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I couldn’t agree more with Janie’s advice for brides: “Your special day will be magnificent in its own right. Find the one or two wow-factors that are important to you and trust that instinct. This was a budget-friendly way for us to navigate what was imperative to our vision and what was not.” In her and Adam’s case, my guess would be that the wow factors they prioritized were their floral arrangements (brought to life by the tremendously talented team at Southern Blooms) and the slate details they incorporated. The groom himself was responsible for making the slate menu cards, table numbers, and escort cards from shingles recycled from an old local school’s roof. It was such a unique and memorable detail, and the fact that they were a DIY made them all the more special!

Thank you so much to Jen Fariello for sharing this beautiful celebration with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. My mother, aunt, maid of honor, and matron of honor accompanied me to Bella Rosa Bridal. I tried on seven dresses with the encouragement of those accompanying me, who used paper bridal gowns on dowel rods with feedback such as “ooh la la!” and “no way.” I knew my dress was the one I had envisioned, and was convinced that I could make it the dress of my dreams with a few custom alterations.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes. In the practical sense, a first look maximized the time we had with our wedding guests. In the magical and romantic sense, most importantly, it offered us the opportunity to engage privately, prior to the ceremony. During the wedding planning process, we heard that the first look enriched the ceremony because the intimate moment together before the ceremony imparted a more robust experience of the wedding. We found this to be true for us.

Our dear friends, a married couple whom Adam and I highly regard and admire, played the processional music. For the bridal procession, “Simple Love,” a song performed by Allison Krauss, was played on the violin and guitar. We recessed to my childhood friend playing “Dancing in the Moonlight” on the guitar.

What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? We absolutely could not have designed and executed such a stunningly beautiful wedding without the help of Shindig Weddings and Events. Meghan Streit struck the perfect and rare balance of personal interest and authentic enthusiasm for Adam and me AND effective communication, the ability to meet deadlines, and collaboration. Meghan offered incredibly creative and gorgeous ideas, which she and her Shindig team executed flawlessly. She was also budget-conscious and sensitive to our tastes, dreams, and needs. We could not possibly thank her enough!

Our venue, Gwyn Arvon, is an ancestral home, in Arvonia, Virginia. This is the place where Adam and I fell in love and spent numerous happy memories, so we hoped that adoring energy would emanate for guests at our wedding. In their own right, the home and grounds are incredibly beautiful–they was built for the purpose of showcasing Buckingham slate.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Adam’s mother died when he was sixteen years old. In her honor, we set out a chair in the first row of the ceremony. When Adam and his two brothers, who were groomsmen, walked by, they each placed a long-stemmed peony in the chair. In addition, Adam is quite handy and made slate menu cards, table numbers, and escort cards from slate shingles that once comprised the roof of a former school in Buckingham County. Anna Sisman provided calligraphy for menus, table numbers, and escort cards.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our first look was incredibly special and memorable. Having a private moment to see one other prior to the hubbub of the day and to get grounded together in the commitment that we would be making was profoundly impactful. It was at this point that the weather began to shift from rain to sunshine, which offered us more hope for the flow of the day. It was tremendously touching to see each other after so much anticipatory build-up!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Adam and I met in a history class at the University of Virginia called “Rural Poverty in Our Time.” We knew of each other from class and around the grounds and the Corner at UVA. We reconnected through work at The Discovery School of Virginia for Boys. When I began work at The Discovery School, many youth who Adam worked with expressed to me, “You’re going to love Mr. Crist!” Little did I know, this Mr. Crist was a familiar face. We are both immensely grateful for the elapsed time between our first introduction and our sparked romance, which enabled us to become better versions of ourselves, and, in turn, better partners for each other. By our wedding date, we had been together nearly four years.
Tell us all about the proposal! Adam proposed on bended knee on February 22, 2015 under the guise of taking a photograph at Pippin Hill Vineyard. Following that, we returned home to a surprise gathering of our extended families and dinner at the Smoke House Grille in Scottsville, Virginia.
When did y’all get married? May 14, 2016
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 215
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Our wedding cake was done by the talented Riki Tanabe of Albemarle Baking Company. It was a four-tiered cake with peonies from Southern Blooms decorating each tier. The cake featured chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and praline crunch filling and textured buttercream icing. The cake also featured vanilla cake, bavarian cream filling, and marzipan icing. We placed framed photographs of loved ones on the cake table as a “sweet” reminder of those celebrating in spirit.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? Sarah Wood, our beloved officiant, was my high school chaplain and one of my field hockey coaches at Christchurch School, as well as my mentor and friend. I note that she was a “special incorporation,” because her history with me and her fast friendship with Adam made our premarital counseling, preparation for the ceremony, and the ceremony itself so much richer, and more personal and robust. Sarah recommended that we read “Life of the Beloved” by Henri Nouwen and “The Art of Being Together” by Francis H. Wade.
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We cut costs by choosing a family-owned venue and performing the landscaping ourselves. We spent two months, with consultation by master gardener Jan Glennie-Smith, beautifying the grounds of the house. Although we worked tirelessly, we recognized that any imperfections could potentially make the outcome even sweeter. We cut costs by having close friends play the processional and recessional music, as well as by having an iPod and speakers for music at the cocktail hour.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Your special day will be magnificent in its own right. Find the one or two wow-factors that are important to you and trust that instinct. This was a budget-friendly way for us to navigate what was imperative to our vision and what was not. Trust the creative expertise of your vendors!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are profoundly grateful for the wedding celebration and honeymoon that we were able to have. Now, we look forward to celebrating others’ and our own milestones and rites of passage. With our wedding ceremony behind us, we get to simply enjoy our marriage. We love the Central Virginia region that we live in and the hiking, canoeing, wineries, cideries, and breweries that it has to offer. We hope to celebrate our first anniversary with a trip to Europe.

Photographer: Jen Fariello | Planner: Shindig Weddings and Events | Venue: Private residence | Florist: Southern Blooms | Cake Baker: Albemarle Baking Company | Caterer: The Catering Outfit | Rentals: Festive Fare | Lighting: Skyline Tent Company | Band: The Significant Others | Paper Products: Design Corral | Bride’s Gown: “Jackie” by Paloma Blanca | Bridal Salon and Veil: Bella Rosa Bridal | Alterations: Fariba Alterations | Hair Stylist: Thairapy Salon | Makeup Artist: Carolyn Thombs | Bride’s Shoes: Stuart Weitzman | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Jim Hjelm for Bella Bridesmaid | Menswear: Jos A. Bank | Ties: Peter Blair | Transportation: Albemarle Limousine | Calligraphy: Anna Sisman

lisa Written with love by Lisa
4 Comments
  1. avatar Dana reply

    Yum chicken and waffles bites! Those flowers are WOW

  2. avatar Skylar Caitlin reply

    That headtable installation is just stunning! Love the added lighting of the hanging, geometric lanterns.

  3. avatar Sera reply

    This is gorgeous! What a beautiful backyard wedding!

  4. avatar Dougie Cameron reply

    Some great advice here for those working to a tight budget.

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I remember when I saw Erica and John’s wedding for the first time in a draft for V8. I was immediately taken with their romantic color palette of pink, cream, and glittery gold, the stunning backdrop that Pippin Hill Farm provided, and, most of all, how joyfully in love these two are. With the help of Amore Events by Cody, Erica and John honored their respective upbringings with an “apples and cheese” theme running throughout their wedding details–Erica is from New York and John is from Wisconsin. This theme even carried into their late-night treats of cheesecakes and apple pies! Adorable theme and beautiful details aside, reading about John’s favorite part of their wedding makes their day even sweeter! One thing he mentioned was, “The 10 minutes with my wife immediately following the ceremony.” After seven years of marriage, I too can remember those unforgettable moments post-ceremony, and can attest to just how incredible and fleeting they are!

Thanks to Rachel May for sharing this beautiful day with us in print!

We got married at 6 P.M. on Saturday, September 5, 2015. When we got engaged, we knew right away that we wanted to get married outdoors in order to celebrate how much we love adventure, nature, and natural beauty. I knew that I wanted to get married in a barn, as the rustic chic look appealed to me as soon as I started wedding planning. We found a few barns in upstate New York that were pretty, but ultimately decided that we wanted to be in a location that had significance to both of us. We decided to start looking in southern Virginia because of all the amazing times we had spent together renting cabins in the Shenandoah. After some recommendations from friends, we drove to Charlottesville and starting looking for venues. Given that we got engaged at a winery (and how much we both love wine), we started thinking that a winery could be the perfect location. When we saw Pippin Hill, we fell in love with the beautiful scenery right away. We booked Pippin Hill about two days after first visiting, and we plan to go back year after year for our anniversary. It is such a special and beautiful place, and we are so glad we got to spend the best day of our lives there!

Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? When I first started looking at bridesmaid dresses, I fell in love with some pink Donna Morgan dresses and quickly sent them out to all of my bridesmaids. After searching through some blogs, though, I really started to like the mix-and-match bridesmaid dress look, and wanted to go that route. I found out two of my girls had already ordered the Donna Morgans, so I couldn’t go completely mix-and-match, as they had already started tailoring their dresses. I decided to do pairs of different dresses, and I love the way it all turned out!

I went dress shopping in both DC and New York with some of my bridesmaids and my mom. I thought I would love romantic tulle, but every time I tried on those dresses, something just didn’t feel right–like I wasn’t being myself. My style is very clean and classic, and I wanted to look like myself on my wedding day. It was important to me and John that we remained authentic to who we are on the day of our wedding, so I knew I had found my dress when I felt like the prettiest version of myself when I tried it on. My favorite thing about my dress is the way it made John react when he saw me for the first time. He just kept saying, “Your dress! Your dress! It’s beautiful. You look beautiful!” That was the reaction I was looking for.

Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. What part was most special to you? Did you include any special readings? Our wedding ceremony was the most beautiful and important forty minutes of our lives. My dad performed our ceremony, which was so special because he worked hard to make his remarks meaningful and personal. Both of our sisters-in-law read special passages, and every moment of the ceremony was emotional and true to who we are as a couple. It was truly gorgeous.

What songs did you use for your ceremony? For the bridal party processional, we used India Arie’s “Can I Walk With You.” I’ve wanted that song to be played at my wedding since I was a little girl, and it was so special to hear it on the big day! For my entrance, we used the traditional bridal march. For the recessional, we used Ray Lamontange’s “You Are the Best Thing.”

My favorite details were the ones that infused our apple, cheese, and literary motif. I’m from New York (“The Big Apple”) and John is from Wisconsin, which is known for its cheese. We’re both educators and we both love to read, so we wanted to infuse our love of books into the wedding as well. We had a beautiful logo made that was on our menu, welcome bag tags, and gift bags. We served cheeses from Wisconsin and New York during cocktail hour. For dessert, we served cheesecakes and apple pies. As a late night snack, guests enjoyed grilled cheese and apple sandwiches. Our centerpieces included a book display that looked gorgeous, and our cake stand was surrounded by books. I love how the theme was woven throughout the ceremony, reception, and all the small details of the wedding.

Describe some of the decorations or décor elements you used: Where to begin? Our colors were pink, cream and glittery gold, and the room was full of those colors. Our florist, Amy Webb of Blue Ridge Florals, did a wonderful job bringing the wedding colors to life through the flowers. My favorite part of the reception was the floral ladders hanging over the long farm tables. They were dripping with flowers and candles, and they were just gorgeous. We had bistro lights cascading from the beautiful wooden rafters at Pippin Hill. We had books to represent our love of literacy around the cake stand, in our logo, and on the tables. We also had apples as escort cards to go along with our apple and cheese theme. There were so many small details that made the wedding come together and it was absolutely perfect!

John loves John Legend and I love his song “Stay With You,” so deciding on our first dance song was a really easy choice. John also loves live music, so he had the awesome idea to have one of his very talented groomsmen sing our first dance song. I heard Raphael practicing for the first time right after the ceremony (he wanted to keep the performance a surprise for us) and was astounded. He sounded amazing! John’s extremely talented orchestra teacher, Kendall Isadore, accompanied Raph on violin, and turned it into such a beautiful cover. The week of the wedding, John and I took a few dance classes, so we had some pretty cool dips and tricks up our sleeves!

Tell us about your wedding cake or sweets. Though I didn’t get a piece myself because I was too busy dancing, everyone said that the wedding cake was delicious. We had a marble wedding cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, as well as cheesecakes and apple pies to go along with our theme. We also had a s’mores pit for guests to enjoy a late night treat!

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met while on a business trip to Houston in March 2013. We were both training for new leadership roles, me to be a vice principal and John to start his own school. The trip was an orientation for the five-week leadership program. I did not know many of the KIPP DC people, and John, having been with the company for six years at that point, warmly welcomed me into the group. John even gave me one of his drink tickets that night, and we spent the entire evening talking and getting to know each other. We had breakfast the next morning and even changed our travel arrangements in order to fly back to DC together at the end of the weekend. Even though we worked for the same organization in DC, we had never met before that fateful weekend. John always reminds me that he knew of me long before meeting me, and had always wanted to know more about that fourth grade teacher folks were buzzing about. We’ve been inseparable since the day we met.
Describe the proposal: I knew John was the one within weeks of meeting him. In fact, the truth is that I proposed to John first (about 10 months before he did). It seemed like I was joking when I shouted at him, “We should get married!” But really, I knew I meant what I had said. When we planned a 2014 trip to Argentina, I thought it would be the perfect time to really get engaged. When I called my dad for a final farewell and he asked me where I was going and who I was going with, my anxiety kicked into high gear. Was my intuition wrong? Was John not going to propose? Surely, my dad would know if John planned on asking me to marry him while on this vacation. Finally, my birthday arrived (part of the reason we were going to Argentina was to celebrate my birthday), and I finally had something else to be excited about. My mind moved away from the potential proposal–I resolved to have fun in Argentina and enjoy time with the love of my life. When we woke up the morning before my birthday, John announced that we would be flying to Mendoza, the wine country of Argentina. The next day (my birthday), as we sat and ate breakfast in the tiny restaurant of our inn, I heard an old car horn beeping outside. When I walked out of the restaurant, I saw a small circle of people gawking at a old Model A-style convertible. Still forcing myself to believe that this was all just for my birthday, we got in the car and were whisked away to the famous Nieto Seniter Vineyard. We began walking around the property and John walked us to two horses being held by a traditional Argentinian gaucho (cowboy). Little did they both know, I am pretty afraid of horses. Nonetheless, after some persistent urging from John, I got on and we went for a beautiful horseback ride through the vineyard at the foot of the Andes Mountains. After a while, the gaucho motioned for the horses to stop, and John got me (reluctantly) off the horse. We walked down a path and there under a tree was a picnic, a book, and a bottle of champagne. John opened the book, and inside, was a gorgeous ring, and he asked me to marry him. I, of course, said yes. Then, remembering my conversation with my dad on the plane, I asked, “Does my dad know?” John said of course, my dad had been in on it the whole time. John then told me to look up, and I saw one of the photographers from earlier in a tree–he had captured the whole proposal. Next to the wedding, our proposal was the second best day of my life!
Tell us about your beautiful engagement ring and how/why your husband (or the two of you!) chose it: My diamond is a 1.5-carat, round cushion-cut diamond. After John designed my ring, the store loved it so much that they named my setting the “Erica Setting.” John chose my ring and diamond based on quality of stone and the pronounced setting arrangement. John says my bold love is nearly matched with my bold ring–the stone stands alone at the top, but is supported by smaller paving diamonds below. John likes to compare my ring to our love. Our love stands at the top and is the boldest of its kind, but we have lots of family and friends to support us and help us shine along the way.
Three adjectives that describe the day are: Beautiful, enchanting, unforgettable
How many guests attended your wedding? 140
Groom’s favorite detail of the wedding: A letter from my bride, the first look, a house to stay in with family in the days leading up to the wedding, fantastic food, local beer, Wisconsin cheese, Mi Amigo cigars, the mountain backdrop, a Kit-Kat s’more station, and the 10 minutes with my wife immediately following the ceremony.
What were some of the highlights of the reception? My favorite moment of the reception was at the end of the night when we played our last song, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. Our friends were singing at the top of their lungs, and John picked me up and swung me around right at the height of the song. It was awesome. I also loved my dad’s toast. It was so heartfelt and emotional, and was a very special moment.
Did you toss the garter or bouquet? We did a bouquet toss. My good friend caught it and I love her boyfriend so…fingers crossed!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? I am looking forward to having adventures with my husband for the rest of my life. Whether it is hiking four miles up a mountain in Yosemite, jumping off cliffs in Jamaica, riding horses in Argentina, or just enjoying a four-hour-long “Cops” marathon in our living room, I always have a great time when I’m with him. I’m looking forward to forever. Next, we are focusing on buying our first house and getting some more room for our dog, Stella!

Photographer: Rachel May Photography | Videographer: Mwendo Weddings | Planner and Designer: Amore Events by Cody | Venue, Caterer, and Linens: Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards | Florals: Blue Ridge Florals | Cake Baker: Sweethaus Bakery | Bride’s Gown: “Margot” by Anna Maier | Bridal Salon: Gabriella New York | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bride’s Accessories:  BHLDN | Bridesmaid Dresses: “Annabelle” in Cashmere by Jenny Yoo, “Beaded Chiffon Blouson Dress” in Blush and Taupe by Adrianna Pappell, “Rachel” in Petal by Donna Morgan, “Laura” in Petal by Donna Morgan, “Tori” in Cream by Paper Crown | Hair Stylist: Top Knot Studio | Makeup Artist: Tiffany Lumpkin | Menswear: Allure Bridals | Paper Goods: Dandelion Patch | Rentals, Linens, and Reception Décor: MS Events | Favors: Fromagination | Transportation: Blue Ridge Tours | Lighting: Blue Ridge Lighting

marissa Written with love by Marissa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Perry Vaile reply

    Whoa this was beautiful! Rachel, beautifully done!

  2. avatar Jevettra Gardner reply

    Just a gorgeous wedding and the details are just oozing with wonderfulness!!

  3. avatar Chantal reply

    What a stunning affair – and beautiful photography. Might I ask where the bride got the ring box? I’m looking for one just like it. Thank you!

    xo,
    Chantal

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When it comes to the many things that make a wedding Southern, the most obvious one is the geographical location, of course! Kara and Philip had that in the bag when they chose to tie the knot at Colleton River Plantation on Hilton Head Island. Though a Pennsylvania native, Kara grew up traveling to her family’s vacation home on the island, so to her, it is a place “that signifies family, joy, memories, and endless beauty.” Kara and Philip worked with their planner, Embellished Events, to create an open-air party where no walls could block the beautiful views. I’m sure this day began a whole new chapter of joyful memories on Hilton Head for this sweet couple!

We’re sure happy Tim Will was there to capture this lovely day!

Describe your wedding flowers. My flowers were untamed and gorgeous! They had an English garden feel, and were full of peaches, sages, and pinks, grounded in soft whites and finished with ribbon I found during my travels to India. The ribbons were used in all the bouquets, garlands, and table arrangements. Branches on Hilton Head Island captured my vision so beautifully.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We did not; we chose to say the traditional vows instead. We felt these timeless words captured all we wanted to say.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had beautiful readings from the Bible. I particularly loved the Gospel reading from Mark, that included the verse, “They are no longer two but one flesh, therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Wow, those words have gravity!

On our wedding day, we surprised our guests with the sounds of local Gullah singers harmonizing with joy to “Oh Happy Day” as we departed the church. We also hand-dipped oyster shells in gold and embellished each with a pearl for our escort cards. Guests could take these home as a way to remember the place and the day.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? I grew up traveling to my family’s vacation home on Hilton Head Island, so it has always been a place that signifies family, joy, memories, and endless beauty to me.

We chose to avoid the cost of a tent, and with the suggestion of my planner, Jennifer Leiti, we chose to have an open-air party under café lighting. We were so happy we did because the environment was the reason I picked this location. There were no walls to block the beautiful, expansive views of the sunset over the river. Thankfully, despite some early morning rain, we were blessed with good weather that day.

My wedding cake was a simple, white, tiered cake with ruffled fondant and some pretty flowers in the colors of my bouquet placed up each tier. The best part was really what was inside–it was decadent! Each layer had a different filling. Minette Rushing from Savannah Custom Cakes is a baking genius!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in college. We lived in the same dorm, and then in the same apartment building. Two years after college, only after a big separation, did we realize our friendship was actually love. This has been true ever since and will be for the rest of our lives!
Tell us all about the proposal! We first talked about getting married around a year or so ago while on a trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It was the first time Phil had ever been there, and I was overjoyed to be talking about our future marriage in this very special place. However, it was not until a very cold visit to Cape May, New Jersey that Phil decided to sneak a ring into my purse to be found at any time. We were sitting in a crowded bar and I was fishing around in my bag for something or other when I felt a little box…I think I knew what it was right away, and quickly looked up at Phil’s smiling face. I told him I wanted to move to our room for some privacy, where, conveniently, there was a bottle of champagne awaiting our arrival. Phil got down on one knee as I had always envisioned and the rest is history.
When did y’all get married? May 30, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 125
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I found my dress in a shop called Elizabeth Johns Ardmore, Pennsylvania, right outside of my home city of Philadelphia. The dress was designed by Lela Rose and I felt it reflected me and my style, and it would complement the beautiful surroundings and climate of my Southern wedding.
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We did not. Seeing my soon-to-be spouse for the first time at the end of the aisle is a beautiful tradition we wanted to experience.
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! My shoes had blue soles, I wore a delicate strand of pearls that were given to me as a baby, I borrowed my sister’s wedding garter, and everything else was new.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Communicate with each other early and often, and don’t lose sight of what is important.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We would love to move to a new home, plant some deeper roots there, and start a family.

Photographer: Tim Willoughby | Videographer: Hart to Heart | Planner: Embellished Events | Ceremony Venue: St. Gregory the Great | Reception Venue and Catering: Colleton River Plantation | Florist: Branches | Cake Baker: Savannah Custom Cakes | Rentals: Event Haus | Band: Fantastic Voyage Band | Gospel Choir: Voices of El Shaddai Ensemble | Bride’s Gown: Lela Rose | Hair and Makeup: Christine Stephens | Bride’s Shoes: Betsey Johnson | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: J. Crew

marissa Written with love by Marissa
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