Tell us a little about yourselves!
Eric and I have been together for 5 1/2 years, lived together for 4 1/2 of those in a house (with our cat Pizza). Eric bought in the city we both grew up in. In the beginning we were two very independent people enjoying living alone and building our own lives. We had shared mutual friends since college but never had the opportunity to see each other as more than friends, until a group canoe camping trip brought us together. We live very close to a river and both love to be outdoors, walking, swimming, running, camping, and have paddled our white water canoe down the river together more times than we can count.
Why did you decide to get married where you did?
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was the only place I ever pictured my wedding. It is such a special place to us a couple because we are both from the area and grew up going there as children (I cried happy tears when I left our first meeting with the VMFA staff after booking because it felt too good to be true)! Unfortunately, COVID gathering restrictions took longer to ease than we anticipated, so 4 weeks before our wedding day we had to make the difficult call to keep our original wedding date, cancel the venue, and host everything in our backyard instead. My twin sister Sabrina, who is also an incredible wedding designer, had to convert what she could of our original design to translate to our backyard setting and book all rentals and catering from scratch about a month out from the big day, which was a stressful undertaking to say the least. My (now) husband and I share a little 1920’s bungalow in the southside of the city with a small fenced-in yard that is not used to hosting more than 20 people at a time. Eric spends a lot of time planting and maintaining our property with native plants and luckily some of our favorite flowering trees and vines bloomed just in time for our wedding weekend. The previous homeowners built a stunning structure off the back porch that’s made from the original windows of our house (we call it the “glass house”) that ended up being the perfect setting for our little wedding. While it was a lot more work than we originally planned, our house turned out to be a really special place to host such an important milestone in our lives. The museum ultimately let us have our cake and eat it too by allowing us to take pictures in the art galleries on our wedding day after they closed for the evening with our own security escort, so we got to make our memories in the best of both worlds in the end!
How many guests did you have?
We had to split our original guest count of 50 into 2 groups to comply with small gathering limits and the size of our yard: 20 people (family members only) at a morning ceremony and brunch reception and 30 people at our evening reception/party (friends only). A livestream of the ceremony was available for those that we couldn’t have with us for the first part of the day.
Tell us about your outfits!
My dress was not one I ever thought I could pull off and I ended up ordering 3 dresses (all from BHLDN) and debating over them at home until ultimately making the decision to take the risk on the dress that ended up making me feel great. I knew I made the right decision when Eric cried as soon as he saw me walking down the aisle and my favorite compliment from friends was that it looked “so me”. I wanted something modern, chic, minimal, and timeless that didn’t feel too frou-frou, but that made an impression. Eric hates dressing up and I was surprised when he agreed to try on a tuxedo and actually liked it. The Blk Tux made the process painless. Even though we were in our own backyard I still wanted us to feel sophisticated and formal because we may never see each other that fancy again!
What was the most important aspect for you, in terms of planning your wedding?
For us to feel like ourselves and to stay true to what makes us feel comfortable and unique and to leave behind what didn’t. I didn’t want it to look like any other wedding I had seen. We wanted everyone to feel who we are as a couple because we are pretty private people and wanted to let everyone in on what our lives are like together for a day. Having such an intimate group of people that love us allowed us to do that. The talented vendors we chose were mostly people we’ve been lucky enough to know for a long time and are very special people to us. I have an identical twin sister (Sabrina Hambrick), who also happens to run her own wedding design business that I am incredibly proud of (Sabrina Alison Design) and it was a beyond unique experience to have the person who can already read my mind create and execute my whole wedding. The florist, Hillary Anderson from Vessel + Stem, is a family friend I’ve had the privilege of knowing since high school and watching her career grow over the years into the huge success it is today. It’s so helpful to have people that get you and are excited to think outside the box. Everyone else we worked with, including our photographer Peyton Curry, was so so kind and accommodating through such a tough time for the industry and our last minute planning overhaul. It really made us feel taken care of and special against all odds.
Were there any elements that were important for you to incorporate?
Design overall was very important to me because I am a creative person and also am very proud of the team of incredible vendors we worked with and I wanted to showcase their talents. We fell in love with certain elements of our original venue, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, so Sabrina incorporated a lot of those in our backyard design. Black and white with marble elements, pops of bold modern color, globe lights, clean lines, jazz music, and nods to nature that tied in our love for the river. I wanted our backyard to feel like a sophisticated version of itself. I may have had a stronger vision of what I knew I didn’t want (rhinestones, pastel, cursive writing, garter toss, cheesy traditions) than what I did and our team completely understood and got me. Our favorite part of the day ended up being reciting our original vows to each other. It was important for us to stick to the goal of writing our own vows through the chaos of planning a COVID wedding because it kept us grounded and served as a reminder of why we were doing all of it in the first place. We were both so moved by what the other had chosen to say and it made our day that much more intimate for our family and friends who got to experience that joy with us.
Any tips for couples getting married, particularly during Covid?
Trust your instincts and don’t give up on what you want. It may feel like a lot of work while you are planning, but if you push through you won’t regret all of the memories you make on your day that you will have with you forever. We are so glad to have gone through with a small event rather than postponing and prolonging stress when all we really wanted was to be married to each other and share our love with those that love us. You don’t have to feel “bridal” or do anything you don’t want to do, be prepared to stick to your guns.