Wedding Series Austin
Real Austin Wedding

This Austin couple's festive wedding reception was the talk of the town


When Lauren Billingsley Ford looks back on her wedding day, she doesn’t remember feeling the stress and anxiety that often plagues couples planning their nuptials. This is due in part to her husband, John Ford.

"John really took the reins when it came to planning," Lauren says. In addition, thanks to their event planner Katy Preisler (of Keely Thorne Events), John and Lauren were able to relax and enjoy getting ready for their big day. Or big days, rather. The couple eloped to snowy Aspen in November 2015, and returned home to Austin to celebrate with 300 of their closest family and friends in December at a reception at the historic Driskill Hotel.

Lauren, a stylist for J. Hilburn, and John, who works for the real estate and development firm Encore Residential, met through mutual friends at the Fulton Oysterfest in 2014 and instantly connected. From there, it wasn't long before they were planning what Lauren calls their "month-long celebration." In coming up with the concept for their Driskill reception, Lauren and John had three things in mind. First, it was important to the hometown couple to incorporate as many Austin-centric elements as possible. They also wanted to take a decidedly non-traditional route, eschewing anything too "Pinterest-y." Lastly, since their celebration took place right before Christmas, the couple opted to throw in some fun holiday flair.

It all came together in a stylish, whimsical manner. John donned different costumes throughout the night, a team of break-dancers dressed up as elves, and servers passed out cookies and "milk" (White Russian shooters) to guests. It was truly an affair to remember — as Lauren says, "To this day, people still talk about it. It was just so much fun!"

The Driskill Hotel was decked out for the occasion in stunning white floral displays by Westbank Flower Market and votive candles that perfectly accented the hotel’s gleaming gold and cream interior.

"I've always loved the Driskill at Christmastime, so it was just perfect," Lauren says of the decor.

The bride was dolled up for the big day courtesy of local makeup artist Donna Bruns.

John and Lauren took time to pose in front of the Driskill's glittering Christmas tree.

Lauren's dress is Alyne from Mia Bridal Couture, John's tux is J. Hilburn.

It's party time! For their first dance, the couple boogied down to "You Make My Dreams" by Hall & Oates.

No Christmastime wedding celebration is complete without break-dancing elves.

To the delight of all the guests (adults and kiddos alike), Santa Claus hit the dance floor for a jingle bell rockin' good time.

John's first costume change of the night included a sport coat emblazoned with dollar bills.

Lauren and John worked with Papellerie in Houston to create their adorable, custom-crafted signage and invitations. In keeping with the couple’s playful, Christmas-tinged theme, after-party invites read "Shhh ... You're on The Naughty List."

In lieu of a cake, Lauren and John served guests delectable mini-pies, catered by hometown favorite Tiny Pies.

The mouthwatering, locally-inspired menu included roasted beet pave (complete with Texas olive oil and Round Rock honey), beef tenderloin tartar, honey-glazed pork belly, Manchego cheese risotto balls, Shiner Bock-braised short ribs, and tomato-basil soup with mini-grilled Gruyere sandwiches, all catered by the Driskill.

The couple enjoyed a private moment amid the revelry.

Meanwhile, the Burger King waited to surprise the couple atop their getaway car.

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