This Real Wedding feature’s main characters are the epitome of resilience, having gone through three different wedding venue changes and two different dates before they finally were able to have the wedding of their dreams. This wedding took place on a beautiful Texan day in August of 2020. Yes, 2020… Tess and Zach Richter were one of so many couples that had to hurdle all of the Covid restrictions and city-wide lockdowns that particular summer. And may we just say we think they hurdled ever-so-gracefully?!

Read on for all of the details from Tess about their wedding day, and do not miss her re-telling of the couples’ movie-worthy meet cute!

How did the two of you meet?

Zach and I met on our 15th birthday in English class freshman year of high school (San Antonio, TX). Yes, that’s right, we have the same birthday. Some of Zach’s friends were wishing him a happy birthday in class, so I wished him happy birthday too and shared that it was also my birthday. Zach smiled and said that was pretty cool and wished me a happy birthday back. That little exchange broke the ice, connected us, and paved the way for many shared birthdays to come. Months later, when our mom’s met, they figured out we were born in the same hospital on the same day, and that we were literally crib mates.

We dated all through high school and maintained a long-distance relationship in college. I attended The University of Alabama and studied speech pathology while Zach studied petroleum engineering at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. Zach played football in college, and I loved visiting him to watch his games and spend time together in Denver. When I graduated from graduate school, I moved to Dallas and Zach joined me after he graduated with his MBA.

How did he propose?

For as long as I remember, Zach has always been the designated family Christmas card photographer, as he has always accompanied us on our family vacations each summer. In 2019, my family planned a trip to Yellowstone National Park ending on July 4th in Jackson Hole Wyoming. Zach and my brother Turner flew into Jackson Hole in time for the July 4th festivities.  We decided to take our Christmas Card photo at Jenny Lake in the nearby Grand Tetons in the late afternoon golden sunlight with Zach as our usual family photographer. However, this time there were greater plans in play and when my mom offered to take a picture of Zach and I in a more secluded area I was none the wiser. Next thing I knew, Zach has poured out his heart and was on his knee asking me to marry him!  I was the only one surprised. Everyone else knew the Christmas card photo was a cover for the proposal. I was totally caught by surprise.


What made you select your particular wedding and reception venue?

2 dates, 2 cities, 3 venues, 4 wedding plans

What a firestorm planning a 2020 wedding was. Originally, we had planned to get married in Denver, with the cooler summer weather and the city holding a special place in our hearts from the time Zach lived in Colorado. We had planned to have the wedding at the beautiful Cathedral Basilica in downtown Denver with the reception at the Kimpton Born Denver hotel next to Union Station on June 22nd 2020. Then covid came and Colorado, along with everywhere else, was in lockdown. We pushed the wedding back to August 20th, 2020, with hopes Colorado’s restrictions would loosen and we could move forward with our Denver wedding. However, by June/July, Denver was still in lockdown, only allowing us to have 23 guests at our reception, while Texas, and our hometown of San Antonio, was opening back up. So, we made the decision to move the wedding to San Antonio, found all new vendors and landed a historic train station, Sunset Station, for our reception venue. Luckily, my hometown catholic church, St Anthony de Padua still had August 20th available. It seemed we were still going to have the wedding of our dreams, albeit much smaller than originally expected. Then just 30 days before the wedding, the mayor of San Antonio shut the city down, even though the rest of Texas remained open. We were devastated. By this time, we just wanted to get married and were so tired of replanning our wedding, but didn’t want to give up on our dreams of celebrating our marriage with our closest friends and family. After a good cry, we decided to look at one last wedding venue, Lost Mission, which was just outside of San Antonio city limits.

It was perfect. The venue held 300, we had 100 guests and was able to spread them out, minimize the number of guests per table keeping them in their “family groups” to minimize the covid risk.

Luckily, our bus company, Hermes Worldwide Transportation, had partners in San Antonio and helped us reschedule transportation to take our guests from downtown San Antonio for the 40 minute ride to the Lost Mission venue so no one had to drive after enjoying the reception bubbly.

Lost Mission was comfortably elegant with its beautiful oak trees, mission style venue with grand cedar columns and elegant draping. They truly made my wedding dreams (finally) come true. 

Dogwood Hill was with us every step of the way with words of kindness and encouragement. We printed and mailed the original June 22 invitations from Denver during spring break the week before shutdown. Reprinted for August 20th in Denver, then reprinted invitations again for August 20th in San Antonio Sunset Station. For the last venue change to Lost Mission it was such short notice we sent an email to all our guests.  Thankfully, Dogwood Hill helped ensure our Day of wedding materials were just gorgeous! All worth it!

What was the feel that you wanted to accomplish for your wedding and how did Dogwood Hill paper coordinate with that? 

At first, I was looking at a few super simple invitations at a place that offered a suite of products. I told my mom I wanted a suite of products and showed her what I was looking at but that I thought it was too plain.  She immediately sent me the link to Dogwood Hill’s wedding suite page.  All the invitations were so beautiful and elegant which is the feel I was looking for. Because we were planning at a Texas wedding in Colorado, the Sonoma Suite, while lavender flowers, resembled Texas bluebonnets, which made my heart jump when I saw them.  The invitations were beautiful, elegant, and had the perfect pop of personality which was exactly what we wanted. 

What about your wedding was unique?  

We had so many changes: date, then location, then one month before wedding having to change again. As our guests RSVP’d to the different wedding invitations and family and friends flexed with the changes, we were lucky to be surrounded by so much love, support, and understanding during such an exciting but challenging time. In the end, our wedding day was absolutely perfect with our closest friends and relatives being there to celebrate with us. My mom, a retired project manager, moved mountains to give us the wedding and reception of our dreams despite the logistics nightmares. Absolutely couldn’t have done it without her. 

Additionally, to keep our guests safe, we added two things specific to Covid with added personalization for our wedding; masks and hand sanitizer. My mom sewed 100 masks for our guests with Texas themes of bluebonnets for the ladies and Texas Stars for guys all on white background for the wedding.  We branded these items with Love is contagious  “courageous”  as a humorous take on a serious situation. We also incorporated our pets as Groom ‘s Cake toppers. 

What traditions did you incorporate into your wedding? 

My family has a blue dress that has been handed down across 4 generations of flower girls that is worn at all the Tarrillion weddings.  My aunt Frances wore it at my Uncle Tommy’s wedding in 1966. My cousin Brandy wore it at my cousin Cynthia’s wedding in 1988. I wore it at my cousin Michelle’s wedding in 1999. Brandy’s daughter, Madison, wore it at my wedding in 2020.  Also, I incorporated my grandmother’s beaded fabric and lace crown into my wedding day. It has been worn by 3 brides before me, however, I’m not much of a crown kind of a girl. So I wore the crown in my updo and it made me feel like she was part of my big day.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? 

San Antonio Texas is ridiculously hot in August, especially late August. The weather was predicted to be 100 degrees on my wedding day, but there was nothing we could do about that. As we were getting ready with hair and makeup at the hotel, it suddenly started raining; a sign of  good luck.  There was no rain in the forecast, no prediction of rain anywhere, yet it rained. And it cooled the hot Texas temperature to a lovely 80 degrees.  A record low for August on my wedding day, an answer to Mom’s prayers. And it stopped raining just in time for me to head to church. The cocktail reception on the patio under the oak trees was so delightfully cool and comfortable, everyone wanted to stay outside instead of heading to the reception hall where the hors d’oeuvres were being served. 

More personally, I have many little moments I hold dear from our wedding day. Little snippets of time like waiting outside the church for my dad to rejoin me and walk me down the aisle. Just me standing outside those big doors, having a surreal moment realizing Zach and I were finally about to get married.Then seeing Zach at the front of the church, he’s crying and I’m crying walking towards him. We also shared a brief moment just to ourselves and practiced our dance routine in the church at Lost Mission before we rang the church bell and made our grand entrance. 

Do you have any advice for a bride planning her wedding? 

With all the crazy changes we experienced, I learned how important it is to remain flexible and be resilient. These wedding plan trials are just the test run for married life, the changes are not life and death, it’s ok for plans to change, nothing is perfect, don’t expect your big day to come off without a hitch, just stay focused on what really matters, that at the end of the day you get to be married to your best friend. 

Photography: Bend the Light Photography

Paper: Dogwood Hill Sonoma Suite

Venue: Lost Mission

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