“We met at Junior Prom, except we weren’t each other’s dates,” shares Caroline Faia of the moment she met her future husband, Alex Schon. “Alex was set up with my sister, who I’m sure never could have imagined she’d be my maid of honor at our wedding years later!” Following that initial spark, Caroline and Alex had their first true date at Longwood Gardens, which also became the site of their blissful engagement. 

Before proposing, “Alex managed to throw me off with a two-week-long trip,” notes Caroline. Though she thought he may ask every single day of the vacation, he waited until they got back home. In addition to offering her a bouquet of roses with a note that shared the details of a massage, manicure, and hair-and-makeup appointment the next day, he gifted her with a dress by her favorite designer and another note instructing her to meet him at their special bench where they had their first date. “He was waiting with our photographer friend, who had flown home from Paris just in time to meet us, asked the big question, and was so overwhelmed with emotion that he nearly forget to put on the ring itself!” she smiles. 

When it came to organizing the details of their impending nuptials, Caroline and Alex relied heavily on their wedding planner. “Pamela Barefoot of Pamela Barefoot Events + Design gave us the most advice about wedding planning,” notes Caroline. “While our families definitely provided their input, we knew Pam’s experience in this field was unparalleled, and we trusted her to guide us in the right direction with every detail.” 

Though both the bride and groom are from the Philadelphia area, they decided to get married in Richmond, Virginia, as it was a close-enough destination for their families to drive and their venues made them feel at home. In fact, their reception venue influenced the design scheme of the day. “We pulled tones and textures from Dover Hall and the season, without leaning into trends,” describes the bride, who was gorgeous in a Rosa Clara gown from Bridal Reflections; her hair and makeup styled by Lou Stevens Glam Squad. 

Hues of plum, lavender, merlot, gold, and sage were incorporated into the décor, along with the motifs from the silk wall coverings at the venue, as well as elements from the art and architecture of the site. Even bridesmaids wore Jenny Yoo gowns from Bella Bridesmaids in various shades of lavender to complement the venue, as well as the invitations designed by Crimson Letters. All of the details and the revelry of the day was captured by Julie Paisley Photography and Matt Stambaugh Films.

In order to elevate the grand hall, tables were decorated with low centerpieces by Holly Chapple Flowers, plenty of candlelight atop linens by Select Event Group, and a stunning floral installation on the fireplace. “We noticed lions all around the estate, from the show-stopping fireplace to the wall fabric in Caroline’s getting-ready room, and this became a motif in our designs – shown in our table-number holders, escort-card board, and invitation suite,” describes Alex. The pair’s sweetheart table featuring an 18th-century wood-carved design with a marble top was sourced from the venue, as were their chairs taken from the wine cellar that displayed ornate carvings and upholstery. The cake by Sweet Fix also drew inspiration from the space with five tiers adorned with hand-appliqué gold leaf, painted watercolor designs, and cascading florals.

To keep friends and family entertained all night long, Bachelor Boys Band performed live to achieve the level of formality and entertainment the pair desired, and The Lighting and Sound Company created the elegant ambience throughout the celebration. “We feel that our wedding was a reflection of what we value: authenticity and personal connection,” shares the groom of their celebration, which began with a traditional church wedding at St. Peter's Catholic Church and ended with a full weekend spent with their nearest and dearest. “We loved having our friends and family close for a three-day weekend and appreciated that every detail was significant to us.” 

For engaged couples currently in the midst of planning, the couple has wonderful advice: “Don’t get caught up in trends – focus on you. Trust your vendors; you chose them because they’re the best fit for you and excel at their crafts. Find those two to three minute pockets to breathe and soak it all in! Do your best to absorb the outpouring of love, joy, and affection from your family and friends around you… That’s a feeling that can’t be replicated and is truly, truly special.”