Erin and Shurn Chapman started dating while they were both students at Florida State University. After four years of dating, while enjoying a relaxing day at the beach, Shurn wanted to make good on a promise he once made Erin. She had always wanted a sand dollar, and Shurn told her that one day he would go out in the ocean and find one for her. After they had been at the beach for about an hour, Shurn said he was going to get her a sand dollar. Erin objected to his decision to swim far out to a sandbar, but Shurn insisted. She watched him from the shore as he dove under water in search of sand dollars. Eventually, he swam back, walked up the beach to her and held out his hand, where he held three sand dollars. She picked them up one by one, and underneath the last sand dollar was the ring. “Yes,” Erin recalls, “he dove into the ocean with my ring in his swim trunk pocket!”Shurn suggested they go to a restaurant on the beach to celebrate. To Erin’s surprise, Shurn had arranged for both of their parents, along with other family members and friends, to be waiting at the restaurant to celebrate their engagement. “The best part of our engagement,” Erin says, “was that everyone was there to celebrate with us.”Growing up on the family farm, Erin and her sister Mary tended to goats, cows, chickens, geese, an emu and even a llama. When the two sisters got engaged just a few weeks apart, they both knew their weddings would be on the farm, where their parents were also married.Their father happily took on the responsibility of preparing for the weddings by building a barn on the farm that could serve as the reception venue.Erin and Shurn planned their carnival-themed wedding from Florida, where they were living at the time. Even though they were unable to meet their photographers, Nathan and Rachel of Nathan Abplanalp Photography, before the big day, everything came together for the wedding. “Both of them are very laid back and so easy to work with,” Erin says. “Our pictures are absolutely gorgeous. In every single shot, you can see how happy we are and how much fun we were having.”The great thing about a carnival-themed wedding in a barn, Erin points out, “is that we could do anything we wanted to.” The night of celebration included popcorn, cotton candy and snow cone machines, plus a s’more station. They had a high-striker (the classic strength-testing carnival game), a bonfire, cornhole games, a kissing booth and a 1940s skee-ball machine. The wedding celebration also featured a photo booth by Photo To Go.The musical entertainment was provided by Audio To Go, which had impressed Erin and Shurn at her sister’s wedding. “At my sister’s wedding, [the DJ] was just so accommodating that we told him that night we were going to book him for our wedding.” In keeping with their plan to create a wedding as handmade as possible, Erin worked hard making centerpieces that would be unique and fun. A year before the wedding, she started making paper flowers of all shapes and sizes – she made about 500 individual flowers, with the help of her family, and placed them in milk bottles and vases collected throughout the year from thrift stores.Signs that were used on the farm to direct guests to the ceremony and food stations were made from pieces of scrap wood Erin found, and she used different paint techniques to age them. The cake toppers were a surprise from her sister – she made them out of clay and hand-painted them. Erin’s bouquet was particularly sentimental because it was made out of brooches her family and friends had given her. “It meant a lot to me to be able to have a piece of them with me as I walked down the aisle,” she says. Looking back on their wedding day, Erin and Shurn were overjoyed to have a wedding that completely suited their personalities. “I like family traditions, homemade things and antiques,” Erin says. “And Shurn loves family, fun and a good party and we both like a lot of crazy mixed in.”
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Continue reading real wedding stories! Up next: ’Along for the ride’