While Lara and I were completing layout on V5, we basically died every time we scrolled through Whitney + Clarke’s wedding. Not only are they a gorgeous couple, but their Charlottesville wedding is among one of the most elegant outdoor soirees we’ve seen. Though Whitney drew design inspiration from Degas’ ballerina paintings, the Pippin Hill setting gave their French-infused nuptials Southern roots. And although it was a destination for all the guests, Whitney + Clarke knew their wedding had to be in Charlottesville. It was, after all, where they met and fell in love.
We are so very grateful for Patricia Lyons who captured this day and shared it with us!
Bride’s favorite detail of the wedding: My printed materials – from the letterpressed save the date to the stunning calligraphy and wax seals on the invitations to the Arturo blush paper we used for the welcome note! The custom suite set the tone for the rest of the design, and included really fun calligraphy details such as cocktail napkins with French phrases, the flip-flop “Check your ‘Choos” sign, dinner station signs, etc. The Napoleanic bee and garland motif was carried throughout the wedding and really branding the weekend as ours.
My Something Blue: My mom used antique lace she found in Italy on a recent trip, and had my monogram in blue sewn into a patch, that was then sewn into the back of my dress.
My Something New: On the day of the wedding, Clarke surprised me with a gift from our family jeweler – a pair of pale pink pearl and diamond earrings, which I wore that day, and matching pearl necklace. It was so special, and made me smile, since pearls have a particular significance to us.
My bouquet was composed of ivory patience garden roses, white peonies, white hydrangea, and Sahara roses tied with lace and satin ribbon. My grandmother’s handkerchief, edged in lace, was tucked inside. The bridemaids’ bouquets featured café au lait dahlias, antique green hydrangea, and Sahara roses tied with satin ribbon.
My literal inspiration was Degas’ ballerina paintings, the romantic quality, their balance of soft hues and saturated color. I wanted the wedding to reflect a similar elegance, grace, timelessness, and Parisian sophistication. Pippin Hill’s natural design has European countryside influences, and so it was a blend of Southern landscape and French Provincial aesthetic.
How did you spend the morning or afternoon before your big day? Friends of my parents hosted a lovely brunch at King Family Vineyards on the day of the wedding, which Clarke and all the guests attended. I slept in a bit and spent the day getting ready and sipping champagne with my sisters and friends.
My dress was everything I dreamed it would be – elegant and timeless, yet fashionable, unique, subtly dramatic and unforgettable. I simply loved it. It set the tone for the traditional and classic route we took. I had been scoping out dresses for years before we even got engaged and I always imagined myself as a fall or winter bride. I knew I did not want a strapless dress – I loved the look of long sleeves and a high neck, with skin showing on the back. After all, that is what everyone sees during the ceremony! After our summer engagement, I began scouring designer sites and fell in love with Monique Lhuillier’s couture “Catherine” gown from her spring/summer 2012 collection. I flew home and shopped with my mom and two sisters, and tried on tons of different styles, but knew I would not be satisfied until I could try that gown. A few weeks later, the sample came available and it was as I imagined: the layers of lace detailing are exquisite. We cut the sleeves to three-quarter length, since it was summertime, however wanted to keep the traditional dress lines with a bateau neckline and deep-V back. I felt like Grace Kelly in it!
What was the most memorable or touching moment about your wedding day? There are so many, it’s hard to decide on just one memorable moment – I wish I could go back and re-live the whole day over again, and again! Most vividly, I will never forget waiting in the tiny anteroom of the church with my Dad. Right before we walked down the aisle, he simply said, “Ready?” and smiled. Then the look on Clarke’s face once we processed, was amazing. I just thank my lucky stars that Patricia so beautifully captured those moments in photographs.
Tell me a bit about the wedding ceremony. We had a traditional Episcopalian ceremony. Music included an organist, a trumpeter and soloist. It was important to Clarke for one of our readings to be the Traditional Irish Blessing, as his mother’s family is Irish. After the readings, the soloist sang Amazing Grace a cappella, which is my favorite hymn.
Did you write your own vows? We used the traditional vows from the book of prayer. I think there is something romantic about using the same words that hundreds of thousands of people throughout history have said to one another on their wedding day. It made us feel connected to all those who came before us, and to our guests.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us your story. We met at the University of Virginia during my third, his fourth, year of college, and knew of each other through friends. However, we officially met at a party in the basement of Clarke’s fraternity house – he donned a David Beckham costume and we ended up dancing all night. Over Christmas break a few weeks later, we talked every day — and then every day for the next 6 years.
Describe the proposal: Clarke was working in D.C. for the summer, and I had planned to visit him that weekend. On Friday, he called me and asked me to pick up an important package that had been delivered to his place, before I drove to D.C. When I got to his room, nothing was there, so I called him to let him know I was getting on the road. I was still on the phone when he appeared around the corner. I was in total shock and still confused as he led me to a garden near the Rotunda and proposed. We spent the rest of the weekend at one of our favorite Charlottesville places, Keswick Hall.
Tell us about your beautiful engagement ring and how/why your husband (or the two of you!) chose it: My engagement ring is a family heirloom – it was actually designed by Clarke’s father about 30 years ago, when his parents got engaged! The ring features three oval diamonds in a classic setting, and we chose a round brilliant diamond eternity band to complement it.
Tell me all the basics of your wedding! We were married on the evening of July 7, 2012 in Charlottesville, Virginia at St. Paul’s Memorial Church. Dinner and dancing immediately followed at Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards. As it was the backdrop to how we met, where we fell in love, what brought us back together after years of long distance dating, we naturally decided Charlottesville would be the best place to start our new life together. We also wanted to share this special place with family and friends. As a destination for everyone other than us, it was important that the celebration be about more than just that day – we wanted it to be a getaway for guests, and for them to have to chance to explore the city we know and love so much. The weekend following July 4 seemed fitting for travelers. We kicked off the celebration with a hosted party on Thursday night, and the party did not stop until Sunday. As for the reception venue, I had a close personal connection to Pippin Hill: as the first employee, I had the privilege of being a part of its construction, development, growth and everything in between. It was truly a labor of love, my home away from home, a house that I helped build, and we couldn’t have chosen a more meaningful place to bring our loved ones together, to start our new chapter, and say goodbye to Charlottesville. It was an epic last hurrah!
What was the weather like on your big day? HOT! Unfortunately, a heat wave hit Charlottesville that week and uncharacteristic temperatures ran over 100 degrees on our actual wedding day. Luckily, our ceremony and reception sites had A/C and we brought in additional fans for the tent. Easton Events had the great idea of offering lavender-scented chilled cloths to guests later in the evening. They were a huge hit as the dance floor literally heated up!
How many guests attended your wedding? 275
Were there any family traditions you included in the ceremony? Instead of a traditional wedding band, we engraved a signet ring Clarke’s grandfather had given him, embossed with their family crest. So he now wears that ring on his left hand, just like his father and grandfather.