Amanda & Brendan's Golden Zoo Celebration

Amanda and Brendan met in college marching band - she was the band manager and he was in the band. Although they didn’t get along at first, the two eventually started spending time together. Friend dates turned into real dates and Brendan marched right into Amanda’s heart.

Find Amanda on Instagram @amandaleighcaz and check their hashtag #idoatthelittlerockzoo for more photos!

Find Amanda on Instagram @amandaleighcaz and check their hashtag #idoatthelittlerockzoo for more photos!

Brendan proposed to Amanda in front of the giraffes at the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama, a reference to an inside joke the couple share. After the proposal, he whisked her away to a surprise party with their parents and friends. “It was a blast,” Amanda said. “and a really memorable day!”

Amanda found her beautiful ivory gown at  Low’s Bridal  in Arkansas.

Amanda found her beautiful ivory gown at Low’s Bridal in Arkansas.

The couple were married at their church - First United Methodist - in Little Rock, Arkansas, with a reception to follow at Little Rock Zoo. Both locations had special meanings to Amanda and Brendan. The church allowed for beautiful acoustics (particularly important to musician Brendan) and a gathering of nearly 300 family and friends. The zoo was especially close to Amanda’s heart.

“I all but grew up helping out, working at and going to the zoo,” she said. “It’s always been my happy place and is like a second home.”

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Working with a budget of $18,000 and a guest list of 280, Amanda and Brendan made sure the venue was a sight to see. Their colours were gold and juniper, with plenty of whimsical and local touches scattered throughout, including a bar of locally-made beer and wine.

The couple also made sure to incorporate the zoo into these decor elements, adding in pieces like a funky flamingo cake topper and a series of gold and ivory animals in their centrepieces.

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As for many couples, the biggest challenge Amanda and Brendan faced was, as Amanda put it, “money, money, money!” Although it was difficult choosing a budget and sticking to it, Amanda advises other brides to do the same.

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On the day, everything went smoothly. Amanda particularly enjoyed when the elephants spontaneously trumpeted as they made their grand exit!

Amanda’s advice to future Big Brides is simple: “Listen to Bridechilla podcast. Work with your husband to be and communicate regularly. Live your life outside wedding planning!”