• Kara Salpeter & Tyler Reese
  • Melanie Fernandez
  • Wedding Advice Series
Kara Salpeter & Tyler Reese

June 1, 2013

Ceremony & Reception: The Biltmore Hotel, Alhambra Room

Photographer: Rodrigo Varela

How you met your husband.

Tyler and I met in Undergrad at Elon University Anatomy. He was two years ahead of me in school but we were both Biology majors. My freshman year of school I took Human Anatomy and he was one of the Teaching Assistants for the Lab portion. After I aced the class I was also asked to be a Teaching Assistant for my sophomore year. Tyler and I were assigned to work together in the laboratory and that is where I really got to know him. I remember he was a senior by that point and he used to work on his Senior Seminar PowerPoint presentation when there were no students in lab and I was really impressed with his work ethic and his intelligence. I was also really good friends with a lot of his fraternity brothers and I ended up going to his fraternity’s end of the year party with one of my platonic guy friends and Tyler and I ended up getting seated next to each other at every event. I don’t remember it, but he says that I made fun of him for not eating his vegetables at the banquet. He asked me to be his girlfriend on the day of his college graduation and I accepted. The first two years of our relationship were long distance while I finished my Biology degree and he went to medical school at Ohio State University.

Tell us about the engagement.

We had been dating for three years, living together one year. After graduating from college I had moved to Ohio to be with Tyler and start my M.S. degree in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at Ohio State University, while Tyler finished his M.D. from OSU. For my degree I had to conduct research so I was moving to Barro Colorado Island, Panama, for the summer for work. A week before I was set to leave, Tyler decided to plan a hiking trip. Tyler is not an outdoorsy guy, so I was pleasantly surprised that he was so excited about sharing one of my hobbies. Because I wanted him to have a good time, I let him plan the whole hike, which he said was going to be 6 miles and we were going to look at waterfalls. We got to the hike really early and every waterfall we found he kept asking me which one was my favorite waterfall. After the third waterfall or so I finally started getting really annoyed, and decided that the first waterfall was my favorite. There was supposed to be one great waterfall at the end of the hike, so even though I said the first one was my favorite Tyler was insistent that we find the last one. It turns out that Tyler doesn’t know how to read hiking maps however, because instead of a 6-mile hike total, it turns out that it was 6 miles each way. By the time we made it to the last waterfall we were both exhausted, but we still had to hike 6 miles back to the car! Tyler is not an experienced hiker, and had not brought enough water and was fading fast. I kept offering to hike ahead of him and go get the car and find him, but he kept refusing and insisting that he was fine. We eventually made it back to the first waterfall, but by this time the park was packed with families and children. I kept telling him we should get back to the car and go home but he kept insisting we stay at the waterfall a little longer. I finally convinced him to get up and head for the car, so I hiked ahead a little bit to try and get to the car first and cool it down for him. We had just reached the parking lot when Tyler yelled from behind for me to wait and came stumbling up to me, grabbed my RIGHT hand, pulled a rubber life-size Barbie ring out of his pocket and blurted “I’m out of time….Marry Me” in the middle of the parking lot without getting down on one knee and grabbing the wrong hand! 

Turns out he had gotten too nervous to propose in front of everyone at my favorite waterfall and chickened out but realized he had run out of time when we got to the parking lot. So even though we had gotten lost for 12 hours in a nature preserve, he proposed in the parking lot with a Barbie ring.

Info on the ring: he didn’t want to pick the ring out in case I didn’t like it so he looked all over Columbus toy stores for a life-size Barbie ring to propose with so I could pick my own ring.

Venue Shopping - what made you decide on your venue?

I never wanted to get married in a church, so I knew I wanted a different type of venue. I had already moved to Panama by this point though and we had to get married in June of the coming year, right after Tyler graduated medical school and before he started medical residency, so we were tight on time. My parents visited all of the wedding venues of Miami without me and narrowed it down to the top 2 venues they thought I would like, and I trusted them to make the final decision.

Describe your wedding look and how you came to the “look” decision. How did you pull it off? (venue, inspirations, items, etc.). What sources or people helped you, including wedding planners, pinterest, etc., and what was their advice?

I really like mixing natural elements with non-natural elements. As an ecologist, I definitely wanted to have plants and nature be a pretty central theme of the wedding, but I also really like clean lines and a little shimmer. I had no idea how to pull this off, so I mostly left it up to my wedding planner and my mom to figure out what that all meant and make it look good. I would look up pins on pinterest that spoke to me and send them to my wedding planner who would know how to incorporate those ideas into the wedding. My mom and dad planned the wedding almost entirely without me since I was in Panama for the first few months of the planning period and afterwards I was writing and defending my thesis and dissertation.

Your dress and accessories: describe the dress shopping experience a little and the accessories you wore. What made you say yes to the dress?  

My best friend and matron of honor sent me a photo of the dress I would end up choosing about 2 years before I even got engaged with the text: “this is what I imagine your wedding dress would look like” and she was completely right. I loved it immediately and knew that when I got married I was going to find that dress and try it on. Olivia Wilde had worn the Reem Acra dress to an event in silk and silver, and I loved it. I didn’t think I wanted a traditional white wedding dress, so it was perfect. I decided to have my bridesmaids wear grey though so I changed my mind to wearing white. I was going to be flying through Miami on my way back from Panama to Ohio and my mom scheduled an appointment to try on dresses for the first day I would be back in the states. I specifically requested to try on the Reem Acra dress even though it was from her 2010 collection and it was 2012. It turned out that they had just gotten that dress back from a runway show the DAY BEFORE I flew in to Miami, and as a stroke of pure luck I would get to try it on. I tried on 6 dresses total, and I asked the attendant to put the Reem Acra dress on me last because I knew it was the one I was going to pick. I was right. The other dresses looked great, but I already knew which dress was mine.

My wedding jewelry was from my paternal grandmother. The earrings I wore had been converted from my grandmother’s original engagement ring into a pair of earrings, and the necklace was hers as well. I wore my maternal grandmother’s wedding and engagement rings on my right hand for the ceremony.

Your bridesmaid dresses. Where were they from? What inspired you to choose the certain style(s)?

I personally think most bridesmaids dresses all look the same, so I wasn’t too worried about the designer. But I had bridesmaids ranging in age from 37 to 22, and I knew not everyone would look great in one style. I told my bridesmaids the designer (Bill Levkoff) and the color (grey) and let them choose their own style. I had 2 bridesmaids with strapless, 2 with one shoulder, and 2 with halter.

Flowers: Tell us a little bit about your arrangements, types of flowers you used, how they fit with your “look”, and if and how your florist contributed to the design.  

My flowers are where I really got to play with my love for plants. I had originally wanted lavender, but they were not in season when I got married. I really like ghost/drift wood, so I asked my florist to incorporate architectural into the nature of the flowers, combining my love for clean lines and nature.

Details: Talk about any special details you incorporated throughout the wedding.

For my “something blue” I took an old shirt that my dad had worn and handed down to my brother and I had the seamstresses sew a swatch of the fabric in the shape of a heart into the back of my dress so that my dad and brother were with me.

What you found most overwhelming and difficult about the wedding planning process.

The most difficult part was the distance. We were getting married in Florida but living in Ohio, half my bridesmaids were in Ohio and half were in Florida, and so was family. So no matter where I chose to do something, someone was always put out or had to go out of their way. It got very frustrating that no matter what I did, I couldn’t win.

Looking back, you would have done this differently (in general).

I don’t think I would have changed anything. I know what I want and I don’t change my mind on things very easily, so I really stick by the decisions I made and the decisions that I delegated to my parents and my wedding planner because they were better equipped to make those decisions. I have no problem with delegating bride duty.

Your favorite moment all day/night.

Right before my dad walked me down the aisle and it was just the two of us standing in front of the double doors he stopped to tell me that I looked beautiful and that he was very proud of me. I never grew up dreaming about my future wedding, and I let other people make a lot of decisions for me regarding the wedding, but that moment with my dad meant a lot to me.

My favorite moment with Tyler was during the ceremony when we were exchanging rings, I couldn’t get his ring to fit on his finger and in the middle of the ceremony he got embarrassed, stopped, took the ring and said “uno momento por favor” and shoved the ring onto his finger.

Your advice to any bride planning a wedding is know what you want, and know what you don’t care about.

Not everything is worth a fight about, so as long as you have a good team, learn to delegate duties. Also, know that no matter what, you can’t make every single person happy. Just be happy with the decisions you make because your opinion (and your husbands) are the only ones that matter.

  • Melanie Fernandez
  • Wedding Advice Series

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