virginia weddings

Real Virginia Wedding: Joseph & Laura

Virginia Bride features weddings weekly here on the blog. Being featured in the blog does not necessarily mean they are featured in the print magazine.

BRIDE: Laura Hazelmyer, Age: 28, Operations Corporate Trainer 

GROOM: Joseph Sadowski(Joey) Age: 31, SFC Drill Sergeant, United States Army


WEDDING DATE: 12/4/2022

VENUE:  Oakdale RVA, Ashland, VA



Meant to be

Mutual friends introduced Joey and Laura in 2012. They went on one date. Laura recalled, “I liked him.” “He made me laugh, and we had a great time on our date, but I was going off to college, and he was just starting his career with the military.” It wasn’t our time – “right person, wrong time.” 

Unfortunately, it would be many years before their connection took hold. The couple briefly re-connected in 2015, but the military had other plans that kept the couple apart.

First Date

In December 2020, Joey sent a Facebook message to Laura to ask if she was “surviving the Covid-19 pandemic”. After a few messages, phone calls, and a month or so, Laura flew to Watertown, New York, to visit Joey. Laura recalled, “We went to Texas de Brazil and walked around in Syracuse, New York, just catching up on life and seemingly picking up right where we left off eight years prior.”  “I extended my visit, and shortly afterward, I moved to New York to see if we could make it work because we knew a long-distance relationship was not an option for us.” “I packed up my life into my 2016 Nissan Altima, got my dog Winnie ready, and headed to New York at the end of April 2021”.  

I Love You

Laura recalled, “I said I love you first, and Joey reciprocated immediately.” “Nothing special had happened that day; we were just working in the yard together, and it felt right.”

When I asked Laura what she loved most about Joey, she said, “His ability to make me smile even when I’m angry; his laugh is contagious, and I am so excited to hear it for the rest of my life.”  

Joey told me, “Laura’s unwavering love for me, despite my flaws, lets me know I can always count on her for anything.” 


Joey proposed to Laura on August 21, 2021. Laura said, “The month prior, while visiting his family in Arizona, he asked if he could have his mother’s wedding ring (his mom had passed).” “Unknown to me, he had safely stored the ring away as we flew home to New York – I had no clue.”

Laura said, “Joey wanted to go hiking at Taughannock Falls State Park’. “I kept telling him it was going to rain, and I remember being irritated with him because he was so insistent.” “When we arrived, our friend Otis was already at the park, and I remember thinking that was odd – Otis doesn’t hike.” “We just started walking with our dog, Winnie.” “Before I knew it, we were on a bridge.” “I was staring at a waterfall, and I turned around to make sure Joey and Otis were still behind me, and Joey was down on one knee.”  


The couple chose emerald green, gold, black, and ivory colors for their wedding because they represent a timeless feel and are elegant. Laura said, “They went very well with Joey’s uniform, too.”



Laura’s gown had a cap-sleeve, sweetheart neckline with a lace overlay bodice and lace detailing. She wore a cathedral-length veil with lace and sequin detailing. Laura said, “It was traditional, graceful, and classic.” The bride wore sequin flats.

Laura’s parents gave her a set of earrings and a necklace that were sapphires with white diamonds in a starburst pattern, as her something new.

Something old and borrowed was her great-grandmother’s yellow-gold ruby ring.

For the couple, something blue was represented by their good friend (also their ceremony officiant) and his wife. Laura said, “Joey and I look up to them regarding our marriage, and we know we can lean on them when needed.”


The bride’s bouquet was made of Ivory roses, greenery, and blue thistle. Wrapped around the bouquet was a locket containing pictures of her grandparents.

Bridesmaid bouquets were hand-made wedding bells with baby’s breath and miniature ivory roses and gold ribbon on the handle.


MOH wore a long-sleeved velvet dress. The bridesmaids selected a dress based on their style. One bridesmaid wore a sequined short-sleeved dress, and the other wore a velvet one-sleeved dress. Laura recalled, “I gave each bridesmaid personalized jewelry that complemented their attire.”


Joey wore his dress military uniform. Laura gave him a watch with the words “Forever and Always” and their wedding date engraved on the back. The groom wore an ivory rose boutonnieres, as did the groomsmen. Groomsmen wore gold velvet suit jackets from Amazon.


The couple selected Oakdale RVA as their wedding venue. Because it offered everything they needed. Oakdale is known for its 100 acres of rolling farmland, three ponds, and endless unforgettable views, a 4,000-square-foot climate-controlled building, ample parking, a caterer prep kitchen, a full-service bar, a bridal suite, full audio to include indoor and outdoor speakers and a wireless microphone system.

Oakdale staff served as the couple’s day-of-coordinator. The couple’s wedding package included ten-hour access to the venue property, cocktail tables, dining tables and chairs, linens, glassware, flatware and barware, DJ service, two bartenders, golf cart service, and a parking attendant.


Laura said, “Our ceremony was outside – yes, in December.”  The couple provided blankets for their guests. They had a candle-lit walkway, and their arch was decorated with white drapes, greenery, and ivory-colored flowers. The groomsmen stood behind the bride, and the bridesmaids stood behind the groom. Laura recalled, “We were untraditional; I wanted to see my sisters and friends, and Joey could see his friends.” 

Joey and Laura’s ceremony included a ring warming. Laura said, “I wanted our guest to bless our marriage.” She shared an excerpt: We invite the wedding party to pass the rings between one another and warm them with your wishes, prayers, and blessings; we ask you to say a silent prayer as well, and when the rings make their way to you, warm the rings in your hands to push good energy into the couple.

A close friend, 1SG Clayton Tinker, was the couple’s ceremony officiant. Before the reception began, the couple slipped away for a few minutes and were legally married.


Cocktail hour was held on the venue’s patio, and their guest enjoyed warming by the fire pits while the couple and family posed for photos. EAT Catering provided finger foods and drinks.


The couple’s reception was held inside the venue, and the room was lit by candlelight. Guests were served a plated dinner by EAT Catering. 

Joey and Laura’s first dance was to “Growing Old With You” by Restless Road, choreographed by Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Short Pump, Virginia. Father and daughter danced to “I Loved Her First” by Heartland. The DJ played songs from the couple’s playlist throughout the night, and guests enjoyed an open bar and dancing.


The couple’s cake topper depicted a man in uniform holding up his bride. The cake flavor was Lemon (the groom’s favorite) and raspberry (the bride’s favorite). 


The couple’s exit was a Sparkler sendoff.


Joey and Laura said, “Communicate with each other and always finish the conversation.” “As a couple, make sure you are doing exactly what you want for your wedding – this is the biggest day of your life, and it is YOUR day.”  


Joey said, I most enjoyed the dancing, reception, and shoe game.


Wedding Venue: Oakdale RVA – @Oakdale_RVA

Wedding Photographer: Erik Leise 

Videographer: Thibecs Productions – @thibecsproduction

Dance Lessons: Fred Astaire Dance Studio – @fads.shortpumpva

Day of Planner: Oakdale RVA – @Oakdale_RVA

Officiant: Family Friend – 1SG Clayton Tinker

Legal Officiant: Relish – Say I Do!! Officiant & Photographer – @relishp

Gown: Lex’s of Carytown – @lexsofcarytown

Veil: Lex’s of Carytown – @lexsofcarytown

Shoes: Betsy Johnson

Hair: Avenue42 – @ave42salon

Makeup: Avenue42 – @ave42salon

Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Revelry – @shoprevelry

Groom’s Attire: Dress Blues – US Army

Groomsmen Attire: Amazon – @amazon

Invitations: Canva Professional

Flowers: Flowers by Zoie – @flowersbyzoie

Rental Equipment: Oakdale – @Oakdale_RVA

Catering: EAT Catering – @eatcateringrva

Music: Oakdale – @Oakdale_RVA

Cake: Sweet Fix – @sweetfix

If you are planning a wedding in Roanoke Virginia, Richmond Virginia, Fredericksburg/Northern Virginia, The Shenandoah Valley, Coastal Virginia or in Charlottesville/ Lynchburg Va. we can help with your wedding planning and ideas.

The author: Debra Shepperson

Debra is a native of Virginia, having lived in both Roanoke and Richmond. She is the co-owner of Relish – Say I Do!! Officiant & Photographer. She is an artist who aims to create ceremony scripts and capture photos that evoke positive emotional responses, inspire others, and deliver nostalgia. Debra holds a graduate degree from Virginia Commonwealth and an undergraduate degree from Saint Leo University, Florida. Before gaining more than ten years of wedding-related experience, Debra was a human resource executive. She has been happily married to the co-owner of Relish for more than 20 years.