This Couple Let Their Florist Surprise Them with the Color Palette on Their Wedding Day

bride and groom smile holding hands outside
Carrie Coleman Photography

While Zoe and Sam attended the same high school—the met in their drivers ed class in 2008—they didn't actually begin dating until their freshman year at Denison University, after they realized they were moving into the same dorm. In 2018, Sam popped the question on a vacation in Mexico, where he presented Zoe with a custom ring designed and sourced by mutual friends—a gemologist and a jeweler—who live in France. "Shipping a diamond ring from Paris in the midst of a snowstorm a week before you are proposing to your partner is not something I would recommend to keep your stress levels low," he says.

After getting engaged, Zoe and Sam booked The Barn at Turkey Ridge in Charlottesville, Virginia, for their 150-person wedding on October 5, 2019. The couple had a simple vision for their big day: Plenty of quality time with their favorite people and an aesthetic entirely based on local flowers—provided by Sungold Flower Co. "Once we saw Sungold's work, we didn't look at a single other florist, and fully trusted them to bring the beauty of the season's flowers to the barn," says Zoe. "It was also important to us to choose a florist with sustainable practices, and who was thoughtful in their sourcing or growing of the flowers."

Though they requested no traditional fall elements—think pumpkins and hay bales—the couple left the rest of the color palette up to the floral designers. "It became a joke in our families that they were attending a summer wedding in October," says Zoe. Every other element—from the bridesmaids' dresses to the transportation—the couple made with one focus: "The people who were a part of our day were what drove so many decisions," says Zoe. "Having this one big decision as an anchor for all of the other little ones made the entire wedding-planning process much easier."

01 of 17

Leafy Greens

green floral design on white wedding invites
Carrie Coleman Photography

Block text and pretty script on the couple's invitation suite from Minted complemented the monochromatic green floral design. "On our RSVP cards, we asked guests to name one song that would get them on the dance floor," says Zoe. "We used this list as inspiration for our band."

02 of 17

An Easy Choice

bride wearing off the shoulder wedding dress holding floral bouquet
Carrie Coleman Photography

Though she scheduled five wedding-dress shopping appointments with her mother, sister, and best friend, Zoe decided on her silk, off-the-shoulder gown from Modern Trousseau almost immediately. "I am an incredibly decisive person, and I knew the minute I put the dress on that it was going to be my wedding dress," she says. "I knew that I didn't want any lace, which limited my options significantly. I also wanted the dress to reflect the vibes of the wedding; it needed to strike the right chord of being appropriately elegant and classic, but not too formal."

03 of 17

Navy 'Maids

bride standing with six bridesmaids wearing long dark blue dresses
Carrie Coleman Photography

While looking for bridesmaids' dresses, Zoe was charmed by a long BHLDN gown with a high neckline. "I wanted the bridesmaids' attire to parallel the elegance and simplicity of my own," she says. "I had a favorite dress in mind, but wanted to choose something that they also loved and felt comfortable in. Several of my bridesmaids went to BHLDN and tried dresses on, unanimously agreeing that their favorite was the one I had originally chosen."

04 of 17

The Bold and the Beautiful

bridal party holding various bright colored floral wedding bouquets
Carrie Coleman Photography

Sungold Flower Co. created bouquets of magnolia, scented geranium, celosia, amaranth, basil, dahlias, and strawflower. "The fragrant basil in my bouquet was immensely calming for pre-wedding jitters, and reminded me of one of the places I feel most peaceful: the kitchen," says Zoe. "Though completely serendipitous, one of my favorite things about the bridesmaids' dresses was how striking the colors of the bouquets looked with the navy blue."

05 of 17

Blue Mood

groom smiles wearing blue suit and printed blue tie
Carrie Coleman Photography

Sam and his groomsmen wore blue suits from The Black Tux, with the groom donning a Liberty London floral tie in shades of blue and green and the other men wearing solid blue chambray iterations. "I gifted wood and leather watches to my groomsmen, which were engraved with their names," says Sam. "I wore one as well!"

06 of 17

Natural Beauty

outdoor wedding ceremony wooden chairs seating
Carrie Coleman Photography

Traditional cross-back chairs in a warm wood finish and a metal arbor crowned with an arrangement of bright flowers contrasted with the lush, natural landscape. "We intentionally did not choose a color palette, only knowing that we wanted lots of greens," says Zoe. "Since our florals were dictated by what was at peak bloom, we knew that they were going to define our palette. We fully trusted our florists to create something beautiful with whatever was growing, so we had no idea what our flowers were going to look like until the day of the wedding."

07 of 17

Ready to Wed

bride walks with father down processional aisle outside
Carrie Coleman Photography

As a cellist performed "Can't Help Falling in Love," Zoe's father escorted her down the aisle—and the bride and groom saw each other for the first time that day. "We decided not to do a first look because we wanted to fully experience the powerful moment of seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle," says Zoe. "We fully embraced the, 'It's your wedding, do what you want' mentality, and can't understate the incredibly emotional and beautiful moment of seeing each other for the first time during the ceremony."

Zoe and Sam remember their first glimpse of each other as one of the most memorable and special parts of their day. "We hadn't seen each other since early that morning and were so genuinely so excited to see each other," says Zoe. "Needless to say, there were tears."

08 of 17

With This Ring

bride and groom stand outside next to metal wedding arch
Carrie Coleman Photography

A friend of the couple wrote and officiated the ceremony, which included references to the couple's self-described "When Harry Met Sally story" and vows Zoe and Sam wrote themselves. "Because our ceremony was officiated by someone we knew so closely, it was extremely special," says Sam. "We gave him a little bit of feedback as he was writing, but his words were all his and it was so incredible to see what shape the ceremony took based off how he sees our relationship. A favorite quote from the ceremony: 'It is a somewhat unlikely, but vibrantly alive partnership where neither of them has become muted in any way. They are fully themselves while growing fully together.'"

09 of 17

Better Together

bride hugs groom kissing him on temple while he smiles hugging her back
Carrie Coleman Photography

Zoe describes the post-ceremony cocktail hour and portrait session as, "Our guests watching us take portraits as Sam longingly looked to socialize with them, because he was stuck in what he lovingly named the 'field of FOMO.'"

10 of 17

Party People

bride and groom standing outside with large wedding party
Carrie Coleman Photography

Throughout the planning process, Zoe and Sam focused on designing a day that honored their friends and family. "We wanted our wedding day to be a celebration of the many wonderful people in our lives who have helped make our relationship what it is," says Zoe. "From day one we were aligned on the most important thing: The people are the most important thing about our wedding."

11 of 17

Say Cheese

cheese and fruit wedding tray on top of book stack
Carrie Coleman Photography

In addition to passed appetizers that included crostini with roasted tomatoes, goat cheese-stuffed dates, and roasted sweet potato bites, Zoe and Sam put together a cheese table in a nod to Zoe's past working as a cheesemonger. "Our relationship is 99% made of love, and 1% made of cheese," says Sam. "We served cheese from Greenwich Cheese Company and included descriptors for each: 'Our Mac & Cheese Magic' and 'Zoe's First Cheese Love.'"

12 of 17

Lights Fantastic

wedding venue bar entrance
Carrie Coleman Photography

Zoe and Sam loved their venue for its "unique barn space that incorporated vintage accents, yet still felt modern." They hosted their seated dinner reception under a dramatic reclaimed chandelier accented by string lights.

13 of 17

A Dirty Job

various green foliage with floral centerpiece reception table decor
Carrie Coleman Photography

Sam took over the task of making a small potted plant for each place setting. "Zoe worked at farmers' markets throughout college, and I manage a garden at my school, so we thought it would be a nice nod to our love for vegetables and gardening," he says. "I was tasked with individually potting those 150 herb and vegetable plants, which I finished the day before, thanks to some extra hands I recruited from friends who had flown in for our wedding."

14 of 17

A Meatless Menu

bright colored floral wedding reception centerpieces next to menu card
Carrie Coleman Photography

The couple rented long wooden farm tables for themselves and family; friends sat at round stations covered in white linens. The vegetarian menu from Roadside Chive included polenta and mushroom-stuffed zucchini boats, smoked salmon, and roasted Brussels sprouts. "Just like the flowers, it was important to us that the food carried some seasonality," says Sam.

Sturdy wooden discs held centerpieces in shades of red, orange, and pink, while combination menus and table numbers detailed the family-style meal. "I love to cook and many of our most treasured moments are sharing food around the dinner table with loved ones," says Zoe. "This was an important element to bring into our wedding, so we served food family-style."

15 of 17

Sweet and Sunny

three tiered white frosted wedding cake with colorful floral accents
Carrie Coleman Photography

Zoe and Sam served a three-tier white cake with raspberry curd and buttercream frosting from Chandler's Bakery; their florist added individual blooms to coordinate with the other arrangements.

16 of 17

Dancing the Night Away

bride and groom smile during first dance inside barn area
Carrie Coleman Photography

After sharing their first dance to "Do You Wanna Kiss Me or Not," the couple and their guests packed the dance floor as musicians from Sam Hill Entertainment jammed all night. "Having a band was very important to us to feed off of the energy of the room; we have some crazy dancers in our lives, and just about everyone was tearing up the dance floor," says Zoe. Sam adds, "It's very possible that some of the barn floor boards had to be replaced after our wedding, and there may or may not have been a Washington Capitals inflatable Stanley Cup involved."

17 of 17


bride and groom walking up hill outside to wedding barn
Carrie Coleman Photography

Photography, Carrie Coleman Photography
The Barn at Turkey Ridge
Roadside Chive
Sungold Flower Co.
Chandler's Bakery
Sam Hill Entertainment
MS Events
Bride's Gown,
Modern Trousseau
Bride's Accessories,
Modern Trousseau veil; DSW shoes; Pearls and Lavender jewelry
Hair and Makeup,
K. Dayberry Bridal
Bridesmaids' Dresses,
Groom's Attire and Menswear,
The Black Tux
Groom's Tie,
Liberty London
Easy Riders Bus Company
Ceremony Sound,
Cville Ceremony Sound
Cheese Table,
Greenwich Cheese Company
Guest Book,
Sign Templates,
Unmeasured Event

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