Mary Ellen Hanna & John Robert Gebhard
Hometowns: Corpus Christi & Salt Lake City, UT
How did you meet? We met on Match.com. It was love at first sight on our first date. We became a couple that day and never looked back.
Tell us about the proposal. We were in Napa for a business trip and John had scheduled a wine tour at Rutherford Vineyards. After we were done, he said he wanted to take a walk. We ended up walking through another rancher’s vineyard as the sun was setting. We were just talking about a topic and he said to me, “You can’t do that unless you’re married.” I said, “Well, some day. There’s no rush.” And he said it again, and I was clueless. He finally stopped me and turned me around and said, “Well, I want you to be married, and I want to know if you will marry me?” Of course I said yes, and then I was walking down the vineyard and stopped—and it hit me that we were going to be married. I was so excited that I was jumping up and down! I was so overjoyed. The sun was shining just right, it was the perfect time and place for a proposal.
What inspired the design or theme of your wedding day? We love the fall. John actually helped a lot! He picked out the pumpkins and helped get the chapel and the restaurant ready. John also found my dress! He has great taste and style. We wanted a fall-themed wedding that was more natural, so we went with the beautiful garland (we found it at Hobby Lobby), and used pumpkins, gourds, sprigs of berries, and orange flowers in a cornucopia for the centerpieces.
How did you choose your venue and vendors? We wanted to be married in a church, but the church we attend is huge! We wanted an intimate chapel because our wedding was fairly small (40 people), and we wanted it to represent Texas. Most of the guests were from out of state. I found Polly’s Chapel after doing an online search for images of historical chapels. We read the backstory on the chapel and fell in love. So we drove out one night after dinner and when we saw the chapel, we knew it would be perfect!
What were some of the most unique elements of your wedding? The chapel is for sure one of our favorite parts of the wedding. The charm and simplicity of it made decorating easy because it really didn’t need much. The pictures came out so beautifully because of the location. The old pianos and stone made wonderful backgrounds for Sonia’s pictures. We loved that we used simple things you can find at your local store like the heirloom pumpkins on the steps and the gourds for the tables. We used fun antique cake stands to display the variety of cupcakes from Bird Bakery, which were a work of art all by themselves.
Did anything about your wedding exceed your expectations? The location was so beautiful at sunset! We could not have asked for a better day for weather either. The first cold front of the season. Sonia, our photographer, was amazing. She was quick and efficient, you hardly knew she was there, and then we got her sample pictures and I was so surprised by how many interesting and unique shots she was able to take. The people. There were people from four states, two families, grandkids, kids from each previous marriage, and each had unique friends. Everyone got along beautifully and had so much fun. The food. Little Gretel went above and beyond to make it a very special dinner.
What are your favorite memories from the day? My sister sang a Francesca Battistelli song called “Holy Spirit” to begin the wedding ceremony. The song represents our core foundation and priority in God. It set an amazing, beautiful, spiritual, God-filled setting. It was beautiful and the chapel has the most amazing acoustics. Just getting to meet John at the pulpit knowing I was his forever was really my most favorite part of the day! And this, as John told me, showed on his face. He has never smiled so big! Sharing it with our children, parents, and family and friends was also very special. Many traveled very far to be a part of our special day.
What advice do you have for couples planning a San Antonio wedding? I would say: keep the wedding about the marriage, not about the event. Think about what message you want to send to your witnesses. You want a nice wedding, but sometimes it can get so big that you forget why you are planning it in the first place. We wanted simple and elegant, and I believe we achieved that. There are many charming and different spaces available all around San Antonio. Have fun and explore them, you will know the venue when you see it.
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