Whether he knew it then or not, when Christian Cheatham asked Megan Fleming to marry him on December 15, 2016, his bold romantic gestures set the stage for a wedding day to remember.
Christian and Megan were dining at a decadent steakhouse in Indianapolis, their home base at the time, when Christian excused himself from their table. Soon, the manager approached Megan and handed her a scroll with burnt edges, tied with a ribbon. The letter included the words, “One day you stepped into my life and stole my heart … Now let’s take the next steps in our journey together. If you are ready, come and meet me.”
The manager escorted Megan in a private elevator to the wine cellar, where she found Christian in a room filled with rose petals, candles and pictures of themselves as well as their families and friends. As Christian talked through their relationship — from meeting during a pharmacy residency and working together in Indianapolis to moving to Texas and back to Indianapolis to getting a dog together — he lit a candle to mark each significant moment in their journey. Then, he dropped to one knee and proposed. Of course Megan said yes!
After organizing such a sentimental proposal, it should come as no surprise that Megan and Christian searched for a romantic location that would exude equal charm and elegance for their September 30, 2017, wedding. So how did these two Hoosiers find the serene Richwood on the River, a picturesque mansion and 117-acre property along the Ohio River in Milton, Kentucky?
The couple decided to get married in Christian’s hometown of Madison, located in Southern Indiana on the Ohio River. Megan laughs as she remembers how, when they were dating, Christian would go overboard when describing his love for his hometown. “He used to tell me that when you go to Madison, the skies open up, the birds start chirping and the sun is always out. It always made me laugh,” Megan recalls. Christian may have jokingly called Madison “God’s Country,” but at least one time, his exaggerations actually came true. Megan remembers that the first time he took her to his hometown, it rained the entire drive south from Indianapolis. But then, about 10 minutes outside of this quaint town known for its downtown district on the registry of National Historic Landmarks, it literally stopped raining, the skies opened up, the sun came out and the birds started chirping. Megan says her mouth dropped open and Christian started laughing in disbelief, amused and delighted that his tall tale had worked and that he had so effortlessly sold his hometown to his girlfriend.
When they first laid eyes on Richwood on the River, Megan’s mouth dropped open once again. She says, “Richwood is breathtaking — the grounds, the mansion, the rolling hills, the charm. It was everything we wanted. It wasn’t directly in Madison, but right next to it, and that was perfect for us.” And being just two miles across the Ohio River into Kentucky allowed the couple to incorporate another one of their loves into their wedding day — Kentucky’s signature beverage, bourbon.
Megan and Christian wanted a romantic wedding full of Southern charm, and Richwood’s mansion and grounds became the perfect backdrop. But they also wanted their favorite spirit, Kentucky bourbon, to play a big part in the festivities. They had signature bourbon cocktails and a dedicated bourbon bar at the reception. The dinner buffet included bourbon-infused servings like grilled chicken topped with bourbon grilled peaches and smoked brisket with a bacon-bourbon demi-glace. The welcome boxes included bourbon salted caramels, handmade by Megan’s mother, and mini bottles of bourbon with a label stamped “Hair of the Dog” for late-night revelers. Instead of a guestbook, the Cheathams asked their family and friends to sign a bourbon barrel top. And instead of table numbers, guests were seated according to the name of the bourbon bottle at their table.
But without a doubt, the most intriguing use of bourbon at the Cheatham’s wedding was based on a Southern superstition that promises the couple beautiful weather on their wedding day. According to tradition, in order to ensure a gorgeous wedding day, the couple must bury a full bottle of bourbon (they chose Blanton’s, their favorite brand) upside-down, near the spot they will be married, exactly 30 days before their nuptials. Once the bride and groom dig up the bourbon, they should share a toast with the wedding party. Megan and Christian carefully followed these directions and dug up the bottle on the morning of their wedding, near the tree they would be married under later that day. The shovel was even adorned with a pretty white ribbon! The couple gifted each bridesmaid and groomsman a bourbon glass engraved with their initials, and the entire wedding party shared a toast and a sip together.
Christian must have good luck opening the skies and orchestrating a sunny day in “God’s Country,” because just like when he took Megan to Madison for the first time, there was not a cloud in the sky when they were married. The 70-degree sunny day was perfect for their outdoor ceremony, where under the shade of the same tree where they buried their lucky bourbon, nearly 200 of Megan and Christian’s family and friends watched them exchange vows at 4:30 p.m.
Afterwards, celebrations ensued as the sun made way for a bright moon. Dinner and dancing under the enormous tent lasted into the evening, until the happy couple parted under a sea of sparklers and enjoyed a few more pictures in the moonlight. Fittingly, this romantic couple spent two weeks abroad for their honeymoon, visiting Positano, Italy, and Santorini, Greece, where — we’re willing to bet — they enjoyed perfect weather.
Cheers to you, Megan and Christian! We wish you many years of health, happiness, romance, beautiful weather and good bourbon!
Venue: Richwood on the River
Wedding planner: Colleen Sutton of Ava Rose Event Design
Photography: Loft Three Photography
Videography: Fox & Rayne Creative
Bride’s gown: Essense of Australia
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Dessy, Theia, Jasmine B2 and Jenny Yoo from Bella Bridesmaids
Bride hair and makeup: Tori Nichole
Bridesmaid hair: Courtney Tucker
Bridesmaid makeup: Kelly Neaves of Cincimakeup
Groom’s & groomsmen’s formal wear: Slate Blue Aspen Suit from Jim’s Formal Wear
Invitations: Oliver’s Twist
Program, menu, and seating chart (on mirrors): Jessica Page Designs
Flowers: Hazelfield Farm
Catering: Masterson’s Catering
Beverages: North Side Liquors
Music: My Yellow Rickshaw
Cake: The BonBonerie
Pyrotechnics: W.A. Loeffler Enterprises
Tent rental: Advantage Tent Rental
Read more romantic wedding day stories in our “Weddings” section!