Real Weddings: Far & Away

 In Culture, Feature

Two St. Louis couples have the city limits for unique country-chic celebrations


The Couple
Melissa Palm Payne, 30, Counselor &
Michael Payne, 34, Session Guitarist

Although Melissa (Mel) Palm and Michael Payne had been friends since adolescence, it was nearly a decade after graduating high school that their friendship blossomed into a full-blown romance. Having lived in different cities throughout most of their adult lives, Michael and Mel communicated mainly through email, phone calls and weekend visits, living in different states even up until their wedding day. After a short courtship and a surprise proposal in front of the Jewel Box in Forest Park, Mel was on a race against the clock to plan the wedding of her dreams in just 10 weeks.

Both lovers of the outdoors, Michael and Mel felt it was only natural to have an outdoor wedding that reflected her elegant yet simple tastes, and Michael’s affection for rustic aesthetics. From the chandelier that hung from an old oak tree to the candle-filled mason jars strewn throughout the outdoor reception, Michael and Mel’s outdoor wedding was an affair to remember.

Rustic Reception
While some brides shop around for the perfect location, Mel had always envisioned her outdoor wedding would take place at her friend’s country cabin just a few miles outside Troy, MO. Playing up the natural beauty surrounding the cabin, Mel opted for decorations that created a rustic, yet elegant atmosphere. A wooden sign led guests to the ceremony, and an old-fashion trunk sat by a little farm table and held a typewriter used for the guest list.

Tailor Made

Mel decided to add some personal touches to her wedding gown, giving it a vintage touch that not only reflected her personal style, but also complemented her rural wedding theme. Adding satin buttons along the back of her gown to create a more classic look, Mel avoided trendy designs, staying true to her simple tastes (Karen’s Wedding Boutique, 636.391.3466,

Handpicked Florals
Rather than consult with a florist, Mel journeyed to St. Louis Flower Market and handpicked each flower that would make up her centerpieces and bouquets. She opted for white hydrangeas and yellow ranunculus, which played into the wedding’s color scheme. Mel’s mother created each floral arrangement the night before the wedding, giving special meaning to the wedding’s handmade vibe (

Sound of Love
With Michael’s music background, it was an easy decision for the couple to express their love through music. Mel and Michael decided to create a mix CD as party favors that showcased the songs that best defined their relationship. Of course, no detail was left undone, and even the CDs featured personalized decal. “We both have the same initials so we embossed the envelopes and put the CDs inside,” says Mel.

Festive Fare
Mel’s fare of choice was a mix of smoked BBQ, snack food and summery side dishes. The first course is what Mel calls a “luxurious picnic,” featuring a mix of assorted cheeses, bread and fruit. Hiring friend, co-worker and budding caterer Ray Hamilton to prepare the main meal, the main course consisted of four different BBQ varieties, as well as a side spinach salad and roasted corn, perfect for a warm summer day.

Simply Scrumptious
Mel’s simple yet elegant taste was reflected in the sweets table, which consisted of a traditional, two-tiered, white-iced wedding cake, homemade Italian candies and fruit pies from Sugaree Bakery (314.645.5496, Friend and owner of The Cakery, Ericka Frank, made Mel and Michael a cake so scrumptious, it ran out before the end of the night (314.647.6000,



Real Engagements: Far & Away

Melissa Palm Payne & Michael Payne


Real Engagements: Far & Away

Mel & Michael’s rustic reception took place at a friend’s country cabin.


Real Engagements: Far & Away

Mel & Michael chose a traditional wedding cake by The Cakery


Real Engagements: Far & Away

Mel & Michael’s rustic reception took place at a friend’s country cabin.


Real Engagements: Far & Away

Mel’s mother created the floral arrangements of white hydrangeas & yellow ranunculus.


Real Engagements: Far & Away

Mel’s vintage taste reflected in her bridesmaid dresses & bouquets.


Photo credit: By Brea Photography and Paul Nordmann

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