Alissa Polino and Steve Marck's relationship was forged in college, at—of all places—a bowling alley. "My roommate at the time had just started dating a guy on the football team, so she organized a group of girls and a few guys on the team to go bowling—there was nothing else to do," says Alissa. "After an epic adventure of walking miles in the snow to the bowling alley near campus, we met up with the group of football guys who I didn't know at all. Steve ended up being there, and we had a lot of fun hanging out that day." Shortly after, Steve texted Alissa's roommate to ask for her number—and the romance began.
Five years later, the pair got engaged during a fly-fishing trip with Steve's family over a Fourth of July weekend. They eased into the preparations and, after settling on Charlottesville for their fall celebration, chose Clifton House as their venue; it was a quaint little inn and had lots of beautiful outdoor garden space. "We wanted to get married and have the reception in the same location to eliminate confusing logistics, and it was also so fun to have the 20 rooms on the property filled with our family and friends all weekend," says Alissa. "The tent, food, and seating, were all included at the venue, which made things a bit more streamlined."
After a rocky start to planning, Alissa found Elizabeth Gopal at East Made Co., who helped bring the event to life. "I was all over the place with design and décor—I knew what I didn't like, but had a hard time selecting things that all looked good together, fit the overall scheme, and were in budget," explains the bride. "Elizabeth was so helpful." Instead of trying to do it all, Alissa played to her strong suits: Her work as a textile representative was beneficial during the process, since she knew just about everything there is to know about fabric. "We had Alissa collect hundreds of textile swatches and fabrics to drive our design of the entire day," says Elizabeth. "We allowed fabric, texture, and subtle color to guide all elements of our design." The goal was to add a touch of soft color into a neutral cream palette without getting too girly—an objective that was achieved with soft blushes, whites, and greens accented with honey tones.
The end result was exactly what the couple envisioned. "Steve and I wanted things to be simple, natural, and beautiful without being flashy or over the top," adds the bride. "Simple, elegant, mature, and timeless. I think we achieved it!"
A Contemporary Dress
For Alissa, the easiest thing about the planning process was finding her wedding dress. "I knew exactly what I wanted," she says. "I went to New York City and found my dress there, but ended up buying the same one at a small dress shop in Virginia so that it was more convenient to do alterations and fittings." The simple crepe gown by Suzanne Neville featured delicate straps, modern lines, and a romantic vibe. "I wanted to look beautiful and natural as a whole and not have the dress be the main event," says the bride. "It was also timeless."
Alissa accessorized with Alexandre Birman block heels; they helped her maneuver around in the grass. The blushing nude shade also complemented the wedding's color scheme.
The smoothness of Alissa's gown was offset by a textured bouquet of bright white flowers tempered with honey tones and gentle greens. Butterfly ranunculus, scabious, hydrangeas, strawflowers, hellebores, lisianthus, and garden roses composed the beautiful arrangement.
A Classic Tux
Steve donned a timeless tuxedo from The Black Tux and completed his look with a black bow tie, black studs, and a crisp white pocket square.
The groomsmen's refined white flowers beautifully highlighted Steve's boutonnière of pale green hydrangea blossoms.
Pretty in Pink
Steve's attendants wore classic black tuxes that coordinated with his own.
Adorable Flower Girls
Steve's niece and Alissa's cousin's daughter served as the couple's littlest attendants; they wore white linen dresses and carried delicate nosegays of roses.
Sweet Ceremony Décor
Alissa and Steve's ceremony overlooked the Blue Ridge Mountains, so the pair opted for understated flower arrangements—they were placed in urns—that would allow guests to take in the scenery.
The Last Row
An installation designed to resemble a "growing garden" at the back entrance to the aisle beautifully framed the space and added an organic element to the tableau.
A Simple Vow Exchange
The ceremony itself was short and sweet. "We wanted to keep it simple," says Alissa, who found their vows online. "I felt like the vows were real and relatable—that's why we picked them."
A Unique Display
Guests found their escort cards on a tall display built by the groom—it was a labor of love that featured close to 100 swatches of the fabric Alissa sells. Laser-cut wooden letters were adhered to the top.
A Show-Stopping Entrance
The entrance to the reception tent was lush with greenery, and made a dramatic statement upon entry. The floral décor from the ceremony was repurposed and stood sentry at the mouth of the tent.
A Stunning Reception Venue
The reception's floor plan was specifically designed to make the head table a focal point; the bride and groom were truly surrounded by friends and family. Wine-barrel chandeliers were strung overhead to coordinate with the wood poles and exquisite flooring.
Green smilax was woven around the central poles to bring the feeling of an outdoor garden inside—they also harmonized with the ivy-lined entryway.
Alissa, Steve, and Elizabeth Gopal of East Made Co. took an alternating approach to the guest table linens: Half of the stations featured patterned tablecloths paired with white napkins, while the rest were topped with cream linens paired with patterned napkins. These two looks were united by the florals—every table featured centerpieces in shades of blush, apricot, vanilla, and white.
Each place setting featured wooden-handle flatware and white pearl-edge chargers, plus a menu printed on handmade paper.
The tables' low compote floral arrangements were surrounded by small Ikebana-style compositions; sandstone-hued pillar candles fortified the event's "complex neutrals" scheme that Elizabeth ideated and executed.
Raising the Bar
Dainty, deckled-edged table numbers—they referenced the invitation suite—were floated on vintage iron stands, bringing an Old-World touch to the romantic tablescapes.
A Timeless Cake
White buttercream iced two stacked tiers of buttermilk-poppy seed cake with lemon curd, honey-orange mousse, and honey-poached berries; the dessert was created by Paradox Pastry Café.
A Trip Around the Dance Floor
Alissa and Steve took their first dance as man and wife to "You and Me" by one of Charlottesville's famous sons, Dave Matthews.
Photography, Vicki Grafton Photography
Venue, The Clifton
Event Planning and Design, East Made Co.
Flowers, Mallory Joyce
Invitations, Calligraphy, and Day-of Paper Goods, Curved & Co.
Bride's Gown, Suzanne Neville
Jewelry, Tiffany & Co.
Shoes, Alexandre Birman
Hair and Makeup, Anna Breeding
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Jenny Yoo for BHLDN
Menswear, The Black Tux
Engagement Ring, Diamonds Rock Jewelers
Wedding Bands, Pave Jewelers
Music, Polaris for East Coast Entertainment (reception)
Catering, The Clifton
Cake, Paradox Pastry Cafe
Rentals, BBJ Linen; Emerson James; MS Events
Transportation, Easy Riders Bus Company
Lighting, Blue Ridge Lighting