Amanda and Ryan Stephens first met as undergraduates at John Brown University in northwestern Arkansas. Just three months after they started dating, Ryan said he knew he wanted to marry her and that's when he told her he loved her. She waited six months to return his sentiments, which he called "grueling." He proposed a year after they started dating, on New Year's Day in downtown Denver.
Her parents generously offered to pay for the wedding, so Amanda said, "If you're going to spend the money for this special day, I think the money should go to a good cause."
Her mom, Tonia Anderson, was the one to find the Belltower Chapel, and Amanda fell in love with the architecture: "We liked how it looked on the outside, and the contemporary stained glass on the inside was lovely." Belltower was also one of the first places that Ryan saw in Fort Worth. Little did they know that they would be one of the first couples married there.
The pair married on Jan. 2, 2011, and has many wonderful wedding memories of hosting their wedding at the new Belltower Chapel and Garden. Amanda shared that they had two officiants at their wedding, and while Ryan's grandpa was officiating, he forgot to say the all-important "You may now kiss the bride." So Amanda turned to Ryan and shouted, "Kiss me!," getting a huge chuckle from their audience.
As they were coming out of the chapel, they were able to ring the bell, which they described as "so cool!"
Amanda and Ryan loved being able to have their reception in the same location, saying "We had been to several weddings where people don't go to the reception if the ceremony and reception are at separate places, and we just wanted everyone together." And while guests ate the cookies made by Ryan's mom and Amanda's grandma from Oregon, everyone was able to appreciate the setting while they celebrated the new Mr. and Mrs.: "it felt really cozy."
"Everyone who came to our wedding thought it was a gem," Amanda said. Ryan added that his dad loved the history behind the place.
And as they left to start their married life, everyone lined up on the steps outside the chapel to wish them well.
Ryan and Amanda have been married for six years now.
100 percent of the proceeds from the Belltower Chapel and Garden supports ACH's programs and services.
Read more of Ryan's and Amanda's story and see photos from their wedding originally published in the Fall 2016 issue of reACH magazine.