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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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While they may have gotten engaged far away from their families (be sure to read about their sweet Parisian proposal!), Katie and John chose to celebrate their marriage with an intimate wedding at King Family Vineyards that was focused on including all their family members. Even their young nieces, nephews, and cousins felt right at home, thanks to the family-style dinner and kids table! The decorate-your-own pumpkin activity at the kids table does looks like a blast, but personally, my favorite thing about Katie and John’s wedding is their beautiful blue and peach color palette. Katie wanted a spring wedding and John wanted a fall wedding, so they compromised by using bright colors in early fall! I love that!

Big SW hugs to Jillian Michelle for sharing this pretty day with us!

Tell us all about the proposal! For an anniversary/Christmas gift, John took me on a surprise trip to Paris. I love art, so I was thrilled to nerd out at the Paris art museums. We walked several miles in the Louvre, enjoyed the Impressionists at the Musee d’Orsay, visited many cathedrals, and ate far too much delicious French food. On the last day of our trip, we went to the Palace of Versailles. While walking in the stunning gardens and taking pictures of everything from fountains to landscape art to swans swimming in the ponds, John got down on one knee and proposed! I was so surprised (I hadn’t even showered that day!), but I also cannot imagine a more perfect engagement.

We did not do a first look because I wanted to stick to tradition and my favorite part of a wedding is seeing the groom’s expression when he sees the bride walk down the aisle. John was actually in favor of doing a first look initially (more time for pictures before sunset), but he told me later that he was glad we didn’t because my walk down the aisle was his favorite part of the wedding.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We think King Family is one of the most beautiful vineyards in Charlottesville, and we enjoy the wine, too. Since most of our guests were from out of town, we wanted to have the ceremony and reception at the same place. Our minister–a close family friend I have known my entire life–was gracious enough to come from Florida to perform the ceremony, which made it very special to us.

The flowers were in a bright fall palette of orange, peach, cream, and yellows. I had wanted a spring wedding and John wanted a fall wedding, so we compromised by using bright colors in early fall!

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? John is a pharmacist and I am a medical resident, which makes our work schedules very difficult to coordinate. Making and attending appointments during regular business hours was a nightmare. Our wedding planner was absolutely incredible at making appointments and working with our hectic schedules. She really helped keep our stress levels down, and she made our wedding day surpass our expectations.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our food was all Southern cuisine. We served biscuits with butter and honey, shrimp and grits, collard greens, and succotash. We also had a lemonade stand and sweet, flavor-infused tea as a pre-ceremony refreshment. Our meal was served family-style, which made it feel more like a typical family dinner.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We wanted our wedding to be small, intimate, and inclusive of our young nieces, nephews, and cousins. One of our favorite details was the kids’ table, where our youngest guests could color and decorate pumpkins. It was a big hit for them and kept their parents entertained, too.

We had a three-tiered cake with cream-colored frosting that progressed to a peach color. It had floral and pearl accents. It was important to us that the cake tasted great too, so our flavors were pumpkin and red velvet.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met when I was in medical school and John was working as a pharmacist in a small town in Florida. The average age of that small town is about 65, so we ultimately met online.
When did y’all get married? October 16, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 95
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had one weekend set aside to find a dress, so it was a mad dash to find the one. No pressure! Starting out, I pictured myself in a lace dress with straps. The dress that I liked most was lace, but it was strapless, so I ended up adding lace straps to it, which made it perfect for me.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our first dance was to “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole. We think it is a beautiful harmony with lovely lyrics.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My something borrowed was a lace handkerchief from my grandmother, which also made an appearance at my sister’s wedding. My blue was my navy blue lace shoes, and my new was my dress and jewelry.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? We did premarital counseling with our pastor, which helped us keep things in perspective. It was one of our favorite pre-wedding activities.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We served wine, beer, and cider only. Not having a full bar cut down our costs and also showcased the wonderful wine at King Family Vineyards, as well as local beer and cider.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? Now that the wedding is over, we are looking forward to growing together as a married couple. We are looking forward to our honeymoon, which we delayed for a few months, and we are about to expand our family to include an adopted cat.

Photographer: Jillian Michelle / Event Planning and Design: Tart Event Co. / Venue: King Family Vineyards / Florist: Southern Blooms / Wedding Cake: Favorite Cakes / Caterer: The Catering Outfit / Rentals: Festive Fare / Ceremony and Cocktail Hour Musician: Michael Geddes / Paper Products: Rock Paper Scissors / Bridal Gown and Accessories: Bella Rosa Bridal / Hair Stylist: Moxie Hair Lounge / Makeup Artist: Gohar Ayvazyan Beaver / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alfred Angelo / Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse / Specialty Rentals: Paisley and Jade / Calligraphy: Type Delight / DJ: Shaner Sound

Paisley and Jade is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

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

    BEAUTIFUL! Jill, you’re the besttttt!

  2. avatar Jill Powers reply

    Ahh!! Thank you so much for featuring this beautiful wedding!! :)

  3. avatar Lauren Carnes Photography reply

    We visited King Family Vineyards when we vacationed in Virginia and I fell in love! This is gorgeous!

  4. avatar Paisley & Jade reply

    We loved being part of this gorgeous wedding at King Family Vineyard! John and Katie seem like such a sweet couple and we’re thrilled that you chose to feature their big day! Our blue chairs in that reception venue? Swoon. We just love it all. So much pretty!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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