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Sarah and Andras
Sarah, a food editor and recipe developer, grew up outside Chicago. Andras, a piano craftsman at Klavierhaus (a manufacturer of custom pianos) heralds from Hungary. The two met in New York when Andras was recommended to check out Sarah's new piano. She had stayed home for the appointment and was testing recipes in the kitchen when Andras arrived. "A peace came over my little bachelorette's apartment when he was there," Sarah says. "I invited him to stay for lunch."
So they ate babaganoush and labne with flat bread and had wonderful conversation. Sarah remembers thinking that Andras would be in her life forever. And Andras felt her inspiring energy and felt as if she had a glowing light around her that day. A couple of years later, they were engaged.
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Berry Hill Estate -- 600 acres of lush land and historic architecture -- was the perfect setting for the pair's fall wedding. The nature lovers and their guests utilized the Virginia property to the fullest over the weekend. Guests took canoe rides and long walks, played hide and seek in the orange grove, and raced around on mountain bikes. Kids and grownups ran barefoot through the lawn.
Just after the rehearsal dinner, two friends of the bride hosted a family variety show in the outdoor theater. A Southern supper of ham biscuits, homemade pickles, tomato pie, and blackberry cobbler preceded a movie viewing under the stars -- complete with popcorn, pillows, and quilts.
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In a nod to Andras's Hungarian roots, the weekend was christened "Eskuvo," which means "wedding" in his native tongue. The Eskuvo theme encompassed everything from the wedding website to the stationery, and this sign, carved by Sarah's Uncle Keith.
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Sarah and her father, Danny, walked through a canopy of trees to the ceremony site.
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A string trio played before and during the ceremony. The music included pieces by Bach, Vivaldi, and Pachelbel.
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The bridesmaids and groomsmen walked down the grassy aisle as the 90-some guests looked on.
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Flower Girls and Bell Ringers
Not wanting to abandon the traditions of a church setting, Sarah asked her friends' young daughter and son to be bell ringers. The girls ran up the aisles ringing hand bells loudly in celebration of the marriage, mimicking the sounds of a church bell.
The flower girls were the bride's nieces.
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Pastor Randy Williams of Halifax United Methodist Church led the ceremony. Sarah and Andras took communion at a stone altar built by friends under a tree.
Because the wedding was set outdoors in a remarkable landscape, the couple opted to use minimal cut flowers. But since a single tree was a centerpiece of the ceremony, they asked their florist, Bill Granger of Triangle Florist, to create this wreath.
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Two dear friends recited readings: The first was an essay titled "Friendship" from "the Prophet," by Kahlil Gibran; the second, a Biblical reading on joy.
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A good friend of the bride made the ring pillow. It perfectly matched the color palette for the wedding: yellow, gray, and ivory. The couple brought the pillow to Hungary, where they had a second ceremony the following summer. Their rings are his and hers wedding bands from Tiffany & Co. in white gold and rose gold, respectively.
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After being pronounced husband and wife, the duo shared their elation.
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Barefoot Up the Aisle
Two little ones led the recessional back up the aisle.
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The bridesmaids posed for a photo on the steps of the plantation house with one of the two photographers, Nick Pironio.
Sarah's sister is a designer and helped make the inspiration board for the wedding. She sent similar boards to the bridal party to assist them with their attire. The bridesmaids were asked to find dresses that suited their own style, but still felt true to the bride's inspiration.
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Mother and Daughter
Sarah had tried on her mother's wedding dress after getting engaged. The handmade dress from 1968 fit her perfectly, but the long sleeves didn't suit the warm October wedding. So Sarah opted for a sheath from Ulla Maija Couture. Wanting to incorporate some of the same elements, she hand-covered the buttons down the back of it using the same pattern her mother had used on her own dress. Sarah's mother, Donna, also monogrammed Sarah's and Andras's initials in pale blue thread on ivory silk and sewed it into the inside of the dress to act as her daughter's "something blue."
Sarah's hairpiece also hearkened back to her mother's wedding 40 years earlier. She used lace from her mother's own headpiece and had her friend Morgan Hess of Victor Osborne millinery create a French birdcage veil, combining "something old" with "something new."
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Croquet on the Lawn
After the ceremony, guests moved to the lawn for games of croquet. When Sarah was a child, her mother had always suggested that the children play croquet on long summer days. This nod to her was a fun way to engage guests during the cocktail hour.
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Another spot on the lawn was set up for dinner, with one long table lined with candles and vintage napkins. A few strands of bistro lights strewn above in the trees provided additional light as the sun set.
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The Place Settings
The long table was simply adorned with place cards, featuring the Eskuvo emblem. A stamped square box with whoopee pies inside also sat at each plate. All of the stationery was done by Sponge Cake Press.
As a wedding gift, Andras's parents gave the couple a stunning set of Hungarian porcelain that had been in their family for generations. They left the full set in the couple's little house in Hungary, but brought two tea cups and saucers and a sugar dish with the "kis madar" [little bird] to set on the wedding table.
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Sarah's background in the food industry played a large part in the weekend wedding's menu. She developed all of the meals' recipes and served the reception meal family style, with large footed tureens and pedestal bowls passed down the table. In addition to charcuterie, a variety of cheeses, figs, and fresh raspberries were served as an homage to Sarah's time cooking in the south of France and as a vegetarian option for the groom and other guests.
The menu was also inspired by the food cultures and family dishes that Sarah and Andras grew up with, their love of Mediterranean food, their shared meal during their first meeting, and the local agriculture of Southern Virginia.
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Created by a friend of Sarah's from culinary school (Judith Marshall of Piece O'Cake), the wedding cake was chocolate with chamomile cream. Andras picked up the cake at 5 a.m. the morning before the wedding and drove it down from New York City.
There was also a dessert bar with some old-fashioned favorites, such as Pavlova, carrot cake, and apple and cherry pies.
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A Trip from Hungary
Andras's parents, Andras and Erzsebet, made their first trip to the United States for the wedding.
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On a dance floor, surrounded by strands of light and set on the lawn in front of the main plantation house, Sarah and Andras danced to Eva Cassidy's "Songbird."
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Plantation House Steps
Guests taking a break from dancing could sit on the nearby stairs of the plantation house. Glowing votive candles scattered on the steps added to the evening's charm.