A Jewel-Toned Summer Wedding at a Virginia Vineyard
It's rare that two people know each other for 13 years before realizing there's something more between them, but that's exactly what happened with Dawn and Rich. They were first introduced by Dawn's best friend as students at Virginia State University, and although they didn't immediately click on a romantic level, a decade-plus friendship ensued. When they ultimately noticed the undeniable attraction they shared, Dawn, a procurement analyst with the Environmental Protection Agency, and Rich, the owner of a community-based mental health agency, decided to give a relationship a shot. "I hesitated about wrecking a friendship if things didn't work out," remembers Dawn, before adding that "Rich made me totally comfortable with the long-term possibility of 'us.'"
Over Easter weekend of 2017, Rich's mother came to meet Dawn's family and celebrate the holiday with them. Unbeknownst to Dawn, Rich had called a meeting with her parents and his mother so that he could ask Dawn's parents' permission to pop the question. Rich knew that family is what matters most to his future wife, thus he intentionally included them throughout the entire proposal process.
After enjoying their holiday meal, Dawn noticed her father take out his phone as if he were going to start shooting a video, which she thought was a bit odd. It all made sense when Rich entered the room, got down on one knee, and asked her if she'd marry him. Enamored, she had the ring on her finger within seconds before he snatched it back and asked if she was going to say "yes." Long story short, she accepted the proposal and the planning began for the couple's ethereal, floral-filled vineyard wedding. On June 23, 2018, 200 friends and family members gathered at Veritas Vineyard and Winery in Afton, Virginia, to watch the couple exchange vows. The Virginia-based duo will always remember the day as "a glorious affair full of love, family, friends, great food, and wine!" The floral-heavy décor was inspired in part by the colors and music of the Harlem Renaissance, the sophistication and timelessness of fashion and art, and a little Kentucky Derby style.
The event had a "garden party formal" dress code. Dawn wore a silk chiffon wedding dress by Modern Trousseau that featured embellishments at the waist. She paired it with a simple veil from Hitched Bridal Couture, the same bridal salon where she bought her gown. Rich sported a French blue suit and crisp white shirt as well as a rose-colored bow tie and pocket square, all from Geoffrey Lewis. His brown shoes were by Magnanni.
At this wedding, even the shoes had flowers! Dawn's ornate heels by Charles David featured neutral-hued fabric blooms.
A Moment with Mom
Dawn shared an emotional moment with her mother before the wedding.
The First Look
Rich stood inside the doorway of the vineyard's ballroom while Dawn waited on the patio for the pair's first look. Before they saw each other, they held hands.
Pink and Purple Ladies
Dawn's bridal party was made up of her sister, best friend, and various college friends. Rich's daughter (and Dawn's soon-to-be stepdaughter) served as a junior bridesmaid and his best friend's daughter was the flower girl. In a nod to the event's jewel-toned color scheme, the dresses were a mix of raspberry and deep purple designs by Bari Jay and Hayley Paige.
Her Colorful Bouquet
Rich's groomsmen wore navy blue suits by Jos. A. Bank, which they accessorized with burgundy floral lapel pins. In addition to Dawn's brother, the groomsmen were a mix of Rich's best friends and fraternity brothers. The youngest member of the groom's party was the bride's godson.
To Have and to Hold
Rich paused with the couple's six-month-old son, Eric, who sported a pink suit for the big day.
Dawn and Rich were married on the winery's back lawn, overlooking the vineyard.
Dawn's godson arrived at the ceremony in style, tucked into a wagon adorned with a "Here Comes the Bride" sign.
The glowing bride's father walked her down the aisle to Eric Benet's "Spend My Life with You."
Flowers and Candles
Southern Blooms created a floral altar for the big day, complete with blooms in shades of magenta, fuchsia, and scarlet as well as light green and pink. The pair's religious ceremony, which was officiated by Dawn's cousin, Reverend Bobby L. Smith of Mount Olive Baptist Church, was personalized with a unity candle ritual and self-penned vows.
The happy couple exited the ceremony to the sounds of "Love Star" by Common.
The Reception Setup
Following the ceremony, everyone moved to the tasting room and veranda for cocktail hour, where a band played light jazz, neo soul, and R&B, while servers passed drinks and passed appetizers.
For the reception, Amore Events decked out the winery's ballroom with a long table for the wedding party and round tables for guests. Tablescapes featured vintage glass candle holders and arrangements of pink roses with trailing greenery.
The Place Settings
Each place setting was made up of gold plates and flatware and a French blue napkin. For dinner, guests enjoyed Veritas Vineyard and Winery specialties such as crispy gnocchi with lemon cream, seared trout with chèvre polenta and lump crab Beurre Blanc, and Saltimbocca-style flank steak with gruyère and spinach stuffing.
The First Dance
The duo selected Daniel Caesar and H.E.R.'s "Best Part" for their first dance as newlyweds. "We liked that it was a duet and perfectly describes how we feel about each other," says Dawn of the song choice.
Maliha Creations whipped up a stunning confection, complete with cascading flowers in colors similar to that of the bridal bouquet and a rose gold "paint drip" effect with watercolor streaks in berry hues. Inside the cake, there were a number of delicious flavors to be savored, including almond cake with Nutella, raspberry jam, and fresh raspberries; chocolate cake with bourbon buttercream and chocolate ganache; and lemon cake with cream cheese frosting and strawberry jam.
Armed with sparklers, guests lined the brick walkway leading to the ballroom to wish the newlyweds well. Dawn had changed into a custom KennyKas jumpsuit—her signature garment.
Of the epic send-off Rich says, "My favorite moment of the night was the sparkler exit and seeing everybody outside waiting for us."
Photography, Lynn Dunston Photography
Location, catering, and lighting, Veritas Vineyard and Winery
Event planning, Amore Events
Flowers, Southern Blooms
Videography, George Street Photo & Video
Officiant, Reverend Bobby L. Smith of Mount Olive Baptist Church
Cake, Maliha Creations
Rentals, MS Events
Bride's jumpsuit, KennyKas
Hair, Pretty iZ Hair Salon
Makeup, Makeup by Toshia
Groom's suit, Geoffrey Lewis
Menswear, Jos. A. Bank
Transportation, Quick's Bus Company