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It is with great delight that I’m kicking off sharing our V9 print weddings here on the blog! While this is the first wedding that appeared in our latest issue, it was actually the last one we accepted–it took place in September, after our deadline had come and gone! However, when the planner and florist extraordinaire, Jacin Fitzgerald, told us it was one of her favorite weddings she had ever planned, and that longtime SW friend Ryan Ray (who photographed my wedding!) was going to be capturing every magical moment and detail, we knew we had to squeeze it in to V9. And how could we not? Katie and Ryan’s Pippin Hill celebration perfectly blended their coastal roots and French countryside inspiration with undeniably Southern flair and hospitality. There are too many charming details in this day to count, but there’s no question that our office favorite is the cocktail hour “bow tie bar”–Katie’s mama expertly handmade a array of bow ties so that every gent in attendance could trade in his neck tie for the evening!
How did you prepare for marriage while planning your wedding? Ryan and I were long distance for the entire year before our wedding, only ending the distance a couple of weeks before our wedding. We would travel most weekends to meet up in the middle of our two cities (Knoxville, Tennessee and Jackson, Mississippi), which meant we spent many weekends in beautiful Birmingham, Alabama and Nashville, Tennessee. Living far apart while being engaged ended up being such a blessing in disguise. We spent the entire year so appreciative of every minute we could spend together. We cherished our weekend visits, and our year of long distance helped us remember, even after six years of being together, just how much we love and need each other. As we didn’t get much time to be together, we never let the wedding planning monopolize our time. Instead, we left almost all of our weekends wedding planning-free, and we used our time together to plan for our marriage and life together by truly appreciating every little moment we had with each other.
Jacin got my floral vision absolutely perfectly. I wanted a lush and loose bouquet. We chose lots of champagne, cream, and blush-colored flowers, and the bridesmaids had pops of color in their bouquets. It was so fun choosing the flowers with Jacin. She actually met up with me in Nashville one weekend and set up an entire mock tablescape, including centerpiece flowers, for me to see it in person before the big day. I got to look at all the flowers she used, tell her which ones I loved and which ones I didn’t, all while she swapped in other flowers and colors in front of me. It was such a special, interactive process, and I had so much fun planning it with her!
My wedding dress was a Vera Wang gown. My shopping experience was extremely special. I traveled up to New York City with my mom, my two sisters-in-law (who were my maids of honor), my mother-in-law, and one of my best friends (who was a bridesmaid). We went to two different bridal shops, but the dress I chose was actually the third dress I tried on! I knew immediately that it was the one because as soon as I put it on, everyone in my group suddenly jumped up, ran over to me, and started crying and touching the dress. I still hadn’t even seen what I looked like in it at that point! I turned around to see the mirror, and my heart immediately knew this dress was the one. I still tried on other dresses and went to my other appointment, but we all knew I had found my dress, and I went back to Mark Ingram Atelier and bought it that very day. I’m so happy I was able to find it with some of the people who mean the most to me by my side! We had pieces of my mom’s wedding dress sewn into mine, which was extremely special to me. That was my “something old.” I also wore my mom’s engagement ring as my something borrowed, my wedding heels were my something blue, and my wedding dress was my something new.
Describe your bridesmaids’ dresses. How did you choose them? I knew as soon as I got engaged that I wanted to have our colors be different shades of blue, and for the girls to all wear different styles of dresses–I absolutely love that look. I ordered swatches of gowns from a few different dress designers in order to figure out exactly which shades I would use, and then went to see them in person once I narrowed it down. I ended up finding four different Jenny Yoo blue colors that looked gorgeous together, which made the entire decision making process simple!
What did the groom and groomsmen wear? The groomsmen all wore deep blue suits with a variety of different blue gingham and seersucker bow ties and suspenders. We wanted the suits to be a lighter shade of blue than navy, and we were so happy that we were able to find a perfect shade. Four of the groomsmen, plus Ryan, were in a different wedding together earlier in the summer, and that groom decided to use the same suits for his wedding so that they only had to purchase one suit and would get multiple uses out of it. It ended up working out perfectly!
Favorite detail of the wedding: We actually both have the same favorite detail of the wedding! The ceremony was absolutely perfect to both of us–the mountains and setting sun in the background and the rustic screen doors framing us as we declared our love for each other made for an absolutely perfect scene.
We got married in Charlottesville, Virginia on September 10, 2016. I’m from Massachusetts and Ryan is from California, so we knew that at least half of our family would need to travel a great distance for our wedding, no matter where it was. We decided we would love to get married at a place that held special meaning to both of us as a couple, rather than just where one of us is from originally. Pippin Hill is our favorite winery in Charlottesville, and its views are absolutely breathtaking. We thought it was the perfect representation of the beauty of this special spot in the country where most of our guests had never been before, so we knew almost immediately after getting engaged that we would love to get married there. Fall is our favorite time in Charlottesville, so a September wedding was a no-brainer for us. As everyone was traveling from out of town, we decided to invite all guests to a welcome dinner the night before our wedding, and to watch polo the day after the wedding. Our guests all decided to make a long weekend out of our wedding, and we had almost 100 percent attendance at our welcome dinner!
Tell us a bit about the wedding ceremony. What part was most special to you? Did you include any special readings? Our wedding ceremony was better than I could have ever dreamed. My father walked me down the aisle to a string version of “All I Want Is You” by U2, his favorite band. Our dear friend from college officiated wonderfully, and he chose some very special poems and quotes to incorporate that resonated deeply with us. We had a ring warming ceremony, where we passed around our wedding bands through the guests for them to send their love and well wishes into before passing them on to the person next to them. We also had one of the bridesmaids sing the song “Halo” with the string trio. It was so special to have her sing during our ceremony. While she was singing, we invited our immediate families up to join us in lighting a unity candle to symbolize the blending of our two families. Another one of my favorite parts of the ceremony was that two of my little nieces walked down the aisle as flower girls. They got a little diverted during their walk, which made everyone laugh, but they eventually made it down the aisle, cuter than ever.
Did you write your own vows? We wrote our own vows and didn’t share them with each other beforehand, making it truly special hearing them for the first time at the ceremony. We followed the same pattern so our vows would have a similar feel to them. We each said “I am here because…,” “I love you because…,” and “I promise to…” with three reasons for each of them. We ended up having surprisingly similar reasons for each of them! Ryan was pretty emotional during his vows, which ensured there was not a dry eye in the group. I was almost jumping with excitement when Ryan put my wedding bands on my finger. So many guests came up afterwards to tell me how obvious my pure happiness and joy about being Ryan’s wife was!
We had our cocktail hour outside, overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains just as the sun was setting. To say the views were spectacular is an understatement. We had a bluegrass band playing to start off the night’s merriment, and our signature cocktails were served in fun coupe glasses and blue vintage goblets. One of my favorite details from the wedding was from the cocktail hour: my mom made bow ties in a variety of different patterns for all of the guys in attendance, which we had hanging at a “Trade your necktie for a bow tie” station. All of the guys ended up wearing bow ties for the entire reception, which was really fun to see. My mom also made a beautiful-smelling lavender sachet for each woman in attendance. She worked tirelessly on the sachets and bow ties, and everyone talked about how beautiful they were all night long! It meant the world to me to have such a personal touch.
What was the design inspiration for your wedding? Why was this design special to you as a couple? Ryan and I had traveled to the French countryside after we took the bar exam following law school graduation, and we absolutely fell in love with the rustic and lush feel in all of the little towns we visited. We wanted to replicate this feeling in our wedding, and our planner, Jacin, absolutely nailed it. It could not have been more perfect.
Our seating chart was one of Jacin’s most creative touches. We had Chelsea Petaja, who did all of our calligraphy and paper design, hand-letter each guest’s name, and Southern Fried Paper collaborated with I Do Linens to print the names on a beautiful linen cloth, which was then hung from a mantel. It was so different from anything we had ever seen, and completely fit our French countryside rustic theme. The reception decor was better than I had ever dreamed. Lush and overflowing flowers formed the centerpieces, along with small potted herbs and single flower stems in small glass vases, lots of blue candles, and votives. Each place setting had a vintage plate in a different blue pattern, and a hand-torn menu in the same blue marbled paper we used in our invite suite, programs, and welcome letters. They also had vintage silverware and individual salt and pepper cellars. One of our favorite touches was also at every seat: individual macarons in mini cake holders with each person’s name on them. They were so cute, and super delicious!
From Jacin: We wanted to evoke the feeling of walking through a lush garden in France, with beautiful antique style roses and hydrangea, accented with flowering herbs (the flowering oregano was a favorite) and simple statement bud vases. We incorporated different garden roses, from distant drums to iceberg, along with limelight hydrangea, clematis, freshly foraged porcelain vine with the most pristine pale blueberries, ranunculus, celosia, hops, smilax, veronica, pieris, gardenia, lavender, rosemary, café au lait, and sweet Nathalie dahlias and lisianthus.
From Katie: There were so many memorable parts of our reception! I absolutely loved my dance with my dad. Ryan’s dance with his mom was also a huge hit, since they called up all other mothers and sons at the reception to join them. It was such a sweet sight! I also purchased a cowbell for my brother (who always finds himself on the stage with the band at every wedding he attends), which was hilarious to watch him play all night. The speeches at the reception were all so touching. My dad brought out a letter I wrote him when I was 12 years old, which I never expected him to still have. His speech was equal parts sentimental and funny–it was perfect. We also just really loved how no one stopped dancing the entire night. Our band was absolutely incredible! It was awesome how our photographer, Ryan Ray, was right in the middle of the dance floor the whole night, encouraging people to dance more. He was a blast, and we had the best night of our lives. From Ryan: It’s so hard to narrow down the highlights of the reception to just a few moments. It was so much fun dancing with all of our family and friends all night. The dancing never stopped! The end of the night was also awesome, when the band played “Hey Jude” and everyone circled around the dance floor, singing it loudly to us.
Tell us about your grand exit. We did a sparkler exit with a second line from the band while they played “When the Saints Go Marching In.” It was such a perfect way to end an incredible wedding weekend.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met in the spring of our freshman year of college through mutual friends. We immediately hit it off and became close friends. I even went out to California to visit Ryan for a week that summer, and from that point on, we were best friends and inseparable! I knew right away that Ryan and I would make a perfect couple, but it took Ryan a little longer to realize it. After a couple of years of being best friends, we finally decided to make it official and date during our senior year of college. Five years later, Ryan made me the happiest girl alive when he proposed!
Describe the proposal: We graduated from law school in May 2015 and immediately went on a vacation with my family to Kiawah Island, South Carolina. I had initially thought Ryan was going to propose at some point over our graduation weekend, and when he didn’t, I thought he was holding off for a little while longer. Little did I know, he had planned all along to propose while we were on vacation with my family, because he knew how important it was to me to be able to celebrate with my family afterwards. One evening, my family decided to go eat at our favorite restaurant of all time, Husk in Charleston. We went into Charleston early to walk along the water. Ryan and I had been to Charleston one time before, and on that trip, we had sat on a bench at Waterfront Park, talking about our future. When my family was still walking around and my little nieces were distracted looking at the horse-drawn carriages, Ryan suggested we slip away for a minute to check out that bench again. At this point, my heart started beating like crazy as it dawned on me why Ryan would want to sneak me away from my family. We sat on the same bench we had sat on three years earlier, and once again, we talked about our future. Ryan pulled out a book he made that had pictures of us from the past nine years and a list of twenty reasons why he loves me. At the end of the book–which I could barely read at that point through all the tears–it said he just had one question to ask me, and when I looked up, he was kneeling in front of me, crying as well, and asked me the greatest question I had ever heard. It was so special to then be able to walk to our favorite restaurant, where my family was anxiously waiting outside, and celebrate with them for the rest of the night. It was the proposal of my dreams!
How many guests attended your wedding? 151
Tell us a bit about your first dance. From Ryan: Our first dance was to the Zac Brown Band’s “You Easy.” It’s a fun, upbeat song that suits our personalities. It was so fun swinging my new wife all around the dance floor with our friends and family cheering on.
Tell us about your wedding cake or sweets. Neither of us are big dessert people, so in lieu of a cake, we decided to serve one of Ryan’s favorite childhood treats from growing up in the San Francisco area: Its-It Ice Cream treats. They had a variety of ice cream flavors in between two oatmeal cookies, and the entire thing is dipped in chocolate–our guests raved about them! We also served late night grilled cheeses and peach milkshakes, which were incredible.
What was the funniest moment? Even though my sisters-in-law were my matrons of honor, my two older brothers actually gave the “maid of honor” speech, which was really special to me. They brought up every embarrassing moment from my childhood, and had me in tears from laughing so much.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are starting our new jobs at law firms in Washington D.C., decorating the home we just purchased together, and are just enjoying living in the same city again!
Planner, Designer, and Florals: Jacin Fitzgerald Events | Photographer: Ryan Ray | Videographer: Shaking Hands Productions | Venue and Caterer: Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards | Wedding Cake: Sweethaus | Ice Cream Sandwiches: It’s-It | Bride’s Gown: Vera Wang | Bridal Salon: Mark Ingram Atelier | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bride’s Jewelry: Brilliant Atlanta and David Yurman | Hair and Makeup Stylists: Amanda Dang, Tinsley Onuegbu, and Mariam Muhammad | Groom’s Fashion: Kenneth Cole Reaction | Groomsmen’s bow ties and suspenders: High Cotton Ties | Invitations and Day-of Paper Goods Design and Calligraphy: Chelsea Petaja | Cork Board, Save the Dates, Seating Chart Design, and Napkins: Southern Fried Paper | Seating Chart Production: I Do Linens | Place Settings, Glassware, Ceremony Altar Production, Custom Door and Vintage Rentals: Southern Vintage | Macarons: Buttercream Bakeshop | Macaron Hand Lettering: Laura Hooper Calligraphy | Band: A-Town A-List via Sam Hill Entertainment | Martini Glasses, Easels, and Trays: Festive Fare | Linens: La Tavola Linen and Nüage Designs | Favors: Beverley Venables | Transportation: Ambassador Limousine | Lighting, Sound, and Stage: Blue Ridge A/V and Lighting | Ceremony Musicians: Linden Trio | Ceremony Singer: Ashley Hogan | Cocktail Hour Bluegrass Band: Early Grove String Band | Ring Dish: Paloma’s Nest | Bridesmaids’ Monogrammed Bow Tie Tank Tops: LPE Designs | Flower Girl Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids | Mother of Bride Dress: Badgley Mischka | Mother of Groom Dress: Monique Lhuillier