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Real Wedding | Shelby + Martin

Tell us a little about yourselves!

Martin’s from LA and loves Richmond; Shelby’s from Richmond and loves LA. Martin’s always watching sports; Shelby’s always reading. Martin’s extroverted; Shelby’s more introverted. We’re very different, yet similar in so many ways: we want to see the world and seize everything it has to offer, we care deeply about our people, and we never stop laughing, especially when we’re together.

We met in grad school in Richmond where we studied brand strategy, and we quickly became best friends. We started dating right before graduation when we had already taken jobs on opposite coasts, so we began our relationship long-distance. And distance certainly did make the heart grow fonder.

When the pandemic hit, Shelby moved in with Martin in Richmond, and a few years later - here we are a few years later writing this submission for The Anti-Bride! Now, we live in Brooklyn and are happy to report that married life is truly so much fun.

Why did you decide to get married where you did?

Richmond is where it all started for us. The calm, cozy city was the backdrop for the majority of our love story so far so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share it with our loved ones who hadn’t visited yet and to give all our friends who moved away a reason to come back.

If you haven’t been, Richmond is a beautiful city, steeped in history and creativity. It’s just big enough, it’s just small enough, the people are nice, the food is good, and there’s always something to do.

There are a lot of beautiful venues all across Virginia, but it wasn’t even a question for us that our wedding would be right in our neighborhood: the Fan. We had our wedding at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which is an amazing (and free!) public museum that we visit almost every weekend.

Our ceremony was held in the atrium amongst a gorgeous meadow of grasses and flowers put together by Secret Flowers. Guests then walked through the modern art exhibit, enjoying some stunning paintings and sculptures on their way to the Marble Hall for cocktail hour and the reception. The Marble Hall is a grand space made entirely of - you guessed it - marble. There are small galleries surrounding the room with work from world-class artists like Monet that our guests got to peruse throughout the night.

Our after-party was at Helen’s, which is our favorite bar in the city. We rented a karaoke setup and it was such a huge hit that the queue was already full two hours before the bar closed! We brought in McDonalds for a late-night snack and the espresso martinis were plentiful.

All of these places were less than five blocks from our home, which was the intention from the beginning. We wanted our guests to not only benefit from how convenient and easy it is to get around Richmond, but also to experience the city like we do. Having all of our favorite people in all of our favorite places in our neighborhood was more special than words could ever express.

How many guests did you have?

150. Kate Thompson captured our day.

Tell us about your outfits.

As soon as I started the dress shopping process, my vision came into focus pretty quickly. I knew I wanted a relatively traditional silhouette (which was just about the only thing that I wanted to be traditional), but elevated by unique, modern, funky texture and shape. I found exactly that in the Kristianne dress from Watters. The bodice was a work of art: strapless and structured, with delicate layering of tulle. The skirt brought the drama with its asymmetrical, offset layers of cascading tulle ruffles with hidden rosettes throughout the long train. She was a doozy to bustle, but I couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect dress, especially against the backdrop of the art museum.

This style was echoed through the diagonal details of my gold Ganni sandals. Copenhagen is Martin and I’s favorite city in the world and I loved having a piece of it with me through the Copenhagen-based brand. My earrings were lopsided hoops that I bought in Rome while on a solo trip to Italy earlier in the year. I loved the symbolism they brought: while we’re starting this new chapter together as a unit, it is - and always will be - important to prioritize our own independence too.

I also can’t forget to mention my all-white, pearlescent tailored suit from The Frankie Shop – paired with chrome pointy-toed heels and pearl earrings passed down to me from Martin’s mom – that I wore for the rehearsal dinner and welcome party the night before.

Martin wanted to keep it classic for the wedding, so he went with Brooks Brothers for the tux and Alden for the loafers.

What was the most important aspect for you, in terms of planning your wedding?

It was really important that the wedding felt very “us,”and didn’t become a fulfillment of other people's expectations of what a wedding should be. Working in advertising, we both have strong points of view on what things and experiences should look like. We loved sharing our vision with our vendors, but also watching them do their thing to create each element for the magical day.

Keeping the vibes high was crucial to us. Thankfully, we have a lot of great people around us who know how to have fun and not take things too seriously. Planning the weekend with them in mind made it an overall enjoyable experience, from picking venues to the final karaoke song at the after-party (which was One Last Breath by Creed).

Were there any elements that were important for you to incorporate?

From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to read vows that we had written to each other in front of our loved ones. We both deeply know and respect the power of words, so having the opportunity to give and receive our vows surrounded by a magical meadow of florals, our favorite people in the world, and all the remarkable art in the museum was something we’ll cherish forever.

Shelby’s brother, who was also the Man of Honor, is a phenomenal singer so we knew we wanted to incorporate his talents somehow. He sang an acoustic version of “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen for the father-daughter dance. We loved having the chance to give him the stage and watch him shine in such a meaningful way. Then Martin and his mom danced to “Your Mama Don’t Dance” by The Shakers and brought down the house.

Over the years, Martin has become known for a doodle of a bird that he often draws. For the wedding weekend, we got cocktail napkins and matchbooks made with a bride-and-groom version of his famous bird, complete with the “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird” quote from The Notebook.

Shelby loves to read and is known for her abundant book collection. During the cocktail hour and reception, we set up a bookshelf with a curated selection of love stories that guests could take home with them as a special way to remember the night. We made bookmarks too to round out the library-esque experience.

Any tips for couples getting married?

Be intentional. After you get engaged, sit down and think about what matters most to you. Prioritize those things, and don’t lose sight of them. There are endless wedding vendors and options out there and it’s shockingly easy to fall into choosing cookie-cutter details that might not end up feeling authentic to you.

And remember the end game. We love the people in our lives so much, so remembering that this event was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have them all in one place kept us grounded and helped us make each and every decision in a way that was genuinely true to us.

Are there any vendors that you would like to tell us a little more about?

We could talk for hours about our floral vendor: Secret Flowers. It’s a local business run by two of the most kind, creative women named Nina and Meredith. About a year before the wedding, we showed them a Pinterest board full of wildflowers and they ran with it so far beyond what we could have ever imagined was possible in a museum in Richmond, VA. They foraged for grasses and flowers and sourced the wildest, craziest, coolest blooms and stems. They made the VMFA a magical, otherworldly meadow and paired flowers with fruits and veggies for the dinner tables. Reading our vows surrounded by their art, surrounded by the museum’s art, will forever be a peak life experience for us.

When I was in high school, I worked as a receptionist at a hair salon, and that’s where I met Kourtney Morgan. Almost 15 years later, she spent all morning with me and my best friends styling our hair and making us feel gorgeous. She is not only extremely talented, but an absolute joy to be around, which is crucial to keep the morning calm and happy.

Speaking of calm, our wedding planner, Heather, of The Hive brought a peaceful, centered energy throughout the whole wedding planning process. Avoiding the high stress that can often come with wedding planning was extremely important to us, and she made the entire journey beginning to end, a breeze – for us, at least :) And we have to thank Shelby’s mom as well for keeping the train on the tracks the whole way through. We couldn’t have done it without her project management background, passion for lists, and unconditional love and support.

Our DJ Rudy Lopez kept the whole operation flowing seamlessly and provided banger after banger, keeping the vibes high all night long.

Martin’s dad is an extremely talented chef, and is pretty much famous for his sushi, so for our rehearsal dinner and welcome party, he set up his sushi bar for all to enjoy, pumping out rolls and countless incredible dishes all night long.

No matter how you slice it, a wedding is a big operation. We’re so thankful to each and every person who had a hand in making our day perfect.

Photographer : Kate Thompson @katethompsonweddings | Ceremony + Reception Location : Virginia Museum of Fine Arts @vmfamuseum | Celebrant : Griffin Morrow | Entertainment : DJ Rudy Lopez @rudyhlopez | Planner : Heather Clarke with The Hive @heatherwiththehive | Hire : Rent Equip @rentequipva | Flora : Secret Flowers | Makeup : Society 11:11 @_society1111

Hair : Kourtney Morgan @kourtmorgan_stylist | Cake : Donna’s Baking Creations @donnasbakingcreations | Stationery : Midsummer Paper | Ceremony Dress : Watters @watters from Annalise Bridal @annalisebridal | Reception Dress : Monique Lhuillier @moniquelhuillier | Suit : Brooks Brothers @brooksbrothers | Engagement + Wedding Rings : Emily Warden Designs @emilywardendesigns | Shoes : Ganni @ganni (Shelby) + Alden (Martin) @aldenshoeco


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