"Hiring Elizabeth & Kristi & their team was the best decision we ever made."
The Rest is History
Beka & Dean Topodas
Blue Ridge Mountain Club November 1, 2014
The story behind the union of this Virginia couple is unique, but poignant and sweet in the most wonderful way. Fate brought educators Beka Larson and Dean Topodas together in the area of Washington, D.C. in early 2014, and the rest is history.
“We were both working at the same school. He is an administrator and I’m an art teacher,” Beka said. “I started working there in February, we started dating in April, and then it just took off like a rocket.”
Just 15 weeks later, they eloped by the Potomac River in front of a small group of friends and family in a private ceremony.
“My son, Hayden, was in the wedding, as well as Dean’s daughter, Lydia. My first husband passed away from cancer, and I’m very close to his family — they took me in and adopted me,” Beka said. “They’re very good people and Dean wanted to have my late husband’s father perform the ceremony, so he did. He became certified to marry us and we got married on the bank of the Potomac.”
To get more of their friends and family involved in the experience, they chose to have a second, more traditional ceremony a few months later at the home of Dean’s parents in the Blue Ridge Mountain Club of Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
“Dean’s family has a tradition of people eloping and then having a second wedding to get married in front of everyone. His parents and his grandparents did the same thing,” Beka said.
“He is very much a traditional kind of guy and wanted the big ceremony and walking down the aisle — it took everything I had to convince him not to wear a top hat.
“I don’t like attention at all, so I just wanted to do the elopement. We compromised and decided to do something very intimate and warm, but still very elegant.”
A week before the big day, perfect weather was in the forecast for their outdoor Nov. 1 wedding, which was scheduled to take place with the jaw-dropping mountain views in the background.
However, they woke that day to freezing temperatures, potential snowfall, and winds of up to 45 mph that made it nearly impossible to get married beneath the tent that was already set up outside.
With just hours to go before the main event, and with guidance from consultant Elizabeth Hempfling, the couple opted to move the wedding inside Dean’s parents’ home.
“Hiring Elizabeth and Kristi and their team was the best decision we ever made,” Beka said. “With four hours left, they literally cleaned out the entire inside of his parents’ house, moved furniture around, and made room for a dance floor. What they did was awesome.”
Despite the major last-minute change in plans, the wedding went off without a hitch once moved indoors and created an even more personal atmosphere that was shared with 60-65 guests.
“I’d say it was really kind of perfect,” Beka said. “We’re both very casual people, so we were able to have something very classy, elegant, and high-end, but still have conversations with the staff as if we’d been friends with them forever.”
It may have happened unconventionally, but Dean and Beka’s story is one of an extraordinary love made even more marvelous by the beauty of the Blue Ridge.
“Everyone there is so down-to-earth, honest, and real, which is a big difference from D.C.,” Beka said. “We fell in love with Boone while we were there. Ideally, we’d like to retire there and live in the mountains forever.”