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I could not think of a more perfect venue for Caroline + Ben’s Virginia wedding than the Stoke farm — a historic Civil War era home that has been in Caroline’s friend’s family for years. For a bride who grew up playing in the boxwood gardens of the estate, having a reception there was a no-brainer, and the gorgeous gardens filled the night with something magical. Even the guests said they felt like they were in a movie! Of course, with a cute love story like these two (who friends thought were made to be because of their mutual height!), the movie-like setting was only a matter of good fortune and fond memories. The rest of the wedding was also decked in details contributed by family members and friends. One my favorites? The custom hand-painted crest that Caroline’s friend made for their paper goods. Gorgeous! Big thanks to Gabe Aceves for sharing this with us!

LOVE Ben’s big peony boutonniere! Caroline said peony season was a huge factor in setting a date. We don’t blame her at all.

I took my mom, sister and a bridesmaid to my first dress appointment. It was a lot more overwhelming than I had anticipated. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted but I knew what I didn’t want — no sparkles or extravagant beading, and no princess ball gown. I tried on about five dresses and the last one made my mom cry but I wasn’t sold. After that, I did a little online research and discovered that there were several Jim Hjelm dresses that I really liked. I called around and found a bridal store that carried this line; I also decided to go to this appointment on my own, as I have always enjoyed shopping solo. I tried on another five dresses. The fifth dress was Lazaro and this one in particular really stuck out. I brought my mom and best friend back a few days later and that sealed the deal.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? We decided not to do a first look. Photos were really important to me so I did consider it, but at the end of the day we both wanted to follow tradition and experience seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle. I think we made the right choice for us!
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We chose to do the traditional wedding reading from 1 Corinthians and then a not-s- traditional reading that we really liked from Tobit 8:5b-8.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Our first dance song was “Gotta Have You” by The Weepies. If you listen to or read the lyrics it may seem like an odd choice for a first dance song, and we debated using it for this reason. It had become “our song” at some point during the early part of our relationship so we decided to go with it anyway. It just felt right.

There were lots of challenges throughout the process but the biggest one was probably the weather leading up to the big day. We wanted an outdoor reception and our entire vision revolved around not having a tent, but you can’t predict the weather. We went ahead and put a tent on hold but had to let them know if we needed it or not the Tuesday before our wedding. The weather report kept going back and forth between scattered showers and full on rain leading up to our wedding weekend and I was a mess. The forecast started improving as we got closer to Tuesday and after many discussions we decided to forgo the tent and hope for the best — if it poured we would figure out a backup plan on the fly. Luckily we ended up having a more beautiful day than we could have ever asked for with perfectly blue skies and a cool breezy spring temperature. It was perfect.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: My aunt works for a gourmet food distributer so she has tons of great connections, including a friend who is a former White House pastry chef and now has a bakery in DC. My aunt’s friend made a lemon curd cake topped with fresh raspberries for my uncle’s wedding a couple years ago that was to-die-for. I am normally not a cake person but I told my aunt that when I got married, I needed this cake. Luckily for me she was able to make that happen. I am literally counting down the days until we can break into the leftover top sitting in my parent’s freezer!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Ben and I were a year apart at Roanoke College. After Ben’s junior year, he went on an intensive study trip in the Bahamas and met two of my best friends (and future bridesmaids) who thought we should meet, particularly since Ben is 6’8” and I am 6’1”! After school resumed, my friends introduced us at a party and we immediately hit it off. Unfortunately, we were interrupted by one of Ben’s friends (a future groomsman) before we could exchange phone numbers. I mentioned this to another one of my friends (another future bridesmaid) who at the time was dating, and is now engaged to, one of Ben’s teammates on the men’s basketball team. She promptly informed me I would be attending a party hosted by the men’s basketball team the next weekend. Apparently, she also informed all of Ben’s teammates (including a slew of future groomsmen) I was coming to see him because as soon as I walked in, I was serenaded by a raucous version of “Sweet Caroline.” I have never been more embarrassed! Luckily, Ben quickly put me at ease and a few days later took me out on our first date so we could get to know each other away from our future bridal party and the rest is history!
Describe the proposal. The week Ben proposed he told me he had been feeling badly about spending a lot of time at work and wanted to take me to a nice dinner on Friday night. He said that he had heard good things about “this place” but that the only reservation he could get was early in the evening so I would need to head straight to the restaurant from work. I should have been suspicious but he handled it so casually that I didn’t think anything of it. That Friday, Ben called me at work and informed me that he would need to pick me up from work a couple hours early because we had a bit of a drive to the restaurant. I thought something was up at this point, a suspicion that was confirmed when I got in Ben’s car and saw he had the GPS turned so that I could not see where we were going. An hour or so later, we stopped in front of a historic hotel in Annapolis, Maryland, where Ben told me we had a room for the night and that his boss had arranged a dinner reservation for us at the yacht club on the water. After an amazing sunset dinner, Ben handed me an envelope containing a picture of us celebrating my birthday the year before on a boat in front of the Washington Monument. It’s one of my favorite pictures. At the top it said, “Gotta have you…” which is the name of our song and on the back he had written the sweetest note. I was in shock and trying not to cry and didn’t even notice that he had gotten onto one knee. It was an incredibly special moment. Once I had stopped crying and could properly form sentences again, Ben told me the plan for the rest of the weekend. The next morning we would be having a celebratory brunch with our parents back in Virginia and then Sunday we would be flying to Mexico for four days at a small resort. He had even arranged for time off with my manager! Needless to say, Ben was in trouble with all of our guy friends after that one.
In what month did you get married? June
How many guests attended your wedding? About 175
Describe your wedding flowers: Peonies, peonies, peonies!! They are my absolute favorite and the fact that they were in season definitely factored into choosing the date we did. A family friend preserved peonies from her own garden leading up to the big day and our florist purchased the rest. All of the bouquets and arrangements were variations of peonies and garden roses. My parents have a lot of family silver that they have inherited over the years so we decided to use various pieces from their collection for the centerpiece arrangements. I love that it added a personal touch and also complimented the classic, garden party feel of our reception.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: It’s hard to choose one thing but I would have to go with the hand painted crest that my amazingly talented friend painted for us. I am a graphic designer so I did all of our invites, however, I wanted to add something special to really make them our own. I talked to my friend and bridesmaid about my vision and she was able to create a personalized watercolor wedding crest for us. I feel like it really helped tie everything together and brought my vision to life. We couldn’t have been happier with how the invitations and programs turned out thanks to her artwork.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Our band. Ben and I both love music and we love to dance so we always knew that we had to have a band. The process of finding the right band is not easy. I did tons of research and eventually ended up reaching out to an agency. This was the best decision I ever made. The person that I worked with at The Washington Talent Agency was so helpful and turned us onto a band called Encore. The best part was that the agency held demo’s at their office so that we could hear the band live before making a commitment. We instantly fell in love with Encore, they were incredibly energetic and very communicative leading up to the wedding. In the end, it was one of the easiest and best wedding decisions that we made, hands down.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I can’t choose one particular moment, but the overwhelming love and support that we felt was indescribable and we will never forget that feeling. It’s the happiest day of any couple’s life when they get married, but Ben and I are truly lucky not only to have one another but to come from the most supportive families and to have the most amazing group of friends. The day was made most special by having these people surrounding us.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? The best advice we got was from Ben’s dad. Whenever we started to stress, he told us not to worry, that the event would carry the day. He couldn’t have been more right.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Right now we are just enjoying married life and focusing on our careers. We both love to travel and hope to do lots of it in the next few years before really settling down and starting a family, one day.

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Laura reply

    This is absolutely stunning! Beautiful, Gabe!!

  2. avatar Kaleigh reply

    Beautiful dress!! Looks like an amazing wedding. Congratulations

  3. avatar Kelsey reply

    Love this! And I’m going to need to know who did their wedding invitations/programs!!

  4. avatar Erin McLean reply

    Gorgeous!! I love all the details!!

  5. avatar gabe aceves reply

    Hi ladies, just wanted to say thank you so much for featuring this beautiful wedding! It was one of my favorites from 2012 and I am so happy to have it shown here. Thank you!

  6. avatar A Week’s Worth of Wedding Inspiration! | beautybrideorg reply

    […] Some foxy wedding invitations! (Scroll about a third of the way down.) —Southern Weddings […]

  7. avatar Brenda reply

    Would you please share the wedding cake recipe with the lemon curd filling and the rasberry topping? I don’t see the rasberries on top the cake picture; so if the rasberry was incorporated into the cake hidden beneath the frosting that would be a WOW factor with the frosting spread right over the rasberry glaze or jam? A great idea anyway. Hope you can share.

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My sister and I just booked our hotels for our March trip to Paris! It made me extra excited, then, when Emily told me we’d be featuring Natalia + Levi’s wedding on the blog this week. When Natalia + Levi planned their Georgia plantation wedding, they had one thing in mind: the shabby chic combo of the style of Parisian flea markets and the warmth of Southern cotton fields. If Parisian flea markets look anything like this wedding, then I’m already a fan! I love how the couple’s pink and gold invitation suite was the perfect hint at what’s to come and how glitz and glamor still made an appearance in the small details — whether it was the gold foil envelope liners or the bejeweled bridesmaids’ dresses. I say this about a lot of things, but I really mean it when I say I’m completely smitten with N + L’s altar setup. The fireplace mantel and rug were finds that created the feeling of home at the altar and were repurposed after “I do.” We can’t thank Melissa Schollaert Photography enough for sharing!

Want to see more of this Real Wedding? Pick up a V4 to take a look at their feature on pages 190-198.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
Levi and I met our senior year of high school during a college tour at the University of Georgia. We immediately fell in love, but not with each other (that comes later!). We both fell in love with Athens, Georgia. Four years later, we both graduated from UGA and started planning a Southern affair in the same town where we met and built our relationship.
Describe the proposal: In December 2009, Levi took me on a ski trip in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for my Christmas present. Being the Christmas freak that I am, Levi humored me by walking around the streets with hot chocolate in hand, enjoying the lights, decorations, and carolers. We walked along in the snow and next thing I knew, Levi was down on one knee! I, of course, acted like a doofus and kept asking him if he was joking. I hadn’t seen it coming! He reassured me that he was, in fact, not joking and for me to please stop asking if he was. I think his exact words were “Darn it, Natalia, it’s a real diamond! So, yes?” My answer was somewhere along the lines of “uh, YEAH!” (Alas, I’ve never been one with words).
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Personal, romantic, and surprise-filled.
How many guests attended your wedding? 125
Favorite design element of your big day: I’m still completely in love with the antique mantel that we used at the ceremony. Anything with white chippy paint pulls at my heart strings and the mantel is no exception. I can’t wait to find the perfect spot for it in our house. Combined with the heirloom rug, pitcher, pillar candles, and various floral elements, the end result couldn’t have been more romantic.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: Finding my wedding dress was by no means an easy process! I was completely jaded by wedding dress television shows. I probably tried on about 100 dresses and became extremely frustrated that I wasn’t crying or having any of the other emotions you see on TV. When I got to La Raine’s, my consultant gave me advice that completely changed my outlook on the process. She told me that sometimes you don’t have an “ah-ha!” moment. Sometimes, the dress becomes truly special because it’s yours. She was right. I bought a dress that day and made it my own by ordering a custom belt from Etsy.
Briefly describe your wedding flowers: The flowers were simply amazing! The personal flowers were exactly what I had envisioned. Pat was able to maximize my budget by using flowers with full blooms to create the biggest impact. She used peonies, hydrangeas, ranunculus, anemones, tulips, and baby’s breath throughout the reception. She knocked it out of the park! My co-workers in the floral department of Epting Events, Bart Scott and Leigh Frazier, provided the beautiful wreath and log arrangement for the mantle at the ceremony. They took my vision and propelled it to new heights
Bride’s favorite detail of the wedding: Our entire ceremony was perfect. From the aisle mowed out of the tall grass and antique fireplace mantle as the altar, to the mixture of bridesmaids and groomsmen on both sides of the aisle, the entire ceremony was very “us.” I was also able to surprise my mom, a huge fan of gospel music, with a choir performing “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” for the recessional. They sat among the other guest and surprised everyone at the end, Love Actually style!

Photographer: Melissa Schollaert Photography // Planner: bride, Epting Events // Designer: bride, Epting Events // Venue: Tucker Plantation // Florist: MG Floral // Wedding Cake Baker: Classic City Confections // Caterer: Epting Events // Bridesmaid Dresses: Paul & Joe Sister // Bride’s Dress: Casablanca // Hair Stylist: Scoobie West // Makeup Artist: Scoobie West // Bride’s Shoes: Max Studio // Bride’s Jewelry: earrings by Kenneth Jay Lane // Bride’s Veil or Hair Accessory: veil by Brenda’s Bridal Veils, hair flower by DK Designs // Bride’s Other Accessories: belt from Daniel Design // Groom’s Fashion: Indochino // Groomsmen Fashion: groomsmen’s own // Paper Goods: Red Table Stationary // Rentals: Epting Events // Linens: Epting Events and Cloth Connection // Table runners: screen printed by Satisfactory Print Shop // Reception Décor: cake mugs from Anthropologie, heart pine table tops from Epting Events // Lighting: monogrammed gobo from Epting Events and Live Event Solutions

If you love this wedding, check out our related Pinterest boards!
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Melissa Schollaert is a member of our fabulous Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Ashley reply

    What kind of flowers are those in the first picture?

  2. avatar Emily Plans a Wedding: Bouquet Inspiration « Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] garden rose, and peony bouquet by MG Floral (photo by Melissa Schollaert – see more here!), and on the right, an anemone, rose, sweet pea, and jasmine vine bouquet by KLF Floral (photo by […]

  3. avatar caroline reply

    Absolutely love the invitations!! Can I ask where they are from??
    xxoo! Caroline

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Caroline! Natalia’s invitations are from Red Table Stationery ( Hope that helps!

  4. avatar Foil Stamped Wedding Invitations + Metallic Glassware | Elizabeth Anne Designs: The Wedding Blog reply

    […] {romantic blush and gold invitations photo by Melissa Schollaert Photography invitations by Red Table Stationery via Southern Weddings Mag} […]

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    […] via Style Me Pretty| Anemone and cotton boutonnieres: Melissa Schollaert Photography via Southern Weddings| Bride: dove+sparrow via Style Me Pretty| Macaron cake: via Camille Styles|Gold flatware: via […]

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    […] bride, Epting Events // Designer: bride, Epting Events // Florist: MG Floral // via: Southern Weddings} […]

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    […] from top to bottom: Photography by Melissa Schollaert via Southern Weddings | Photography by Patricia Lyons Photography via Southern Weddings | Photography by Amy Arrington […]

  9. avatar Michele reply

    Can you tell me more about the altar rug? I think it’s a beautiful detail and would love to find something similar. Thanks!

  10. avatar Dreamy Watercolor Wedding by Tec Petaja, Part I – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] Flora Love this wedding? Check out these past features: Natalia + Levi’s plantation wedding here and here Mix and match bridesmaid dresses (inspiration + shopping […]

  11. avatar Spring Wedding Flowers | SouthBound Bride reply

    […] Melissa Schollaert Photography/Epting Events/MG Floral via Southern Weddings | Invitation: Rustic Wedding Invitation by Alexa Nelson […]

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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