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It’s hard for me not to feel akin to couples whose love stories mirror my own a little…reading their interviews quickly takes me back to my own perfect day eight years ago. I always feel this way with college sweethearts in particular, but never have I run into a story quite as similar to mine as Kelsey and Kevin’s. From college baseball to time in the minor leagues, and even sharing the same “most memorable moment” on our respective wedding days (be sure to read below to find out what that is!), I might have had to do a double-take while reading their interview. Unlike my wedding, on the other hand, Kelsey and Kevin’s Virginia wedding was filled with beautiful blue hues and gold and ivory accents. Eucalyptus, dusty miller, thistle, and cappuccino roses were used in the florals (created by Kevin’s cousin) to achieve a romantic and organic feel that perfectly complemented their venue, Castle Hill Cider. Making their day even sweeter, guests traveled from over ten states to celebrate with them, leaving them humbled to have all of the people they love together as they became husband and wife!

Big SW hugs to Michael and Carina for sharing this lovely day with us!

When it comes to growing up in the South, family is always number one. Although Kevin is from New Jersey, this was something I realized and loved about him and his family just as I had known it with my own. We chose to have a small wedding party–my sister was the maid of honor and Kevin’s sister was my bridesmaid. Kevin’s brother was his best man and his brother-in-law was a groomsman. We wanted all aspects of the weekend and that day to be about our family, who had supported us and believed in us over the past eight years.

I never ever thought we would do a first look. I had always dreamed about the feeling that the bride and groom have when they see each other for the first time when the bride is walking down the aisle. But, when the sun sets at 5 P.M. and your ceremony is at 4, you quickly realize you will not have enough sunlight following the ceremony to get all of the pictures you want. The first lesson of marriage, I guess–compromise! The first look was really beautiful and still felt extremely special and intimate. It was a cool November day with just enough afternoon sun to keep us from feeling the chill. Our pictures are incredible and it was worth doing a first look to have the lifelong treasures of our photographs.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? When we were planning our ceremony, we decided on personalized vows that blended some traditional pieces with some lines we felt strongly about. It definitely took some research, both online and in books, as well as some ideas from our officiant to create something that seemed right for the two of us. Our vows included the following: “I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you and to comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle; I promise to love you in good times and in bad, when life seems easy and when it seems hard; I promise to trust you and honor you; I promise to cherish you and to always hold you in highest regard. These things I give to you today and all the days of my life.”

We were so happy and honored to have Kevin’s cousin, Kathy, be our florist. I never thought it would be possible since she lives in New Jersey, so when she offered, we both felt such overwhelming gratitude and excitement. It was so special to have family involved with the wedding. Kathy is so talented and her work is stunning. I knew she understood my vision and I was blown away on the day of our wedding–we could not have loved them more.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We actually visited Castle Hill about a month before we were engaged. We took my mom on a weekend trip for her birthday and decided to stop by because none of us had been there before, and we had heard great things about the cider. I can remember the four of us sitting outside, enjoying a glass of Big Pippin and talking about how beautiful it was there. We had always planned to get married in the Charlottesville area, so when the time came to choose a venue, it seemed like the perfect fit. We loved the idea of being able to have the ceremony in the loft and the reception downstairs in the main barn area. The view from Castle Hill of the Blue Ridge (not to mention the drive in) really captured what we wanted our out-of-town guests to experience when they came to Virginia.

Our wedding cake was funfetti, but a little amped up! Our amazing baker went above and beyond to make the groom’s funfetti dreams come true. The cake was three tiers and featured a Bavarian cream filling and a vanilla buttercream with rainbow sprinkles cascading down.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? We really enjoyed the moments after we were announced as husband and wife, immediately following the ceremony, when we were in the suite while guests went downstairs for cocktail hour. We were surrounded by our families and there was no shortage of smiles and the happiest tears. Those few minutes of just being able to breathe, hold on to one another, and soak in the moment is something we will always cherish.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Kevin and I met at UVA. Kevin was on the baseball team and a few of his teammates lived on the first floor of my dorm. I was on the dance team and had to move in early too, so they were some of the first people I met when I got there. Kevin and I started off as acquaintances, but by the end of spring semester, we went on our first few dates after I boldly reached out to him via AOL Instant Messenger (we still laugh about it to this day!). Mostly, our first dates were spent going to Blockbuster (Kevin is a huge movie buff) or walking to “the Corner” by campus to grab lunch between classes. When Kevin was drafted to the minor leagues following our third year at UVA, we began the long-distance stint of our relationship and were finally reunited in Charlottesville in the fall of 2014, when Kevin came back to finish his degree and work as a student coach at Virginia.
Tell us all about the proposal! Kevin proposed on a Saturday evening after I had been out running errands with my mom all day. My parents were renovating their kitchen, so we had a girls day–went to brunch, got our nails done, went and looked at light fixtures–all of that good stuff. When I got home, I was pretty tired and went to relax before we were headed out to see my sister later that evening. Kevin appeared, and at the time, I thought he had been out playing golf that day. He quickly said that, “he couldn’t lie” about playing golf and pulled out the ring to propose. I was in shock! He confessed that he and my dad had been out together that day ring shopping, and although he had made plans to propose the following weekend at the UVA homecoming football game in Charlottesville with all of our friends, the ring burned a hole in his pocket within the few hours he had it. I’m sure he had a good plan in place, but I would not trade the way it ended up happening for anything else. It was perfect.
When did y’all get married? November 12, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 180
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Shopping for my wedding dress was surprisingly easy and stress-free, mostly because Annalise Bridal Boutique (and the owner, Lindsey) was an absolute dream to work with. It was a snowy Sunday morning in February when my parents, sister, grandmother and I went into the city for my appointment. I tried on maybe six or seven dresses, but knew which one I loved the most all along. The dress checked all of my boxes, and once we added the cathedral veil, I knew that it was the one. We were also able to FaceTime my then-future mother-in-law and sister-in-law to share the good news with them, and I couldn’t hold back the tears!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. For the ceremony, we had a guitarist, which created a beautiful experience in the candlelit loft. Our guitarist provided us a breadth of unique selections. For the family and bridesmaid processional, we chose J.S. Bach’s “Sleepers Awake.” For the bridal processional, we chose “Wild Mountain Thyme,” and for the recessional, “The Mysterious Barricades” by F. Couperin. We both love country music, so our first dance song was “In Case You Didn’t Know” by Brett Young. At the reception, we had an awesome DJ who really understood the crowd and how to keep everyone up and dancing. We had a really fun group of guests, who would have likely been up there no matter what was played, but our DJ did a perfect job playing a great mix of music that all could enjoy. The crowd favorite was “Sweet Caroline” which most people know anyways, but it is a regularly played song at UVA sporting events, so our guests really got into it!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did! I wore a gold and pearl bracelet from my Nana. For my something blue, my Nana gave me an embroidered handkerchief as a gift, and she also gave me an ivory handkerchief that belonged to her mother, my great-grandmother. My something new was my wedding dress and veil.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? You hear it from so many people when you start planning your wedding, but our biggest challenge was probably the guest list. When you have been dating as long as we had, you’ve been through so many stages and milestones in your life, both individually and together. Because of this, our first take at a guest list really added up. We had always imagined having an intimate wedding, so we had to work really hard to make the invitation numbers reasonable.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? To save money, we ordered glass vases from the Dollar Tree to use as our candle holders in the loft. We were also able to bulk order the larger pillar candles, as well as the votives for the reception, and transitioned the ceremony candles from the loft down to the reception afterwards.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? My biggest suggestion for anyone planning a wedding that is not where they currently live would be to hire a wedding planner. Our planner, who happened to be a friend from college, was my saving grace. I was traveling for work right before the wedding too, which could have added serious stress to the situation, but Maureen took care of everything with such grace and professionalism. I know we could not have done it without her.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are really looking forward to making our new house our home. We watch way too much HGTV and are excited to start making our own list of what we want to tackle next, as husband and wife.

Photographer: Michael and Carina Photography | Videographer: Danny Freshley of Altamira Film Co. | Planner: Maureen McKenna of Just a Little Ditty | Venue: Castle Hill Cider | Florist: Kathy Lynn Floral Design | Wedding Cake: Cakes by Rachel | Caterer: Harvest Moon Catering | Rentals: Festive Fare | Lighting and Ceremony Draping: Blue Ridge A/V and Lighting | Ceremony Guitarist: Peter Richardson | DJ: JG Entertainment | Paper Products: Rock Paper Scissors | Bride’s Gown: Style 5834 by Liancarlo | Bridal Salon: Annalise Bridal Boutique | Bride’s Veil: “Chelsea” by Sara Gabriel | Hair Stylist: Brianna B. Adams | Makeup Artist: Emily Artistry | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Jacqueline” by Jenny Yoo | Men’s Attire: Jos. A. Banks | Calligraphy: Jodi Macfarlan Calligraphy and Joie de Vivre | Officiant: Jim Burton

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Bri A reply

    This was so fun to read! I loved all the personal touches and the interview was so joyful, even through the page. ;) Thanks for sharing!

  2. avatar Catherine reply

    What a beautiful day! This area of Virginia has so many gorgeous venues. I can’t wait to attend a wedding in Crozet, VA in May!

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I’m not sure anything makes a wedding celebration more special (or Southern!) than when family is weaved through the entire thing! Such was certainly the case for Katie and Alex, starting with their ceremony venue–these two followed in Katie’s parents’ footsteps by getting married at the University of Virginia chapel. Along with drawing inspiration from their families for their wedding details (they especially loved their family photo display and the groom’s cake designed in honor of their dog!), Katie and Alex’s loved ones also came through in a big way to bring this special day to life. The perfect example: when they couldn’t make it to Virginia a month before the wedding to bury the bourbon, Katie’s cousin took the task into her own hands! As you can see in these photos by Rachel May, the tradition was a great success, leading to many new family memories being created as Katie and Alex celebrated their marriage.

P.S. Don’t miss the stories of Alex’s Christmas proposal or Katie’s most memorable wedding day moment below–both are stories for the books!

The vendor that truly set our wedding apart from others was the very talented Kristy Rice from Momental Designs. Her team hand-painted all of our save the dates, invitations, ceremony programs, menu cards, table numbers, and welcome bag inserts. The designs they created for us were works of art that not only captured Charlottesville’s beauty, but also told our story as a couple. I also have to mention Jodi Macfarlan, who did the stunning calligraphy for our seating chart and place cards at the reception. Her work is seriously the prettiest calligraphy I have ever seen, and her ability to match the designs of our paper goods was beyond impressive.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did not have something borrowed, blue, old, and new. My mom told me that she didn’t partake in the tradition when she got married, and my parents have been married for over thirty-five years, so I didn’t feel the need to either!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. It has always been a struggle for me to find dresses that fit well, so to be honest, I was sort of dreading the whole process. My parents were planning a trip from Atlanta to Houston to meet AY’s parents for the first time, so I thought it would be the perfect time to look for a dress with both of our moms and his sisters. We went to Ivory Bridal Atelier in Houston and I tried on several dresses. While every dress the store had was so beautiful, nothing seemed to fit me the right way. Just as I was losing hope, the store manager mentioned that a Fall 2015 Anne Barge dress had just come in. At first glance, I wasn’t in love–it was a light blush color and had an antique look to it. I wanted an ivory dress, but at that point, I was willing to give it a shot. As soon as I stepped into the gown, I got that first feeling of “this might be the one.” It had all this gorgeous lace on the bodice and at the very bottom of the dress. When I saw the matching veil, I was blown away. I knew this was my dress when I found out that I could order it in ivory! With a few magic touches from Linda’s Couture Alterations in Houston, it became everything I was hoping for. Looking back on the whole wedding planning process, dress shopping was absolutely one of my favorite memories and is such a special occasion that every bride should look forward to!

Our fabulous wedding planner, Cody Grannis of Amore Events, created the bouquets for the wedding party and the floral arrangements for the reception. Cody did an amazing job arranging different types of roses with dark greenery to accentuate the light pink in the bridesmaids’ dresses and really make them pop. For my bouquet, I wanted something that looked natural and almost messy, as if the flowers were picked from a wild garden. It came out even better than I had envisioned and was truly unlike any bouquet I’d ever seen. The flowers for the ceremony were designed by Amy Webb from Blue Ridge Floral Design. Amy completely got my vision when I told her that I wanted to have an entrance for the Chapel unlike anything that has ever been done there before. She created this gorgeous floral arch with white roses and greenery that surrounded the front doors of the Chapel. It was such a dreamy piece that perfectly established the entire look and feel for our ceremony.

The most memorable moment for me was seeing my grandfather at the front of the Chapel. My grandfather suffers from Parkinson’s and had a few rough days leading up to the wedding–so rough that we were concerned he might not be able to make it to the ceremony. When I met AY at the altar, I looked to my right and saw a light shining through the stained glass windows of the dark chapel right onto my grandfather. Tears immediately came to my eyes. It was such an unforgettable moment because it was everything that my family had been praying for leading up to the wedding. That same light beam later moved over to me and AY, shining down on us as we said our vows. I remember hearing gasps from the congregation right when it happened, and several guests even came up to us afterwards asking if we had planned it, but perfection like that can only be explained as a gift from above!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? This is an easy one! My parents also graduated from the University of Virginia and were married at the University Chapel on June 28, 1981, so from the moment AY and I started dating during college, I dreamed of following in their footsteps. The University Chapel is so beautiful and rich in history and is such a meaningful place for my family–I really couldn’t imagine us getting married anywhere else. For the reception venue, Charlottesville has so many stunning venues for brides to choose from. AY and I wanted to pick somewhere memorable to us from our time together at UVA. Wine tasting at King Family Vineyards was always one of our favorite activities, and, their views of the Blue Ridge Mountains are breathtaking and second to none!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Is it okay if we have two favorites? A detail we were really excited about was the Moscow mules, which were passed during cocktail hour. Served in a cute copper mug, they seem to always bring smiles to faces. That’s how we knew Moscow mules would be the perfect signature drink for our wedding–plus, they are also really refreshing on a hot summer day! Another detail that was definitely a wow-factor was the wedding memory table, a display of old family wedding photographs designed by my mother. It was a special way to remember our history and give a presence to our loved ones who have passed. It turned out so beautifully and was something our guests really enjoyed.

A Southern tradition we included in our wedding was burying the bourbon, believed by Southerners to keep the rain away. I tend to worry about silly things like the weather, so when I heard about this tradition, I had to find a way to make it happen, especially because every wedding planner will tell you that Charlottesville weather is the most unpredictable. My cousin and a bridesmaid in our wedding, Jayne Anne, is currently a student at UVA, and offered to bury the bourbon for us at King Family Vineyards, as we live in Dallas, Texas and couldn’t find time to make the trip. In true UVA fashion, she chose to bury Jefferson Reserve, and exactly a month later, we had the most beautiful weather for our big day. To Jayne Anne’s surprise, AY and I asked her to do the honors and dig up the bourbon at the reception, too! We owed her big time for bringing us sunny skies and high-70 temperatures at the end of June! It was such a funny sight to see Jayne Anne trying to dig up the bourbon with the massive shovel provided by King Family–an image we will continue to laugh about for years to come! Once the bourbon was retrieved, AY and I said cheers with two antique sterling silver shot glasses from Tiffany’s, given to us by my mother as a wedding present a few days before the wedding. Each shot glass had our new initials engraved on the front and are keepsakes we will forever cherish in remembrance of the tradition.

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Especially when times get stressful, try to remember what the day is really about. A dear friend of mine would remind of that by saying, “No more or no less married” when I would start to worry or compare our wedding with others. It’s easy to get wrapped up in it all and lose sight of what’s really important, but your wedding will be perfect in its own way. As you make it about the love that you have for each other, it will, without a doubt, be the best day of your life.

The cake mastermind, Anita Gupta of Maliha Creations, made both our wedding and groom’s cakes. Our wedding cake was a four-tiered cake with roses and gold leaf flakes decorating the rim of each tier. The cake flavors were hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting and vanilla butter cake with French vanilla buttercream. I was so blown away by our wedding cake–it was beautiful inside and out and looked like something out of a magazine! Our groom’s cake was designed to look like AY’s beloved family dog, Ellie B. Young, who wasn’t able to travel to Charlottesville to celebrate with us. The cake was around two feet tall and featured chocolate cake with Oreo chocolate icing. It was such a sweet surprise for the Youngs that Ellie B. could make an appearance at the wedding, even if it was just in cake form! Having parents that grew up in Charlottesville, there are several local spots that are sentimental for my family. One of those places is The White Spot located on the Corner. It serves an infamous dessert called the “Grillswith,” a grilled and butter-brushed Krispy Kreme donut with vanilla ice cream on top. Our caterer, C&O Restaurant, replicated the recipe perfectly and served Grillswiths to our guests as the late night snack at the reception. I swear, I’ve never seen people react in such a way to a dessert! Everyone couldn’t stop talking about how delicious they were and it was definitely a fun treat for our guests who also know and love The White Spot.

Our first dance was to “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” by The Tams. We thought this song was perfect for us, as AY’s last name (and now mine) is Young. The song also has a great Motown beat and is super easy to dance to!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We first met at the Foxfield Races, an annual horse race in Charlottesville, during our first year at the University of Virginia. I was introduced to him as “AY,” short for Alex Young, and continue to call him AY to this day. We really didn’t get to know each other until we had a class together our second year. He was in the 8:00 A.M. class section of Commerce 180 and I was in the later section that everyone wanted to be in at 11:00. On the first day of class, AY slept in and missed his section, so he snuck into the later one. During the class, our professor asked the students to divide into groups for the semester. To this day, I can still picture the moment AY walked down the classroom hallway over to me and nervously asked to be in my group. I told him that he had to ask the professor for permission, once he admitted to being in the earlier section. Thankfully, the professor said yes, because I truly believe that our love story began with that study group. I spent more time laughing at his terrible jokes than actually doing work, but I also got to see what a great guy he was…and, he did most of the work. We were both dating other people at the time, but we became great friends because of the class. We finally started dating a month before graduation, and have been together since!
Tell us all about the proposal! AY came to Atlanta to spend Christmas with my family. On Christmas morning, he pulled me aside and told me that I needed to open my present early. He described it as “Christmas-y” and hinted that he wanted me to have a chance to use it before the day was over. He handed me a medium-sized box, and inside were six ornaments holding pictures of special moments during our relationship. I thought it was such a sweet present and understood why he wanted me to open it early. As I started to hang the picture ornaments on my parents’ Christmas tree, AY mentioned that he forgot to include one ornament in the box before he wrapped it. He hung the last ornament on the tree and asked me to look at the picture. Busy trying to find vacant spots on our very full tree, I just said, “Oh, that’s very cute” without really examining the picture. AY laughed and told me to look closer. When I did, I screamed, as I realized it was a picture of AY down on one knee in front of his family’s Christmas tree back home! He then got down on one knee and asked me to marry him in front of my family, who ran into the room as soon as they heard me scream. My mom was just as surprised as I was–she thought we had knocked over the Christmas tree!
When did y’all get married? June 25, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 175
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Having a male vocalist sing “Ave Maria” by J.S. Bach was one of the most important parts of the ceremony for us. My grandfather, who was a professor at UVA and a big reason why I went to school there, has always loved that song. His father (my great-grandfather) was a self-taught opera singer and sang “Ave Maria” at my grandparents’ wedding. We hoped it would evoke special memories, while also creating new ones for our families, and it certainly did!
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Father Stephen Alcott, a priest from my grandparents’ church in Charlottesville, officiated our ceremony. Leading up to the wedding, AY and I met with Father Stephen several times for marital guidance and counseling. I would definitely encourage other couples to do so as well. Getting to know Father Stephen better and talking through our plan as a married couple put us completely at ease during our ceremony, allowing us to really enjoy and appreciate the moment.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We were very fortunate to have a wonderful wedding and a dream-come-true honeymoon. Now that we are officially the Youngs, we are looking forward to having some down time and getting the chance to be newlyweds. I also have to admit that our wedding diet kept us from trying the hot new restaurants in town, so we are pretty excited about not having to be good anymore!

Photographer: Rachel May Photography | Planner and Florist: Amore Events | Ceremony Venue: University of Virginia Chapel | Reception Venue: King Family Vineyards | Ceremony Florals: Blue Ridge Floral Design | Wedding Cake: Maliha Creations | Caterer: C&O Restaurant | Rentals: MS Events | Lanterns: Blue Ridge A/V and Lighting | Cocktail Hour Guitarist: Peter Richardson | Band: Attraction via Sam Hill Entertainment | Calligrapher: Jodi Macfarlan Calligraphy and Joie de Vivre Calligraphy | Paper Products: Momental Designs | Bride’s Gown and Veil: “Avallon” by Anne Barge | Bridal Salon: Ivory Bridal Atelier | Bridal Gown Alterations: Linda’s Couture Alterations | Bride’s Hair Piece: Lila Accessories | Hair Stylist: Brianna B. Adams | Makeup Artist: Gohar Makeup | Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Various styles in Bellini by Amsale | Bridesmaid Dress Salon: Bella Bridesmaids | Groom’s Tuxedo: Suit Supply | Groom’s Cuff Links: Ledbury | Groom’s Bow Tie: The Cordial Churchman | Bride’s Robe: Girl with a Serious Dream | Bridesmaids’ Robes: Plum Pretty Sugar | Bridesmaids’ Earrings: Erwin Pearl | Maid of Honor’s Hair Accessory: Twigs & Honey | Bouquet Ribbon: Silk & Willow | Wedding Dress Hanger: Poppy and Scooter | Custom Napkins and Drink Stirrers: Laura Hooper Calligraphy | Transportation: Ambassador Limousine and Albemarle Limousine | Ring Box: The Mrs. Box | Stage: Skyline Tent Company

lisa Written with love by Lisa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Rachel May reply

    Thank you so much for the feature! It’s an honor to be on the SW blog! :)

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