photos by Scott Myers Photography
Jenna Salmons and Felix Rodriguez honored family members and traditions during their September 17, 2016, wedding, while adding some unconventional touches that made the occasion personal and endearing. Even the moon cooperated.
The bride and groom met in August of 2013, when Felix, who is from Virginia, came to Columbia for a friend’s wedding. Mutual friends introduced them, and they enjoyed each other’s company until, alas, they had to go their separate ways: Felix back to Virginia and Jenna to her classes at Mizzou. They skyped, they texted. One day in October, Felix made a surprise appearance on Jenna’s front porch, where he asked her to officially be his girlfriend.
Jenna graduated that December and moved to Lawrence, Kansas, for a job; Felix relocated to Columbia the next month, shortening the distance in their long-distance relationship.
In June of 2015, Felix hatched a plan. He told Jenna he was going to make a Craigslist purchase at the house where she lived when he had asked her to be his girlfriend. What a coincidence! He invited her to come inspect the potential purchase. When they arrived on the front porch, he proposed to her while her closest friends hid in the neighbor’s backyard.
They were married at Blue Bell Farm in Fayette, with Deacon Godsey officiating (Jenna’s minister from Vintage Church in Lawrence). The wedding took place on the lush farm lawn and the couple exchanged vows under an arch made by Jenna’s parents from trees on their property. It was decorated by Jenna’s sister with swags of greenery and roses, and the aisle was marked with globes containing a bloom and a fern frond.
Jenna wore a Maggie Sottero floor-length sheath gown with a light gold silk slip and ivory lace overlay. It had a boat neck and low illusion back, with pearl buttons down the back and floral lace trim along the hem. Her hair was loosely swept up in a braided crown with a pearl hair vine at the back. She wore Kendra Scott rose gold druzy earrings and her great-grandmother’s bangle bracelet and handkerchief. (Her great-grandmother, who would have been 100 that day, wore the bracelet on her wedding day, too.) Jenna carried dahlias in memory of her grandfather, who specialized in growing them. The bridal bouquet also featured roses, succulents, wood, moss and other greenery.
And on her feet she wore… nothing!
“I went barefoot all day, because I have always loved feeling the earth beneath my feet,” Jenna recalled. “I grew up loving the outdoors, so I had to have lots of natural hints throughout our theme. Our colors were wine and blush, with lots of neutrals and gold touches. I wanted a wedding that was romantic and a bit woodland, and not too traditional. Even our rings follow that — mine is a natural grey diamond with some wonderful imperfections and his is tungsten with a koa wood inlay.” The couple also has matching tattoos, an ampersand, on their ring fingers to denote their connection.
The groom wore slim dress khakis, a light blue chambray button down shirt with pin dots, tan leather suspenders, a navy vest, wine linen tie and cognac brogue dress shoes. His boutonniere was eucalyptus, fern, burgundy astilbe and a single pink rose.
His groomsmen matched his outfit, minus the suspenders, vest and rose, but Jenna’s seven attendants chose their own dresses with her only criteria being the color — wine — knee-length, and something they enjoyed wearing.
“I absolutely loved seeing what they each chose to wear and how each dress had a bit of each girl’s personality in it,” said Jenna. They carried bouquets of fern and eucalyptus with light pink flowers, and a handkerchief embroidered by Jenna. The ring bearer bore Jenna’s grandfather’s Bible as he walked down the aisle.
During the ceremony, Deacon Godsey asked Felix and Jenna to turn to the audience to take a moment soaking up the joy and love that surrounded them.
“That was a surprise, but I am so thankful we got the opportunity to really connect with our guests during that sweet, irreplaceable few minutes during which we were becoming husband and wife,” Jenna said.
The couple’s parents also potted a dogwood sapling (the state tree of Missouri and Virginia) during the ceremony to signify unity, and the bride and groom watered it while Gungor’s “Beautiful Things” played in the background. “It painted a really beautiful picture of the joining of our lives and our families together, and of our belief that God is creating something beautiful out of each of us, and through our new marriage,” said Jenna. “The tree is now planted in our backyard in Lawrence, Kansas.”
The reception took place in the barn and surrounding yard at Blue Bell, continuing the romance woodland theme with centerpieces of wood slices, moss, fern, succulents and single stems of roses or dahlias, with ivory candles and glass and gold terrariums. An empty table was dedicated to the couple’s deceased loved ones. Lights decorated the perimeter, high top tables were available for guests, and yard games ensued. The couple chose comfort food and pie over traditional wedding cake, except for the red velvet groom’s cake shaped like Captain America’s shield, with which Jenna chose to surprise Felix; he, in turn, surprised her by dropping his piece on the front of her dress.
Salsa music, to honor Felix’s Puerto Rican roots, enlivened the reception. “My dad, who is typically very reserved, salsa danced with Felix’s aunt,” said Jenna.
Felix and Jenna honeymooned in Puerto Rico for six days, meeting Felix’s extended family, snorkeling, hiking in the rainforest, exploring Old San Juan and just relaxing on the beach. Now the couple is at home in Lawrence, where Felix is a Survivor Access Advocate at the Willow Domestic Violence Center. Jenna works in the buying department for Payless ShoeSource, headquartered in Topeka.
Jenna is the daughter of Brad and Jana Rae Salmons of Fulton, and Felix is the son of Felix and Zulma Rodriguez of Portsmouth, Virginia.