Text by Jennifer Poff Cooper
Photos by Always and Forever Photography
From their first meeting at a Hokie football game to their wedding at the German Club Manor, Chrissy Story and Derek Grysko’s relationship has had a distinctly Virginia Tech flavor to it. Engaged on Valentine’s Day, 2014, the couple subsequently had engagement photos taken all around campus – at the duck pond, in front of Burruss Hall and on the football field.
“Our whole relationship has been centered around Virginia Tech, and it only seemed appropriate to have our engagement and bridal pictures taken in Blacksburg,” says Chrissy.
The couple took about 18 months to plan their special day. Chrissy generated most of the ideas for their wedding and did all the preparations on her own. “I was a part of every single detail, and I wanted everything to be a reflection of Derek and me as a couple,” she says. “I handmade the centerpieces, decorations and place cards.” For the table numbers, Chrissy made picture frames and put photos of family members on their wedding days in the frames. A friend from Chrissy’s high school days crafted the invitations. One of Chrissy’s unique concepts was a peacock theme for the wedding, using four different bridesmaid colors: deep purple, dark green, navy blue and baby blue.
The wedding was held at the German Club Manor because of its size and location. The couple wanted to be in Blacksburg and close to Virginia Tech in a space big enough for almost 200 people and a live band. “We really wanted to get married outside, and there’s a tree which was the perfect back drop. You can also see the stadium lights, and that was something that we wanted to intertwine in our ceremony,” she explains.
One of the highlights was reception music by the Uptown Band from Pennsylvania. “They have amazing vocals and can get everyone up and dancing. I love to dance,” says Chrissy, “and I really wanted everyone to dance and have an amazing time.”
In an interesting twist, Chrissy’s father joined in as a drummer for some songs. “My dad really wanted to play the drums with the band, and I was so nervous because I never heard him play. However, the band let him play. He absolutely nailed it, and that made my night! Everyone had so much fun. We were all in complete shock as to how good he is because he had not played in 30 years.”
The couple had wedding pictures inside and outside the German Club Manor. In addition, Chrissy did a bridal photo shoot inside the Center for the Arts and outside at the Hahn Horticulture Garden. “I chose the Center for the Arts specifically for the gorgeous windows and architecture of the building, and I love the gardens. Virginia Tech’s campus has so many gorgeous back drops for stunning pictures.”
Individual touches kept things special. “We made the wedding very personal and kept it simple and all about our journey as a couple. Our bridal party came down the aisle to ‘I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends,’ and I walked to the front with ‘Ave Maria.,’ We did the recessional to ‘We Are the Champions.’” They wrote their own vows and tailored the wedding ceremony music to their personal tastes.
Chrissy’s advice for future brides: “Do not let too many people try to influence your decisions. You should make your wedding what you want it to be. We catered our wedding to us and our personalities, and it turned out better than I could have ever imagined. Weddings do not have to be expensive and lavish; they just need to show how you and your partner are as a couple. It’s better to keep it personal and all about your love for one another. Trust me, you will appreciate it so much more if you do that.”
In the Gryskos’ case, having Virginia Tech as a cementing factor provided distinctive character to their wedding. “We met because of Virginia Tech, so why not make it the backdrop for our love story?”
Jennifer Poff Cooper is a Christiansburg-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to New River Valley Magazine.