planning a mindful and local-loving wedding in richmond
My personal introduction to the world of weddings began as a child, where growing up in the church meant the whole congregation was invited to a church member's wedding to sing hymns, witness nuptials and end with sugary, delicious buttercream iced cake and pastel punch. Our family attended many weddings where I was constantly mesmerized by the pomp and circumstance. This was also a time when fairy tales and my conservative upbringing molded my view of romance and partnership, and influenced the weddings of so many.
Oftentimes, the lead up to a wedding (bachelorette, engagement parties, engagement photo shoots, showers) and all the events and expectations that come with it can feel like a detachment from what it's really is about. The core is simple, two people connecting their lives together authentically, surrounded by the energy of people sacred to them.
So when I proposed to my now wife in 2016, on a casual Wednesday night, I did it because it felt right, my intuition was clear, I asked the universe to send me the signs it was time and it did. I just wanted my partner to keep riding this journey with me and wanted to make a commitment that reflected that. I didn't need a public space to propose, champagne or attention. I just needed her, the summer sky and my bubbling excitement. Everyone is different, some people find delight in public proposals, too.
This same low-key and mindset trickled into the planning of our wedding celebration. We went with a conscious approach which can translate into something different to everyone. For us it was agreeing (with a huge relief on both sides) bachelorette parties, showers and gifts were off the books. We decided no one was taking anyone’s identity so we kept our last names. We also left wedding traditions behind that felt weird and unlike us (garter toss, father daughter dance, the Cupid Shuffle, etc.). One of the hardest things was establishing boundaries with both sides of our family, this is a common theme with anyone getting married. However once those boundaries are established (earlier the better) they're set. During planning, allow you and your partner to take a break and reflect on if your wedding choices are fulfilling your happiness or others? If it is the latter, go deeper with the answer. You are an adult who’s making a pretty big decision, so allow you and your partner to be in control of the day you’re celebrating that big decision without pressure.
Having a mindful wedding isn’t a trendy buzzword, it simply means creating an experience that authentically reflects you, your partner and your love. For us, I was barefoot the entire night, we played the Buffy The Vampire Slayer theme song as we entered the reception, we did not incorporate religion in our ceremony and crystals were scattered on guest tables. I think the best thing any guest could walk away from a wedding saying is “their wedding was so them.”
This all being said, supporting local and woman-owned businesses was important to my partner and I. With so many amazing small businesses and creatives in Richmond, choosing vendors was a delight. Each person truly made our experience intimate and unique, yet we also learned a lot of lessons in the process.
Below I've listed everyone who we worked with, wanted to work with or friends who are doing amazing wedding-related things in Richmond.
R I N G S
Brittanny of Sun & Selene is a friend and fellow small business owner who creates stunning jewelry. We were honored she helped revitalize my mother's solitaire diamond engagement ring with the addition of turquoise and rose quartz. I purchased my wife’s ring from Kristen Coffin, a Colorado-based jewelry designer. Nine Roses in the Museum District also creates custom pieces in addition to stunning jewelry offerings.
F O O D
For our reception, we chose a southern fare-inspired menu (including the best sweet potato biscuits ever) from Mosaic Catering. They were wonderful to work with and the food was well received by our guests, but it was pricey. Richmond’s food scene keeps growing and so do catering offering from restaurants. Those options? River City Wood Fire Pizza, Soul Taco, North End Juice, Mean Bird, Alamo BBQ (communication was kind of crappy, a fair warning to all), The Savory Grain, Lunch.Supper. (they also have a venue space for rent).
Our cakes came from our favorite bakery, WPA. Our pear ginger cake with cream cheese icing + coffee cake with chocolate icing was unbeliveable but, even better? They offer gluten free + vegan options. Olivia at Metzger or Kuba Kuba's infamous tres leches cake are excellent local options as well.
M U S I C
We met the woman who would end up being our DJ during a Maven Made pop-up event. She’s no longer providing DJ services but there are several other options in Richmond. Anthony of DJ Ant Boogie might be a familiar (smiling) face since he pumps out amazing music at The Brunch Markets and also owns Little Nomad. I recently attended a Pride event and DJ Ease blew me away. Her DJ skills are sure to get everyone on the dance floor.
F L O W E R S
Kelsey was not only our florist, but a dear friend. She helped us create our first Valentines Day bouquet together and she nailed our wedding day florals. This was the one thing I was most excited about (so much I cried when she unveiled my flower crown). Kelsey is has since moved away but Amanda Burnette, Pistil + Stamen, and Hummingbird Gardens are wonderful local options.
I N V I T E S
Our friend Molly of Rabbit Foot Fern helped us design our beautiful wedding invites, but she’s moved on to other creative endeavors. Wedding invites set an immediate tone, so go with what feels right to you! Locally, Riot + Revel and Merrymaker Fine Paper offers wedding stationary, but you might want to venture out to Instagram or Etsy to find the style the fits best for you.
F A V O R S
For our wedding party and out of town guests we gifted herb-infused cooking salts from Hummingbird Gardens, votive candles, a hangover cure duo with the Headache + Tension roll-on and Quinton Hypertonic vials from Boketto Wellness.
For guest favors, we created custom bar wrappers for milk and vegan dark chocolate bars from Virginia-based Gearharts Fine Chocolates. Another sweet option is A Secret Forest. This local and woman-owned business crafts magical lollypops that guests are sure to remember.
M I S C
Christine Greenberg (of The Hive Wedding Collective) was our day of coordinator. She truly saved our asses when she calmly informed us we were running out of booze during cocktail hour then hopped in her car and drove 30 minutes away to restock our booze. She is cool as a cucumber and can diffuse any drama. We also purchased our Maggie Sottero dresses from Christine's shop, Urban Set Bride.
I was on the fence about hiring a day of coordinator since we had a small 60 person wedding but I'm so glad we did. If you're on the fence, do it - saves lots of running around on a day you should enjoy.
We chose Seven Springs (about 45 minutes from RVA) for our wedding venue since it was minimal, flexible for any weather and was not a plantation (please everyone, stop getting married on plantation land where humans were enslaved, separated and violated). It was a beautiful space, but to be transparent we has a pretty off-putting experience with the customer service there. Fair warning.
We couldn't think of anyone better to marry us than our friend Drew, we followed this simple process for him to officiate our wedding.