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With a love for the mountains and fond memories of Charlottesville, Lauren and Andrew chose to celebrate their wedding in her home state of Virginia. After a whirlwind tour of venues, they settled on a beautiful backdrop of rolling hills at The Market at Grelen. A six-month engagement meant a spring date for their celebration and a venue in full bloom, so Andrew and Lauren worked with their florist to accentuate the already lovely landscape with local flowers. So local, in fact, that the magnolia blooms in Lauren’s bouquet were plucked from the magnolia trees that line the road leading to their venue! Continuing to play off the beauty of Virginia, their clear tent was the perfect place to top off their lovely day with dancing under the stars.

Thanks to Sera Petras for capturing Lauren and Andrew’s dreamy day!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my wedding dress on the first day of “the search,” which was quite the outcome considering, like any good Southern woman, I can sometimes take my time making big decisions! Since Andrew and I were engaged over Thanksgiving and wanted a spring wedding in Virginia, I only had six months to plan everything. When I learned that some women give themselves a full six months to find their wedding dress alone, I started to internally panic! The pressure was on, but I tried to keep it at bay and enjoy our new engagement until January, when my future mother-in-law (thankfully!) decided to help kick-start my dress search by making a couple of appointments at boutiques that her daughter had visited a few years before. I fell in love with the lace on a gown at the first boutique we visited, but decided to give the second boutique a try. After trying on a few more dresses, I came out in one that I felt really pretty in–and the looks on my friend and mother-in-law’s faces sealed the deal. When I looked in the mirror, I knew I had found the dress I wanted to get married in–I only wished that my mother, who lived in Virginia, had been there there to witness the moment. We took plenty of photos and video for her! I also had my dress customized, replacing some rhinestones in the center of the magnolia flowers on the back with pearls.

Our wedding flowers were dreamy. We were very lucky to have our wedding on a beautiful hilltop venue that was in full bloom to begin with, so we were far from working with a blank slate. I worked with our amazing florist, Whimsical Floral, to design a floral spread that complimented and accentuated the venue with flowers that were local to Virginia and also went with the springtime color story I had envisioned: soft pinks, greens, and shades of white. I really wanted to incorporate magnolias into our wedding flowers, as an ode to my memory of growing up with two giant magnolia trees in my yard, and the trees started flowering about a week before our wedding. In fact, the road leading up to the venue was lined with magnolia trees in full bloom, and my florist was able to sneak a fresh magnolia bloom from one of those trees into my bouquet, which made me happy as a clam. She also picked fresh pink peonies right from our venue’s peony field and incorporated some other gorgeous pinks and whites into my and the bridesmaids’ bouquets. Our centerpieces were a mix of gold pedestal bowls filled with mixed greens, pink and white honeysuckle, peonies, hydrangea, mock orange, and magnolia leaves with magnolia blossoms. We also had a hanging centerpiece over the head table, covered in peonies and magnolia leaves and blooms. One of my favorite parts of the wedding was creating a vision for the flowers!

We exchanged the traditional wedding vows and also shared some personal sentiments with each other during the ceremony. The ceremony felt exponentially more special because we were able to share such personal thoughts about each other in front of all of our family and close friends.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I would say that our wedding was definitely Southern, from having an outdoor wedding with a magnolia theme, to our officiant’s very charming Virginia accent! I couldn’t imagine wearing anything but pearls on my wedding day. Our Southern signature cocktail was bourbon-based (we buried a bottle of bourbon in spirit since we lived out of state at that time!), and we chose a Southern-leaning local menu, including truffle mac and cheese, cornbread, and sauces galore, buffet-style so our guests could get up and mingle with each other at their leisure. I also surprised Andrew with a life-sized basketball groom’s cake (he played in college) at the rehearsal dinner–he is from New England, so he was completely taken aback by this fun Southern tradition!

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We lived in Boston, but decided to get married in my home state of Virginia, in the beautiful rolling hills near UVA, where I went to college. We both love the mountains and had made some fun memories together in Charlottesville, so we took a whirlwind tour of several venues in the area about a month after we were engaged. We had such a great feeling after visiting the Market at Grelen and meeting Sarah, and the fact that we could have our wedding the Saturday of Memorial Day (we wanted a long weekend so our guests could enjoy the area) sealed the deal. We really wanted a spring wedding (spring in Virginia is so special) and we were enamored with the venue’s surroundings and natural beauty. Our venue felt sophisticated, but unpretentious; it was a perfect blend of the outdoor elements with indoor comforts (inside the tent). We also loved that we were able to have our ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception in three completely separate spaces, each with their own unique look and feel, but all within close proximity. The flow of the evening and the spaces felt very organic, with each location getting a little more spectacular leading up to the reception tent. The clear top (and sides) tent was also a big selling factor–it allowed us to feel like we were outside while we were still protected from the elements. We had a spectacular sunset and we danced under the sunset and stars–it was magical.

Our wedding cake was three layers, consisting of lemon and white cake with white frosting. My favorite part of the cake was the fondant magnolia blooms–our baker did a spectacular job of making them look true to life. We also had our new monogram on the top layer, which was a nice personal touch. A close friend of mine, Cakes by Colleen, makes beautiful mini cakes, and I had her make three different flavors (almond, red velvet, and chocolate) to add another dessert option for our guests. In addition, we had a fire pit with a s’mores station outside the tent for our guests to enjoy while sitting under the stars.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. In a not-so-traditional way: Tinder! The app was brand new and we were both out of the typical “Tinder generation” and in our early/mid 30’s, but out of curiosity, we thought we’d give it a go. Andrew was traveling a lot when we first “matched,” so it took a couple of tries to line up our first date, but what I remember about that first night (besides it being one of the chilliest December nights in Boston I can remember) is that Andrew was all smiles, and he laughed at all of my dorky jokes. He didn’t even give me a hard time for being late to what turned out to be a very important date! Two weeks after we met, I went on a trip to Kenya for two weeks; when I told him I would be photographing school kids in Nairobi, he sent me with a suitcase full of brand new running shoes from the company he worked for to give to them. The whole experience melted my heart. We stayed in touch over WhatsApp daily while I was away, and when I returned, we spent an entire weekend together instead of catching up with friends. That’s when I knew we had something really special.
Tell us all about the proposal! The proposal came as a complete surprise to me! Though we had lived together for six months and had talked about the longer term plan to get married, we had not talked timing as far as getting engaged. I was a bit surprised when he said he wanted to treat me to a nice dinner out at our favorite restaurant in Cambridge, Craigie on Main, the night before Thanksgiving. However, he said he owed me a nice meal because he had been out of town for the past week for work, so I gladly agreed to his fancy idea. Completely unaware of his master plan, I even had him push back the reservation an hour so we could meet a few of our friends for drinks in Boston before dinner! Looking back on it, I can’t believe how many road blocks I unknowingly created for him that day–patience is one of his greatest virtues. We enjoyed our entire meal in the corner booth where we sat for our very first Valentine’s Day, and after our last course, he started talking about how wonderful the past two years had been, how he couldn’t wait for our future together, and that he had a little present for me. That’s when he took out a little blue box. I was so shocked, I couldn’t stop saying, “Are you serious? Is this happening right now??” It was an evening I’ll never forget. The chef sent out a beautiful congratulatory dessert and champagne and the table beside us took pictures. After all of the excitement at Craigie, we went home, popped another bottle of bubbly, called all of our family and friends (my dad knew because Andrew had asked for his blessing) and danced the night away to Bruce Springsteen (Andrew’s favorite) in our apartment. The next day, we shared the great news with his family in person in Rhode Island. It was a Thanksgiving to remember.
When did y’all get married? May 28, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 145
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We decided to do a first look after a close friend told us that it was the best decision they made for their wedding day. We were hesitant at first because we always imagined seeing each other for the first time when I was walking down the aisle, but the first look was so special because we got to embrace each other right away and spend a few moments saying what first came to our minds–something we could not have done by seeing each other at the altar for the first time. The joy we felt was beyond measure, and it took away some of the pre-ceremony nerves so that walking down the aisle was filled with even more excitement. It also helped to get through some of our tears (of joy!) out before the ceremony so that we could keep it together for our vows.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Although we hired a DJ for most of our reception music, our first dance was performed by Andrew’s brother-in-law, professional musician Will Evans. “Life is Just a Photograph” is one of our longtime favorite songs written by Will, and it speaks to lifelong love and commitment. It was very special and emotional to have one of our close family members perform this song live as we danced together for the first time as a married couple.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was planning a wedding from afar in less than six months, while also working full-time and planning/managing a cross-country move. Needless to say, we did not have much downtime in the months leading up to the wedding! Thankfully we caught up on sleep when we got to California.
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? Music is very important to Andrew especially, and we went with a DJ over a live band to cut costs; however, with a live performance for our first dance and the harpist at our ceremony, we were able to get the feeling of live music without a band’s price tag.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Divide and conquer! For the creative, planner-type brides like me, one piece of advice: it does not make you any less of a bride to hand off tasks to your groom. In fact, you will breathe easier by doing so and he will probably enjoy helping you out and having input over certain aspects! I waited longer than I should have to realize this :) Enjoy your engagement and set some sacred time aside each day for just the two of you, when there is no mention of the wedding planning. Prepare for your marriage, and talk about your mutual goals and aspirations.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are very excited about this new adventure we’ve embarked on in California! We are both East Coasters, so this has been a major move for us, but we truly feel it is a unique opportunity to build a strong foundation for the rest of our married lives. Wherever we go, we have each other–and at the end of the day, that’s all we really need.

Photographer: Sera Petras Photography | Videographer: Joygaba Photo | Planner: Two Byrds Events and Design | Day-Of Coordinators: Colleen McCabe and Helen Osinga | Venue: The Market at Grelen | Florist: Whimsical Floral Design | Wedding Cake: Pao Cakes and Cakes by Colleen | Caterer: The Local Restaurant and Catering | Rentals: MS Events | DJ: Frank Smith via Prime Time Sound & DJ Services | Harpist: Kristen Eye | Decor: A Grand Affair Events | Paper Products: Lattice Tree Studio | Bride’s Gown: “Selena” by Watters | Bridal Salon: Cristina’s Bridal | Bride’s Veil: Tiffanys Bridal | Hair and Makeup: Emily Hair & Makeup Artistry | Bride’s Shoes: “Lesta Slingback” by Anne Klein | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Long Tulle Convertible Versa” in Petal by David’s Bridal | Menswear: J. Crew

The Market at Grelen is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
2 Comments
  1. avatar Sera Petras reply

    Thank you for featuring this lovely spring wedding! It was such a dream to photograph! I am always thrilled to see my couples on Southern Weddings!

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