My husband and I have been married for six months now and while marriage has been anything but what I expected (thank you pandemic for the majority of that haha), I am so lucky to be married to such a kind and wonderful man. I think it finally time I get around to writing about our wedding day and sharing some of the gorgeous pictures our amazing photographer Haley took.
Ryan and I had a whirlwind romance. We met and were dating less than a week later, said "I love you" about a month in, started living together not even three months in, and knew we wanted to get married fairly early on in the relationship. While initially both of us were down to elope, we decided to be more logical and wait so we could save some money and have the wedding we deserved.
I've always wanted to get married in the fall/winter and more specifically, I wanted to get married in December. It's the happiest time of the year and everything is decorated and beautiful for the holidays so why wouldn't I want my wedding day to share in that magic. So we decided on December 15, 2019, exactly a year and three months after we started dating.
We rented an AirBnB Saturday and Sunday for our wedding party to hang out and get in ready in. There was a huge bathroom with giant windows for the girls to get ready in and a game room for the guys to entertain themselves while they hung out before getting ready. Ryan and I decided that the whole "don't see the bride before the wedding" thing only applied to when I was in my dress so we all got up wedding day morning fairly early to make breakfast, chill and hang out together. My friend Caitlyn made pancakes, eggs, and bacon for everyone like the hero she is, and after eating and somewhat cleaning up, we all separated to get ready.
My bridesmaid Danielle's older sister Haley did most of the wedding party's hair for the wedding. Haley's been cutting and doing my hair since I was in middle school so it was really awesome to have her be apart of my big day. She made me look and feel amazing.
My friend Caitlyn and I split doing everyone's makeup including my own. I spend way too much money on makeup products and love doing makeup so I opted out of hiring a professional. I bought the sparkliest eyeshadow I could find so I could glow on my big day.
I got these fun Christmas pajamas from Kohl's for each of the girls in the wedding party to get ready and take pictures in. They looked so good on everyone and were the comfiest things ever, like I just wanted to lay down and take a nap in them the whole time. Getting ready and hanging out with my best friends in the whole world was just what I needed to calm the nerves before getting married to the love of my life.
My dress and veil were from Anomalie, an online wedding dress boutique that lets you design your own wedding dress at extremely affordable prices. It's about a six-seven month process, but they are so hands on and you get updates at each stage of the dress being made. I was SO happy with how it turned out; it was exactly what I wanted and I just felt like a princess when I put it on.
I got the beautiful pearl and diamond leaf headpiece from Amazon and it matched so well with the dress and veil. The best part about my wedding day outfit was probably my shoes; I had originally planned to wear gold heels but changed my mind last minute for something a little more me and a little more comfortable.
I didn't have a maid of honor because all of my bridesmaids are each special to me in their own way and I didn't know how I could pick a favorite so I didn't. My bridesmaids were huge huge huge support for me in the year leading up to the wedding so I wanted to make sure that they felt special and beautiful as well. Ryan and I picked black dresses because everyone looks good in black and it's very sophisticated and classy looking. Their flowers were made of foam and had a little craft night the night before where we got to put them all the bouquets together.
I love winter wedding where the bridal party has jackets and shawls so my bridesmaid's, Sarah, mom Beth made my entire bridal party shawls for the wedding. The bridesmaids' were champagne gold and mine was a cream white. The shawl's were probably my favorite part about the bridal party's wedding attire; it was so comfortable, warm, beautiful, and something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
My husband is in the Army so he decided to wear his dress blues. I really love how handsome he looks in it so I was 100% here for it.
We went for a more classic look for the the groomsmen with black suits, white button downs, and a gold bow tie. They would have had pretty blue boutonnieres that matched the bridesmaids, but there was a miscommunication and they accidentally got left at the Airbnb. Luckily, my day of coordinator Joy and Caitlyn are both creative geniuses and made some out of extra roses from my bouquet.
At the Venue
The venue was the Aquia Harbour Country Club in Stafford, Virginia and the reason why we chose it is because the top was a restaurant so we didn't have to provide a bar for the wedding and it was perfect for the kind of wedding we wanted. Ryan and I wanted something small, intimate, and extremely classy and the vibe at the country club was absolutely perfect. We maybe invited around 100 people total with only 65ish people who RSVP'd yes; we kept the invite list to mainly family and really close friends.
We got to the venue about 2 hours before the wedding started so we could take wedding party pictures. Ryan and the boys hung out at the bar while the girls did their photos and then we hid in a separate room while they took their pictures. We got SO lucky regarding the weather. There wasn't really any space inside for pictures so we knew ahead of time that we would have to do pretty much all the photos outside. It was like 55-60 degrees outside and sunny, which was amazing because I kid you not, it had been pouring for three days before.
Before the ceremony, we did a "first look," but we did the kind where the groom is blindfolded, the bride isn't, they hold hands around a door or a wall or something, and then the pastor prays over the couple before the ceremony. We forgot to get a blindfold so we had to steal my brother's tie to stand in. I'll admit, I cried more during this than I did the rest of the day. It was such a precious and intimate final moment together before we got married.
Our officiant was Pastor Todd Gaston from Mount Ararat Baptist Church. I've known him since I was like nine and at one point, was really good friends with his oldest daughter. I love the way he talks about Christianity, Jesus, and how we're supposed to live; it's never judgmental and always comes from a place of genuinely wanting people to experience the love of Christ. He's always been someone who has encouraged me and cheered me on and was so welcoming to and accepting of Ryan when they first met. We had such a great experience with him during our pre-marital counseling and he was the perfect choice to marry us.
Our ceremony was small and beautiful and intimate and everything I've ever dreamed it would be. We got married under a beautiful arch that was handmade for us by Ryan's dad, and then we covered it in whimsical sheer fabric and fairy lights. There was maybe forty people there, and it was all family and really close friends. Pastor Todd said some words and read some Scripture and led Ryan and I through some traditional vows before we read our own vows to each other. We did a traditional blanket ceremony and then we were pronounced man and wife, kissed, I attempted to run off with Ryan without being properly introduced as a couple lol, and then we were officially married!
Part of having a small venue meant that we used the same room for the ceremony and the reception so we had to clear everyone out of the room for about fifteen minutes. Ryan and I decided that during this part, in order to use up some of the time that people would have to be out of the room, we would do a group picture! It was such a good idea because now we have such a beautiful memory of everyone who came to our wedding, and it made transitioning into family pictures and wedding party pictures seamless.
The best part about our pictures was that we had the most GORGEOUS sunset behind our venue to take pictures in front of. I kid you not, I spent an entire year planning the timing of our wedding down to the minute so we could have such a beautiful background for our photos. The photos don't do it justice, but I'm telling you it was amazing. It was such a magical and amazing moment and I would have loved to live in it forever. I'll admit, it was starting to get a little chilly around this part of the day, but thanks to the beautiful shawls, I never noticed it.
Dinner and Cake
Obviously, it can't be a good wedding without dinner and a party. The Clubhouse also did the catering and oh MAN did they kill it! The staff was amazing and so on top of everything and the food was amazing.
Plus, I thought the ceremony decor looks beautiful, but the room decorated for the reception was even more amazing. They had a Christmas tree up and we turned the arch from the ceremony into a photobooth. The whole room was just covered in Christmas and fairy lights and it was magical.
My mom volunteered early on in the wedding planning to make the cake/cupcakes for the wedding, and so her along with my little siblings and sister in law spent all day Saturday and Sunday morning baking and decorating. They made cheesecake cupcakes (because Ryan's a diehard cheesecake fan), matcha green tea cupcakes (my personal fav), a chocolate and peppermint cupcake (cause Christmas). Because I'm very type A and everything has to go together, our actual wedding cake was Blue Velvet and it was SO good!
Toasts and Dancing
Since we didn't have a best man or a maid of honor, we didn't ask anyone to give a speech. My friend Caitlyn asked us ahead of time if she could give one during the reception so she did the toast before MC-ing our first dance. She's such a sweet friend to both of us and we were honored to have her be such a big and present part of our day.
Our first dance was the piano version of Love Someone by Lucas Graham and it is such a sweet and romantic song. While we were planning this part, Ryan and I both felt weird about dancing by ourselves for a full three minute song, but also didn't want to cut such a beautiful song down to a minute. After the first verse, Caitlyn invited all of the couples attending the wedding to join our first dance and share the love. It was such a special way to see all of the love and relationships we were surrounded by going into our marriage.
The dancing part of the reception was the most fun and hype part about the whole wedding. I personally made the playlist so a majority of the songs were either Just Dance songs, Taylor Swift, or dance/club songs my coworkers and I play while we clean the bar after hours. My sisters and I did a bunch of the Just Dance dances together, and Ryan and I got to jam and be goofy. My coworkers got super into the Backstreet Boys dance which was awesome. It was just so so so much fun.
T0 end our special day, we did a light up balloon send off. I'll admit, planning this, I thought it was going to go way better lol. By time we got to the send off, half of the balloons were deflated, and the other half got popped because everyone wanted the little LED light inside. Everyone had fun with it, which made it more special for us, and the perfect way to end the day.
All in all, I wouldn't trade our day for the world. Were there things I would do differently if I had the chance to do it again? For sure, but at the same time, the hiccups and messy parts of the day were part of what made it so memorable. If you're planning a wedding, my advice would be don't get hung up on making every little thing perfect. Do your best, and on the day of, just enjoy yourself because the important thing is you get to marry the love of your life.
Here's our amazing wedding video if you want to get a closer glimpse into our day!
Take a shot for all of the crazy mishaps and toast to the rest of my life with my amazing husband.
• Bridesmaids Dresses: Simone Bridesmaid Dress from Azazie
• Day of Coordinator: Joy Moore
• Dress: Anomalie
• Venue: Aquia Harbour Country Club
• Florals: Ling's Moments
• Hair: Haley Taylor
• Photography: HLG Photography
• Rings: Finks Jewelers
• Videographer: Lucas Moore Photography