This stunning late winter wedding by Virginia wedding photographer RACHEL MAY features in Issue 18 of Magnolia Rouge Magazine, and we'd have to say that it's one of the prettiest we've ever seen. The reception design by AMORE EVENTS is absolutely stunning - those tables and florals... such a gorgeous combination!

Although Atlanta-based couple Chelsea and Josh initially met during a Spring Break trip whilst in college, it would only be a number of years after graduation that the two went on their first date. From that moment on they were inseparable. The proposal was always going to prove challenging as "it is extremely difficult to get anything past Chelsea. She has this innate sense of what's going on around her at all times," Josh says. Despite this, he certainly managed to not only get creative but retain the romance around the event without her knowing anything. In collaboration with the owner, he staged a photo shoot at a small neighbourhood wine shop whereby under the guise of helping the store revamp their website, the proposal finally took place--despite Chelsea's attempts to reschedule the shoot. Even after she instantly said yes, the surprises kept coming, with Josh having planted a couple of tickets to San Francisco in the cellar so they could go and explore Napa. Four hours later, they were on the plane heading to wine country to celebrate their engagement. After looking at potential venues from Napa in California all the way to Italy, Chelsea and Josh finally settled on PIPPIN HILL FARM in Virginia - in fact, their minds were made up the instant they saw it. "The feel of the venue, the beautiful views and vineyard were exactly what we were looking for. We also loved that we could hold both the ceremony and reception in the one location," Chelsea says. It gave their families the chance to enjoy a long weekend touring vineyards, relaxing and visiting historic sites in the area--as well as celebrating with the couple. 

"It was an absolutely beautiful morning and afternoon getting ready with our respective families, friends and wedding party. We were both very adamant that we have our ceremony outdoors. No more than an hour prior to the ceremony, our wedding planner informed us that the venue strongly recommended that we have an indoor ceremony due to rain in the area. The radar looked like there was a huge thunderstorm directly above us, but the clouds told a different story. We told our wedding planner that we were going to move forward with the ceremony outside on the lawn overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains--I have to admit I had to say a prayer or two that the weather would miss us. The venue reluctantly agreed to host the ceremony outdoors, but could only set two rows of chairs. This organically created a more relaxed ceremony vibe that our guests raved about. Luckily we got the credit for planning that ahead of time."

With a mid-March wedding, Chelsea and Josh had to get creative with their honeymoon destination. After much consideration they found themselves heading to South Africa for three weeks, including a few days on secluded Benguerra Island in Mozambique--which is only accessible by helicopter. "We spent roughly half of our trip at two separate luxury safari lodges on opposite sides of the country, which led to us seeing different types of animals at each due to the differing climates and ecosystems. We were able to spot all of the Big Five on private game drives--lion, leopard, cheetah, rhino (both black and white species) and buffalo. The different species of animals that we came in such close contact with and the overall experience at the lodges definitely helped make our trip unforgettable. The remainder of our time was spent in Cape Town exploring the wine country and relaxing on the beach on Benguerra Island. It really was the trip of a lifetime!"  

A huge thanks to Virginia wedding photographer RACHEL MAY for sharing this truly stunning wedding with us, With a fun and laidback approach to photography, her goal is to create an environment that is relaxed and fun for her clients, so that they can be completely present enjoying every moment of their day. If you're looking for a Virginia wedding photographer you can see more of Rachel's work in our VENDOR GUIDE. You might also like to check out this Graceful bridal shoot inspired by nature she captured.