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Although their dating relationship may have had its ups and downs, I can guarantee that Kristen and Ryan’s gorgeous wedding day had to be one of their biggest ups! Their caterer, Design Cuisine, and planner, our Blue Ribbon Vendors Events in the City, combined their talents to create an incredible al fresco dinner vibe with a Southern twist. I’m sure guests were equally as taken by the gorgeous view at George Washington’s River Farm as they were by the sweet vows K + R spoke. The peek into their vows they shared makes my eyes tear right up: “I take you, to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know, with respect to your integrity, honesty, and faith in your abiding love for me through all of our years, and in all that life may bring us.” Am I right?

We’re so glad Abby Jiu was on hand to capture this lovely day!

It was important to us that our flowers were locally sourced and in season, so we chose our florist accordingly. The floral designers used roses, peonies, ranunculus, and eucalyptus in a neutral palette consisting of white, ivory, peach, champagne, light pink, and green. The flowers and arrangements were stunning and one of my favorite details from the day!

Before getting engaged, I had never thought of what my wedding dress would look like, but I knew if a dress drew emotion, it would be the right one. My mom, sister, and I visited a few bridal salons and found some great dresses, but we always left with the desire to see a few more. One day, my mom and I were in a local bridal shop, and instead of looking for dresses within our price range, we decided that I would just try on anything I liked, just for fun. I guess one would say that was a big mistake because I tried on a full lace Rivini dress that stunned both of us. As soon as I walked out of the dressing room, my mom started crying, and after spinning in the dress for a few minutes, I did not want to take it off. My mom and I both knew this was the dress. My grandfather had passed away a few years earlier and left some money to my mom, and since the dress was outside of our price range, my mom graciously told me she wanted to use the money from Grandpa toward the dress. Knowing that my grandpa would be a part of my special day in this unique way was the icing on the cake.

Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We decided to do a first look, and we are so happy we did. With all of the planning we put into the big day, and having guests who traveled from near and far, we wanted to maximize the time we were able to spend with everyone. One thing we had not taken into account was how nervous we would both be to see each other before the ceremony! The first look allowed us to get rid of those jitters and be fully present during our vows. After the first look, we enjoyed being tucked away with our bridal party to watch our guests arrive and share a few laughs, and having the extra time during the cocktail hour to chat and take photos with our guests was wonderful.

One of the most meaningful details of our wedding was the cross that was placed behind our officiant at the ceremony. Our best friends (a bridesmaid and groomsman in our wedding) built the cross by hand for their wedding, one year before ours. We loved that we were able to not only incorporate this symbol of our faith into our ceremony, but we also loved all of the love that was poured into making it. One of our groomsmen helped with transporting the cross, and our florist and planner spruced it up with local flowers. We loved how it came together!

What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our planner and caterer created an incredible al fresco dinner vibe with a Southern twist. Our guests were greeted at the ceremony location with lemonade and cucumber water followed by vodka thyme lemonade and blood orange mojitos to kick off the reception. Passed hors d’oeuvres included pulled pork waffles, crab cakes with white salsa, baby short rib sliders, and sea bass ceviche followed by a three-course meal, featuring an heirloom tomato mosaic, icebox fried chicken, and cheddar and stilton buttermilk drop biscuits. Along with serving wedding cake, we offered our guest a variety of homemade popsicles and late night snacks. The decor also complemented the Southern vibe, as we rented wooden farm tables, antique china, and various vintage centerpiece vases.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? Once we decided to hold our wedding closer to home, we wanted to find a location and venue that encompassed a few of our favorite things. We love the outdoors and the water, and feel very fortunate to have grown up in a place with so much history. Overlooking the Potomac River, with gorgeous grounds owned and maintained by the American Horticultural Society, River Farm became the perfect spot for our ceremony and reception. Our guests stayed in nearby Old Town Alexandria and then were transported to one of George Washington’s farm houses, just down the street from Mount Vernon.

What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our most memorable moments from our wedding day would be standing in front of our family and friends as we said our vows, followed by the incredible speeches at our reception. Our best man coordinated a song with the groomsmen that will be talked about for years to come! Our DJ brought down the house, and we closed out the night by serving late night snacks of pizza rolls made using a recipe from a pizza shop in our college town.

How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. Ryan and I met in college through mutual friends, and we instantly became great friends. After college, we acknowledged our feelings for each other and began dating. After dating for a year, I broke up with Ryan out of the blue, as I was not ready to start thinking about taking our relationship to the next level. Two years later, Ryan and I reconnected and things felt just like they always had, but this time, we both had a little more life experience under our belts. We maintained our close friendship for another few years, with the premise that if we did decide to date again, it would be forever and not just to explore the world of dating. Ryan had always told me that he knew he would marry me from the moment we met, and through all of our ups and downs, he stood by his word. The peace that Ryan gave me through our friendship and relationship is what ultimately led me to seeing and acknowledging that I would be the luckiest girl in the world to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. Once I realized this, I barely had to say anything to Ryan because he just knew that my heart was ready, and we were both on the same page and excited for a future together!
Tell us all about the proposal! Our birthdays are just a few days apart, so we decided to plan a fun trip to the Northern California coast to celebrate. A few days into our trip, while we were in Sonoma, I mentioned that I wanted to see the coast, so we made our way to a public park that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. When we arrived, I jumped out of the car to snap a few photos, while Ryan drove ahead to turn the car around. He circled back to pick me up and told me we had to keep driving a little bit farther, as it looked like the views ahead were even better. As we parked the car, he started to get out to take some pictures, but I told him I was going to stay in the car because it was little too cold for me outside. Through minor bribery, he convinced me to get out of the car for a few photos. We walked to the cliff edge and just stood there taking it all in. Ryan stepped away to take a few more pictures, and as I turned around to join him, he was down on one knee. I was speechless as he asked me to marry him with the most gorgeous ring, in a box monogrammed with my new initials. Before we left this special spot, with no one else around, we placed the camera on the roof of the car and took a few pictures of us in this magical and memorable spot. We didn’t have cell phone reception for the next hour as we began our drive from Sonoma to Monterey, so we couldn’t call our family right away. It was a special time to talk, laugh, and smile together and really soak up the moment.
When did y’all get married? June 7, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 135
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? My uncle is a devout Christian, and we felt his leadership and importance to us would be the perfect fit for the officiant role. The three of us worked together to customize the traditional ceremony where applicable and appropriate, and we were thrilled with how it came together. Our favorite phrase of the ceremony was in our vows, which said, “I take you, to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know, with respect to your integrity, honesty, and faith in your abiding love for me through all of our years, and in all that life may bring us.”
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. I chose to walk down the aisle with my dad to “Canon in D.” On a family trip once, my dad and I were walking over the Charles Bridge in Prague when we heard “Canon in D” playing softly in the background. As we looked around, there was a bride and groom all dressed up being photographed. At the sight, both my dad and I got tears in our eyes, so walking down the aisle to the same song felt symbolic and memorable. Our first dance was to “At Last” by Beyonce. We love that it is a classic song with a modern twist.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $75,000-$100,000
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Our best advice would be to stay true to who you are as a couple and your vision for your special day. It is really important to determine your guest count and budget up front and to accept that it may not be possible to have it all, but everything will still turn out beautifully! Try your best to not get caught up in what everyone else is doing, and enjoy all of the perks of planning. And most importantly, plan for a massage and a long nap in the days after the wedding!
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We love calling each other “husband” and “wife!” We just built and moved into a new home, so we are diving headfirst into design and house projects. We look forward to traveling and enjoying time together, just the two of us, before we begin to expand our family. We are also trying to think of clever ways to relive our magical wedding day over and over again.

Photographer: Abby Jiu / Planner: Laura Ritchie of Events in the City / Venue: George Washington’s River Farm / Florist: Sweet Root Village / Cake Baker, Catering, and Rentals: Design Cuisine / DJ: DJ Lauren Bobby / Paper Products: Fig 2 Designs / Bride’s Gown: Rivini / Bride’s Accessories: Nordstrom / Hair Stylist: Laura Gibson of Urban Style Lab / Makeup Artist: Erin Findley / Bride’s Shoes: BHLDN / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Bill Levkoff / Menswear: Alfani / String Quartet: Sage String Quartet / Transportation: Keller Transportation / Dress Alterations: Tangs Alterations / Hotel: Hotel Monaco Alexandria

Events in the City and Sweet Root Village are delightful members of the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!

marissa Written with love by Marissa
  1. avatar Feature: River Farm Wedding on Southern Weddings reply

    […] So many gorgeous elements and you can view more on our blog here. So grateful for the feature on Southern Weddings with other talents like Events in the City and Abby Jiu! Enjoy the beautiful photos and get […]

  2. avatar Ashleigh reply

    Yay, Highlanders! Such a gorgeous wedding!

  3. avatar Manglik Girls reply

    Lots and lots of love and wishes on your wedding; God made both of you for one another.

  4. avatar Happy Weekend // Around The Web | Coastal Bride reply

    […] wedding featuring a rose bar? Yes […]

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There are so many gorgeous Southern wedding ideas to be gleaned from Victoria + Michael’s celebration! Not the least of which, is how to still look graceful and elegant in the sweltering Southern summer heat. Step one, I gather? Choose a light-as-air Delphine Manivet gown. It also helps to have good-natured guests like those of V + M, who will still pull Christmas crackers and don crowns even in 95+ degree heat. Thanks to Amber Karson Events for planning, and Brian Tropiano for capturing, all of the gorgeous pink and gray details!

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: My family is British, and at Christmas, our table is set with Christmas crackers that contain a joke, a trinket and a paper crown that you pull apart with the person sitting next to or opposite you. We had our wonderful calligrapher write guests’ names on silver Christmas crackers and we used them as place settings. It was joyful to look around at dinner and see friends and family celebrating with paper crowns on their heads.
Describe your wedding cake: Michael and I really wanted pies at the wedding, so we decided to have a small cake, mainly for us to cut, and a number of our favorite pies (apple, blueberry and strawberry-rhubarb) for guests. At our tasting, we nearly changed our mind because the raspberry-cream cake that Windows Catering made us was amazing. We ended up sticking with the pies, though. However, shortly after the cake cutting we got pulled away to take photos and didn’t get to have more than a bite of cake. We’re planning to order some for our first anniversary to make up for it!
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? The late-breaking news that it wouldn’t just be hot, but that it would be the hottest day in the Washington area in over a decade. Having to adjust on the fly to make sure guests were as comfortable as possible at our outdoor wedding and that the ceremony could proceed as planned was a challenge. Thanks to our great wedding planners, who knew exactly how many industrial-sized fans we could plug into each outlet and who came up with the wonderful idea of handing out chilled towelettes, some late purchases of extra parasols and fans, and the great attitude of our guests, we managed.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? Brian Tropiano, our photographer, was amazing to work with and captured the particulars and the spirit of the wedding.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It was so touching having our friends and family play such an important role in our ceremony. Good friends and family did readings and both Michael’s mother and one of the groomsmen and his girlfriend sang us songs.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We are looking forward to a honeymoon early next year that will take us from winter in Washington to a romantic getaway in Paris followed by an island vacation in the Seychelles.

Photographer: Brian Tropiano Photography // Event Design and Planning: Amber Karson Events // Venue: George Washington’s River Farm // Florist: Holly Heider Chapple Flowers, Ltd. // Catering: Windows Catering // Calligraphy: Meant to Be Calligraphy // Musicians: Sage String Trio // DJ: Bialek’s // Dress: Delphine Manivet from Lovely // Bridesmaid Dresses: Joanna August // Rentals: Perfect Settings // Transportation: Sunny’s Limo

emily Written with love by Emily
  1. avatar Jan – Green Tree Photography reply

    Oh my goodness gracious! Her dress is absolutely amazing!!! So elegant and pretty =)

  2. avatar Kelli Taylor/Daniel Taylor Photography reply

    What a great vintage-inspired wedding. Such a beautiful dress, and the ribbons on the back on the chairs are so cool.

  3. avatar Southern Weddings Monthly Round-Up :: September 2011 | Gift Registry News reply

    […] SWEET: The sweets we feature on the blog always have us licking our lips! Just looking at Victoria + Michael’s wedding pie made Sierra hungry. Emily was ready to dig into Lisa + Blake’s strawberry cake […]

  4. avatar Escort Cards VS. Place Cards & Seatings Charts Too | Heart Love Weddings reply

    […] Calligraphy by Meant to be Calligraphy photo by Brian Tropiano Photography via Southern Weddings […]

  5. avatar Josianne reply

    What a beautiful wedding!! I totally felt in love with one of the picture above and I was wondering who I should ask permission from to be able to use it on my website (which is under construction right now).
    Please if you could get back to me to let me know, that would be greatly appreciated!
    Thank you so much!

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: