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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
  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:!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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One of my favorite parts of getting our Real Weddings ready to share with y’all is reading each couple’s vows. From the traditional classics to creative rhymes, and even some jokes and lighthearted moments, vows are an incredibly meaningful part of each day, and usually offer some insight into the couple reciting them. Erin + Steve’s vows really struck a chord in my heart, especially this line from the groom: “I, Stephen, take you, Erin, to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know, I give you my word, my faith, and my solemn vow.” Heavens, that makes me tear up just reading it!

Beyond their sweet, sweet vows, I love how Erin’s mama played a big role in the handmade decor of their day. She not only created the invitations and decorated their getaway bikes, she utilized Hobby Lobby and Lowes to put together some seriously gorgeous centerpieces! Big hugs to our friends at Landon Jacob for sharing this colorful affair! Seriously, y’all, pay attention to the heartwarming moments they captured tucked into every corner of this feature!

I initially tried on wedding gowns in upscale boutiques in the suburbs of Philadelphia with my mother and sister in-laws-to-be. I fell in love with a $6,000 Monique Lhuillier dress, completely clueless of the wedding market value of dresses. Back home in Columbia, SC I went to a local bridal salon with my mom, sister in-law, and aunt where I found the winner: Lazaro 3101, a great mix of lace with Spanish flair. I again had sticker shock at the $3,000 price tag and tried to bargain. I scoured,, and finally found the winner on Ebay for $1200. Upon arrival, the dress fit like a glove and needed no alternations. It was meant to be!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? We did. At first I was totally opposed to the idea but was inspired by my best friend’s wedding that I attended a month prior and the sharing of an intimate moment together instead of a more public, shared moment at the ceremony. It eased a lot of our nervous energy and I’m very happy with our decision.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? My mother is an interfaith minister who had tons of books on creating ceremonies and rituals lying around. We came upon some vows that I believe were shared between her close friends that spoke to us and the incredible risk and trust that marriage demands. Our chaplain was quite fond of them as well: “I, Stephen, take you Erin to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know, I give you my word, my faith, and my solemn vow.”

One of my favorite things about our wedding was all the detailed creations of my mom, Heidi Darr-Hope, which included the invitations, centerpieces, bikes and lanterns. She bought lanterns from Hobby Lobby and filled them with rocks, candles, and objects from Mexico and draped them in sparkling gold ribbon. She blew up our invitation (that she created) as a sign, and decorated Steve’s and my bicycles. For centerpieces, she gathered Hobby Lobby paper flowers, paper birds, moss-covered rocks, dried beans, candles and bold-colored linens from Palmetto Party Rentals! It was an eclectic mix of fabulousness.

The weather was also amazing! Seventy-degree, sunny perfection graced us in October and made for a fabulous weekend. We also served gourmet shrimp and grits in martini glasses by Loosh Culinare and incorporated some non-traditional elements as well. Our moms and dads walked us down the aisle (both parents raised us, right?). We loved being hoisted in the air on chairs as in Jewish celebrations, and we passed Italian wedding cookies around instead of a traditional cake to honor Steve’s Italian heritage (he’s an Italian citizen!).

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: My colleague at work, who is a life insurance product specialist by day and photographer, jewelry, dress, and (apparently) ornate cake maker by night, created the three-tiered white cake with her mother and transported it, driving 20 miles an hour, from Lexington, SC. It was a work of art and tasted delicious!

What was the most memorable moment from your wedding day? Two moments. One was walking down the aisle with the veil covering my face and my parents in both arms. It was truly surreal with the light twinkling in, a sea of smiling, loving faces, and harp notes drifting through the breeze. Another was that we had SO much fun riding bikes around the fountains as our exit. We were having so much fun that we went for a second ride through the tunnel of guests and then hopped on a pedicab to our afterparty at Nonnah’s.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met three years ago during our first days as graduate students in the School of International Business at USC. We both used the exact same word to describe our initial reaction to each other: Intrigued. For several months, we pursued our interest, curiosity, and desire of one another, developing a deep friendship. However, things weren’t all easy. Steve would be leaving the country soon for his eight-month internship and I felt the tension of wanting to be clear and definite about the nature of our relationship on one hand, and just allowing our love and connection to come in its own time on the other. I chose to allow, not force, the excitement, pleasure, and hope at each step along the way to bring us closer together. It was our inevitable separation for language study and internships in South America that brought clarity to our hearts about the depth and commitment of our feelings. Stephen had to leave for Brazil and shortly thereafter, I was to be in Mexico and then Chile. I realized that I was truly in love when while in Mexico, instead of enjoying the experience, I found myself spending all my time Skyping with Steve. Thanks to the wonders of Skype and a chance to be together for a few weeks in Brazil, our love and friendship grew and blossomed, despite the long separation.
Describe the proposal. Once we were both back in South Carolina, Steve hatched the perfect plan to propose that involved secretly getting his parents from Philadelphia, along with my parents, and tucking them away in a house on Sullivan’s Island. Then there was a very long and hot bicycle ride on the beach until he could find some privacy, a sandy knee for Steve, many tears of joy for me, and finally, a great big surprise party with both families back at the beach house when we returned newly engaged and deeply in love.
In what month did you get married? October
How many guests attended your wedding? 200
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” and “The Way.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. We liked the cello and harp duo, both USC students, that played. Steve walked down the aisle to Bach’s “Cello Song,” “The Swan” was played for the bridesmaids and groomsmen, and I walked down the aisle to Debussy’s “Girl with the Flaxen Hair,” which I did a solo ballet dance to as a moonbeam when I was young. It reminds me of grace, freedom, and lightness — just how I felt walking down the aisle. Steve’s sister and operatic genius, Megan, sang the “Glory of Love” with the cellist and harpist during the ceremony. For our first dance, we went back and forth on songs and finally settled on Stevie Wonder’s “You are the Sunshine of my Life.” We took dance classes at Vista Ballroom in the three weeks prior to the wedding and learned some basic American Rumba moves with dips and spins. Our band played the song live on the wedding day and it was a bit slower than practiced. We made it through laughing and feeling awkward the whole time but it was so fun!
Describe your wedding flowers: I’m not huge on flowers and told my mom only this: “Keep it local and vibrant and I like succulents.” She worked with a local florist but did the majority of the work herself – purchasing lots of succulents from Lowe’s.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Moving from surveying the options to making a decision! There were a lot of wonderful choices on all levels of detail, but getting momentum moving and checking items off the list relieved a lot of stress.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? I felt very happy about not splurging on anything. It gave me a big sense of peace knowing that this day was about celebrating our union, not amassing debt or getting carried away on extravagant details. We creatively saved money at all points in the planning process and I felt amazing!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Two moments. One was walking down the aisle with the veil covering my face and my parents in both arms. It was truly surreal with the light twinkling in, a sea of smiling, loving faces, and harp notes drifting through the breeze. Another was that we had SO much fun riding bikes around the fountains as our exit. We were having so much fun that we went for a second ride through the tunnel of guests and then hopped on a pedicab to our afterparty at Nonnah’s.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Soak it in. It is intense to feel so much love and support from everyone in your life, so try to let go of the “plan” you’ve been scheming for months and soak in the wonderfulness of the day. Don’t get caught up in the “what’s next” part.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are renovating an old home and will be happy to move in and do what we love to do most – lay around in sweatpants, cook, drink wine or coffee and chat! We also have a pretty impressive travel lineup going: Patagonia, Berlin, Rio, Colombia, Sonoma, and more! We have a lot to look forward to!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Katie @ Lovebird Productions reply

    The bright colors, the getaway bikes, her dress….it is such a wonderful Southern affair. I love it!

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    who makes the berry colored bridesmaid dress? beautiful!

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