This Couple Set Out to Plan a Virginia Wedding That They'd Love as Much in 20 Years as They Did on the Big Day
High school sophomore Bryanna Marshall had been chatting up Nicholas Schwarting at a homecoming party on behalf of her friend—but the plan backfired when Nicholas asked for Bryanna's number instead: "I'm a terrible wing woman," she says.
Two months later, they started a relationship that lasted until Bryanna left for college. "It ended up not working out because of the long distance," says Nicholas, "but we always stayed in touch." When Bryanna moved home after finishing her degree, the couple resumed dating even adopted a puppy together before Bryanna moved (again!) to purse her graduate studies. Though they agreed to wait until she finished school to get engaged, Nicholas decided he couldn't wait any longer: He proposed on a Christmastime walk through Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, just before their 10-year anniversary. "We were posing for a picture when Nicholas dropped onto one knee," says Bryanna. "I started sobbing before he was able to say anything!"
Bryanna and Nicholas hosted 140 guests for a ceremony and reception at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia, on May 18, 2019. "The architecture is classic and historic," says Nicholas. The venue fit the theme the couple wanted, which Bryanna describes as "classic, traditional, elegant, and romantic." While they created a memorable weekend for their guests, Bryanna and Nicholas also kept their priorities top of mind: "I dreamed of a room full of my favorite people with incredible music and my sweet husband by my side," says Bryanna. "Quite honestly, we could have been married in a barn, but I am beyond blessed from the support from our families, who put together a dream of a wedding day."
The Omni Homestead Resort had everything the couple was looking for in a wedding location. "Every corner of the venue was breathtaking," says Bryanna. They appreciated that guests could stay on the property—meaning they didn't have to worry about transportation—while taking advantage of the pools, spa, historic tours, and other amenities; they also loved that they could make a trip to the resort a family tradition. "Our dream was to pick more than a venue," says Bryanna. "We wanted something that we could return back to for anniversaries and eventually bring our children to."
Bryanna had an idea of her dream wedding dress when she began shopping: "I anticipated lace," she says. "Lots of lace. But every lace dress I tried on didn't feel like a wedding gown." In the end, she chose a "classic and clean" satin number from Martina Liana with an off-the-shoulder neckline and a trumpet shape.
"I wouldn't say there was a moment when I knew it was the dress," she says. "I believe brides put a lot of pressure on themselves to find the perfect gown, when in the end I would have been happy marrying Nicholas in a brown paper bag." She accessorized the garment with low heels from Jimmy Choo, a blue stone bracelet from Kendra Scott, and "navy earrings that made me feel like they were made for Princess Diana," she says.
In the Navy
Bryanna chose navy blue gowns from Kleinfeld Bridal Party for her bridesmaids, creating a color palette that she knew would never go out of style. "I picked these dresses because I wanted clean and classic," she says. "I wanted the vision of the girls to be timeless for years to come."
A Bountiful Bouquet
Bryanna's bouquet of creamy blooms included calla lilies, ranunculus, peonies, orchids, and Playa Blanca roses in a cascading shape, tied with a satin ribbon.
Man of the Hour
Nicholas wore a navy-blue tuxedo from Men's Warehouse, which contrasted with the groomsmen's gray ensembles. "It's a color scheme that has classic written all over it," says Bryanna. Though they were happy with the end result, Nicholas realized later that a bespoke wedding-day outfit would have been worth the time and cost: "I should have worn a custom suit," he says. "That was my only regret."
Their First Look
The couple planned to save their first look for Bryanna's walk down the aisle, but changed their minds at the last minute. "I knew Nicholas would most likely tear up during the ceremony, and selfishly, I wanted the pictures!" says Bryanna. "But Nicholas has terrible anxiety and I knew if we had a first look it would ease his nerves."
She was right: "I felt incredibly nervous before the first look," says Nicholas, "but once I saw my bride, I was excited and happy to marry my high school sweetheart and excited to see her come down the aisle."
Ready for the Aisle
After the wedding party processed down the aisle to The Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition," played by a string trio, Bryanna's mother and father escorted her down the aisle to "Shallow" from A Star Is Born to meet Nicholas at the altar.
Under the ceremony site's pergola, large-scale floral arrangements in shades of white and green—including hydrangeas, peonies, and orchids—flanked the bridal party. Long garlands decorated the structure, while gold lanterns lined the aisle. "The easiest part of the process was picking the flowers and décor," says Bryanna.
Saying "I Do"
The couple chose a religious service, officiated by Mike Frick of Cornerstone Chapel, which included communion.
The New Mr. and Mrs.
After the ceremony, the duo left their guests to enjoy the cocktail hour while they posed for portraits around the venue. Friends and family nibbled on small bites that included deviled eggs, white truffle chicken salad, and pancetta-wrapped shrimp, while a saxophonist played in the background.
The newlyweds opted not to serve a signature cocktail, but did ask guests to put their own signatures on a beverage: A bottle of Veuve Cliquot acted as their guest book, on which friends and family left their best wishes for their marriage.
Bryanna and Nicholas incorporated the same gold stands seen at the ceremony during the reception, starting with a freestanding seating chart that directed guests to their assigned tables.
Light and Bright
Inside the hotel's Dinner Hall, round tables dressed with floor-length white linens contrasted with dark wooden chairs. Alternating tall and low centerpieces included lush white flowers and rich greenery; they were placed on gold or crystal stands. The room's high ceilings and dramatic windows allowed plenty of natural light to shine in.
Up in the Air
All-white blooms in the centerpieces—which included calla lilies, orchids, and hydrangeas—worked with the white linens, simple place settings, and gold accents, creating a crisp, timeless look for the celebration.
Dinner by Candlelight
The newlyweds joined close family and friends at a long head table—which was decorated with a garland of deep green foliage and white flowers—that wrapped around a selection of pillar candles on gold pedestals. They also made time to go to each table and greet their guests individually, which ended up being one of the groom's favorite parts of the day. "It was nice to have a moment, even if it was brief, to say hi to all of our guests and thank them for coming," says Nicholas.
At the Table
Scripted wooden place cards marked each guest's seat. A printed menu previewed the meal, which included a Bibb salad starter, a lemon sorbet course, and an entrée choice of beef tenderloin, parmesan-crusted chicken, or basil-ricotta tortellini—followed by a dessert of pistachio raspberry mousse cake.
A Dance Floor Scare
The couple shared their first dance to Ed Sheeran's "Perfect" and then continued the party with live music from Brian and Friends. But a few minutes into dancing, Bryanna's allergies and asthma flared up—and she couldn't find her inhaler.
"Unfortunately, a tight chest turned into an asthma attack which turned into a panic attack," she says. "I ripped out all of my extensions and broke out in hives on my face and neck." But after she found her inhaler, "she popped right up and ran out to the dance floor," says Nicholas. "She is such a strong and empathetic woman to put her health aside to entertain her guests. I was begging her to go up to bed, but her stubbornness is just another aspect of her personality that I love."
For their wedding cake, Bryanna and Nicholas chose an unconventional dessert: A vanilla cake with marbled icing, perched on a tower of ombré macarons in two flavors—cookies and cream and birthday cake—from Fresh Baked. The food was the only reason they were willing to pause their dancing: "Once the party started, we didn't want any interruption that would make the day feel shorter!" says Bryanna. "We wanted continuous fun and laughs until they kicked us out of the reception hall!"
Photography, Kiyah C. Crittendon
Event Planning, Design, and Flowers, Caroline LaRocca Event Design
Venue and Catering, The Omni Homestead Resort
Videography, DP Videography
Officiant, Mike Frick, Cornerstone Chapel
Cake, Fresh Baked
Bride's gown, Martina Liana
Hair and makeup, Hair Harmony Salon
Bridesmaids' dresses, Kleinfeld Bridal Party
Groom's suit and accessories, Men's Wearhouse
Menswear, Men's Wearhouse
Engagement and wedding rings, Aspen Jewelry Designs
Guest Book, Etsy
Signage, Leah Letters