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Reading through Bonnie and Quentin’s interview, I kept thinking, “It was meant to be!” So many pieces of their love story and their sweet Virginia wedding came together in such a way that neither of them could have planned better–the fact that they met in the bar Bonnie’s dad had helped build years before, or that Bonnie’s dress is called “Dahlia” and she carried a gorgeous bouquet of the same bloom, for example. That’s not to say that everything was perfect along the way–no wedding ever is–but with such a firm foundation in place, Bonnie and Quentin were able to make the best of every moment (including an unexpected tornado warning in the middle of their reception!).

Thanks so much to Katie Nesbitt for sharing this lovely day with us!

Finding and working with Carly Reed Designs on the invitations and other paper elements was my favorite part of planning the wedding. After a few months of searching many invitation websites and stores, I was at a loss on what I wanted. There were certainly invitations I liked, but nothing that really felt like us. When I found Carly and saw that she also lived in Richmond, I knew I had to work with her! Going through the custom invitation design process was so much fun! Carly was extremely patient with me while we went through the process and allowed me to be as nit-picky as I wanted to be. I heard from many guests that they often have a “meh” attitude when they receive invitations, but they loved ours!

Describe your wedding flowers. Our wedding flowers were somewhat of a surprise– intentionally! Our florist is a farmer florist, so they couldn’t guarantee that they’d be able to produce or sustainably procure specific flowers. I had requested peonies or dahlias, and we were lucky to get gorgeous, large dahlias. I was so pleased with how all the flowers turned out. The selection and the colors fit our wedding perfectly.

Our families had collectively visited 32 venues all across Virginia before we found Riverside on the Potomac! We were still living in New York City when we first got engaged, so we were reliant on reports from our parents. When my parents found Riverside on the Potomac and sent me the pictures, we knew it was perfect.

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? We opted to do a first look and we are so glad we did. This allowed us time to do formal pictures with our wedding party and each other that otherwise would have been stolen from the cocktail hour (or not taken at all!). The best part about doing a first look was that it totally calmed both of our nerves. I think this may have made the ceremony even more special, since rather than me being an emotional basket case, we were able to be calm and focus on soaking in the words we were saying and the moments.

Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! The week before the wedding, I lost the earrings I was planning to wear. Luckily, one of my bridesmaids owned the same pair, so I just borrowed hers! My underwear was blue. I wore my mother’s veil as my something old, which was so special I really loved the way it made my otherwise-simple attire much more formal and bridal for the ceremony. Initially, I didn’t think I was going to use it since it had yellowed over the years, but after a little TLC with OxyClean and bleach, it ended up looking much better than expected. My shoes and dress were new.

On the day of the wedding, there was a potential for thunderstorms leading up to the ceremony time. The weather held out for the first look, pictures, ceremony, and cocktail hour, but right as we were lining up for the introduction at the reception, it began to pour. Since everything was inside from there on out, we thought we were in the clear! A few minutes after we sat down to eat, we began to hear the lovely noise phones make when there is a weather alert in the area. There were hushed whispers of a tornado warning, but no one was quite sure what to do. This is northern Virginia–we don’t typically get tornadoes! After a few minutes, I noticed my dad fumbling trying to turn the music off to make an announcement. I got up to help and ended up making the announcement that we needed to evacuate to the basement! How many brides have had to do that? Everyone made their way downstairs, drinks in hand. Luckily the “basement” was really renovated horse stalls with nice chairs and tables set up (we had even had our rehearsal dinner in the space!). The guests thought it was so fun and exciting (particularly since we were safely in a basement). It ended up being perfect for mingling with everyone, and we got some great pictures. While we would have preferred if this hadn’t happened, we think we made the best of it. All our guests said this would be a wedding they would never forget!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We both attended Virginia Tech and met during our last year in Blacksburg, even though we lived next door to each other for a year prior to meeting. We met one night in September at the famous TOTS (Top of the Stairs) bar in Blacksburg. My dad helped build the bar while working there back in the ’70s. Mutual friends began talking that night, and we locked eyes. The next July, Quentin followed me to New York City.
Tell us all about the proposal! We both love New Orleans, and Quentin considers it a far more romantic place than New York. We were there during Jazz Fest, and on our last day, we took a long walk to brunch. Quentin took us on a scenic detour to a nearby park that he had previously scouted. He asked me to sit on one of those amazing, swooping, curvy New Orleans oak trees so he could take my picture, and then instead of whipping out a camera from his backpack, he went for the ring. He grabbed the wrong hand, because even after dating someone for five and a half years, that moment can make your knees weak! Of course, I said, “Yes!”
When did y’all get married? June 20, 2015
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 158
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. Finding my dress was an intensive process. After the ninth store, I knew I needed to find someone who carried the Blush by Hayley Paige dress I had been eyeing online for months. I was lucky enough to get in touch with the lovely ladies at Pure English Bridal, and while they didn’t carry the exact dress, they were more than willing to have the sample shipped to their store. After some failed attempts with other stores to get the dress, I knew they were truly going above and beyond. As soon as I saw the dress, I knew I was going to get it. I hadn’t tried on anything similar anywhere else, and I loved the simple design with the light Swiss dot fabric. It proved to be the perfect dress for a hot and humid June day in Virginia.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $25,000-$50,000
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. Unfortunately, neither of us even saw the wedding cake or dessert table at the wedding! With the tornado warning and evacuation, there was just too much going on. We ended up cutting the cake the next evening at my parents’ house before we departed for the honeymoon.

Photographer: Katie Nesbitt Photography / Planner: Just a Little Ditty / Venue: Riverside on the Potomac / Florist: LynnVale Studios / Caterer and Cake: Main Event Caterers / Band: Adrian Duke Project / Paper Products: Carly Reed Designs / Bride’s Gown: “Dahlia” by Blush by Hayley Paige / Bride’s Shoes and Earrings: J.Crew / Hair and Makeup: Creative Images / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Elsa” in Leaver’s Lace by J.Crew / Menswear: Jos. A. Bank / Invitation Calligraphy: Calligraphy by Katie / Escort Cards and Signage: Letterally Crafts

lisa Written with love by Lisa

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At Southern Weddings, we are big believers in date nights, but that doesn’t always have to mean indulgent restaurant meals or buttery movie theater popcorn. Here to show us just that are Sara and Aaron, who shared their five favorite date ideas with us, including their personal favorite–a CrossFit date! Working out together is such a great way to get in shape, spend quality time with your significant other, and stay motivated, so with New Year’s resolutions freshly written and spring and summer weddings just a few months away, we hope they inspire you as much as they have us!

Thanks so much to Katie Nesbitt for tagging along with Sara and Aaron to CrossFit Falls Church to capture this fun date!

By day: Sara and Aaron live in Arlington, Virginia, where Sara is a writer and blogger at Fit for a Bride, and Aaron is a Bone Marrow Coordinator.

How they met: I met Aaron through his sister in college, and our first date was to a campus bible study! I remember him picking a flower for me on the walk home–what a sweetie! In 2009, Aaron invited me to accompany him and his family to Jonesborough, Tennessee for the National Storytelling Festival, an event he had been attending with his family every year for two decades. He proposed at the breakfast table the first morning, and now, we go every October and relive the beginning of our love story!

Their wedding: We got married at Oxon Hill Manor in Maryland. It was a beautiful spring day and the focal point for our ceremony was a huge cross my dad made for our altar. Aaron’s dad (a minister) officiated, and right before we said “I do,” Aaron sang one of my favorite hymns to me. It was the most magical moment ever! For the reception, we went the DIY route and used restored picture frames as centerpieces and ribbon for an escort card display. My favorite detail was the chiavari chairs Aaron surprised me with the day-of. It’s a day we’ll never forget!

Sara and Aaron’s top five favorite date ideas:

1. CrossFit: We love going to CrossFit together because we really connect when we’re there. Whether it’s through a little friendly competition or by cheering each other on, we always encourage each other and have fun. We both feel great after working out, too! Sharing a love for being physically active and challenging ourselves is a wonderful thing!

2. Cook a healthy meal together: Aaron works near a Whole Foods, so he’ll often call me at lunch to share the deal of the day. He’ll scoop it up and we’ll make dinner together when we get home from work. On Valentine’s Day, he surprised me with heart-shaped ravioli–for this foodie, that definitely won him some brownie points!

3. Visit the National Harbor and ride the water taxi: While we love a night of CrossFit and healthy cooking, we enjoy a night out, too. One of our favorite places to go is the place where we had our rehearsal dinner: the National Harbor! The area is full of fun things to do, like riding the new Ferris Wheel or shopping the outlets, but our favorite is taking the water taxi to Old Town Alexandria for dinner at the Chart House.

4. Breakfast club We started a tradition with a few other couples of getting together every Saturday for breakfast. We love it because we switch off deciding where to go and get to try new restaurants all the time.

5. Go to the library: We love spending an afternoon at the Georgetown University library! Aaron is a student there and always has a lot of reading to do, and being a blogger, there’s always a lot I can get done in a quiet place, away from the distractions at home! He orders a regular Americano, I get an iced one, and we sit together in the quiet room, working away. Yes, sometimes date nights don’t involve talking!

Thanks so much for sharing, Sara! Be sure to follow along with her on her blog, Fit for a Bride, and Instagram.

P.S. We’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – your inspiring friend, super talented cousin, or neighbor with the cutest house – the kind of person everyone would love to “e-meet.” If that sounds like you or someone you know, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Jackie reply

    Love this! My husband and I always say, “A couple that CrossFits together stays together.”

  2. avatar Emily reply

    So fun, Sara! My husband and I also like to get out and be active on our dates, but we’re not usually quite as impressive as Cross Fit :)

    • avatar Sara reply

      Thanks Emily! Though, we hardly think of ourselves as impressive, haha! Just having fun. :) I love the feature, thank you so much again!

  3. avatar Stephanie reply

    Such a fun idea!! Active dates are the best (though I’m not quite at the Cross Fit level!).. And I especially love this because I live in Falls Church!

    • avatar Sara reply

      You have to check out CFFC since you’re in the area! There’s a free class at 11am every Saturday. I’d love to see you there!

  4. avatar Abigail reply

    Love seeing this, Sara! Just started going to the gym with my husband – at 6am we don’t look quite as put together as you two! XO

    • avatar Sara reply

      Aww, Abigail – you should see us some nights after CrossFit we’re looking pretty rough; I guess that’s true love, huh? (Admire you for those early morning workouts!)

  5. avatar Sara reply

    I’m so honored to be featured as a Southern Newlywed! Thank you for this awesome experience! <3

  6. avatar Jeannine | The Small and Chic Home reply

    I have to admit that I didn’t even know about Crossfit until I saw Sara write about it on her blog a while back. It’s amazing how many Crossfit couples there are!

  7. avatar JEANNE FORTE OKI reply

    Sara and Aaron are my niece and nephew through marriage. I was at their beautiful wedding ceremony and reception. They are two special and spiritual people. I am so proud of them and wish them both a happy and healthy future together.

  8. avatar Featured! Southern Weddings' Southern Newlywed – Fit for a Bride reply

    […] See the full feature! […]

  9. avatar elaine reply

    Wow! There is love in the air!!Amazing to see it grow for a strong loving couple.Really mean strong because of time spent doing things together and crossfit! :)

  10. avatar Stacy {Woodsy Weddings} reply

    What fantastic pictures! A great date idea and I love the picture of them both jumping.

  11. avatar Dana reply

    breakfast club sounds like such a fun idea!

  12. avatar CrossFit Date Night for Southern Weddings reply

    […] Seeing Aaron and me on the Southern Weddings’ blog was awesome! I gained a bunch of new followers on Instagram (hi guys!) and really feel like I started the new year off with a bang! […]

  13. avatar 4 Things You May Not Know About Us – Fit for a Bride reply

    […] Photo by Katie Nesbitt for Southern Weddings’ Blog […]

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It may not have been love at first sight when Ann Carlisle and Ryan met, but when we first saw their wedding, it definitely was! These college sweethearts said “I do” at a working horse ranch in Virginia, and we love the way their fall-inspired wedding colors enhanced the natural beauty of the venue. Those bright garnet blooms at the ceremony are especially lovely, and Ryan’s dapper bow tie is the perfect accessory for a Southern groom!

Thank you so much to Katie Nesbitt for sharing Ann Carlisle and Ryan’s wedding with us!

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I had a hard time finding my dress! I probably tried on at least 30 or so from different shops around Virginia. I really liked a lot of the dresses I was trying on, but I never got “that feeling” that everyone always talks about. But, it did finally happen, and after months and months of searching, I found THE dress. I fell in love with it instantly. I keep searching for reasons to wear it again!

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, we wrote our own vows. We promised to try and keep them within 150 words or less. Ryan tends to be a very flowery speaker, and can prolong a story that in reality can be told in five minutes (we love him for that). Sharing our personal vows to one another was our favorite part of the ceremony. Looking at each other while sharing our hearts made it feel like there was no one else in the room. There were definitely lots of tears shed!

What was Southern about your wedding? We got married on a working horse farm. How much more Southern can you get?

We were so lucky to work with AMAZING vendors. Our wedding day truly would not have been the same without them! From the food, to the flowers, to the photography, our day was absolutely beautiful and we are so thankful to each one of our vendors for making the day spectacular!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Honestly, the most memorable moment of our wedding day was when Ryan and his groomsmen serenaded me with a Justin Timberlake mash-up. Ryan created the playlist and the songs were arranged in a very creative way that expressed our relationship. It was amazing and absolutely priceless! Besides marrying me, I know that was probably Ryan’s finest hour. Shoutout to JT!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Ryan and I met in college while working at Red Robin. It would be a true fairy tale to say that it was love at first sight, but unfortunately, this was not the case. After a failed attempt on Ryan’s behalf to get my number, it took a whole year and a random birthday night for the two of us to hang out for the first time. Ever since that night, I knew I should have given Ryan my number the first time he asked for it a year ago. We are true college sweethearts.
Tell us all about the proposal! We were vacationing in the Outer Banks with Ryan’s family. It was the first full day at the beach, and I had just started reading the first book of the Hunger Games trilogy. I was so engrossed with the book the entire day that I had no idea what Ryan had up his sleeve! Throughout the day, Ryan kept insisting what we take a walk on the beach right before sunset. After dinner, when it came time for the walk, I was almost finished with my book and tried to talk Ryan into going for a walk another night. After many pleas from Ryan, I finally gave in and we started walking. I was so sidetracked telling Ryan all about the book, that I had no idea what was about to happen!
When did y’all get married? 10/05/13
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 150
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes, we decided to do a first look. At first, Ryan was very adamant that he did not want to see me before the wedding, but after lots of convincing and bribery, I convinced him that it would be a very special and intimate moment between the two of us, and it would free up more time to enjoy the reception and spend with our guests. We absolutely LOVE our photos from out first look, and we are so happy that we decided to go with it!
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? BREATHE! It will all come together. I wish I could say that wedding planning was extremely easy, but there were definitely times when I had minor freak outs. But in the end, all of your hard work really does come together, so enjoy it! And try not to second guess your decisions. You initially made them for a reason, so trust yourself!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? Since we got married, lots of things have happened! Ryan got a new job, went off to training, and now we are relocating to a new city. We will both be starting new jobs and settling into a new area, and we are SO excited to embark on this new journey together as husband and wife. And hopefully we will have a new addition to the family soon… no, silly, another corgi!!

Photographer: Katie Nesbitt / Videographer: Paul Hairston Cinematography / Day-Of Coordination: Amanda Gray and Emily Strauss of Ashley Baber Weddings / Venue: Hermitage Hill Farm and Stables / Florist: Honey Bee’s Florist / Cake Baker: Buttercream Dreams, LLC / Caterer: Hanks Smokehouse / Rentals: CVR Rentals / Band or DJ: King Studios (Nathan King) / Special Details: Amanda Burnette, Into it Events / Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas / Hair Stylist: Jane Campbell / Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mishka / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Nordstrom, Macy’s, Francesca’s, Talbots / Men’s Attire: Express

Katie Nesbitt is a delightful member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Angela Newton Roy reply

    Beautiful wedding! Love the colors and Katie did a wonderful job telling their story!

  2. avatar Katie reply

    Yay! Thank you so much for featuring these two! They are truly a special couple, and their whole day reflected that. We were so thankful to have been a part of their wedding!!

  3. avatar Ermenegildo Conte reply

    Wow! Nice pictures!
    I really love the ideas of the colored bands.
    This is an idea that i will pass on as a wedding photographer, whenever I meet brides that enjoy horseback riding. Keep it up!

  4. avatar Corinna Hoffman reply

    Florida State University colors!! Love it :) Beautiful wedding!

  5. avatar Wedding Rental Supplies reply

    Beautiful wedding! Loved the pretty color combinations for the theme. Also the wedding venue is so pretty.

  6. avatar Kyla F reply

    Her dress is stunning, especially the neckline! I adore the photo right before their first kiss. It captures their elation perfectly – it melted my heart for a moment.

  7. avatar Dana reply

    this wedding made me smile! so sweet!

  8. avatar Kellye reply

    May I ask where the wedding bands are from please?

  9. avatar ERIN reply

    Hello, Can you tell me where these wedding bands were purchased? They are just beautiful and I would like to find out because I want them. Thank you! -Erin

  10. avatar Brianna reply

    Where are those amazing wedding bands from?!

  11. avatar Abbey reply

    Yes..Please do tell where you found your wedding bands. They are perfect! <3

  12. avatar candace mossip reply

    I am in love with the wedding bands, please tell me where they are from

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

Reply to: