Can y’all believe Whitney + Clarke’s wedding day boasted temperatures over 100 degrees?? Their French-meets-Southern countryside wedding looks as cool as a cucumber, though, thanks to some extra fans and the quick thinking of the Easton Events ladies, who handed out lavender-scented chilled cloths as the dance floor heated up. Whitney + Clarke spent the majority of their evening there, celebrating with loved ones, until it was time for their emotional getaway. W + C managed to steal a few moments to themselves just after Whitney changed into her getaway dress, and it ranks as one of her favorite moments. Just imagining the newlyweds standing upstairs overlooking their reception before they left gives me chills. “We finally got a chance to breath, to just be together in the moment, and to watch all those we love dancing, laughing, and enjoying the celebration,” said Whitney.
What was Southern about your wedding? For me, it was Southern because it was rooted in the traditional. The Southern fare, the station-style dinner, the Blue Ridge Mountain setting, the big band, the Motown and beach music, the warm hospitality, the pink gingham bow ties, the white dinner jackets, the stifling heat, the fireflies, and the sweet late-evening Virginia breeze.
What advice would you give to someone planning his or her wedding? I don’t even know where to begin. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It goes so quickly, take a moment to soak it all in. Don’t forget to eat. A wedding planner/coordinator is a must have, especially on the day-of. Hire a videographer. Enjoy every minute. All of my initial advices seems so cliché, and at the same time each is so true. And yet, it takes walking in bridal shoes to really appreciate most of this advice. Not stressing beforehand, and enjoying the day is easier said in hindsight than done at the time. Although this is not novel advice, I think the following words of wisdom are most helpful: hire vendors you trust, and trust them do their job; you can never show enough pictures – even ones of things you don’t like, are helpful – because something in your head that you describe could be very different in someone else’s head; lighting is invaluable; you spend all of this time thinking about, fretting over, planning and preparing for one day, and it does go by more quickly than you can ever imagine. You cannot re-live it, so live it the first time; at the end of the day, all that remains are the marriage, the memories, and the photographs – so hire a good photographer!
For the reception, we envisioned a European Provincial cocktail hour with French countryside elements such as wooden Bistro chairs around low tables dressed in Duck Egg blue linens, and centerpiece bowls filled with fresh blackberries and cherries; Russian sage-filled urns on the linen square bar and topiaries flanked the tent entrance. In the Tasting Room, long tables were dressed in white linens with bistro chairs and blue and white Chinoiserie bud vases filled with Sahara roses. The main event space was more formal, and meant to feel like a Parisian pied-å-terre with white-washed Chiavari chairs around dinner tables dressed in grey and white damask linens, and several seating groups of lounge furniture around the dance floor. Floating gardenias in small bowls were placed on the side tables and in the ladies room.
What kind of food did you serve during the cocktail hour, dinner and dessert? The locally inspired cuisine included traditional Southern favorites, with a European-style vineyard twist. We had canapés such as fried goat cheese balls with honey, sweet potato biscuits with Virginia ham and piquillo pepper spread, fried Chesapeake Bay oysters, local strawberries with robiolo cheese and a balsamic drizzle, lobster Salad on a Yucca chip, and deviled quail eggs with caviar. Guests dined at dinner stations with various themes such as a Vineyard inspired station featuring a wide selection of local and imported cheeses, charcuterie, fresh breads and homemade condiments; a Farmer’s Market station filled with fresh heirloom tomatoes, watermelon and feta salad, and local strawberry and arugula salad; a French fare station complete with beef tenderloin, lavender-glazed lamb chops, haricot verts, and roasted potatoes; and the popular Southern Comfort station with jumbo lump crab cakes (a nod to Clarke’s VA Beach hometown), truffle mac n’cheese, skillet cornbread, and pulled pork sliders.
Tell us a bit about your first dance. We were both nervous about the first dance, Clarke especially, so we took one lesson a few weeks before the wedding – that probably made us more nervous! But it went really well, and once we got out there, it was easy to forget about everyone watching and nice to just talk and laugh with one another. Clarke picked the song, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s classic “You’re All I Need to Get By”, which he said reminded him of me… and it has enough of a beat for him to keep pace!
Our cake was five round tiers of alternating layers – vanilla with blackberry filling, and poppy-seed almond – with pale pink, buttercream icing and scattered fresh blackberries. Kathy’s cakes are wonderfully moist and taste deliciously homemade (which they are!), yet better, and still are beautiful. I wanted a traditional-style cake, yet the rough, swirled buttercream exterior in barely blush pink was a contemporary twist. It was impressionistic, and the pink hue was dead on – I wanted people to say, is that pink? Or are my eyes playing tricks? The wedding cake was complemented by silver-tiered servers filled with homemade macarons – in lavender and raspberry flavors.
What was your reception like? We had an outdoor sunset cocktail hour with a stationed dinner event and band reception following. The guests ate, drank, mingled, and danced until our midnight departure.
Describe your centerpieces: Low mercury bowls of lush overflowing arrangements composed of pale blush and grey – antique hydrangea, Sahara rose, Café au Lait Dahlias, Patience Garden roses, Champagne Lisianthus, Dusty Miller, and vines
Did you have a cocktail hour? If so, what was it like? After the ceremony, guests were transported out to Pippin Hill Farm where they cocktailed underneath a Sperry tent on the lawn, and attempted to stay cool underneath the draped Veranda and inside the Tasting Room. The Peter Richardson Jazz Trio played light tunes in the tent, where guests picked up flip-flops, dined on hors d’oeuvres, grabbed drinks from the big square bar, and enjoyed the panoramic views.
What were some of the highlights? The whole night was a highlight. We wanted a beautiful event, full of thoughtful details, yet we also wanted a good party and for everyone to have the best time. The band was phenomenal and guests danced all night. We were on the dance floor the entire time, which is exactly where we wanted to be. For me, the father-daughter dance was particularly special. We danced to “My Girl”, and as one of three daughters, it has been a song we have all danced to with my dad over the years. Another standout, is the few minutes we took to ourselves, after I changed dresses, as we stood upstairs overlooking the main event space below. We finally got a chance to breath, to just be together in the moment, and to watch all those we love dancing, laughing, and enjoying the celebration.
Tell us about your grand exit. Our grand exit was to a sea of sparklers leading up the candle-lit pathway to our antique car, with a Bon Voyage sign on the back. Unexpectedly, it was one of the more emotional moments for me, as we hugged our parents and laughed and cried as all our friends cheered us on. Many guests continued the party back at the hotels, and we shared a nightcap with friends and snacked on Pippin Hill’s famous croque monsieurs.
What is the one thing that made your wedding different from anyone else’s wedding? Our wedding was different than any other, for it was the perfect confluence of personal circumstance – for this fleeting, yet amazing, moment in time, everyone and everything comes together to create magic. That day will forever be a part of us, and a part of our story.
Did you include any Southern traditions in your wedding? We had a groom’s cake the night before, in the shape of UVA’s Rotunda; the groom’s father was the best man; my sisters gave me a bible with my new name embossed on the front as a gift on our wedding day; guests tossed lavender as we exited the church.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when planning your wedding? Combating the heat that week!
Did you take a honeymoon? We honeymooned at the fabulous Curtain Bluff in Antigua – and loved it! We relaxed, read, eat, drank, and soaked in the sun for ten days. We didn’t want to come home!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? Immediately after the honeymoon, we packed up and moved to Houston. We have settled in and are adjusting back to reality.
Best advice or most memorable comment someone made to you during the wedding celebration. “We’re only doing this once, so enjoy it!” And that we did.