“When we started planning our wedding we only had a few requisites. We wanted violins and flannel, to celebrate the autumnal equinox, a ceremony by the river, and really, really good food, music, and beer. The rest would follow.”

Gah! This DIY Virginia wedding from Sara Sultan Photography is making my face hurt from all the smiling it’s causing. This couple ROCKED their wedding with flannel, plaid, suspenders, DIY lanterns & bunting, a taco food truck, and a million other personal touches. And lucky for you I have ALL the awesome details from Kahlil & Natalie themselves.

Kahlil & Natalie’s Autumnal Equinox, DIY Virginia Wedding By the River



The food: Boka Truck from Richmond, VA (This was a huge hit! Pork, tofu, and pumpkin options pleased everyone.)

The dress: Church Street Bridal (A Bridal Consignment shop!)

The band: Brian Elijah Smith and the Wild Hearts, Harrisonburg, VA

The photographerSara Sultan Photography

Natalie shares: 

We invited our guests to wear flannel/plaid and strongly discouraged high heels.

The couple’s friend, an author, wrote this about their wedding day:

“My friend and former research assistant Natalie Stade was married yesterday behind a mill and by a small river in Bridgewater, Virginia and the wedding, held in the glory of the late afternoon as autumn made its official debut, was lovely and wonderfully simple in every way.

A taco truck arrived from Richmond, each guest was given a Mason jar to both drink from and keep, and Natalie and Kahlil rode a bicycle built for two.

Natalie’s younger sister, Laura Stade, who fights fires in Utah, made ten cheesecakes that rivaled any I have ever had, and she is not even from New York:) her older sister, Chrystie, had words to offer, quite reluctant ones, that underscored the wry humor these three sisters possess.”

-Jonathan Coleman, author, Charlottesville, VA




in LOVE with Natalie’s unique wedding dress!


A perfect autumn bouquet.

Pretty much obsessed with Kahlil, the groom’s eclectic attire here: a plaid shirt with a tie with stars?! LOVE.

Click inside for a TON more awesome pictures from their handmade reception and more details from the couple on their DIY, eclectic touches!

The rings & adorable doggy ring bearer:

Kahlil made his ring (from a walnut tree on his parent’s land) and ring box (from a hickory branch) and they were delivered by the ring bearer and family dog, Falcor. Natalie’s ring was designed by the bride and groom, and made by a local Charlottesville jeweler: Brian Gibney.

The best moment of the ceremony is when everyone started clapping after our vows ended with a high-five, and the dog barked along as if on cue!



Natalie shared about their personalized, “Quaker Style” ceremony:

The ceremony is what stands out most in my mind.  It reinforced a theme that our marriage is built on the strong relationships, individually and together, of family, friends, and nature, that are much bigger than the two of us.

We were wed in the Manner of Friends, or “Quaker style”—sitting in a circle with our friends and family with no one person leading the ceremony per se. Rather, our officiant asked everyone present to either sit in silence, noticing the sounds of the river before us, or to share her/his thoughts on our love.

Our friends–who we did not know that this would be an “open”ceremony– floored us by sharing stories for over an hour, one at a time, about times before we were a couple in high school and college, to when we started dating in Japan, to hilarious anecdotes about us together now. (I admit the strong pre-ceremony mojitos may have helped facilitate the story-telling that eventually had to be cut-off at sunset). A friend noted that a family of deer wandered by and a hawk flew over during the ceremony.




Hand-drawn table seating cards:

The table seatings were arranged by cartoons that the groom’s brother, Chardin, drew from true stories of Kahlil and Natalie. The stories and guests names were displayed on a board, handmade by the bride, that matched the cartoons.

The bride’s sister, Laura, flew in from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah two days before the wedding, made 10 cheesecakes, and transported them from northern VA (described previously by J.C.)

Laura’s cooking blog if you are interested!





 The brews:

Kahlil made over 150 homebrews in 3 varieties with self-made labels: Nat’s Flat Tire Ale, Red in the Head Ale, and Pickle Tripping Tripel. We also had a local microbrewery keg of Hardywood Singel.





Congratulations Kahlil & Natalie ~ thank you SO MUCH for sharing your handmade, eclectic Virginia river wedding with us! A special thanks again to Sara Sultan Photography for sharing this beautiful DIY Virginia wedding.

What was your favorite part!? I think mine MIGHT have been the taco food truck, or Kahlil’s awesome outfit.



  1. What a super wedding! It was one of my favorite weddings of all time and was a truly genuine experience from start to end! Thanks for taking us along on the journey! Best wishes to you both!

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