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After reading that Emily and Vance met during a welcome picnic in college, when Vance used the successful pickup line “I like your pants,” I knew their wedding would be anything but ordinary! For these two actors, the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater was the perfect place to say their own vows, that included such sweet sentiments as Emily’s vow to put Vance before herself, and that it was “the greatest gift to do that so entirely organically and without hesitation.” I just love that so much! These now-New Yorkers knew they wanted to get married in their college town in West Virginia, and they felt right at home on the rooftop of the boutique Chestnut Hotel for their reception. Of course, the addition of some good ol’ Southern food always helps!

Big hugs to Veronica Varos for sending this lovely day our way!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My best friend was coming to town, so I googled a couple of places in NYC to go dress shopping. I’m so happy I found Saja, a small designer boutique in SOHO where everyone was lovely, and all the dresses were simple and elegant–perfect for chill, approachable brides like myself. I tried on five, and I thought, “Well, it’s for sure one of those five, and I have no interest in going anywhere else!” I narrowed it down to two, and went back a couple of weeks later with another friend. I walked out in my dress, and she said “That’s it!”

We knew we wanted to get married in our college town. Since we weren’t able to be there all the time, we enlisted the help of my sister, who was local. She was the one who suggested both the locations for the ceremony and the reception, and after visiting a couple of places, we were sold. We held our ceremony at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater, which is on the water, has a gorgeous view, and had a stage feel, perfect for us actors. The reception was at the Rock Top Lounge at the Chestnut Hotel–a sweet little boutique hotel where we all stayed. The rooftop was PERFECT! It felt so New York-esque, and as New Yorkers now, we just fell in love with it.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, we did! My favorite line of mine was: “This is the greatest thing I could ever do–marry you. We’ve already started a life together, and I sincerely love living every day with two hearts. I put yours before mine, and it’s the greatest gift to do that so entirely organically and without hesitation. I will love you every day as hard as I can until I love you more than I love myself….You’re everything I could ever need to live a happy, happy life.” My favorite part of his: “Through all the changes, we just keep falling in love with each other…As human beings, we change. Life happens. And this might be weird, but I promise to continue to grow–to evolve with each other. To learn from you. And I’m so glad I have the opportunity to keep falling in love with you time and time again.”

My flowers were absolutely perfect! My florist was so patient with me. I had so many images in my head, like desert meets neon meets bohemian meets funk meets watercolors. I gave her a wide variety of color schemes and told her what kinds of flowers I liked. Then, she made magic happen! She had never seen my husband’s shirt, but somehow, she matched all the flowers to his shirt and our kooky color scheme perfectly!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Be true to YOU! Everyone was blown away by our wedding (so humbling to hear that!), and it’s because they had “never been to a wedding like that before!”–the highest compliment. So be creative, and put your funky stamp on all of it!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? All of it was memorable, but I’d say the moment when my husband and I were up on the stage with our dream band playing our favorite song, and we were dancing like nobody was watching, was my absolute favorite! It was pure joy! I took a deep breath to try to soak up that moment, and I will never let it go!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We were both theatre majors, and we spotted each other at orientation during our first year of college. At the welcome picnic, he approached me with a really good pickup line: “I like your pants.” Well, I was hooked. We ate pizza together by a tree and giggled as I got to know the most different and charming boy I’d ever met. We went on our first date three days later. He asked me to be his girlfriend the very next day, and I freaked out a little bit because I barely knew him. It was weird for a few months, but having almost every class together, we became friends. We both dated other folks for a few years, and during our junior year, we were forced to do a love scene together and spent a lot of time together rehearsing. We realized, “What are we doing!? We’re in love!” We started dating in January 2007 and got married in 2014.
Tell us all about the proposal! It was my birthday, and Vance had planned a fun-filled day with many little surprise events that friends could join in on: dinner, the zoo, a movie…ending with a huge private room just for us and our friends at a laser tag arena (mind you, this is something we never do, but we’re adventurous, so I was up for it!). Vance and I were on the same team with a couple of our friends. I was getting super into it, and mid-match, I said, “Where should we hide!?” to Vance. He replied, “Over there! By the inflatable tank!” I army crawled over there, and once I made it, I asked him, “Now what!?” He pulled out the ring and said, “Well, how about you marry me?” I toppled over in tears and giggled with excitement as I said yes, and we had about four minutes of the most lovely private time together, even though we were surrounded by chaos. Then, we half-heartedly continued the match, until our team lost. While the other team was shoving it in our faces, I lifted my hand and was immediately met with cheers of joy. It was perfect. Silly, so us, and both private and lovely, followed by a celebration with my best friends.
When did y’all get married? September 13, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? A little over 200
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. I come from a huge Italian family, so as per tradition, all the moms, aunts, cousins, and grandmas baked a boatload of cookies. As if over 2000 cookies wasn’t enough, I still wanted to have a ceremonial cake to cut, so my aunt made us an Italian cream wedding cake, decorated with coconut and raspberries. It was so amazing!
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our entire menu was Southern fare: pulled pork, BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, asparagus, biscuits, salad (with my aunt’s homemade dressing), and more.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Anywhere we could save, we did. Since our ceremony venue was at a state park, it was wonderfully cheap!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We have been together for a long time, so not much about our day-to-day has changed, but the energy has most certainly changed. My best friend described it as being “freeing”–knowing you can go forth and conquer the world, as an individual and as a couple. I feel so blessed that we earned this marriage… we went though so much together in our long relationship pre-wedding. We’re looking forward to our honeymoon to Mexico in January!

Photographer: Veronica Varos / Videographer: Pictory Productions / Ceremony Venue: Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater / Reception Venue: The Chestnut Hotel / Florist: Blooms Florist / Band: Wesley Bright & the Hi-Lites / Bride’s Gown: Saja

marissa Written with love by Marissa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Olivia Fischer reply

    Colorful and Lovely photography!

  2. avatar Veronica Varos reply

    Thank you for sharing Emily + Vance’s story, SWM! <3

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We loved Erin + Michael’s lakeside wedding from V5 as soon as we saw it. But we had no idea until we saw the full disc of images from Melissa Schollaert, how much work and how many details went into creating their big day. For two designers who own their own company called hi note, the wedding was a way for them to showcase their lives together as well as their talents and passions.

Aside from the many details, I’m in love with the venue E + M chose for their big day: Erin’s family’s lakeside home. “We both have fond memories of weekends spent on the water and wanted to share that experience with all of our friends and family,” said the groom. “The home was designed and built by Erin’s parents so that they have a panoramic view of the sunset. We knew it would be the perfect setting for our ceremony. All of the guests sat on hay bales covered with heirloom quilts and blankets overlooking the water. One of Erin’s close family friends, Tricia, played ceremony music that the three of us chose together. It was a very personal and intimate ceremony, but relaxed at the same time.”

Groom’s favorite detail of the wedding: The laser-cut wood veneer invitations were definitely my favorite part of the whole experience. Erin and I put a ton of time into making each guest feel like they were getting a personalized, custom invite that reflected on the experience to come.

Finding my wedding dress was the first and quickest decision I made while planning the wedding. I knew I wanted something very organic and natural to suit the overall aesthetic of our day but I also wanted to feel elegant and beautiful. I tried on dresses at several salons but ultimately found the perfect designer, Claire la Faye, on Etsy. My mom and I sketched out some ideas and sent them to Claire. She created a custom gown for me by combining two of her existing dress designs and then added the strap and train detail that my mother and I came up with. It turned out even more beautiful than I ever dreamed, and it was really comfortable too!

Both my bouquet and my maid of honor’s bouquets were created by my mom and made up of brooches that my closest friends and family members contributed, as well as some thrift store finds. My creative mother, who is also a talented jewelry designer, made the boutonnieres out of old fishing lures, bird feathers, ribbon and burlap twine.

What was the most memorable or touching moment about your wedding day? (From the groom) Since our wedding was late in the evening, our photographer scheduled our portraits before the ceremony. Melissa arranged it so we could have a “first-look” moment with one another in the field where she shot our engagement photos. It was extremely special for the two of us to be able to see each other for the first time on our wedding day, privately, and really embrace the moment.

Of course Erin + Michael’s dear pup Otis had to be involved in the festivities! We like that he cleaned up with a snappy bow tie for the event.

How delicious (and convenient) is this refreshments station? Like Michael, I love that the laser-cut wooden signage gives every detail a personalized touch.

The venue was our initial inspiration for the wedding. As an interior designer and now stationery designer for weddings and events, I always try to honor the natural aesthetic of a venue. When we decided to have the wedding at my parent’s home, we knew it needed to be casual, fun and relaxed — just like lake life. We also wanted to reflect on the fact that it was the place I grew up and now a place we visit as adults, which is why we chose to make the decor at every table different, serve family recipes and have our favorite childhood candy as a midnight snack to evoke that feeling of “home.” (From the groom) The other inspiration was just ‘us’: our story, who we are and where we are from. Every single detail, from colors, graphics, decor and food, was a reflection of who we are as individuals and as a couple.

The family tree display in front of the ceremony area was a lovely (and a tad punny) idea.

Who participated in your ceremony? One of our close friends officiated the ceremony, my maid of honor was my cousin Dana and the best man was Scott, Michael’s brother. We wanted our family to be a direct part of our ceremony, so we had our parents and grandparents seated next to us as part of the wedding party.
Did you write your own vows? Yes, we did write our own vows. Michael stole the show with his opener, “When I met you, your nickname was Bob and you lived in a trailer…” Yup, he really said it, and it’s totally true! I lived in a trailer in college and had a boy’s nickname. Even the guests who didn’t know the backstory still got a really good laugh. It even took me a moment to regain composure!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met at Auburn University and were friends throughout college. We both got jobs in Atlanta and reconnected seven years after we met. The rest is history.
What is a date you will always remember? September 15, 2010 – the day we got engaged!
Describe the proposal: (From the groom) Our first big step as a couple came when we adopted a rescue dog together. Otis is such a huge part of both of our lives, and one of our favorite places to take him is a park near our house with a huge field for him to play. I thought this would be the perfect place to propose to Erin, but I also wanted be sure we could capture the moment. I asked our friend and wedding photographer Melissa to call Erin and ask if she wanted photos taken of Otis. Erin had wanted to have portraits taken for some time, so Melissa and I thought this was the perfect way to surprise her. We were taking some candid shots of us walking Otis, and I mentioned that he was really looking forward to our trip. Erin, not knowing what trip I was referring to, was obviously confused. I then explained that we were flying to Denver the next day to see one of our favorite bands play live, and that it would be the perfect way to celebrate our engagement. I then got down on one knee and proposed! Denver was a place we both wanted to visit, so were able to enjoy a long weekend celebrating our engagement. Erin was definitely caught off guard, but said yes, and it was all caught on camera.
Tell us about your beautiful engagement ring. The two things I knew I wanted in my engagement ring were a yellow diamond and a vintage aesthetic to the setting. We browsed at rings, but I must admit, I got a little overwhelmed with all the choices. Michael ended up finding the diamond in New York (where he is from) and the setting in Alabama (where I am from). He did a great job — it suits me to a T.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Personal, nostalgic, graphic
How many guests attended your wedding? 100

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
11 Comments
  1. avatar Kate Collison reply

    I think this is gorgeous! Sweet and romantic, but “poppy” and fun. How beautiful! Congrats to the couple!

  2. avatar Melissa Schollaert reply

    Thanks so much SW for featuring this lovely wedding! Hope that your readers love it. I’m so happy that I was a part of Erin & Michael’s wedding and captured it for them. They are so talented and I just loved everything that they came up with. If you LOVE this wedding, you must checkout Hi Note, they are more than just stationery designers and really come up with some cool concepts.

  3. avatar Erin reply

    Thanks so much SW for featuring our wedding! It was such a labor of love and are so glad you think so as well!

  4. avatar Emily reply

    Gorgeous! I love the colors in this wedding, and I adore their literal family tree! :)

  5. avatar Dee Shore reply

    The day I get married, I’m going to be a big ole copy cat, because this… this is just my dream in photos.

  6. avatar David reply

    Great job capturing the Mike and Bob wedding experience. I had the pleasure of attending this grand event, the pictures are great but don’t do it justice. The attention to deatil was astounding, after some of Nila’s margaritas and more then a couple Coor’s Light I couldn’t help myself from telling everyone around us that we were, in fact, attending a wedding that you read about in a magazine, sure enough – here it is. Mike and Bob are increditably talented, passionate and dedicated to what they do. Again, great article – this couple will go far in both life and love. My only unbiased complaint is that hi note (yourhinote.com) wasn’t around 8 years ago when I married my wife.

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  8. avatar Rachel reply

    I know this is a weird question but I am having an outdoor wedding at my family’s cabin. We have accommodated 60 people for Thanksgiving in the past. With around 75 guests and only 1 bathroom, any suggestions on what to do? Did you have this concern? Thanks!

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