Real Florida Wedding: Natalie and Ryan

Real Florida Wedding: Natalie Yacoub and Ryan Pugh | Weddings Illustrated

For Natalie Yacoub and Ryan Pugh, it wasn’t their first time meeting, but their second, that proved to be a charm. “We were both living in Florida, and a co-worker of mine was celebrating his and his roommate’s birthdays,” says Natalie. “Ryan happened to know the other roommate from their days of playing football against each other at their neighboring small-town high schools in Ohio.” Although Natalie and Ryan both turned up at the party that night, “Neither of us wanted to give the other the time of day,” Natalie recalls. “Then, a year and half later, on the Fourth of July, those same two mutual friends hosted a party. Ryan and I ran into each on the front lawn and proceeded to talk the entire night—we never even went inside the house! The next day we went kayaking, and the rest is history.”

Ryan and Natalie were married on February 28, 2014, at Rocking H Ranch in Lakeland, in what Natalie describes as a wedding with “Southern Elegance and a hint of outdoorsman charm.” 

In creating a look for their wedding, Natalie and Ryan wanted to make sure they felt comfortable, and that the design was a balance of both of their personalities. “We worked with Laura, our event designer, to create a perfect blend of elegant décor that had a touch of both masculinity and femininity,” Natalie says. “We loved the natural charm of the venue, and wanted to accentuate its Southern beauty.”

One way the couple accomplished just that? “Ryan and I collected, and mounted, an array of antlers that Laura then turned into an escort display by placing them on a wooden backdrop and hanging the cards from the antlers,” Natalie says. The groom also built a custom swing—”It was actually made to fit a crib mattress,” says Natalie—and the couple had a chandelier hung above it. “Guests loved the little romantic spot, and the wooden swing blended perfectly into the scenery,” she says.

Floral design also went a long way in establishing the wedding aesthetic, and Ryan and Natalie were involved in choosing them from the start. “When we met with Jana, our florist, we told her we wanted to find that same blend of feminine and masculine elements. We wanted to avoid anything overtly girly or harsh. We ended up incorporating both antlers and pheasant feathers with the creamy, fluffy flowers, to represent both Ryan and myself. Ironically enough, our planner Laura’s uncle, John Hooge, is an avid hunter, and he shipped us a box of pheasant feathers from his winter hunts. It was such a fun twist!”

In addition to the personal touches incorporated into their ceremony and reception decor, Natalie and Ryan made sure their invitation suite was uniquely their own, too, and a reflection of their personalities and their wedding venue. “When we talked about creating our invitation suite, Laura, our planner and designer, mentioned that her uncle, John Hooge, was also well known for drawing trees,” Natalie says. “Even though he lived in Kansas, we sent him pictures of the oak tree we’d be getting married beneath, and he mailed us back a gorgeous print of it that Laura then used for all of our print materials. It was the perfect touch!”

During the wedding planning process, Natalie and Ryan, who live in Melbourne, fell in love with Lakeland and, as a result, wanted to highlight lots of local vendors throughout the weekend. “Elizabeth Hults, a local Lakeland artist, created a gorgeous watercolor that Laura incorporated into a welcome note. We also put handmade bourbon marshmallows into the welcome bags! Our late night snack, which was an enormous hit, were freshly made beignets by The Poor Porker, a local food truck. We love that we can still venture back over to Lakeland on the weekends and still get a taste of the best day of our lives!”

Venue: Rocking H Ranch / Planning & Decor: Ashton Events / Photography: Angel Gray PhotographyBride’s Dress: Allure Bridals / Florals: Events in Bloom / Cake: Puff ‘n Stuff / Invitations & Print Material: Ashton Events (custom tree drawing by John Hooge; custom watercolor painting by Elizabeth Hults)

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