On May 18, 2017, Charla Storey walked down the aisle in a form-fitting lace dress to an acoustic version of Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend,” where she met her groom, Jesse Anderson. The song was fitting, because Charla did marry her best friend. But the journey to the aisle wasn’t the typical friends-turned-lovers story.
“I met Jesse in eighth grade,” Charla says. “And I absolutely could not stand him.”
Charla, a self-described “hippie chick,” was turned off by Jesse’s jock status. And to make matters even more complicated, Jesse dated Charla’s best friend for 10 years.
Fast-forward to post-college, and the former football player was looking for a place to live. Charla had two spare bedrooms and was open to the idea of making a side income for her vacation fund. “He moves back and becomes my roommate, and my friend ends up breaking up with him,” Charla explains. A heartbroken Jesse opened up to Charla, and the two started to form a friendship—all while staying roommates—for the next two years. One night while out with friends, sparks flew. Jesse asked her out, but what’s standard dating protocol when you’re already roommates? The couple met up in their living room, went on their first date, and retired to their separate rooms and proceeded to text all night. “We went from friends to our first date to practically married for seven years,” she says.
A spontaneous trip to Paris presented the perfect opportunity for Jesse to propose. He got down on one knee in front of the Eiffel Tower. Charla’s then 16-year-old son, Seth, was also there for the occasion, snapping photos and celebrating with his mom and soon-to-be stepdad.
In the time that Charla and Jesse’s relationship grew, so did her wedding photography business. So for her own big day, she wanted a wedding venue that didn’t remind her of work—and to pay homage to her European engagement without traveling across the ocean. When Charla toured Villa Del Lago in Austin, she knew immediately it was the perfect spot, with its rolling hills, lush gardens, and Tuscan-inspired architecture.
Having seen almost every trend in the wedding industry, Charla suffered from a bit of decision paralysis. Instead of fretting over the details, she looked to her trusted friends—Wendy Kay from Birds of a Feather Events and Maxine Owens, owner of Max Owens Design—to help her plan and design the big day. Charla chose her colors (blue, ochre, and blush) and helped with some paper decisions. “I wanted it to feel like Thanksgiving,” Charla says. “I wanted people to pass food vessels and talk. I literally stepped away and just showed up.”
As Charla walked down the aisle, Jesse could finally breathe. Even after all those years, he was most looking forward to calling Charla his wife. “He kept telling me, ‘I’ll feel better when you walk down the aisle and say yes,’ ” Charla says.
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