RVA

Sarah + Elliot's Richmond, Virginia Wedding | Graduate Hotel RVA + Lewis Ginter Recreation Center

Richmond, Virginia Modern Jewish Wedding

Inspired by Art Deco, Fashion and Cultural Heritage

Congratulations to Sarah & Elliot, who are celebrating their one year anniversary today! I can’t believe it’s been 365 days since these two RVA cat-parents said “We Do” in front of their family and friends. A year later, I am still swooning over their gorgeous wedding and am so honored to feature their photos on today’s blog post for all to enjoy. I was told that these two lovebirds are having cake to celebrate today and I’m so happy for them! So please, raise your glasses for Sarah + Elliot on this joyous occasion + send them love in the comments below!

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HOW THEY MET

Sarah and Elliot are high school sweethearts. It was said that, “Sarah laughed at Elliot's jokes on her 17th birthday at an improv show. A few weeks later, was Sarah's prom which she went to with another boy. Her neighbor, Lorin, whom she somewhat forced to go to Prom brought Elliot. They had dinner at Eggspectation and Elliot sat across from Sarah. Elliot continued his jokes all through dinner and made it a fun evening. Sarah danced at Prom, and saw Elliot looking at her throughout the night.”

At that time, Elliot had dreads and also drove a motorcycle. That was a bit concerning for Sarah’s mum (Amy) but it eventually Elliot’s personality and practicality grew on her. When Sarah expressed her desire to go out with Elliot, Lorin set up a date for the two of them. That grew into several outings which included eating freeze-dried ice cream, watching movies and a lot of swings. Finally, Elliot asked Sarah to go out with her. And then they went off to college… Sarah at a school 9 hours away and Elliot at VCU. They did the long distance thing for awhile until Sarah transferred to VCU and moved to Richmond.

Through jobs, transitions, moves and saving stray kitties (Oreo - who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and Pistachio - a huge lover boy tabby who loves to pose for the camera) after college, Sarah and Elliot moved back to Richmond to start the life they always wanted to have together: making custom tables, painting, remodeling their home, overseas travel, going out to enjoy Richmond’s foodie scene and of course, spending time with each other and their (now) 4 feline kids.

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THE PROPOSAL

From Sarah: It was sweetly awkward. We went to this new footbridge they put up over the James (The Pipeline Riverwalk), because it was a beautiful day. I was getting hangry so I thought we should get some dinner. I started walking back, and looked back because Elliot wasn't next to me. He was down on one knee with the sunset behind him.”

Check out the engagement photos from the Pipeline Riverwalk + other RVA locations that we did in Fall 2017!

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WEDDING INSPIRATION

Art Deco, Vintage, Offbeat/Alternative, Fashion-Inspired, Jewish in the River City

The Graduate Hotel RVA was the official location for Getting Ready and the Ketubah Signing for Sarah & Elliot. With it’s modern-meets-hip & preppy vibe, the Graduate was the perfect backdrop for those pre-wedding candids that we have all come to love. The Ketubah is a Jewish prenuptial agreement. It is considered an integral part of the marriage, to be completed after sunset the night before the wedding. Two witnesses are also present during the signing of this document the Ketubah is traditionally read out loud under the Chuppah.

The Chuppah is a canopy under which a Jewish couple stands during their wedding ceremony. This one was made out of birch wood. Sarah, being the artist she is, sent a piece of linen with her wedding invitations and as a part of their RSVP, asked her guests to write prayers, well-wishes, draw a picture, to simply create artwork on the linen squares and mail it back so that she could stitch everything together. The symbolism behind this is that the couple was to be covered with the prayers of their loved ones as they joined their lives together.

Another unique addition at this wedding was the inclusion of a Memories Room across from the ceremony site. In this unique retro space, Elliot’s mom filled the old wooden built-in bookshelves, ledges and tables with a gallery of framed photos of Sarah & Elliot, their trophies, photo albums, certificates, as well as photos and momentos from family members who have passed on. Most wedding receptions feature a simple memory table, but Sarah & Elliot were lucky enough to have an entire room to fill with their most precious memories. This gave guests the opportunity to pause and reflect on the journey of life these two have been through during their last decade of love and to celebrate the new memories that will soon be created.

And finally, the Horah, a traditional Jewish wedding dance that originated from the Balkans, where the bride and groom are lifted above the crowd on chairs and their family/friends dance around them.

MY FAVORITE PART OF THE WEDDING

It’s super hard to pick just one favorite part of the wedding as there were so many integral moments that made the day special for these two beauties… so I’ll choose my top 3 that are not already mentioned:

1.) First Look with Sarah’s sister, Zina (who was so surprised upon seeing Sarah’s wedding “garment”) and her adorable niece Maddie

2.) Intimate Mother-Daughter moments between Sarah and Amy

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ABOUT THE WEDDING JUMPSUIT (from Sarah’s Instagram post)

When Elliot and I set the date, I asked for people's thoughts on my design. I got "people are going to think you are a lesbian," "you only get married once-wear a dress like a lady," and "I don't think it is a good idea to make it yourself". I was nervous to do this, and procrastinated because I started changing my vision to fit others. I made a whole wedding dress, but hated every minute of it. 1 week before I said "I do!"... I decided to make a jumpsuit instead. I told only my fiance at first, because I did not want to hear people telling me not to. My now husband fit me in my muslin sample, something I thought he couldn't do before because it wouldn't be a stupid surprise. In 3 days, I made myself a wedding jumpsuit. It was not perfect. I wish I had time for pockets, a little more fabric to lengthen the torso and hips, the lining is still basted at the hem; but I made a jumpsuit for my wedding which is what my vision always was. 

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MAZEL TOV, Sarah & Elliot for having me document your most special and fantastic wedding weekend festivities! I feel so blessed to have been a part of your celebration. Wishing you all the best as you celebrate your first wedding anniversary today and every day! Love you both so much!

———-

VENDORS:

Photography: Laurentina Photography

Venues: The Graduate Hotel, RVA and Lewis Ginter Recreation Center

Wedding Planner: Best Day Ever Gathering and Events

Hair & Makeup: Bombshell RVA

Rabbi/Officiant: Rabbi Bonny Grosz

Florist: Strawberry Fields Flowers & Finds

Cake/Cupcakes: Pearl’s Bake Shoppe

Donuts: Country Style Donuts

Donut Wall: Max Lopez

Bridal Jumpsuit: Created by the Bride (Sarah) herself!

Bridal Shoes: Sole Society

Ketubah Calligraphy: Morgan Swank Studio

Wording from Ketubah/Hebrew: Ketubah.com

Flower Headpiece: Fabric Flowers by M&S Schmalberg

Jewerly: Etsy










Best Engagement Session Locations in RVA

Richmond, Virginia is one of my favorite East Coast cities.

A true gem in the heart of the Old Dominion.

The city reminds me SO much of Austin, Texas... and vibrates with funky murals, culture, tattoo parlors, great food, live music and an overall laid-back atmosphere. It is the perfect escape from the hustle of Washington, DC and all points North. 

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When Sarah & Elliott decided on their current hometown for their engagement portraits, I jumped on the opportunity to travel down to RVA for their session. As a DC and Destination Photographer, I love exploring not only new locations... but also locations that are known by locals and definitely "off the beaten path". 

These two adventurous, cat-adoring lovebirds + kitty parents rocked their portrait session and showed me the best of what Richmond has to offer. Not to mention: Elliott hates cilantro and Sarah could live off peanut butter. 

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Here are some of my favorite locations for an engagement session in the River City!

Pipeline Overlook Footbridge

From Sarah: "We went to this new footbridge they put up over the James, because it was a beautiful day. I was getting hangry so I thought we should get some dinner. I started walking back, and turned around because Elliot wasn't next to me. He was down on one knee with the sunset behind him."

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This new footbridge is the ultimate concrete nature walk and goes through the James River Park. This walk is NOT for the faint of heart and is a beautiful way to capture your couple surrounded by the power of the rapids, flowing from the James River.  Don't forget to inhale and exhale as the water sweeps below you. The Pipeline Walkway can be accessed from either Brown's Island or down a ladder from 14th Street. More details HERE

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Canal Walk Murals

As one Yelper so aptly state, "It doesn't get more Richmond than this!" Industrial brick and steel beams frame the many colorful murals in this walk. For this photo shoot, we focused on a few of the murals closer to the river and even used a rustic Richmond sign with its coordinates on it, to celebrate Sarah & Elliott's love for their favorite city and current (possibly forever) hometown!

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I mean... it doesn't get any better than this! No wonder these two VCU graduates love this city and are staying here for LIFE!

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Pedestrian Bridge to Brown's Island

T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge is an amazing spot to soak up the sunset after a fun-filled day in the city. There are even benches you can sit on to take in the views and plenty of opportunities for people-watching. All of us were elated with the epic sunset that we witnessed at the very end of the engagement session. It made us fall in love with RVA all over again! 

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I hope you enjoyed this blog post, featuring my favorite engagement session locations in Richmond and also the ever awesome Sarah & Elliott! Two weeks from now, they will be official "Mrs. and Mr." and I can't wait to document their April 29th, 2018 WEDDING!