An Art Deco inspired theme set the mood for this romantic candlelight ceremony at Historic Mankin Mansion in Richmond, VA.
I met Matt one night in April 2008, when we were out with mutual friends downtown. I remember the moment he walked onto the patio with our friend, Forrest. He caught my eye immediately and I was drawn to him. At that time, I lived in Dinwiddie and Matt lived in Richmond. In the weeks that followed, as our paths continuously crossed, we always found ourselves paired off within our group talking, dancing and hanging out around the city. We ultimately, and always unintentionally, wound up together. Weeks turned into months; months turned into years and somewhere along the way, without even realizing it, we became inseparable.
I was sad to have to say goodbye to my best friend when he moved to New Orleans, March 2009. Though, the inconvenience of distance did not stand a chance to fate. After visiting Matt that August, I returned home to a move of my own. I moved to Richmond in the fall of 2009 not knowing at the time that Matt would be moving back to Richmond, January 2010. For the next year we lived a couple of miles apart until Matt moved AGAIN, this time to DC. Along the way, Anna and Zane came to know Matt as my best friend and then as family. They were so happy when Matt finally made one last move three years ago back to Richmond to live with us.
A lot of living has happened in 11 years; changes in cities, career moves, health scares turned into victories and elementary school aged kids that are now driving cars. All in all, 11 years later there is one thing that has never changed. Matt and I are inseparable. From the moment we met, we were drawn to each other and over the years nothing has been able to stand in the way of us being together.
To this day, I cannot tell you exactly when we started dating. We never had an official first date so there has never been any sort of anniversary for us to celebrate. Matt changed that in October when he proposed. I am so indescribably happy we are getting married and I look forward to every day and anniversary ahead.
11 years in the making. It’s taken far too long, but now I will get to spend the rest of my life with the person I was always meant to. I was drawn to Stephanie from the first day we met; multiple cities, apartments, and jobs couldn’t keep us apart and Stephanie has been a consistent bright spot in my life. She is the person I’ve loved being around and spending time with, regardless of where we were or what we were doing. There’s no one I’d rather vacation with, be sick with, wrap presents with, or sit beside while I watch a movie after she falls asleep in the first 15 minutes.
Her hair color has changed, I’m not quite as skinny, we go to bed when we used to start getting ready to go out, but ultimately not a whole lot has really changed in 11 years. I love seeing her smile and laugh, I hate to see her cry, and I love watching Anna and Zane grow up with Stephanie by my side.
The Proposal – His Story
I felt calm and collected on her birthday night this past October, the night I knew I was going to propose. Dinner went well, we were all relaxing in the living room, Stephanie had read her cards and she was opening her presents. Once we were all done, I feigned shock (but my shock, so it was basically very mild, tempered surprise) as I exclaimed (same caveat as the other) “oh, I have one more for you to give to me!” I ran upstairs, grabbed the giant bag I’d filled with the tiny ring box, and brought it downstairs. I handed Stephanie the bag, and then, each and every step more awkward than the last, reached into the bag, pulled out the tiny, red box, and collapsed onto the ground on one knee, more of a jump/slide off the sofa than anything else, landing with a thud. I asked Stephanie to marry me as I opened the box, hugging her amid tears of joy, and after about three minutes of holding the ring awkwardly in one hand frozen off to the side, I asked her if she was even going to look at the ring. She did, and she loved it.
11 years in the making to a short, six-month engagement is quite the pace change, but it was time to speed things up. We have a lot of living to do as a family of four and it seems foolish to put that off any longer than we already have.
My daughter/Maid of Honor was the only person who went shopping with me for my wedding dress. After a day of shopping and finding nothing that made me feel excited, we made one last stop at Mila Bridal. The moment I put my dress on I wanted it. I came out of the dressing room and my daughter’s eyes filled up with tears as she said, “Oh, mom. This is the one. You have to get this one.” Mila Bridal is owned by two sisters who design dresses and they also carry other designers. My dress was one of their designs and it was the only one left of its kind. I loved the old Hollywood feel of my dress. The girls at Mila Bridal were incredible to work with. They made every visit a calm, special experience.
We did see each other before the wedding. We went back and forth trying to decide whether to do so. We are both very happy that we did. We’re really glad that we did not do the sneak up and tap on the shoulder approach to our first look. We stood on opposite sides of a wall/column in the Rockefeller Room at The Historic Mankin Mansion holding hands but not facing one another while we talked for a few minutes. We are really happy that we had those moments alone to talk and then to see each other.
My wedding dress sparked my Art Deco inspiration. I tried it on and fell in love with the old Hollywood look and feel. From there, everything naturally went in that direction. Each bridesmaid wore a different dress mirroring the old Hollywood design inspiration. We included Art Deco details in our accessories, photo booth and even the buttons on Matt’s tuxedo vest. We ordered some Art Deco buttons off of Etsy and replaced his buttons with these. The Art Deco era feels romantic and alluring to me and I loved having it part of our experience.
Matt: My favorite moments were when Stephanie walked into the gallery and began to walk down the aisle, when I held her hands during the ceremony and when our son and daughter gave their toasts during the reception.
Stephanie: The whole day was perfect and wonderful! Some of my favorite moments were when I was standing consumed with love and contentment outside of the Gallery and could hear Always You begin to play and the doors opened so that I could walk to Matt; when Matt stepped toward me to reach for my hands as we were saying our wedding vows and when our daughter and son gave the most amazing toasts that I have ever heard. Other moments that were favorites were when we stood outside the Gallery after the recessional kissing and hugging as our children and the rest of our wedding party joined us celebrating; and when we stepped away for a few minutes to take pictures, just the two of us, in the Gallery and on the grounds.
Advice for future couples planning their wedding
(1) Soak into all of the individual special moments during your wedding day. It is an exciting day filled with emotion and it does go by quickly. You have your whole life’s collection of everyone that you love the most in the world all in the same place and at the same time to celebrate your love for each other. Make yourself pause in all of the individual moments throughout the day so you can soak up every detail…every feeling. Do this so you can carry your feelings from these moments with you forever. (2) Don’t stress out about or spend a lot of money on invitations. No one keeps them. Matt designed ours so that they were aligned with our theme but at minimal cost. (3) Hire Awesomesauce Photography!
Photography | Awesomesauce Photography
Ceremony and Reception Venue | Historic Mankin Mansion
Caterer | White House Catering
Dress Store | miLA Bridal
Hair and Makeup | Salon 23
Groom’s Attire | The Groom’s Corner
Videographer | Memories Videography
Florist | Vogue Flowers
Dessert | Sugar Shack Donuts