Sometimes you just need a little bit of pep to start your day. A punch of color, a happy couple, or a ring bearer so cute it could melt your whole heart. And lucky for us, my dears, these Virginia nuptials have all of the above. Set in Virginia’s stunning farm land, it’s a day filled with whimsy and style, and so much pretty it could only be captured by miss Jodi Miller. Have a look for yourself in the fun-filled gallery right over here.
From the Bride… We met through my cousin, Gerald, 8 years ago while we were both living in Charlottesville, Virginia. Gerald brought Connor along to my family’s 4th of July festivities, and we jokingly say that there were fireworks that day. We bonded that night over our love of cooking & crossword puzzles, and we spent the rest of the summer together. I headed off to my first year at the College of Charleston in August, while Connor stayed in Charlottesville to finish up his last year at UVA. When Connor decided to stay in Charlottesville for Law School, we somehow made it work thanks to Amtrak, I-95, & Skype. We visited each other almost every month for 4 years, spending Thanksgivings with his family and Christmases with mine, and were happy to finally graduate and settle down together in Charlotte, North Carolina.
I am quite a planner, so when we (finally!) got engaged at a Christmas Tree farm, and after our many happy phone calls to our family + friends, I e-mailed our photographer (Jodi Miller Photography) and venue (Panorama Farms) that night to see if they were available. Call me crazy, but after dating someone for 8 years, we knew a few very specific things we wanted right away. We also knew that having a wedding in Charlottesville over Memorial Weekend would be a popular time so we wanted to book our vendors as quickly as possible. Luckily we got our top picks! We could not have been happier with our “team”: Kyle at A. Dominick Events was my rock in keeping things organized, Gay and her team at A Pimento Catering created the tastiest and most beautiful food, Margaret at Panorama Farms made sure everything at the barn was set up properly, and Jenn with Sugar Magnolias created the most beautiful bouquets and arrangements.
My dress search was so much fun. I went with my sister, mother, and 3 aunts to a few bridal boutiques in Richmond around Christmas. I knew I wanted sleeves and pockets. The very first dress we saw when we walked in ended up being the one I got. I tried on about 30 that day, but fell in love with Watters’ “Escalante” for its very classic, elegant feel. I felt like a modern day Grace Kelly in it! I ended up purchasing it through a local bridal boutique, J Major’s in Charlotte; they were wonderful to work with! I made my birdcage veil, following different tutorials online. I also made the feather hair piece that detached from the veil so I could wear it in my hair through the reception. My earrings came from a friend’s boutique in Charlottesville, Darling, and my antique sapphire ring was a birthday gift from Connor a few years ago. I am so thankful for Claibourne of the Honeycomb Salon (one of my very first friends in Kindergarten!) for making us all look and feel gorgeous that day. She listened to what each of us wanted for our hair, and her makeup artist, Anna, made us look natural yet totally glam.
For our bridal party “look”, I didn’t want them to look too formal. I mean, it was a barn wedding after all! I told my girls to get any style dress in any shade of coral/pink. They all looked gorgeous, and I tied their look together with Kendra Scott’s Elle earrings in Turquoise. The boys wore their own khaki pants, white shirts, & navy blazers, while Connor wore a navy suit. I got the boys orange seersucker bow ties, and Connor a really colorful orange/pink one. I ordered Connor’s, the groomsmen’s, and my Dad’s bow ties from CCADesigns on Etsy. I got those monogrammed in town, which the boys loved. I also ordered matching peach bow ties from Divine Domestication on Etsy for our ring bearer and our “Best Dog” Bowser (our 11-pound Boston Terrier). They both looked beyond adorable!
Panorama Farms was the only venue we wanted, and when we saw it a month after we got engaged, we knew it would be the perfect place to say “I Do”. It is a blank canvas, and I was able to bring in a lot of different design elements that worked perfectly inside. Our ceremony took place on “The Hill”, with breathtaking views over the Blue Ridge mountains. We created a very cool fabric installation on the grapevine arch and the back of the ceremony chairs: I got various shades of peach and coral fabric from the scrap bin at the fabric store, and we cut them into strips along with some ivory ribbon and tied them together on burlap twine. The result was spectacular, especially when the wind was blowing. Another benefit to the barn is that we were able to string about 200 cafe lights under the rafters ourselves. Our families came out with us the day before our wedding to set it up, and the result was so worth the hard work.
Our ceremony was very important to us. A family friend officiated our ceremony, and we worked with him on customizing our ceremony wording, making it very personal. We acknowledged everyone who came near + far, our family members who have passed on with a moment of silence looking out over the mountains, and we had moving yet perfectly “us” readings: Connor’s sister read the Apache Blessing, and my cousin read A Lovely Love Story. We also wrote our own vows in secret. We kept the styles similar, so we wrote promises to each other. I can’t tell you how many of our guests said they teared up during our ceremony. I was definitely crying through most of it! One hilarious moment was when Connor and I had our first kiss. I had this bright, bold red lipstick on and our smooch left quite a mark on his mouth. Luckily my mother gave me an old handkerchief from my Granny, and I pulled it out of my (handy) pocket to wipe his red lips.
For our wedding, we wanted to have each city represented where our relationship grew. Our welcome bags included Cheerwine, Charleston Chews, and a Virginia is for Lovers sticker. Since food is such a big part of our lives, we worked hard to find a caterer that really listened to us and created a customized menu for us. We used A Pimento for both the rehearsal dinner and reception, where we featured southern staples like pulled pork & fixings, shrimp & grits, and fried green tomatoes. They were great to work with! They made sure we got to taste everything they prepared, and it was all so delicious. Perhaps the highlight of the evening (besides the flowing champagne) was our donut truck. We don’t really like wedding cake, so we went through cake alternatives until we found the perfect one: Carpe Donut food truck! They had the cutest red truck with colorful string lights, and they served hot coffee and organic apple cider donuts to our guests all night. They even made us a donut “cake” to cut into. Our guests rave about the donuts to this day!
Also, can we talk about how incredible our band was? We used the Bellevue Rhythmaires, a local bluegrass band, and they provided great feedback when it came down to deciding on our ceremony music. We chose a few fun songs: The boys walked in to “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis, my girls walked in to “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers, I walked down with my parents to “Here Comes The Sun” by the Beatles, and Connor & I recessed to “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show. They led our guests in a 2nd line from the ceremony to the cocktail hour (about a 200 yard walk down the hill) to “I Will Wait” by Mumford & Sons. They also played a wonderful set through the cocktail hour, and our DJ (Davis Durrett of AAA Disc Jockeys) continued through the evening. Our last song was the epic 80’s ballad, “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” by Journey. After that, I did a quick wardrobe change into a fabulous sparkly gold sequin dress and we ran through a shower of sparklers to our limo with a bottle of champagne and donuts. It was perfect!
Connor and I are both pretty crafty, so we worked on many projects during our 17-month engagement:
• We made coasters made from our guests’ RSVP postcards with advice written on them that were set out on the cocktail tables under the barn. Our guests loved seeing all the different advice!
• I created a logo (the barn + our initials) with one of my bridesmaids who has a graphic design background, and we incorporated that into our invitations, koozies, and all of our signage.
• We printed and assembled the invitations at home, with the help of our neighbors and wine.
• The burlap runners were trimmed with fabric I purchased in India over Christmas.
• We purchased blank cornhole boards from a guy at our farmer’s market, and I primed and painted them freehand.
• For a guestbook alternative, I painted 3 canvases with Virginia, North Carolina, & South Carolina gold with a red heart over our favorite cities in each state. It made great art for our walls!
• We made the chalkboard sign with a layout of the barn, so our guests could find the bathroom or donut truck at any point throughout the night.
• I found a few things on the street in our neighborhood, like the window frames. I strung baby photos with burlap twine & gold spray painted clothespins, and we hung them on the door frame under the barn.
• I also found an old easel, painted it white and added chalkboard paint to both sides. This was used at our ceremony in lieu of programs.
• Connor’s dad made the wood slices we put under the tent.
Our wedding was literally the best day of our life. It was totally surreal to see how it all came together after almost 18 months of planning! We had the best time, and all of the hard work definitely paid off. We are quite enjoying our little married life together in Charlotte.
Photographer: Jodi & Kurt Photography | Event Planner: A. Dominick Events | Florist: Nature Composed | Dress: J. Major's Bridal Boutique | Invitations: DIY By Bride | Bride's Shoes: Lilly Pullitzer | Caterer: A Pimento Catering | DJ: Davis Durret | Venue: Panorama Farms | Bluegrass Band: The Winn Jazz All Stars | Groom's Apparel: Belk | Linens/Rentals: Festive Fare Rentals | Makeup/Hair: Honeycomb Salon