"Family is most important to us," says Laura Gordon, whose own springtime wedding to Ryan Strickland was as romantic as they come. Though they attended rival high schools and weren't really acquainted, rumor has it Ryan had a secret crush on his future bride since those high school days. The pair reconnected three years ago, and Ryan proposed at a traditional crab fest at his parents' home, where Laura's parents were also in attendance. Their strong family ties prompted them to plan an intimate April celebration with less than 20 guests.

Laura, a professional wedding photographer, had a quiet dream of marrying at the Virginia House in Richmond, and had been smitten by the historic neighborhood years before while on location at a portrait shoot. With some research and dedication, she and Ryan obtained permission to hold both their ceremony and reception at the beautiful dwelling. "It was just like a big group hug," she says, with guests seated in sheer fabric covered lawn chairs for the sweet ceremony. Having experienced so many varieties of events through her work, Laura wisely assembled a creative stylist and team of professionals she completely trusted, giving them her color and style preferences, but letting their creativity take over. "It was all a surprise to me, and just perfect," she remembers. "I'm inspired by European architecture and texture, but I'm a small town girl who's always lived in Virginia."

Laura's decidedly romantic Samuelle Couture gown, purchased at Spina Bride in New York, was a sheer design of flowing fabric with a pale purple lining. Soft floral appliqu├ęs trimmed the simple bodice, and she added a totally vintage feel with antique-inspired earrings and ring, and a beautiful full-length sheer veil. Both she and her bridesmaids carried garden-style bouquets of creams, greens, light pinks, and burgundy blooms.

Reminiscent of love letters from days gone by, a close friend of Laura's created a French style crest for the couple to use on their handmade invitations and wedding stationery, offering a glimpse of the charming ambience both the historical setting and artistic elements of the evening would create. Making romantic history of their own, Laura and Ryan cherish the photos of the two of them strolling hand-in-hand through the home's garden, and above all, savoring  what they like to describe as "the feel of a big Thanksgiving dinner" during their dinner reception. Lovely garden flowers adorned the table setting, and the pre-dinner cocktail hour offered a charcuterie table and of course, traditional crab cakes! French wine, flowing champagne, and delicious cuisine served family style filled the evening, with toasts, laughter, and love, just the family gathering the newlyweds dreamed of to launch their official new life together!

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Erich McVey/Ginny Au/Nature Composed/Samuelle Couture at Spina Bride New York/Franco's Fine Clothier/Anna Breeding/1213 Hair Studio/Saint Signora/Frou Frou Chic/Virginia House/Trumpet & Horn/Enchanted Atelier by Liv Hart/Mosaic Catering + Events/WPA Bakery/Silverleaf String Quartet
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