A Romantic Outdoor Wedding in Virginia

linda robert wedding couple smile
Vicki Grafton Photography

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!"

Watch Linda and Robert's wedding video by Josh Gooden Cinematography.

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The Stationery Suite

linda robert wedding invitation
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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The Fashions

linda robert wedding couple
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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The Earrings

linda robert wedding earrings
Vicki Grafton Photography

Linda's sparkly earrings were from Mint Lola.

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The Shoes

linda robert wedding shoes
Vicki Grafton Photography

A lover of flat shoes, Linda bought her white wedding footwear from Amazon.

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The Bouquet

linda robert wedding bouquet
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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The Bridesmaids

linda robert wedding bridesmaids
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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The Groomsmen

linda robert wedding groomsmen
Vicki Grafton Photography

Robert chose three of his closest childhood friends as groomsmen. They looked dapper in blue suits from The Black Tux. Before the ceremony, the men enjoyed glasses of Johnnie Walker Platinum Label, a big-day gift the groom received from one of his attendants.

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The Rings

linda robert wedding rings
Vicki Grafton Photography

Linda's Blue Nile engagement ring and wedding band were dotted with petite diamonds.

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The Ring Bearer

linda robert wedding couple dog smile
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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The Ceremony Site

linda robert wedding ceremony arch
Vicki Grafton Photography

A wooden arch adorned with greenery and white blooms anchored the ceremony site.

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The Ceremony

linda robert wedding ceremony recessional
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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The Portraits

linda robert wedding couple kiss
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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Buried Bourbon

linda robert wedding whiskey
Vicki Grafton Photography

"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.

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The Escort Cards

linda robert wedding escort card tree
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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The Reception

linda robert wedding reception table
Vicki Grafton Photography

"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.

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The Reception Setup

linda robert wedding reception table setting
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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The Sweethearts' Chairs

linda robert wedding chairbacks
Vicki Grafton Photography

Ivory fabric and sprigs of greenery distinguished the happy couple's chairs.

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The Centerpieces

linda robert wedding centerpiece
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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The Place Settings

linda robert wedding place setting
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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The Cake

linda robert wedding cake
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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The First Dance

linda robert wedding first dance
Vicki Grafton Photography

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.

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linda robert wedding couple embrace
Vicki Grafton Photography

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

Cake, Signature Sweets by Amanda

Music, AAA Disc Jockeys

Bride's gown, Sarah Janks

Bride's accessories, Enchanted Atelier by Liv Hart (veil); Mint Lola (earrings); Blue Nile (rings); Amazon (shoes)

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

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