Ambika Marshall and James Blackburn were first introduced by mutual friends, but it took a significant location to really bring them together. “We spotted one another at a restaurant a few months after we met,” Ambika says. “It was the same restaurant where James’s parents had gone to on their first date!” With fate on their side, the couple began dating, and in August of 2015, James proposed at another restaurant. “We were were waiting for dessert at our favorite restaurant in Jackson Hole, and when I looked up, I noticed there wasn’t a single person in the restaurant—not even the wait staff,” Ambika remembers. (She didn’t have long to think about the situation, because their dessert was served, the waiter disappeared, and James got down on one knee.) “He said some beautiful things while he held this gorgeous ring in his hand, and I burst into tears of joy!”
The couple chose to get married in Richmond, Virginia, the groom's hometown, on June 4, 2016. They wed at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, and then headed to the nearby Commonwealth Club for an old Richmond reception—with another personal touch! “It’s where James’s parents had their wedding reception, too,” says the bride. Family connections, elegant styling, and a friend behind the camera (the one and only Patricia Lyons!) meant James and Ambika’s wedding day was as personal as it could get. Here’s a peek at their glam Richmond wedding!
The invitation was decidedly traditional, with gold printing to add a bit of elegance. “Putting together our guest list was the hardest part of planning,” says the bride. “We had 400 names on the list, and it was so time consuming to reach out to everyone and get their addresses!” But they persevered, and ended up celebrating in style with 300 of their family and friends.
Ambika’s Naeem Khan dress was the very first she tried on—at Bergdorf Goodman, of course. “My consultant was amazing, and she came with us to every fitting,” she says. The winning gown had a sleek silhouette and sparkly stripes that gave off an Art Deco vibe.
To match the clean lines of her gown, Ambika wore silver Rupert Sanderson sandals and family jewelry that included a sapphire ring that her father had given her mother years ago. The graphic nature of her gown called for an equally graphic bouquet, a cascade of white phalaeniopsis orchids accented with baby’s breath. And how gorgeous is Ambika's three-stone engagement ring?
The groom and groomsmen all donned traditional tuxedos, with no boutonnieres. And to keep with the formal and elegant theme, Ambika’s bridesmaids wore two different designs from Jill by Jill Stuart. “I wanted to pick something that the ladies could wear to a black tie event in the future,” she says.
Ambika walked down the aisle on the arm of her father. And while this moment was one of her favorites, she admits that she was nervous. “I told my dad I had so many butterflies in my stomach, I didn’t know if I’d make it down the aisle,” she says. “He turned to me and said ‘Those are the same butterflies you had when you first met James,’ and I was immediately calm.”
The clean lines and beautiful lighting at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church make it, in Ambika’s eyes, one of the most beautiful churches in Richmond.
A trolley brought the newlyweds and their wedding party to the Commonwealth Club for the reception. The bride and groom stopped for portraits before joining their guests for a Southern-inspired dinner. “We had fresh oysters shucked all night, as well as a shrimp and grits bar, a sausage gravy and biscuits bar, and mini fried chicken sandwiches,” says the bride.
Inside their glam Richmond wedding, the couple decorated the already ornate venue with tables covered in gold linens and topped with arrangements of orchids, hydrangeas, roses, and tropical greenery.
After the bride and groom danced to “Hold On I’m Coming” by Sam and Dave, a huge Motown band took to the stage for a special show. “James is an outdoorsman and a hunter, and my mother is Indian, so we had a play on ‘Cowboys and Indians’ with hats for the men and bindis for the women,” Ambika says. "Even the band got in on the fun!"
Ceremony Venue: St. Mary’s Episcopal Church || Reception Venue & Catering: The Commonwealth Club || Wedding Planner: Events by Elizabeth Palmer || Bride's Dress: Naeem Khan, purchased at Bergdorf Goodman || Bride's Shoes: Rupert Sanderson || Bridesmaids' Attire: Jill by Jill Stuart || Groom and Groomsmen's Attire: Bonobos || Hair & Makeup: Emerge Hair Salon & Michael’s Skin Care || Floral Design: Petals & Twigs || Music: Appasionata || Invitations & Paper Goods: Paper on the Avenue || Cake: Sweet Fix || Rentals: Connie Duglin Linen, Classic Party Rentals || Lighting: Lighting Professors || Photography: Patricia Lyons || Videography: [Ginger Topham](http://gingertopham.com/