A Star-Spangled Military Wedding in Charlottesville, Virginia
Their alma mater was the center of these college sweethearts' wedding
Anne and Staton
Anne, a business consultant, and Staton, a lieutenant in the United States Navy, first met in 2009 as students at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. Anne, then a rising junior, was on campus for the summer, taking a college course while subletting a room with her sorority sisters. One of her roommates, who would later become a bridesmaid, was friends with Staton, a football player who stayed over break for practice. They began hanging out and, by the middle of the following semester, their friendship turned into a relationship.
After graduation, Staton joined the Navy and moved to sunny San Diego, with Anne following soon after. Seven years following that fateful summer, Staton was about to leave for a six-month deployment overseas so the couple took a vacation to Charleston, South Carolina. Carrying a ring in his pocket throughout the entire trip, Staton waited for the perfect moment to propose. He finally got down on one knee towards the end of the trip, asking Anne the easiest question she's ever answered—"will you marry me?"—while they drank coffee on the hotel balcony.
And so, nearly 11 months later, on October 29, 2016, Anne and Staton were joined by 193 of their loved ones to wed where they first met—at UVA.
The stationery suite and save-the-dates, by Sue Corral Ink, mixed elements of traditional invitations, like the handwritten lettering on the envelopes (done by Martha Rasco), and printed gray foliage to match their moody, natural theme.
Anne and her mom created the welcome bags, filling them with snacks representing the bride and grooms' past. Included were bags of popcorn from Iowa Popcorn Company (Anne's home state) and austiNuts from Austin, Texas, where Staton grew up. La Vache Microcreamery caramels from Charlottesville tied it back to where the couple met. "We set up an assembly line to make all the bags the week of the wedding," Anne says. "My dad thought we were crazy."
"After getting engaged we both agreed that we could not picture our wedding anywhere other than in Charlottesville," Anne says. Thus, it was an obvious choice for the bride and groom to tie the knot at the University Chapel. Located next to UVA's iconic rotunda, the ceremony venue symbolized the beginning of new life chapters—both as a couple and now as husband and wife.
Anne tried on this Rue de Seine stunner with a lace bodice and washed silk skirt during her first dress appointment, but gave it a pass. After trying on 60 other dresses, she came back to her number one, pairing it with strappy Badgley Mischka stilettos. The groom donned his U.S. Navy uniform, setting the precedent for the day's attire, Service Dress Blues.
Gray All the Way
The bridesmaids wore gray Joanna August gowns in a style of their choosing, allowing them to feel beautiful and comfortable in the Southern autumn breeze.
Men About Town
Staton's brother served as his best man. His son—Staton's nephew—was the ring bearer for the ceremony, carrying a football down the aisle instead of a pillow to honor the groom's time on the UVA football team.
"This was actually one of the most stressful things leading up to the wedding," Anne says of her littlest attendant. After weeks of ordering dresses and not finding "the one," she emailed a retailer on Etsy to see if they could rush an order. They agreed, and received the dress only five days before the wedding. "Thank goodness it fit perfectly and our niece was absolutely obsessed with it," Anne says. "For her, the wedding day was all about the flower girl."
Here Comes the Bride
The father-of-the-bride walked his daughter down the aisle to Jeremiah Clarke's "Trumpet Voluntary in D," played by an organist.
Anne and Staton wanted to include some of the groom's Navy friends who weren't featured in the wedding party, so they participated in the Arch of Swords tradition, where swords, sabers, or rifles are used to salute the newly married couple as they exit the ceremony.
The happy couple took a few photos together on the gorgeous autumn day before rejoining the celebration.
Take a Seat
The bride took charge of making the seating chart for the reception at the Clifton Inn, printing guests' names onto thick, textured paper and adding a blue watercolor ombré to the bottom edge. She then attached the cards to a large wooden board with a rustic edge at the elegant occasion.
The entrance to the reception tent, overlooking the Clifton Inn's pool area, served as a place where guests could chat. Lights and lanterns added ambience to the already picturesque scene.
Under the Big Top
"Before I knew anything about the direction we would take with the reception décor, I knew I wanted trees inside the reception tent," Anne says. To accomplish this, Southern Blooms placed six trees at the base of the tent poles. Twinkling lanterns were then hung from the branches, giving the exact look they envisioned.
Dark gray velvet linens from La Tavola Fine Linen were paired with blue and white plates to add texture to the table setting. Centerpieces of parrot tulips, dahlias, roses, hydrangeas, and assorted greenery were arranged in footed compotes. "I wanted there to be an abundance of foliage and textures, almost like deep in a forest," Anne says. "But also elegant."
Fig-ment of Imagination
Calligraphed names of guests were pinned onto gilded figs. Anne's maid of honor even cut hers open to see if the fruit was real. It was.
"We love art that is more abstract and now [we] have a truly unique piece to display in our home," Anne says of the creation made by a live event painter, Kay Sutherland. The couple saw one at a wedding a few years ago, and, with support from the brides' parents after presenting the idea ("My dad was obsessed," she says), decided to do the same.
Anne and Staton are big fans of donuts, so their reception featured a truck that served the tasty treats along with hot apple cider and coffee.
One hour after dinner and halfway through dancing, the couple set up a whiskey tasting bar that featured five of their favorite spirits.
The newlyweds couldn't decide on just one kind of cake—"all of the flavors in our tasting were delicious!" says the bride—so they chose two: a hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting, and a white option with raspberry filling. Before the reception, one of the swordsman asked the happy couple if they wanted to partake in another Navy tradition and cut the three-tiered confection with a sword. They said yes, and the last-minute decision was a hit with guests.
Let the Good Times Roll
"The vintage limousine was one of our favorite parts of our wedding day," the bride says of the luxury ride from Albemarle Limousine. She and her parents rode it together on their way to the ceremony, and Staton and Anne took a spin en route to the reception, allowing for a private moment in the middle of a whirlwind day. "We were ready to sit back, pop some champagne, and revel in the fact that we were now husband and wife!"
Photography, Jen Fariello Photography
Location, University Chapel (ceremony); The Clifton Inn (reception)
Event Planning, Meghan Streit of Shindig Weddings and Events
Catering, The Clifton Inn
Flowers, Southern Blooms
Videography, Kevin Hursh of Hursh Films
Stationary, Sue Corral Ink
Calligraphy, Martha Rasco
Cake, Favorite Cakes
Rentals, MS Events
Bride's gown, Rue de Seine
Hair, Lucas Shaffer
Makeup, Rouge 9
Bridesmaids' dresses, Joanna August
Lighting, Skyline Tent Company
Transportation, Albemarle Limousine
Painter, Kay Sutherland
Donut truck, Carpe Donut
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