What is it about farm tables that make us love them so much? I think its the sense of heritage and family. Most farm tables were handmade after all, and then passed down through the generations. I love that Ellie + Breck made the splurge on those tables, cutting down in other places in order to achieve the perfect aesthetic and homey vibe. We also love how E + B showed their appreciation for friends and family who traveled in from all over the globe by packing their wedding weekend full of fun events in order to spend more time together. Big thanks go out to Laura Gordon who shared this lovely wedding with us!
One thing that made our wedding planning tricky was that the wedding was in Southern Virginia. My parents live in DC, we live in Chicago, and I travel every week for work. Planning to meet up with my mom to shop for dresses was very difficult! I scoped things out that I liked online and made a few quick visits to boutiques with friends but I knew that I had to make my selection in a whirlwind day with my mom. She met me at the tail end of a work trip one week, and we were lucky enough to find the dress 12 hours later. Although it could have been stressful, it ended up being a great time and a good excuse for my mom to visit me.
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We did – one of the most important goals for us when wedding planning was to plan a fun weekend for our guests and to find a way to actually spend time with friends and family during the wedding. You hear stories about people saying the wedding went by so fast that they barely saw the people that mean the most to them, and we were determined not to let that happen. Doing a first look was a great way for us to carve out more time to visit during cocktail hour and the reception. And I think it did wonders to calm my slightly nervous groom.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We took several ceremonies that our family friend (a judge) had previously used, and we personalized and combined of few of them into one ceremony. If I had to pick a favorite quote it would be this one, “Today, you dedicate yourselves to one another formally. Tomorrow and each tomorrow thereafter, you dedicate yourselves to one another by each act, each word, each thought.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had “A Marriage” by Mark Twain and “Union” by Robert Fulghum.
I think our favorite details of the wedding was the overall mix of really eclectic, vintage details. We had mismatching flower arrangements, wine in burlap sacks as table markers, antique style card catalogs holding our seating cards, and a vintage map with photos of us during all of our travels as a couple. The mix of all those details was what I loved.
Our wedding colors were blue, grey and yellow. With that in mind, most of our flowers were a mix of hydrangea, ranunculus, garden roses and freesia with accents of dusty miller and wild flowers. I am really against anything too “matchy” so all of our tables had slightly different arrangements with antique-looking jars and vases of all shapes and sizes. It had a very rural, “just picked from our garden and thrown together from a flea market” feel.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? We’ve both moved around a fair amount, yet we feel at home in Gwynn’s Island. It was important to both of us to hold the wedding there. We really made an effort to include local elements. We had local seafood (crabs, oysters, and clams), corn pudding, locally made cheese, and mint juleps. It was a very Southern meal. Some of our guests from the West Coast tried their first ever soft shell crabs!
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? The farm tables and the chandeliers. The wooden farm tables were more expensive than the normal table rentals, but they really added to the rustic aesthetic and they looked great mixed in with the traditional round tables. We also purchased the chandeliers that hung in the tent – otherwise it would have been simple globe lighting. We found a great deal for the chandeliers on Ebay. It was definitely worth the extra time to get the look and feel that we wanted in our tent. I also want to share our biggest non–splurge: the band. Our band, the Blue Tips, was absolutely amazing! They are a young, up-and-coming band in the region. They came in nicely under budget, but you would never have known that from listening to them. It actually sounded like we had found a way for Stevie Wonder to play at our wedding! People could not stop dancing.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story: We originally met the first semester of college in a history class. I sat in the front row and listened attentively. Breck usually came in late and sat in the back. I was unimpressed, to say the least, by his behavior. Fifteen months later, our paths crossed again at a leadership retreat. We bonded over their mutual boredom at the event and began to get to know each other. I mercifully laughed at Breck’s jokes, and he learned to appreciate my attitude. Over the years, we’ve moved around the country, each chasing the other to a new destination from Texas to Switzerland, Miami to Indiana, and DC to Chicago. If you can make it work across all those locations, you can make it work anywhere.
Describe the proposal: (From the groom) We had planned to spend Memorial Day weekend in Gwynn’s Island, Virginia with our families. Usually Ellie figures me out, but this time she thought it would just be a normal weekend on the Chesapeake Bay. On Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to speak with Ellie’s parents. After receiving their blessing, I waited all day for the perfect moment. Right before dinner, a giant rainbow appeared in the sky. Sensing the moment was right, I asked Ellie if she wanted to take a walk along the dock. Joined by her pesky dog, we walked to the end of the dock. The proposal was delayed a few minutes as Ellie obliviously chatted with a family friend while I fiddled with the ring in my pocket! Eventually the friend left, and I finally got to pop the question. We returned to the house and enjoyed champagne with everyone. We find it particularly special that we married at the same place where we got engaged.
In what month did you get married? May
How many guests attended your wedding? 150
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. I walked down the aisle to “What a Wonderful World” and “Here Comes the Sun.” We walked back up the aisle to “Daydream Believer.” We planned our first dance to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” (that is where Breck proposed, after all) and the mother-son/father-daughter dance to “Into the Mystic,” the band at the reception got confused and reversed our songs. It was totally fine though – we just had a good joke and laughed throughout most of our dance.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? I think our biggest planning challenge was logistics. All of us who were planning were spread out across four different states. My family home is also in a very rural location with no nearby hotels. The nearest B&B or hotel was still 30 minutes away! Figuring out busses and transportation for all our guests was very tricky. We could not have done it without Lindsay Averette, our wedding planner.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? (From the groom) Immediately following the ceremony, our whole wedding party and family had a few minutes of peace and relaxation behind the house after the recessional. The caterers brought us a tray of soft shell crabs and mint juleps – it was the perfect way to breathe and enjoy the fact that we were just married and ready to celebrate. Plus, it gave Ellie an excuse to share with family and friends the embarrassing story of how I once tried to make mint juleps with flour instead of sugar (not recommended).
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Pick what matters the most to you at the very beginning and then remember to prioritize that through the whole process. For us, it was having a whole weekend of events to spend time with friends and family. We purposefully planned a weekend full of wedding events. There were welcome drinks at my parents’ house Friday night, a cookout on the beach before the wedding, the wedding and reception, and a bluegrass and BBQ party the next day. In the end, I really got to spend time with my friends who had traveled from all over the country and the world to the wedding. Several of them told me the weekend felt like a vacation to them. That was the biggest compliment I could have ever received.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? (From the groom) We are packing up and moving to Connecticut for Ellie to begin business school at Yale. We’re excited about a new adventure and a new city! But before that, we are stopping in Thailand for our honeymoon. That will give us one more travel picture to add to our map.