Marty O’Connor Shaw, who goes by “Connor,” is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys hunting and fishing, as well as photographing wildlife. So when he wanted to propose to his girlfriend, Ciera Marie Dawson, he had the perfect spot: S & S Farm in Eldon (a whitetail deer farm). He told Ciera he needed to stop and pick up a tree stand, and that he also wanted to take some pictures. She didn’t suspect a thing when they set out in a Gator and then stopped to pet a doe. At that moment, Connor got down on one knee and proposed. He later whisked Ciera off to a fancy restaurant where both their families were waiting to surprise her with a celebratory engagement dinner.
When it came time to marry, the couple knew they wanted an outdoor venue, so they opted for the Sycamore Creek Family Ranch in Branson. They wed on Oct. 7, 2017, under two 200-year-old sycamore trees that had grown together into one. It was the perfect setting and symbol for their union. They added an arbor with ivory sheers, flowers and greenery. A chalkboard invited guests to “pick a seat not a side, we’re all family once the knot is tied,” surrounded by large white pumpkins, white mums and a floral arrangement on top of whiskey barrels that led guests to their seats.
Ciera chose October because she loves fall and because her parents (33 years) and grandparents (63 years) both have anniversaries in that month.
To realize her vision for the reception, held in the ranch’s barn, she used more white pumpkins of different sizes and burgundy flowers. For a rustic edge, she added eucalyptus greenery, lanterns, wood slabs and antler sheds. She incorporated her favorite color of rose gold on the head table with painted mason jars, a sequin tablecloth and painted wine bottles as centerpieces. The barn featured string lights that gave the event a warm glow.
The outdoor Christian ceremony was officiated by pastor Zack Green, who recited the couple’s favorite Bible verses pertaining to love and unity. The ceremony included tying a rope braid reflecting on Ecclesiastes 4:3: “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” One of Ciera’s bridesmaids, Megan Ellis, sang “I Just Call You Mine” by Martina McBride while they braided the rope.
Ciera wore a Madison James gown by Allure. It was full length and a mermaid style, with a v-neck and low open back, featuring ivory lace with an antique gold satin undertone and embellished with clear sequins and beaded jewels on the top half, for a bit of sparkle. She chose to forgo a veil and wore her hair down in wavy curls with a hair vine accessory made of pearl beadings and silver diamond jewels that matched her gown. She carried a bouquet of ivory hydrangeas, burgundy and ivory roses, burgundy dahlias, silver dollar eucalyptus and seeded eucalyptus with a splash of gold on them. She added a gold brooch on top of the flowers that her grandmother used to wear, and a rosary that hung from the flower stems belonged to her great-great-grandmother. The stems were also wrapped with fabric from her Holy Communion dress.
Her bridesmaids wore full-length sequin rose gold gowns with open cowl backs by Premavera. They carried smaller versions of her bouquet.
Connor and his groomsmen all wore tailored, slim navy suits by Caravelli, with brown tweed vests underneath. Connor wore a different color tie to set his suit off. His boutonniere consisted of an ivory rose embellished with lightly gold painted seeded eucalyptus.
The couple started off with happy hour cocktails and appetizers: mini egg rolls, mini chicken and cheese quesadillas, and mini chipotle barbecue meatballs. Their main course consisted of bacon-wrapped smoked pork loin, chicken Cordon Bleu with rosemary cream sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon and onions, rolls and a garden salad. Guests could choose from tea, lemonade, water, a variety of wines or the couple’s signature sangria, called “Shaw Sangria.”
After the cake was cut, it was time for dancing and making memories. The DJ played a special anniversary dance; after announcing numbers of years of marriage, anyone married that length had to sit down. Ciera’s grandparents were the last ones left standing and enjoyed a special spotlight dance. It was especially poignant because Ciera’s grandmother was in a wheelchair. The evening also included a glowing balloon release, which was another of Ciera’s fondest memories.
The couple honeymooned in Los Cabos, Mexico, for five days before returning to their home in Columbia. Ciera is a registered dental hygienist, and Connor is a sales representative for Ferguson Enterprises and CEO of MOS Investments.
The bride’s parents are Tim and Jody Dawson of Nixa. The groom’s parents are Marty and Debbie Shaw of Columbia.