2017-2018 Bride of the Year
Perfect For Each Other
A love story that started as a friendship and continues as a blended family.
The Love Story Colbie Calliat’s lyrics, “If you just realize what I just realized, then we’d be perfect for each other, and we’ll never find another,” capture the slow transition of friends who fall in love without realizing it right away. And for Brittany Ennis Watson and her husband Zac, this was how things progressed for them.
Moving from our previous relationships, we were both not wanting a relationship at first,” Brittany says. “So it came about so slowly—talking as friends for hours on the phone.”
Zac’s work at the time kept him on the road doing conveyor installations all around the country. Plus, Brittany has always carried a full load between her work as a surgical tech and raising her two children, Kaleigh, 6, and Hunter, 2. While they knew each other casually in high school—they both grew up in Amherst—they were reconnected a few years later in 2016 through mutual friends.
Brittany laughs describing their first “date,” saying it was a fun time out with friends, though she learned later that Zac hadn’t thought of it as much more going into the night. “He paid for everything, so I thought it was a date,” she explains. Early miscommunications aside, they started talking regularly after that, paving the way for a strong, foundational friendship. Brittany says while the distance certainly made things challenging for them, it also allowed her to “have some time to myself and ease into a new relationship,” a pace she appreciated after her first marriage had ended.
As 2016 continued, they were able to meet up in different states—from Pennsylvania to Georgia—depending on where Zac was based for work projects. Brittany also introduced him to her children during this time, saying, “There was an instant connection—no awkward moment—Zac has jumped right into that father figure role and is really excited.”
As the end of the year approached, Brittany scheduled a family photo shoot, not knowing that Zac decided to capitalize on the opportunity to do a surprise proposal. “I was doing a photo with Hunter, and when we turned around, Zac was on one knee,” she says. “Kaleigh was on his other knee; I was totally surprised and said ‘yes’ right away. Kaleigh was giggling in all of the pictures!”
While thoughts of a small destination wedding were tempting at first, Brittany says that the more she thought about it, she wanted their wedding to be a special event since “it’s the first time Zac is getting married, and it’s more special for his family.” Because of the availability at their chosen venue—Falling River Country Club in Appomattox—the couple wed on September 2, 2017, which is actually Zac’s birthday! Brittany says this didn’t faze him much though, describing him as someone who “goes out of his way to help anyone; he’s very funny—very sweet.”
The couple selected a country chic look for their wedding and opted for an outside ceremony. Brittany appreciated that the spacious reception hall features a huge fireplace and has hardwood floors. Attendants and flowers all tied together with her chosen colors of blush pink and grey. Finally, Brittany was excited to have Kaleigh as her flower girl, wearing a blush pink, tulle princess gown, and Hunter with her, carrying a sign that read, “Ladies, I’m still single.”
Since their engagement, Zac has started working locally at BWXT with Brittany’s father, making it much easier to spend time together. Following their honeymoon to the Bahamas, Brittany says they’re looking forward to continuing life as an official family of four.
The Photo Shoot
Brittany’s Bride of the Year photo shoot brought together a range of talented local vendors at Old City Cemetery (OCC). If that seems like an unlikely venue, think again. “Once people actually visit [here], they see it is a beautiful, public garden teeming with life,” says Ted Delaney, Executive Director of OCC.
With 27 acres to explore, Delaney explains why they see photo shoots happening on a near daily basis: “At every turn there are stunning backdrops…including both plant features, like roses and flowering shrubs, and structures, like a domed gazebo and old-fashioned tree swing.”
They also offer the option for “smaller, more intimate ceremonies” with their historic chapel, train station, lotus pond and shrub garden. Delaney adds, “Our wedding fees are very reasonable and competitive. Plus, with our new Comfort House, we can now offer restroom and catering facilities for weddings.”
Against this historic and natural setting, Brittany was styled in four dresses, the first being her own that she described as a “ball gown style with a lot of tulle,” and the other three provided by Ashley Grace Bridal. Owner Teresa Thomas, who named her bridal store after her own two daughters, selected some of their “most popular, new styles that give today’s brides what they are looking for—[they] want to look beautiful but also understand that they will be in a gown for hours, [so] it’s important to be comfortable.”
Brittany modeled a variety of dresses from a fit and flare with lace to a “simple and chic” satin gown and finally to a sleeveless, “organza Jacquard ball gown.”
“We understand that today’s bride is more budget conscious,” said Thomas. “We [chose] gowns that are excellent quality, unique styles and yet affordable.” While she explains that an A-line style will complement most body types, she also adds, “We encourage brides to try on a variety of styles because often they end up choosing something totally different than they originally thought.”
For Brittany’s makeup, Chantay Salido, owner and lead artist of In Your Face Makeup Art, decided to “create a classic, elegant look” for Brittany and did this by focusing on her eyes and creating a dramatic lip, even mixing two shades together to find the “perfect deep red,” which Brittany loved.
“I really wanted to accentuate her pretty eyes,” Salido says, “So I blended light and dark shadows for a neutral smoky effect, added a set of wispy false lashes and softly penciled in a defined brow.”
Salido believes a trial run “is the best opportunity to discuss style, colors, etc. and to see it all come together exactly as it will be…[plus] it helps the wedding day go smoothly, and everyone can be more relaxed when there’s no guesswork on such an important day!”
Brittany’s hair was styled by Jessica Comiskey Hair Design with a focus on “soft elegance” while also prioritizing a neutral and versatile look.
“I wanted to focus on something simple that would be flexible with many different dresses,” Comiskey says. “The weather made me think it needed to be up so that it would not get sweaty on her shoulders and then the curl fall out.”
When discussing various styles with brides, Comiskey stresses the importance of paying attention to the weather. Down and curly can work when a “bride knows her hair and knows how it responds in the climate of her wedding day,” Comiskey explains. “Updos are perfect for that unruly hair that just needs to stay put and look great for hours on end—and even survive the crazy dancing at the reception!”
Brittany carried a bouquet from bloom by Doyle’s and was photographed by Laura Bryan Photography in early August.
By Jennifer Redmond
A Special Thanks To:
Photography: Laura Bryan Photography
LauraBryanPhotography.com | (434) 841-3512
Venue: Old City Cemetery | GraveGarden.org | (434) 847-1465
Dress and Accessories: Ashley Grace Bridal
AshleyGraceBridal.com | (434) 534-3490
Makeup: Chantay/In Your Face Makeup Art
InYourFaceMakeupArt.com | (434) 944-3324
Hair: Jessica Comiskey Hair Design | HairByJessicaComiskey.com
Flowers: bloom by Doyle’s | DoylesFlorist.com | (434) 846-6581
Art Directing and Styling: Chris Meligonis and Pam Hopkins