One Couple's Refined Fall Wedding at the Bride's Family Home in Virginia
Kendall and Nick like to joke that they found love in a hopeless place. The place? A neighborhood bar called Whitlow's on Wilson, in Arlington, Virginia. The two met by happenstance while both there with groups of friends. They started chatting, exchanged numbers, and got right to dating. About two and a half years later, Nick surprised Kendall with a proposal during a mini hike with their beloved dog Natchez. He kept his plans a secret all the way up the mountain, and just as the sun was setting, he pulled out a pocket bible and opened to 1 Corinthians, which was marked with rose petals covering the ring. He asked, she said yes, and the planning began.
Their venue was a no-brainer: Kendall's memory-filled family home in Mount Vernon, Virginia. They set the date for October 14, 2017, and worked together to plan the celebration based around a navy, cream, and natural wood color palette. Magnolia and cotton motifs imparted handsome Southern charm on the entire day.
About 240 guests joined in for the celebrations, and the couple went out of their way to make each and every friend and family member feel special and welcome.
The Invitation Suite
The couple hit the ground running with their theme, starting with the invitation by Emily Baird Design. The design was printed on cream paper with a wood backer and the suite also included a magnolia-shaped details card and simple response card that tucked into a tan envelope. A leather string tied all the pieces together before being shipped in navy outer envelopes with liners to match the motif.
A Personal Welcome
Kendall and Nick made sure out-of-town guests felt right at home thanks to bags filled with water bottles, champagne, chips, and cookies designed to honor their dog, Natchez.
Home Sweet Home
The bride's childhood home, where she grew up with her six siblings, was a natural choice for the venue. "The home holds an incredible amount of memories for us; my entire family is very close, and we have dinner at the house every Sunday night," says the bride. All of her married siblings have held their weddings at home, too.
The Future Mrs. and Mrs.
The bride and groom kept their ensembles classic with Nick in a navy Jos. A. Bank suit, and the bride in a lace Madison James wedding dress with a bolero to match. "I love dresses and I like to explore my options, so I tried on many," says the bride. "I knew I wanted something simple, sweet, and flattering for my curves." She ended up building off a lacy number from Global Bridal Gallery for her dream ensemble. They created a custom off-the-shoulder, long-sleeved bolero that buttoned up the back for the ceremony. Kendall removed it for the reception to show off the semi-low back.
Amaryllis Floral & Event Design created a lush but understated bouquet of cream roses with cotton, astilbe, delphinium, and magnolia leaves.
"I wanted to keep it understated yet meaningful," says Kendall of her jewelry. She wore her mother's diamond studs, a necklace Nick gifted her that day, her great grandmother's ring, and two bracelets: one with an infinity knot that all of her bridesmaids also wore, and another from her father.
One Big Family
Kendall had 14 bridesmaids, three junior bridesmaids, and four flower girls by her side. Apart from a few close friends, they were all her sisters, sisters-in-law, and nieces. The bridesmaids wore taupe Azazie gowns in the style of their choice, and the little ones donned white dresses from JJ's House.
The Ceremony Setup
Dark wood seating created an aisle for the ceremony, which overlooked a tributary of the Potomac River. Pews in the first row were from the church in Oxford, Mississippi, where the bride's mother and father were married in 1974. Side tables and desks used as accents were all family heirlooms.
Amaryllis Floral & Event Design flanked the aisle with planter boxes of white roses for a homey feel (these were repurposed later in the evening to dress up the reception tent). Olive trees framed the altar as a nod to the groom's Italian heritage. "It looked grand and understated at the same time—exactly what we wanted," says Kendall.
"We had no idea what the weather would turn out to be, so we had blankets and fans ready for guests," says the bride. The blankets weren't needed for the ceremony, but they came in handy later in the evening at the post-reception bonfire. Patterned handkerchiefs were also set out, as an eco-friendly alternative to tissues.
Sip and Settle
Guests were welcomed to the ceremony with their choice of either a cucumber water or an Arnold Palmer (Nick used to play golf professionally). For an added personal touch, their lucky number, 14, was placed on the straws—the couple met in 2014, started dating on June 14th, and, of course, got married on October 14.
Christopher Vazquez of Amaryllis Floral & Event Design had the idea of replacing the traditional basket of flower girls' petals with a magnolia garland to tie in the theme (and keep the little ladies going at the same pace).
The Bride's Entrance
Kendall walked down the aisle with her dad to a solo violin playing "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perri. Even though it was overcast all day, the sun peeked out for their entrance.
The couple's ceremony included personal vows. Both the bride and groom are Catholic, but they knew they wanted to get married at Kendall's home, so they planned on a traditional ceremony with just their parents in the months after their wedding.
The newlyweds shared a smooch after recessing to "Here Comes the Sun" by the Beatles. Sure enough, the sun peeked through again for their walk up the aisle. "This was especially sentimental because my parents have called me 'Sunshine' since I was little," says Kendall.
The Cocktail Hour
After the ceremony, Kendall and Nick snuck away for some time together (and for her to remove her bolero and bustle her dress) as guests were greeted with drinks and passed hors d'oeuvres. Mini golf, ring toss, corn hole, and other lawn games the couple loves were set up for some friendly competition.
Words of Wisdom
Cards were scattered around for guests to fill in with newlywed advice and items for their bucket list. They're now in a glass jar in Kendall and Nick's home.
Driftwood chairs were an appropriate choice for guests to soak in the Potomac views. An additional bar (made out of a canoe) was set up for guests by the river to grab a bottle of beer, a can of cider, or a mini champagne.
Bourbon and Coca Cola cocktails were served in glass flasks as a nod to Kendall's maternal grandfather, who's known as Big Daddy, and with whom she spent her summers in Mississippi. "Unfortunately, we knew he wasn't going to make it to the wedding because of health problems, so we wanted to do something extra special to honor him and have his presence in another way," says the bride. Nick pulled some strings so that the cocktails weren't the only way his presence was felt. "With the help of her cousins, I got to surprise Kendall with a video from Big Daddy wishing us the best," says the groom.
Cruise to the Booze
After photos at the nearby marina, the newlyweds arrived at the cocktail hour by boat. "As we came up from the dock, all of our family and friends cheered—it was surreal," says Kendall. A pop of bubbly kicked off the party.
The Escort Cards
To make their large celebration feel more intimate, the couple took the time to write each and every guest a "love letter" expressing how special they are to them. They served double duty, as Laura Hooper Calligraphy wrote guests' name on glass bottles that had a copper wire with a tag leading them to their seats. A sign at the top of the shiplap wall read, "Love Notes for Our Loved Ones."
The Reception Setup
Two extra-long tables for the bride and groom's families framed the dance floor, which was topped with a lush foliage installation.
What's in a Name?
A mix of round tables with Buffalo check linens were named rather than numbered, each representing an aspect of the couple's life (like Natchez, after their dog). Cards were placed at each table to describe the significance of the name.
The Place Settings
Tables were set with gold-rimmed plates with copper silverware. The centerpieces varied in heights, but all included roses, magnolias, and cotton. The menus, by Emily Baird Design, matched the design of their invitation suite with wood backing and a magnolia motif on top.
Refined Southern offerings included vegan chili, crab-stuffed shrimp with fried okra, and chicken roulade. The groom is vegan, so all the desserts were, too: They included mini banana puddings, pies, and cherry crunch. A monkey bread station (the confection was made using the bride's family recipe), warm cider, and hot cocoa was also set up.
A hedge wall with the quote, "They broke bread in their homes and rejoiced and were glad in it," anchored the bar in the tent. An identical bar was situated right behind it for use during cocktail hour. To riff on how the couple met, the sign on that side read, "A man walks into a bar..."
The Cigar Bar
A chest from Kendall's side of the family was filled with cigars for the taking.
The newlyweds kicked off a night of dancing to an acoustic version of Sam Smith's "Latch." After a few surprise choreographed numbers (including one by the bride's dad and brothers), guests took to the floor before a late-night bonfire capped off the evening.
Photography, Abby Jiu Photography
Event planning, Grit & Grace
Catering and Cake, Windows Catering
Flowers, Amaryllis Floral & Event Design
Videography, East West
Stationery, Emily Baird Design
Calligraphy, Laura Hooper Calligraphy
Officiant, Rusty Coram
Bride's gown, Global Bridal Gallery
Bride's shoes, Kenneth Cole
Hair and makeup, Hair and Makeup Artistry by Claudine
Bridesmaids' dresses, Azazie
Flower Girl dresses, JJ's House
Groom's suit and menswear, Jos. A. Bank
Photo Booth, Bash Booths
Transportation, Limousines, Inc.