virginia weddings

Real Wedding: Jose and Catherine

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.

Burying The Bourbon

Bride: Catherine Chilton, Age: 27, Product Manager

Groom: Jose Canahui, 28, Software Development Engineer

Date: June 3, 2023

Venue: The Barns at Mattaponi Springs


How the Couple Met

Catherine and Jose met in Reston, Virginia, in August 2018 when they started their first jobs at the same company after college. Being new to Northern Virginia, they both started socializing with co-workers who were also recent college graduates. Jose and Catherine found they shared common interests and quickly became friends. Later, the couple realized they had feelings for each other. On December 8, 2018, Jose and Catherine had their first date. They went to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo to see the Christmas light display and then to a Christmas pop-up bar in Washington, D.C. And the rest is history!

In March 2019, Jose said, “I love you” to Catherine. She reciprocated immediately.


Jose proposed to Catherine on July 11, 2022. The proposal occurred on the balcony of Catherine’s apartment in Northern Virginia. Jose hid Catherine’s engagement ring box in an outdoor plant she was repotting. 

“When I discovered the ring box in the soil, Jose got down on one knee to propose,” said Catherine. “I was absolutely giddy and so surprised.” “Jose had also secretly swapped a timelapse camera for a video camera to capture his proposal so we could look back on that magical moment.” 

When I asked Catherine what she loved most about Jose, she told me, “He is brilliant, kind, thoughtful, loving and so much fun.”

Jose told me, “I love Catherine’s beauty, especially her smile, generosity, inclusivity and drive.”


The couple’s theme was elegant and natural. They sought to celebrate with friends and family in a location where they could escape from the rest of the world. It was essential for Catherine to celebrate their love with bright flowers.


Emerald Events by Nilsa was the couple’s wedding planner. Nilsa gave Jose and Catherine wedding planning guidance, monthly planning checklists and design inspiration. “Nilsa ensured our day was flawless through her wedding day management strategies,” said Catherine.



Catherine wore a gown from Ava Laurenne Bride. It was an a-line gown with a sweetheart neckline and detachable off-the-shoulder straps. 

Catherine wore Chanel Chance perfume. She finished her look with blush pink heels from Nordstrom.


“My bouquet was a mix of bright flowers with their stems wrapped in an ivory satin ribbon,” Catherine said. “The bridesmaid bouquets were a smaller versions of mine.”


Catherine’s Something Blue was her bridesmaids’ dresses. They were a soft dusty blue and mixed in style. 

Groom and Groomsmen

Jose and the groomsmen wore black tuxedos. The groom wore a black bow tie and the guys’ ties were lavender. The boutonnieres were a variety of small flowers matching the bouquets. 

Jose gave the groomsmen custom mugs. Before the ceremony, Jose and the guys played pool in the venue’s manor house game room. 


“We loved The Barns at Mattaponi Springs because of the beautiful views and the opportunity to feel immersed in nature,” said Catherine.” “Jose and I spent the weekend at the venue and were delighted that accommodations were also available for our wedding party.”


Catherine held a first look with her dad in the venue’s bridal suite. “It was so special to have time with my dad,” Catherine said. “And I wanted special moments with my mother and sister before all the festivities started.”

The couple’s first look was held at the venue’s pond in the forest area adjacent to the Poplar Barn. “We wanted to share a private moment before the ceremony, said Catherine. “And we were excited to take our portraits earlier in the day so we could join our guests during the cocktail hour.”


A close family friend, Reverend Beanie Kelly, married the couple. “We were delighted to be the first couple to have our ceremony in the venue’s forest area,” Catherine said. “We fell in love with the space and relished being surrounded by nature.”


The couple’s wooden arbor was adorned with greenery and bright flowers. “I remember staring at the arbor during the ceremony and remarking how beautiful the flowers were,” said Catherine.


Some of Jose’s family traveled from Guatemala to attend the wedding.

Burying The Bourbon

“About thirty days before our wedding, Jose and I buried a bottle of bourbon near the ceremony site in hopes of having a beautiful sunny wedding day,” said Catherine. “We had perfect weather.” “We enjoyed digging the bourbon up and sharing a drink with the groomsmen before we joined our guests during the cocktail hour.”

Cocktail Hour 

Cocktail hour was held in the grassy area between the Manor House and the Poplar Barn porch. As guests mingled, they were served appetizers and drinks.

The couples’ signature drinks were served from an outdoor bar on the Poplar Barn’s porch. Jose’s drink was a Moscow Mule, fondly called the Mr. Mule. Catherine’s drink was a Hot Pink Serenade, a jalapeno-infused Paloma.


The reception was held in the Poplar Barn. All the decor was wooden and included farm tables, v-back chairs, display shelves and a bar.

Entrance/First Dances

Jose and Catherine entered the reception area through oversized barn doors and began their first dance. The couple took dance lessons at Arthur Murray to prepare for their first dance. “Catherine and I were so glad that we practiced, Jose said. “The lessons gave us a lot of confidence and taught us a few impressive moves.”

“Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole played during Jose and Catherine’s first dance. Father and daughter danced to “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. Jose and his mother danced to “Te Amo Ma by Marco Antonio Solís y Los Bukis.


“OMO Catering prepared and served our wedding meal,” Catherine said. “Our guests enjoyed a fresh green salad followed by a plated meal of chicken, steak or a vegan option.” “Our side dishes were potatoes and green beans.” The food was fantastic.”

Puzzle Guest Book

“Rather than using a traditional guest book, we selected a wooden puzzle,” said Catherine. “Our guests signed puzzle pieces and we put the puzzle together after our honeymoon.” 


“We had a 3-tiered round cake”, Catherine said. The cake flavor was almond. It had raspberry and cream cheese filling and vanilla buttercream icing. It was decorated with fresh flowers provided by the couple’s florist.


“Custom wedding Tic Tac’s inscribed as “mint to be” were our favors, said Catherine. 

Last Dances

“As we prepared to exit the reception area, our DJ surprised me by playing the song “Love Story” by Taylor Swift,” Catherine said. “It is one of my favorite songs.” “While Jose and I danced, I sang every word of that song.” “Our family and close friends circled us as we jumped to the music.” “It was an incredible moment and an unforgettable memory.”

“Jose and I had a private final slow dance in the Poplar Barn while our guests prepared for our bubble exit,” said Catherine. 


The couple honeymooned in Hawaii. 


“It is incredible how many last-minute details arise as your wedding day approaches, Catherine said. “We recommend staying on top of your to-do list and not leaving anything for the final 2 weeks before the wedding so that you can rest and relax for your big day.”


VENUE: The Barns at Mattaponi Springs – @barnsatmattaponisprings

PHOTOGRAPHER: Aaron Watson Photography – 


VIDEOGRAPHER: MV Wedding Films – @mvweddingfilms

CONSULTANT: Emerald Events by Nilsa – @emeraldevents_bynilsa

OFFICIANT: Reverend Beanie Kelly

GOWN: Ava Laurenne Bride – @avalaurennebride

VEIL: Ava Laurenne Bride – @avalaurennebride

SHOES: Nordstrom – @nordstrom

HAIR/MAKEUP: The Beauty Soiree – @thebeautysoiree_co

BRIDESMAID DRESSES: Azazie – @azazieofficial

FORMALWEAR: Generation Tux – @generationtux

INVITATIONS: Merrymaker Fine Paper – @merrymakerfinepaper

FLOWERS: Fleuressence – @fleuressencefloraldesign

RENTAL EQUIPMENT: Rent-E-Quip – @rentequipva

CATERING: OMO Catering – @omocatering

MUSIC: Black Tie Entertainment – @blacktiedmv

CAKE: Louisa’s Homemades – @louisashomemades

FAVORS: Amazon

TRANSPORTATION: Richmond Limousine – @richmondlimo

WEDDING PARTY ACCOMMODATIONS: The Barns at Mattaponi Springs – @barnsatmattaponisprings

GUEST ACCOMMODATIONS: Richmond-North/Ashland Hampton Inn – @hamptonbyhilton

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.