Though Ellen Hall and Reed Williams had both graduated from the same high school in the same year, they’d failed to meet as teenagers. When they first connected at a mutual friend’s Christmas party following their undergraduate years, Ellen had a thought. “Looking back, it’s probably a good thing [that we didn’t know one another in high school] since we were both at such different places in our lives,” she reveals. After they had been dating for a few years, the pair joined Ellen’s family on a vacation in Italy. The romance of the rustic villa nested amongst the winding rows of vines and grapes on a Tuscan vineyard affirmed to Reed that it was time to propose. “We were on an early morning walk, just the two of us, and we stopped at the top of a hill. Reed insisted that we have a dance, and got down on his knee and popped the question!” Ellen beams. “It was a moment that neither of us will forget.”

It was important to the couple that they wed in a location with sentimental value for the both of them: a chapel on the grounds of their high school. Once the venue had been selected, Ellen and Reed turned their attention to the details. “I did most of the research on my own,” says the bride. “[Though] Reed was incredibly involved [in decision-making], which made the planning that much more fun.” She also notes the amazement she felt on the big day: “It was fun to see it all come together after the hours online, [countless] meetings with our wedding planner, and dinner dates discussing the details.”

The ceremony space was bedecked simply, as not to compete with the pontifical adornments of the chapel. Reed looked on with excitement as the bridesmaids – clad in floor-length ensembles in alternating hues of amethyst and lavender – strolled down the aisle with brilliantly bright bouquets of peonies, roses, and other vibrant blooms. At last, the bride made her way toward her groom in a modified A-line gown that featured a sweetheart neckline and intricate beading. She clutched an array of ivory perennials with a special detail around the stems. “[My] grandfather, Bill, could not physically make it to the wedding, so he gave [me my great grandmother’s wedding ring;] a gift that [I] will cherish forever,” Ellen confides.

After the vows, friends and family were ushered to a second venue nearby to continue the celebration. Upon arrival, guests were in awe of the colorful blossoms strewn all about the area. “We chose a mix of desert [and] berry-toned flowers that emulated an Arizona sunset. We placed the flowers in wood boxes and surrounded them with copper candles, lanterns, and gold accents,” explains the bride of her favorite reception element. “Reed’s mom and stepfather are florists and [they] poured their hearts into making every arrangement perfect – and [they were]!” Violet table linens were placed underneath rustic accoutrements, along with wooden blocks painted with table numbers in white. “I kept calling [our motif] ‘Southwest Elegant Chic,’” Ellen adds. “We personalized a lot of the décor – [we] had special pillows on our love seat, a big succulent ‘W’ over the fireplace, and fun props as part of the photo booth.”

The cozy atmosphere of the evening made revelers feel right at home. Muses the bride, “I did not want the reception area to feel like a ballroom, so I focused my design efforts on making it feel like the guests were in a comfortable, vintage living room around a gorgeous fireplace [that] just happened to have a dance floor [so they could] dance their hearts out!” All that fun made friends and relatives work up an appetite – and dessert did not disappoint. The newlyweds selected a trio of round cakes as their celebratory confection: lemon, strawberry, and rum flavors featuring an array of unique designs. As for the most memorable moment of their event, Ellen does not hesitate. “[It was] at dinner when [Reed and I] were sitting facing all of our friends and family – it was magical,” she smiles. “The tables and the tent looked perfect, and I realized that it was the perfect moment.”