Elegant DIY Wedding at Belle Haven On The James
January 27, 2014
CasualRusticRustic Weddings
A gorgeous barn wedding, DIY details and just a touch of modern whimsy.  This, my friends, is what I call an amazing start to the week here on SMP.  It's the breathtaking backdrop known as Belle Haven on the James meets fab paper goods from Minted meets a rustic (+ modern) dance party, and you can see every last beautiful moment captured by Leo Druker in the full gallery.
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From the Bride... From our October engagement, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted our big day to look like and feel - intimate and personal while bringing city chic to the countryside. As an events person in my day job, I knew I wanted to plan everything and Patrick, being incredibly supportive, would help in any way.

We went to a friend's wedding in Charlottesville and, having never been there, I instantly fell in love with the fall foliage and the Southern ambiance. I found Belle Haven on the James, an 1880's Victorian mansion on 60 acres of land with a barn and plenty of landscape gems, and after talking to the owner, Jan, I knew this was the place I wanted to get married. She just started opening her private home to a few weddings which was a huge draw since I did not want to have a cookie cutter wedding. I've seen so many barn and mason jar themed combinations, I wanted to put a twist on my vision with a few more modern touches. From there, things quickly fell into place and the DIY projects commenced.

I hand-dyed the ombre napkins (seen on SMP), addressed the invites, made river rock name cards, and painted signs. Patrick, a woodworking enthusiast, built the trunk for our altar, signs, and table numbers. Together we made the succulent terrariums and orchid centerpieces for our reception tables to set the mood. The one of the biggest projects we worked on was making homemade soap and packaging it as our wedding favor. We were able to create our own unique smell and even do the science part of whipping it up which was a blast. Our friend/officiant made the bridesmaids' clutches and groomsmen's bow ties, while Patrick's aunt did my dress alterations. Working with our dear friend, Kelly, on the details we were able to plan, setup and have her execute the flawless day so I didn't have to worry about a thing. I really wasn't kidding that this was an all hands on deck type deal.

In planning an autumn wedding, I was really hoping for the crisp 75 degree fall day. Instead, we were graced with an unusually blazing hot October day. At least it wasn't raining and nothing could stop us anyway! For the ceremony, we wanted an intimate feel for our 90 guests, so we seated them in a semi-circle to have a good view of the vows. Patrick's oldest and best friends, Shelley and Tasha, were our officiants for the ceremony. They were our first pick because their marriage is a prime example of a loving marriage and a couple that has seen our relationship grow from the beginning. To include a piece of my Asian culture in our Southern wedding, we included blessings from our late-grandparents as well as a tea ceremony with both sets of parents who had the opportunity to offer marriage and life advice.

Rather than a formal reception, we both wanted it to feel like a big dinner party with our close friends and family members. We were able to accomplish this by having the seating at a long and continuous table and have the meal served family style. 20 South really outdid themselves as everyone was raving about the food at each table. To keep with our DIY theme, Patrick and his love for music was able to curate the playlist so we went sans DJ and got the guests dancing on our own. Without a DJ, we had members of our wedding party announce each portion of the evening: from first dance to cake cutting. I loved this aspect because it allowed our wedding party to have a bigger role throughout the evening.

The most lovely part of the evening was stepping away from the reception for just a moment. We were so far into the countryside, without a moon, that we were able to enjoy ourselves as husband and wife under a blanket of clear and shining stars.