Sarah and Ben’s wedding photos remind us that the most important part of a wedding is the love and the joy, and that those are the memories you hope to have captured on film. Details are lovely, but they’re nothing compared to the moments and shared experience of the day…
Sarah’s favorite part of the day? “When I walked down the aisle to meet Ben and we held hands and stood together for a moment, we looked at each other and then at all of our closest family and friends gathered with us and that feeling of intimacy and joy is something that both of us will never forget.”
A special element in the day was the idea of stories and letters, says Sarah, “Combining our individual stories to create our own story. One month before the wedding we wrote a letter to each other every day. We collected these and then combined them, along with letters our family and close friends had written to us, into a book at the wedding. This served as the unity element for our ceremony. We will have that book and those letters forever and that is very special to us.”
Sarah and Ben’s wedding was truly a labor of love, with contributions from friends and family. Says the bride: We have so many talented family and friends, and we were excited to utilize their gifts throughout our wedding. Almost everything had a DIY element, and friends helped organize the whole event. Since our food came from a variety of locations, we had friends pick up, serve and organize the food. Rather than cake, we wanted to have a dessert bar so we asked aunts, cousins and close friends to each provide their signature desserts. The groom is a lover of words and literature, and we had so much fun creating word search seat assignments and a crossword for table entertainment. We also collected various Trivial Pursuit games from thrift stores so guests could do trivia at their table. It was so fun adding personal elements to almost everything!
Sarah answered some questions about the day:
Why did you choose this location for your wedding? We absolutely love living in the Shenandoah Valley so we wanted a location that displayed the beauty of the country and rolling hills. We also knew we wanted an outside wedding. Spring Meadows combined the rustic, natural elements we were looking for with Southern class and showed off the country in a beautiful way. We were also able to have the ceremony outside with an indoor barn reception (already decorated with wonderful lights) all at the same location so it brought everything together just perfectly.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We wanted our wedding celebration to reflect our personalities. Rather than having a theme color, we just went for general shades that reflected the soft and elegant look we were going for. I couldn’t believe how everything came together on the day just like I had pictured it in my head!
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? Our wedding was fairly non-traditional all around, but we did have some fun twists on traditional elements. For instance, I didn’t wear something old, new, borrowed or blue. But my mom shared a wonderful gift with me, telling me that sometimes “…and a six pence for your shoe” is added to the end of that phrase. She gave me a six pence that she and my grandma wore and so I wore that in my shoe and hope to pass it on to my daughter one day.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? The best advice I received was that wedding planning is only stressful if you let it be. You can choose to let it be stressful, or you can choose for it to be an exciting time of planning and creating something you’ve envisioned for a long time. While it wasn’t easy to be positive all the time, this mentality really helped it be something to look forward to rather than dread.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? We did a lot of thrift store shopping for decorations, food utensils, games, etc. Not only did it add a unique element but it was fun searching! We also borrowed and utilized things from friends and the community, like borrowing dishes from our church. This was a great way to cut down on costs!
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of the day? I just couldn’t help but think that it rains on the important days in my life. I was born in Africa in a very dry area, and the rains started right when my mom went into labor with me: a storm that eventually broke a 7-year drought. The midwives at the hospital named me Muthlalepula which means “she brings the rain,” and this name is considered to be a blessing. On our wedding day, the clouds were threatening all day as we were getting ready. There was a brief downpour five minutes before the ceremony, but it passed and was sunny so we had the ceremony outside. Mid-way through, thunder rumbled in the distance and dark clouds gathered. But we were able to continue and finish in time. When all the guests had gathered in the barn for the reception, the storm hit and rain started pouring. My family thought this was significant, and we saw it was a blessing!
Photography: The Pinwheel Collective / Venue: Spring Meadows in Mt. Solon, Virginia (private residence; contact firstname.lastname@example.org) / Bride’s dress: Watters / Hair accessory: Lo Boheme / Groom’s shirt, tie: JCPenney / Groom’s pants: Banana Republic / Invitations, programs: Steven Mark Stauffer / Flowers: Joy Coakley (contact email@example.com)