It’s been awhile since we had Katie Stoops‘ photography here on Snippet & Ink, so I’m happy she’s back today with this charming wedding. A rustic venue on a beautiful day, delicious local food, and lots of friends and family… it doesn’t get much better than that. Zach and Clay were kind enough to share some of the details about their wedding with us:

Finding the right venue was tough. D.C. is full of beautiful ballrooms and grand spaces, but those didn’t feel right to us. This barn was perfect – it’s only about 20 miles from Washington, but it feels a world away, like you’re really in the country. Although the barn was cleaned out and “finished,” with hardwood floors and so on, it’s still a functioning barn. There are goats in the lower level! On the day of our wedding, there were some other surprise guests – a small herd of alpacas had been moved there, too! The guests loved it. The alpacas were probably the single most photographed thing from our wedding. Hot new wedding trend: alpacas! You heard it here first.

Our ceremony was the best part of the entire day – it was very personal and meaningful and “us.” And we loved how informal it was, with the guests standing beneath a large tree there on the farm. We had friends do a handful of readings. It was a very special moment for us that we were so proud to share with family and friends.

The single most important aspect of the reception, though, was the food. We write about food on our blog, The Bitten Word, so we really wanted the food to be a special highlight of the day. We were thrilled to find our caterer, Oliver Friendly, who focuses on simple, seasonal foods using ingredients from within a 150-mile radius. One bite of Oliver’s baby BLT sandwiches (he cures his own bacon!), and we were hooked. (See the entire menu below.)

Flowers were from a floral wholesaler and were arranged by friends and family. Somewhat to our surprise, the DIY parts of our wedding ended up creating really fun memories. A small group of family and friends headed out to the barn the day before the wedding to string lights, clean up, arrange flowers and so on. It was actually really fun, and the “handmade” aspect of it really made the whole event feel special and personal.

Zach and Clay’s advice for anyone planning a wedding?

In general, just approach the entire event as a blank slate, and don’t do things because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do. For example, we mingled with the guests as they arrived at the barn and were served welcome glasses of Prosecco. Then, for the ceremony, we all headed over to a big evergreen tree and stood in the shade. It just seemed silly to us to “hide” until the ceremony. If that’s what you want to do, great! Just make sure it’s because you want to, and not because you think tradition compels you. Make the day what you want it to be – there are no rules.

One more piece of advice: Read Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding. It will help you keep your sanity about what’s really important about the wedding day, and about how you can have an amazing event on a small scale.

Photography: Katie Stoops

Venue: Agricultural History Farm Park in Montgomery County, Maryland

Clay’s navy blue suit, blue checkered shirt: J.Crew

Zach’s light gray pants, vest / necktie:  J.Crew / Banana Republic

Stationery: By Hand Invitations

Rentals / lighting: Capital Party Rentals / Atmosphere Lighting

Gypsy Jazz band: Hot Club of DC

Catering / drinks: Oliver Friendly from Eat & Smile Foods / Ace Beverage

Dessert: Dangerously Delicious Pies

Congratulations Zach and Clay! Yet another example of how simple can be just perfect. And thank you to Katie Stoops for sharing these lovely photos with us. You can see lots more from Zach and Clay’s wedding over on Katie’s blog.

Zach & Clay’s Wedding Menu


Watermelon Mint Julep

36-Hour Smoked Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches
with Homemade Pickle and Slaw

Roast Vegetable Crostini

Pork-and-Scallion Wontons and Vegetable Wontons

Trio of Soup Shots
Roasted Corn; Sweet Pea with Thai Basil; Mushroom with Homemade Bacon

Ratatouille Spoons
with Lime-Poached Shrimp

Baby BLTs with Homemade Bacon

Gruyere Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
with Caramelized Onions

Mini Crab Cakes
with Roasted Corn Slaw

Choice of Pie
Peach, Blueberry, Chocolate-Peanut Butter, “The Baltimore Bomb”

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I am always so inspired by the way people come together when bad things happen, and the internet is such an amazing facilitator for action. Tomorrow I’ll be participating in a Bloggers’ Day of Silence, organized by Utterly Engaged and Ever Ours. This means no posting on Friday, as a way to bring awareness and to acknowledge the devastation in Japan.

Even if you don’t have a blog, you can participate by making a donation to Shelterbox USA. It’s so easy to feel helpless in a time like this, but every little bit counts, and with just a couple clicks you can make a difference. Together we can send some disaster relief along with our thoughts and prayers. If you want to learn more about For Japan With Love, check out these posts on Ever Ours and Utterly Engaged. Be well, friends.

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Did  you notice that shamrocks appear in both of this week’s real weddings? On Kelly and Martin’s invitations, and the cufflinks Amy gave to Naveen. A happy accident since I wasn’t clever enough to have planned it that way. Well, today’s post brings us even more shamrocks, with a faux wedding just for St. Patrick’s Day, as imagined by wedding planner and designer, Shannon Leahy. Says Shannon: “I have always loved my Irish heritage and wanted to celebrate the upcoming holiday with a wedding fit for St. Patrick’s Day!  When I started doing research on the internet, I couldn’t find much inspiration for a sophisticated, elegant Irish wedding and I knew I had to create one.”

On with the inspiration! Fabulous photos at Manka’s taken by Larissa Cleveland

Says Shannon, “We wanted the shoot to feel like early Spring, just coming out of Winter, and the moody location at Manka’s (complete with the Spring showers) was the perfect backdrop.”

I’ll confess something: I don’t usually like boutonnieres. I find that they’re often too big, and end up looking more like a corsage than a boutonniere (my mother may have had something to do with my feelings on this subject…). But this boutonniere? This is just right! Totally understated, and very sweet. It pairs perfectly with the simple bridal bouquet of parrot tulips and white bell flowers.

Shannon was inspired by a variety of fabrics she had collected at the San Francisco Design Center and vintage lace, embroidered ribbons and twine found at The Ribbonerie. For the imagined bride and groom, these bits of ribbon are used in a traditional Celtic hand fasting ceremony, and then again throughout the tablescape. Spring branches create a lovely, seasonal backdrop for the ceremony.

I love this idea of a miniature accordion guest book – it would be such an easy and fun thing for the bride and groom to take with them after the wedding, to read all of their guests’ well wishes. Stitching in neutral thread ties all of the stationery items together. And, in true Manka’s fashion, the dinner menu is wonderfully whimsical, with items like “Halibut Plucked from the Surrounding Seas, Dappled with Coastal Clams and Housemade Bacon, Thanks to Mr. Pasternak’s Pig” and “Local Goat’s Milk Cheese Wrapped in Walnut Alongside Buttons of Quince and Syrup of the Same.”

Slàinte is like “Cheers!” and literally means “health.” A perfect little touch to any toasts at this Irish-inspired faux wedding. Especially when toasting with pints of Guinness topped off with shamrocks!

The cake incorporates fun textures, and the flowers and ruffles are finished off with edible gold dust.

Inspired by a Louis XVI-style chair reupholstered in burlap, Shannon found something similar for the “bride” and “groom” from Blueprint Studios and had them monogrammed with their respective initials. Shannon also wrapped the vases in various fabrics, bringing interesting texture to the table. Flowers include parrot tulips, ranunculus, bells of Ireland, and geranium leaves (in mercury glass vases). More blooming branches adorn the fireplace mantle.

Concept, design and flowers: Shannon Leahy Events

Photography: Larissa Cleveland

Venue: Manka’s in Inverness, California

Dress: BCBG

Stationery and flowers: Anna Millett of Mira Aster

Cake: Flours

Rentals: Classic Party Rentals / La Tavola Linens / Blueprint Studios

Don’t you love all these fun ideas? I think the best part of this faux wedding is that it has a clear theme, without being kitschy – it’s totally sophisticated from start to finish. Thanks so much to Shannon Leahy, Larissa Cleveland, and all the other vendors involved in this wonderful photo shoot. I can just imagine what a fun wedding this would be.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Now that I’m married to Ryan, I need a shirt that says, “Kiss me, you’re Irish.” Anyway…

I thought I’d revisit an inspiration board I made a few years ago, and re-work it with some new St. Patty’s Day finds. For a wedding in this theme, I imagine green grass and gray skies, lots of potted clover (this would be a very do-able project for the DIY-inclined), vintage Irish linens and lace. And of course a chocolate Guinness cake! A delicate clover-leaf necklace is a charming gift for your bridesmaids or flower girls (this is the same necklace that Ryan and I gave to our flower girl and our junior bridesmaid – the pendants are itty bitty and so sweet, and they also come as earrings). I think vintage St. Patrick’s Day greeting cards would be adorable – maybe as save the dates? I also think it’s hilarious how many of these vintage cards say “The Wearing of the Green.”

Anyone have fun plans for the day? Corned beef and cabbage (which I’m told they don’t actually eat in Ireland)? Wearing of the green? Whatever your plans, make sure to stop by later today, because I have the most delightful St. Patrick’s Day faux wedding to share with you – you’re going to love it, even if theme-y weddings aren’t your thing.

Mood: lucky in love!
Palette: clover green, white, brown

Top row from left: photo of bride by Meg Smith, daisy chain invitation suite from Martha Stewart Weddings, pot of pansies via Hardaker & Pope, Guinness draught beer
Row 2: bouquet with sweet peas and crepe paper shamrocks from Martha Stewart Weddings, chocolate Guinness cake by What Katie Ate, vintage St. Patrick’s Day greeting card, men’s green cardigan from J.Crew
Row 3: Irish butter shortbread from Martha Stewart, photo of stone wall and tree in Ireland by Mark Romine, brown linen blazer from Billy Reid
Row 4: four-leaf clover ring pillow from Martha Stewart Weddings, clover leaf necklace by Michael Michaud, shamrock cupcake from Martha Stewart, potted plants from Real Simple

If you like this inspiration board, you might also like:

Board #420: Good Green Fun
Board #168: Erin Go Bragh!
Board #192: Earth Friendly #3, Garden Charm

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