A Romantic Outdoor Wedding in Virginia
After meeting at a birthday party, Linda and Robert Lee realized they had the same calculus class at James Madison University. Robert quickly saw the benefits of studying with a "huge math nerd," so he asked Linda to prepare for an exam together. They ended up acing the test and finding true love at the same time. Years later, Linda (who works for a government contracting company by day and plans weddings by night) and Robert (a portfolio director at a home loan mortgage company), lived together in Fairfax, Virginia. Ready to tie the knot, Robert planned a proposal for their upcoming vacation to Southern California.
"During the beginning of the trip, we spent our time in Los Angeles," he says. "I was so nervous about losing the ring that I carried it in my backpack. Linda started to wonder why I was bringing my backpack to dinners and everywhere else we went!" The couple eventually ventured down to Palm Springs, where Robert proposed while watching the sunset on a mountaintop. "I awkwardly tried to film the proposal with a GoPro and a selfie stick. I was a bit nervous and forgot to check the angle before starting, so I got the side of the hill with a bunch of rocks!" he says.
Nevertheless Linda said "yes," and the pair got married on September 30, 2017—12 years after they began dating—in Richmond, Virginia. Roughly 120 guests attended the celebration, which had an al fresco dinner, plenty of greenery, and a neutral color palette of gray, blue, and ivory. Kelly sums up the day perfectly: "It's like the feeling our pup, Bear, gets when we give him a big hug: Lots of love and happiness!"
The Stationery Suite
Linda worked with her sister, Julie Shek of Julie Ha Calligraphy, to create the stationery suite. The paper elements had a blue-gray and ivory color palette, modern calligraphy and typography, organic details, and hand-torn edges.
During the ceremony, Robert wore a dark blue suit from The Black Tux to match his groomsmen (he changed into a lighter Thomas Pink suit for the reception). He paired it with a shirt, tie, belt, and cufflinks with little bears on them (as a nod to their dog) from Thomas Pink, as well as shoes from The Black Tux.
Linda initially wanted a delicate lace wedding dress, but after trying on a handful of gowns, she realized the style wasn't for her. Instead, she chose a Sarah Janks number from Lovely Bride in Washington, D.C. It was made of silk crepe fabric and paired nicely with her veil from Enchanted Atelier by Liv Hart.
Linda's sparkly earrings were from Mint Lola.
Wild Green Yonder arranged Linda's bouquet, which was "sculptural, loose, and organically shaped," according to the bride. White blooms (garden roses, dahlias, ranunculus, Queen Anne's lace, gomphrena, scabiosa), textural accents (branches, dried grasses, seed pods), and trailing foliage gave the arrangement a foraged look.
Linda's sister and two closest friends from college served as bridesmaids. They wore dresses by Jenny Yoo in the shade "Denmark Blue." "I had chosen the color and let the gals pick whatever style they loved!" says Linda.
Linda's Blue Nile engagement ring and wedding band were dotted with petite diamonds.
The Ring Bearer
Bear, the couple's goldendoodle, wore a bow tie from Thomas Pink for his ring bearer duties. "We actually think he was the star of the show for the wedding day!" says Linda.
The Ceremony Site
A wooden arch adorned with greenery and white blooms anchored the ceremony site.
Linda's parents walked her down the aisle to Canon in D. The couple's friend, Alex, officiated the ceremony, which included personalized vows. The newlyweds recessed to "Marry You" by Bruno Mars.
Right after that, guests attended cocktail hour in the gardens. Bluewater Kitchen catered the appetizers: wild mushroom fritter, grilled cheese and tomato soup, crispy chicken, and flank steak sliders. "We wanted a longer cocktail hour to give a chance for the guests to explore the grounds and mingle," says the bride.
Vicki Grafton took pictures of the couple around the grounds. "One of our favorite spots was the road leading up to the house," says Linda.
"We read that the tradition was to go to the venue a month before the wedding day and bury a bottle of bourbon to ensure sunny weather. Looks like it did the trick!" says Linda, adding that the weather was warm with some breezy winds on the wedding day.
The Escort Cards
For the escort cards, torn pieces of cream-colored paper with guests' names and table assignments were attached to a gray board. According to Linda, "I underestimated how many escort cards would fit on the board! After several trips to The Home Depot and late night painting and gluing, we finally got it right!" To dress up the display, Julie Ha Calligraphy wrote a quote by an unknown author: "No mountain nor sea, no thing of this world, could keep us apart. Because this is not my world...you are." According to the bride, it represented the couple's mutual love for each other and for hiking.
"We knew we wanted an al fresco family-style dinner, which gave guests a chance to pass food while mingling," says Linda. Everyone sat at two long tables on the property's front lawn. String lights and overhanging branches gave a magical ambiance to the early evening affair.
The Reception Setup
Linda and Robert's wedding design was inspired by organic and natural textures, which created a warm and inviting atmosphere. They used a neutral color palette of gray, ivory, and blue-gray. Gray-toned linens topped the long tables, and wooden chairs served as an eye-pleasing color contrast.
The Sweethearts' Chairs
Ivory fabric and sprigs of greenery distinguished the happy couple's chairs.
Per the couple's request, Wild Green Yonder made the centerpieces with a "dried, aged, and foraged" aesthetic. The arrangements contained elements like garden roses, dahlias, ranunculus, Queen Anne's lace, gomphrena, scabiosa, dried grasses, branches, seed pods, autumn olive, unripe persimmons, and yellowing leaves. They were placed in ceramic vases from D Ceramics. "We thought the centerpieces gave depth and tone, and they went perfectly with the linens," says Linda.
The Place Settings
Simple gray place cards directed guests to their seats. Julie Ha Calligraphy also designed a menu resembling the stationery suite to outline the family-style meal. Dinner started with arugula salad with Asian pears, chèvre, beets, and caramel pecans topped with vinaigrette. For the entrée, Bluewater Kitchen catered a 72-hour braised short rib with butternut squash and potatoes.
As a nod to the buried bourbon, Signature Sweets by Amanda baked a petite two-tiered bourbon wedding cake with salted caramel and brown sugar cream cheese. Dried flowers dressed up the white confection.
The First Dance
Linda and Robert chose a mashup of songs for their first dance. "We started with our song, 'Collide' by Howie Day, then we thought it would be a fun surprise for our guests to have a mashup of 'Uptown Funk' by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, 'Yeah' by Usher, and 'Because of You' by Ne-Yo," explains Linda. "We didn't think guests wouldn't expect it from either of us, and it helped get the reception started." To prepare for the spotlight, the couple took dance lessons every weekend for a month before the big day.
After the celebration, Linda and Robert ventured to Kauai, Hawaii, to spend a relaxing honeymoon in a tropical location.
Photography, Vicki Grafton Photography
Event design, Linda Ha Events
Catering, Bluewater Kitchen
Flowers, Wild Green Yonder
Videography, Josh Gooden Cinematography
Stationery and calligraphy, Julie Ha Calligraphy
Music, AAA Disc Jockeys
Bride's gown, Sarah Janks
Hair, Brianna Adams
Makeup, Anna Breeding
Bridesmaids' dresses, Jenny Yoo
Groom's ceremony suit, shirt, tie, belt, and cufflinks, and Menswear, The Black Tux
Groom's shoes and reception suit, Thomas Pink
Photobooth, Photo Booth of Charlottesville