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Whether it’s the church their grandparents were married in or where they spent their summers, I love learning about how our couples choose their wedding venues. Finding the place where you’ll celebrate the first few minutes of married life can range from easy-peasy to a grand adventure, as it was for Rebecca and David. Since David is from Alabama and Rebecca New York, they opted for a place in the middle. Their venue scouting adventure involved 12 venues in three states during a six-day road trip, and ultimately led to their perfect spot: Belle Haven! We’re big fans of road trips around here, so I especially adore how Rebecca and David elevated venue scouting from a simple task to a fun memory.

Big hugs to Sera Petras for sharing this beautiful barn wedding with us!

Tell us about your wedding flowers. Our flowers were the most beautiful arrangements I have ever seen. Jenn Pineauat, our florist, absolutely blew it out of the water. The colors were a mix of creams, whites, and light pinks with pops of turquoise and darker pinks. She also created the chuppah that we had for the ceremony and the decorations of vines and flowers around the hanging wheel in the barn where we had the dinner. It was beyond incredible.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I went to about ten shops in NYC and Long Island with my mom over the course of a few weekends. I tried on a bunch of beautiful dresses, but none of them seemed to be “the one.” I went back and forth between two dresses, and thought I had made my decision. My mom said it seemed like I wasn’t thrilled, and she told me to look around one last time. I walked over to a rack of dresses, pulled out one last dress, and tried it on. That was the one!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Yes, we did. David is a bit more traditional than I am, so it took some convincing from me and Sera, our photographer. At first, he was not comfortable with the idea of seeing me before the ceremony, but Sera explained that a first look would make our first moment of seeing each other much more private. It also helped when I explained that this way, we could do many of the pictures first and then attend the majority of the cocktail hour and spend time with our family and friends. He was convinced, and we could not have been happier about that decision.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? David is from Alabama and I am from New York. We decided that we wanted to find a place that would be in the middle, so that one family would not have to do all of the traveling. We loved the idea of having a destination wedding and a weekend event so we would have as much time as possible with our friends and family. We flew down to Alabama to see his family for Christmas 2013, and then drove home to New York and stopped at 12 venues in three states during the six-day road trip. We stopped in Charleston, Asheville, Charlottesville, and surrounding areas in Virginia. We saw many beautiful venues, but when we came across Belle Haven in Scottsville, we knew that was the spot.

Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, we wrote our own vows. My favorite line from my vows to David was a quote from The Alchemist, by one of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho: “I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.” My favorite line David said to me was: “You are my favorite. My love. My life. Today, October 11, 2014, and always, forever.”
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We had Mariel, our mutual friend who introduced us, do the reading, which was “Love” by Roy Croft.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We opened up the ceremony having by the band play “Best Day of my Life” by the American Authors as our guests were seated. That led into Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” as our family and bridal party walked down the aisle, and that shifted into an acoustic version of Canon in D as I walked down the aisle. At the close of the ceremony, we walked back up the aisle to “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: One of our favorite details of the wedding was that we had our sisters, Rachel and Kim, officiate. They had only met the weekend of the wedding, and they didn’t rehearse their speeches, as we had written the majority of the wedding ceremony for them to say. They each gave the most meaningful, unforgettable speeches. They really blew us away, and it was something that we will remember always. We also had a sand ceremony, which to us, symbolized the blending of our different backgrounds and families. Our four sets of parents and step-parents, our sisters, brother-in-laws, three nephews, and our closest aunt and uncle each poured sand into a glass vase, and then all poured in different colors of sand to blend together. It was really special.

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? The barn, where we had an intimate, family-style dinner after the cocktail hour, was adorned with a wagon wheel decorated in beautiful flowers, vines, and candles. We chose farm tables and vintage plates to decorate the room. We served quite a bit of bourbon, and of course, our band from Alabama played “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Wagon Wheel,” along with quite a few country favorites. Not to mention, half of the guest list was from Alabama!

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? I will never forget Marisa sneaking us a peek of the barn while everyone else was at cocktail hour. We were the first to see the culmination of all that we had put together over the last year. I felt like I was in a movie when I saw it! A very close second is when David got on stage with the band and the lead gave him the mic. He sang “Wagon Wheel” as the band played, and I went up alongside him and danced (awkwardly, I might add, because my heels were sinking into the gravel under my feet!), but it was the most fabulous few minutes of fun I have ever experienced.

What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? David, being in the hospitality industry, has many vendor relationships, and I have a friend who represents a wine company, so we were very fortunate that they were so generous and donated all of the wine and alcohol for our wedding. We have a lot of great friends who helped out by driving it all down to Virginia.

David was an integral part of the planning process. His friends started to call him groomzilla at one point, poking fun at how involved and detail-oriented he was. Being in the hospitality industry, he knows what looks, feels, and tastes best, and he knows how to put it all together. We are both very passionate about making the people around us and those we love feel comfortable and happy. That was our goal, and we feel confident that we achieved it. We can honestly say we would not have changed one thing about that day!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. David and I were introduced by a mutual friend at the Royalton Hotel in NYC, where David was the Food and Beverage Director. The two of us had been friends for years, but when David first started working at the Royalton, he was dating someone else. She waited patiently for that relationship to end, then gave David my number. He asked me to dinner and we had our first date on October 30, 2011. The following month, he came to Thanksgiving dinner and met my family. In December, I went to Alabama for Christmas and met his family. We moved in together the following September.
Tell us all about the proposal! David told me that we had an opportunity to go with friends of ours to Greece. I didn’t really ask many questions about the trip because I was also in the middle of a big office move that I was running for work. The move was complete on September 25, and we left for Athens three days later. We spent the day in Athens and went back to the airport that night for our flight to Santorini. As soon as we hit the runway in Santorini, he turned to me and said that he had a surprise for me–we were going to be spending the week in Santorini, and our friends were not coming. He had a car waiting to pick us up at the airport, and 20 minutes later, we arrived at the most beautiful spot on the cliff of Santorini, where he sat me on the balcony and told me to wait. He came back with a bottle of champagne and a ring box in his hand, and then got down on one knee. He proposed, and then told me that he had asked my dad about six months prior and all of our family and closest friends already knew. It was the most amazing and beautiful proposal I could have ever imagined!
When did y’all get married? October 11, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 100
Describe your wedding cake. Our wedding cake was a three-tiered cake with a black and white striped layer and a huge dahlia on top. The best part was the groom’s cake that I surprised David with: an “A” for the Alabama football team on top of a crimson cake!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! For my something borrowed, my wonderful jeweler let me borrow beautiful diamond earrings from her collection to wear for the wedding. My something blue was supposed to be the nail polish on my toes, but it didn’t match my shoes very well, so I opted for my back-up something blue, which was blue lace underwear. My mother-in-law gave me David’s grandmother’s beautiful handkerchief, which I wrapped around my bouquet as my something old. I was going with the dress as my something new, but during our first look, David surprised me and told me that he purchased the earrings from our jeweler as a wedding gift for me, so that became my something new. My something borrowed became a necklace that my best friend, Jen, lent me. I was also given a sixpence by a good friend and colleague, Melissa, which I wore in my shoe.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? To be honest, the entire process was, in hindsight, full of learning and compromise. We also had many talks about religion, being from different backgrounds, and what that meant for us moving forward. We also learned more about each other’s values as we wrote the ceremony and planned the weekend.

Photographer: Sera Petras Photography / Videographer: Nate Braeuer / Planner: Marisa Vrooman of Orpha Events / Venue: Belle Haven on the James / Florist: Sugar Magnolias and Nature Composed / Cake Baker: Paradox Pastry / Caterer: A Pimento / Rentals: Festive Fare, Allied Portable Toilets, Virginia Tent Rental, Real Southern Accents, and Stonegate Event Rentals / Lighting: Blue Ridge A/V and Lighting / Band: The Brandy Brothers / DJ: Steve Miller / Paper Products: Powerhouse Paper / Bride’s Gown: “#SZ380ZZ/ZP” by Martina Liana / Bride’s Veil: Wedding Atelier / Bride’s Jewelry: Designs by Joi / Hair and Makeup: Daphne Latham / Bride’s Shoes: “Randall D’Orsay Pump” by Badgley Mischka / Groomsmen Attire: Jack Silver Formal Wear / Men’s Shoes: Converse / Transportation: Albermarle Limousine and Wahooptie Van Rental

marissa Written with love by Marissa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Jess reply

    Insanely gorgeous!

  2. avatar Marisa reply

    I love the video of this wedding, captures Rebecca & David’s personalities so well – check it out here: http://www.orphaevents.com/#!video/cx7i

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  6. avatar Rebecca reply

    I was just wondering where you got your beautiful wedding bands! I’m looking for some bands for my engagement ring, and those are beautiful!! Please let me know:)

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Anyone planning a wedding knows that all of the inspiration out there can be overwhelming, which is why we recommend that, instead of starting your brainstorming session on Pinterest or blogs, look to your own story and the things you love first. Jess and Aaron did a wonderful job of this, and from their venue that reminded them of their weekends spent at Virginia wineries, to the paper airplanes their guests threw during their exit, each sweet detail helped their wedding reflect who they are as a couple. Amanda Gray of Ashley Baber Weddings helped them bring it all together at Pippin Hill Farm–one of my personal favorite venues in the South!

Thank you so much to Meg Runion for sharing these lovely photos of Jess and Aaron’s wedding with us!

To me, the South is about loving people gathering together, enjoying delicious food, laughing, and having a great time! Using local products and vendors is something that always brings me back to the South because some of my favorite memories are of spending time with my grandfather in his garden, growing the food that my grandmother would then can for us to eat together. We even added jars of her homemade plum jelly to our welcome boxes.

Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I really wanted to be able to go shopping with my mother and grandmother, but didn’t really know what I was looking for, so I decided to do a scouting trip with one of my friends. It was a great day, but nothing made me feel the way I thought I should, so the search continued. I then learned of the Nordstrom Bridal Suite and decided to take a look online to see what they offered. The moment I saw my dress, I knew it was the one–yes, I found my dress on the internet! It was hard to imagine that it would be that easy, so I told myself to keep looking and see what else was out there. I even flew home to Florida to go dress shopping with my mom, but I kept going back to that dress I had found online. I called up the Nordstrom near D.C. and made an appointment, and the moment I saw it in-person, I knew my search had ended. I loved how simple, yet truly different the dress was. It honestly made me twirl around all day, especially on our wedding day!

What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We didn’t have any readings at our ceremony but we did read and sign a Ketubah during a small, intimate ceremony prior to the actual wedding ceremony. Aaron is Jewish and I was raised Baptist, so we wanted to find a way to incorporate both into our wedding day. The Ketubah honored the tradition of his family and is our promise to each other for how we will live in marriage together.

We worked with our officiant to create a ceremony that was personal to us, warm, and original. She provided us with tons of samples for each part of the ceremony, which made it super easy to put everything together. When it came to the vows, we both felt that we wanted something original, but also wanted to give a nod to tradition. We brought these together by taking some of the sample vows that she gave us and picking and choosing parts of them that spoke in words what we felt in our hearts.

When we started thinking of what we wanted in a wedding venue, a few things were at the top of our list: a relaxing vibe, beautiful scenery, and ease of planning. I turned to my trusty friend Google and began the search. Aaron and I enjoy visiting wineries around the D.C. area, so I started my search there. Then, I came across Pippin Hill and knew that we needed to make the drive to Charlottesville to go see it. When we turned the corner to Pippin Hill, the search was over. We didn’t even get inside before we knew that it would be perfect. On our tour, our excitement continued to grow. From the amazing food, to the beautiful bridal suite, to the breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it transported us to another place entirely.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: The things that make me smile every time I think of them are the personal details that I added for Aaron. I wanted to make sure that he felt just as much incorporated into the festivities as I did! Aaron is a private pilot, and if you talk to him for more than five minutes, his love for aviation will become crystal clear. I came up with the idea to create “pilot” and “co-pilot” signs for the back of our chairs at the sweetheart table, and it has created a funny debate to this day about who should be sitting in which chair. We also had paper airplanes for people to throw during our departure and they were a huge hit!

The wedding cake was three tiers of vanilla cake with bavarian cream and raspberry marmalade filling, iced with vanilla buttercream. Guests even went back for seconds (and thirds!). The flower topper our florist created was truly breathtaking, especially when paired with the pale peach petaled chiffon tablecloth. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it when we walked into the reception space! Since I knew Aaron wouldn’t be getting his favorite chocolate cake, I decided to have a special treat made in his honor: we served bourbon balls on silver platters at each table.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? At the end of the reception, Aaron and I were dancing, and all of a sudden, we looked up to see our friends and family arm in arm, standing in a circle surrounding us. It was the most love I have ever felt in my life and a truly magical moment. I was so touched that I started crying, and someone ran in to give me a hug, which resulted in the biggest group hug I had ever been a part of.

Don’t miss Jess and Aaron’s lovely wedding film by Shaking Hands below!

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Falling in love with Aaron was the easiest thing I have ever done. We were both living in Washington, D.C. and we had some friends in common. One night, I went to a local restaurant for a game of trivia with a group of friends, and Aaron was there too. After that night, we kept running into each other, and eventually, I broke the ice by asking him the question, “What five movies do you think every person needs to see?” His answers surprised me (think Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, etc.), and I knew instantly that I needed to get to know him better. On our first official date, Aaron asked me over, cooked me a wonderful meal, and we watched old movies together. After that, everything sort of fell into place and we never looked back!
Tell us all about the proposal! From Aaron: We went to a winery with a few friends on Columbus Day 2013. I had the ring in my pocket, hoping for the perfect moment to pop up, but one never seemed just right. As we drove home, I devised a plan, which I put into action as soon as we got back. As Jess was busy putting things away, I went out on our porch where she couldn’t see me and called her to come outside. As she turned the corner, I was down on one knee, she began crying, and the rest is history.
When did y’all get married? October 12, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 130
Describe your wedding flowers. Oh, the flowers! Pat and Sherry from Southern Blooms were so amazing to work with and brought my vision to life in such a fantastic way! I love gardening and having fresh flowers around the house, so this was such a priority for me. I wanted the ceremony and reception spaces to be warm and inviting, full of a mix of soft, warm peach garden roses, café au lait dahlias, peegee hydrangea, magnolia leaves and fresh herbs. For the ceremony, we wanted the beautiful vista to be the star of the show, so we used lanterns leading up the path, a simple garland swagged around the entrance of the Sperry tent, and a mix of rose and dahlia petals down the aisle. For the reception, we alternated centerpieces between arrangements in mercury glass bowls and a cluster of vintage hurricanes, smaller arrangements, and floating single blooms in mercury glass dishes. They also did a wonderful job using flowers to accentuate the decor in the Granary at Pippin Hill, with the most beautiful garland on the foyer table and the garland from the chandelier hanging over the dance floor!
Did you have something borrowed, blue, old, and new? If so, do tell! I did! My borrowed, blue, and old were all covered by one item: a vintage handkerchief with beautiful blue embroidered flowers that my grandmother gave to me. My new was rose gold and moonstone earrings that Aaron gave me at my bridal shower, because he thought they would look nice with all the pale peach flowers and decor. He was right–I loved them and couldn’t have imagined wearing anything else on that special day.
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? Hands downs, our wedding coordinator. Amanda was our constant rock and was truly invaluable throughout the year-long planning process. She helped us think of details that we would have never even considered, kept us organized, and really took the stress of planning off our shoulders. It also didn’t hurt that she was incredibly fun to spend time with and an all-around wonderful person!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are so excited to make the most of our first year of marriage. We are settling in at home with our dog, Gambler, and we have a busy year of traveling ahead of us–mostly to celebrate the marriages of our friends and family!

Photographer: Meg Runion / Videographer: Shaking Hands / Planner: Amanda Gray for Ashley Baber Weddings / Venue: Pippin Hill Farm / Florist: Southern Blooms by Pat’s Florals / Dessert Baker: Albemarle Baking Company and Paradox Pastry / Rentals: Stonegate Events Rentals / Linens: La Tavola Linens / Tent: Skyline Tent Company / Lighting: Blueridge A/V and Lighting / Band: Derek Tobler / Calligraphy: Arney Walker Calligraphy / Paper Products: Momental Designs / Bride’s Gown: Reem Acra / Bridal Salon: Nordstrom Bridal Suite / Bride’s Jewelry: Ippolita / Bridesmaids’ Jewelry: Erin McDermott Jewelry / Hair and Makeup: Avenue 42 / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Lacey Long” in Silver Bells by Joanna August / Menswear: Vera Wang / Officiant: Rev. Claire Goodman / Ketubah: Jennifer Raichman / Family Crest: Juliet Grace Design

lisa Written with love by Lisa
7 Comments
  1. avatar Stephanie Scholl reply

    This is a seriously gorgeous wedding!! Ashley Baber Weddings is a favorite of mine; such a beautiful, meaningful wedding. And I adore Pippin Hill – I’ve been plenty of times to the amazing winery, and it’s on my bucket list for a wedding!

  2. avatar Lindsay Colvin reply

    That cake table linen is just beautiful!

  3. avatar Dana reply

    the invitations are so beautiful!

  4. avatar Amber reply

    Do you have any information on the quilt with the dog portrait in the middle? It’s so beautiful and a great way to incorporate your pup into the wedding!

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Amber! I know the crest is by Juliet Grace Designs, but I’m not sure if the quilt was something she or someone else made! Hopefully Jess will pop in with some info :)

  5. avatar Jess reply

    Hi Amber! Emily is right, we had the crest designed by Juliet Grace Designs and then printed her beautiful work on fabric using Spoonflower.com and then the super talented Erica at SewEMG put it all together in the quilt. You can find her shop on etsy – https://www.etsy.com/shop/SewEMG

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