A Harlem Renaissance-Inspired Wedding in Richmond, Virginia
Dayna and Ryan
Dayna Isom met Ryan Johnson at a friend’s potluck holiday party. She put down her sweet potato casserole and looked up to see a handsome man across the room. After introducing herself and a night of talking, a relationship ensued. Two years later, the New York City-based couple (she works in public relations at Etsy and he’s an actor) returned to the bride’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia, for their June 15, 2013 nuptials. They customized their big day by drawing inspiration from the Harlem Renaissance.
The Bridal Bouquet
Dayna’s bouquet of peonies was accented by a sprig of lilac in remembrance of her grandmother who always had the most beautiful lilac bushes in front of her house. A vintage brooch found by the bride and her sister while antique shopping was added to the bouquet’s stems and served as Dayna’s “something blue.”
The bridal party carried orange circus rose bouquets. The flower girl’s petite nosegay held just a few of the vibrant blooms.
The guys sported orchid boutonnieres.
A Ring Dish
A porcelain dish housing the wedding bands was customized with the words “Be Happy, Be Loving, Be True” stamped on the interior. The keepsake was created by Paloma’s Nest.
Sandalwood fans brought Southern charm to the ceremony, and were paired with ceremony programs.
The Bride's Entrance
Dayna entered the ceremony on the arm of her father, as her best friend sang India Arie’s “Beautiful Surprise” with an acoustic guitar accompaniment.
The Ceremony Decor
Because the garden was already beautiful on its own, only a simple aisle of rose petals was added.
During the outdoor service, Dayna’s brother and sister-in-law recited an original poem. The couple exchanged self-penned vows and then whispered additional exchanges privately, before following up with a pinky swear kiss—which has always been their special promise to each other. They did the special finger and lip lock just as the bride’s aunt pronounced the duo husband and wife. They then sealed the deal with a real smooch.
The Cocktail Hour
During cocktail hour, a percussion duo played African drums. Guests sipped on a “Harlem Kiss” cocktail of orange juice, bourbon, lemon-lime soda, lemonade, club soda, and lemon juice.
The newlyweds hitched a ride in a friend’s 1960s Cadillac to their reception venue, the Main Street Train Station. The first time Dayna and Ryan saw what would be their reception room, they fell in love with the space. “It gave us the elements of old glamour and warmth from the 1930s era,” Dayna said. This Richmond landmark is actually a space in a running train station that’s been active since 1901.
A Grand Room
To pull more inspiration from the glamorous Harlem Renaissance era, feathered centerpieces were the key element of decor at the reception.
In lieu of a traditional guestbook, attendees shared their well wishes for the newlyweds via a vintage typewriter.
An Orange Cake
“I’ve never been the girl who wanted a traditional wedding cake,” Dayna said. “So I decided to go with my favorite color, orange.” This confection consisted of three different flavors: butter cake with Bavarian cream filling, marble cake with chocolate ganache, and their favorite (for two tiers) lemon cake with raspberry filling.
A Sweets Table
Working with local candy shop Sweet Spot, Dayna set up a table of jellybeans, bubblegum, rock candy, M&Ms, and gummy bears. “I couldn’t see our special day not including some of our favorites,” Dayna said.
A Late-Night Treat
In addition to having a sweet tooth, this bride loves to bake. So for a midnight snack at the reception, chocolate chip cookies and milk were passed.
A Sparkler Send-off
The bride (in her Nicole Miller reception dress) and groom departed through a crowd of their friends and family holding sparklers.
Photography: Sincerely, Liz: Photography
Catering: Catering by Jill
Flowers, rentals, and lighting: Black Iris
Videography: Bree Davis
Stationery: Fine and Dandy Paperie
Cake: The Mixing Bowl Bakery
Music: DJ Drake
Photobooth: Virginia Photobooths and More
Hair: Dene’t Radden
Makeup: Marissa Rogers (804-409-3389)