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Are any of y’all How I Met Your Mother fans? Lauren’s red cowboy boots remind me of that show — admittedly, I chuckled a bit when I saw them. I’m happy to say, however, that Lauren pulls of this Southern staple with complete success unlike Ted Mosby. They’re perfectly appropriate for Lauren + Joe’s fall wedding which boasted warm colors and warm temperatures. I love that the couple’s wedding colors provided graphic pops throughout the evening while still blending in nicely with the rustic feel of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Though L + J both have parents who were born in the North, they both grew up in Virginia and knew they had to have their wedding at a place thet visited often. The mountains were not only a gorgeous setting for their outdoor nuptials, but they’ll continue to hold all the memories of their big day.

The SW gals are sending big hugs to Meg Runion for sharing this wedding with us!

Don’t y’all love Lauren’s dress with the big bow? Be sure to scroll down for more adorable views of it!

I knew exactly what I wanted: an A-line dress with a sweetheart neckline and a large asymmetrical bow on the back. There were a few dresses that had some of those aspects but not exactly what I had in mind. I ended up trying on a beautiful A-line dress with a sweetheart neckline, but no bow. The wedding dress consultant suggested we have the bow custom designed. I immediately knew that was the way to go. The seamstress designed a bow that exactly matched the image in my head. I absolutely loved my dress and was happy to be able to customize it to fit my style perfectly.

I knew right away I wanted bright shades of orange for the flowers. Our wedding was on September 1, so we were in the late summer/early fall season. We chose orange and cream as our colors because we felt like they represented both summer and fall. My bouquet was a vibrant orange mix of Mexican sunflowers and dahlias. The bridesmaids carried huge bouquets of baby’s breath because I love the rustic, understated feel they have. The groomsmen’s boutonnières were orange dahlias. We really wanted our wedding to represent the natural beauty of the changing seasons in the Virginia Mountains.

We love Lauren + Joe’s simple but beautiful altar setup. It reminds us of Jodi + Kurt’s wedding from V4.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did not do a “first look.” We both really wanted that first moment we saw each other to be right when I walked down the aisle. It was worth the wait!
Did you write your own vows? We did not. We would’ve been too nervous! However, we did write each other a letter to read before the ceremony. My matron of honor and his best man delivered the letters to us while getting ready. It was a very sweet moment and one of our favorite memories of the day.

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had five readings at our wedding. Two of the readings were Irish and German wedding blessings to honor our families. We had a biblical reading, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, and a poetry reading, “To Love Is Not to Possess” by James Kavanaugh. Before the exchanging of the rings, our reverend read the “Blessing of the Hands.” We went through countless readings but chose the ones we felt really spoke to us and reflected our feelings for each other.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our venue was definitely Southern. While both our parents are from the North, Joe and I grew up in Virginia and consider this our home. We knew we wanted to have our wedding outdoors in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and at a place we visit often. We loved the barn at our venue and it perfectly reflected us as a couple. Other Southern details included were our food and drinks. For the cocktail hour, we included Virginia ham biscuits and other Southern food. All of the wine was from local Virginia wineries. The bluegrass music at our ceremony and cocktail hour matched the beautiful mountain scenery. As far as decorations, we used mason jars as much as we could and farm tables at the reception. For our bridal party, the bridesmaids wore their own cowgirl boots and the groomsmen and flower girls wore seersucker.

Our favorite details were the escort cards and table names. To honor our love of live music, we decided to name every table after a concert we attended together. For the escort cards, we had “concert tickets” and displayed them at a “will call” table.

Describe your wedding cake or dessert: I had seen pictures of a wedding cake with burlap ribbon and absolutely loved it. I knew that would fit in perfectly with our other details. However, after speaking with the cake designer, I realized that real burlap would not be the best choice because of its smell. Instead we used jute ribbon and it had the same look. The cake was classic and rustic — it was perfect!

Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Joe and I have been to over 50 concerts together and music is a big part of our relationship, especially our shared love of bluegrass music. We wanted to make sure that was reflected in our wedding. Our favorite local bluegrass band played during the ceremony and cocktail hour. Our song is “I’ve Just Seen a Face” by the Beatles, and the band learned it just for our wedding. I walked down the aisle to a slowed-down bluegrass version of our song — which was a complete surprise to Joe. It was one of our favorite moments of the wedding. When we walked back up the aisle as a married couple, they played the song again, but this time in its original temp. Our first dance was “It’s Your Love” by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. I am a huge Tim McGraw fan and Joe agreed that was the perfect love song for such a special moment.

How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Joe’s youngest sister is my best friend from college. I had never met her older brother Joe, but she always joked that I should marry him because then I would be “Lauren Bull Schmitt.” (My maiden name is Bull and Joe’s last name is Schmitt). It became a joke of ours throughout our four years at college. I finally met Joe at his sister’s graduation party and it was love at first sight!
Describe the proposal. Joe had a very difficult challenge of trying to surprise me. I knew a proposal was coming and was definitely looking for signs of when it would be! Joe came home one night from work with all of my favorite foods for dinner and I immediately thought he was definitely proposing that night. We grilled outside on the deck and listened to music with the tiki torches lit. We finished dinner and it still hadn’t happened. It started to rain and I decided I was going inside. I decided I was wrong and it wouldn’t be that night. I went inside and sat on the couch to watch one of my favorite shows — Law & Order SVU. Joe was in the kitchen washing dishes and I was not paying attention to him. All of the sudden, I heard a loud commotion and what sounded like him running into the family room. I turned to look and see what had happened. Joe was on one knee right in front of me with a ring and giddily said, “Will you marry me??” He definitely caught me off guard! He said he planned it that way and called it the “sneak attack proposal!”
In what month did you get married? September
How many guests attended your wedding? 180
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I think having to limit ourselves was difficult at times. We had to choose what was really important to us to be included and what “extras” we did not necessarily need.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on?We were really happy with the two bands that played at the wedding. We loved having the bluegrass band set the tone for the wedding while playing at our ceremony and cocktail hour. The Real Geniuses, the ’80s cover band that played at our reception, was awesome and ensured that the reception was one big dance party.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? There were so many! One that really sticks out in both of our minds was when the reverend read the “Blessing of the Hands.” It was after the vows and we were holding hands, looking right at each other. That was the moment where we both had to fight back tears!
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Decide on a budget right away and then decide what aspects of your wedding are most important to you and your future spouse. For us, the photographer and band were the most important and we splurged on them. It is really easy to go over budget quickly, so plan carefully!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are looking forward to continuing the life we’ve made in Richmond and eventually starting a family. In the near future, we expect many nights snuggling on the couch with our dog and watching Law & Order!

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Ashleigh reply

    Love those hokie orange dresses. Have to assume you’re Hokie fans since it was in VA – and who else would you root for?

  2. avatar bridaldressuk reply

    Beautiful, what a lovely day it looked.

  3. avatar kelcey reply

    What brand are your brideamaid dresses? They are adorable! :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Laura reply

    This is absolutely stunning! Beautiful, Gabe!!

  2. avatar Kaleigh reply

    Beautiful dress!! Looks like an amazing wedding. Congratulations

  3. avatar Kelsey reply

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

  4. avatar Erin McLean reply

    Gorgeous!! I love all the details!!

  5. avatar gabe aceves reply

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

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  7. avatar Brenda reply

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

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Yesterday we traveled to gorgeous Charleston, and today, we’re “up North” in Virginia! V5’s Virginia is for Lovers shoot was set at the beautiful Tuckahoe Plantation, which is both the boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson and an active wedding venue! A few shots of the lovely property:

Even though we were visiting on the hottest summer day, everything was still breathtakingly beautiful! Katie Stoops did a magnificent job capturing the scene, including a few classic Southern details, like this gold foil and letterpress monogram invitation by The Lettered Olive.

You just never know how things are going to work out at a photo shoot, and I love that our bride ended up wearing earrings belonging to Courtney, our stylist!

This beautiful gown is by Pronovias, from Bella Rosa Bridal in Richmond, and if I’m remembering correctly, is about $2,000! A steal for such a classic and lovely design.

Recognize anyone familiar? We were thrilled to welcome back Marissa, one of our readers, who modeled for us last year in the Charleston polo shoot! (That’s her on the right.) She came to our V5 launch party, too, so we have a very soft place for her in our hearts.

There’s something kind of old-school about the round menus laid on top of the china, but I really love it! The Lettered Olive did a beautiful job with these, too.

Little gold bells – such a sweet way to mark the bride’s and groom’s chairs! We got ours from Create for Less.

Courtney arranged all of our mid-summer flowers, using blooms from wholesaler Fifty Flowers, local Richmond source Belona Botanical Farm, and Whole Foods!

One thing I can tell you: After a hard day’s work in the sun, even the intense heat didn’t zap our appetites! Luckily Gay from A Pimento Catering was on hand, and she let us sample a few of her goodies, including mini fried green tomatoes!

As always, things ended on a sweet note with a modern masterpiece by Maggie Austin. She based the design off the invitation suite! On a behind the scenes note, we generally don’t like to photograph cakes being held by people, because, well, it’s not like any of you would hire a person to hold your cake for the duration of your reception, but we simply ran out of time on this shoot! Putting a bridesmaid to work for a few minutes was quicker than setting up another table display :)

Two little parting favors: Gold bells to be rung as the newlyweds departed, and petite jars of pickled vegetables!

Be sure to pick up your copy of V5 to read more details!

Katie Stoops and Merriment Events are fabulous members of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Melissa V reply

    I may be partial to Charleston (this weekend!!) but I’m loving this Virginia shoot! The colors, the cake…all gorgeous!

  2. avatar annabella charles reply

    OMG… LOVE this shoot. well done darlings

  3. avatar Marissa R. reply

    This will remain a very special memory for me, just as the Charleston shoot has. Thank you for the lovely opportunity to share in the making of this beautiful day!

  4. avatar Madelynne Moulton reply

    That cake is to die for and I absolutely ADORE that gown!

  5. avatar The girls from By Invitation Only reply

    Simply gorgeous! We’re in love with everything about this wedding.

  6. avatar Kelly reply

    Beautiful work you all!

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  9. avatar Brooke reply

    Beautiful! Although I live in Chapel Hill, Tuckahoe Plantation is just minutes from my family’s house in Richmond, and the school I went to has an alumni oyster roast there every year. You did a fabulous job capturing it!

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  14. avatar phyllis reply

    I love the round dinner menu on the plates! Haven’t seen this before. Nice touch!
    phyllis from

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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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