One of the questions in our company About Us interview is about our favorite college classes–mine, obviously, is the one I met BDK in. Though both Kristen and Chris were pursuing science degrees, they met in their just-because-I-love-it history class, so I’m sure they’d both agree that said class was their favorite! With a shared appreciation for history and tradition, it’s no surprise that they chose to vow their lives to each other at the beautiful Historic Smithfield Plantation in their college town of Blacksburg. Though rain tried put a damper on their plans, with the help of their planner, Ashley Baber Weddings, Kristen and Chris welcomed their family and friends from Philadelphia and Atlanta respectively with sweet Southern hospitality and a fun, Georgia peach-inspired theme!
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. What was your favorite thing about it? Thank goodness for my genius consultant at Kelly’s Closet who was smart enough to put me in my Lela Rose gown! I will say, it looks terrible on the hanger! However, my consultant knew that my wedding was outdoors, that I was going with a Southern theme, and that I wanted something classically elegant. I feel that my gown, “The Coast,” was all of that and more. It is a silk fit and flare style with an off-the-shoulder sleeve. I remember the moment I stepped out of the fitting room and felt the way the train swirled when I moved. I had never felt more glamorous in a gown. I did my due diligence and kept other appointments for the day, but in the end, came back for the Lela Rose gown. My mother could not have been happier with my choice, which was just the icing on the cake.
What was the weather like on your big day? Oh boy…well, I guess it ended up being better than it could have been! The day started off beautifully, but sadly, the weather was calling for flash floods later in the day. Chris had felt VERY strongly leading up to the wedding that he did not want to have a “first look,” and he wanted the first time he saw me to be when I was walking down the aisle. Fortunately, the weather changed our plans. Our planner let us know that if we wanted photos together outside, we needed to do them before the wedding. It ended up being the best thing we could have done! We were able to have time together just the two of us, and it really relaxed us and set the tone for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, it poured during our ceremony, so it had to be moved to under a pavilion. However, our guests described it as “romantic,” and in the end, part of me is glad it rained since I know it is supposed to be good luck! Before the ceremony ended, the skies cleared, the temperature cooled off, and guests were able to move to the tent and dance the night away.
We wanted our ceremony to be very personal. Our officiant was wonderful and sent us each a 10-page questionnaire to get to know us. She created our ceremony from that. It was a surprise for us both, and our guests raved about how personal and special our ceremony felt.
We chose to have our wedding in Blacksburg, on Virginia Tech’s campus, for many reasons. First, it is the place we met and the place we were engaged. Second, while there are so many BEAUTIFUL and historic venues in Philadelphia, none of them felt like us. In the end, we decided that no matter where we lived or where we were from, Virginia Tech is the place that both of us will always think of as home. I had always wanted to be a June bride, plus we knew that our guests would be able to enjoy the campus more if classes were out of session. I wanted to have my wedding at 5:00, but a coworker in Atlanta let me know it needed to start on the half hour, so that the hand on the clock would only go up, and therefore, so would the marriage. I loved that, so we moved the ceremony start time to 5:30 P.M. Smithfield Plantation was a natural choice for us as a venue. It is on the campus of Virginia Tech and is historic and beautiful with a gorgeous lawn and scenery. The rolling mountains, green fields, and history were right at your fingertips.
I had always wanted my favorite flowers, peonies and roses, to be a large part of my wedding day. I let my florist know this even before I hired her. Closer to the day of the wedding, Amanda and my florist, Amy, collaborated on an inspiration board, showing many of the flowers Amy planned to use. One thing I learned is that your bouquet is at the mercy of what flowers are in season and how many are available that year! As we neared the wedding, I really let go of special requests for my flowers. I knew that Amy and Amanda would make me the most beautiful bouquets and centerpieces that they could with the flowers available at that time, and it might be fun to be a little surprised. They certainly delivered! I absolutely loved my bouquet and every floral arrangement Amy created.
What was the design inspiration for your wedding? Why was this design special to you as a couple? Since my family is from Philadelphia, we live in Atlanta, and the wedding took place in Virginia, I really wanted to have fun with a Southern theme. I wanted my family to have the true Southern experience! My design inspiration came from the Georgia peach–the perfect muse for our theme.
Tell us about your wedding cake or sweets. We had several cakes, including red velvet, of course, to go with our Southern theme! I absolutely loved the cake stand Paisley & Jade created for us. I had never seen anything like it and we received so many compliments on it.
Don’t miss Kristen and Chris’ wedding film by Shaking Hands Productions below!
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Chris and I met in a history class. Once we got to know each other, we realized we had almost lived parallel lives to that point (creepy!) and one of the many things we had in common is that we were both in Virginia Tech’s Dual Degree program. We were both earning a Bachelor of Science degree in something else, but were also earning a Bachelor of Arts in history because we just truly love it. I’ll never forget the first time Chris walked into our classroom. I thought, “Finally! A tall guy! Just my type!” Little did I know how much of my type he would be!
Describe the proposal: Chris and I had recently moved to Atlanta, and with his birthday falling on July 5, I planned a short surprise getaway for us to Savannah to enjoy the history and scenery. Meanwhile, Chris had apparently been planning a surprise trip to Blacksburg for us the same weekend with plans to propose. I didn’t know it at the time, but Chris felt very strongly that Blacksburg was the only place he could propose to me because of how much the town means to us both. Enter my father, the only person who had talked to us separately about our plans and knew that we were both planning to surprise each other on the same weekend. Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! I knew he felt terrible, but with the weekend in question quickly approaching, he had to tell Chris that I had made plans for the two of us for his birthday. So, Chris and my dad hatched a plan they knew I would be defenseless against and. Two days before the weekend, my dad called me, CRYING, telling me how much he missed me and wanted to know if I would change my plans and meet him and my mother in Blacksburg for the weekend, as it was the exact halfway point (really, it is!) between his home in Pennsylvania and our home in Atlanta. Without question, Chris and I hopped in the car and set off to Blacksburg. That night, before my parents arrived in town (they were actually just circling the block), Chris took me out to the restaurant where we had our first date and, over dessert, asked me to marry him.
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? Chris and I had been in a relationship for over six years and had lived together for three by the time our wedding day came. I honestly feel that our entire relationship was preparing us for the commitment of marriage. Our relationship has always been very strong, and every time we faced adversity together, we came out on top. We always discussed what marriage meant to us, and we are very much on the same page. We always felt that marriage was not something that we HAD to do, but rather, something that we WANTED to do. We believe in fighting for each other and fighting for our marriage. Not just for us, but for the family we plan to have together.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Intimate, magical, fun
How many guests attended your wedding? 150
Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? My Wtoo bridesmaids dresses complimented my dress very well, and I loved the unique color, “Icing”. They were A-line silk taffeta gowns with a full skirt and–bonus–pockets! They photographed beautifully, too! Truthfully, they were not the style I originally had in mind, but when you take your three cousins shopping and they aren’t afraid to tell you how they really feel, they will put on what THEY like. In the end, all three of them fell in love with the dress, and I loved the smiles I saw on their faces. I remember leaving the bridal salon unsure since we hadn’t seen the gowns in the correct color, but my bridesmaids hit the nail on the head. I couldn’t have been happier with the finished product. I knew I chose them for a reason!
What kind of food did you serve at your reception? We kept to the very Southern theme and went with family-style dining. We had pulled pork barbecue, fried chicken, cole slaw, mashed potatoes, and everything in between. The food was great, and the family-style setting let everyone choose what they wanted and as much as they wanted!
Tell us a bit about your first dance. From Chris: It was very intimate, but I honestly couldn’t tell you much about the dance, as I was just looking at how beautiful and happy Kristen was. It went by so fast, and I was just trying to make sure I didn’t mess it up!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? There are so many things Chris and I are looking forward to in the future, and there are too many to list. In the shorter term, we are looking forward to more travel, both nationally and internationally, starting a family, and possibly even starting a business. Stay tuned!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Do a first look! Chris and I were very against it, as we wanted to see each other for the first time when I walked down the aisle. However, the weather left us no other choice, and it ended up being the best thing we could have done. The wedding day can be stressful, so seeing the smile and feeling the warm embrace of your best friend will only relax you and make the day even better.
Photographers: Adam Barnes and Katie Stoops | Videographer: Shaking Hands Productions | Planner and Designer: Ashley Baber Weddings | Venue: Historic Smithfield Plantation | Florals: The Arrangement Company | Caterer: Professional Catering | Cake Baker: Our Daily Bread Bakery | Bride’s Gown: “The Coast” by Lela Rose | Bridal Salon: Kelly’s Closet | Bride’s Earrings: BHLDN | Hair and Makeup: Avenue 42 | Groom’s Fashion: Brooks Brothers | Groomsmen Fashion: Jos. A Bank | Paper Goods: Rock Paper Scissors | Rentals: Paisley & Jade | Linens: Festive Fare | Transportation: Hooptie Ride and Abbott Trailways | Other: Skyline Tent Company