This Couple Personalized Every Element of Their Virginia Wedding
Julianne Baker was a freshman at The University of Virginia when she and her friends ventured to a party at Aaron Kur's fraternity house. They spent the night talking, and she returned the following week for another gathering, during which they exchanged numbers, and a week after that he invited her to his frat's formal. It wasn't long until they started dating. "After our first date, I texted my friends (who became my bridesmaids) 'start planning the wedding,'" says Julianne.
But before they could get hitched, they had to conquer long-distance love when Aaron moved to New York City post-graduation and Julianne stayed in Charlottesville for three years to finish school. But she joined him, and after five-plus years together, Aaron shocked Julianne with an engagement. They were home in the D.C. area for Father's Day weekend and went for a spontaneous run—at least that's what Julianne thought. Little did she know, Aaron crafted a plan involving their families that landed them at the Georgetown waterfront, with him down on one knee, her dad taking pictures from a hidden spot, and their parents and siblings on hand to celebrate the occasion at their favorite restaurant later that afternoon.
A year-and-a-half later, on September 30, 2017, the Manhattan-based pair returned to the town where it all began, for a wedding weekend in Virginia with 147 guests. It was a reunion for some, a vacation for others, but a celebration for all—starting with a rehearsal dinner and welcome party at the site of that first date that sparked the marriage prediction seven years prior.
They chose Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards and landed on a theme that drew from European influences and a garden vibe to fit the outdoor ceremony. The stationery was inspired by French toile with a whimsical twist, and blue-and-white was paired with muted tones taken from the flowers that grow on the property in late fall. The couple worked hard to make every aspect of their wedding personal to them and reflective of their lives, and in the end, it was a dreamy, fun, and love-filled day. "In many ways, it brought us back to so many memories of where we met and fell in love," says Aaron.
The stationery was inspired by the couple's favorite coffee shop in New York City, a French café called Maman that uses traditional blue-and-white patterns in most of their décor. Early in the planning process, Julianne reached out to the café to ask who their graphic designer was, and they kindly put her in touch with The Webers, who then created all of the paper goods, starting with the motif that incorporated wine and cheese (as a nod to the vineyard setting of the big day) and dahlias and roses (the main flowers of the big day). Julianne's best friend's grandpa addressed the envelopes, which were mailed with symbolic postage—a Monticello stamp for Charlottesville and two Statue of Liberty ones for New York City.
Welcome to the Wedding Weekend
Gable boxes greeted guests upon their arrival to Virginia, and included a couple of nods to their current home in New York, like a mini chocolate bar from Mast, a bag of Pipcorn, and Saratoga water; it also had HannahMax cookie chips, a can of La Croix (the couple's favorite), and a note welcoming everyone and outlining some hot spots in town.
Julianne and Aaron both hail from the D.C. area, but a wedding in the nation's capital didn't feel like them since they'd spent so much time away (they moved to New York City after college). They wanted somewhere where friends and family could feel like they were celebrating together over a weekend, which ruled out the Big Apple, since everyone would end up staying at their apartments and guests would be spread out around the city.
The Charlottesville area provided exactly what the couple wanted for their destination wedding—not to mention it was where they met and fell in love. Plus, it was a reunion for many and an opportunity to share the beloved city with those who hadn't visited it before. "We had a sentimental pull to Charlottesville and had always loved Pippin Hill in particular," says Aaron. "Julianne worked with them as part of a class where students are paired with a local business, and ever since then, it became a favorite spot. Even after we both graduated, it was a go-to place for us on any trip to town, and a dream wedding spot for us."
"Aaron jokes that after we got engaged I called my mom, my sister, and then Pippin Hill," adds the bride, who calls the farm and vineyard the most beautiful venue she's ever seen and says there was no question it was where they wanted to tie the knot.
Dressed and Ready
Julianne's Alexandra Grecco gown combined the bodice of one of the designer's gown and the skirt of another. She had tried on a lot of dresses, taking her time to really envision herself in each on the big day. She had spotted the skirt in an editorial feature, and booked at an appointment at a trunk show at Lovely Bride so she could try it on. With help from her sister and a couple of bridesmaids, they decided on the alterations, and went back the next day with her mom, mother-in-law, sister, and sister-in-law to seal the deal. "I loved that my dress felt classic, with the princess skirt and volume, but still very modern with the neckline and structure of the bodice," she says. "The vines on the tulle felt like a really good fit with the vineyard location, and the silk applique flowers were so delicate." She accessorized with a veil and headpiece by Carol Hannah and a pair of diamond stud earrings borrowed from a bridesmaid and a diamond bracelet from a bridesmaid's mom. Café au lait dahlias and "distant drum" roses took center stage in the bridal bouquet, created by Mallory Joyce.
Aaron purchased a J.Crew tuxedo for the big day, but when it came time to head over to the wedding venue, he realized it was neatly hanging in the closet—back in New York City. Julianne had texted Aaron just to see how things were going and he thought maybe she was playing a prank on her and asked if she knew where his tux was. A slight moment of chaos ensued, with bridesmaids calling local formalwear shops to see if they could get something in time for photos. Aaron ended up borrowing his little brother's rental from The Black Tux—after all, that's what best men are for! And his brother wore a friend's, who wore a different suit he'd brought for the weekend. "It's a good story now, but the day of the wedding…that was a different story," adds Julianne. Aaron rounded out his ensemble with a Bonobos shirt, J.Crew bow tie, Allen Edmonds shoes, and pocket square from the Tie Bar.
A Graceful Updo
Julianne's close friend from high school styled her updo (he used to do her hair for homecoming dances, too), adding in the delicate headpiece. "I knew I wanted to highlight the open back of the dress, and we tried a bunch of styles," she says of the look she went with. "I liked that what we landed on was pretty unstructured and somewhat non-traditional."
Julianne's sister served as the maid-of-honor, and was joined by Aaron's sister, Aaron's brother's girlfriend, and the bride's close friends from high school and college. They all wore Joanna August dresses in a color called "Bohemian Rhapsody." Coincidentally, it just so happened that the dusty mauve color they were looking for shared the same name with Julianne's favorite karaoke song.
The ceremony was set on the lawn of Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, with views of the Blue Ridge mountains directly behind the chuppah. The birch structure was decorated with greenery and bursts of dahlias, spray roses, and other blooms in a wild and organic way by Mallory Joyce.
The couple worked with Aaron's dad (who officiated) on the script for the ceremony for an entire year leading up to the big day. It wasn't a religious service but did include a few Jewish traditions (mainly the chuppah and the breaking of the glass by the groom), a reading of Anna Quindlen's "A Short Guide to a Happy Life," and another excerpt called "Blessing of the Hands." The bride and groom also wrote their own vows, and the first time they heard one another's was when they were exchanged right then and there. "It was a really meaningful way for Aaron and I to make promises to each other that are specific to us, our relationship, and the life we're creating together," says Julianne.
The Little Ones
Aaron's cousin and nephew served as ring bearer and flower girl, respectively. They were both right around two-years-old and hopes for them actually walking down the aisle were low. But they did it and even held hands!
Taking a Dip
U2's "Beautiful Day" played as the happy couple recessed up the aisle. "We had done a few dips practicing our first dance in the days leading up to the wedding, so it may have been on our mind from that," says Aaron of the unplanned move as they exited the ceremony.
Aaron had his brother, brother-in-law, two childhood pals, and five college buddies by his side. Eveyone looked sharp at the black-tie optional celebration.
Attendees enjoyed cocktail hour (and views of the setting sun) on the venue's veranda. While guests were downstairs, the couple stole a few moments alone and headed up to the bridal suite where they enjoyed the same bites as their guests and sipped some Champagne. "We had the ceremony and the pictures behind us, and the dinner and reception ahead, and we could see everyone enjoying the cocktail hour through our window," says Aaron. "Time stood still for a few minutes up there and it was a moment of complete happiness." Adds Julianne, "We sat and had a calm moment in the middle of the craziness and just soaked it all in."
The Escort Cards
Simple escort cards were tucked into corks and set out on a round table. Each table was assigned a different illustration on the cards.
The reception took place in the granary room inside. Most guests sat at round tables covered with white linens and topped with either floral centerpieces in compotes or a collection of pillar candles and bits of greenery. The newlyweds, their bridal party, and their dates sat at a long row of farm tables with a narrow runner down the middle. Flower arrangements of café au lait dahlias, "distant drum" roses, spray roses, astrantia, porcelain vine, scabiosa, "sahara" roses, astilbe, hellebores, jasmine vines, and chocolate cosmos were interspersed with bud vases filled with herbs, mercury glass votive holders, and deep blue taper candles.
Greenery hung from the rafters (with vines over the dance floor) to make the large room feel a bit more intimate. Plenty of candles also made it feel romantic and warm.
Traditional French enamel house numbers were found by bride's mother and used as a unique way of identifying each table.
The Place Settings
Since the couple wanted the evening to feel very personal, the reception began with one of Julianne's favorite family traditions—prize crackers. Her family lived in England when she was a young child, and they popped open the festive surprises every year at Christmas and during big family dinners. In addition to the customary paper crowns, trivia questions about the couple were included so guests could quiz each other. The bride, her sister, and her mom made them each by hand, making it all that more special.
The menus were also placed on each plate, under a napkin folded and tied with a navy-blue velvet ribbon. The meal began with sweet corn agnolotti with warm lobster and English peas, and the main course was tenderloin and a Chesapeake Bay crab cake.
The First Dance
The couple selected James Taylor's "Your Smiling Dance" as the soundtrack for their first dance—which they choreographed with help from a few lessons. They went in to it with a loose routine to lean on and some fun moves to use, but left a lot open to be impromptu. "We had a lot of fun with it," notes Julianne.
Julianne also danced with her dad to "Dance with my Daughter" by Jason Blaine, and Aaron and his mom shared a spin on the dancefloor to "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N' Roses.
The Wedding Cake
Julianne's dad's girlfriend, Jenny Peterson, owns a bakery in Charlottesville called Paradox Pastry and makes beautiful cakes, and the one she made for the wedding was no exception. The two-tier carrot cake was hand painted with a subtle floral pattern befitting the day's garden vibe.
Platters of mini pies (the bride's favorite type of dessert) in mouthwatering flavors like Southern pecan, brown sugar buttermilk, Carter Mountain apple, mixed berry, and creamy lime, were set out, too.
Under the Stars
Though the weather leading up to the wedding day was a bit nerve-wracking thanks to unseasonably high temperatures, it cooled down for the weekend and the sun stuck around. Later on, the night sky was clear enough to see plenty of stars as some guests ventured outside to hang around the fire pit and make s'mores.
Sweets to Go
More mini pies were wrapped up with patterned napkins and sealed with the couple's motif as a sweet reminder of the evening.
A Sparkler Send-Off
It was another memorable dip after another unforgettable walk passed their loved ones, who this time were holding sparklers as "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood played.
Then, it was time for the after-party at a favorite bar from their college days where they dance to oldies with friends. And the following evening it was off to Italy for their honeymoon.
Photography, Rachel May Photography
Location and Catering, Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards
Day-of coordinator, Liz Brittle
Flowers, Mallory Joyce
Videography, Amanda Monroe Finn
Stationery, The Webers
Cake and mini pies, Paradox Pastry
Table rentals, MS Rentals
Hair, Nam Nguyen
Makeup, Linda Livernois of Rouge 9
Bridesmaids' dresses, Joanna August
Groom's tuxedo, The Black Tux
Lighting, Blue Ridge AV and Lighting
Transportation, Albemarle Limousine