When I first started checking out this Virginia wedding, there was something so romantic that I loved so much about it. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Yes, I loved the cake, the bridesmaids bouquets, the centerpieces, the veil… but there was something more in the images from Love Life Images that I just couldn’t place. And then I read the brides description of the day. And it hit me. This whole entire affair, planned by the couple and the pro’s over at A. Dominick Events, was a family affair. Every single detail was carefully chosen by the bride and groom to represent a special part of their family. Family members took part of the ceremony, planning, prep, and reception. No wonder it seemed so special! Definitely click here for the whole wedding in the gallery.

I think in many ways, the driving force for our wedding was family and friends.  We wanted our wedding to be a celebration not only of our life together but of all the people who have shaped our lives and our relationship.  We tried to weave family elements into the details of our wedding whenever we could.  Matt’s uncle presided over our ceremony, his aunt sang Bach’s Ave Marie for our mothers and grandparents as they came down the aisle, and his father selected the exsultate jubilate for our recessional.

I chose my long veil to be reminiscent of the handmade lace one my grandmother wore in her wedding in the 1930′s, but the one I wore had alonson lace to reflect my mother’s wedding gown.  My bouquet held two peonies from my great grandmother’s peony bush and was wrapped in a lace handkerchief from my father’s mother.  The peonies, which were much of the inspiration behind our wedding decor, came from a peony bush that had been transported from my great grandmother’s garden, to my grandmother’s garden, to my mother’s garden.

Family elements continued at the reception, where we used clothes pins to string up old family photos.  Our cake-topper was my great -great aunt’s from her flapper wedding in the 1920s and we cut the cake with the cake cutter my parent’s used at their wedding. What has been particularly special is seeing some of our wedding traditions now continue with our family and friends.  My sister wore my stephinotis hair pins in her wedding this past November, and my friend Andrea wore them in her wedding this spring.

We tried to capture a casually elegant feel throughout the wedding, and wanted a relaxed garden party reception, where everyone could kick back and relax and just have a grand time.  All of our flowers were relaxed and natural – I wanted flowers that really looked like flowers – loose and luscious and joyous. The grounds were so beautiful, and we wanted people to wander and explore all that the gardens had to offer – so a big bucket of flip flops was a must.We set up lawn games like croquet and bacchi ball and horse shoes around the grounds so that people had fun things to do. Others took advantage of the old fashioned rocking chairs to sit on the porch and enjoy the views of the Potomac.

The meal was meant to reflect east coast summer time cooking at it’s best – garden tomato and goat cheese salad, simple roasted summer vegetables, and a heavenly seafood pot pie.  Big pitchers of lemonade and iced teas were particular hits since it end up being a hot day.  For a surprise, we served cookies with mini school-days style milk cartons along with wedding cake for dessert.

In terms of decor, details were important to me.  I wanted to have a lot of unexpected details, but to have them blend easily into our wedding.  I felt like it wasn’t about the details, but that they could really enhanced our guest’s experience.  Our welcome bags were filled with treats from my native Maryland – Utz chips, Rhebs candies, and Bergers cookies, and lists with our favorite things to do in DC, so our out of town family and friends could enjoy our favorite parts of the city.  Our programs were all hand made, as was our guest book at the reception. I also hand made the table markers.  To reflect the garden theme, we selected flower names which we printed, posted, and “planted” in moss covered planters to look like garden markers. We had cocktail napkins with our joint monogram – CMB, and drink sticks stamped with peonies. To reflect the causally elegant garden feel, we went with rough burlap table cloths covered in a crisp white linen topper with eclectic antique china and old fashioned wine and champagne glasses. Our favors were absurdly delicious shortbread cookies that I’m proud to say Matt made from scratch – all 400 or so of them!

In terms of my favorite memories from the day, I’d have to say having a relaxed morning with mom, sister, and the rest of my bridesmaids, including my friend who flew back from Afghanistan to be there, seeing Matt when the doors opened at Holy Trinity – it was every bit as heart stopping as everyone says it will be, taking pictures at the Monuments, particularly on the back of the Lincoln Memorial where we got engaged, playing croquet barefoot with my bridesmaids, and sitting out in the garden watching the fire flies as dusk fell over the Potomac at the end of the night.

Event Planner: A. Dominick Events / Florist: Sidra Forman / Ceremony Venue: Holy Trinity Catholic Church / Reception Venue:  George Washington River Farm / Catering: Design Cuisine / Photography: Love Life Images / Videography: Blue Sky Films

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