As the wedding coordinator of the Circle H Lodge at Inks Lake, Britain Hayes helps bring other bride’s dreams to life. But on November 17th, she was the object of everyone’s attention. Just hours before her marriage to Todd Soechting, Madame Make-Up & Hair (a wedding business Hayes also owns) visited to make all her ladies look beautiful. About a year before the day, the groom had proposed to Britain in the Circle H Lodge's Great Room of the 12,000 square foot Lodge that boasts 46 foot cathedral ceilings. The timber frame venue with granite rock walls and floors sits on a peninsula surrounded by the constant level and serene Inks Lake. When Britain was in college her father, F. Wayne Hayes, built the estate as a heritage for his family. After Britain graduated from college she formed a wedding business in San Antonio. Ten years later she convinced her father to open the Circle H Lodge up to the public for weddings. “I told my father that in my ten years of going in and out of wedding venues, there was nothing like the Lodge available to couples. The look of the Lodge is something you would find in Colorado or Montana, but it’s set in the Texas Hill Country. So it’s truly unique! It offers the feel of a destination wedding, where it’s more than just having a ceremony or reception, it’s a weekend experience with all the people you hold most dear.
The couple's love story started in Alamo Heights High School. Britain was the dance team captain and Todd led the cross-country team. They barely exchanged words, but he had a secret crush on her. Not until the night of their 10-year high school reunion in October 2005 did he reveal his feelings. She saw him decked out in a pink tie, and at the prodding of her best friend, she called him from across the room. "He was very handsome, although in high school he was the guy you didn't pay attention to," she says. "I said, 'Todd, what the heck have you been up to?' He turned, looked over and sat down next to me." The two quickly connected. "Within five minutes he asked me if I was married, and I told him that I wasn't," Britain recalls. "He said we should get married. We had a great time that night, and he told me about the crush he had on me in high school." Todd had actually been seeking her out during the reunion since the invitation listed her as one of the organizers, and she maintained her maiden name. "I thought to myself that she was still single and still beautiful, and this was going to be a good night," he says. Indeed. The night sparked their romance. In April 2006, Britain flew to Virginia where he resided. The two moved his belongings down to San Antonio, so he could be near her, once again.
Ceremony by the Water's Edge
On the afternoon of the wedding, 300 guests arrived at the Hayes family lake house on chartered shuttles. In Hollywood style, they walked down a red carpet and were greeted with refreshing raspberry beverages. As they entered into the rustic mansion's great room, they were awe-struck by a 12-foot floral arrangement bathed in orange and coral lighting. Fanning from an antique iron urn were hundreds of Charlotte red roses, 500 pink and red hydrangeas, 250 orange-yellow Circus roses and an abundance of vivid cymbidium orchids and Parrot tulips. Crowning the amazing display were slender, white ostrich plumes and peacock eye and sword feathers. Pizzini Designs provided the floral, décor and lighting services for the spectacular affair. Family and friends made their way to the back of the home and stepped down three lush terraces to the grassy lake shore. Strung from majestic oak trees were 90 Chinese paper lanterns, and 300 white roses tied to white satin ribbon swayed from the branches of smaller trees. "The beautiful sunset, trees, flowers and sparkling water all combined to make a beautiful and romantic outdoor chapel," says Rebecca Kitchens-Pierro, wedding coordinator and business partner with Pizzini Designs. "It was such a dramatic setting." The classical ensemble, Allegretto, performed the "Ludlows" from the movie, the "Legends of the Fall," as the nine bridesmaids promenaded in their turquoise gowns accented with brown sashes. To "Trumpet Voluntary," Britain walked to meet her groom in a diamond white, mermaid silk gown from the Piccione line of Alfred Angelo. The bodice sparkled with pearl and rhinestone beading, and atop her shoulders, she wore a lace shrug. Forming her stunning bouquet were red and green cymbidium orchids, red tulips and hydrangeas, mango and eggplant mini-calla lilies, Safari Sunset leucadendron, yellow dahlias and vibrant roses. Peacock feathers added exotic flavor. Britain says she will always treasure the expression on Todd's face as her father pulled back her veil. "He looked like a little boy with a cute little grin on his face," she says. "He was trying to look up at the sky to stop tears from coming down." In between the couple, sun light shined through a stained glass cross crafted by the groom's grandfather.
The Story of a Prince
The bride's diamond pave pendant revealed the inspiration behind the wedding day's décor. The crown-shaped pendant, an elegant yet affordable wedding gift from her mother, alluded to "The Little Prince," a story that Britain's mother used to read to her as a little girl. "The book is all about priorities and what really matters in the world," the bride says. The wedding's bluish-green color scheme and peacock accents were inspired from the frequent use of turquoise in the book's drawings, she adds. Near the beginning of the ceremony, the bride's mother, Caye Hayes Wood, read the most famous excerpt from the book written and illustrated by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. In the passage, the Prince's best friend, a fox, expresses what he believes is the secret to life: "One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes." Six years ago, Britain's mother returned from a prayer retreat with a box wrapped in green iridescent paper and tied with a magenta bow. The box represented her mother's prayer for Britain's future husband, which they called, "The Fox in the Box." After the couple became engaged, Britain was surprised to learn from Todd that his name is the English word for "fox." "One woman's great faith and the fullness of God's timing have yielded this girl her little prince and the man I call the Fox," Britain explained in the ceremony's program. With their vows sealed with a languishing kiss, the couple walked hand-in-hand to "All You Need is Love," which Allegretto arranged for the violin, harp and trumpet.
Following the ceremony, guests retreated to a tented deck that wrapped around the lake side of the house. Although outdoors, the venue exuded the elegance of a fine ballroom. The tents and guest tables were draped in gold-turquoise and fuchsia-orange fabrics with an iridescent shimmer. Under six towering crystal chandeliers, waiters passed bacon-wrapped chicken diablo, tequila shrimp brochette and artichoke crabmeat soufflé. "Even though we were getting married by the lake, I wanted our wedding to be glamorous," the bride says. "I also wanted any couple that had been married for a long time to fall in love again that night." Cocktail and dinner music was performed by Allegretto's sister band, Groove City, which played standards such as "Over the Rainbow" and "The Girl from Ipanema." Creating enchanting centerpieces were curly willow tree branches that extended from tall clear glass vases. White coral-dyed hydrangeas encircled the opening of the vase, and glass crystals and tealight votives ornamented the branches. The lavish buffet prepared by Absolutely Delicious Catering included chef-carved beef tenderloin, bacon-wrapped sea scallops, a pasta station, grilled Mediterranean vegetables, Parmesan potatoes au gratin and fruit kabobs. During the couple's first dance to "Song Bird," the bride felt as though she was on cloud nine. "I really felt as if we were elevating," she says. "I was so excited and so happy. I waited so long that I couldn't put my mind around what was happening. It was fabulous." At 8:00 p.m. the lights went out and a fantastic fireworks display appeared over Inks Lake. Guests applauded as bright starbursts spread across the sky as if it were the 4th of July. "It was our surprise to our guests," the bride says. "We wanted to do something to put the wedding over the edge."
Loving Every Second
Throughout the evening, Groove City performed many dance hits. The bride cherished one moment during the Motown favorite, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," when she saw her father, sister and mother having the time of their lives. "They were like kids, footloose and fancy-free and without a care in the world," she reminisces. "For one night, I got everybody that I love in my entire life in one place celebrating, and that is all that anyone could ever ask for." To appeal to the child in everyone, the four-layered buttercream cake was accompanied by cinnamon and pumpkin ice cream. The cold treat created by Justin's Ice Cream was served in cones placed in artist palettes. As the evening came to an end, guests created an arch of golden sparklers to bid the couple farewell. After her seven-day Lake Tahoe honeymoon and her first weeks as a newlywed, Britain says she can still remember every second of the celebration. "Everyone says the day goes by so quickly, but I made a conscious effort to slow down the day in my mind," she says. "Since I'm in the wedding business, I've gone to many weddings. I wanted our night to be so set apart that it would be a special night for every guest that was there."
Rehearsal Dinner & Reception Venue: The Hayes Family Lake House, now the Circle H Lodge at Inks Lake
Wedding Consultant: Pizzini Designs
Bride's Dress Shop: Alfred Angelo
Bridal Registry: Hanley Wood, Lin Marche, Bed Bath & Beyond and Dillard's
Bridal Hair & Make-up: Madame Make-Up & Hair
Invitations: M'Pressive Invitations
Caterer: Absolutely Delicious Catering
Cake: Cakes by Cathy Young
Florist: Pizzini Designs
Linens: A Touch of Elegance
Ceremony Musicians: Allegretto
Reception Musicians: Groove City
Photographer: Brooks Whittington Photography
Videographer: Infinity Video and Photography
Transportation: Luxury Limousine & Tom Daniels Rolls Royce Limousine Rentals