Virginia Wedding At Stratford Hall From Dave Robbins Photography, IV
July 7, 2009
By: eddye
Weddings in Historical Venues

Today we're finishing up our featured wedding from Dave Robbins Photography with a bit of Abby and Matt's story! But before we get to that, we wanted to elaborate just a bit more on the favors. Abby told us that in the 1800's, sugar was always sold in blue paper-wrapped cones. For their wedding, Abby and Matt were able to find these sugar cones from a historical reenactment company and used them as place cards as well as favors. They were also Abby's "something blue." Betsy Dunlap, calligrapher, wrote names along the side of the cone.

Photography by Dave Robbins

photos 2,3,4(above) and 1 (below) courtesy of betsy dunlap

Photography by Dave Robbins

from the beautiful bride, Abby ...

It was very important to me that every detail be incredibly personal and well-thought out. Our wedding was the idea of a weekend on Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay. It is an area about two hours outside of Washington, D.C. where I have many fond memories of weekends at my grandparent's summer house on the beach and later on, at my parents home next door. Summers were spent with all of my cousins and sisters enjoying the water and the traditions of the area.

This area of Virginia, called the Northern Neck, is incredibly historic and I would visit Stratford Hall often, knowing that someday this is where I wanted my wedding to be.  How could anyone resist the drama of those steps and having the entire grounds to yourself for your special day?  I didn’t even know if they would allow a wedding!

For our invitation suite we worked with the very talented young calligrapher, Betsy Dunlap who wrote out all of our pieces. We then had her handwriting engraved in a glossy black ink on Crane’s pearl white papers. Betsy also addressed all of the invitations and we used affectionate names for friends and family on the inner envelopes. We also did this with Betsy for our menu cards, programs, escort cards, and other materials.

Our ceremony was on the steps of Stratford’s Great House and guests were seated on the Great Lawn. We incorporated my husband’s Jewish background and my Catholic background and had both a priest and rabbi present, combining wedding traditions from both. During the cocktail hour we had cigar rollers from Tennessee who freshly rolled cigars for our guests. Stratford Hall provided our local Virginia-inspired catering menu. Other than the Virginia peanut soup and salad course, the meal was served on large silver platters so that guests might be more engaged with one another and be able to serve one another family style. We served whole striped bass, filet mignon, vegetable gratin, and following our wedding cake, Stratford’s recipe for ginger cookies. We sent down pounds and pounds of our favorite La Colombe coffee.

We found a local band where all of the members are in gospel choirs and come together on the side to play soul music. We had taken dance lessons at the American Ballroom Dance Studio (of Mad Hot Ballroom fame-Pierre Dulaine) and our first dance was to a Stevie Wonder version of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin' in the Wind”. Father and Daughter first dance was to Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’. We intermingled speeches, dances, and cake cutting throughout the dinner courses.

After running through a sparkler farewell lining the gardens paths, our official getaway from the party was in my father’s antique military jeep which he has saved since he was a child growing up in Montana. He drove us to a waiting car and we had a giant sign on the back where Betsy had written out “Just Married”. All of our guests then returned to the Tides Inn by waiting coaches and the wedding party in a vintage trolley.


Bride's Gown ~ Oscar de la Renta, "bubble dress" from Bergdorf Goodman

Shoes ~ Christian Louboutin

Bridesmaid's Dresses ~ Diane von Furstenberg, "Kacia"

Tuxedo ~ Ralph Lauren Purple Label.

Gifts to Groomsmen ~ Ralph Lauren black and ivory pocket squares

All of our flowers, including the two hundred pound fresh magnolia wreath at the top of the steps, were from a local florist, Bridget’s Bouquets. We worked with her throughout the year and she understood the vision perfectly on the day. I sent her ivory and hunter green grosgrain ribbon from a source here in New York I knew about from my friend who owns a successful ribbon belt company. We only used magnolia leaves, tons of ivory roses, and boxwood. She built boxwood topiaries adorned with ivory roses for the rectangular tables in the tent. Our cake table was covered in magnolia leaves.  Our cake was all ivory buttercream in a basketweave design with ivory roses filling the top and again was a local source in Fredericksburg, Virginia called Paul’s Bakery.

This plantation was the birthplace of Robert E. Lee and the only two signers of the Declaration of Independence who were brothers. There is an elegant history that can be seen in the grounds, the building, and the formal English gardens. We held cocktails and tented a large section of the Cutting Gardens for dinner and dancing. We wanted everything about the wedding day at Stratford to be more of a timeless elegance and to convey an element of the important history, but with our own twist.

Photography by Dave Robbins

Photography by Dave Robbins

Thank you SO much Abby and Matt for sharing your wedding vision and images with us! And a HUGE thanks to Dave Robbins Photography for the fabulous photographs that so elegantly captured the spirit of the day!!

For the full feature, be sure and see Parts I-III of this featured wedding on The Little Black Book Blog.