A Great Gatsby Affair

by Aaron Wilson

A billowy 40 degrees, the mountains a crisp blue in Blacksburg, the eve of the year 2017. People are prepping to celebrate the ringing in of a New Year. Party hats, black dresses, drinks for toasting and maybe even some confetti. A festive feeling is going around, and for Emily and Joey, there’s a little extra excitement in the air. The duo would be toasting the New Year as newlyweds.
Just before the start of their senior years at Virginia Tech, Emily, an industrial systems engineer major, and Joey, a biochemistry major, reconnected. What started as knowing one another through mutual friends during their teens in high school, turned into a budding relationship that led to a marriage proposal in their early 20s. Joey proposed to Emily on their way to a summer concert in Richmond. Knowing that she wasn’t a fan of big, public displays, Joey kept it simple and perfect for his bride-to-be. Kneeling under a tree on their way into the concert, he asked Emily to marry him. They celebrated their engagement over Trampled by Turtles and Grace Potter while eating funnel cakes. And according to Emily: “It was absolutely perfect.”
Since Blacksburg had been the place where their relationship really grew, the location for their nuptials was an easy and fitting decision. Picking the dates revolved around Joey’s medical school schedule. With just the right amount of time off around the holidays, they landed on a New Year’s Eve wedding. “I think it worked out really well and everyone enjoyed having a reason to dress up and get out on New Year’s Eve,” Emily shares.
Choosing the theme came naturally. A Great Gatsby feel, with all of its glitz and glamour, was the perfect way to celebrate not only their nuptials but also the holiday. Dark winter tones, accents of gold and white floral arrangements brought their Gatsby-themed wedding to life. Emily wore a stunning, beaded and silk mermaid wedding dress for the ceremony and changed into a flowing ball gown for the reception. Joey was in a classic black tux, with his best man matching except for a gold instead of a black tie. The navy, sequined gown worn by the maid of honor added Gatsby flair to the bridal party.
The couple were married on the Virginia Tech campus in the War Memorial Chapel by Governor Ralph Northam (Lt. Governor at the time). Following the ceremony, the bride and groom celebrated with family and friends at the German Club. Everything turned out magical just as they hoped. The new couple, Joey and Emily Conduff, spent the night dancing and ringing in the New Year. “We got to greet the New Year as husband and wife with our favorite people. The night ended with champagne and kisses. It was truly incredible!”
Planning the entire ceremony and reception went just as smoothly as the wedding day itself. Emily recommends allowing others to help as much as they can and are willing. “I let my wedding coordinator, mom and sister do a lot of the planning and logistics. It helped ensure that I was relaxed and excited for the day instead of anxious and stressed. While I gave my input on things, I was honestly hands off with the majority of the planning. “While it holds true that the bride and her family do the majority of the planning,” Joey adds, “don’t take your role as the groom for granted. When she asks your opinion, she wants your feedback, even if it is about the color of the napkins or flavor of the cake. It may seem menial, but when a bride can’t decide, she relies on the groom to help make the decision.” Working together to put all of the details into place made the wedding day memorable for all the right reasons.
In the final days leading up to the wedding, a small hiccup occurred with one of the wedding day dresses. After picking up her wedding dress and reception ball gown and trying them on alone in a small dressing room, Emily traveled from her current home in Richmond to her New River Valley hometown of Riner feeling confident that the gowns were ready to wear. Once home, however, she tried them on again in a bigger space with a larger mirror to discover that she was not pleased with the alterations of one of them. With little time to spare, she made a last-minute trip to Richmond for emergency alterations. Even with this unexpected twist in plans, Emily and Joey had an unforgettable day.
Joey, sums it up well: “The planning process can be incredibly stressful, especially as the weeks get closer to your wedding day. Don’t lose sight of what the planning is going into ~ you get to marry your best friend. Keep your eyes on the prize and everything will work out. It is a beautiful time, and it will fly by like you cannot believe. Enjoy the ride, and have fun!”

Text by Astleigh Hill
Photos by Kristie Lea Photography

Astleigh Hill is a Christiansburg-based freelance writer, wife, mama and iced coffee drinker. Connect with her via her lifestyle + home blog, Darling Do
NRV Vendors:

? Gates Flowers, Christiansburg
? New River Cakes, Radford
? Kristie Lea Photography, Blacksburg
? Rick Pruett, DJ, Blacksburg
? Same day wedding coordinator: Emily Yost
? Lodging and rehearsal dinner: Inn at Virginia Tech

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