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Alex may not be a born and raised Southerner, but if she isn’t a Southern belle at heart, then I don’t know who is! As she and Andrew planned their Louisiana wedding, their minds were never far from their goal of making their guests feel cared for and part of the celebration. As a result, everything about this chic day, from Alex’s gorgeous Amsale dress, to the late-night passed doughnuts, to the bridesmaid cake pull, helped guests get to know their love story and personalities even more. We were overjoyed to learn that Alex and Andrew found their talented photographer, Kelly of Spindle Photography, through our very own Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory, and we think she did a fabulous job of capturing every sweet moment and gorgeous black and white detail!

My something new was my dress, veil, and Kate Spade shoes! Originally, my something old, borrowed, and blue was going to be my mother’s garter, but 30 years did not yield a usable option. She had one made with the same silks and a blue pearl that had our initials and wedding date, which was even more perfect. I also had the sixpence in my shoe that all the women in my family since my great-grandmother have worn.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Believe it or not, this was probably the easiest part of my wedding planning journey! My mother, grandmother, and matron of honor accompanied me to Mia Bridal Couture in Houston days before Christmas. I told our wonderful consultant, Tina, about my traditional-with-a twist-style, love of horsehair-trimmed veils, and that I wanted a full skirt with “twirlability”–a very important dressing term I coined in my toddler years. I put on her first selection (an Amsale dress I had pined over–and pinned!) and instantly knew it was the one. I was hesitant to say “Let’s pop the champagne!” after only one gown, so I asked to try on everything I said I did not envision: fitted skirts, strapless, lace, beading… just to make sure that I was positive. Finally, I put on the first gown with a double horsehair-trimmed veil and triumphantly announced that we were done! The stars truly aligned when we found out the name of the dress: “Newport”–the name of my mother’s hometown in Rhode Island, where my parents were married almost 30 years ago. The whole experience felt surreal!

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes! While Andrew was a little hesitant in the beginning, we eventually decided it was the best way to try to prolong a day that everyone had told us would end in a flash. We are forever grateful we made this decision. We were able to savor the day together, and the photos are just divine. One of our favorite memories of the day was when Alex’s father accidentally crashed our first look. We forgave him since he was looking so dashing in his uniform!

We said traditional Catholic vows used during the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It was such a powerful moment to repeat the words that entered us into the same covenant as so many couples before us. During our vows, we experienced what a sacrament truly is–a physical sign of God’s grace. It was the most impactful feeling we have ever experienced.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Choosing one favorite detail is simply too hard! All of the details that reflected us as a couple were our favorites because our guests saw our personalities throughout the day. Andrew wanted me to point out the “snack tables,” meaning the oyster bar, antipasti bar, Meche’s donut display, and the Maryland favor table of Berger cookies, Fischer’s Popcorn, and Utz Crab Chips. We loved watching our guests enjoy all of our favorite treats!

During our first meeting with our florist, Mia from Root Floral Design, we told her we wanted an effortless garden look without too much symmetry. She used a neutral color palette of garden roses, jasmine, anemones, scabiosa, ranunculus, lisianthus, and astilbe to bring the vision to life. My mother and I used our silver collections for all the flowers (an idea that came from SW’s own Emily Thomas’ wedding!). The entire wedding’s inspiration started with an image I found of a boxwood garland draping a cocktail bar. Mia recreated the bar swag, miniature boxwood wreaths were used at the church as pew markers, and large wreaths were placed on the historic home’s doors. The boxwood garland now sits on our fireplace mantel, and we have a wreath hung in our home as well.

“Southern” in our eyes is a mindset that embodies hospitality, love, and celebration. I did not grow up surrounded by magnolias or eating grits, but I’ve always identified with Southern values and charm. The entire day was designed to feel like the perfect Southern fête, honoring us, family, and the friends that feel like family. A large clear-top tent with bistro lighting was pitched in front of one of A. Hays Town’s historic, Southern homes (the architect is one of the area’s most famous). Bridesmaids received well wishes through cake pulls. A soul band with an excellent horn section resulted in a packed dance floor the entire evening.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? At one point, Andrew led me off the dance floor to the lawn space in front of our tent, and we stood hand in hand, watching our reception. He said, “You’re my wife! This is our wedding!” The twinkling bistro lights, clinking of glasses, laughter of family, and seeing dance moves galore is a sight we will never forget.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Alex: I moved a lot as a military child, but our adventure to the Gulf Coast would eventually lead me to Andrew. After moving back to Annapolis, Maryland, I knew I would return to Louisiana for college. I received my LSU acceptance letter not only on my birthday, but also on the night that the Tigers won the 2007 National Championship. It was fate! From Andrew: I was born and raised in South Louisiana, but I grew up in a wonderful combination of Polish (my mother is a Polish immigrant), German, and Cajun cultures. This diverse (and entertaining) upbringing is probably the reason I was rather accepting of Alex’s northeastern roots when we first met. We formally met when a group of fraternity and sorority presidents came together to design and facilitate leadership development programming for the Greek community. We became fast friends–the type of friends that suddenly shared everything with each other very easily. We laugh now because this was in large part due to us thinking we would NEVER become more than friends. Within months, that friendship took us both by surprise and evolved into a great love of true understanding, compassion, and FUN.
Tell us all about the proposal! I am very much hoping that my little sister will follow in my footsteps and attend LSU, so a college visit was planned for the whole family during Homecoming Weekend. Andrew thought that weekend was the perfect time to propose, but if we’re being honest, so did I! I was slightly perturbed when I arrived at Andrew’s house to discover he was not yet ready to leave for the trip, making us late for our dinner reservations with my family. After storming up the stairs, I found Andrew standing in his living room holding a very small box. After tears and laughter and the slowest proposal ever (I made him pause and repeat everything so I wouldn’t forget any of his words), we heard knocking on the door. It was our dearest friends, who sent us off to Baton Rouge with cupcakes and wedding magazines! Those few hours were so special. We took time to soak in the moment and call some of our loved ones. We were supposed to pick up my best friend in Lafayette on the way, and when we exited, Andrew took the scenic route and drove by the historic home (now a museum) that I had always said would be the perfect wedding reception site. He wanted to get out of the car so we could have a moment, and when we walked up to the museum, he handed me an envelope with the date “October 17, 2014” inside. He had already secured the museum and the church! When I turned around, both of our immediate families were there. I was told that we were not actually going to Baton Rouge that night, but would be having dinner with our families in Lafayette instead. When we walked into Andrew’s family’s house, a beautiful engagement party was in full swing!
When did y’all get married? October 17, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 275
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was learning to understand and compromise on our own list of wedding “normalcies.” With a born and raised Southern gent and a military child raised on the East Coast planning a wedding, we quickly realized we had grown up with different experiences regarding everything from the size of the guest list to the reception dinner service. We exercised more patience, listened more intently, and sought clearer understanding. In the end, compromises were made, and new traditions were embraced.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? Our biggest cost savings was having the talented people in our lives share their talents with us rather than ordering items from a rental company or the endless possibilities of Etsy. All of our table runners were sewn by a family friend, others were always on the lookout for extra pieces of silver to use, and our signage was crafted by one of our supper club ladies. This made the day increasingly more special.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our remarkable photographer, Kelly! I looked at Southern Weddings’ Blue Ribbon Vendors in Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama for options that were still relatively close. Within seconds of being on the Spindle Photography website, we knew the creative genius behind these photographs was it. I am also grateful for finding someone who loves dresses that twirl as much as I do.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? This was a big year for us! After getting engaged, I finished graduate school and started work, Andrew began a new work assignment that takes him away from home half of each month, we built a house, and we got married! We are now welcoming the holiday season with rest and enjoying waking up on Saturday mornings with nowhere to be. I also hope we will have a dog by the time you read our story!

Photographer: Spindle Photography / Planner: Southern Fete / Ceremony Venue: St. Genevieve Catholic Church / Reception Venue: Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum / Florist: Root Floral Design / Cake Baker: Crystal Weddings / Catering: Sam Trahan / Rentals and Lighting: Event Rental, Lafayette / Band: Phat Hat / Chalkboard Signage: Amber Hicks / Donut Table Signage: Anna Broussard / Paper Products: Val Marie Paper / Bride’s Gown: “Newport” by Amsale / Bridal Salon and Veil: Mia Bridal Couture / Bouquet Ribbon: Hyman Hendler & Sons / Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Heather Veillon of Bleu Coiffure / Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “G837U” in black by Amsale / Menswear: Mary Ellen’s Tux Shop / Bow Ties and Cummerbund: High Cotton Ties / Cups, Koozies, and Coffee Cups: Inkling Design Studio / Calligrapher: Patricia Leith

lisa Written with love by Lisa
9 Comments
  1. avatar Robyn Van Dyke reply

    LOVE this wedding! Especially all the striped accents, and polka-dotted bow tie and cummerbund!!! :D

  2. avatar Kelly Cummings (Spindle Photography) reply

    Thank you so much for sharing Alex and Andrew’s gorgeous wedding! Since Alex found me through Southern Weddings I am thrilled to see their beautiful love story shared here! Hooray for kindred spirits!

  3. avatar lena reply

    L O V E this gorgeous celebration!

  4. avatar Amy reply

    It’s an absolutely gorgeous wedding to behold!

  5. avatar Kyla Fetzner reply

    Such a beautiful wedding and a radiant bride! I especially love the striped ribbon bouquet wrap and the personal touches that were put on the foods served.

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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
12 Comments
  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!

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  12. avatar Historic Monumental Church Wedding | Virginia Film Wedding Photographer | William and Mary Wedding Photographer » Freshly Wed reply

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