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Real Bride Jessica

Christopher and Jessica, the thread actually began very short, you could have measured it in feet. They grew up just around the corner from each other, attended the same church, preschool and even graduated from the same high school. Throughout the years their thread stretched and stretched as their paths moved further apart, and it wouldn’t be until they both left their hometown, that their thread finally pulled them back together, miles away from where their stories began.

These two hearts have been unconsciously seeking each other their whole lives and today we witness their joining in Marriage.

Our parent’s houses were walking distance from each other, we went to the same church preschool and high school even hung out with some of the same people (our younger sisters were even friends) but never officially met until he was going to JMU and we met at a restaurant I had just gotten a job at. When I walked in for training he was like “I know you” that night we hung out after work and stayed up until 4 am talking and then became inseparable. We were in Harrisonburg less than a year (October-May) and then we moved back home where we grew up. So it’s just sort of funny that we never met when we were in the same town our whole lives we move away for a couple of months meet and then moved home. When we moved home we stayed with our parents while we saved up(again walking distance) we would joke that our parents said we had to be home before the street lights came on. haha eventually we got our first apartment a puppy, then get engaged then a second puppy and we bought our first home which is 3 miles from both of our parents and less than a mile from the high school we graduated from.

Location: Murray Hill Events

Photographer: Genevieve Leiper Photography

DJ: DJ Craig Wood Perpetual Sound

Hair and Makeup: Whitney Smoot

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Real Bride Erin

Stefan and I met in 2013 at Virginia Commonwealth University when I was a sophomore and he was a freshman. We were both very active in the same cultural organization, Filipino Americans Coming Together (FACT), and our mutual friends in the organization introduced us. Our personalities were the exact opposite and people still joke that we barely have anything in common, but that’s exactly why we fell in love! We remained together all through college, graduation, and as young professionals post-graduation. We watched each other grow as individuals throughout our college years and it helped us strengthen our relationship. 

In 2019, Stefan proposed at our favorite bakery, Proper Pie Co. and I immediately started wedding planning! We originally planned a huge wedding for October 2020 with over 275 guests. We were so excited for all of our friends and family to come together to celebrate with us! However, our plans came to a full stop when the COVID-19 pandemic started. We sadly had to postpone our wedding not just once, but three times! With the restrictions getting smaller and stricter as time passed, we realized that our dream wedding was not going to be possible. We had to rethink everything we wanted and agreed that at the end of the day, we just wanted to be married! 

We decided to get married on our 7 year anniversary on February 26, 2021 in our home in Richmond. Our ceremony was small and intimate with only a handful of close friends and family members in attendance. But, in order to include all the other friends and family we wish could be there, in a true “pandemic wedding” style, we streamed the wedding online for our guests to watch from home! Everything worked out perfectly and the wedding still felt so special because people could still be there with us during the ceremony from the safety of their homes. 

Because we had a small ceremony in our home, I felt that a simple elopement dress would be more appropriate. I did not want my gorgeous dress and cape from Zakaa to go to waste, so we planned to do a photoshoot with our photographer a few days later in our original wedding attire! I got ready with my friends at the Quirk Hotel and took some traditional getting ready photos and even did a first look with my father and Stefan. We invited our family and wedding party to dress up with us as well and they attended the photoshoot at the VMFA.

Despite the multiple hardships we endured during our wedding planning, we realized that the most important thing is everyone’s safety and health. The world is constantly changing and we have to learn how to adapt. We are so thankful to our vendors for working with us through all the changes, the Quirk Hotel where we spent our wedding “honeymoon staycation”, and to Zakaa for bringing my wedding dress dreams to life. To us, everything about our wedding was perfect! 

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REAL BRIDE KARA

Real Bride Kara

Wedding gown: Aura from the ZAKAA Couture 2020 Collection designed by ZAKAA

Veil: Aura Veil from the ZAKAA Couture 2020 Collection designed by ZAKAA

LOVE STORY: Clay and I knew each other during undergrad. We traveled in the same social circle and knew each other but didn’t talk much. After a couple months of knowing each other, he asked me out and we made it official a couple months after that. We were long distance for a few months after graduation since he was working in Richmond and I had started Graduate school in DC. He moved up to me and proposed a little over a year after that. He proposed in Nashville since we go there multiple times a year and made it a long term goal to move there. He flew my entire family in since the trip was supposedly just the two of us and needless to say, I was shocked and thrilled. We got married October 24, 2020, and moved to Nashville 4 days later!! We are so excited about how things have worked out for us and can’t wait for many more years.

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REAL BRIDE MCKENZIE

Real Bride Mckenzie

Customized Antheia from the ZAKAA COUTURE COLLECTION designed by ZAKAA

Custom Antheia Veil from the ZAKAA COUTURE COLLECTION designed by ZAKAA

Bridal Jewelry designed by ZAKAA

LOVE STORY: My husband and I met about a year and a half ago and we quickly fell in love. We had been talking about marriage for a while and to us there wasn’t a question about it, we were meant for each other. Wedding plans were already in the air when COVID hit hard, instead of waiting we decided that our day meant more to us than holding a large ceremony. We had a very intimate wedding with close family and it was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for anything more, and huge thanks to you ZAKAA for helping me get my dress ready so quickly, I’m not sure what I would have done without you! 

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REAL BRIDE KATHLEEN

Real Bride Kathleen

Dress: Customized Venus and Princess Charlene Crystal Capelet

DETAILS: We went for quite the extended honeymoon. Everyone loved the dress – that day was absolutely perfect and am so pleased with how it all worked out despite the challenges due to COVID. Thanks again for such an incredible experience with ZAKAA bridal!!

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REAL BRIDE JILL

Real Bride Jill

Wedding Dress: Rhea from the ZAKAA Love 2020 Collection designed by ZAKAA

LOVE STORY: Drew and I met via a blind date set up by mutual friends.  Nine years later after a 5 year engagement we had the most spectacular romantic wedding with our 4 kids.

SPECIAL MOMENTS: Our wedding was held outdoors at the Ocean  Course on Kiawah Island SC outside of Charleston. It was a spectacular day, although hot and extremely windy…two days before a hurricane came up the East coast. Our backdrop for our outdoor wedding and reception was on the green lawn of the Ocean course along the beach. The sunset was amazing. Having our kids as our wedding party was so special to us – we all had such a fun day celebrating! We enjoyed an evening wedding and reception celebrating our destination wedding with 65 of our family and close friends. 

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REAL BRIDE MELISSA

Real Bride Melissa

Wedding Dress: Customized Fit and Flare Wedding Gown by ZAKAA

LOVE STORY: Joe and I had heard each other’s names from various mutual friends over the years, although we had never actually met. He was roommates with one of my best friends (and bridesmaid, Sarah), and when we finally DID meet in May of 2017, the attraction was instant. We fell in love almost immediately, and it was clear to both of us that this was the real thing. He says that I make him a better man, and he has grown so much since we’ve been together. He brings out the best in me, and has shown love and caring to me and my daughter since day one. He proposed in March of 2018 on a hike at Bear’s Den (it was supposed to be in Santorini six weeks later, but he got the ring and couldn’t wait)! 

After a long engagement, we knew we were going to get married regardless even when COVID happened. We cut our guest list to family and bridal party only, and it was a magical and intimate day. Moments that stand out to me were when Joe said special vows to my daughter and gave her a locket with a rose on it. Also, the speeches were absolutely touching – there wasn’t a dry eye in the place! I really loved seeing Joe’s reaction as I came down the aisle in my dress, my goal was to make him happy cry 😉 and it definitely happened! The alpacas were also a huge hit!

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REAL BRIDE MISTRE

Real Bride Mistre

Custom Dress: Customized Tara from the ZAKAA Couture 2020 Collection designed by ZAKAA

Accessories: Tara Veil with ZAKAA Headpiece, earrings and bracelet

DETAILS: We had a beautiful outside ceremony and indoor reception for about 100 guests. The bridesmaids gowns and earrings were customized and designed by ZAKAA.

SPECIAL MOMENTS: Definitely walking down the aisle towards my husband having both my parents on my side, our grand entrance, worshipping/singing with our family and friends at the dance floor

LOVE STORY: We met at our mutual friend’s graduation. When we were first introduced, we didn’t think much of it, besides a little curiosity about each other. But later during the day, we both were interested, so a week after we met, we decided to go on a date. We had an incredible time. Even though it would have been easier to move towards a relationship, we decided to remain friends to first develop a friendship. After eight months of getting to know each other, my husband wrote me a sweet poem to ask me to be his girlfriend and I said “yes”. We became a couple and got engaged within a year.

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REAL BRIDE EMMA

Real Bride Emma

Custom Dress: Kate from the ZAKAA Love Collection designed by ZAKAA

Custom Veil: Kate designed by ZAKAA

DETAILS: We had a beautiful, romantic venue that had a very regal feel. The ceremony was held in a church and we had around 250 people there.

SPECIAL MOMENTS: One of the most special moments was when my Dad walked me down the aisle and I saw the way my husband looked at me. The ceremony was beautiful and then seeing all of our friends and family afterwards and receiving so much support and love from everyone was amazing.

LOVE STORY: Our love story began in college where we became good friends throughout all 4 years. We met on the first day of school and were always friends but it was not until our 3rd year that we started having feelings for each other. I went to Italy for a semester which made it hard to do long distance and then to India for mission work.  We really knew that we wanted to be with each other but distance made things difficult. When I came back from studying abroad, Joseph asked me to be his girlfriend. We dated all through the remainder of our college and graduation and then in August 2019 he asked me to marry him.