Their fairy tale came true.
When Alexandria “Alex” Place said her heartfelt “yes” to John Thomas when he proposed marriage in February 2021, the backdrop was Cinderella’s castle at Florida’s Disney World.
“It was so perfect. We still had to wear masks because of COVID, but it was a special moment. There weren’t a lot of people, so in our photos, it looks like we were the only people there,” recalled Alex of Denver, IA.
On one knee, John slipped an engagement ring from Roth’s Jewelers onto Alex’s finger.
Those magical moments were transformed into a romantic wedding ceremony on July 9, 2022, when the couple wed at Prairie Lakes Church, followed by a celebration at Bien VenU Event Center, both in Cedar Falls.
Planning the perfect day can be stressful, but Alex and John listened to each other and made time for themselves throughout the process.
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“We had a fairly big wedding because we wanted all our family and friends there. We wanted a romantic, personal wedding with hints of Disney, of course,” Alex explained. “It was important that it felt like our day, that we thought about ‘what do John and Alex want, what do they want as a couple?’”
About 270 guests attended the ceremony and reception.
For the ceremony, the couple chose to recite traditional vows and included scripture readings and favorite music played on the church’s sound system. Blush and navy blue were the wedding colors. Five bridesmaids wore gowns in varying shades of blush pink, while an equal number of groomsmen wore navy tuxedos. The groom wore an ivory tie.
“The bridesmaids could pick whatever style dress they felt comfortable wearing. I wanted an aesthetic look, not dresses that were matchy-matchy,” the bride explained.
Alex chose a beautiful Madi Lane wedding dress from Mara bridal in Charles City. The full-length ivory crepe gown had pearl accents, square neckline and modestly open back. It was sleek, classic and elegant, worn with a pearl-adorned veil and her mother’s string of pearls. At the reception, Alex slipped into a sheer pearl jacket – “just to spice up the dress,” she said.
Her bouquet was lush and filled with a variety of pink and ivory roses for a feminine, vintage look. Bancroft’s Flowers and Greenhouses in Cedar Falls designed flowers and arrangements for the wedding and reception.
Immediately following the vows, guests gathered to socialize and grab snacks from the Chick Fil A and Bowls of Love food trucks set up in the church parking lot. Before the reception began, Alex and John also treated their families to a stop at SingleSpeed Brewery and Taproom in Cedar Falls.
At Bien VenU, table décor, flowers and rustic touches created a romantic setting for the reception. The bride hired a stylist, Vowed Vintage, to set up and pull the look together. Bancroft’s adorned tall structures with flowers, while tables held arrangements, bud and hurricane vases filled with greenery and numerous slender vessels containing floating candles. Navy table runners and rose-gold accents carried through the wedding color palette.
Guests sat down to a dinner featuring the choice of sirloin steak or chicken Marsala, served with several side dishes and salad. A full bar offered wine and beer. After dinner, the bridal party enjoyed the sunset and posed for photos with wedding photographer Elliot Tensen.
Rockets Bakery in Waterloo made the wedding cake – a lemon layer for Alex and a marbled layer for John. After slicing and serving each other pieces of cake, sheet cakes were sliced for guests to enjoy.
A photo booth provided fun for guests, and friend and DJ Baltazar Mosqueda of Cedar Rapids spun tunes. A large LED sign proclaiming “LOVE” bathed the dance floor with light for the couple’s first dance, “You” by Dan + Shay.
“That song is special to us. We’re really big fans. The first concert we went to was Dan + Shay for my birthday, and we saw them again at the Iowa State Fair,” Alex noted.
Father and daughter danced to “I Loved Her First” by Heartland, and Alex brought her mom, grandmother, great-grandmother and mother-in law onto the floor for “Mom” by Meghan Trainor.
“All the moms were out there dancing. It was a really special, memorable moment. My mom’s mom is 97 years old. She stood up on her own on the dance floor, and the crowd went wild,” Alex recalled.
Her favorite wedding memory is the ceremony itself, when the couple “told our story in a personal, relatable way,” as well as the few quiet moments she shared with John outdoors at the reception.
John said, “My favorite moment from the wedding was our sparklers exit. Surrounded by our family and friends, having them cheer us on, is a memory I will cherish forever.”
A morning-after brunch gave John and Alex an opportunity to thank family members and close friends for their support and love, open a few gifts and say farewell before departing on their honeymoon to the Bahamas.
Alex teaches nutrition and health-related courses at the Waterloo Career Center and Hawkeye Community College. She’s also head coach for the Cedar Falls High School women’s soccer team. John works for Lincoln Savings Bank in Waterloo.
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