… and we’re gonna get married…

Can you believe it? My wedding is just around the corner! This weekend Ryan and I got to hang out with our videographers, and had the chance to reflect on our relationship, which was such a wonderful thing to do the week before our wedding. I just cannot wait to be married to the love of my life and my very best friend! I’m playing hooky this week to finish up some last little details (like unpacking all these moving boxes…), spend time with friends and family who are coming to town, and to marry this handsome devil. How lucky am I?!

{photo by Jesse Tarnoff, our fab videographer}


After the big day, we’re headed off for some sunshine and relaxation, so while I’m away I have some incredible guest bloggers lined up – definitely check in for your daily dose of wedding inspiration. And as I head into this wedding week, I just have to say thank you to all of my wonderful readers. You have been such a source of encouragement and inspiration during my engagement, and I can’t wait to share all the details and stories with you. In the meantime, have a wonderful couple of weeks, enjoy some fabulous guest posts, and the next time we talk I’ll be a Mrs.!

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Before everyone takes off for the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to leave you with this stunning destination wedding sent to me by one of my favorite photographers, Leo Patrone. An utterly romantic and beautiful wedding…

From the bride: My sister created the floral displays with seasonal flowers from the local flower market. My beautiful bouquet and the wedding party buttonholes were made by the local florist – who spoke as much English as we spoke Italian (not much!), so they were created through sign language, pointing and a bit of guess work! Luckily for us they turned out to be so beautiful – we even had thistles to add a little “Scottish-ness” to the day! (Ross is from Bridge of Allan in Scotland.)

There was not a strict theme as such. We used materials sourced from the beautiful gardens of Moravola, using twine, lavender, rosemary and olive branches  to decorate. We hung chandeliers in the trees and lined the stone walls with hurricane lanterns lined with rosemary and lit church candles in them.

We wanted a natural, relaxed feel to the day and we both wanted to get married under the shrub oak tree on the orchard terrace. The ceremony was our favourite part of the day, both emotional and romantic. We wrote our own vows and kept them secret from each other until that moment – not a dry eye anywhere!

After the ceremony we walked up to the pool area to have Prosecco, gin and tonics (made with Hendricks Gin from Scotland), canapes and the speeches. The local band from Montone led us up to the pool, and handed us a basket to carry made up of local fruits and crops from the fields of Umbria – to symbolise health and fertility for our marriage.

We chose Torre di Moravola for so many reasons: the amazing views across the Umbrian hills, the dramatic architecture, and the history of the tower (built in the 12th century), its location in the middle of nowhere (so we had the place to ourselves), the weather, and the food. It might have rained and rained until 30 minutes before the ceremony, but the food and wine did not disappoint.

The day was truly amazing, surrounded by our closest family and friends with the stunning backdrop of Torre di Moravola and Umbria.

Photography: Leo Patrone

Venue: Torre di Moravola in Umbria, Italy

Bride’s dress: Suzanne Neville

Bride’s and groom’s shoes both: Christian Louboutin

See lots more of Leo’s gorgeous photos from this wedding over on his blog.

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There are a few wedding photos that I return to time and again, to remind myself of what a wedding day is all about, namely love and joy. Isn’t it wonderful when you can see that in the photos?! Cate and Michael’s wedding is one of those, and Cate kindly took the time to share the story of the day. I hope her smile and sense of humor inspire you as much as they inspire me.

We were married in April in Charlottesville, Virginia at Ash Lawn-Highland, the home of President James Monroe – it’s an historic site owned by the College of William and Mary, so the site fee was partly tax-deductible, a huge bonus. We were married in one of the gardens and had our cocktail hour and reception in the pavilion, which has a gorgeous view of the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. The fact that it poured during our reception made it that much more, um, interesting.

As you can tell, this was a very DIY wedding, and my mother was a hero. Aside from making my dress, the cakes, the table runners and her own dress, she was constantly dropping into local thrift stores to assemble the incredible amount of stuff we bought for the wedding. I wish I had inherited one ounce of her craftiness and commitment. My parents were just amazing.

My bridesmaids were left up to their own devices for dresses, and I only asked that they stay within the brown, pink, green and ivory scheme that we had sort of established. I dislike matching bridesmaid dresses, and I wanted to keep their costs down. The color scheme, by the way, pretty much fell apart by the end of our planning, as you can see by the pictures; my bridesmaids were in the brown-pink range, but my bridesmen wore gray and pink, and the groomsmen wore pink and blue…good thing pink is in this year. The tallest bridesmaid wore her dress to her own rehearsal dinner a couple of years ago. We’re all about recycling!

For my dress, my mom made over a J.Crew wedding dress (that I got on clearance that winter for $68) with lace and ribbon from Mokuba. At $60 a yard, the silk ribbon was by far the most expensive part of the dress. The vintage rhinestone brooch that pinned my sash together was found at a consignment shop the morning of my wedding: I woke up with an insanely last-minute desire for vintage jewelry for my sash, and one of my bridesmaids made it happen.

My mother and aunt baked our eight cakes in late March, froze them, and stored them in freezers across town. The morning of the wedding, two of my aunts iced the cakes and hustled them over to Ash Lawn. I can truly say without reservations that our “wedding” cake – a dark celestial chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and white chocolate ganache – was the best I’ve ever had. People still rave about all the cakes and beg for the recipes. (In addition to the celestial chocolate cake, there was red velvet cake, caramel cake, carrot cake, chocolate Doberge cake, pound cake with fresh fruit and apricot glaze, rose cream cake, and coconut cake with lemon curd filling.) We cut our cake with a piece of our wedding silver given to us by my grandmother, which was so special to me.

One of Cate’s biggest pieces of advice? “Watch the forecast, and order some bulk umbrellas (we got ours from Friedman Umbrellas – they were very fast and so calming to a crazed bride). This will do one of two things: ensure that it doesn’t actually rain because you spent more money, or, if it does, that your guests can get to the restrooms without getting soaked.”

Photography / videography: Jason Arthurs | “Our photographer is a former classmate from college, and he is just amazing. Not only did he shoot the most beautiful photos, he and his second shooter (a college student!) concocted a gorgeous video for us. I am proud of our wedding, and I am incredibly proud of the work that Jason did. Also, he’s very, very affordable, and he travels.”

Venue: Ash Lawn-Highland in Charlottesville, Virginia  |  “We chose Ash Lawn because we wanted to be married in the Valley, and it was the most affordable option that met our requirements: a beautiful outdoor scene, a sense of history (my husband is a big presidential history person), and a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere.”

Bride’s dress: J.Crew |  customized and altered by the bride’s mother

Bridesmaid dresses: J.Crew / Anthropologie / Cutie Clothes

Groom’s suit: My Suit | “A very affordable way to purchase a bespoke suit.”

Groom’s socks: “His socks were from Paul Stuart, and that was the dumbest shopping battle of my life – pink, blue and gray Argyles are difficult to find.”

Bridesmen shirts / ties: T.M. Lewin / Macy’s

Personal flowers: Sugar Magnolias

Irish music: students from Blue Ridge Irish Music School

Sending happiest wishes to you Cate and Michael! Thank you so much for sharing your delightful wedding with us! You can find Cate over at her blog, I Cook Like a Girl.

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I have two sweet weddings to share with you today, starting with Alison and Eddie’s lovely Southern California celebration. Alison is a Snippet & Ink reader, and you know how much I love featuring reader weddings! She was kind enough to share all kinds of details about the day:

We had a little over a year to plan our wedding, and committed to ourselves and each other this deal breaker: Southern California Catholic church ceremony followed by outdoor wedding, preferably with sand beneath toes. (The unofficial deal-breaker: a band that rocked the house to which I could dance all night long.) We wanted the wedding to feel like it was a backyard dinner party – on the beach – with the ocean as our centerpiece, where neutrals were preferred to color.

Some advice from Alison that I’m definitely keeping with me for my own wedding day: I practiced yoga on the beach the morning of my wedding – it was the best start to a very balanced and harmonious day, and when I couldn’t sleep a wink the night before, som morning cleansing breaths and centering was just what I needed. I highly recommend doing something ‘centering’ the morning of your big day, whatever that means to you… writing a letter, reading your favorite poem, talking a walk, watching your favorite movie… whatever that is for you, do it. It will give you the best start to one of your best days.

My husband and I have worked in the events industry for over 10 years (and met on the job!) and though we were certain of planning every little detail ourselves, we enlisted Rebecca Stone of Duet Weddings soon after our engagement to help guide us through the process and make the day-of a breeze – and she did. She’s an angel and I’m so thankful my best friend found her a year earlier for her wedding. (I like to steal good ideas and good people!)

We tackled a handful of DIY projects, and my mom was a huge help. She made all the table runners with the green and white fabrics. My dad made the drink menu chalkboards; my aunt made the bridesmaid’s necklaces and helped my mom stamp ‘hugs and kisses’ stamps on 200 take-home candy bags we used for the dessert buffet; my godmother was the unofficial behind-the-scenes photographer and right-hand to my mom; my uncle played with the band for a set that completely rocked the house.

Photography: Amy & Stuart

Ceremony venue: American Martyrs Catholic Church in Manhattan Beach, California

Reception venue: private club in Santa Monica, California

Event coordination: Duet Weddings

Bride’s dress: Pronovias

Flowers: Magical Blooms

Stationery: Little Miss Press

And one last tip from the bride: Marriage is about the process by which two people arrived on one particular day to say “I do.” It’s a journey. Treasure your engagement, and once you get to the big day, take it all in, soak up every last detail, memory, tear, laugh and dance with all the people you love on that one special day. (And then go to the Bahamas.)

Thank you Alison! Congrats to you and Eddie! Find out more about their wedding and planning process over on Alison’s blog, paper{whites}. And don’t forget to stop by in a bit for another charming wedding.

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