Marja Harmon, a Broadway actress currently in Hamilton as Angelica Schuyler, and Charles McCullough Jr. initially connected via Hinge in San Francisco. “There was one particular photo that caught my attention, her looking over her shoulder with an authentic smile,” Charles remembers.
After three years together, Marja, who had always been adamant that she didn’t want a traditional proposal or wedding, began to shift her views. The two had just relocated to Nashville with their pup, Chien. “A few months earlier, Charles unexpectedly lost his mother, and in the same week, my father had a life-threatening health event,” Marja explains. “In the aftermath, we were trying to find some normalcy.” When raking leaves together in the backyard, Marja stopped and said, “Life is too short, and I want to create a home and family before we lose anyone else that’s important to us. I want to get married.”
As the bride-to-be was on tour, the couple was apart during the whole wedding planning process. Autumn is their favorite season, so it was easy to nail down a date in November. “When we met with Mary Love Richardson [of Rosemary & Finch], we discussed the wedding feeling like golden hour in the fall, specifically in Paris,” Marja shares. “Paris is one of my favorite cities, and the autumn light as it hits the cream-colored Haussman buildings is such a mood.”
The couple’s photographer, Fiona Battersby, recommended they look at the hotel Noelle as a local venue. Marja and Charles fell in love with the arched windows in the Saidee Ballroom and the mix of marble, bronze, and velvet. To help plan everything, The Get Together Events Co. stepped in, while Read Event House took over the design reins.
Since the bride was moving every few weeks, finding a dress proved to be a small challenge. Marja followed designer Leanne Marshall on Instagram and saw that she was offering a program called “The Go Ahead Gown” at the time, where people could submit four adjectives to her, and she would create a custom gown from leftover fabrics. The only catch was that the client wouldn’t see the dress until it was complete. “This would be very nerve wracking for most, but as an artist myself, I loved the idea of letting a designer create without interference,” Marja shares. She excitedly entered her adjectives: “deep gold, autumn, off-the-shoulder, and chiffon.”
The bride placed her order in December of 2021, saw a photo of her dress in April of 2022, and fell in love with the design immediately. “I felt like a walking golden hour,” Marja says. Her second look of the day was a Vince liquid sequin dress in the shade garnet—a nod to her birthstone. It was also a bonus that the gown was inspired by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle.
Marja’s goal for her wedding was to wear all female designers and support small local businesses. On the day-off, the bride got ready with hairstylist Martina Goldthreate and Indigo Beauty Collective. She accessorized her custom wedding gown with earrings from Seattle-based designer Faris, and as a New Yorker for 15 years, she knew Loeffler Randall shoes were the ones for her.
Charles looked handsome in a custom fitted velvet tuxedo by Hive & Colony with their wedding date embroidered on the inside of the jacket.
On November 12, 2022, Marja surprised everyone—including Charles—by organizing a singing flash mob made up of her Broadway performer friends and string quartet Viva la Strings Nashville to perform “Happy Ending” à la Love Actually. At the climax of the song, the doors opened, and the bride walked down the aisle. Neither Charles nor Marja are religious, so they worked with their officiant of The French Royal Inc. to conduct a custom ceremony filled with love. The couple also decided to work in a Champagne toast in the ceremony, which made for a fun and unexpected moment for their guests.
After sharing a first kiss as husband and wife, the seated candlelit reception began in the ballroom. Dinner included seasonal comfort dishes like braised short rib, salmon in beurre blanc, and of course Nashville hot chicken. When they cut their tiered wedding cake by Baked on 8th, Charles jokingly sang “Birthday Cake” by Rihanna in the bride’s ear.
DJ JD of Born to DJ in Greensboro, North Carolina, set an upbeat tone for the whole evening. Once the dance floor “opened,” it stayed packed all night, and there was never a lull in music. The newlyweds had their first dance to a mashup of “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran and Beyonce and “Cupid Shuffle.” Dancing with everyone was the couple’s favorite moment. “Our guest count was 65, so between the welcome party the evening before and the wedding events, it felt like one big family by the end of the weekend,” Marja says.
The after-party kicked off at the hotel’s invite-only speakeasy, Hidden Bar. It was a treat for everyone, and they took over the joint for a few hours. Then, little groups splintered off to explore Nashville’s local nightlife.
Marja and Charles are venturing off on their honeymoon this summer to Italy. They’ll explore Lake Como, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast for a couple of weeks—a La Dolce Vita–beginning to newlywed life.