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Vintage Field Guides Inspired This Sweet Botanical Celebration
December 15, 2017
Southeast
WhimsicalEstate WeddingsSummer Weddings
Inspired by the vintage field guides she enjoyed flipping through as a child at her grandparents' home, this bride envisioned a magical, botanical celebration for her wedding day at Murray Hill. Bringing on a team of excellent vendors including Holley Heider Chapple, Claire Durán Weddings and Events, Amie Decker Beauty, Lisa Blume Photography, and Jenny Yoo Collection made her refined, organic vision come to life. And can you believe the bride created the seed favor packets herself? We have major heart eyes!
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From the Bride... I grew up in Virginia but spent many years living in NYC after college. Then four years ago I decided to come back to DC.  Chad did his share of working and living overseas before deciding he wanted to settle down back here in Washington. Then a little over two years ago, the stars aligned, and we finally met each other at long last, right here in the city where we both returned.

We had tried to coordinate our first date a few times before. The first time, Chad had reached out and politely asked if we could reschedule due to an opportunity that had just come along for him to go deep-sea fishing that weekend, which doesn't come along very frequently. I was mostly just intrigued to learn that this intellectual I had a date with apparently also had a deep-sea fishing hobby. He instead suggested another evening later in the week, but I had just landed tickets to see my all-time favorite band (the Pixies) play at the 9:30 Club, so that night wouldn't work either. Chad would later tell me that he was intrigued to learn that I apparently had very good taste in music. So needless to say, we were both pretty curious about each other by the time we actually met.

It turned out that we were both going to be near Dupont Circle the following Monday evening, so we ended up at this hilarious Irish pub together, which I still laugh about. I had a raspy voice from seeing the Pixies show the night before, so I was having a little trouble talking over the impromptu karaoke session that seemingly started out of nowhere over in the corner. I was telling him about the show when Chad chimed in about all the bands he's into himself, and with that discovery, the two of us basically launched into a few hours of extended discussion on our favorite albums and indie rock bands. This alone would have been enough to fill a whole night of conversation, but what actually drew me in was our countless other quirky interests and shared passions that kept popping up and surprising each other that night. We both had an inexplicable affinity for Japanese culture, a passion for cooking complicated meals, a love for city living. We soon traded stories about scuba diving and massive DIY home improvement projects we've undertaken (with questionable judgement), our tech geekery, our obsessive interest in design, and many other areas where uncanny overlaps kept coming up. It was clear that we both had a tendency to take on personal projects and completely immerse ourselves in our interests with studious attention and curiosity. Suddenly, we were on our fifth date within just one week's time, and Chad said something about how he "collects hobbies". It was in that moment that it kind of dawned on me: I might be face to face with one of my own kind. And that is how our loved ones tend to describe the two of us - we are totally one another's missing other half. I never imagined that someone so perfect for me existed. We were soon over the moon for one another. 

Chad was pretty smooth about things the night he proposed, I must say. He created a scavenger hunt for me leading up to big the moment. First, you should know that there was an occasion where I had pointed out a ring to him somewhere. It was a simple infinity band, but with long baguette-cut stones alternating with the tiny round-cut stones all the way around it.  "I love this!" I told him.  "It goes dot-dash-dot... it's like MORSE CODE," I whispered to him loudly.  He got a laugh out of that, because of course, a geek like me would be obsessed with the fact that it looks like Morse code.  Months later, the two of us had plans to meet some of his friends for a nice dinner out on a Friday night.  And I was completely unsuspecting that it was anything more, which by the way is typically IMPOSSIBLE to pull off with me. I had been getting ready when I suddenly discovered that there was a gorgeous bouquet of calla lilies waiting for me on the dining room table.  When I then saw a stack of numbered envelopes that were tied with a beautiful ribbon sitting alongside the flowers, I kind of knew that something else was going on that evening.  He had written out messages on each of the cards...in Morse code.  I had to decode these first, which ended up being a series of addresses.  I wasn't allowed to look up what the addresses were, I was just instructed to go to each.  When I arrived at the address on the first card, it ended up being the cheesy Irish pub in Dupont!  We had a drink and together we laughed and relived memories from that night.  After that drink, there were a few other stops we made together, but when we reached the Tidal Basin where the cherry blossom trees grow, that is where he got down on one knee in the moonlight and proposed.  He gave me a gorgeous vintage diamond ring that had been in his family for several generations - it's absolutely beautiful.  And afterwards, ever the foodie, we celebrated with the most amazing meal - a private dining experience at the most divine restaurant in the city (Minibar), where they welcomed us with congratulatory glasses of champagne when we arrived because they already knew that he had just proposed!

When I discovered Murray Hill during my venue search, it was simply a match made in heaven. It is such a magical venue, and has so many elements that made us excited - the riverside ceremony, for example. The estate setting with its formal gardens has an enchanting elegance about it by the manor house, and then there's the reflecting pool, which has a secret garden feel to it. And last but not least, the renovated barn. I've always imagined having a barn wedding. I love the idea of everyone feeling relaxed and easy. Having all of these elements in one venue really suits the two of us. We used the refined manor house for the ceremony, transitioned to the gorgeous formal gardens for the cocktail hour, and then the beautiful barn for the celebration.  It was as if we had three venues in one, and it all connected organically.

We were going for a botanical garden look that was organic and refined.  For me it was all about the botanicals.  I adore everything about flowers and gardening, and Chad is a world-class outdoorsman and unbelievable home chef who grows a whole garden of herbs and ingredients every year.  This all naturally came together for the botanical garden theme.  And I knew that Holly Chapple lived in Loudoun County, who was a trailblazer in botanical floral design - it all seemed meant to be.  Then one night I was remembering my grandparent's home and how they loved nature and had so many old field guides that I used to flip through, looking at the sketches.  I bought several vintage field guides on wildflowers and used the pages inside for much of our wedding stationery.

Holly Chapple did such an unbelievable job with the floral design - my guests are still talking about the breathtaking flowers!  They were beyond my wildest dreams, and my heart just sang when I saw what she had done.  I am so very grateful to have worked with her.

Also, in the days leading up to the wedding, I began to consider having the ceilings draped in the barn, which we had not planned on originally.  I sent an inquiry to Elegant Momentz, who I knew had done draping there before, to see if it might still be possible, although I did not expect they could on such short notice.  I was floored when they put the wheels in motion and made it happen!  And the effect was gorgeous.

Chad proposed with an heirloom diamond ring from three generations ago. Chad's family has an interesting lineage of American diplomats, and this ring is a piece from his great-grandmother's collection from when she lived in Italy. One of the things I really love is that we are getting married on the 8th of the month, and this ring with its two diamonds is shaped like the number "8".

Our favorite memory from the entire day was our first dance - I forgot that anyone else was in the room.  It felt like it was just the two of us, and I was filled with so much love and joy in my heart to be holding the hand of the man I love so much.

Also, my older brother Josh knew how much I love string lights, and so he teamed up with one of my bridesmaids' husbands to surprise me by putting up twinkle lights along the perimeter of the yard that day.  Not only did I absolutely love the lights, but I was so incredibly touched that they had done that for me.

I was definitely a DIY bride.  I love design so much, and doing the event design for our wedding became my creative outlet - I worked away for weeks on all of the little details, from designing the stationery to picking all of the glassware and place settings.  I loved dreaming up the menus, place cards, and table numbers in the theme of the vintage wildflower field guides, and sourcing all of the elements needed to bring my ideas to life.  I also have some limited experience in graphic design, so I was able to create a custom graphic to look like a vintage seed packet with our wedding details.  We used that for our wedding favors, which were candy-coated sunflower seeds.

I wanted a gown with illusion detailing at the neckline and layering in the skirt - they remind me of icing on gorgeous cakes.  I had visited several bridal salons and tried on many without finding one that felt right.  But, like many brides, one day I happened to try on a dress that was not what I had been looking for - in my case, it was a drop-waisted gown.  It felt so right that I immediately switched course in what I was looking for.  I found a photo of a gown by Watters that had gorgeous fabric and what appeared to be the perfect drop-waist silhouette.  After making some phone calls, I was fortunate enough to find a boutique that carried a sample.  It was my first visit to Lovely Bride in Georgetown, and I did not need to try on anything else after I put that Watters gown on.  It was the one.  The only thing it was missing was the layering in the skirt and the illusion neckline that I had originally envisioned.  So I put my drawing skills to work and came up with a sketch of design changes.  I worked with a seamstress to bring the customized design to life and the result was dreamy!