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When it comes to wedding themes, the Kentucky Derby will always be one of my favorites–preppy accessories, shiny silver pieces, mint juleps, and monograms? Sign me up, y’all! What makes a Derby-inspired wedding so much more special though is when that inspiration is chock full of meaning for the bride and groom, like it was for Kristin and Wai. Neither of them is originally from Kentucky, but one fateful night in downtown Louisville, their paths crossed for the first time, and the hometown of Churchill Downs has been extra special to them ever since. They brought some of their favorite Kentucky details to Virginia Beach for their wedding, and loved sharing them with family and friends from across the country!

Thank you so much to Shannon Moffit for sharing this special day with us!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Wai and I met in Louisville, Kentucky. It was truly fate that brought us together, as I am originally from New York, Wai is from Virginia, and neither one of us ever thought we would ever be living in Kentucky. We owe our love story to Wai’s co-worker, John. John and I both went to Yale, but didn’t know one another. In Louisville, the Yale Alumni Association frequently puts on events and happy hours, and for some reason, on February 8, 2013, I decided I would check it out. John had also decided he was going to go and asked Wai to crash the event with him. Wai was resistant since he went to Princeton, a rival school, but John insisted, telling him, “You never know, you might meet a girl!” When Wai arrived at the bar–a craft beer joint called Holy Grail–he came up to speak with me right away (apparently, he was impressed by the super dark stout that I was drinking). Despite having to wait out an older Yale alumnus who, in Wai’s opinion, was monopolizing my time, Wai was able to catch up with me at the end of the night to get my number. Against the advice of his friends who advised him to wait at least 48 hours, Wai called me bright and early the next morning and asked me out!

Finding my wedding dress was surprisingly easy. I loved every single dress that I tried on–I literally wanted them all! While searching in magazines and online for dresses, I came across a sweetheart-style dress, Bobbi by Augusta Jones, and I knew that was it. I went to a bridal salon called Ava Clara the next day and told them that I especially liked that particular dress. Luckily for me, they had it in the store! The woman helping me brought out several dresses for me to try and requested that I wait to try on Bobbi until last. I loved all five dresses, but when I tried on Bobbi, that was it–it was my dress!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? It was a tough decision for us, because I really loved the idea of Wai not seeing me until I walked down the aisle, but I also loved the idea of Wai and I seeing each other for the first time in a more personal setting. We wanted to have as much time as possible after the ceremony to share with our guests and did not want to be pressured to squeeze all of our photographs in in a short timeframe. In the end, we decided to do a first look. We both cried, and it was perfect!

I think our wedding flowers were spectacular! We wanted very soft flowers in shades of pink and white, and we wanted them to look very natural and loose with lots of dark greenery. My bouquet was one of my favorite wedding details. It was so full and wild, and included the most beautiful white dahlias. I might have to have the florist make me a similar arrangement to put in a vase at home–I cannot stop thinking about it!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had both Old and New Testament readings at our ceremony. The Old Testament reading came from song of Solomon 2:10-13, 8:6-7. It’s a really beautiful love poem and Wai’s sister, Shelley, read it. Of course, she started bawling about five words in, prompting all the other bridesmaid to cry as well! The minister offered her a handkerchief and she made it through. The New Testament reading was from I John 4:7-12, and explains how God’s love is perfected in us when we love each other. Wai’s good friend from college, Ira, gave an eloquent reading (with no tears!).

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We buried a bottle of bourbon at our church a month before the wedding, though that didn’t ultimately pay off with good weather on the wedding day! More prominently, our whole wedding was Kentucky Derby-themed, with details like Derby-inspired specialty drinks, horseshoe name tags, silver mint julep cups, a Derby hat photo booth, Derby-themed invitations, bourbon truffles, our horseshoe monogram, and Wai’s jockey cuff links. And of course, Wai and his groomsmen all wore the most Southern bow tie and cummerbund sets anyone had ever seen, custom made by High Cotton Ties!

We knew right away that we wanted to have our wedding in Virginia Beach. It is where Wai grew up and it was a favorite vacation destination of mine growing up. After looking at a few venues, we knew that the Oceanfront Hilton was the perfect spot for our reception. We loved the gorgeous ocean views, the amazing presidential suite for getting ready, and the fact that we could have an outdoor cocktail hour with a solid indoor back-up option in case it rained. It was a great decision, because boy, did it rain that day! Picking the ceremony venue was a tougher decision for us. We had both dreamed of having a beautiful outdoor ceremony by the water, but also knew the significance of having our ceremony in a church. In the end, we decided on Wai’s family church, Bayside Presbyterian, and it was one of the best decisions we made.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: There were so many details that I loved, but my favorite may have been our specialty drinks. Since our wedding was Kentucky Derby themed, we served Oaks Lilly and mint juleps. It was very personal to us, as we met in Louisville, and the drinks brought back memories of the times we spent together there (it also didn’t hurt that the drinks were delicious). To thank our wedding party, we had a private toast with them during the cocktail hour where we gave everyone their own monogrammed silver julep cups.

Tell us all about the proposal! It happened in Disney World, the happiest place on Earth! We were out at the Magic Kingdom all day and Wai had the ring in his pocket. Since he was nervous that I would see the box in his pocket, he took the ring out of the box and safety pinned it to his pants pocket! We even went on Space Mountain that day! He said he was really nervous the entire day and was rehearsing all of his lines in his head during the rides. The actual proposal happened back at Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel. He had secretly booked us a fancy room at the hotel and had it set up with flowers, candy, and pictures of us. He told me he wanted to go up and see a “model room” in case we wanted to stay at the Grand Floridian the next time we went to Disney World, and when we got to the room, he got down on one knee and proposed. I immediately started crying and don’t remember one word of his rehearsed lines. I just remember being the happiest I had ever been!
When did y’all get married? July 11, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 180
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own vows. In hindsight, we wish we had, but at the time, I was very worried about getting nervous and forgetting my lines (and also not being able to get through my vows during the ceremony with about crying the whole time). We did write each other letters that we read the morning of the wedding. I was an emotional mess reading mine, but it was wonderful! Who knows, maybe one day we will renew our vows–if so, I will definitely insist that we write our own.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? We were fortunate that both of us really took an interest in planning the wedding (Wai’s family liked to joke that he was a groomzilla!). We agreed on all of the big decisions, such as the theme, venue, band, etc., but we had some different opinions on some of the smaller details. We overcame this challenge by really listening to one another and then making compromises, just like we will need to do throughout the rest of our marriage. In a way, wedding planning can really be a great prep course for married life!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? The devil is in the details. We found that parts of the wedding that we stressed the most about, but that our guests also loved the most, were the little accents that really personalized the event to us. Also, we can’t emphasize enough how great the party was with a band, especially one that worked with us to choose amazing music that kept the dance floor hopping all night (Wai would have been crushed if we had had an empty dance floor). The one thing all of our friends remember the most was the last hour and a half of crazy dancing!
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are looking forward to sharing our lives together and growing our family. We just bought our first home in Virginia Beach and are so excited to put our personal touches on it and make it our own!

Photographer: Shannon Moffit / Ceremony Venue: Bayside Presbyterian Church / Reception Venue and Caterer: Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront / Florist: Palette of Petals / Cake Baker: Incredible Edibles Bakery / Lighting: Stage Right Lighting / Band: Attraction / Paper Products: Jacobson Fine Paper & Gifts / Signage: Lynnea Midland / Bride’s Gown: “Bobbi” by Augusta Jones / Bridal Salon: Ava Clara Bridal / Bride’s Jewelry: Tiffany &. Co / Hair Stylist: Shaelynn Riddle / Makeup Artist: Kristine Marie / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style 334” in Petal Pink by Bill Levkoff / Groom’s Attire: Polo Ralph Lauren / Bow Ties and Cummerbunds: High Cotton Ties

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

    Ahh, love this couple! Thank you for the feature!!

  2. avatar Elle reply

    That bouquet is seriously incredible!

  3. avatar Kentucky Derby Wedding in Virginia Beach » Shannon Moffit Photography | Virginia Beach and Destination Weddings reply

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  4. avatar Kristin reply

    Stunning!!! I’m new to Lexington, KY and I love the idea of this theme. I’ve been putting off planning because it all seems so overwhelming, but this gave me some really great ideas :-)

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With the weather getting chillier by the day, the beach may be the farthest thing from your mind — unless, of course, you’re planning a beach wedding! The beach is a classic as far as wedding locations go, but logistically, they can be tricky to navigate. Since the South is blessed with some seriously beautiful beaches (including one of my personal favorites, Virginia Beach!), sit a spell and let’s chat about planning a Southern seaside wedding!

1. Get a permit. Permits are not always necessary, depending on your location, but this is one logistical detail you won’t want to overlook if you do end up needing one. When getting your permit, you’ll also find out the specific guidelines your beach has for weddings, from what types of equipment can be used to guidelines for decor.

2. Reserve a spot. Avoid having to wander up and down the beach the day before your wedding searching for the perfect ceremony spot! Pick out a location well in advance, and find a way to make sure it’ll be free on the big day. At Virginia Beach, you can even reserve the exact spot in the sand.

3. Consider the weather. As with all outdoor weddings, it’s important to think about how the weather will affect your day. For example, if you’re getting married in the summer, plan to have lots of water and fans available. If it’ll be chilly (we love the idea of a winter beach wedding!), pass out pashminas and set up a hot drinks station.

4. Come up with a backup plan. A detailed backup plan is another outdoor wedding must-have. As well as planning for rain, think about what to do if you’re faced with a particularly windy day, which can affect beaches more dramatically than other outdoor areas.

5. Work with the natural beauty of the beach. The number one reason I imagine couples choose the beach for their big day? The scenery! Take inspiration from the colors and textures of the beach and choose details that complement that for a beautiful, cohesive look.

6. Plan your attire. We are certainly in favor of brides wearing whatever they desire on their big days, but taking location into account is helpful in more ways than one. Along with choosing an outfit that fits your wedding’s style, you’ll also want to consider how comfortable you’ll be. On the beach, this may mean something like a lightweight dress, a short veil, and wedges or sandals.

7. Be clear about the dress code. One of the most gracious things you can do for your guests is to make sure they know how to dress appropriately for your wedding. Let them know that you’ll be on the beach, and inform them about your dress code. If you don’t want to go into too much detail in your invitations, direct them to a more in-depth explanation on an information card or your wedding website.

8. Consider noise levels. Between the wind and the waves, there is quite a bit of noise to account for during a beach ceremony. Particularly if your guests will be more spread out or there are a large number of them, consider using microphones for your officiant and any important speakers.

9. Provide shade. Beaches rarely have much natural shade, and even on the mildest day, some of your older guests may not be able to sit in the sun for long. Parasols or sun hats at your ceremony can help, but be sure to designate a shady spot where people can sit if they really need to.

10. Keep guests comfortable. Southern hospitality is always a priority to us! Along with a few of the things we typically recommend having on hand for outdoor weddings (namely water bottles and bug spray), we also suggest stocking up on sunscreen, fans, or even sunglasses for your guests to use. This is where thinking through your wedding as a guest comes in handy–what would you need to be comfortable if you were attending?

Friends, this is only a starting point–there are so many amazing tips and tricks for beach weddings out there! Beach brides, what would you add to this list that was helpful to you?

This post is brought to you by Virginia Beach Tourism. Many thanks to all of our wonderful sponsors!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
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As much as I love fall, I’m already starting to get just a little bit nostalgic for summer. This was one of the first years my family didn’t spend any time in Williamsburg, Virginia, and summer wasn’t quite the same without being there. On sunny Saturdays, I love driving the short hour to Virginia Beach from Williamsburg for a day of lounging in the sun and strolling down the boardwalk! The South is blessed with so many wonderful beaches, so I can only imagine many of y’all have similarly sweet memories. This makes a beach like Virginia Beach such a meaningful wedding venue!

Virginia Beach boasts 35 beautiful miles of waterfront property, which means plenty of location options for your ceremony. Whether your dream is saying “I do” with perfect sunset views (try Chesapeake Bay Beach!) or your priority is close proximity to a lovely reception space (like the rental homes and guest houses at Sandbridge), there’s no shortage of places to choose from along Virginia’s coast.

One of the biggest benefits of hosting your wedding at Virginia Beach? Being able to reserve the exact spot in the sand where your ceremony will take place. Your location can be reserved for up to three hours, and will be closed to the general public for that time. You’ll be free to set up decor and seating as you wish and enjoy a private ceremony, without having to worry about curious tourists! I love this!

If your style leans more toward lively, the Oceanfront might be the perfect place for you. This resort area hosts a famous three-mile boardwalk, as well as a wide range of hotels and restaurants. If your top priority is convenience for your guests, a wedding near the Oceanfront is a wonderful option!

You can learn much more about planning a Virginia Beach wedding here, and of course, if any of y’all are already planning your wedding at this fantastic Southern beach, we’d love to hear about it! What made you choose Virginia Beach for your wedding? Anyone else have fond memories of family beach vacations growing up?

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Morgan Jones reply

    Oh my goodness North Carolina beaches are beautiful! I grew up going to the same beach house, Jonah’s Whale, with one whole a side of my family every summer. Caswell Beach and Southport hold such special places in my heart!

  2. avatar Cheap Wedding Dresses reply

    This wedding looks absolutely stunning!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Yes! Except my memories are from the very cold beaches of Maine :)

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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