It’s weddings like this which make me curse Vogue for not putting gorgeous, poofy ballgowns in the “perfect for everyday wear” category. Because you better believe I’d be rocking this dress every single day if only I looked as stunning as this bride. It’s totally gorgeous, and absolutely fitting for the wedding it was worn to. Karson Butler Events planned and designed a soiree so spectacular, I’ll be spending my entire day with every last image from Katie Stoops Photography.

A little more gorgeous from Josh Gooden

Colors
Seasons
Summer

From the beautiful bride… My groom George and I were set on finding an outdoor venue for our wedding that would supply natural beauty and majesty. Our wonderful planners, Amber Karson and Emily Butler of Karson Butler Events, found the perfect setting – the historic River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia. River Farm was owned many years ago by George Washington and is now the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society; it is open to the public during the week and features amazing gardens, play areas for children, and beautiful views of the Potomac River. We liked that it was a place we could come back and visit for years to come, eventually with our children perhaps. We invited our guests to dress comfortably in “garden party attire”, and luckily the August weather cooperated – it was a much cooler day than the days prior or following, and though rain threatened, it didn’t come down until we were all under the tent for dinner!

One of the most exciting elements of the venue was the complexity of the grounds. We were able to work with our planners and caterers to set up lemonade stations and other surprises for our guests throughout the property. We worked closely with our paper goods provider, Little Bit Heart, on a fun map of River Farm, which pointed out the lemonade stands, various gardens to explore, the ceremony and cocktail locales, etc. It came out beautifully! Little Bit Heart printed the map on the flip side of our programs, and we included fun facts about the grounds as well.

Perhaps the most exciting design element for us (especially since we didn’t know what to expect!) was the beautiful escort card display that our planners, Karson Butler Events, put together for us. They hung lanterns in our color scheme (red and purple) from the trees in our cocktail hour area, with long ribbons hanging from the lanterns and the escort cards (featuring beautiful calligraphy from Kathryn Murray) clipped to the ribbons. Guests were welcomed into the space for cocktail hour after the ceremony while our amazing photographer Katie Stoops took pictures of us with family. We got many compliments from our guests, who said the garden had a fairy tale look, and who raved over the calligraphy and adorable little clips! Our special lemonade flavors and three signature cocktails (my favorite: Bubbly Cherry Blossom Bellini), supplied by Main Event Caterers, were also a huge hit during cocktail hour.

We also had fun incorporating little details which we thought would be significant to our guests. One of the most meaningful was a photo homage to Sara’s father, who passed away a few years ago. Sara also had both her mother’s and father’s wedding bands incorporated into the ribbons on her bouquet stem as her “something borrowed

In terms of our favorite moments from the day, George’s wow moment was seeing me when I tapped on his shoulder for the “first look,” which took place in one of the beautiful gardens. It was a special and emotional moment for us both! I had picked a simple white dress from Mikaella – it had the drama I wanted, but also seemed to communicate simplicity and joyfulness. It was the dress I felt George would respond to emotionally the most, and I was right! My “wow moment” was when I walked through the ballroom and was shocked to see a photo booth (complete with props!), which was George’s surprise gift for me. I had wanted a photo booth early on but we had rejected the idea as outside of the budget. George decided it was worth it, and it was a wonderful and fun treat for both us and our guests – not to mention that it made me feel even more loved by and appreciative of my amazing groom. Our ceremony reflected our strong Christian faith, but we had some unique elements as well. I walked myself most of the way down the bridal aisle, and then George, already at the front, walked the rest of the way to meet me right before I walked through the guest rows. We felt this was a good representation of both our former self-reliance and our new union. Our bridesmaids, groomsmen, and adorable flower girls (who also carried a banner in front of us after the ceremony) and ringbearer made the ceremony complete. The beautiful dinner outside under the tent was also amazing – we loved hearing the toasts, eating the delicious food from Main Event Caterers (including a River Farm Flower Garden salad, incorporating edible blossoms), and seeing all our closest friends and family gathered in such a majestic space.

After dinner, we enjoyed dancing in the ballroom of the estate house with our guests and taking pictures in the photo booth. The flower girls, who donned stick-on mustaches from the photo booth props, danced up a storm and charmed everyone at the wedding! For dessert, we had a small cake complemented with a dessert buffet – another big hit. After the dancing was over, we all went back into Old Town Alexandria for an after party with our guests. It was a wonderful end to a beautiful day!

Photography: Katie Stoops Photography | Event Planning + Design: Karson Butler Events | Cinematography: Josh Gooden | Flowers: The Enchanted Florist | Catering: Main Event Caterers | Venue: George Washington’s River Farm | Invitations: Minted | Paper Goods: Little Bit Heart | Calligraphy: Kathryn Murray Calligraphy | Make-Up: The CM Artist Group | Hair: Hair by Jewels | DJ: Brennan Sullivan, Bialek’s Music | Tent: Rent-All | Photobooth: Booth-o-Rama

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