Southern Weddings

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All the love stories I get to read as a Southern Weddings editor (yes, it’s a really fun job!) are magical, but every once in a while, I read one that gives me butterflies and then sticks in my memory for years to come. Priya and Tom’s is definitely one of those, and I’m positive that after you read it in their interview, it’ll resonate with you too! I’m SO glad they turned to their own experiences together for ideas when they began planning their wedding, because it certainly served as a rich well of inspiration, from the musicians they hired to the culinary expertise they put to good use. The result was a deeply meaningful and beyond gorgeous celebration that added a beautiful new chapter to Priya and Tom’s story!

Many thanks to the talented Jen Fariello for sending this joyful day our way!

Deciding on a first look was one of the more difficult decisions we made. Both of us really wanted to preserve the “specialness” of Tom seeing me walk down the aisle for the first time. In the end though, neither of us could deny that doing a first look would give us much more flexibility in terms of photos with family and logistics throughout the rest of the night. We also wound up loving that it made us so much more relaxed–it was a really nice break to see other other alone and laugh a ton before the ceremony began. And not to worry–Tom still cried while I walked down the aisle :)

Did you write your own vows? We actually didn’t write our own vows–kept it traditional!
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Genesis 2:4-9 and 15-24; Psalm 100; John 15:1-13. Notably, the Gospel verse from John 15 has been an essential part of our relationship, and was also a verse we referenced a lot during our engagement. The concept of “abiding” in God to bear fruit–it’s something we often need to remember. The word “abide” is actually inscribed in both of our wedding bands as a result.

Music was really important to us, for a lot of reasons: I play the violin, we share a love for live performances, and we see music as a way to unite people. We were incredibly blessed to have our friends Daniel and Lauren Goans play at our wedding ceremony. One of our first pseudo-dates involved Tom driving up to NYC to surprise me and attend one of their concerts with me, and by strange coincidence, a year later, Tom was asked to cook a private fundraising dinner with them. So it all sort of fell into place and we were thrilled they could perform. They played “How Long,” one of their original songs, while I walked down the aisle, as well as several of our favorite hymns throughout the ceremony (“Come Thou Fount,” “How Firm A Foundation,” and “Be Thou My Vision”). As Christians, it was important to us to have musicians at our ceremony who share our faith and who would bring the words of the sermon to life through music. Last but not least, they sang a fantastic acoustic rendition of Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams” as we walked back down the aisle as husband and wife, laughing and smiling all the way. For our first dance, we spent weeks learning a foxtrot and swing routine to Dean Martin’s “Ain’t That A Kick in the Head.” We had a blast!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. The day I found my dress was one of the sweetest, most memorable days in the wedding planning process. I had already visited multiple stores in the DC area with all of my bridesmaids, my sister (MOH), and mom, but hadn’t had any luck. On a whim, I made an appointment at Hitched Salon for their sample sale, even though I had already visited and not fallen in love with a dress. They only had availability on the last day of the sale and in the last time slot, so I really wasn’t expecting much! I convinced my mom to drive to Georgetown with me in Wednesday rush hour traffic (she’s the best!) and meet me there. I picked out 5-6 dresses to try, and on my third dress, my heart stopped. I walked out of the dressing room and my mom’s eyes sparkled. We knew it was the one!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Our photographer, Jen Fariello, was recommended to us by a good friend, and Jen in turn mentioned a very special, very historic property called Seven Oaks. It had just changed hands and wasn’t yet open to the public, having formerly been owned by the band manager of Dave Matthews Band. But with Jen’s recommendation, there was no way we couldn’t take a look. From the first moment, Tom knew (kind of like seeing Priya for the first time). The drive up the road, past the vineyard and rolling country hills, through the gate…Seven Oaks immediately transports you to another time and place. Even more importantly, Seven Oaks also gave us a blank canvas to work with. Nobody else had gotten married there, and the property owners and manager took a hands-off approach. They trusted us, and it let both of us strut our event management and culinary experience. We are both very creative people who love working events and know the ins and outs of the industry, so it was refreshing and liberating to not feel handcuffed by restrictions. The team at Seven Oaks, especially Stephen, went so far beyond the call of duty. They became our friends and showed us so much love–it wasn’t transactional in the least and we know we made the right choice!

There were so many wonderful, beautiful moments that we’ll want to relive forever, but the one that probably stands out the most is practicing our first dance one last time. After the wedding, our photographer took us out to the vineyard for a few shots, and by the time we returned, everyone was under the tent waiting for us. We were all alone for the first time that day, biding a few minutes while guests sat down and mingled. Hidden from view, we used the time to practice our dance in the driveway of Seven Oaks. I (wearing heels on a gravel surface) somehow tore some lace at the bottom of my dress, but we couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. It was the best!

Describe your wedding flowers. We wanted flowers that would complement the natural beauty of Seven Oaks and pay homage to its sweet Southern style. I was in love with the idea of a “lay bouquet” and wanted tons of lush greenery and soft colors–blushes, pale pinks, and whites–that would go with the estate, my lace dress, and the early summer sky tones. The bouquets included peonies, eucalyptus, wild roses, sage, and other seasonal flowers and greenery from Pharsalia Farm. The table arrangements were similar flowers and greenery, and the head farm tables featured a gorgeous garland down the center interspersed with mercury glass votives–it was so romantic under the tent at night!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both graduated from the University of Virginia (Tom in 2010, Priya in 2011), but didn’t know each other while on Grounds. For the first year out of college, Tom worked in public relations before following a passion to cook in some of the world’s best restaurants–namely, Noma in Copenhagen and Le Chateaubriand in Paris. Returning stateside, Tom began a series of somewhat brazen, questionably legal supper club dinners called “Chez Le Commis.” The tasting menu dinners in Tom’s apartment quickly became popular and were featured in publications like the Washington Post and Washingtonian Magazine. Unbeknownst to Tom, I, while working in southern Spain, no less–had read about the dinners, and was even inspired by them. Upon returning to the U.S. herself, I likewise started a supper club and reached out to Tom via email about attending one of his upcoming dinners. At the time, Tom was dating someone else, and by the time I finally got a table at Chez Le Commis, Tom canceled the dinner because he slipped on ice and broke his arm two days before. So some months passed, and relationships ended, and new opportunities took shape. Tom planned a pop-up wine bar called Vin De Chez, and after some initial success, needed to more fully staff the project. Looking to hire employees, Tom posted a Craigslist ad, which he then reposted to his Facebook wall, which was then (still unbeknownst to him) circulated by a college acquaintance to my former roommate, who just so happened to work at the same venue as the pop-up and who recognized Tom’s name as “that guy who started the dinners that inspired Priya.” In turn, I sent Tom an email a few days later, inquiring about the wine bar. Tom suggested coffee; I suggested wine; Tom was smitten immediately and suggested we order another round (with cheese). Neither of us remembers talking about the wine bar once–and we started to date soon after.
Tell us all about the proposal! After designing the perfect ring himself, and a nearly comical secret trip to Chicago to pick it up while I was traveling (both of us ended up on planes at O’Hare Airport, stuck on the tarmac in the snow at the same time, but I thought Tom was in Atlanta on a work trip), Tom planned to ask the question during a trip to San Francisco. In his words: “I settled on ‘something in a vineyard,’ for a number of reasons, but the first of which was that we met in some ways because of wine, and the second of which was a passage from scripture: ‘Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me’ (John 15:4). During our trip, we headed up to Napa and Tom had already booked a visit to Kongsgaard Winery, which sits perched atop one of the highest hills in Napa. They produce wonderful, absurdly expensive Chardonnay, and of course, also have an amazing view overlooking the entire valley. At the end of the tasting, Tom pressed me to take a walk up the mountain to see the vineyard. I hesitated, but Tom kept insisting. There was some stumbling, maybe a twisted ankle, and a scrape from a nearby bush…but it all worked out after he got down on one knee!
When did y’all get married? May 28, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The many ways that our faith was woven into all parts of the wedding–from praying together and reading our ceremony verse during the first look, to the verse I calligraphed on a beautiful mirror that was displayed at the cocktail hour (“I have found the one whom my soul loves,” Song of Solomon 3:4), to the hymns that were sung, to the importance set on creating a firm foundation for marriage, not just the wedding day. It was the most joyous day, not only because it was our wedding day, but also because it was the first day of beginning a lifetime together, celebrated with our family and best friends before God.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Burying a bottle of bourbon was high on our priority list, and we were actually at Seven Oaks one month before our wedding, but Tom forgot to bring the bottle and it just didn’t work out. Thankfully, as luck would have it, another bride and groom getting married at Seven Oaks had recently buried a bottle. We’d like to thank them for our perfect wedding weather!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Thankfully, we have the most amazing church community around us that really cares about our relationship. One of the couples at our church serves as marriage mentors to us, with shockingly similar family stories and experiences that have helped us a great deal. Our pastor, friends, and families have likewise shared their knowledge and wisdom with us, and we’ve tried to be very intentional about seeking out their counseling and input. Of course, we also prayed, studied, and talked together a great deal; it’s that foundation in faith that has continually given us confidence in our relationship and insight into serving each other.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Sleeping in, making Saturday morning lattes, traveling the world, and not thinking about wedding planning!

Photographer: Jen Fariello Photography | Videographer: Allie Merrill of M Squared Creative | Planner: Amanda Gray of Ashley Baber Weddings | Venue: Seven Oaks Farm and Vineyards | Florist: Pharsalia Events | Wedding Cake: Arley Cakes | Caterer: A Pimento Catering | Rentals and Lighting: Skyline Tent Company, Paisley and Jade, and Real Southern Accents | Ceremony Music: Lowland Hum | DJ: DJ Izm via Scratch Weddings | Paper Products: Emily Rose Ink | Menus and Programs: Tom Madrecki | Bride’s Gown: Anna Maier | Bride’s Veil: Etsy | Bride’s Earrings and Shoes: BHLDN | Rings: Marshall Pierce & Company | Hair Stylist: Event Hair by Lauren | Makeup Artist: Joyne of BRIDEface Richmond | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Lina” and “Harlow” in Cameo Pink by BHLDN | Groom’s Attire: Bonobos | Groomsmen Attire: Lapel

Paisley & Jade is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Brooke Paris reply

    I’m in love with the way they had part of their wedding readings engraved into their wedding bands! So beautiful and meaningful.

  2. avatar Paisley & Jade reply

    We were so excited to have been a small part of this couple’s big day! Bravo to all our vendor friends who helped this gorgeous wedding vision come to life! And thanks so much SW for featuring! :)

  3. avatar Emma reply

    I love that they tied in hymns during the ceremony. I’ve always dreamed of making music a more central part of my wedding ceremony without it taking away from the actual event. Priya and Tom seem so genuine :)

  4. avatar Victoria reply

    So many creative photos (I love the mirror shot)… and the bridesmaids dresses are so cute.

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