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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
  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 and then the super talented Erica at SewEMG put it all together in the quilt. You can find her shop on etsy –

  6. avatar Unique Ideas For Decorating The Bride And Groom's Wedding Chairs -Beau-coup Blog reply

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Southern Stems: Dogwood

by in Inspirations on

Some of my earliest memories of my childhood in Virginia are the walks my mom and I used to take through our neighborhood. My mom loves gardening, so she would always point out the trees and flowers she knew. One of her favorites was the delicate dogwood tree, especially when its flowers blossomed in the spring–it has since become one of my very favorite flowers as well! For this installment of our Southern Stems column (see past posts about camellias, wisteria, bluebonnets, and gardenia), we’re discussing this sure sign of spring. Dogwoods are also the state flower of North Carolina, so we have a bit of a soft spot for them around here!

Photo via Plants in the Mail, overlay by SW

There are quite a few species of dogwood, but the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is one of the most common, especially in the South. The trees flower in spring, and while most produce white flowers, some bloom in shades of pink or even light red. Dogwoods are the state flower for both North Carolina and Virginia, and since the dogwood tree is Virginia’s state tree too, these flowers are extra sentimental for Virginia brides!

Clockwise from top: Saipua, Jen Huang Photography via Once Wed, Love Me Do Photography via Love ‘n Fresh Flowers, Karen Wise via The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings

The Victorian flower meanings for the dogwood vary, but they all fall under a similar theme. Variations include faithfulness, steadfastness, durability, and endurance. All pretty great symbolism to include in a wedding, don’t you think?

Clockwise from top left: Megan Clouse via Elizabeth Anne Designs, Chris Bailey Photography, Annabella Charles via Wedding Chicks, Jose Villa via Style Me Pretty

Since dogwoods are a tree flower, I think they look their best when arranged in a loose, natural way, but they are incredibly versatile. Pair them with other all-white flowers for a monochromatic statement, or combine them with a variety of small wildflowers for a just-picked garden look. With their thin stems, they’re also darling in bud vases or glass bottles. And how pretty are these dogwood-inspired cakes? The different designs–one incorporating the branches and one clustering the blooms on top–really speak to the versatility of the flower.

Abby Jiu Photography via Once Wed, via Martha Stewart Weddings

Finally, a few pretty products that would look gorgeous at a dogwood-filled Southern wedding! We love this wedding stationery line from Paperwhites, which comes in all different colors, and the Dogwood Flower Hairpins from BHLDN would be the perfect finishing touch in a wedding day hairstyle.

What’s your favorite Southern stem? Will you be using it in your wedding day flowers? We’d love to hear!

lisa Written with love by Lisa
  1. avatar Stephanie reply

    I love dogwoods!! I also grew up with them, and they have such sentimental value to me. Chapel Hill also has tons of gorgeous dogwoods in the Spring, including beautiful pink blooms!

  2. avatar Laura reply

    Dogwoods are my absolute favorite flower! As a NC native, they always make me think of home. And I love when they bloom because it’s the first sign that spring is on its way.

  3. avatar Katie reply

    Peonies are my favorite southern flowers! I can’t wait to have those big soft blossoms in my wedding bouquet in May!

  4. avatar Meredith reply

    Wow, Lisa, you are reading my mind this week! Dogwoods are my favorite and my florist was so excited I wanted to use them in my bouquet :) To me they are the quintessential Virginia flower… I can’t wait for spring when all the Dogwoods, Red Buds, Azaleas, and Cherry Blossoms around Charlottesville start blooming!

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It’s the middle of May in North Carolina, which means the jasmine is in full bloom! And oh boy, with this Southern stem, you can smell it before you can see it!

First, though, a little lesson about dainty flowers on vines that smell amazing, because we enjoy several of them in the South! The beauty above is honeysuckle — its blooms are a little more trumpet shaped, and turn from pink before blossoming into flowers tinged with orange, yellow, and white.

This gal is jessamine, also known as Carolina jessamine. It has extremely prolific golden yellow blooms that blossom at the end of winter.

The Southern Stem we’re chatting about today, however, is jasmine. The version we most often see down here is Confederate or star jasmine, which has very delicate creamy white blooms. These ambitious vines can grow to be 10-15 feet tall, at a rate of 12 to 24 inches per year!

Jasmine front door via Design Mom

The jasmine that’s most common in weddings, though, is a bit different — pinker and wispier.

Tanja Lippert (bouquet by Blush Floral Design)

I love it so much I used it in my own wedding bouquet!

Stephanie Williams, from Martha Stewart, Sean Money and Elizabeth Fay via Southern Weddings (bouquet by Tiger Lily Florist), Jesse Ryan via Southern Weddings (bouquet by Pollen Floral Art), and Jose Villa via Southern Weddings (bouquet by Flowerwild)

I’m certainly not the only one, though! I think brides love jasmine because its tendrils add an airy garden vibe to an otherwise formal bouquet — just the right note of “hand-picked.”

Martha Stewart, Landon Jacob via Southern Weddings, Christian Oth via Southern Weddings

I love when jasmine is included in centerpieces, because it seems to make the arrangements live larger than they are, since the dainty tendrils stretch out across the table.

Karen Mordechai (centerpieces by Ariel Dearie Flowers), Tory Williams (centerpiece by Rachel Mercier via 100 Layer Cake), from Martha Stewart

Speaking of spreading out, if you’re a jasmine fan, you must check out this installation created for a past Sunday Suppers dinner. Magical! Can you even imagine what that room smelled like??

Ariel Dearie Flowers (photo by Karen Mordechai)

Finally, I couldn’t find any cakes with jasmine vine, but I thought this stephanotis vine confection was great inspiration for what could be! And the wreath with jasmine vine was simply too pretty to leave out.

Wreath by Garden on the Square via Martha Stewart, cake from Martha Stewart

Tell me: Are you planning to incorporate jasmine vine into your bouquet? Do you have a hard time keeping all of the sweet smelling Southern blooms apart?

emily Written with love by Emily

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!

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