The two words that kept coming to my mind as I was admiring Samantha and Ben’s Virginia mountain wedding were striking and simple. They didn’t fill their wedding to the brim with details–they just chose a beautiful, meaningful location (Ben’s grandparents’ property, where Ben’s parents had been married years before!) and focused on creating moments for their wedding rather than things. Don’t get me wrong, there was no shortage of DIY in this day, from the flowers to the tent decor, but the most special elements of Samantha and Ben’s wedding were their emotional letter exchange, sweet ceremony, and joyful dance party celebration!
It is an old family tradition for the father to place a sixpence in the left heel of the bride’s shoe the night before the wedding for good luck, so my sixpence was my something old!
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my dress eight days after we got engaged…yes, embarrassingly fast. My birthday fell on a Monday (my day off), so my mother took the day off with me and we decided that we should go “play” at David’s Bridal. We were definitely not intending to purchase anything that day. Long story short, the woman helping us found out that I was an “artsy, dancer chick,” so after trying on a few of my picks, she said, “I have something a little more unique that only one other bride has purchased, wanna try it on?” My answer was, “Duh! Put me in anything!” She pulled a White by Vera Wang tulle ball gown in a two-toned ivory and beige coloring. After trying on a few more dresses and coming back to the “artsy” choice, I took multiple laps around the store, eventually finding myself saying “I think this might be my dress.” I never thought I’d be one to cry over a wedding dress, but the look on my mother’s face and the simple thought that this dress represented the fact I had finally found Ben is what did it. As my mother was hunting down tissues and our consultant was going to retrieve her “found the dress” bell, the song playing on the overhead speakers caught my ears–it was the song that Ben and I had planned for our first dance on the big day. I am not one who believes in coincidence, so I took it as a sign, and made my purchase!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? We both agree that our most memorable moment was our exchange of letters. Prior to the ceremony, we separately wrote letters for each other. Just before the ceremony, Ben was led to a bench in front of a beautiful tree in the backyard and was instructed to keep his eyes closed. I then joined him on the bench back-to-back, and without actually seeing each other, we were able to hold hands and share an intimate moment as we read each other’s letters.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We are both fortunate enough to have musically talented younger siblings, who prepared and performed several duets with their guitar and mandolin while people were being seated for the ceremony. We walked down the aisle to an acoustic version of the song “A Thousand Years” and back up the aisle to “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen.
We were married on Ben’s grandmother’s property nestled in the mountains of Virginia. The location is stunning–a cozy brick house on top of a hill, surrounded by beautiful mountaintops. I’ve also always wanted to be married outside in front of a big tree, and it just so happens that there are two gorgeous maple trees sitting side by side in the front of the property. Last but not least, it is also where Ben’s parents had their wedding. :)
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We were married outside in a small, Southern, mountain town in Virginia, and we were surrounded by all of our friends and family. We both come from very large families, and everybody came together to help us set up our DIY wedding–from friends putting flowers together for the bouquets to aunts and uncles draping fabric throughout the tent, it was a grand production that everyone wanted to be a part of. Our meal was made in a homemade Southern style, and included pecan-crusted chicken, mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar, and peach sweet tea.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Our very closest friends/cousins, Carlee and Adam, helped to set us up. Carlee likes to think of this set-up as “paying it forward” since my mother was the matchmaker for her parents. Months before I met Ben, she informed me that there was a guy in Adam’s medical school class that I “just had to meet”–Ben and Adam were at Duke together and hung out in the same circle of friends. At a Duke medical school function, Carlee and I found ourselves chatting on the far end of the restaurant when I spotted this handsome guy across the way. I noticed that he was talking with another girl who looked very interested in him, when Carlee pointed and shouted “Ooooh! That’s him! That’s Ben, Sammy!” Lo and behold, who does she point to? The guy I’m already checking out. Eventually, we made our way back to a group of Adam’s friends. We were standing in a circle discussing some medical procedure that, of course, went in one of my ears and out the other, when Ben walked up to me, extending his hand, and asked confidently, “Can I introduce myself to you?” He proceeded to hold my hand for another minute (supposedly, unbeknownst to him) while he had a conversation with the guy next to him. I stood there stunned, staring at our intertwined hands, laughing to myself, thinking “This guy has moves.” To this day, when we recall the night we met, Ben states that he had no idea he had held my hand for so long!
Tell us all about the proposal! About a year before Ben’s proposal, he surprised me with the best birthday present ever: two tickets to go tandem skydiving! After we touched down, we realized that it was still super early in the day, so we asked the owner what there was to do “’round these parts.” He, like a true Southern gent, told us that there was a vineyard two minutes up the road! After an afternoon of touring the stunning, Italian-inspired Raffaldini Vineyards, tasting an array of wines and purchasing a bottle or two, we ended up on a bench that overlooked the grounds. It was there that Ben first told me he was falling in love with me; I, of course, reciprocated the feeling. A little less than a year later, we planned a trip to the mountains to get away and see my brother. On our way home, we ended up at Raffaldini Vineyards again. We spent the evening reminiscing and trying their newest wines, ending up back on the same bench where we first said “I love you.” That’s where Ben got down on one knee and asked if I would be his “teammate” for life.
When did y’all get married? May 17, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 160
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Really step back and appreciate all of the people who have gathered to support you and help you throughout your engagement and into your marriage. It is very easy to get stressed out over all the little details and get upset or be short with people close to you. You have to keep in mind when planning a do-it-yourself wedding that there are lots of hands and minds involved, and with that comes a lot of emotions. It is so much more enjoyable to be a relaxed bride, even when things aren’t going as initially planned. Also, something that a friend told me shortly after Ben and I got engaged was to make sure that the week before your wedding, and especially the day before the wedding, you should find some time to sneak off and share some time alone. This is harder than it seems, and we are so glad we did it!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Just a couple of weeks after getting married, we moved out of our home state and started our new jobs in a fresh new city. Ben graduated from medical school a week before our wedding, and he has started up as a resident in Internal Medicine at a great institution. I was fortunate enough to quickly start a job at a terrific Pilates studio and have begun dancing with a local non-profit modern dance company. We have also become the proud new parents of two adorable kittens!
Photographer: Perry Vaile Photography / Venue: Private residence / Florist: Whole Foods / Caterer and Wedding Cakes: Deb’s Catering / Rentals and Lighting: Cook’s Rental / Invitations: Michaels / Bride’s Gown: “Ombre Tulle Ball Gown VW351157” by White by Vera Wang / Bridal Salon: David’s Bridal / Hair Stylists: Debra Davis and Sandy Wilson / Makeup Artist: Merle Norman / Bride’s Shoes: Tahari / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Long Strapless Chiffon Dress F15555” in Champagne by David’s Bridal / Men’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse
Perry Vaile is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!