Personal statements

An at-home wedding with serious style

Sam Stroud

repurposed Dairy Queen sign signaled to guests that they’d arrived at the right place—Finnson Oaks, the bride’s childhood home. Just as it was important to include a nod to the family business (the Petersons have owned Dairy Queens since the 1950s), Laura couldn’t have seen getting married anywhere other than the house she grew up in.

“When my family moved to Staunton 30 years ago, my dad pointed at our house and said, ‘That is the house I want to live in someday,’” Laura says. “Thirteen years later, we moved there. I remember when he told me this story as a teenager and I thought, ‘I cannot get married anywhere else.’”

At 5'2", Laura got a few giggles at her request for a massive, lush bouquet. It turned out just as she wanted, but, she says, “I will admit that I didn’t think how heavy it would be. During the ceremony we kept passing it down to a different person because it probably weighed 20 pounds!”

The couple utilized all of the property, hosting the cocktail hour in the front yard, and creating three areas in the back—a main area for tables and chairs, a koi pond and pergola where the cake was set surrounded by a fire pit and a dance floor a few steps up from the dining space.

With the setting decided, other details fell into place thanks to the couple’s innate sense of style. Laura, for instance, knew she wanted to wear dark oxblood-colored lipstick, and used that as inspiration for flowers. Stephen saw a photo of Ryan Gosling in a navy blue suit, which helped him decide what to wear. Laura’s boho dress guided the direction of the wedding’s décor, as in the plant-dyed silk ribbon that draped everywhere from the two-person swing to the front steps.

In all, Laura says they couldn’t have asked for a day that was more perfectly “them.” And, just in case you were wondering, yes, the wedding included DQ blizzards.

“We had my aunt and grandma make 150 blizzards and drive them from Winchester to the wedding and surprised my Dad with them during the reception,” Laura says.

A coworker of Stephen’s (and a friend of Laura’s) helped get them together, urging Stephen to ask Laura on a date. Because they’d both recently gotten out of relationships, they were reluctant to pursue anything new (Laura even made him wait for three hours on their first date!). “However, once we started talking, I knew why [our friend] had introduced us,” Laura says. “It was a perfect match.”

The couple opted for food stations—a barbecue table, a lighter table with salmon and Mediterranean fare and a Virginia cheese board and antipasti table—rather than plated entrées, to give guests some variety and encourage mingling.

For guests who might be fading after a long day of revelry, Laura and Stephen hired a coffee cart to perk up the party after dinner and cake.

The Details

Event planner: Adam Donovan-Groves (Donovan-Groves Events) Ceremony venue: Trinity Episcopal Church (Staunton) Reception venue: Finnson Oaks (the bride’s childhood home) Officiant: Reverend Dr. Paul S. Nancarrow and John Lane Catering: Mike Lund Flowers: Southern Blooms and Silk & Willow Ribbons Cake: Maliha Creations Music: The Free (Sam Hill Entertainment) Bride’s dress: Rue De Seine from Lovely Bride Shoes: Manolo Blahnik  Groom’s attire: The Black Tux Groomsmen’s attire: The Black Tux Bridesmaids’ dresses: Bella Bridesmaids Rings: Diamonds Direct and David Yurman Hair and makeup: Elle Style Studio Videographer: Ian’s Creations Coffee cart: Nomad Mobile Coffee