well worth the splurge!! The colors are unreal!

bride and groom celebrate at the grand ivory weddingdetails at the grand ivory wedding

Like so many other 2020 couples, we had to make some difficult decisions surrounding our wedding day because of COVID. The biggest one was downsizing our guest list, which we felt was the best way to mitigate risk of an outbreak following our wedding. We ended up having about 85 of our closest friends and family in attendance, and while we loved having a small, intimate day, we missed our friends and family who couldn’t be in attendance with us (including four of our grandparents). This made it that much bigger of a deal that we had guests who went out of their way to get to our wedding – including Aimee traveling from Nashville and Nicolette traveling from Minnesota to be with us. I was in tears upon seeing them at our cocktail hour! The most treasured friends!

The boys – Zack, John, and Adam – y’all are the MOST FUN!!!! These three were the life of the party on the dance floor, dancing with the kids and being the most goofy and wild. It was a blast to watch! I had to joke that Harrison found his new uncles 🙂 especially after Adam taught him the worm! Thank you for the JOY you bring to everyone around you, the entertainment, and not being afraid to be a little crazy!

You better believe we had a non-traditional exit. At our catering tasting earlier this summer, someone had the idea to throw Skinny Pop, and we DID IT! If you know me, you know I love this stuff!! Thank you to Crystal and our planning team for cleaning up after this!! It was a DREAM COME TRUE!!!

popcorn wedding exit wedding exit ideas

We had the best day – it was easy, full of so much joy, and a blessing to celebrate all the Lord has done in our lives. I am honored that He has given me Jonathan – not only as my husband, but also as my leader. I told him on the way home from our honeymoon that it’s honestly difficult for me to see his faults. I know they are there. I have experienced them, just as he experiences and is effected by mine (which are much more apparent than his, hah!). Regardless, he holds a special place in my heart that no one else has ever held, and I am honored we get to be sanctified and in pursuit of Christ through our relationship. It is a gift to be his wife.


Photographer | Katelyn James

Ceremony + Reception| The Grand Ivory

Dress Store | Chantilly Couture

Dress Designer | Jenny Yoo

Florist | Olive Grove

Planner | Ivory & Vine Events

Hair & Make Up | Meagan Bechtl Starr

DJ | Le Force Entertainment 

Videographer | Candlelight Films

Cake | Candy Haven

Catering | Vestals Catering

Bridesmaids Dresses | Azazie

Groomsmen Attire | The Black Tux

Groom’s Bow Tie | Brackish

Invitations | Sizelove Letter Co.

Photo Backdrop | Tiana May Designs

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