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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
2 Comments
  1. avatar Rachel May reply

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

  2. avatar Rosie reply

    Lisa this is beautiful! thank you for sharing.

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We Southerners sure are proud of our alma maters, so it’s no surprise that Kimberley and Jonathon were ecstatic to have been selected in the lottery to follow the time-honored University of Virginia tradition of getting married at the chapel on the campus grounds! Together with their planner, Amore Events, they planned a beautiful day full of sweet details and absolutely stunning florals. Out-of-town guests (flying in from Asia, Australia, and around the country!) were treated not only to Kimberley and Jonathon’s love and pride in their university, but also a glimpse at where their love story began. For their alumni friends, this celebration was a highly anticipated homecoming! Along with experiencing where these two started their journey, I’m sure hearing them recite the vows that they wrote together during the ceremony was truly remarkable!

We’re so thankful Ashley Cox captured all the sweet moments!

My flowers were absolutely gorgeous! Cody did a fantastic job representing the UVA colors of orange and blue. I wanted a fluffy, soft bouquet and it was breathtaking! The orange poppies really popped.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My wedding dress hunt revolved around my mom’s veil. It was the only item that I knew I wanted, so I focused on finding the perfect dress to go with it. Since my parents live half a world away in Singapore, a few of my bridesmaids and close friends went with me to help me choose. It was a great day of bonding and beautiful dresses, but I was still unsure and chose to leave empty-handed. When my parents visited a few months later, we found a few contenders, but not the one. Then, my mom suggested that I look into creating a custom dress, and I never looked back. I got to wear the dress of my dreams!

We were hesitant about doing a first look when Cody first suggested it, but it ended up being a great decision. It gave us a private moment to share together during the hustle and bustle of our wedding day. We were also able to get some great pictures at both the chapel and vineyard without taking too much time away from the cocktail hour, so that was a plus!

We wrote the whole ceremony together. It was an intimidating task, but it was a great bonding experience for us. We wrote our own personal vows and kept them secret until the ceremony. It made hearing our promises to each other even more special!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? As alumni of the University of Virginia, getting married at the chapel on the grounds is a time-honored tradition. When we found out that our request was selected in the lottery, we were ecstatic! It allowed us to show our pride and love for our university as we completed one journey and started another. Our reception was held outdoors under a Sperry tent at Keswick Vineyards. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the venue is breathtaking, and we were hooked from the minute we saw it. Having separate ceremony and reception venues gave us the opportunity to give our out-of-town guests a glimpse at our college playground, while, needless to say, for our alumni friends, it was a highly anticipated homecoming.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Besides all the monograms, we wanted to add a little Texas flair to our wedding to represent where we now live. In the middle of dancing, the DJ played a few fun country songs. We ran to the guestbook table, where we had set up our cowboy boots as decorations, and put them on. The boots were special; Jon’s are made of sharkskin and mine are green lizard skin. Everyone had a blast. We also tried to showcase food from the region, such as candied bacon, fried green tomatoes, crab cakes, and Virginia cheeses.

We had a full dessert bar along with a cupcake spread and a traditional wedding cake. Our dessert bar included candied bacon, milk and white chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate cups, fudge brownies, blondies, and lemon bars. There were three types of cupcakes: orange and blue funfetti with peach filling, lemon poppy with strawberry filling, and red velvet with cream cheese. The cake was a fudge chip cake with cherry filling and vanilla buttercream icing. It was all delicious and we loved the variety!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. The first time I laid eyes on Jon, he had a faux hawk, was wearing a Space Jam tank, and had a plastic duck bill on his face. His fraternity was hosting a ’90s party and a group of them had decided to dress up as Space Jam characters–Jon was Daffy Duck! I wish I could say it was love at first sight, but when the resident advisor of my first-year dorm introduced him to me, I was just very amused. Even though our first meeting was less than stellar, my resident advisor continued to sing Jon’s praises. Jon asked me to dinner a few weeks later and I accepted. The rest is history!
Tell us all about the proposal! On date nights, we love trying new restaurants. That night, Jon chose a beautiful restaurant with a delicious tasting menu. It was a particularly special dinner since Jon had recently accepted a job in Houston and was moving away from Virginia. I didn’t think I would be able to join him, so we were trying to take full advantage of the time we had together. Four courses later, we were full, happy, and waiting for dessert. We had both ordered the same dessert, and Jon joked that he wouldn’t have to worry about me stealing his. When dessert arrived, I remember seeing something shiny in mine. My mind went blank and I could only manage a lame “Why is my dessert different?” Jon said he could see the realization cross my face as he told me he loved me and asked me to marry him. I was so stunned that I barely heard him. He was just glad that I said yes!
When did y’all get married? August 28, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 200
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! Yes! My something old was a gift from my mom. It was a diamond necklace and earrings set that my dad gave her when I was born. I was over the moon when she gave it to me to wear on my wedding day. My something borrowed was the cathedral veil that my mom wore on her wedding day. When we took it out of storage, it broke our hearts to see a tear, but we managed to stitch it up, and it felt so special to walk down the aisle with it on. For my something new, I picked heels from Jimmy Choo. I wanted a pair of shoes that I could wear again, and my blue nail polish complemented them perfectly.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Distance was one of the biggest challenges we had to overcome. On top of planning a Virginia wedding from Texas, we had guests flying in from Asia, Australia, and around the country. Fielding calls from 200 of your family and friends about what to do, special exceptions, and guest count were definitely stressful. The other big challenge was combining the cultures of the East and West. Our families are both Chinese and we wanted to acknowledge our Chinese culture, while also celebrating in the Western way. We split the day in half, reserving the morning for traditional cultural events like the tea ceremony–a tea drinking ritual with the family elders where they are given the opportunity to bless the marriage–and the afternoon and evening for the traditional Western ceremony, reception, and party!
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? We are looking forward to having free time to read, travel, and just hang out! The wedding process is very time-consuming, and sometimes, you wonder if it’s worth it. Now that we aren’t planning, we want to explore the world!

Photographer: Ashley Cox / Planner and Florist: Cody Grannis / Ceremony Venue: University of Virginia Chapel / Reception Venue: Keswick Vineyards / Cake and Dessert Baker: Buttercream Dreams / Caterer: Roadside Chive / Rentals: MS Events / Lighting: Skyline Tent Company / DJ: Derek Austin / Monogrammed Bow Ties: Mercy Streams / Bride’s Gown: Custom from Ieie Bridal / Headpiece: Enze Bridal / Hair Stylist: Brianna Adams / Makeup Artist: Susan Lim / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Various styles in Navy Blue Lace by Watters / Groom’s Attire: Brooks Brothers / Groomsmen Attire: Menguin / Custom Watercolor Wedding Map Guest Book: Luz Design / Wedding Vow Book: Noteworthy Design Co / Fudge Favors: My Chocolate Shoppe / Vintage Cowboy Boots: Texas Junk Company / Cake Topper: Emily Steffen

marissa Written with love by Marissa
1 Comment
  1. avatar Occasions In Print reply

    Beautiful flowers and I love the bridesmaid dresses!

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