Southern weddings are usually steeped high in customs and ceremonies that are nothing short of endearing. When Catherine and Benjamin were planning their Richmond wedding, they made sure to include a bourbon burial and unearthing to hold off the rain for their big day (definitely a big deal in the south). Around her Tommy’s Garden bouquet, Catherine wrapped a handkerchief that her maternal grandmother had on her wedding day. She also commissioned Incredible Edibles Bakery to create a carrot cake tier since it was her paternal grandmother’s favorite. These touching gestures carry on through David Abel‘s lens as he captured some of the most heartfelt scenes during Catherine and Benjamin’s fall wedding. Not going to lie, the tender moments from this Virginia wedding took our breath away.
In their own words
How did you meet?
Ben and I met at the end of October in 2014, through mutual friends at Postbellum, a restaurant in the Fan in Richmond, Virginia. That night, as we were seated around a table on the rooftop bar, he mentioned his amateur beer brewing experience and I already knew I wanted to get to know him better – so I asked for his phone number – and he asked to see me again! The very next day I met up with Ben at a local brewery to see his friend play music. Ben didn’t know if I would show up, so he had invited his parents as well. I got to meet them the afternoon after Ben and I first met!
Ben and I should have known each other our whole lives. We both went to an International Baccalaureate program in middle school, but Ben was the grade above me and went on to a different high school than I did. We also had mutual friends while at Virginia Tech; I can remember going to a few fraternity parties my freshman year which we later realized were in his apartment! It wasn’t until this fateful night in October 2014 that we met through Ben’s fraternity brother – who shared mutual friends with from middle school!
Ben spent the better part of two years supporting me through my Architecture licensure exams. Within the week I finished that process of becoming a licensed architect, we closed on buying our home, and adopted our puppy Dudley.
What is your proposal story?
Ben was supposed to take me to Portico, a restaurant in Goochland County, Virginia, a few weeks before we actually went. My parents and Ben ended up throwing me a lovely surprise party to celebrate the fact that I had become a licensed architect on the night we had those ‘reservations’ instead.
The night we finally got to Portico was November 10th, the night of the first frost in Richmond, so it was very cold. Ben and I got a lovely dinner and had a cozy time in a secluded part of the restaurant, but as the plates were being taken away he began to seem anxious. Right then, a couple was seated next to us and began to order their drinks.
Ben proceeds to launch into telling me how much I have meant to him all of these years, and why our relationship is so perfect. The next thing I knew, he was down on his knee asking me to marry him! I, of course, was speechless, but able to say yes as he put the ring on my finger. Side note – that couple that was seated right next to us? Both of them equally freaked out as he was going down on his knee. She screamed out “OH MY GOSH ARE YOU PROPOSING?!?!” and he turns to Ben, on his knee, and asks if he should record this moment. Too funny!
We were given less than a moment before everyone around us came over to congratulate us, and the owner of the restaurant brought us glasses of champagne to celebrate. He suggested we head to their fireplace outside (which luckily also had some blankets to keep us from getting too cold!) We spent some time together reveling in our new engagement and getting excited about the next stage of our lives together.
What was the most important to the two of you while planning? Was there anything that you chose to splurge on or skip?
Our vows and our first dance were the most important moments of the day to us. Those were the two times we had that were entirely our own, to show the ones we loved most what our love meant to us. We took phrases from many different religious and non-religious vows and combined them to come up with our vow to each other, which was displayed at our cake table during the reception.
We also took dance lessons to familiarize ourselves with how to best dance to our song – Adventure of a Lifetime by Coldplay. Knowing it was a more upbeat song, we wanted to have an idea of what we were doing while still being able to relax and enjoy dancing together! We also chose to splurge on uplighting at the venue, as it gave us the softer glows around the room that really helped for photos and setting the mood.
We skipped a champagne toast because I firmly believe that everyone should have a choice on what they toast with – and champagne is not for everyone! We also splurged a little with giant draperies at the doors into the ballroom and greenery to compliment those drapes with pullbacks. We also got a full band which was a VERY important part of the awesome party atmosphere they helped create.
What were your favorite parts of the day?
We adored every moment we had alone together. We dug up our buried bottle of Woodford Reserve together with our photographer, David Abel, and wedding planner, Colleen Cook, after the ceremony but before the reception. It was a fun moment in the craziness of the day to reflect with each other on the commitment we were making away from our friends and families. We also realized after the ceremony that I had completely forgotten my veil! We all laughed about it, and many were so complimentary of the back of the dress they were shocked I considered covering it up with a veil!
We also were so excited to surprise everyone with such an upbeat song for our first dance, some great dance moves, and the surprise confetti at the end of the song!
Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?
I advise that you quickly make it your own, and remember what is important to you both. We found ourselves stressing about what other people want and need and at the end of the day, its YOUR wedding… enjoy every minute for yourselves.
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