Modern romance

West meets east in a fashionable fest

Ashley Cox

Rachel Berenbaum & Kevin HughesSeptember 9, 2017, at Big Spring Farm

When it came to finding inspiration for their Virginia wedding, Rachel and Kevin looked a bit farther away than normal—nearly 3,000 miles, in fact, to California, where they’d been living for the past four years. They decided to meld the two styles, taking advantage of Virginia’s lush Blue Ridge landscape, but adding some contemporary West Elm-esque elements.

Rachel and Kevin dated for eight years (including a year and a half-long engagement) after meeting their freshman year at the University of Mary Washington. Halfway through their relationship, they moved to California together.

That presented itself in everything from the flowers (“a mix of favorites from Virginia, like magnolia foliage and white ranunculus, where our relationship began, and a mix of wildflower favorites from California (like the blush King Protea and white Dahlias), where we really flourished as a couple”) to the décor (“modern and structured, not draped or organic,” Rachel says).

In lieu of a guest book, Rachel and Kevin asked guests to write them a note and put it inside a gold foil heart-shaped piñata on the welcome table. They plan to open them on their first anniversary.

Of course, planning a wedding in Virginia from their home in California presented some challenges, so some of their choices were dictated purely by distance. For instance, colors were kept to a minimum (black linens, white chairs) and used only as an accent in flowers and attire “to ensure the palette would match,” Rachel says. Limiting what they DIYed, the bride designed the save the date, wedding invitations, menus, programs and bar signage herself.

Have your planner build in some time—only the two of you—following the ceremony “to be fully present with just each other and recharge between the chaos of the day and conversations with loved ones,” Rachel says.

When planning, start by making a list of your most important vendors (caterer, photographer, florist, DJ, etc.) to discern where you’ll spend the bulk of your budget and where you can save.

Prior to the wedding, agree on a few songs that, no matter where you are, you and your new spouse will meet on the dance floor. Says Rachel, “The day goes by so quickly and I’m so glad we made that time for each other.”

Before they met with potential caterers, Rachel and Kevin created a Pinterest board with their dream menu, to see what each would come up with for tastings. The Local delivered: goat cheese quesadillas, honey and rosemary chicken skewers, a build-your-own taco bar and—to satisfy Kevin’s request—a late-night churro station.

When it comes down to it, though, ultimately the couple wanted the day to feel true to themselves: “Wear clothes we felt great in, eat food and drink cocktails we loved and participate in a ceremony true to our values and relationship,” Rachel says. “Staying true to ourselves and what we loved (instead of what was on trend) was the best way to refocus on our direction throughout the planning process.”

The Details

Month-of coordinator: ​Lauren Hill (For Love of Love) Officiant:​ Anand Rao (college professor/mentor from University of Mary Washington) Catering:​ The Local Flowers:​ Lauren Thompson (Bloom Floral Design) Cake: ​Sweet Treats Bakery (Lexington) Music:​ DJ Ian Ali Bride’s attire: ​Lena Medoyeff from Emerald City Gowns (Berkeley, California) Groom’s attire: ​Aspetto (Fredericksburg) Groomsmen’s attire: ​Aspetto Bridesmaids’ dresses:​ Azazie Rings: Brilliant Earth (engagement ring), Spence Diamonds (wedding bands) Hair and makeup: ​Daphne Latham Videographer:​ Hockensmith Photography