It’s always fun to see the traditions and details a wedding planner chooses when she ties the knot herself, and for Katie of Shindig Weddings and Events…well, let’s just say she is certainly in the right profession! After she and Halston got engaged at Blue Ridge Farm, they decided to be married at the same place, and that was only the first of many details that paid tribute to their love story and their roots. We always encourage couples to look to their own stories for wedding inspiration, and Katie and Halston are a perfect example of a couple who did just that–and as a result, their entire wedding was unique, celebratory, fun, and so true to who they are! What more could a bride ask for?
I chose to wear my mom’s wedding dress, which was originally my grandmother’s. I actually never went to a bridal salon or tried on any new dresses. I wanted to try my mom’s dress from day one of wedding planning, and when it fit like a glove, I knew it was “the dress.”
Tell us about your wedding flowers. I more or less just chose the florist, not the flowers. I love flowers, but know very little about them. I am amazed time and time again by the work of Southern Blooms. By hiring them, I knew I would have the most beautiful flowers! Each bridesmaid bouquet was tied with a muslin bow with each maid’s name written on it. I loved this unique detail!
Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. What part was most special to you? Did you include any special readings? Very traditional! It was on the beach area of the pond. Though we were outdoors, it felt very cozy. We decided to forego amplification, which added to the intimacy. In many ways, we brought the church outdoors. Our altar was adorned with a cross, and every other guest seat had a hymnal on it. The congregational hymn was marked in each hymnal with a beautiful velvet ribbon.
Did you write your own vows? No, we stuck with traditional wedding vows. That was important to us!
Did you try anything new or nontraditional? We had the entire wedding party walk down the aisle together in the processional while my cousin sang “As I Went Down to the River to Pray” a cappella. It was beautiful and powerful.
We centered everything on the water, both the ceremony and reception. The color blue became a central design element. We attempted to embrace “lakeside” without going nautical. We also wanted to properly acknowledge the Fourth of July without going full-on patriotic. There was a lot we considered in our attempt to do something completely unique.
We had snow cones at cocktail hour! We were concerned about a wedding cake melting outside in the potential July heat, so we opted for a shortbread bar instead. We offered three different kinds of shortbread with a variety of berry toppings.
From Shindig Events: Perhaps the most charming detail was the chance Katie and Halston gave their guests to win a fish. This notion went back to the road trip they took to the Georgia State Fair, where Katie won a goldfish at the traditional carnival game, and then proceeded to drive him all the way back home to Charlottesville, where he (the fish) is still thriving today. That trip was a pivotal time for them as a couple and holds a special place in their hearts, and when it came time to decide how we were going to convey table assignments, we decided to present each guest with a ping-pong ball with his/her name/table assignment written on it, and then allow them to toss it and win a goldfish! A sweet poem was painted on a large sign to help guests get the concept. Our venue owner was gracious and allowed any “won but unwanted” goldfish to be released into her pond, but many, many goldfish went home with happy wedding guests as prizes! And we were certain to make sure we were purchasing “feeder” goldfish anyway, and followed all of the directions given to us by the pet store about proper care until their distribution :)
What kind of food did you serve at your reception? We served dinner station-style, with a wood grill, summer salads, and fried catfish.
We really built the reception design around a brand new Charlottesville wedding element, Cedar Space. This structure is a transportable, open-air pergola. We used that to design the most beautiful head table of all time. From there, we tied in the rest of the wedding reception using open air space and a stunning Sperry tent.
What is the one thing that made your wedding different from anyone else’s wedding? Our wedding was different in such a special way because it was a labor of love from all of our wedding vendors. The wedding community in Charlottesville is truly a family, and each person who worked our wedding is not just a vendor–they are my friends! I knew every face I saw on our wedding day, and it was such an indescribable feeling to be so celebrated and loved by these wonderful people I work with week in and week out. It was beautifully humbling and oh so exciting!
In addition to our most fabulous band, the Adrian Duke Project, we incorporated a couple of fun things into the reception. I went to school at the University of Alabama, where football is a big deal. Hot dogs in the stadium are called Denny Dogs, and they are the best! We replicated Denny Dogs for our late night snack, fondly referring to them as the Mini Denny. We also had buckets of red, white, and blue glow-in-the-dark gear for our wedding guests.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. Though Halston and I tell somewhat different renditions of this story, we first met in the fall of 2014. I had been living in Charlottesville for two years at the time, and Halston had just moved to town for a new job. Through mutual friends, we ended up at the same parties two nights in a row–one was my housewarming party and the other was a football watching party at Halston’s apartment. Our conversations were brief on those evenings, but we both left intrigued by the other. Over the course of the next year, we dated, we broke up, we became best friends, and we fell in love. In September 2015, a year to the day after we met, Halston told me that he loved me. We spent the fall by each other’s side, and on January 8, 2016, Halston got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. Without hesitation, I said YES because if I had learned one thing in the past year, it was that life is better when Halston and I are together.
Describe the proposal: Where do I even begin? The proposal was simply amazing. Halston and I had just gotten back to Charlottesville from our trips home for Christmas. I knew that a proposal was probably on the horizon, but I thought it was still probably a couple of months off. What I didn’t know was that Halston already had the ring but had accidentally left it at home in Georgia over Christmas. His mom shipped it up to Charlottesville, and the day it arrived, he decided he couldn’t wait any longer. So, he and Meghan, my sweet friend (and boss), immediately started scheming. They tricked me into thinking I was heading to a local wedding venue to be interviewed by a potential bride. When we showed up, Meghan and I started walking around, scouting out the property. At one point, I casually turned around to see Halston walking down the yard, wearing a suit, and looking a little nervous. It should have clicked in that moment, but instead, I was utterly confused. Halston got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. He and Meghan had set up a lovely spread in the venue’s barn. We toasted with champagne and simply soaked it all in. From there, we headed back into town and had dinner together at what has now become our favorite restaurant. It was so important to me to have a private engagement, and Halston knocked it out of the park. What makes our engagement even more special is that we ended up having our wedding at the same venue. It wasn’t necessarily the plan at the time, but it certainly couldn’t have worked out any better!
How many guests attended your wedding? Approximately 120
Tell us about your grand exit. We got married Saturday of the July 4th weekend, so we decided to end our reception with the song “God Bless the USA.” As the song ended, everyone was given sparklers. Halston and I ran through a tunnel of sparklers and rode off in his parents’ red Jeep Wrangler, which was all decked out with decorations. I stood and waved to the guests out the roof of the Jeep as Halston drove us away!
What was Southern about your wedding? I am from Alabama and Halston is from Georgia, so pretty much everything from the wedding guests (and their accents), to the food, to our song choices was Southern. We served lots of delicious fried food (think okra and catfish). I danced with my father to “Sweet Home Alabama,” and Halston danced with his mom to “Georgia On My Mind.” We did bury the bourbon to keep the rain away, and we revved the engine of our Jeep Wrangler as we pulled away at the end of the night!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are looking forward to laying low for a little while. We are spending time with our animals and pouring way too much time into fixing up our rental house, but home is important to both of us. Normal life feels good after months of planning!
What advice would you give to someone currently planning his or her wedding? Hire a planner. I think people can have the misconception that by hiring a planner, they don’t get to be involved in as much of the planning process as they would like. That is far from true, and having a planner to walk alongside you makes the process much more streamlined and enjoyable!
Photographer: Jen Fariello Photography | Planner and Designer: Shindig Weddings and Events | Venue: Blue Ridge Farm | Florals: Southern Blooms | Caterer: The Catering Outfit | Bride’s Shoes: Anthropologie | Bride’s Jewelry: The Impeccable Pig | Bridesmaid Outfits: Cleo Top in Ivory and Louise Tulle Skirt in Hydrangea by BHLDN | Hair Stylist: Top Knot Studio | Makeup Artist: Rouge 9 | Menswear: Jos. A. Bank, Banana Republic, and The Tie Bar | Paper Goods: Sue Corral Ink | Rentals: Festive Fare and Stonegate Event Rentals | Linens: Festive Fare | Reception Décor: Cedar Space by Maya Wood | Band: The Adrian Duke Project via Sam Hill Entertainment | Welcome Bags: The Detail Darling | Transportation: Southern Star Valet | Tent and Lighting: Skyline Tent Company