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For today’s groom, just writing about the memory of their proposal gets him all choked up, so it’s no surprise that when Emily and Jim tied the knot, their day was sweet and completely romantic! Paired with lots of delicate lace and the prettiest peachy pink color palette, Emily and Jim created a fun barbecue atmosphere, complete with a Coke toast, to ensure their day felt Southern, comfortable and welcoming! Obviously, in addition to their gorgeous day, we also love the adorable snuggling sheep Annamarie Akins captured at Hunt Club Farm!

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I sure did! My something borrowed was a pair of pearl earrings from my mother. My something blue was an “I Do” sticker for the bottom of my shoes from my MOH. My something old was a vintage pearl ring that my grandmother had given my mother on her 16th birthday, which she passed down to me at my bridal shower. My something new was my sparkly gold Badgley Mischka shoes!

Finding my wedding dress wasn’t as easy as I had hoped it would be. When I first went shopping, I took everyone with me. It came down to two different dresses that I couldn’t decide between–my group’s preferences were split in half. Finally, I decided if either was the “one,” I would have known it. I continued my search and went to Pure English with just my mom and her best friend. The dress I ended up purchasing was the one for me, and I knew it when I kept wanting to put it back on!

Always so fun seeing Southern Weddings Shop products incorporated into real weddings!

My aunt Melanie officiated our ceremony, and when we were determining the readings for the ceremony, this one really stuck out: “Before I pronounce you married partners, I have just one more thing I want you to do. Your wedding day is one that seems to fly. It’s a day filled with emotion, friends, rings, and dances. Many people remember how fleeting their own wedding day was. So I want you to take a few seconds to look into each others’ eyes. Think about the happiness that you are feeling in this place, in this moment. Really let that feeling register in your heart and your mind. Now, I want you to think about your life together in 20 years. Where are you? What are you doing? We all know that your visions of the future are not identical, but always complimentary. John Lennon once said, ‘A dream you dream alone is only a dream, a dream you dream together, THAT is reality.’ That new reality starts now.”

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? When we were first engaged, I saw that a friend had been married at Hunt Club. I asked Jim if he wanted to check it out as a venue. We went, and as soon as the Hunt Club coordinator told him that there was a BBQ company that would come and cook onsite all day, he was sold. That was it!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The whole vibe of the wedding was Southern! From the friendly and fun atmosphere to the BBQ, to the drinks out of mason jars, to the coke toast, we felt like our day was comfortable, welcoming, and laid back–which is what being Southern is all about.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Which one?! We had so many desserts, and it was because we simply couldn’t decide on one. Jim’s absolute favorite dessert is blueberry cheesecake, so Emma from Sweet Emma Lou put cheesecakes in small mason jars. I love apple and peach crisps, so she made them into mason jar desserts for me as well! We also had white almond raspberry and cookies and cream cupcakes, candy, macarons, donuts, and a six-inch cake for us to cut. We definitely went all out on desserts!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. From Jim: Floating around different projects at work, I was fortunate enough to be taking the spot of the most beautiful woman in the company, as she was moving to a new job. We had a week of transition, and I flirted a little. I waited a month or two before asking her out, and we started dating. A year later we moved to Virginia beach, and a year after that, we were engaged. Here we are three years later, married!
Tell us all about the proposal! From Jim: The adventure started in San Francisco where we bee-bopped around town for a few days without any set plans–just a goal to explore. To depart San Francisco in style, we rented a red Corvette convertible. Needless to say, it made the cruise down Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway, to Monterey a little more enjoyable. Monterey was a blast, and on the next to last day, Emily said, “My friend mentioned this one park we should go check out, Point Lobos.” Unbeknownst to her, she would be engaged to me the next day, in that very park! I said we could check it out tomorrow, no big deal, which was playing into the plan of being there at EXACTLY 2 p.m. That day, we wandered down to Hidden Beach in Point Lobos and looked around. I said to Emily, “Do you want to do something crazy?” “Sure,” Emily responded. “Do you want to marry me?” Writing it gets me choked up again, just like it did that day. She jumped around for a minute or two before actually saying yes…but she did. The whole experience was captured by a photographer hidden in the woods.
When did y’all get married? May 31, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 150
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. When choosing our wedding songs, we thought about the people and time periods in our lives that they would represent. I walked down the aisle to Bright Eyes’ “First Day of My Life.” That song tells the story of meeting someone and how it feels like your life begins right in that moment. For the bouquet toss, instead of the classic “Single Ladies,” I chose “Settlin’” by Sugarland, a song that reminds my friends and me of the time in our 20’s when there wasn’t a care in the world, and we wouldn’t settle for anything less than what we deserved.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? BBQ! Mobile Pignic showed up onsite six hours before the wedding, smoked ribs and chicken, and then served it as a family-style buffet. It was perfect for the vibe and saved us a ton of money over traditional wedding caterers. Plus, no one had to answer chicken or beef on their invite.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Have fun with it. You aren’t going to please everyone, so try not to worry about making everyone happy. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to remember that your wedding is all about you and your future husband.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? As a couple, we’ve accomplished a lot this past year… we bought a house, planned a wedding, and had the most amazing wedding day ever. We think we will take a break and relax for a little while, plan some adventures, and enjoy life at home with our two boxer pups, Coral and Reef.

Photographer: Annamarie Akins Photography / Planner: Hannah Hildebrandt Events / Venue: Hunt Club Farm / Florist: Johnson’s Gardens Inc. / Dessert Baker: Sweet Emma Lou / Catering: Mobile Pignic / Rentals: Bluebird’s Garage / DJ: Rodney Charles of Astro Entertainment / Paper Products: Minted / Bride’s Gown: Watters / Bridal Salon: Pure English / Hair and Makeup: Aubrey Lynn of Behind the Veil Studios / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Bill Levkoff / Menswear: Jim’s Formal Wear

marissa Written with love by Marissa
5 Comments
  1. avatar Michael and Carina reply

    This wedding is absolutely lovely!!!
    So many gorgeous details <3
    xoxo M+C

  2. avatar Jan Pruden reply

    We felt so very blessed to witness these two and their families come together as ONE bigger and happier family. The LOVE was truly in the air! And so so many special thoughtful touches. Jim and Emily are the sweetest couple. May God bless them with everything wonderful!

  3. avatar Annamarie Akins reply

    Thank you so much for featuring Emily and Jim!! They are the best and I am so excited about this! Dream come true! :)

  4. avatar Cheryl Trebi reply

    I was the “best friend” that accompanied my best friend, Emily’s Mom, to “Pure English” where the gorgeous bridal gown was found! Being a mom of two sons, this was absolutely thrilling for me! I love this beautiful love story of Emily & Jim – they “glowed” in every picture, and still do!

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    […] : Les pièces montées : 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 / Les Sweet-table : 1 – 2 – 3 / Les bars à beignets : 1 – 2 […]

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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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