Real RVA Wedding: Elise & Ethan’s Country Club Wedding
Elise & Ethan
September 5, 2015
Elise and Ethan first met the night before Valentine’s Day at Virginia Tech. Over the course of the next five years, fate continuously made their paths cross until finally, Ethan returned to the East Coast from San Francisco for a job opportunity. The two spent as much time as possible together, and Elise eventually moved from DC to RVA to be closer to Ethan and attend VCU for her Master’s. One year later, to celebrate Elise’s first year of grad school, she and Ethan headed to Veritas Winery where he got down on one knee.
How He Asked
Elise tells us, “I just finished my first year of graduate school at VCU. It had been a pretty stressful year adjusting to being back in school and also living together for the first time. We received an invitation to Ethan’s boss’s wedding at the end of May in Charlottesville. Feeling like we needed some time away to celebrate the end of my first year of school, Ethan suggested that we head to Charlottesville a day early, stay at the Veritas Bed and Breakfast, and go wine tasting.
Earlier that week, Ethan left me a note on the kitchen table with one of his credit cards and told me to treat myself to a new dress for the wedding (I was being really frugal while in school, so I figured he was just being sweet and took advantage of the offer!). On Thursday, he came home from work and picked me up. As we drove out of Richmond, dark storm clouds were coming in. Since Ethan’s an arborist, storms often mess up our plans if he needs to be around to deal with the damage to trees. But this time, he just kept driving. We arrived at Veritas and checked in to our room before making our way downstairs for happy hour. The weather was gorgeous so we walked around in the gardens while enjoying our wine. At one point we headed back inside to grab a snack and Ethan mentioned that he thought he left the windows down on the car. When he came back in, we filled up our glasses and headed out back.
Ethan was being really quiet so I asked him what was wrong. I thought he was upset about heading out when a storm was coming in. I put my arm around his waist to comfort him, and I felt a large box. My heart jumped and before I could even think of what was going on Ethan was down on one knee. ‘I don’t really want to wait 13 years to marry you,’ he said, “Will you marry me?” We had a running joke that we were going to wait 13 years to get married – really just to give our friends a break from all the weddings in your 20s, and give them one to look forward to in 13 years. Lucky for me, neither of us were serious about that one. I was shaking and crying with excitement as I said yes. The inn keeper came running out with champagne. She had watched it all happen from the kitchen and caught a video of the proposal on her phone. We had a wonderful dinner on the porch together before we called our parents to tell them the news.”
“Our colors were charcoal gray, navy blue, and coral. Deciding on colors was really hard for me. I couldn’t stop looking on Pinterest trying to find the right combination of colors to help guide my decisions, but I never found it. In the end, the bridesmaid dress dictated the colors. I wanted to find a natural color that was flattering on everyone, but that also had a lot of contrast from my dress. Gray was a hard color to choose because there are so many different shades, and lighting really changes the color.”
Coral added the perfect pop of color in the flowers against the gray and blue.
The Perfect Place
Elise & Ethan had thought they wanted a destination wedding, but eventually realized it only felt right to have their wedding in their city. Elise says, “We thought we had to have a destination wedding for people to have a fun and memorable time, but we were so wrong. We had a destination – it was Richmond!” Guests enjoyed cruising down Monument Avenue, visiting the VMFA, walking the Capital Trail, and much more.
After visiting venues & churches in the Northern Neck area, Elise pictured herself walking down the aisle at the church she & Ethan had recently joined, Reveille United Methodist Church. Elise says, “We really love this church, and I started wondering why we hadn’t considered it. Ethan happened to be thinking the same thing. On that drive back, we decided to get married in Richmond.”
“We planned the entire ceremony together. Our pastor talked us through some of the details, but we selected all of the readings, psalms, and details of the ceremony. It was really important to us that the ceremony was memorable. We incorporated a lot of personal touches. We decided to offer communion at the service – many of our guests came up to us afterwards to say how much they loved that we were the ones serving communion. Each guest had the opportunity to come up and see us as they walked through the serving line.”
“While searching for a venue in Richmond, we searched the internet for blog posts featuring photos of our favorite venues. One Saturday, while sitting on our couch scanning some wedding blogs, Ethan said ‘Well, we may not have a reception venue, or a date yet, but I just found our photographer.” He loved Steven’s eye for photography the minute he saw it.
Ethan says, “Steven sees things the way I want them to be seen. I could tell by the photos in the blog that he wrote a story with the pictures. He knows how to hook you into the photo. That’s exactly the type of talent I was looking for in our wedding photographer.” The two actually chose their final wedding date based on Steven’s availability!
“We love that we are E&E. We incorporated the tree/nature theme with our E&E on the invitations by putting the monogram inside a wreath image. I really wanted to bring the image of the wreath on the invite to live on our wedding day by having two large wreaths on the church doors. My now sister-in-law is a horticulturalist and she offered to help make this happen.”
“During the early stages of working with the Country Club of Virginia, I came across a photo of a wedding reception in the Westhampton Ballroom with the entire ceiling lit up and sparkling. It was an added expense, but I loved how magical it made the room look!”
“While we planned this day as a celebration of our marriage to one another, we found ways to celebrate the relationships, marriages, and friendships that melded us and brought us together. As our guests RSVPd to our wedding, each was asked to submit their first dance song. We gave the list to our band and asked them to play the songs throughout dinner. One of our favorite moments was watching as friends and family realized it was “their song,” took each others hand, and walked out to share an intimate dance on the open ballroom floor.”
“We love the water, the James River, and taking our kayaks out to paddle around, so we decided for our guest book that we would get two wooden paddles for guests to sign.”
“I know our guests were wowed by the band. We’ve been to some really fun weddings before, but there was not a single guest at ours that didn’t bring their dancing shoes. The dance floor was packed with our favorite people, a rockin’ band, and huge smiles on everyone’s faces. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding where the bride was on the dance floor the entire time – but I was! The band was incredible. I didn’t want to miss any of it.”
“Of course, we couldn’t have a wedding celebrating the marriage of two Hokies without some orange and maroon. I had the groom’s cake made as a VT with orange and maroon frosting. At the end of the night, our friends and family crowded around with orange and maroon pom-poms jumping up and down to enter sandman as we took off as husband and wife.”
Photography: Steven & Lily Photography
Rehearsal Dinner: The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing
Ceremony Music: Lyric String Quartet
Jeweler: Diamond’s Direct Richmond
Bridesmaid Dresses: Bridal Elegance
Transportation: Down Under Limousine
Accommodations: Omni Richmond Hotel
Videography: Gray Fox Films
Ceremony Site: Reveille United Methodist Church Sanctuary
Reception Site & Catering: The Country Club of Virginia, Westhampton Clubhouse
Officiant: Rev. Douglas J. Forrester
Additional Ceremony Music: Cathy Armistead (Director of Music Ministries, Reveille United Methodist Church)
Gown & Veil: Love Couture Bridal
Shoes: Jessica Simpson, Nordstrom
Hair & Makeup: Avenue 42
Formalwear: Alton Lane & Jos. A. Bank
Invitations & Stationery: Dear June Paperie
Flowers: Flowers by Natalie
Lighting: Mosaic Catering and Events
Band: A-Town A-List, Sam Hill Entertainment
Cake: Gourmand Bakery
Favors: Arbor Day Foundation
Honeymoon: Grand Hyatt, Kauai