After reading that Emily and Vance met during a welcome picnic in college, when Vance used the successful pickup line “I like your pants,” I knew their wedding would be anything but ordinary! For these two actors, the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater was the perfect place to say their own vows, that included such sweet sentiments as Emily’s vow to put Vance before herself, and that it was “the greatest gift to do that so entirely organically and without hesitation.” I just love that so much! These now-New Yorkers knew they wanted to get married in their college town in West Virginia, and they felt right at home on the rooftop of the boutique Chestnut Hotel for their reception. Of course, the addition of some good ol’ Southern food always helps!
Big hugs to Veronica Varos for sending this lovely day our way!
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My best friend was coming to town, so I googled a couple of places in NYC to go dress shopping. I’m so happy I found Saja, a small designer boutique in SOHO where everyone was lovely, and all the dresses were simple and elegant–perfect for chill, approachable brides like myself. I tried on five, and I thought, “Well, it’s for sure one of those five, and I have no interest in going anywhere else!” I narrowed it down to two, and went back a couple of weeks later with another friend. I walked out in my dress, and she said “That’s it!”
We knew we wanted to get married in our college town. Since we weren’t able to be there all the time, we enlisted the help of my sister, who was local. She was the one who suggested both the locations for the ceremony and the reception, and after visiting a couple of places, we were sold. We held our ceremony at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater, which is on the water, has a gorgeous view, and had a stage feel, perfect for us actors. The reception was at the Rock Top Lounge at the Chestnut Hotel–a sweet little boutique hotel where we all stayed. The rooftop was PERFECT! It felt so New York-esque, and as New Yorkers now, we just fell in love with it.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, we did! My favorite line of mine was: “This is the greatest thing I could ever do–marry you. We’ve already started a life together, and I sincerely love living every day with two hearts. I put yours before mine, and it’s the greatest gift to do that so entirely organically and without hesitation. I will love you every day as hard as I can until I love you more than I love myself….You’re everything I could ever need to live a happy, happy life.” My favorite part of his: “Through all the changes, we just keep falling in love with each other…As human beings, we change. Life happens. And this might be weird, but I promise to continue to grow–to evolve with each other. To learn from you. And I’m so glad I have the opportunity to keep falling in love with you time and time again.”
My flowers were absolutely perfect! My florist was so patient with me. I had so many images in my head, like desert meets neon meets bohemian meets funk meets watercolors. I gave her a wide variety of color schemes and told her what kinds of flowers I liked. Then, she made magic happen! She had never seen my husband’s shirt, but somehow, she matched all the flowers to his shirt and our kooky color scheme perfectly!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be true to YOU! Everyone was blown away by our wedding (so humbling to hear that!), and it’s because they had “never been to a wedding like that before!”–the highest compliment. So be creative, and put your funky stamp on all of it!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? All of it was memorable, but I’d say the moment when my husband and I were up on the stage with our dream band playing our favorite song, and we were dancing like nobody was watching, was my absolute favorite! It was pure joy! I took a deep breath to try to soak up that moment, and I will never let it go!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We were both theatre majors, and we spotted each other at orientation during our first year of college. At the welcome picnic, he approached me with a really good pickup line: “I like your pants.” Well, I was hooked. We ate pizza together by a tree and giggled as I got to know the most different and charming boy I’d ever met. We went on our first date three days later. He asked me to be his girlfriend the very next day, and I freaked out a little bit because I barely knew him. It was weird for a few months, but having almost every class together, we became friends. We both dated other folks for a few years, and during our junior year, we were forced to do a love scene together and spent a lot of time together rehearsing. We realized, “What are we doing!? We’re in love!” We started dating in January 2007 and got married in 2014.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was my birthday, and Vance had planned a fun-filled day with many little surprise events that friends could join in on: dinner, the zoo, a movie…ending with a huge private room just for us and our friends at a laser tag arena (mind you, this is something we never do, but we’re adventurous, so I was up for it!). Vance and I were on the same team with a couple of our friends. I was getting super into it, and mid-match, I said, “Where should we hide!?” to Vance. He replied, “Over there! By the inflatable tank!” I army crawled over there, and once I made it, I asked him, “Now what!?” He pulled out the ring and said, “Well, how about you marry me?” I toppled over in tears and giggled with excitement as I said yes, and we had about four minutes of the most lovely private time together, even though we were surrounded by chaos. Then, we half-heartedly continued the match, until our team lost. While the other team was shoving it in our faces, I lifted my hand and was immediately met with cheers of joy. It was perfect. Silly, so us, and both private and lovely, followed by a celebration with my best friends.
When did y’all get married? September 13, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? A little over 200
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I come from a huge Italian family, so as per tradition, all the moms, aunts, cousins, and grandmas baked a boatload of cookies. As if over 2000 cookies wasn’t enough, I still wanted to have a ceremonial cake to cut, so my aunt made us an Italian cream wedding cake, decorated with coconut and raspberries. It was so amazing!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our entire menu was Southern fare: pulled pork, BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, asparagus, biscuits, salad (with my aunt’s homemade dressing), and more.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Anywhere we could save, we did. Since our ceremony venue was at a state park, it was wonderfully cheap!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We have been together for a long time, so not much about our day-to-day has changed, but the energy has most certainly changed. My best friend described it as being “freeing”–knowing you can go forth and conquer the world, as an individual and as a couple. I feel so blessed that we earned this marriage… we went though so much together in our long relationship pre-wedding. We’re looking forward to our honeymoon to Mexico in January!
Photographer: Veronica Varos / Videographer: Pictory Productions / Ceremony Venue: Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater / Reception Venue: The Chestnut Hotel / Florist: Blooms Florist / Band: Wesley Bright & the Hi-Lites / Bride’s Gown: Saja