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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
  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!

  11. avatar Brooke & John Get Married at Public Landing – Blushing Blog reply

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Y’all have been such a hoot to get to know with our Sit a Spell Series! We’d love to bond a little more, so over the next few weeks, each of us will be giving you a look into our dream wedding — what our inspiration is, what we’d want to wear, and the great Southern traditions we’d love to include. Next up? Sierra’s Southern wedding!

It’s started: My friends are already asking me what type of wedding I want to have. And man, that is a good question! I feel like working for a wedding magazine and blog, you start to like many different things — things you would never have considered before. You’re exposed to so much that you could really go in a few different directions for your own wedding. Oh yes, and those friends? They’ve also begun teasing that they’re not inviting me to their weddings because they won’t be as nice as those featured on SW (I’m sure they’re only joking about the invite!)

When putting together these boards, I told Emily that I wish I could wait until after the V4 real wedding posts went out on the blog, because they were ALL I could think about for my inspiration! (I particularly loved Katie + Max, Camille + Mark and Jodi + Kurt’s!).

Now I just need to find a dapper Southern gentleman! Any suggestions?

Image credit from left to right and top to bottom: Braedon Flynn, Clary Photo, Jill Thomas, Vue Photography, Spindle Photography, Leila Peterson via Wedding Chicks, 1313 Photography

Tell us the basics. Where do you want to get married and when? How many people would you invite? I would like to get married near the beach but not on the beach (that way, family and friends could head over and have some fun during the wedding weekend – no sunburns, please). Current possibilities are Charleston, Savannah or Wilmington. I would guess 100-150 people and in the spring or early summer.

What’s your design inspiration and color palette? I based my color palette off a combo I saw somewhere that included tan, a soft yellow, peach, coral and light blue. My dream wedding would be light, fun and crafty. In the office a year or so ago, we went around and defined what we thought each person’s wedding style would be for a branding exercise. The girls said they pictured something natural for me, and I agree. I don’t want anything too over the top.

What details and traditions would you include in your ceremony? Ideally, I would love for my wedding ceremony to be in a church or on the grounds of a plantation with a beautiful altar setup. The men would certainly be wearing bow ties. There would be a bluegrass band, Southern-inspired programs, and I just loved the monogrammed handkerchief idea in V4!

What dress would you wear? I am completely devastated that Priscilla of Boston is closing because I wanted to wear a Priscilla of Boston gown. They seem to be perfect for Southern brides — not too crazy and very classic. Would it be absurd for me to buy one about three years in advance? Generally, I like dresses with a little bit of lace and/or beading, but with an overall elegant aesthetic. I don’t want to have a dress that wears me, you know?

Image credit from left to right and top to bottom: Jessica Lorren, Jose Villa, from Martha Stewart, Jen Huang via Style Unveiled, dress by Ivy & Aster, Jenna Walker via Style Me Pretty, Our Labor of Love

What would your flowers look like? My current favorites include: gardenias, tree peonies, clematis, hellebores, tree peonies, tulips and billy balls. The bouquet could be something simple, like fluffy, white peonies or a yellow and pink combo like Jen Huang’s photo above. For the table setting, I would like colorful arrangements similar to those in Katie + Max or Camille + Mark’s wedding.

What details and traditions would you include in your reception? There would certainly be a live band and dancing. I love the custom bottle labels in V4’s Southern Meets Nantucket shoot by Trent Bailey. I would also include a fun groom’s cake!

What food would you serve? Like Marissa, I’m a big fan of Southern comfort food. There would be chicken, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, pinto beans and most importantly, a blackberry cobbler from the Dutch oven. I also loved the chicken and waffles from V4! We tried to put lots of Southern food into the issue.

Where would you honeymoon? We would honeymoon in the Caribbean, somewhere tropical and warm. I am literally envisioning scenes from The Bachelor. Does anyone else watch that show?! Emily and I are super fans.

What’s most important to you about weddings? The celebration of love. It’s possibly the only time in your life that you will have all of your friends and family together in one spot to just let loose and celebrate well, you!

What do you think, ladies?

P.S. Want to check out our past dream weddings?

Written with love by Sierra
  1. avatar Madelynne Miller reply

    What a beautiful and unique color palette! I am devastated that I didn’t know Priscilla was going to close or I would have waited to buy my gown from there – it’s INSANE how cheap they are now! You could always check if there’s a particular POB dress you want. Hands down, POB has the best collections out there – so MANY options and so unique and beautiful. Your wedding will be beautiful too!

    • avatar Sierra reply

      Thanks for the kind words, Madelynne! Yes, maybe it will be even more special if I snag a POB gown because it will be unique and technically vintage by then!

  2. avatar Kelly Cummings (Spindle Photography) reply

    Gorgeous color palette!

    Also, Eek! I love that you used Ashley’s bridal shot in your inspiration board! I also love that you’ll be having mac and cheese at your reception. If I find you a dapper southern man to marry can I be on the guestlist?

  3. avatar Deborah Piland reply

    The wedding would be beautiful because you are beautiful, and I would know! What color do you see the mother of the bride wearing? Would your Dad wear a bow tie too?

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Do I spy another game of corn hole? Brilliant! What picnic wedding would be complete without some lawn games? This casual Kentucky wedding looks like the perfect summer soiree. Katie + Brian enlisted the help of their family and friends to make the gathering even more personal. The bride’s mom canned dilly beans for the appetizer table and picked her own mint for the mint juleps! While the newlyweds served cupcakes from Gigi’s Cupcakes and donuts from Krispy Kreme, Katie’s high school friend also made them a small cake to cut into. The personal touches make this soiree even more Southern!

See all the photos from Katie + Brian’s wedding in their Real Wedding Gallery!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Well, definitely the bourbon since that’s a favorite of Brian’s and we were in Kentucky – we even used old bourbon barrels with burlap for our bar. We served local microbrewery beer and Virginia wine in honor of my home state. My mom canned dilly beans for the appetizer table and brought her own mint to be used for the mint juleps. The menu was Southern themed– pulled pork and chicken with green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, baked beans, and coleslaw. Also, our groomsmen rocked seersucker pants and many of the guests wore hats in honor of a May wedding in Kentucky.
Describe your wedding cake: We served mini cupcakes and Krispy Kreme donuts to our guests. However, we did have a small cake to cut – my high school friend made and decorated our cake for us and even used my grandparents’ original cake topper from their wedding over 50 years ago.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Planning everything from Michigan without a point person in Louisville – there was a LOT of emailing and we were booked solid whenever we went down for a planning weekend.
What range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000 for 240 people
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Our photographer! Josh from Bella Grace was amazing.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? So hard to narrow this down – definitely walking down the aisle to Brian, and on a less serious note, getting pelted with lavender buds as we boarded the trolley from the church.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Relaxing! We’re exploring Michigan this summer and planning our Hawaii honeymoon this winter

Photographer: Bella Grace Studios // Coordinator: Allure Events // Ceremony venue: Saint Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church // Reception venue: Historic Locust Grove // Florist: The Greenery // Wedding Cake Baker: friend // Cupcakes: Gigi’s Cupcakes // Donuts: Krispy Kreme // Caterer: Terri Williams // Paper Products: Ink Parade Paperie // Bride’s Dress: I Do Too Bridal // Bride’s Hair Accessories/Veil: Hair flower from midoridesigns, clutch from KellysKeepsakes // Accessories: Bridesmaids’ earrings by J Gorkowski Jewelry // Hair & makeup: Joseph’s Salon

nicoleyang Written with love by Nicole
  1. avatar Katie reply

    Oh my goodness, Krispy Kreme AND Gigi’s?, that’s the power couple of desserts for sure! This wedding is so fun and cheerful! And the backdrop for the reception is stunning!

  2. avatar Wedding Links Around the Web | 7centerpieces reply

    […] out this Kentucky picnic wedding here and here via the Southern Weddings blog.  It’s crazy […]

  3. avatar Monthly Round-Up :: June 2011 « Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] MENSWEAR: We love these dapper men! Marissa chose the Southern and preppy bow ties sported at Katie + Brian’s wedding. Emily loved the […]

  4. avatar 8 ways to add yellow to your wedding | Brooklyn Bride – Modern Wedding Blog reply

    […] Yellow flowers  |  yellow cupcakes   |  yellow cutlery  |  yellow shoes  |  yellow candies  |  yellow tablecloth  |  yellow drinks |  yellow straws […]

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