Garrett Williams is full of surprises. He and Emily Ryan were introduced by a mutual friend who teaches at the school where Emily serves as principal. Six months after meeting, Garrett took Emily on a sunrise walk along the Trinity Trail, complete with coffee and a blanket—and one important question. “I had no idea it was happening,” Emily remembers. “Life had been busy, and I thought we were just going for an early-morning date.” She happily said yes, then was surprised again by a secret engagement party Garrett had planned that evening, where family and friends were waiting to toast the newly engaged couple.
To that point, Emily hadn’t put much thought into what she’d want for her big day, but she’d been to enough weddings to know that she wanted something far from ordinary. “All I knew was I wanted it to be a little different from other things I had seen,” she says. To that end, the couple chose the Fort Worth Zoo’s African Reserve as a venue—a fitting choice not only because it was the zoo’s newest exhibit but also because Emily had lived in Uganda for several years doing ministry work.
On June 9, 2018, Emily and Garrett were wed in a ceremony that included an African prayer recited aloud by the couple’s loved ones. For the decor, Emily chose a color scheme of summery corals and pinks to pop against the zoo’s natural woods and greenery. Their special day was complete with a chance to feed the giraffes—“something I will never forget,” Emily says. The animals also made appearances in the form of drink stirrers, cuff links, and—in Garrett’s ultimate unveiling to his bride—giraffe-print shirt sleeves. “They were a huge surprise to me!” Emily laughs. “But I love his spontaneous attitude, so they were a fun touch.”
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