“It was important to Christian and I that there was a strong sense of us in it.”
After 7 years of being together, Kirsten & Christian decided it was finally time to get married. So with a modest budget ($15k) and a resolve to do things DIY, they started planning their beautiful, DIY Virginia wedding. A special thanks to Porter Watkins Photography for submitting the beautiful images and to Kirsten for providing a TON of details on how their accomplished such a gorgeous, rustic wedding on such a reasonable budget!
Lots of images, details & insight all below! Happy Thursday Romancers :)
Kirsten & Christian’s Rustic Blue & Yellow, DIY Virginia Wedding
Photography: Porter Watkins | Venue: Amber Grove | Cake/Desserts: The Desserterie | Caterer: Amber Grove | Cinematography: Jay Robinson | DJ: Jerry Strickland | Floral Design: Pandora’s Posies | Classical Guitarist: Rafael Scarfullery
Kirsten wrote the details of their day so beautifully, like a story – I will be keeping it mostly in her form:
It is a day I will never forget, for the beauty and joy but also for all of the regular hoopla that tends to go along with weddings. Perhaps it was Christian and I’s newly adopted Hawaiian lifestyle (we moved to Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii a year and half before the wedding) or just a failure of organization, but if it wasn’t for our parents and family I don’t think anything would have been on time.
The wedding was sort of a Vintage Romantic/Rustic/DIY affair. It was important to Christian and I that there was a strong sense of us in it.
We decided on a budget of no more than $15,000, we still needed to figure out guest list size so we were aiming for less if we could make it! My Dad committed 2/3 of the wedding budget to us as our Wedding gift. Christian’s parents offered to pay for the cake and of course the Rehearsal Dinner, but the biggest help from them was definitely covering the cost of our astronomical flights back to the East Coast from Hawaii.
My Step-Mom and Grandparents also made financial gifts to us to use toward the wedding. My Mother committed to helping us with the remaining costs and all of the planning, which was a huge task, but we needed a point person on the East Coast since we had decided we didn’t want a wedding planner.
So, we picked a date, September 30 because on the day of the wedding we would have been together for seven years and that was a huge milestone for us that we wanted to share with our family. After picking the day and deciding on bridesmaids and groomsmen, who we sent handmade cards to asking, “Will you be my ‘fill in the blank’?” we started looking for venues.
My Dad covered the cost of the venue, which included the ceremony & reception locations, a buffet dinner, and tables & chairs. The location we chose was gorgeous and I want to give a big shout out to John McBride, the owner of Amber Grove, for all of his hard work and support, he was a big help in the organization of the day.
The property itself had all of the pickings any Virginian bride could ask for, a barn, a gazebo, rolling hills, huge oak trees, a tent, and of course the classic beautiful plantation style home.
Isn’t Kirsten’s dress gorgeous – WELL it was actually her grandmother’s dress, re-imagined a bit!
One of the most important elements of the day besides the actual ceremony itself, was my dress. Although originally, I thought I would buy a dress like most brides these days, I was privileged to wear my grandmother’s dress, handed down to me by my mother who also wore it. Both women encouraged me to alter the dress to fit my style, but the final design didn’t actually happen until about 3 weeks before the wedding.
I had planned on a structural yet simple style reminiscent of the Victorian era, but because of a wedding disaster turned happy accident due to a snafu with a local seamstress I wound up with the dress you see in our photos. It was beautiful and elegant and believe it or not saved by a couple of yards of trim from Walmart!
After picking the location, we needed to find a photographer. It was extremely important to Christian, who is a photographer himself, that our wedding photographer be of good quality, but also be knowledgeable about the procedure of weddings, especially because we wouldn’t know the first thing about what we were supposed to be doing. But it was also important to find someone within our budget, which was going to be the real challenge.
We struck gold on all accounts, I stumbled upon Porter Watkins through a Google search and when we saw that she was based out of Arlington, VA (the very area we had just moved from) I could feel my heart leap.
After a Skype interview, we knew she was our photographer. Without Porter I may have very well given up my new peaceful demeanor for a bridezilla attitude, but she kept everything going the way it needed to and saved Christian and I a lot of stress, not to mention that the pictures were amazing and she threw in an Engagement shoot!
Our ceremony was accompanied by classical guitarist Rafael Scarfullery who did an amazing job and learned all of the songs that we requested including my bridal march request: He Loves, She Loves from the film Funny Face. My mother and her good friend Deborah Sternberg performed The Wedding Song and The Prayer while Rafael accompanied, which of course made everyone tear up! Our reception was kept upbeat with a modern and classic combination of music mixed by Gerald Strickland.
Etsy was a huge resource for us, from inspiration for style to wedding planning tips. We also found our seamstress for the bridesmaids through Etsy. Patricia Vallery designed and made all 6 dresses to my Bridesmaids specifications and they came out beautiful. It was important to me that my girls be able to wear their dresses again and not have to spend a fortune on them.
We ordered matching skinny ties through Ebay for the guys to go with their tuxes from Jos A Bank. Our bridesmaids and groomsmen wore coordinating necklaces and cufflinks (respectively) made by myself as thank you gifts.
Décor wise, my Mom and I spent weeks hand making little things (on our respective sides of the world) from flower pom poms, to wood burned centerpieces and escort cards. In the first few months of our engagement, my Mom began a mission to thrift like crazy for an eclectic china collection that would save us from the high cost of renting china, but also create a base for the feel of the day.
Thanks to my super sweet Mother-In-Law and my Mom’s best friend Tricia, we had homemade apple butter and an eclectic mix of jams for favors for our guests.
My Mom also put together our awesome candy bar that served as an extra take home for our guests. Our flowers were done by a florist my Mom knew, Teresa Taylor-Hoxie (Pandora’s Posies), who arranged them delicately in Christian and I’s collection of vintage ball jars, inherited from his Grammy. We also got lucky with great musicians for a steal!
Our delicious cake was baked and delivered by The Desserterie, a Richmond staple. Too bad my Mom got to do the tasting… well, too bad for us. The cake turned out beautiful delicious (best wedding cake ever!) and the topper I made by painting miniatures of ourselves with wooden figures ordered off of Etsy.
So there you have it, the day was beautiful, the sun was warm and the breeze was gentle. Love and family surrounded us. We had contributions to our day from almost every immediately family member and friend. If I had to change something, I only wish it was longer and I didn’t plan it from 5,000 miles away so that I could truly experience it and revel in the feeling of being a bride.
But, despite many chaotic moments, my late attendance to the ceremony and a few other minor snafus, the day was nearly perfect and Christian and I were glowing and still are.
Congratulations Kirsten & Christian. Thank you SO much for sharing all the wonderful DIY and personalized details of your wedding day! A special thanks again to Porter Watkins Photography for sharing the beautiful images of this rustic, DIY Virginia wedding with us!