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Southern Weddings

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Southern city weddings have my heart, and today’s lovely day is no exception. Samantha and Eric fell in love during college in Williamsburg, spent many years long-distance, moved to Arkansas together, and were finally married on the most beautiful summer day in Richmond. They brought their love for literature (Samantha is an English teacher!) into their wedding through readings, decor, and even their ceremony venue–a restored church that used to be a theater frequented by Edgar Allen Poe. Paired with a smattering of Southern delicacies, some lovingly handmade details, and a whole lot of joy, Samantha and Eric’s wedding strikes the perfect balance between classic, Southern, and fun!

Thank you so much to Freshly Wed (the same photographers who captured Eric’s proposal–don’t miss the story in Samantha’s interview!) for sharing this sweet day with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I decided I wanted two dresses: one to keep the traditional, Southern charm, and one with lots of lace to dance in! I brought my mother, maid of honor, and sister (via Skype) to Bliss Bridal shop, where they specialize in consignment and sample sales. The third dress I tried on an Allure Couture ivory silk gown. Everyone cried and I felt like Eric would fall in love with me all over again in that dress. The client services at Bliss are amazing. For my reception dress, I knew I wanted lace, as it is so traditional and sweet. As I shopped for bridesmaids’ dresses, I fell in love with the Watters Coriander Little White Dress. I loved the simple style and lace overlay. After making a few alterations, it was perfect for our outdoor reception.

We wanted to give our guests a good look at the Old Dominion’s state capital. We kept with the historical theme and hosted our ceremony at Monumental Church, which had originally been a theater. The Historic Richmond Foundation revitalized the grounds and stays open for tours on a daily basis. The best seat in the house belonged to poet, Edgar Allan Poe. While working at Harris Williams & Co., Eric developed a special relationship with one of the senior professionals, Tiff Armstrong. Tiff and his wife, Kelly, were more than generous to offer their beautiful estate as our reception venue. Located in the West End, the Armstrongs’ multi-acre estate housed beautiful views of horses, rolling fields, and sunsets overlooking the James River. With the traditional Victorian-style home, we utilized the pool house, deck, and outdoor kitchen for part of our cocktail hour. We are beyond grateful for the Armstrongs’ generosity.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We edited our vows to include the phrase: “I promise…to encourage your own fulfillment as an individual through all the changes of our lives.” This was important to us, as we knew that if we encouraged the individual, we’d grow stronger as a couple and team.

My something borrowed and old were my 86-year-old grandmother’s pearl cross earrings and pearl necklace. My something blue was a heart I (terribly) sewed into my dress. Besides my dress and ceremony accessories, our something new was our traditional jumping broom. We purchased this specifically to celebrate the tradition African American symbol for tying the knot. Once you jump over it, you sweep away the past for a new beginning. Additionally, whoever jumps the highest has the upper hand in the marriage. Of course, we jumped together and at the same height!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We had to embrace all the beautiful country scenery that Richmond, Virginia has to offer. We had a traditional church ceremony and couldn’t wait to enjoy all the loveliness of a Southeastern summer outside. The weather played in our favor and we had a gorgeous day. With a few tents up for shade, our guests were treated to a wonderful “backyard” reception. Our signature drink, the Tipsy Arnold Palmer, was a huge hit with our guests. It combined lemonade and sweet tea vodka. Our food was an explosion of good Southern barbecue. We had fried oysters, brisket, pork barbecue, sweet potato mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, cornbread, and all the fixin’s.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The classic novels and literature themed we used to decorate really helped make our wedding unique. The trivia escort cards allowed guests to converse with one another and helped bring together different and unique groups of people. We loved that we could make everyone feel welcome!

We had a traditional four-tiered wedding cake with chocolate ganache, vanilla-almond marble cake, and carrot cake in the two top tiers for my husband. We had our monogram on one tier, an edible ribbon on another tier, and then used a handmade bride and groom Westie couple for the cake toppers. The cake toppers looked just like miniature versions of our dog, Boo! In addition to the traditional wedding cake, we also offered sweet treats to eat and take home at our dessert bar. My aunt is a caterer and baker, and she made everything from spice cake balls, chocolate and coconut cake balls, traditional carrot cake, cheesecake brownies, red velvet cake, and pecan pie.

Don’t miss their highlights film from Lovell Productions!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met at The College of William & Mary, where Eric played football and I was a cheerleader. We ran in the same circles, but we had never truly spent time together until our junior year. My roommate, Meghan, started talking about this guy everyone called OB, who turned out to be Eric (his last name is O’Brien, so everyone called him OB). One day, Meghan and I were having a study session at our apartment, when Eric showed up with some grapes and cheese for a snack. Unbeknownst to Eric, this was one of my favorite snacks (a close second to Goldfish crackers), so I shamelessly asked if I could have some. He smiled the warmest smile and politely shared. Fast forward through some AOL Instant Messenger conversations and Facebook poking (admit it, you did it too!), we started hanging out one-on-one. We may not have known it at the time, but our strong foundation of friendship at the beginning has made for a great, long-lasting relationship. Eric and I dated long distance pretty much upon graduating from W&M, so when I relocated back to Virginia to teach, an hour of distance seemed like nothing. I’m not the easiest person to get along with, so I knew God made Eric for me, and he assured me “vice versa.”
Tell us all about the proposal! It’s pretty typical to see people get engaged on major holidays, especially ones centered around family. One of my good friends got engaged on Thanksgiving Eve, and when I ran into the O’Brien kitchen on Thanksgiving morning and shared the news, a look of horror spread across everyone’s faces. I couldn’t figure out then what caused their confused looks, but I know now it was because my ring was just around the corner! Around the holiday season, Williamsburg gets all dolled up in its holiday finest for tourists, so Eric and I decided to invite my parents up to spend the day with us and tour Colonial Williamsburg. We brought our dog, Boo, with us and booked a hotel so that we could make a weekend out of it. I didn’t think anything of it—it’s a pretty typical event. To kill time while waiting for my parents to arrive, we took Boo on campus for a walk. The Crim Dell and the Crim Dell Bridge have some campus history behind them. If you walk across the bridge by yourself, you’re doomed to singledom forever. On the flip side, whomever you walk across the bridge with is meant to be your soulmate. Eric feigned the idea that Boo was coming loose from his harness, so we stopped…right at the bridge. The next thing I knew, Eric started talking about how much this place meant to us, how much I mean to him, and how he can’t picture his life without my laugh, smile, and heart in it. For someone who is not one for words, he sure did nail them. Then, he got down on one knee with a ring box. I was speechless! I guess he was down there for a while because I remember him getting up and asking me if my non-talking was actually me saying yes. I said, “Yes!” and jumped up and kissed him the hardest I’ve ever kissed him. We walked to the crest of the bridge, and then he told me he had hired photographers to capture the entire proposal! I was floored!
When did y’all get married? June 28, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
Describe your wedding flowers. We tried to keep our flowers as bright and light as possible. Our centerpieces had lilies, baby’s breath, and daisies. My bouquet had peonies, baby’s breath, and lamb’s ear. Lamb’s ear was my husband’s deceased grandmother’s favorite plant. Since she passed away, we honored her in our wedding program and in the bouquets and boutonnières. To keep the focus on the yellow color of the bridesmaids’ dresses, we had them each carry a bouquet of lamb’s ears and baby’s breath.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $50,000-$75,000
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Even when planning from far away, we had the opportunity to do some projects ourselves. With the help of family and friends, we made over 300 tissue poms and strung over 100 cranes. I made all the personalized escort and place cards to match our literary theme. With my background in print publications, I made all of our stationery and thank you cards, using Wedding Paper Divas and Vistaprint to print them.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? At 86-years old, we were thrill that my paternal grandmother could make it. Despite being born and raised in the North, she has the sassy, sharp-witted tongue of a true Southern mama. During the wedding process, she fell in love with this loveseat that a vintage prop company, Paisley & Jade, had in their inventory. Grandma made a donation to our wedding fund and we used her contribution to get the loveseat for our sweetheart table.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Remember why you’re getting married and just throw an awesome party to show your gratitude for those who have been there for you through all aspects of your relationship. The day flies by, so take time together and just look around!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We had an amazing two-week honeymoon in Greece, which was an amazing time that we got to spend together as husband and wife. Now, we’re so excited to finally be living together. We’re looking forward to buying our first home and finally giving Boo the yard he deserves!

Photographer: Freshly Wed / Videographer: Lovell Productions / Planner: Colleen Cook of CCS Events / Ceremony Venue: Monumental Church / Reception Venue: Private residence / Florist: GM Littleton Design / Cake Baker: Cakes by Graham / Caterer: Catering by Jill / Rentals: Party Perfect / Lighting: Leap Audio & Visual / DJ: Sean Mcnamee / Special Details: Paisley & Jade / Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas and Vistaprint / Bride’s Ceremony Gown: Allure Couture / Bride’s Reception Gown: Watters / Bridal Salon: Bliss Bridal Shop / Bride’s Ceremony Jewelry: Divine Jewel / Bride’s Veil: Candi Merle / Hair and Makeup: Avenue 42 Style Studio / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “D523” and “D538 in Daffodil Peau de Soie by Alfred Sung / Groom’s Attire: Black by Vera Wang / Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Alterations: Salt & Pepa Sewing Nook and Connie of Natural Steps Alterations / Ice Cream Truck: Mister Softee / Food Truck: Pizza Tonight / Getaway Car: Carol Woodson Richmond Trolley

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Emily reply

    What a gorgeous veil! I love the photos of the bridal party encountering well wishers in the city, too! :)

  2. avatar Denée reply

    This wedding is simply stunning. I love the design and the story. The pictures truly bring the event to life.

  3. avatar Amanda Dukes reply

    Freshly Wed always does amazing work! This is yet another example of a beautiful wedding photographed brilliantly and beautifully by one truly talented duo!! You’ve done it again, Freshly Wed!

  4. avatar Katie reply

    Beautiful wedding and beautiful photography by Freshly Wed!!!!

  5. avatar Caitlin reply

    The black and white image of the two of them at the top of the stairs laughing is my absolute favorite (my wedding partner, Jennifer, photographed it) – a glimpse into their future… laughing together for the rest of time! Thank you so much for this feature!

  6. avatar Dana reply

    love this wedding! the literature touches were perfect!

  7. avatar Loverly reply

    Loving the colorful twists on a classic Southern wedding!

  8. avatar Samantha reply

    This is so fun to relive! Freshlywed and all our vendors were absolutely fabulous! The literary theme was hard to pull off, but thank goodness for Colleen Cook at CCS Events!

  9. avatar Tracy reply

    Freshly Wed girls are the best!

  10. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

    You don’t often see bridesmaids in yellow, but they pulled it off and the color was even complimentary to the blue in the church. And, the bride’s veil, wow!

  11. avatar Brooke & John Get Married at Public Landing – Blushing Blog reply

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Happy first day of summer, belles + beaus! I’m not sure what it’s like where y’all are, but it’s forecasted to be 99 degrees in Richmond today, where we’re shooting an editorial for Southern Weddings V5! Send cool thoughts our way, pretty please?

We thought these oh-so-Southern images from Horace & Gertrude were the perfect way to kick off both the summer season AND our new Summer in the South column! We’ll be bringing you Southern summer goodness once a week for the next ten weeks – get excited! And if our posts are anywhere near as charming as these details from Blue-Eyed Yonder, I think we’re all in for a treat.

With everyone officially kicking off summer this weekend, I wanted to share with your our beautiful “Summer in the South” shoot. It’s beautiful inspiration for brides wanting to plan a darling, vintage-inspired Southern weekend with their best gals before the big day. Perhaps the perfect time to ask them to be bridesmaids or to enjoy a little time away from the stress of wedding planning? Dripping with gorgeous Southern details, such as homemade pimento cheese sandwiches, icy Coca-Colas, lemonade in mason jars, and homemade ice cream, I thought this shoot would be perfect for SWMAG readers.

We were inspired by memories of lazy summer days growing up in the South: warm afternoons filled with picnics and homemade ice cream, dipping your toes in the cool waters of a pond, loading up the car and hitting the road with your best buddies… if you close your eyes, I’m pretty sure you can hear the cicadas and smell a hint of jasmine in the air.

How cute are these gingham cone wrappers?? Way to go, Yours is the Earth!

As an extra-special treat, Artworks Wedding Cinema put together this short film from the afternoon. I’m kind of obsessed with it, actually!

Blue-Eyed Yonder is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Krista | Blue Eyed Yonder reply

    We had the best time shooting this series, from the hair, the suits, and all the fun details!Thanks so much for the feature! I’m looking forward to your other Southern Summer posts.

  2. avatar Stephanie Creekmur reply

    This is AMAZING! I could watch that video over and over again! Thanks for sharing! & I can’t wait to see more of your Southern Summer posts! :)

  3. avatar Nine Photography | Dallas Wedding Photographers reply

    most adorable summer shoot EVER! Those bathing suits are sooooooooooooo cute!

  4. avatar kathy reply

    I just LOVE this…I keep looking at the pics and video over and over….can’t you just feel the sweltering heat and the soft southern breeze blowing as you gracefully swat the gnats from your face!!!!

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  6. avatar Gina reply

    Such perfection!

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  8. avatar Eloïse reply

    I’m a french soutern belle, living down southern France in Montpellier where it’s hot and sunny! I loooved the video, full of grace, it really make me wanna join the ladies! Everything is perfect and delicate, and it is so pleasant to see women with real bodies, they are all gorgoeous!!Bravo!

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One benefit of a short wedding gown? You get to wade in the picturesque creek at the Historic Cedarwood! Photo fun aside, this family-style reception manages to be Southern-stylish without any fussy details. With lace underneath, guests chowed down to fried chicken and all the fixin’s at a long banquet table that brought the entire party together. I’m totally smitten with Jamie + Dan’s embroidered chair sleeves and their floral china makes my heart pitter-patter! Even with these beautiful details, their reception looks like the epitome of summer ease and relaxation. The only thing that could make it better would be hummingbird cake by Patty Cakes and pecan pie! Guests were treated to the desserts along with chilled watermelon slices and homemade jam as the night came to a close. Don’t you wish you could hop right into this wedding? Big thanks to Ulmer Studios for sharing this sweet celebration!

Describe your wedding flowers: The flowers for our wedding were an array of summer colors – natural like a wildflower meadow. Yellow, purple, green, and orange were just a few of the colors in the amazing arrangements and bouquets. They were set on the tables in gorgeous antique glasses and mason jars. Cedarwood incorporated hummingbirds for a perfect show of a Southern summer style.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Our wedding cake was a hummingbird cake, which is an old recipe of several layers of a banana cake with layers of icing in between. The cake was garnished with handfuls of strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. We also had a pecan pie made especially for the groom. I don’t know if there is another dessert that is more Southern than a pecan pie!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I think the biggest challenge was the distance. The wedding was held in Nashville and Dan and I live in Arkansas. Though there was a lot of distance and it was hard for me to imagine how everything would come together, I knew that our wedding was in the best hands. The Cedarwood team did an amazing job of pulling together all of the details of the wedding.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The venue. Cedarwood is probably the most beautiful setting for weddings that I have ever seen. They are also wonderful designers. Dan and I couldn’t have styled our own wedding as well as they did. They were always very receptive to our ideas and any questions we had were always answered right away. They not only gave us an amazing wedding, but they made it easy even though we were so far away.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It is hard to choose just one thing as the most memorable moment. One of the details of our wedding that we were so happy with was the band. The guitar, banjo, and fiddle brought the whole ceremony together. To be able to listen to them play and sing throughout the ceremony made it feel that much more special.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own vows, but we did choose the different parts of our ceremony. One thing that meant a lot to us was including my four year old daughter. There was a part of Dan’s vows where he promised to always take care of Presley. Not only was it important to him to let her know that he would always be there for her, but it also meant a lot to her to be included.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Decide what you want and don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Make yourself happy first and foremost or you will regret not making the wedding your own.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future?
Next, we would like to buy some land where we can build a home and expand our little farm. Presley is so amazing and watching her growing up and playing around our home and little farm really makes us look forward to having more children in the future.

Photography: Ulmer Studios // Venue and wedding planner: Historic Cedarwood // Flowers and styling: Cedarwood Weddings // Officiant: Ralph Griggs // Hair and Makeup: Katie Guberud of Aura Salon // Wedding Dress: The Bridal Cottage // Invitations and Paper Goods: Designs in Paper // Wedding Cake: Patty Cakes // Bluegrass Music: Mark Burnett and Kathy Kuhn with Jason Fletcher of Nashvegas Ramblers // Catering: Monell’s // Favors: DIY by the bride

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Emily reply

    I ADORE the embroidered chair decor and gorgeous cake in this wedding!! Good job all around!

  2. avatar Plum Pretty Sugar Loungerie reply

    Love all the creative details!


  3. avatar Linda @ Cedarwood reply

    Thanks Emily! This wedding was perfectly pure of heart in every way. Thanks for the feature on Southern Weddings. Ulmer Studios, Patty Cakes, Designs in Paper, and more great vendors made magic.

  4. avatar Deidra reply

    Fried chicken and hummingbird cake, you cannot lose!

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  8. avatar Jamie reply

    Thanks to Southern Weddings for featuring our wedding! It’s every girls dream to have her wedding featured by a magazine! It was an amazing day and it couldn’t have happened without the help of Historic Cedarwood and Josh and Amber Ulmer of Ulmer Studios Photography. We Love y’all!!

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    […] Real Weddings make us happy Jamie + Dan’s intimate outdoor wedding at the Historic Cedarwood included wildflower and hummingbird details that made us feel right at home. See more of it here and here. […]

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  11. avatar Stephanie Smith reply

    Where, oh where, did you get those tiny mason jars?!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Stephanie! I often find those skinnier mason jars at Walmart. For the really small ones, try a craft store like Michaels or Hobby Lobby!

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