Following the advice given to her by her eldest sister, Julia Rice would repeat her sibling’s words whenever she felt stressed during wedding planning. “She told me, 'Marriage is about the wedding. The wedding is about the marriage. The wedding is one day; your marriage is your whole life. What really matters is the commitment of love you have made to one another.'” This reminder coupled with the guidance of her mother (“She has helped my three older sisters plan their weddings. She knows what it takes!” says the bride) helped Julia to realize what she really wanted out of the special day. “Our dream for the wedding was to be able to invite anyone and everyone – therefore, whatever would help us achieve that end goal, while maintaining quality, was how we made decisions,” explains the bride of what factors they considered before settling on a choice.

For 14 months, the bride worked with her parents and sisters to plan a grand celebration in the couple’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Their ceremony was held at a nearby church the Rice household had attended throughout their lives. “It’s beautiful church and very important to my family and me,” adds the bride. The wooden pews were given soft decorative touches by way of pink ribbon, greenery, and a strand of pearls. Pearls were also woven into the bride’s bouquet – created by a family friend – made of cream roses and hydrangeas. An adorable group of tiny bridal-party members walked down the aisle, preceding the bride. Julia was a vision in a long-sleeved lace ball gown, her hair in a natural-looking updo and crowned with a pearl headband.

For the reception, held in a room of the Science Museum of Virginia, 400 of Julia and Jeffrey’s favorite people took their seats at tables decorated with assortments of vases filled with either sand, pearls, flower petals, or candles. “A family friend designed our floral arrangements and they turned out beautifully,” gushes the bride. Though there were a large number of attendees, the vibe of the space felt comfortable and intimate. Buffet stations offered a variety of fare, including the bride’s uncle’s famous chicken salad that he specially made for the event. For dessert, guests noshed on slices of a delicious cake made by Julia’s mom. The three-tiered confection was made of raspberry and vanilla cake with raspberry filling and almond icing. “It had cascading roses, pearl dots, and was lovely,” describes Julia.

For unexpected entertainment, the bride and her sisters had choreographed a dance to “Shawty Got Moves” by Get Cool. “Two of my sisters were largely pregnant, so it was hilarious to watch them with their big bellies, and my brother came in for the last few lines and made up his own moves,” remembers Julia. “It was so much fun!”

The couple maintains their great appreciation for all of the support they received during the planning process. “My dad and I worked long hours at coffee shops trying to pull everything together,” remembers Julia. “And my mom was so gracious, allowing her living room to be filled with all sorts of decorations for months!” Jeffrey also notes that he and Julia feel that their wedding was not just a commitment they were making to each other, but to God, too. “We need the help of our community to thrive in our marriage, therefore it was very important to us to be able to invite everyone that has been a part of our lives and our families’ lives,” confirms the groom.