“I used to foster dogs, and Mark called me as a potential adopter,” shares Lisa, of her first encounter with her husband-to-be. “Needless to say, the meet-and-greet at the dog park went very well. Mark adopted Barney…and me.”

Mark proposed in December 2016 in front of a Santa photo booth. “I was in total shock, because although I knew the proposal was coming, we had only made plans to bring our dog to meet Santa a few hours prior.” Lisa was so busy convincing Santa to hold her dog that she didn’t notice Mark was busy getting down on one knee. “When I turned around and saw him on one knee, I was confused. I thought, ‘How did he surprise me?’” she says.

The couple wanted to keep their wedding small and in a vacation-like atmosphere. “I would be lying if I said planning wasn’t stressful at times,” says the bride. “Especially being so far away from the venue and leading a busy life in Louisiana. But I had a great wedding planner and decided to not let the little details overwhelm me.”

Lisa’s stepdad officiated the wedding, she says, “He was hilarious, and it was so special. The whole ceremony was very, very unplanned…we laughed, we cried. Actually, I think everyone laughed and cried. It was kind of a mess, but wonderful,” remembers the bride.

For the ceremony, the couple decided to write their own vows. “I wrote mine while my hair was being done for the wedding,” she admits. “I typed them in my phone and then time slipped away from me. I never had time to transcribe them to paper. Right before the ceremony, I was frantically looking for my phone because I needed my vows. Thankfully, my brother-in-law had it. I had to read my vows from my phone during the ceremony. Funny thing is so did Mark. That is kind of our life…we always meet the deadlines, but things can be a little hectic getting there. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The reception was “more beautiful than I had ever imagined,” says Lisa. “I owe that to the florist, Meghon with Love & Lupines Floral Design, and my planner, Donna with Joy of Life Events.”

But by far her favorite moment of the day was the first look. “Mark teared up,” she remembers fondly. “He never cries. It was sweet and unexpected…but I was hoping for it.” 

—Darren Elms