Celie and Shane are a couple after our own hearts! Every aspect of their wedding day was truly intentional and full of meaning, from the flowers grown in Celie’s mother’s garden, to the signature drinks Shane and his friends brought home from Vermont, to the Civil War-themed corn hole boards! We love that they took advantage of every opportunity to give friends and family a deeper look into the relationship. With all of those details set against the idyllic backdrop of Celie’s childhood home in Unison, Virginia (what a perfect place to get married!), Celie and Shane’s wedding could not have been lovelier. Thank you so much to Lisa Marie of Sweet Tea Photography for sharing this wonderful wedding with us!
Tell us all about the proposal! In a single day in April of 2012, Shane flew to Virginia from our home in Boston, made my parents a delicious meal and asked them for my hand in marriage. Because he was only gone for a day, I never suspected anything. He just told me he was working late and I believed him. Less than a month later, Shane whisked me away for a getaway in Vermont, saying I needed some time off after a stressful few months at work. We arrived in Stowe in the second week of May at the gorgeous Stone Hill Inn and headed out immediately for a hike up to Moss Glen Falls. I remember thinking as I looked up at the falls, when he’s ready to propose, I really hope we come back here. It would be a perfect place to say “yes.” When I turned around, Shane was looking up at me with the ring in his hands, asking me to marry him. I was so caught off guard that I remember mumbling something like, “Are you for real?” before squealing and saying “YES!” about a thousand times.
We knew what our wedding colors would be very early on in our process, and we chose green because of the succulent, our favorite flower. My mom always referred to them as the “flower that could survive anything” and I wanted them to symbolize a durable, lifelong commitment to our marriage. Coral is my favorite color—it has always said “joy” to me—and Amy did a beautiful job of incorporating it with antique roses, peonies, ranunculus and more. Beyond that, I pretty much told Amy to trust her gut. She is an artist and, as my planner Tabitha always put it, “trust in your professionals. One thing that may not be obvious from the photos but meant the world to us was that my mother, an organic gardener, grew many of the flowers that Amy featured in our bouquets and arrangements. The succulents and hydrangeas, among other things, were cultivated by my mom all year in preparation for the wedding. Amy, an old family friend, cut stems from her own garden, too. Their efforts saved us a huge amount of money and added meaning to every arrangement! I have always loved the look of floral headpieces, but our florist, Amy Potter of Country Way, went above and beyond with the one she designed for me. She included succulents that my mom grew all year and a beautiful rose in my favorite light coral color. My floral crown turned out to be my favorite detail at our wedding. I’d gotten a lot of pressure to do a veil or a silk headpiece, but Amy and Tabitha, my planner, encouraged me to go with what I really wanted and I’m glad I did!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? (I promise we didn’t coordinate our answers to this question. This is just what came out for both of us, separately!) Celie: My favorite memory from our wedding day is walking down the aisle to Shane. Descending the steps to a beautiful piece of music composed for us by one of our dearest friends, everyone I love looking up at me, meeting my parents who were radiating with joy, and, finally, seeing my groom—my soul mate and best friend and the love of my life—looking so handsome and grinning ear to ear like he could not wait to call me his wife. I will never, ever forget that moment. Shane: My favorite moment from our wedding day was seeing Celie walk down the aisle. As she came down the steps of her family home, I got to watch everyone that’s important in our lives stand up and look in awe at how beautiful she was. I remember once she started walking down the aisle with her parents that everything else faded away and I focused in on her. I suddenly forgot that everyone else was there and all I wanted to do was marry this woman I’d loved for so long.
We are surrounded by history where we live in Virginia and my dad is especially passionate about the Civil War. Our wedding coincided with the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War Cavalry Battles of Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville. My dad arranged for a group of our family and friends to go and see the reenactment the morning of our wedding to give them insight into the historical meaning of the place where we were getting married. As a second nod to the intersection of our wedding date and the battles of Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville, my Dad created a Civil War-themed corn hole game. He built the boards from scratch and then bartered with a sign maker (he made them a corn hole game in exchange) to design board covers in Confederate and Union themes. I had asked him to create a corn hole set because the game is a big tradition in Shane’s family and my dad is an incredible woodworker, but I told him he had creative freedom as far as the design. Everyone, including Shane and I, loved what he came up with!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Shane and I were so intentional about all of the details in our wedding, it’s impossible to choose just one, but here are a few we haven’t covered yet. Shane and I put honey on and in everything. We also call each other “honey” or “honey bunny,” so we knew from the beginning that we wanted our favor to be honey. My family’s neighbors, the Gardiners, run a beautiful apiary down the street called “Unison Honey,” so instead of place cards we marked our guests’ seats with small, labeled honey jars. Shane’s signature cocktail was Heady Topper, his favorite beer, available exclusively from a microbrewery in Waterbury, Vermont. For his bachelor party, Shane and his friends made the trip up north to pick up the unpasteurized brew and they kept it cold all the way to Virginia for the wedding. Shane had made such an effort getting his beer to the wedding, that I wanted to honor it in some way. We saw this gorgeous antique, claw-footed bathtub at Vintage Affairs, where we got our chairs and tables, and we couldn’t resist! Shane and I spent the year before our wedding gathering old photos of our family members, especially those who couldn’t be with us on our day. I saw a version of this “family tree” idea on a wedding blog and loved it. We hung about 40 frames on the sweet gum tree next to our ceremony to encourage our guests to reflect on our familial roots before and after our vows. I chose the antique typewriter for our guest book because we have a humanities gene in our family (I’m a web content editor, my father is a writer, and my sister is a lawyer) and I wanted a symbol of our family’s commitment to great writing at our wedding. We found it at Vintage Affairs, a fantastic rentals company out of Elkridge, Maryland.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Shane and I lived on the same floor of Myles Standish Hall at Boston University. We were both intensely political; my college roommate, who was in our wedding, likes to remember our late-night debates about the 2008 elections. As we grew closer as friends through college, I professed my love to Shane three or four times, but he always claimed he wanted to remain “just friends.” Then, one day, out of the blue, Shane turned to me and said, simply, “I love you. I am in love with you, Celie.” We never looked back. Four years later, he’s still my best friend, but he’s also my husband. I still get butterflies when I say that word.
When did y’all get married? June 15, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 92
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my dress at an adorable boutique in Madison, CT called Everthine Bridal. The whole experience was like a fairytale. When I walked into the tiny shop with my mom and my two best friends, I saw my dress in a photograph on the wall. The model was walking along a stone wall with a beautiful green field in the background, and she had a delicate crown of flowers on her head. It just looked like Virginia and it felt like me. I knew the dress would look beautiful outside on our day. It was created to order by Sarah Seven—she calls it the “Practically Perfect” dress—in a gorgeous ivory. When I tried it on, the ladies at Everthine tied a sweet little Untamed Petals sash around my waist, and with that added touch, I was sold. The flowers on the sash reminded me of succulents, which were our primary wedding flower, and I could see the dress flowing behind me at my family farm in Virginia.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Shane and I chose to do a first look because we wanted the time to focus, together, on what mattered on our day before the craziness began. We also chose to go forward with a first look because we spent a lot of time and energy on our cocktail hour and wanted to experience it with our guests.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We chose to write our own vows and we were so happy that we did. They were so meaningful and personal and I think our guests were really moved by the powerful insight into our relationship. Shane’s favorite part of my vows was “I vow to weave our love through our current and future families so that they can feel the same heart-swelling happiness that we do. I promise to soak up the sweet love you wrap me in and never fear it or question it, because I know, today and forever, that it is all mine. I vow to always love you more than I did yesterday and to punctuate everything we do with ‘I love you.’” My favorite part of Shane’s vows was “I vow to respect and cherish your family history, traditions, and values as we blend them with those of my family and develop our own as a new family. I vow to love you every day for the rest of my life. You are the greatest friend I’ve ever had, and the love of my life.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Shane and I were lucky enough to have one of our dear friends, Forest Marchini, compose an original piece of classical music for our processional. He called it “Celie and Shane: In Unison.” It’s the most beautiful piece of music I’ve ever heard. On our wedding day, it was performed by Forest on piano, accompanied by a string trio. The piece evolved as I walked across the porch, down the stairs, and met my parents to walk down the aisle to Shane. It added so much meaning to our ceremony. Our first dance was to our song, Joshua Radin’s “They Bring Me to You.” It’s been our song since the first time Shane said, “I love you.” Our favorite lyric is “I love you so much more tonight, more than yesterday—the rest of my life can’t compare to this night,” which had even more meaning on our wedding day than it does in our everyday.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our cake was designed and created by award-winning pastry chef Jason Reaves, from Market Salamander in Middleburg. We chose a Tres Leches cake with home-style buttercream frosting. We wanted a cake that was light and refreshing and featured buttercream, which was on every cake my Mom made me when I was growing up. As far as the design of the cake, Shane and I liked the idea of featuring fresh, local berries around each tier. Jason helped us select the frosting design and placed every succulent on the cake himself when he delivered it.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My sister, Sarah, who was also my maid of honor, and I have matching sapphire and diamond rings, designed by our parents with jewels from our grandmothers and great grandmothers. On my wedding day, I wore mine as my something old and she wore hers. I swear our grandmothers were there with us, keeping the rain at bay. Something new were my shoes and earrings. My shoes were handmade by JoyFolie, an Etsy artist, and my earrings were handmade and designed (with my shoes in mind) by my closest cousin, Somerset Gagne. My necklace was my “something borrowed.” It’s a necklace that my mother and her sister, Kay, have that features both yellow and rose gold and a few important family engravings. I wanted to wear it for the wedding because Shane is from a very large, Irish family, and the four-leaf clover had extra meaning with so many of them there that night. My something blues were my succulents. They have a beautiful blue hue to them, and Amy chose an especially blue one to be featured in my floral crown. It was such a nice compliment to the coral rose.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Budget. Shane and I were on a tight budget from the beginning and I’m proud to say, as my dad put it in his toast on the wedding day, we were “on time and on budget!” We were so thankful to our families for all they contributed and proud to have contributed as much as we did ourselves. There were so many people who told us we would have to increase our budget in order to have the wedding of our dreams, but they were wrong. Staying within a tight budget and still having a beautiful wedding requires commitment and elbow grease and, above all, flexibility, but don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t possible.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We had fantastic experiences with almost every one of our vendors. We had a very tight budget, but we made room for our day-of coordinator, Tabitha Roberts, and it was the best decision we made. She was so much more than your typical DOC; she guided us through our year of wedding prep and helped us through some serious bumps in the road. On our day, she took care of every detail so that we could be with each other and our family and friends. By the end of the event, she felt like family. I adore her and I owe so much to her vision and her hard work to make it a reality. Also, I know everyone says it, but your day will go by faster than you could ever imagine. Lisa Marie, our photographer, captured moments and details that will help us remember the best parts of our day forever and in the best, most beautiful light. She was our biggest investment and our photos are worth every penny. Save everywhere else, but splurge on the photographer that truly understands your vision and whose style of photography aligns with your wedding style.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? 1. Shane and I wrote our own vows for our wedding, but I highly recommend doing so even if you and your partner will be using traditional vows or vows that honor your family’s faith in your actual ceremony. Even if you never share them with anyone but each other, it is an incredibly enlightening exercise and being able to reference and remember those personal, meaningful promises for the rest of your marriage is important. 2. Dream together. During our engaged year, Shane and I covered our house in thoughts on our wedding. We had a massive bulletin board on our wall with menus, stationery, colors, fabrics and more. I discovered so many things on Pinterest and wedding blogs that I never would have thought of! I made a PDF mood board or Pinterest board for each of our key vendors so that they would understand our vision for their contribution to our day. We had a really clear image of what we wanted for our day and a tight budget, which made choosing vendors much easier for us. 3. Trust your gut. You will get advice from every person who knows you’re getting married and even those who don’t (like blogs, for example). This is your day. If you make your choices based on trends or tradition, you’ll end up with someone else’s wedding. Some of my favorite parts of our wedding, like my floral crown, went against the advice we got.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are more in love than ever. Shane and I love to travel and experience new foods and cultures, so we’re looking forward to some serious adventures in the next few years. Above all, though, I think we both can’t wait to spend time with our own and with each other’s families as husband and wife. We’re looking forward to starting our own family one day and introducing our children to the wonderful people, traditions, and, as I put it in our vows, “heart-swelling happiness” in our lives.
Photographer: Lisa Marie O’Quinn of Sweet Tea Photography | Planner: Tabitha Roberts of Roberts & Co. | Ceremony and Reception Venue: Family home in Unison, Virginia | Florist: Amy Potter of Country Way Floral | Wedding Cake: Jason Reaves of Market Salamander | Caterer: Market Salamander | Rentals: Juli Wolf of Vintage Affairs and Liz Waylan of DC Rental | DJ: Anthony Simpson of My Deejay | Processional Composition: Forest Marchini | Ceremony Musicians: Cynthia Saucedo | Reception Musician: Kevin Johnson | Bride’s Gown: “Practically Perfect” by Sarah Seven at Everthine Bridal Boutique | Bride’s Sash: Untamed Petals/Amanda Judge | Paper Products: Love vs. Design | Bride’s Jewelry: Two Birds Jewelry Designs | Reception Headpiece: Mignonne Handmade | Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Claudine Fay | Bride’s Shoes: Joy Folie | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Mixed Styles in Chiffon and Crinkle Silk Chiffon by Donna Morgan | Groom’s Suit: J.Crew | Men’s Ties: Handmade by Emy | Groomsmen Suits: Michael Kors at Macy’s
Sweet Tea Photography and Roberts & Co are delightful members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!