An initial run in at Texas A&M University led to love for Mary Claire Kemper & Ethan Woodward. Mary Claire, a senior in high school at the time, was visiting friends for the weekend and Ethan was enjoying his freshman year in college station when they first met.
A year later, Mary Claire started at A&M, where she and Ethan shared the same friends. “It wasn’t until one night in September of my junior year when I was out with my friends for a birthday party, that we met up with him and his friends! Ethan and I finally sat down and talked to each other that night and we had a hilarious “why have we not been best friends for the past 3 years” moment after our 2 hour conversation! After that we became really close friends and basically spent every day together for the next month before he finally asked me out!” Mary Claire shared.
Ethan popped the question on a beautiful March weekend in Austin, Texas. Mary Claire looks back fondly on the day, sharing “I came to Austin from College Station to visit him for the weekend and he had planned a Sunday brunch at Mattie’s! It was the most beautiful morning ever, and we had a delicious brunch and then he took me outside on their grounds and asked me to marry him! Immediately after both of our families popped out and that was honestly the best part!! We both have the most amazing families so getting to share such an exciting day with all of them was so special!”
That night, a big party was hosted at the Kemper’s house in honor of the soon-to-be Woodwards! Ethan had secretly invited close friends and family to join in on the celebration in Austin. “It was truly my favorite day ever… right behind our wedding day!!!”
Planning was underway shortly after for Mary Claire and Ethan’s wedding on November 18th, 2023. Mary Claire enlisted the help of Verve Event Planning to execute her vision for an elegant and reverent wedding weekend at the Omni Barton Creek. A highlight of the planning process for Mary Claire was the quality time she shared in making decisions with her mom. “I was living at home basically the entire time that I was engaged so my mom and I had so many fun nights of sipping wine and planning the wedding together! It was a time with my mom that I will cherish forever. We were on the same page through the entire process and she was just so excited and proud of me every step of the way. She is my biggest cheerleader.” Mary Claire expressed.
On November 18th, 2023, the Woodwards were wed at Riverbend in Austin, Texas! When asked what the highlight of the ceremony was, Mary Claire excitedly answered “The entire ceremony!! Every second of the ceremony was my favorite part of the entire weekend. Walking down the aisle with my dad was something we have always dreamed of and seeing Ethan at the end made me sob tears of happiness all the way down. It just was so emotional and intimate and it was so crazy that we were standing up there together in front of all of our friends and family.” She particularly enjoyed exchanging vows and being so present in the moment that it felt as though there was no one else in the room. “I will never forget the way that he was looking at me and how I felt! I truly could talk about the ceremony every day for the rest of my life!”
Post ceremony, reception festivities followed at the Omni Barton Creek. Mary Claire knew she wanted to be married in Austin and was drawn to the beauty of the Omni Barton Creek. She loved the idea that all of her guests could gather at the same place for the entirety of the weekend. In addition to the beauty, it was a selling point for the Woodwards that their venue would be somewhere that they could celebrate anniversaries for years to come and look back on their wedding!
Inside the ballroom, white flowers with touches of greenery adorned the tables, and candles lit the room with a warm glow. Mary Claire’s vision for her wedding was elegant, reverent, and joy-filled! “Everything about the day was classic and tasteful. It was honoring God and glorified him in every way. And it was just so fun. I don’t think anyone there made it through the ceremony without teary eyes, and I don’t think anyone made it through the reception without hitting the dance floor!” she shared.
Mary Claire’s dad kicked off the evening with a heartfelt speech for the newlyweds. “He delivered it with so much confidence, love, encouragement, and joy, and it set the tone for the rest of the party. I am not exaggerating when I say every single guest that I talked to (which was every guest) mentioned how incredible my dad’s toast was. Being his only daughter and youngest child, we have such a special relationship that I cherish so much, so hearing him open up about Ethan and I in front of all of our friends and families was so special and sweet.”
Following toasts, the dance floor opened up for father-daughter and mother-son dances before guests joined in. Black and white cowboy hats were passed out to partygoers to bring the Texas feel to the party. The dance floor was a priority to Mary Claire, and it was full allll night long. With the end of the party in sight, the Woodwards shared one last dance in private before making their exit. Their vintage getaway car was waiting as they waved goodbye to their loved ones. A tunnel of sparklers lit up the night as the Woodwards drove off. Congratulations to Mary Claire & Ethan!!
Verve Events Austin
Omni Barton Creek
Hair + Makeup
Donna Bruns Guttenberger
Westback Flower Market
Polkadots Cupcake Factory
Whim Hospitality, Loot Rentals, Table Manners, Mike's Dancefloor