Meet the Couple – Bride & Groom
The Bride – Laura Der Hopkins – Associate Athletic Director at Jacksonville University
The Groom – Ryan Hopkins – Environmental Scientist
Honeymoon Location – Amalfi Coast, Italy
First Dance Song – Hello by Kenny Chesney
Favorite Date Night – We are both major foodies, so we love to try new restaurants, get takeout and do beach picnics, or even just big lavish cookouts in our backyard!
Laura, tell us your story…
TELL US YOUR LOVE STORY!
We grew up 140 miles apart. We went to the SAME college (We Are… MARSHALL) and were BOTH athletes. Ryan played baseball, and I played volleyball. But, we did not date or anything during that time.
Ryan moved to Jacksonville, Florida in February of 2017 after getting transferred by his company to be an environmental scientist in this region. I moved to Jacksonville, Florida in February of 2018, also for a career move to Jacksonville University (with her pup Nike in tow!).
When Ryan had seen that Laura moved down to Jacksonville, he reached out to her and asked if he could take her to dinner and tell her about Jacksonville – plus how nice it was to have a Marshall friendly face here in Jax!
Jokingly, in a text message, Laura told Ryan that the way to her heart was through a chocolate chip cookie. And Ryan showed up at her door to pick her up with a box full of chocolate chip cookies — which was our wedding favor!
TELL US YOUR ENGAGEMENT STORY!
We got engaged in December of 2018 and then married July 27 of 2019.
I made it difficult for Ryan (as I jokingly do most things) because I was going a million miles an hour with a list of things to do that day.
Ryan’s sister was in town, and we were all headed to St. Augustine, FL that night to look at Christmas lights (I LOVE Christmas) and to eat dinner. But I needed to go shopping for an upcoming event and dragged Ryan to no less than 10 stores first. By the time we got to St. Augustine, there was pretty much nowhere to park, tourists EVERYWHERE, people on trollies singing bad Christmas songs loudly through the town – which I consider my “worst nightmare.”
Ryan said he wanted to go see the Lightner Museum (a beautiful historic museum that is all lit up at Christmas), and I took off basically sprinting so they could check it off the list.
After a lot of creativity in actually getting the ring from Madison, we started to take a photo together. During the count to three, Ryan pulled away and dropped to one knee. In the video, you can see that I start to get angry when he pulled away because he was messing up the picture! I immediately burst into tears and said YES! And then a trolly pulled up and all the strangers on board cheered and clapped for us – perfectly ironic moment!
Laura, tell us about planning your wedding…
What are three words you would use to describe the style of your wedding day? How would you describe the feel?
Classic, Romantic & Southern
Everything that day felt intentional. Intentionally invited guests who have shaped and mentored us as individuals and as husband and wife.
Intentional words spoken (ceremony/vows) that over and over again shared our mantra that Love is a Choice, and we are choosing to love each other that day and every single day forever.
Intentional songs whose lyrics or associated memories would spark joy.
Intentional decor that not only made for a beautiful atmosphere, but also paid tribute to those who could not be there in person to share our day.
Where did you gather inspiration from for your wedding day?
Anywhere and everywhere including movies, friends, Pinterest, Instagram, magazines, random people’s photos on photography and venue websites.
Why did you choose to have your wedding at Warrenwood Manor?
Warrenwood had everything we could have wanted in amenities and facilities – from the hours allowed, to the get ready spaces, to the restrooms to the AC. And the GORGEOUS scenery! When we saw the windmill, we both absolutely fell in love with the venue. Plus, there are cows! And Ryan grew up on a farm, and Laura’s grandfather was a farmer in Wisconsin, so it made everything that much more special.
What were you most excited about on your wedding day?
No matter what could go wrong, unplanned or anything in between, at the end of the day we would be husband and wife, and that is literally all that mattered to us.
In what ways did you personalize your wedding day?
- Saved seats with bouquets for Ryan’s mom and Laura’s grandmother (both who watched from Heaven that day!)
- Signature Drink – Bourbon Peach Lemonade with Kentucky’s Ale-8
- Wrote our own ceremony script for the officiant
- Wrote our own vows
- Laura wore “little white flowers all up in her hair” as an homage to the song Butterfly Kisses (father/daughter dance song)
- Can you say ribs and mac & cheese bar during cocktail hour? Hello foodies!
Of all of the beautiful moments of your wedding day, which do you cherish the most?
We had multiple people tell us that of all the weddings they’d ever been to, we were by far the most in-love couple they had ever seen, and they could feel how real and authentic our love is.
What was the funniest thing that happened on your wedding day?
Some of the photos captured – in their randomness or candidness – have been some of the funniest memories to look back on.
What advice would you give to a newly engaged couple starting the wedding planning process?
Prepare and invest in more than a wedding DAY, but rather your entire marriage.
What is something about your wedding that you thought you would care about, but ended up not?
As someone who plans major events, I was so caught up in every detail preparing for and setting everything up the day before. They all absolutely fell away as soon as I saw Ryan.
Is there anything else you think our readers need to know about you, your wedding, or your experience?
They say it takes a village to raise a child. But we also believe it also takes a village to build and sustain a marriage. We built a lot of our wedding plans with this village in mind. How to honor and thank them, make sure they had a wonderful experience, and to share our day and our love with them.
What have you been up to since your wedding day?
We bought our first home in January of 2020 and on May 14, 2020 we welcomed baby Colt Douglas Hopkins into the world.
What are you most excited about when it comes to your future together?
A lifetime of adventures, big and small, that we get to do together.
What vendors contributed to your stunning summer wedding?
Venue | Warrenwood Manor
Photographer | Leanne Hunley Photography
Videographer | Big Hill Productions
Florist | Roots Floral Design
Baker | Sweets by Cindy
Caterer | City BBQ
Bartender | Amendment 21
DJ | Clear Pro DJ
Hair | Blush + Glow
Makeup | Blush + Glow
Dress | Allure Bridal Boutique