MANDY JAMES & CADEN SITTON
April 30, 2023 | Onyx Coffee HQ, Brick and Mortar | Rogers | Landon Salman Photo
Mandy and Caden met after her summer plans changed unexpectedly. In the summer of 2021, Mandy was originally going to spend three months in Uganda as a nurse intern at a community hospital. About a month into the trip, there was a COVID-19 outbreak that threatened to close off the borders. Mandy made the difficult decision to come home.
“After being home for a little while, I got a call from a family friend who worked with the summer camp, Kids Across America, asking if I’d like to be a nurse intern there for the rest of my summer,” Mandy said. “I had been a camper and staff member at their sister camp, Kanakuk, for the past 12 summers, so it was an easy yes. I never thought that my change of plans for that summer would lead me to my future husband.”
The day she arrived at camp, Caden approached her at dinner to introduce himself and said that she looked familiar. As it turned out, they went to Kanakuk together as kids!
“When Mandy showed up at camp, I saw her and had a crazy feeling that she was going to be my future wife. I knew I had to figure out a way to talk to her, and realized we might’ve been campers together at Kanakuk,” Caden said. “Saying she looked familiar seemed like a pretty good pick-up line to me. What I learned from pursuing her from that day forward confirmed that I did not want my life to be one without Mandy.”
Caden proposed to Mandy after she graduated from the University of Arkansas. He set up candles, rose petals, flowers and pictures of them in her apartment, and he read her a letter before telling her he loved her for the first time and asking her to marry him. Of course, she immediately said yes!
WEDDING VENDORS WE LOVE
Landon Salman Photo
Ceremony venue: Onyx Coffee HQ; Reception venue: Brick & Mortar; Florals: Zuzu’s Petals & Gifts; Cake: Cakes by Robin; Furniture: Oh Celebration; Caterer: Sous Chef; Day-of coordinator: Carly Dixon; Second shooter: Jeremy Dixon; Videographer: Riley Carson; Wedding dress: Anna Be; Bridesmaid dresses: Anthropology; Groom and Groomsmen attire: Generation Tux; Hair: Hair by Blair
Q & A
Q: Tell us about your wedding inspiration!
A: “If left up to my 12-year-old self, I would’ve had a wedding that would outshine a Taylor Swift concert. Being a little older and maybe a little wiser, I still had dreams of a beautiful wedding but wanted more for the day to be meaningful. I wanted it to represent Caden and I well as a couple who loves Jesus, people, and adventure. It was fun to figure out what that meant through details like colors, flowers and music.”
Q: Why did you decide to get married at Onyx Coffee HQ?
A: “I was sitting in Onyx (as I often did throughout my college years) with a friend brainstorming venue ideas for the wedding. She threw a shot in the dark and said, ‘Well, what about here?’ Caden and I thrive in one-on-one conversations — we love asking questions and getting to know people’s stories. Conversations like that happen so often in places like Onyx, so the idea of having all of our people witness the beginning of our marriage in Onyx just made sense! Not to mention, the colors and aesthetic I had already gravitated to for the day were PERFECTLY complemented by the architecture and decor of Onyx.”
Q: What inspired your color palette and florals?
A: “I used to work at the flower shop that designed the florals for the day, so it was a lot of fun to dream with Cindy about how the florals would look. Cindy is a free-spirit and doesn’t work in boxes. I had two specific requests, that ranunculus and kumquat branches would be included. But aside from that, we came up with three mood words for the florals: warm, wild and organic. I wanted warm colors with wild shapes (drooping flowers, wild sprigs, even edible fruit!) all while tying in the organic greenery theme found in Onyx. She came up with a stunning design that exceeded my expectations!”
Q: What surprised you about planning a wedding?
A: “This isn’t the most fun answer, but it’s honest. I think I was surprised by how stressful it could be. But Caden consistently grounded me with the truth that at the end of the day, we’ll get to walk away from the wedding as husband and wife with memories of a beautiful day filled with people we love dearly. I think something that we wish we would’ve known is that stress is normal and that it does fade. You didn’t ask this, but the advice we would give to engaged/newly married couples is to always lean towards each other. In the rainy days, in the best days, in the mundane Tuesdays choose each other and lean in.”
Q: Tell us about your wedding dress!
A: “Oh man, I love this dress. I got it from Anna Be in Denver, Colorado (where I’m from). I LOVE the romance of the floral sleeves and train, and that it was transformed into an elegant and sleek look by taking the sleeves and train off. The sleeves were actually designed to replace the spaghetti straps on top of the shoulders, but in the shop, my consultant and I were able to play a bit and came up with the one-of-a-kind off-the-shoulder look. I felt truly beautiful when putting it on and my first thought was, ‘Woah. I get to marry Caden in this.’”
“Caden’s little sister Lola is the genius to thank for [the Polaroid guest book]! We wanted an opportunity for our guests to be able to take Polaroids to take home, as well as give us a visual of who attended the wedding. It was sweet because all throughout college, I had Polaroid cameras and documented my favorite moments with them. Lola picked up on that and now…it’ll be a tradition we hold and treasure for a long time!”
“There were a few things that were no-brainers. One was that we wanted Jesus to be at the center of the ceremony…and we knew the songs “Electric Slide,” “Footloose” and “Love Story” were must-plays at the reception.”