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I’m married to my own college sweetheart, so I always love reading about couples who share a similar courtship. Of course, since we all know how deeply college allegiances run in the South, I can’t help but adore Lauren and Casey’s nod to not only their alma mater, but also to their relationship, at their wedding! The Jefferson is a beautiful hotel, and I especially love that these two had both their very first dance and their first dance as husband and wife in the same ballroom there. Lauren said, “we felt it would be very special and fitting to our relationship to get married on campus, where our relationship not only began, but has also grown.” So sweet!

Thanks to Whitebox Photo for sharing such a sentimental day with us!

Aren’t these little gals the cutest?!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Finding the dress was one of my favorite parts of wedding planning! One long weekend, my parents, sister, and I went dress shopping in Miami. At first, we all had very different opinions on what the dress should look like, but in the end, when I tried on my dress, we all knew it was the one. It had a lace bodice with a full tulle skirt and lace detailing at the bottom. For the church, Chic Parisien made me a custom lace bolero, which I removed for the reception. My favorite part of my look was the cathedral-length veil with lace detailing around the edge.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did not do a “first look.” We wanted to stay traditional on this and have the first time we saw each other to be when I walked down the aisle, so we planned for a longer gap between our ceremony and cocktail hour. This gave us plenty of time to get all the photos we wanted! In the meantime, the guests enjoyed champagne on a scenic shuttle ride down Monument Avenue on their way to the reception site, and had a few minutes to freshen up before the cocktail hour.

Did you write your own vows? No, we opted for traditional vows. We both agreed we did not want the added stress of reading personal vows in public on our wedding day, and we wanted to stay relaxed.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had a traditional Christian ceremony with two readings. My aunt read Colossians 3:12-17, and Casey’s aunt read 1 Corinthians 13:4-13.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. While the parents’ and bridal party’s entrances were traditional wedding songs, I really wanted my entrance song to be different. I spent forever trying to find the right one. The church has a beautiful organ, which we wanted to use, but I also wanted to incorporate a cello. I finally found “Song for Sienna” by Brian Crain, which could be played as a duet by the organist and cellist. It was perfect! It has a 30-second introduction by the organ, and when the deep cello started to play, the doors opened, and I walked down the aisle. Our first dance was Lady Antebellum’s “When You Got A Good Thing.” We have always loved that song and we were so happy that our band, The Boomers, learned it for us.

The University of Richmond is very special to Casey and me. Not only did we meet on campus, but we were also both athletes there and feel a strong sense of school pride. Since we still live five minutes away from campus, we support the Spiders at many home games, go for jogs around campus, and are able to take part in many alumni events. We felt it would be very special and fitting to our relationship to get married on campus where our relationship not only began, but has also grown. Our reception site, The Jefferson Hotel, is an iconic Richmond hotel that has very special meaning to us. Since our first dance at Ring Dance, we have frequently visited the Jefferson for happy hour, dinner, and brunch. It’s the only place we wanted to have our reception!

Describe your wedding cake. I wanted the wedding cake to be a central decor item at our reception. The cake plate was placed on a sparkly gold linen behind our sweetheart table with large flower arrangements on either side. Behind it, French doors opened to overlook the Jefferson’s grand staircase. It was magical! The cake had a simple design with alternating layers of ruffles and sparkly gold detailing. It was so beautiful that I didn’t really want to cut it, but good thing we did, because it was delicious!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? From the iconic Jefferson Hotel to my lace-detailed dress to the song selections played by our band, our wedding had many Southern touches, but to us, the South is all about hospitality. We wanted our guests to feel welcomed and taken care of. When they arrived, our DIY, Virginia-themed welcome bags, complete with Virginia peanuts, Route 11 chips, Hardywood Singel, and more were waiting for them. The night before our wedding, we hosted a dessert and cocktail reception at the Boathouse, which overlooks the James River, so everyone could get to know each other. After the ceremony, guests enjoyed champagne on the shuttle back to the hotel. And our main goal, of course, was to make sure our guests left very well fed. Our cocktail hour featured seasonal, local ingredients, and of course, a couple of Southern classics, including shrimp and grits in mason jars. Our guests enjoyed a plated dinner and our dessert bar featured pecan pies, among many other desserts, which guests could enjoy at the reception or take to-go.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met junior year of college at the University of Richmond. Casey and his teammates were having a party, which my teammates and I went to. Casey and I bonded over being the only two Southerners and the only ones who wanted to listen to country music. A couple of weeks later, we attended “Ring Dance” together, which is a school tradition where junior women are escorted down the grand staircase at the Jefferson Hotel by their fathers and receive their class rings, followed by a dinner and dancing reception. I invited Casey and we shared our first dance together at the Jefferson Hotel. It was so special to later share our first dance as a married couple in the same place.
Tell us all about the proposal! Casey, who can never keep a secret, somehow managed to plan an elaborate engagement with the help of our close family and friends. They completely transformed my backyard with candles, twinkle lights, pictures, champagne, cake, wedding magazines, and our love story. We were so blessed to have both our parents and close friends surrounding us for this special moment, and the next day, we all went out for brunch to celebrate!
When did y’all get married? April 12, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
Describe your wedding flowers. Vibrant! Given that our main wedding colors were black and gold, I really wanted the flowers to pop and make a statement. I prefer garden-style arrangements that incorporate a lot of greenery along with the flowers. They turned out beautifully and really helped transform the ballroom and church. Our florist, Rick, was fantastic!
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Both of our favorite details were food-related. Casey says his favorite was the dessert table with Sugar Shack donuts and pecan pies! Mine was the fusion of Cuban and Southern touches at the cocktail hour. The Cuban sandwiches and shrimp and grits in mason jars were delicious and very “us!”
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I borrowed my hairpiece–my sister (matron of honor) had worn it on her wedding day, and it was so beautiful and made such a statement that I was so thankful when she offered to let me wear it. My maid of honor gave me a blue garter with a pearl pendant to wear on my wedding day. My something old was my great-grandmother’s hand-stitched handkerchief that was pinned to the inside lining of my dress. A lot could fit into the something new category, but my favorite was the pair of David Yurman pearl earrings my parents gave to me the night before my wedding. They were simple, but breathtaking, and went perfectly with my dress.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Our biggest challenge was planning our wedding far away from our families and trying to make sure that everyone’s wants and needs were fulfilled. Sometimes, this meant taking longer to make decisions.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? A big money saver was having our ceremony floral arrangements reused at the reception venue. Our pew clusters were hung on the sconces around the ballroom and the two large arrangements at the church were placed on either side of our wedding cake at the main entrance.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Our wedding would not have been the same without our wedding planner, Lindsay! She is the one who introduced us to all of our fabulous vendors and really took the time to get to know us and our vision for our wedding. Because our families live out of state, she helped us pick out all the small details, attended meetings, and sat down with us on some of the most stressful planning days. She became more than just a wedding planner–we definitely consider her a great friend.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? That would have to be when the preacher accidentally showed up 45 minutes late for our ceremony. Once I knew it wasn’t Casey who had gone missing, I enjoyed the extra time with a bridal portrait session. It is something we will joke about forever, and it all worked out when the preacher made a great recovery in his sermon.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? First, hire a wedding planner. On your big day, you want to be stress-free, relaxed, and confident that someone is behind the scenes making sure every detail is as it should be. Second, relax on your big day and soak up as much of it as you can. It’s over before you know it!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Casey and I recently adopted a dog named Harley from the Richmond SPCA, so the three of us are adjusting to our new lives together! I am finishing medical school and Casey is continuing franchise development for sweetFrog Frozen Yogurt. We are excited for all of our family adventures ahead!

Photographer: Whitebox Photo / Videographer: Ginger Topham / Planner: LK Events and Design / Ceremony Venue: Cannon Memorial Chapel / Reception Venue: The Jefferson Hotel / Florist: Rick Lunsford of Blooms at The Jefferson Hotel / Wedding Cake: Sweet Fix / Caterer: Ashton Hassan at The Jefferson Hotel / Rentals: Classic Party Rentals / Linens: La Tavola Linen / Lighting: Blue Steel Lighting Design / Band: The Boomers / Bride’s Gown: “LZ3251” by Lazaro / Bride’s Bolero and Veil: Custom by Chic Parisien / Paper Products: Paper on the Avenue and Elise DiPace / Jewelry: David Yurman / Hair Stylist: Welsy Mourino of Elle Style Studio / Makeup Artist: LaCretia (LC) Baskfield of Ave 42 Style Studio / Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Aidan” in Black Luxe Chiffon by Jenny Yoo / Men’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse / Transportation: James River Transportation and Richmond Trolley Company / Calligraphy: Mary Sue Sanderlin / Save the Dates: Dear June / Eclectic and Vintage Rentals: Paisley and Jade / Custom Stamps for Invitations: Verde Studio

Whitebox Photo is a delightful member of the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    What a beautiful bride!! Love their sentimental venue choice–I’ve been wanting to visit the Jefferson Hotel, but now I want to attend a wedding there even more!

  2. avatar Ashton Toler Hassan reply

    Would you please be so kind as to correct, under the vendors section, Caterer to read: Ashton Hassan at The Jefferson Hotel? It would be most appreciated.

  3. avatar Kelsey reply

    This wedding is just perfection! I am in awe of the bride’s gorgeous dress and hair! Do you know where she got her hair clip? I am looking for one just like it for my wedding!

  4. avatar Kelli + Daniel Taylor Photography, LLC reply

    What a beautiful wedding. The reception tables took my breath away.

  5. avatar Lindsay Kennedy reply

    This wedding was just STUNNING! Thank you for the feature!

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I am SO excited to introduce our Southern Bride of the Month to y’all. Like last year’s November SBOM, Lauren was a familiar face to the Southern Weddings ladies already, since she’s one of our lovely readers who comments often (we love when you join the conversation!). I hope you enjoy! And ladies, make sure you take a minute to answer Lauren’s question at the end!

Hi! What’s your name?
Lauren Leschper (on Twitter)

What’s your fiancé’s name?
James Zarzour (on Twitter)

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story.
It was my sophomore year of college at the University of Georgia, and I had waited until the last minute to try to find a date for my sorority’s semiformal. My friend’s date had two roommates that I could’ve been set up with – but luckily everyone decided James and I would be a good fit. It was the first and last blind date for the both of us, and we spent the whole night talking and laughing.

A few of Lauren + James’ engagement photos by Lacey of Scobey Photography

Now tell us alllll about the proposal.
It was last December, and James and I had been together for 5 years. At this point we had been talking about marriage for a while, so I knew it was coming but not when. So when he suggested we drive up to Athens to go to dinner, visit our favorite brewery, and walk around historic North Campus, I was a little suspicious. We hit terrible traffic on our way up, so we were afraid we wouldn’t have time to stroll around campus at all, but luckily we made it to town just when the sun was starting to set. If you aren’t familiar with North Campus – it’s full of gorgeous old magnolias, historic buildings, and a beautiful fountain next to the field where UGA played their very first game. After what seemed like hours (but was only about 15 minutes) walking around campus, we were standing by the fountain just talking. Then he got down on one knee – and admittedly I don’t remember what he said (I’m sure it was very sweet and romantic). I do remember that I said YES! It was the perfect proposal – just the two of us.

Lauren’s engagement ring photographed by Lacey for Scobey Photography

When’s the big day?
December 8, 2012

Where might you two be tying the knot?
The Old Courthouse on the Square, Decatur, Georgia. Decatur is such a sweet little town, sort of a mini-destination just outside of Atlanta. It has everything guests could want, including all of the wedding events, so once they arrive for the weekend they can just enjoy themselves! (And no cars needed!)

How did you pick your ceremony and reception venues? What do you love most about each space?
We’re holding both the ceremony and reception at the Old Courthouse on the Square. I’ve known for a long time that I didn’t want a ballroom wedding, but I just fell in love with the marble, tall ceilings, and huge windows at the Courthouse. It’s a perfect blank canvas that still has lots of personality. And I sort of love the fact that we’re having a “courthouse wedding,” even though it’s a very traditional ceremony.

The Old Courthouse on the Square (photos by Woodland Fields and Michelle Scott)

Tell us a little bit about the wedding you’re planning: style, theme, feel, colors?
This may sound like an oxymoron, but we’re planning a wedding that is both formal and fun; “Southern vintage” is probably the closest to a true theme.

Our colors are navy and ivory, with accents of sage green and champagne. Even though it’s technically a “winter” wedding, we wanted to keep a warmer, less “icy” palette.

Who or what has been most helpful and/or inspiring in the wedding planning process?
Not to be stereotypical – but Pinterest! I also love looking at blogs (ahem – Southern Weddings) for photos and inspiration. We’re attending about 8 weddings this year, too, so I’m getting some tips on what to do (and maybe a few things to avoid) firsthand!

We love Lauren’s color palette! How we’re envisioning it… (Photos by Jose Villa with flowers by Amy Osaba, Patrick Moyer and Jennifer Dery via Elizabeth Anne Designs)

How have you involved your “community” (friends, family, etc.) in the wedding planning process?
One of the most exciting parts was getting to involve my sister (who isn’t quite so passionate about white dresses and flower arrangements as I am) in the wedding through design. She’s an amazing artist, and designed my invitations herself from scratch. She’ll also be helping me with some of the DIY elements, like our chalkboard program and menu board.

Has your vision for your wedding changed or evolved over the course of your engagement? If so, how?
Yes and no. Some of the vendors I’ve been in love with from the beginning and that has only grown – my caterer Sun in my Belly, my florist Maria from Amy Osaba. The main thing that has changed is my original idea of a more rustic wedding, maybe in a barn – obviously the Courthouse is a far cry from that, but I love it!

What wedding-related decision have you been the most indecisive on?
Napkins! That’s the silly detail I’m wrestling with now – but honestly, most of the most difficult decisions have been some of the smallest in the grand scheme.

Which part of your wedding have you been most intentional about planning?
James and are incredibly passionate about food. He’s a beer rep (keeps our house very well stocked!) so the bar was key, too. Luckily, we found Sun in my Belly immediately from a recommendation from my boss. As soon as we met them and tasted their locally-sourced menu, we were sold! We carefully chose a menu to reflect our backgrounds: the cocktail hour will feature Middle Eastern food in honor of James’ father’s Lebanese and Egyptian family, and dinner will be incredibly Southern (think fried chicken and mashed potatoes). We’ll only be including craft beer and spirits as well – some from the US, some from abroad.

With a beer rep groom, you know the drinks will be good! Lauren loves these Pimms Cups and this clever sign (photos by Jose Villa and from Martha Stewart Weddings

How has the budgeting been? What’s your best budgeting tip?
The hardest part was determining a budget in the first place. I obviously haven’t ever planned a wedding before, so my mom and I had NO idea what things would cost! The best tips I can give: lots and lots of research, and use spreadsheets to keep track! Also, don’t be afraid to ask – for example, we have coffee service with dessert for a fifth of the usual price, because we asked our caterer about other options for serving (rather than the fancy and very expensive silver carafes).

Tell us about the one that got away. Is there one dream thing or vendor you wish you could have fit into your budget?
A videographer. Having someone capture all the little moments that photos can’t show would be so amazing, but it’s just not something we could justify in the budget.

Have you picked your dress yet? How’d that go? What will you be wearing on the big day?
Yes! I actually bought it in January – it’s been sitting in my closet for months, since the designer accidentally rushed the order! I went with just my mom, and we didn’t cry when we found “the dress,” but it was such an amazing experience to share with her. Of course, it’s nothing like what I thought I’d pick!

Lauren loves sleek updos, and so do we! (Photos by Cristina G and Raquel Reis)

Do you have a favorite Etsy or independent store you’d love to tell us about?
Clark and Charola at Tough and Twisted do amazing work – we ordered personalized, handforged bottle openers for our groomsmen gifts (can you tell beer is a theme yet?). They just came in and are incredibly cool.

Any plans for a honeymoon? Where do you want to go and what will you do?
We’re sort of doing a dual honeymoon! Some of our good friends live in San Francisco, so we’re spending a few days there on our way to Hawaii! The “real” honeymoon is seven days in Maui at an amazing resort there.

Any advice you’d like to pass along to fellow brides?
Be organized, and only try to do one big thing at a time. There were definitely stressful moments, but the fact that I kept very detailed spreadsheets of every vendor contacted and every one that had been booked saved my sanity. It also meant that I could keep track of the budget constantly. (I recommend Google Docs, because you can share and collaborate with any vendors, or your parents or anyone else helping plan and pay for the big day).

Now it’s your turn to ask for advice – is there anything you’d like to poll the SW readers on?
What color napkins should I choose?? But seriously – I’d love to know what one detail of your wedding is the most special to you. Maybe I’ll get some inspiration!

Thank you so much for joining us today, Lauren! I’m so glad we got to know better! Readers, if you’d like to apply to be a Southern Bride of the Month, check out this post for all the details! If you’ve already emailed me, you’re still in the running for future months!

Scobey Photography is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Katie reply

    Exciting!! We share the same wedding date! I have no idea what to tell you for your napkin color…it all depends on how you’re involving your other colors. Good luck!

  2. avatar Anna reply

    Love your ideas! I think you should do navy and ivory napkins!

  3. avatar Anna reply

    I love that beer is one of the themes here! This sounds like a great, fun wedding. Also, the story of this couple meeting is so sweet! I can’t believe they met in college. Best of luck!

  4. avatar Emily reply

    Too hard to pick just one detail that was the most important, but I have to say that we spent a TON of time choosing the readings and musical selections for our ceremony! Totally worth it in the end :) Other than that, I had a very clear vision for (and was very excited about!) my bouquet!

  5. avatar morgan klaus reply

    Hey Lauren! Jazzed for you guys.

    A little advice on the napkins – color won’t matter in the grand scheme of memories but white fuzz will be remembered! As long as they won’t shed and color everyone’s laps white, you can’t go wrong!

  6. avatar Laura reply

    I had hoped for a videographer too, but didn’t have the budget for it either. But after the wedding, I found time to write down everything I could remember (as recommended by Emily) and I think that will help me remind me of the details that I might forget down the road.

    The one detail that I was so happy that we did was have a big group picture with all of the guests on the front steps of the church. It only took a little bit of wrangling, but it ended up looking amazing!

  7. avatar Kristin reply

    I vote for deep navy napkins with a gorgeous swirly ivory monogram! (If you have a few extras you can save them and bring them out on your anniversary each year!!)

  8. avatar Ashleigh reply

    LOVE the Pimms Cup idea! I’m searching for a signature cocktail to add to our beer & wine options. I actually love the whole beer theme! My husband-to-be is a huge craft beer lover – he’s already picked out the local brews for our big day! Good luck!

  9. avatar Miriam Patrick-Prince reply

    I’m not sure if Lauren remembers, but she and I went to high school together (only for a year when I moved)….. I got married in June and the one thing that made my wedding so special and I’d recommend to every bride is to do your own version of the Jewish tradition of yichud. It is a traditional way of giving the bride and groom a few minutes of peace and quiet before going out to see family and friends. My sister, and maid of honour, helped us out. When we left, we slipped into a back room of the venue and my sister brought us full plates of food. We got to eat in private, just the two of us. Then we were able to go out to the party and mingle without starving.

    I wish you the best! Happy wedding!


  10. avatar Taylor J reply

    Oh, please go with navy napkins!!! Maybe an ivory border to them…or even y’alls monogram! Can’t go wrong…navy is SO classic!

  11. avatar Kat reply

    hi lauren! girl i know EXACTLY what you mean about the little details sometimes being the hardest! i’m currently planning a july affair and some of the SMALLEST things have been stressing me out! some advice i was given: think about practicality as well as style. of course, you want the napkins to blend with your wedding & to fit the color scheme (and in the that case i love the idea of classic navy or a rich sage green!), but when guests look back on it, they probably won’t remember what color they were! however, i bet they do remember if they shed white fuzzy’s all over their little black dress! :) good luck with the last month of planning girl! best wishes on a the day of your dreams & the marriage full of happiness :)

  12. avatar Katie reply

    Best wishes, Lauren! This last month will FLY by.
    One of my favorite, most special moments was our exit. We made sure to stand at the top of the stairs for just a few seconds and take in all our family and friends cheering us on!!! (and the immediate silence when the door closes on your getaway car and you realize you’re FOR REAL married) oooweee you’re going to have such a great day!

  13. avatar Southern Weddings Bride of the Month: Lauren Leschper » Lacey for Scobey Photography reply

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  14. avatar Lauren reply

    Thanks everyone for the advice! We went with the sage green napkins – they just fit better with the softness of the overall decor (lots of ivory and blush tone-on-tone). We did splurge a little and chose specialty linens for the head table – a gorgeous ivory-on-ivory geometric pattern. We’re so excited – less than 2 weeks to go!

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