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Though we only lived in Texas for a short time, it took up some deep roots in our heart. I like to think that many of our great Southern states have this same effect on its occupants and I’m sure Emily and Michael would agree. After meeting and falling in love in Charlottesville, these two law school sweethearts welcomed their family and friends to the town that they love for a full day of celebrating their union! With its expansive spaces and beautiful private estate, Belle Haven, was the perfect location to host their all-day event. After an early afternoon ceremony, guests were treated to an extended cocktail event filled to the brim with Southern goodness, like Pimm’s cups, lawn games, and a bluegrass band. As the sun set, it was on to a hilltop tented reception, complete with the ever-delicious Virginia staple, ham biscuits. There was even a bonfire to end the night! Thanks to their sweet hospitality, I’m sure guests remember Emily and Michael’s day almost as fondly as they do!

A big thank you to Jen Fariello for sharing this day with us!

My wedding dress was one of the first dresses I tried on, and although I must have tried on about 40 dresses, it remained my favorite the whole time. When I tried the dress on for a second time with my mom and two sisters present, one of my sisters started crying. At that moment, I knew it must be the right dress!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did not do a first look, in large part because our ceremony was early in the day. Instead, we saw each other for the first time as I walked down the aisle. Seeing each other at the beginning of the ceremony in front of all of our friends and family was both emotional and memorable. We would not change a thing about that amazing moment.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We met and fell in love in Charlottesville and we wanted to share our love for the town with our friends and family. We selected Belle Haven, a private estate in Scottsville, V.A., to host our reception festivities, largely due to its expansive spaces and ability to offer different spaces for different parts of the day. Rather than have guests wait to join us for an evening reception, we chose to make a day of it, following our early afternoon ceremony with an extended “garden party”-style cocktail event. Guests sipped on Pimm’s Cups, played lawn games, and relaxed around the historic Belle Haven barn while a bluegrass band played for the afternoon. As the sun set, our guests made their way over to a tent set on a hilltop.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our fantastic caterer, The Catering Outfit, sourced many classically Southern ingredients locally, including local produce, trout, oysters, and grits. The Catering Outfit also makes the most amazing ham biscuits (a Virginia staple), which were a huge hit with our guests.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We absolutely loved all of our vendors, but our wedding planner, Meghan Streit of Shindig, went above and beyond to ensure the day was everything we dreamed it might be.

After we had trouble choosing a cake flavor, our cake vendor wisely suggested that we pick two flavors! Our cake was comprised of one layer of cream cheese pound cake with lemon curd filling and two layers of white cake with chocolate ganache and raspberry filling. The whole cake was iced with vanilla buttercream frosting.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met during our first year at the University of Virginia Law School, and we started dating during our second year. After graduation, I moved to New Orleans to clerk for two federal judges, and Michael moved to Chicago to work for a law firm. We eventually closed the long distance gap when I moved to Chicago.
Tell us all about the proposal! Michael proposed to me in our apartment in Chicago. The proposal was a huge surprise to me, but a well-known (and well-kept!) secret among our family and friends.
When did y’all get married? September 20, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? Approximately 200
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We had a traditional Catholic wedding mass and did not write our own vows.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed and blue was a sapphire ring that I borrowed from my mother, that had been a gift from my father to my mother. My something new was my dress and shoes. My something old was an antique beaded purse that my mother and I had found at a shop in Charlottesville several years earlier.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Our communication and teamwork only improved while wedding planning, and we know that these skills will serve us well in our marriage.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Throughout the process, treat your relationship with your fiancé and your upcoming marriage as priorities. All of the details of the day will fall into place.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We hope to celebrate our wedding anniversary in Charlottesville in the near future.

Photographer: Jen Fariello | Planner: Meghan Streit of Shindig Weddings | Videographer: Shaking Hands Productions | Venue: Belle Haven on the James | Florist: Southern Blooms | Catering: The Catering Outfit | Cake: Favorite Cakes | Rentals: Festive Fare and Paisley & Jade | Tent and Lighting: Skyline Tent Company | Cocktail Hour Band: Grit City Grass | Reception Band: Real Geniuses | Hair Stylist: Lucas Shaffer | Makeup Artist: Rouge 9 | Guest Transportation: A.Goff Limo

marissa Written with love by Marissa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Meredith Sledge reply

    I miss Belle Haven!!! This is one of my favorites of Jen’s!

  2. avatar Michael Sheffield reply

    Amazing Photos :)

  3. avatar Sera Petras reply

    What a sweet southern wedding! I love all the little details, the pretty drink station and her flowers were just gorgeous!

  4. avatar Paisley & Jade reply

    What a wonderful wedding! We were honored to play a small part. Congrats to the happy couple and bravo to all of our vendor friends who helped create a beautiful celebration!

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Whether it’s the church their grandparents were married in or where they spent their summers, I love learning about how our couples choose their wedding venues. Finding the place where you’ll celebrate the first few minutes of married life can range from easy-peasy to a grand adventure, as it was for Rebecca and David. Since David is from Alabama and Rebecca New York, they opted for a place in the middle. Their venue scouting adventure involved 12 venues in three states during a six-day road trip, and ultimately led to their perfect spot: Belle Haven! We’re big fans of road trips around here, so I especially adore how Rebecca and David elevated venue scouting from a simple task to a fun memory.

Big hugs to Sera Petras for sharing this beautiful barn wedding with us!

Tell us about your wedding flowers. Our flowers were the most beautiful arrangements I have ever seen. Jenn Pineauat, our florist, absolutely blew it out of the water. The colors were a mix of creams, whites, and light pinks with pops of turquoise and darker pinks. She also created the chuppah that we had for the ceremony and the decorations of vines and flowers around the hanging wheel in the barn where we had the dinner. It was beyond incredible.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I went to about ten shops in NYC and Long Island with my mom over the course of a few weekends. I tried on a bunch of beautiful dresses, but none of them seemed to be “the one.” I went back and forth between two dresses, and thought I had made my decision. My mom said it seemed like I wasn’t thrilled, and she told me to look around one last time. I walked over to a rack of dresses, pulled out one last dress, and tried it on. That was the one!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, we did. David is a bit more traditional than I am, so it took some convincing from me and Sera, our photographer. At first, he was not comfortable with the idea of seeing me before the ceremony, but Sera explained that a first look would make our first moment of seeing each other much more private. It also helped when I explained that this way, we could do many of the pictures first and then attend the majority of the cocktail hour and spend time with our family and friends. He was convinced, and we could not have been happier about that decision.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? David is from Alabama and I am from New York. We decided that we wanted to find a place that would be in the middle, so that one family would not have to do all of the traveling. We loved the idea of having a destination wedding and a weekend event so we would have as much time as possible with our friends and family. We flew down to Alabama to see his family for Christmas 2013, and then drove home to New York and stopped at 12 venues in three states during the six-day road trip. We stopped in Charleston, Asheville, Charlottesville, and surrounding areas in Virginia. We saw many beautiful venues, but when we came across Belle Haven in Scottsville, we knew that was the spot.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, we wrote our own vows. My favorite line from my vows to David was a quote from The Alchemist, by one of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho: “I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.” My favorite line David said to me was: “You are my favorite. My love. My life. Today, October 11, 2014, and always, forever.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had Mariel, our mutual friend who introduced us, do the reading, which was “Love” by Roy Croft.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We opened up the ceremony having by the band play “Best Day of my Life” by the American Authors as our guests were seated. That led into Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” as our family and bridal party walked down the aisle, and that shifted into an acoustic version of Canon in D as I walked down the aisle. At the close of the ceremony, we walked back up the aisle to “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: One of our favorite details of the wedding was that we had our sisters, Rachel and Kim, officiate. They had only met the weekend of the wedding, and they didn’t rehearse their speeches, as we had written the majority of the wedding ceremony for them to say. They each gave the most meaningful, unforgettable speeches. They really blew us away, and it was something that we will remember always. We also had a sand ceremony, which to us, symbolized the blending of our different backgrounds and families. Our four sets of parents and step-parents, our sisters, brother-in-laws, three nephews, and our closest aunt and uncle each poured sand into a glass vase, and then all poured in different colors of sand to blend together. It was really special.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? The barn, where we had an intimate, family-style dinner after the cocktail hour, was adorned with a wagon wheel decorated in beautiful flowers, vines, and candles. We chose farm tables and vintage plates to decorate the room. We served quite a bit of bourbon, and of course, our band from Alabama played “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Wagon Wheel,” along with quite a few country favorites. Not to mention, half of the guest list was from Alabama!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I will never forget Marisa sneaking us a peek of the barn while everyone else was at cocktail hour. We were the first to see the culmination of all that we had put together over the last year. I felt like I was in a movie when I saw it! A very close second is when David got on stage with the band and the lead gave him the mic. He sang “Wagon Wheel” as the band played, and I went up alongside him and danced (awkwardly, I might add, because my heels were sinking into the gravel under my feet!), but it was the most fabulous few minutes of fun I have ever experienced.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? David, being in the hospitality industry, has many vendor relationships, and I have a friend who represents a wine company, so we were very fortunate that they were so generous and donated all of the wine and alcohol for our wedding. We have a lot of great friends who helped out by driving it all down to Virginia.

David was an integral part of the planning process. His friends started to call him groomzilla at one point, poking fun at how involved and detail-oriented he was. Being in the hospitality industry, he knows what looks, feels, and tastes best, and he knows how to put it all together. We are both very passionate about making the people around us and those we love feel comfortable and happy. That was our goal, and we feel confident that we achieved it. We can honestly say we would not have changed one thing about that day!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. David and I were introduced by a mutual friend at the Royalton Hotel in NYC, where David was the Food and Beverage Director. The two of us had been friends for years, but when David first started working at the Royalton, he was dating someone else. She waited patiently for that relationship to end, then gave David my number. He asked me to dinner and we had our first date on October 30, 2011. The following month, he came to Thanksgiving dinner and met my family. In December, I went to Alabama for Christmas and met his family. We moved in together the following September.
Tell us all about the proposal! David told me that we had an opportunity to go with friends of ours to Greece. I didn’t really ask many questions about the trip because I was also in the middle of a big office move that I was running for work. The move was complete on September 25, and we left for Athens three days later. We spent the day in Athens and went back to the airport that night for our flight to Santorini. As soon as we hit the runway in Santorini, he turned to me and said that he had a surprise for me–we were going to be spending the week in Santorini, and our friends were not coming. He had a car waiting to pick us up at the airport, and 20 minutes later, we arrived at the most beautiful spot on the cliff of Santorini, where he sat me on the balcony and told me to wait. He came back with a bottle of champagne and a ring box in his hand, and then got down on one knee. He proposed, and then told me that he had asked my dad about six months prior and all of our family and closest friends already knew. It was the most amazing and beautiful proposal I could have ever imagined!
When did y’all get married? October 11, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 100
Describe your wedding cake. Our wedding cake was a three-tiered cake with a black and white striped layer and a huge dahlia on top. The best part was the groom’s cake that I surprised David with: an “A” for the Alabama football team on top of a crimson cake!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! For my something borrowed, my wonderful jeweler let me borrow beautiful diamond earrings from her collection to wear for the wedding. My something blue was supposed to be the nail polish on my toes, but it didn’t match my shoes very well, so I opted for my back-up something blue, which was blue lace underwear. My mother-in-law gave me David’s grandmother’s beautiful handkerchief, which I wrapped around my bouquet as my something old. I was going with the dress as my something new, but during our first look, David surprised me and told me that he purchased the earrings from our jeweler as a wedding gift for me, so that became my something new. My something borrowed became a necklace that my best friend, Jen, lent me. I was also given a sixpence by a good friend and colleague, Melissa, which I wore in my shoe.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? To be honest, the entire process was, in hindsight, full of learning and compromise. We also had many talks about religion, being from different backgrounds, and what that meant for us moving forward. We also learned more about each other’s values as we wrote the ceremony and planned the weekend.

Photographer: Sera Petras Photography / Videographer: Nate Braeuer / Planner: Marisa Vrooman of Orpha Events / Venue: Belle Haven on the James / Florist: Sugar Magnolias and Nature Composed / Cake Baker: Paradox Pastry / Caterer: A Pimento / Rentals: Festive Fare, Allied Portable Toilets, Virginia Tent Rental, Real Southern Accents, and Stonegate Event Rentals / Lighting: Blue Ridge A/V and Lighting / Band: The Brandy Brothers / DJ: Steve Miller / Paper Products: Powerhouse Paper / Bride’s Gown: “#SZ380ZZ/ZP” by Martina Liana / Bride’s Veil: Wedding Atelier / Bride’s Jewelry: Designs by Joi / Hair and Makeup: Daphne Latham / Bride’s Shoes: “Randall D’Orsay Pump” by Badgley Mischka / Groomsmen Attire: Jack Silver Formal Wear / Men’s Shoes: Converse / Transportation: Albermarle Limousine and Wahooptie Van Rental

marissa Written with love by Marissa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Jess reply

    Insanely gorgeous!

  2. avatar Marisa reply

    I love the video of this wedding, captures Rebecca & David’s personalities so well – check it out here: http://www.orphaevents.com/#!video/cx7i

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  6. avatar Rebecca reply

    I was just wondering where you got your beautiful wedding bands! I’m looking for some bands for my engagement ring, and those are beautiful!! Please let me know:)

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