Classic bride Rachel shares her wedding at James Monroe’s Highland!
Rachel may have been surprised to find her wedding dress at her very first appointment, but from just a quick glimpse at her wedding photos and getting to know what matters most to her and Vince through her interview, I have to say, I’m not too surprised! I could have guessed that a classic lace gown with a full skirt and big bow would have been just her style, and sure enough, that’s what she ended up with.
These two did such a beautiful job weaving together timeless style and uniquely personal details for their Virginia wedding – I think y’all will love taking a peek. Thanks to Shannon Moffit for the lovely photos!
Tell us your love story in one sentence. Our blind coffee date turned into a 10-hour first date, and the rest was history.
Tell us all about the proposal! We recreated a camping and hiking trip we had taken two years before in the George Washington National Forest. We fell in love with this mountain because of the view at the top which consists of a grassy meadow surrounded by a 360° view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Vince surprised me with a proposal at the top of the mountain. He acted like he had to get something out of his first aid kit. I was so oblivious I was walking around taking pictures, but quickly realized what was happening. We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating in Charlottesville.
I never thought I would be one of those brides who would find her dress early, but I fell in love with my dress at Modern Trousseau Savannah during the very first appointment. After trying on several dresses and narrowing them down to two, I fell in LOVE with my custom dress when the stylist overlaid a lace top to bring everything I wanted to fruition. Lace top, long silk train, a bow, and a veil to bring it all together – this dress was truly the dress of my dreams!
Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes. As an aspiring wedding photographer, I really valued the extra time afforded for portraits and bridal party pictures before the ceremony. It also provided an intimate time for just the two of us to spend together before the craziness of the evening began. We were able to enjoy half of our cocktail hour with our friends and family because we decided to do a first look, and we are so happy we had that time to enjoy with our guests.
What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? We live in Washington, D.C. but fell in love with Charlottesville and the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Being able to visit the wineries and go hiking and camping in the area is a nice escape from city life. When we found James Monroe’s Highland, we knew we had a very special venue for our ceremony and reception. This beautiful slice of land is nestled at the bottle of the Blue Ridge and offered several areas to utilize that really brought the vision for our wedding day to life.
Our guests were welcomed to Charlottesville with gift bags full of Virginia goodies, but we had to make one exception! Though we live in D.C. and adore Charlottesville, the bride is a Tar Heel and the groom is a Florida Gator, so we had to make sure we paid tribute to our roots! My sister made state-themed cookies for the welcome bags and they were a huge hit!
What else was Southern? We had a monogram made for our wedding which carried through the invitation suite and details during the wedding day. We also used a monogrammed Sasha Nicholas champagne bucket as our card repository. I wore my grandmother’s pearls as my something old. The boys looked dapper in their blue suits and green bow ties. Of course, we had a menu of upscale Southern cuisine with some of our favorite dishes such as barbecue, collard greens, and grits – all with a refined twist.
Vince and I tried to weave meaningful details throughout the day that truly represented us as a couple. When preparing for our marriage, we read the book “The Meaning of Marriage” by Timothy Keller. One of the main themes of the book is from 1 John 4 – that we love each other because Christ first loved us. We used this as our reading during the ceremony, and Vince had this engraved in my wedding band. Also, the book discussed marriage vows and how this promise is not only a covenant to our spouse, but part of our marriage covenant with Christ. As such, we used traditional vows in our ceremony. Our officiants were also very special to us. We chose our pastor and a close friend and mentor to co-lead the ceremony.
Our favorite detail had to be the al fresco dinner. The tables, chairs, place settings, and florals all came together in the most perfect intimate setting. One of our favorite memories of the day was at the end of cocktail hour when we were able to sneak away and take in the view of the tablescapes with the candles lit before guests were seated. We knew we wanted to have a family-style dinner with all of our closest friends and family around the table. Having that dinner in the special setting, watching the sunset by candlelight, was a dream that we will never forget. I also have to add that I LOVED the place card display. The wax seals had our wedding monogram engraved in them, and each table was named after a president since we were married at a former president’s estate :)
We had a string trio perform for our ceremony and reception. We chose Ben Fold’s “The Luckiest” as our first dance song for several reasons. It is such a beautiful song that is really deep and such a metaphor for true love when you really listen to the lyrics.
Two tiers of our wedding cake were chocolate, and the largest tier was called “Jazzy Razz,” lemon cake filled with raspberry puree topped with buttercream. The flavors offered something for everyone, those more traditional or adventurous. The flavors even tasted great together – who doesn’t love chocolate and raspberry?
When did y’all get married? May 6, 2017
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 110
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? One way we managed to cut costs for our wedding was sourcing vendors not directly in the hot wedding market that is Charlottesville. Finding reputable vendors that offered the quality and aesthetic we were looking for from nearby areas was one way of saving us a lot of money.
What advice would you give to someone currently planning a wedding? We would definitely recommend using vendors who already have a working relationship. It really helps the wedding day go so much more smoothly!! For example, our planner and photographer are friends and work together frequently, so coming together for our big day to manage timelines and ensure all of the details were perfectly captured made everything run seamlessly. We would definitely recommend working with a planner, and having the planner recommend vendors with which they have established relationships. Many brides don’t understand how much tension can happen behind the scenes when vendors are not on the same page, so this is definitely one way to help eliminate that stress!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your wedding? Our wedding band, E3, was such a huge hit. Formally known as “Everything,” they were a big hit in the ’90s with their song “Who’s Got the Hooch.” Rachel loves rosé and that was something that carried throughout the day. It was the star of her signature cocktail, “Virginia is for Lovers.” Vince’s favorite drink is a Pimm’s Cup, which we appropriately re-named “Vin’s Cup” :D
Photographer: Shannon Moffit | Planner: Luxe and Luna | Venue: James Monroe Highland | Florist: Petals and Hedges | Wedding Cake: Pearl’s Bake Shoppe | Caterer: Garnish | Rentals: Paisley and Jade and MS Events | Bands: The Classical Hillbillies and E3 via Sam Hill Entertainment | Paper Products: Empress Stationery | Bride’s Gown: Custom “Whitney” Gown by Modern Trousseau | Bridal Salon and Veil: Modern Trousseau Savannah | Hair Stylist: Top Knot Studio | Makeup Artist: Gohar Makeup | Bride’s Shoes: Kate Spade | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Annabelle” and “Nyla” by Jenny Yoo | Men’s Attire: Dobell | Bow Ties: The Tie Bar | Calligraphy: Letterlyn | Watercolor Vows: Hey Bernadette | Rings: Shah and Shah Distinctive Jewelers