By Meghan Kennedy | Photography by eKate Photography
Rustic weddings were all the rage in 2014, so it’s hard to make yours stand out — however, newlyweds Caroline and Jennifer did just that. They put a punchy Mexican spin on the popular trend, with bright pops of color and even a mariachi band to make their party less like a barn dance and more like a fiesta! The Vintager Inn in Northern Virginia set the tone for a gorgeous celebration of love between Caroline, Jennifer and their family and friends, shot by eKate Photography.
The Love Story
Hailing from different states, North Carolina and Virginia, it seemed unlikely that the two would ever cross paths. A love of rugby led to playing for their own teams — Jennifer on Raleigh, Caroline on NOVA — and, eventually, a shared team in the Mid-Atlantic All Stars. The summer of 2007 found the future couple meeting once more at the annual Cape Fear 7s Rugby Tournament, and the two have been together ever since. Six years later, as they were planning to go out to celebrate their anniversary, Caroline kept finding long-stemmed roses with love notes attached to them around their house; however, since that’s Jennifer’s normal M.O., Caroline thought nothing of it, and even joked about a proposal coming that day. “Before we left for dinner, Jennifer called me back into the house and the rest was history,” reminisces Caroline. “It was very private and sweet just like Jennifer. So it was perfect.”
Location was important to the couple when choosing a venue, as they were looking for a good halfway point between Raleigh, N.C., and northern Virginia, as their guests were split between both places. Also, of course, keeping with their rustic vision, the place had to have the country charm they were looking for. Their wedding planner happened to stumble upon The Vintager Inn, halfway between NOVA and Raleigh, and the scenery the couple had been imagining since day one. “The main barn that we used for the reception opened up to this picture perfect view at sunset,” the couple exclaims. “Our guests are still raving about the venue.”
The wedding party featured the couple’s closest friends and Caroline’s nephew was their ring bearer. Creating a unique ceremony was important to Caroline and Jennifer, so they wrote the ceremony and had one of their best friends marry them. The ceremony focused on them sharing all the little things that made them fall in love with each other, with a traditional hand ceremony, vows and ring exchange. The couple put a fun twist on their rustic wedding with a fiesta spin on the day’s events, and surprised everyone with a mariachi band serenading them as they walked down the aisle, continuing to play into cocktail hour. Of their rings, Caroline says, “our wedding bands were extremely personal and unique, engraved with each of our fingerprints. Neither of us like big or flashy jewelry so we went simple but meaningful.”
Both brides rocked stunning white gowns for their big day. Jennifer opted for a long, halter-style dress à la Marilyn Monroe from David’s Bridal. Caroline chose a more traditional strapless sheath with a sweetheart neckline from Global Bridal Gallery in Alexandria, Va. Their wedding party wore shades of dove gray in perfect alignment with their chosen colors of orange and gray. The brides carried hand-tied burlap bouquets with white hydrangeas and orange roses, while the bridesmaids went simple with burlap bouquets of baby’s breath and the bridesmen and ring bearer wore a combination of orange roses and baby’s breath.
The reception, held in a classic red barn, featured one large table for the brides and their wedding parties. The tables, draped in gray tablecloths accented with orange napkins, featured old Coke bottles decorated with orange and gray paper hearts. The world-traveling couple named each table after a place they had visited together, and on each table sat a picture of Caroline and Jennifer at said location. Luggage tags with guests’ names on them doubled as escort cards and favors. Food and beverages were set up atop wine barrels throughout the room, and an open air barn next to the reception hall housed the full bar and buffet. An antique double-seated bike featured signs directing guests to the ceremony, party and reception; capping off the rustic decor was a large fire pit surrounded by seats for guests to relax and converse right outside the main reception area. Each table boasted gorgeous arrangements of white hydrangeas, orange ranunculus and baby’s breath.
The combination rustic-fiesta theme the brides set up was a huge hit. During cocktail hour, the mariachi band from their recession played as guests competed against each other in cornhole, customized by Jen and her dad for the wedding. The reception featured a DJ and a photo booth for guests to take pictures, and the newlyweds shared their first dance to “She’s Got A Way” by Billy Joel.
“There are so many but the moments that stuck out the most were our first look, our guests arriving as we secretly looked on, and realizing later that evening that we were actually married!”