Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Honeymoon in Virginia--Send us some suggestions!

So, after careful thinking and budgeting, Chris and I have decided to honeymoon in our beloved Virginia. Why, you might ask, when we could go anywhere in the world? A few reasons:

  1. Wedding week is going to wipe us out. Do we really want to get on a plane after all of that and travel for hours on end, enduring the stress of airports, possible jet lag, and the touristy pressure to see everything in a foreign location? No. No we don't.
  2. Budget is tight with weddings. Chris and I, just between us, are spending a chunk of change for rings and dress and other items as well. Do we really want to spend more on a honeymoon faraway--for the pressure to see everything when what we really want to do is just chill out and relax and enjoy being newly weds? No. No we don't.
  3. Honeymooning in Virginia will save us around $3,000. Do we want that kind of deal? Yes. Yes we do.
So, the solution is that we will honeymoon for 4-5 days in a mountainous locale in our very own beloved Virginia. We will sleep in, enjoy the quiet of being in the middle of nowhere, hike for hours, horseback ride, venture out to nearby Virginia wineries, cook our meals in a snuzzy farmhouse or mountain cabin, and honeymoon away.

The following summer, or perhaps late spring--once we've caught our breath a bit--we'd love to take a trip for two to somewhere more exotic and touristy. Like Paris. Lake Como. Prague. So many options. Honeymoon local. Trip for two faraway. A solution we have made.

So far in our research of Virginian getaways, we are eying these three contenders. However, we welcome all and any suggestions, so please send us some!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Whole Line-Up of Gown Appointments

Check it out:

Dresses in the running:

(1) Melissa Sweet, "Felice"
(2) Atelier Aimee, "Nuccia"
(3) Pronovias, "Radiante"

Dresses I plan to try on this Friday and Sunday:

(1) Pronovias. "Ronda," "Rosa," "Nacar," and "Rama."
(2) Oscar de la Renta gowns. All of them.

Designers I plan to explore at Hitched this Sunday:

(1) Lela Rose
(2) Jenny Lee

Dresses I am in love with but don't know where to find them!

(1) Melissa Sweet, "Natalie" (but can't find it ANYWHERE)
(2) Atelier Aimee, "Dana" (absolutely in love but may need to travel to New York to find it). Anyone up for a road trip?!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Priscilla of Boston & Nicole Miller

Mom and I have two appointments tomorrow to try on wedding gowns: a noon appt. at Priscilla's, and a 2 p.m. appt. at Nicole Miller.

Dresses I'm curious about:

Priscilla at Boston
  1. Melissa Sweet, "Natalie"
  2. Melissa Sweet, "Sidney"
  3. Reverie, "Capri"
Nicole Miller
  1. "Herburn"
  2. "Pleated Julienna"

Friday, December 26, 2008

Fun with Stationary

I have yet to finalize wedding colors, but I do so love these rustic-inspired invitations. What appeals to me most is the twine bow, the basic and organic colors, the pressed flowers.

As for Save the Date cards, I have yet to find a plan for this. First of all, does one really need Save the Date cards? I mean, everyone who's coming to the wedding (all 70 of us) already knows the date of the wedding. So, do we need to send these out? Really? Something to think about. If we do decide to send these out, etiquette dictates we distribute them 8 months before the wedding date, with invitations 2 months before. If we decide not to send out Save the Date cards, then we will need to send out invitations earlier! Also, open to any rustic-themed invitations you come across! Send them our way!

A Lovely Band, Celtic Style

Chris has found a lovely wedding band, just for him. It's made by a Celtic ring company stationed in Portarlington, Ireland--right smack in the green heart of Dublin.

The ring is a traditional Celtic knot, but what we both love so much about it is its thinness and solidity, its simple and understated interlace around the band. The symbolism of the interlace is also fitting, being representative of the never ending intersection of the physical and spiritual, of the permanence and the continuum of life, love, and faith.

The picture shown here is of a gold ring, but we are planning on Platinum for the durability, the look, and cleanness. You can see a few more views of the ring in Platinum by clicking here.

We're excited to order this from Dublin, but first we need Chris' ring size!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rustic Inspiration

I love the signs. The Mason jars. The gerbera. The colors. Bring it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Oscar de la Renta: Wow!

These gowns are magnificent. The lace. The movement. The sheer layers. Just gorgeous. Check out his 2009 spring collection.

What do you think? I am IN LOVE with the 3rd, 8th, and 2nd to last gown. Click on a dress for more information--here you can also view the runway show which really shows off the movement of the dresses!

I have no idea what these wonderful gowns would look like on, but I'm going to TRY THEM ON!!! And where are these spectacular works of runway art located you ask? HITCHED! I'm making an appointment for this Friday or Saturday.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Betsy's in Baltimore: Pretty Pronovias Gowns

Jen and I went to Betsy's Bridal in Baltimore today, and found ourselves immersed in really really really pretty Pronovias gowns. However, before we raided the Pronovias rack, I tried on one Amsale gown, and one Anne Barge gown, and decided it wasn't the right fit for Oatlands, for me, for my rustic vision. Pretty yes, but still: not the one.

With Pronovias, I found two gowns I ABSOLUTELY adore, though: Dango and Radiante. Jen voted for the last of the two, but I'm still up in the air! Dango makes me feel like an ethereal tulip. Radiante makes me feel lacy, curvy with a touch of old-world. I'd post pictures here, but I haven't found ones that do the gowns justice. Still searching. The picture here is the Dango gown--but, again: this still doesn't do it justice.

So, far my favorite gowns among the three bridal boutiques I have visited are these two Pronovias gowns, and Atelier Aimme's gown Nuccia.

Hope to keep up the search. Next stop: Hitched bridal boutique in Washington or Nicole Miller at Tysons Galleria.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Next Stops on the Gown Hunt Express

So, I've been so busy booking the big ticket items for our wedding shindig--like the chef and cake and venue and photographer--that the search for the dress has fallen to the wayside. In my quest thus far, I've only visited Hannelore's, King street boutique, and Jeanette's. I've fallen in love with designers Atelier Aimee, Pronovias, and La Fleur by Anne Barge. I've abandoned the princess poof dress, the simple empire dress, and I'm now quite taken with architecture, ruching, and more whimsical and daring designs. I began with tradition, and now I'm finding myself venturing into the truly brave, and it's a lot of fun.

So, here are the next pit stops in search for that perfect wedding gown. I'd also like to swing back by Hannelores and Jeanette's one more time, as well, as there are a few more dresses by designers I've recently discovered that I'd like to try on for size. I think this will be the biggest challenge--this search--between now and February, as Feb. is the latest I can order a dress through one of these designers/boutiques to ensure plenty of time before the wedding. Apparently, dresses require 6-8 months of ordering time and fittings. Wowza.

Priscilla of Boston
8065 Leesburg Pike
Tysons Corner, VA 22182

Nicole Miller
Tysons Galleria
1808G International Drive
McLean, VA 22102

Maria's Bridal Designs
9858 A Main Street
Fairfax, VA

1523 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20007

Betsy Robinson's Bridal Collection
1848 Reisterstown Road
Baltimore, MD

Distinctive Designs Bridal
15709 Crabbs Branch Way
Rockville, MD

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Engagement Photos Are In!!!

What else can we say? Jen Chase is wonderful. Period.

The photographs have a cinematic quality to them: windswept and passionate, tender and rustic. I adore all of them. How will we ever find one to run in the paper?!

Posted a smattering of pictures on Facebook, and sent the whole collection out on SnapFish.

Let us know which one we should go with!!!! We need one for the newspaper, one for mailing out to relatives, and the rest I'm totally going to frame and hang all over the house. Now... to buy some frames.... Onward and upward. Jennifer Chase: you totally rock.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

We Have Our Cake Flavor!!!

We met today with Ms. Caroline Taylor of Taylor Made Cakes (which is just too clever), and sampled seven delicious flavors. Our top four were the Frangelico, the Almond Praline, the Light Lemon Butter, and the White Velvet Butter.

After serious consideration (and I mean serious, because Caroline's cakes are absolutely wonderful) we have selected the Light Lemon Butter for the wedding: four moist layers of buttermilk cake filled with a light creamy lemon filling and frosted with lemon meringue buttercream. Absolutely to die for.

Our thinking was this:

  • Chocolate allergy among our guests
  • The possibility of an Indian summer October 3rd, with weather reaching 75 degrees (chocolate and carrot cake would just be too much for warmer weather)
  • Among the remaining non-chocolate cake, the lemon butter was by far the most zingy, fun, and tasty.
And thus it shall be: Light Lemon Butter Cake.

A few other details:

  • We're going with buttercream frosting, which means we can either go with white or ivory, but not color--as colored frosting looks terrible in buttercream, and we don't want to go with the formal stiffness of fondant.
  • We're going with three-tiers--the perfect size to feed 70.
  • We're going with round tiers. Square is just too sharp.
  • Caroline makes her own sugar flowers, which are simply AMAZING.
  • She also makes her own fondant ribbons, should we choose to wind them around the bottom of each tier. As for designs, we are still searching for that perfect "one."
However, we're considering some of the following for an all white or ivory cake:
  • Textured beading, scrolling, or floral design etched into the frosting.
  • Colored fondant ribbon around the base of each tier. Green?
  • Little sugar flowers spread out across the tiers.
More to come as we continue to research. But we're so excited to have our cake flavor!

Preview of Our Engagement Photos!! More to Follow

A smattering of our engagement photos are up on Jen Chase's blog and they are so adorable. We couldn't be happier: full of such whimsy and magic and playfulness. My favorites are the one with Chris reading to me (he's looking down, I'm looking up), the one where he's kissing my forehead, the one where I'm kissing his cheek, the one where he's dipping me, the one.... heck, I like 'em all.

Thought we'd share a preview. Check them out: A DVD of complete photos to follow!!! We'll post them as we get them.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pretty Confections

How will we ever pick a cake design? There are so many to choose from! A few things I've learned though: (1) Fondant is used for "structural" cakes but does not taste as delicious as buttercream frosting. (2) I am not a fan of real flowers on the top tier of the cake. This is too closely akin to a kind of floral toupe, and this simply won't do. (3) I prefer candied floral designs to real flowers on the cake. (4) There is something to be said about an all white cake with exquisite details, don't you think?

A few more cake pics that I find simply breathtaking.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Updated Appointments

Okay, so we have two more appointments on our wedding radar, so I'm posting them here to keep on top of it all. Can't believe 2009 is around the corner!! Steady as she goes, steady as she goes.

See Alice's updated wedding appointments.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cake Flavors: Votes?

We're hoping to go cake tasting at Caroline Taylor's this Sunday, but need to select four flavors to sample! Thoughts?

Chocolate Raspberry Torte

Chocolate genoise is split and brushed with crème de cacao flavored syrup. It has two fillings, a thin layer of raspberry, topped with chocolate raspberry mousse. The meringue buttercream frosting is flavored with Framboise, a raspberry brandy. For a spectacular groom's cake, rich shiny chocola te glaze can be substituted for the meringue buttercream.

Light Lemon Butter Cake

Four moist layers of buttermilk cake are filled with a light creamy lemon filling and frosted with lemon meringue buttercream. This warm weather favorite has a light and zesty flavor.

Chocolate Mousse Cake, and variations

Each tier of this dark chocolate genoise is split in four and filled with a light creamy and definitely chocolaty chocolate mousse. Buttercream flavored with white crème de cacao completes the cake. Variations: Vanilla genoise or alternating layers of vanilla and chocolate genoise, may be substituted, still filled with the same rich chocolate mousse.

White Velvet Butter Cake

Tender layers of white butter cake are filled with delicate pale yellow vanilla buttercream. It's the perfect choice for those who no matter what, say, "I want vanilla."

Frangelico Torte

This specialty is an unusually dramatic cake, Dark and light layers of complimentary flavors alternate within each tier. Hazelnut genoise is brushed with Frangelico liqueur syrup and layered with coffee brandy buttercream, chocolate soufflé cake, and chocolate ganache. The frosting is flavored with Frangelico and white crème de cacao.

Passion Fruit Cake

Orange genoise layers are filled with passion fruit curd. Meringue buttercream lightly flavored with passion fruit completes a cake that will remind you of the tropics.

Marble Cake

Yellow vanilla butter cake swirled with chocolate is filled with milk chocolate ganache, and frosted with vanilla/crème de cacao meringue buttercream.

Citrus Poppy Seed Cake

Butter cake layers are flavored with poppy seeds and grated rind of lemons, oranges and limes. The filling is a light and tangy lime curd, and the frosting is lemon meringue buttercream.

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Cake

Light chocolate butter cake is filled with a rich chocolate and hazelnut praline ganache, and frosted with Frangelico flavored meringue buttercream.

Lemon Raspberry Cake

Raspberry preserves and creamy lemon filling are layered with tender lemon butter cake, and frosted with lemon meringue buttercream. It gives a lovely balance between tart and sweet, and the cut slices look so pretty!

Almond Praline Torte

If you're an almond lover, this is the cake! Almond paste genoise is filled with French buttercream, which is enhanced with the crunch of finely ground almond praline and a hint of Amaretto.=2 0The meringue buttercream frosting is flavored with Amaretto and vanilla.

Southern Caramel Cake

This is a modern version of the old-fashioned caramel cake. Tender buttermilk cake is layered with rich caramel buttercream, and frosted with creamy vanilla meringue buttercream.

Carrot Cake

This is a wonderful moist carrot cake made with oranges and finely ground pecans. It is filled with lemony cream cheese filling and frosted with buttercream scented with lemon and Grand Marnier.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Martha Stewart Inspiration--Rustic Reception Decor

A few pictures mom found, and that I adore! Elements that are really promising: corn husk candle votives and flower vases, wheat wreaths, rustic-colored papers for wrapping favors, bouquets of herbs and greenery, horseshoes or clothespins to hold table assignments. Simply charming.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Next Steps: At the 10-month mark

So here we are, 10 months till the wedding, and it's time to size up where we are, what's left to do. Okay, strike that. What's left to do is too much. How about what's left to do in the next few weeks. Yes. That will do.

So, what we've accomplished: wedding date, ceremony and reception venue, officiant, photographer for wedding day, engagement photos taken, chef/caterer, rough idea of menu for wedding supper, rustic theme selected for reception, general ideas for reception decor, and possible musicians for ceremony and reception.

Next steps:
  • Meet with pastry chef, Caroline Taylor.
  • Visit We Party in McLean--linens, tables, glassware, chairs.
  • Visit Carriage House--size up linen samples. Select colors.
  • Book, officially, Bell and Blake musicians for Oct. 3rd date. Request playlist.
  • Pick stationary, invites, Save the Date cards.
  • Pick wedding dress (I have until February for this, to ensure time for fittings).
  • Enroll in dance lessons at Dance Factory (begin this in February).
  • Finalize decor reception.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I think these are all so pretty! I adore the octagonal look and feel. Very vintage. Thoughts? Check out more at

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Linens: Choices, Choices

So, I spent a bit of time today exploring linen options (napkins, table cloths, table toppers) on the We Party website--the website of the company that Joan works closely with (which is good, because it's so much more affordable this way!).

Lots of options here at We Party. So much to choose from. Great website, yes, but still: I'd like to go visit We Party in person. Cloth looks different digitized. For now, though, some initial thoughts:
My favorite is the first one pictured. I'm not sure if this is a table cloth with a topper? Or just a table cloth? If we went with ivory, how would this look with the whites and green flowers we'd like? Or perhaps we'd have to stick with more greenery? Berries? Herbs? For color, perhaps we'd go with colored napkins--a shade of green with flower rings? What about plates. Colored, too? Or just ivory as well?

Fancy Cakery

Saturday, November 22, 2008

We Adore Savoir Fare

We have found our chef, and she is Ms. Joan Wolford. Full of personality, great stories (including a particularly great one about a bridezilla and her ice sculpture; ask Ally for details), and a wonderful way with food, we immediately felt at home.

Today, Chris, mom, and I went to Joan's shop and business, Savoir Fare Ltd., located in the heart of Round Hill, Virginia--only 20 minutes from Oatlands.

Welcomed by a warm room and a generous hostess, we had Joan's full attention, beginning with an appetizer course, then a soup course, a plated salad, and three entrees served family style.

We were immediately impressed with Joan's knowledge of Oatlands, her appreciation for all things Virginian and rustic, including fresh grown tomatoes, homemade salad dressings, and fresh whipped creams.

By the time we arrived at the pumpkin soup, complete with homemade cream and pumpkin seeds, Chris and I knew we had found our chef. Of course, saying how much she approved of our deep love of cornbread pretty much sealed the deal, too!

Among our favorites of the foods we sampled included
  • Baked brie with brown sugar
  • Homemade artichoke dip on bread
  • Dilled shrimp tartlets
  • Bacon wrapped scallops with hoisin sauce
  • Fig-filled pastries
  • Pumpkin soup with homemade cream and pumpkin seeds
  • Salad greens with fresh red pear slices, walnuts, cranberries, and white vinaigrette
  • Chicken Fricassee in a field mushroom sauce
  • Beef Tenderloin in port sauce with a horseradish drizzle
We chatted with Joan a good while, and made a few plans:
  • Salads would be served plated.
  • Both entrees would be sliced and served family style (which we totally adore).
  • The tenderloin would be served with red potatoes and herbs, carrots, and green beans.
  • The chicken would be served with rice pilaf.
  • All tables would feature a basket full of freshly baked rolls, cornbread, pumpkin bread, and zucchini bread.
  • Joan's team will provide all soda, mixers, iced tea, water, coffee, and hot tea.
  • We will provide all alcoholic beverages.
  • We can select linens, chairs, flatware, glassware, and silverware from We Party.
  • We can have Caroline Taylor, also located locally, bake our cake. (more on this later)
  • Joan adored our favors idea: to send each guest home with a tart (pecan, pumpkin, apple).
  • Appetizers would be served butler style on the terraced gardens and on the front porch of the mansion.
  • Four bistro tables will be provided outdoors.
  • We'll need one table for a bar outdoors.
  • We're still torn between 5 foot tables and 6 foot tables. (more on that later)
We're excited! More to come...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Housing for Wedding Week/Weekend?

So, we're in the market to rent a cozy house or two the week before the wedding, perhaps part of the week leading up to the wedding, or perhaps just the weekend of the wedding itself. So many options.

Part of what I need, though, is to find out who, exactly, is interested in going in on this with me? Here's who we have so far who is definitely interested. Let me know if you want to be added! The more people we have, the cheaper the cost.
  1. me (duh)
  2. Chris (duh)
  3. Somer (duh)
  4. Bert English
  5. Alissa English
  6. Matt Witting
  7. Katie Witting
Is there anyone else out there interested? If so, please let me know, so I know how large of a house or how many houses (one for bride and friends vs. one for groom and friends vs. one house for everyone) we should book.

As for what's out there, here are a few options we've come across!

Mount Welby: Middleburg, Virginia (20 minutes from Oatlands)

$750/night or $3,950/week
5 Bedrooms, 3.5 Baths
Sleeps 10-12
Historic Home Built in 1823
63-Acre Estate
Mountain Views
Meadows, Ponds, and Babbling Brook

Milltown Farm: Middleburg, Virginia (20 minutes from Oatlands)

$439/night or $2400/week
4 bedrooms (sleeps 8-10)
Cathedral ceilings
Raised stone fireplace
Outdoor patios
Smoke house out building
Peaceful garden surroundings
Outside patio fireplace
Private Pub Room
Fireplace--rental includes firewood

Friday, November 14, 2008

Dance Lessons: On the Search

So, we've started searching for a dance studio to begin our lessons in January!! I was thinking we'd begin with basic ballroom and movement in a class setting, and then, once we've finalized our first dance tune with the band, we'd move to private lessons, where an instructor could fine tune our steps and choreograph a specific piece for us. This way, we'll have our general dance steps covered as well as a customized dance for our first presentation.

This sounds like a good plan, and I know we could use the practice!

Here are a few dance studios in the area that I think would be most helpful to us. Please let me know if you, or anyone you know, has other ideas or suggestions!

The Wedding Dance Specialists, Arlington, Virginia

The Dance Factory, Arlington, Virginia

Dance Studio Lioudmila, Alexandria, Virginia

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Vintage Presses As Table Numbers!!

Somer, you are a genius. Check out all the cool vintage press letters available on Etsy's website!

Reception Decor Inspiration: Rustic, Rustic, Rustic