Written by | Mary Sue Hoban
For Emily Burwell and Andrew Weiss, love took its time. The two met in a required public speaking class at Missouri State University. She was a freshman, he a junior. While she was at ease in the front of the group – a good thing for the future teacher – he did not relish the experience. He did, however, discover something worthwhile in the experience…Emily.
Their friends mixed well and it was simple for the two to get to know one another. They dated over the next several years, even after Andrew graduated in 2014 and spent the next two years in St. Louis while Emily was still a student. In 2016, she finished college, he returned to Springfield and their relationship grew. While visiting a friend’s house at Lake of the Ozarks in 2017, he surprised her with a proposal and she was thrilled to accept.
Newly engaged, Emily was in no hurry to get to their wedding day. She wanted to spend a few months simply relishing each other and this special time. “I was in no hurry to start planning,” she remembers. “That’s not the part I enjoy.” Emily also knew she wanted an intimate wedding in a beautiful place. The Garden Chapel at Big Cedar Lodge was an easy choice for the couple to have a sweet, personal ceremony.
Luckily for Emily, her older sister had gotten married the year before. Their mother was fresh off the experience and applied her know-how to planning for the family’s next big day. Mrs. Burwell’s skill and enthusiasm helped fulfill each of her girls’ unique vision and style. One of the best lessons she carried forward was to take advantage of the experts – the event planners at Big Cedar and Millwood Golf and Racquet Club, site of the reception, plus the floral designers at Linda’s Flowers, to name a critical few.
Some tasks, though, must be seen to by the bride and groom. For this couple, whittling down the guest list was a critical undertaking. The Garden Chapel accommodates 80-90 people. It was fairly simple for Emily to narrow her list. Andrew, who comes from a large family, faced more of a challenge. In the end, they agreed to invite family and very close, long-time friends. They took the same approach to their attendants. Emily’s bridesmaids were her sister and two college friends. A childhood friend was her maid of honor; their families are linked to when their grandmothers were roommates in college. Andrew’s five groomsmen were all friends from “way back.”
The connections ran deep into the wedding itself. A friend of the groom’s family officiated. “We wanted to make this promise with someone who knows us well,” Emily asserts. In fact, the celebrant’s family owns the house where Andrew proposed. The ceremony was brief and traditional from the vows to “Here Comes the Bride” for the recessional.
Millwood was the next stop for the gathering. Guests were welcomed into a simple, elegant décor featuring wreaths, lanterns and white linens highlighted with flowers in shades of lilac and lavender. After struggling to finalize the seating chart, Emily was thrilled to say, “It was beautiful, and fun!” Especially memorable was a couple’s dance featuring her grandparents, both over 90 years old and married 68 years. The advice they shared with the newlyweds? “Sometimes you just have to ignore each other.”
What most of the guests didn’t know was that this lovely celebration almost didn’t take place. Not because the couple had doubts about their relationship, but because they almost chose to elope. “I’m so glad we did it this way instead,” Emily confirms. “I’ll always remember walking down the aisle with my Dad and seeing all those people we love who love us. . . even seeing some of them run downhill to get to the chapel on time. We did it all and we’re really glad.”