A groom from Ireland & a bride from Wiltshire [a Southerner!], England – throwing a DIY, handmade wedding in Northern Virginia. I think I love everything about the sentence I just typed.

Douglas Pettway Photography dropped this stunner of a wedding in my Two Bright Lights inbox, and the minute I got the details from Stella – I was smitten. Terence & Stella used a TON of DIY, borrowed, thrifted, & low-budget purchases to create the wedding of their dreams. They also relied heavily on my 4th DIY Wedding Tip, having friends & family volunteer a lot of time & talent to their wedding. I know you will love this one :)

Terence & Stella’s Handmade, Budget-Friendly Northern Virginia Wedding

About the couple:

Terence and Stella met at the 21st birthday party of a mutual friend in Terence’s hometown of Limerick, Ireland in 2001. They started dating the following year, while Stella was at University in Liverpool. After a few years in a long-distance relationship, Terence moved to England, and in 2006 they began their American adventure by moving to the DC area. Terence is an engineer in the aerospace industry, and Stella is an interior designer. They live in Sterling, VA with their Alaskan Malamute, Madra.

Stella tried on lots of dresses in stores and finally found one she liked that was way over budget. So she searched online and found a vendor to recreate the dress for a third of the cost.

Since it was still winter, darker rich colours seemed more appropriate, but we still wanted to have some fun, and to get away from the typical winter wedding colours, so we paired navy dresses with orange shoes for our ladies outfits, the bride wore blue shoes, and we used cream, blue and orange flowers to tie things together elsewhere.

Looking for a barn wedding venue in Northern Virginia? Coomber Hall sounds amazing! The couple shares why they chose it as their wedding venue:

 We knew we wanted an older venue, but struggled to find a place that would allow us to fit all our guests in one room without using a marquee (it was a February wedding), and to have flexibility while still having charm and authenticity. Stella’s step-mother came across the civil war era venue Coomber Hall and emailed a link to her. Once we visited, we knew it would be perfect, and it was only a couple of miles from St Joseph’s church where the ceremony was taking place. The estate has a gorgeous old house which backs to a pair of barns – one derelict, one renovated and used as a school of music, dance venue and now wedding venue.

I love this detail about the yellow car they used for the wedding:

A friend volunteered to drive from Baltimore with their daughter’s pre-restoration 1967 Chevy Impala to use as the wedding car. As huge fans of the tv show ‘Supernatural’, it was the couple’s dream car!

Click inside for the rest of Stella & Terence’s handmade, family-run Northern Virginia wedding ~ with lots more details on their DIY projects!

Stella had two attendants – her best friend Chantelle, and the maid of honour, her older sister Jessica. Terence’s best man was his father, Terence Sr, and his groomsman was his older brother, Alan. Stella’s two younger sisters Ellen and Meghan were flower girls. Other family members were involved in the ceremony by lighting the unity candle and bringing the gifts, and friends of the couple gave the readings.

 We weren’t really worried about everything ‘matching’ – we felt the more rustic location lent itself to a casual feel. Stella asked her close friends to wear something blue, and the couple’s male family members wore blue striped ties. All the men wore black suits they already owned, while Terence wore a grey three-piece suit.

Stella and her step-mum made the peacock feather boutonnières a few weeks before the wedding.

The whole family and a few close friends came together the day before the wedding to help decorate the reception venue, and to make the bouquets and centerpieces and the flower girl’s headbands. The mother of the groom baked the cake (to her surprise!) and friends helped Stella to ice it the night before the wedding. After the wedding, we asked guests and the band to take home the jars and vases of flowers.

love these wedding portrait shots in the dilapidated barn

 Instead of using hired china or throwaway plates/glasses, we searched thrift stores before the wedding to find vintage plates for the guests, who sat at three long feasting tables. We were then able to keep our ‘wedding china’ as a reminder of the day. We also purchased cotton tablecloths and napkins and most of the decor from previous couples on Craigslist, then sold them to future couples after the wedding. Stella created a new coat of arms for the couple using images from their family crests, and we had glass tankards engraved with the crests for guests to use at the wedding then take home.

With so many of guests travelling from England and Ireland, we wanted to provide a relaxed atmosphere away from home while giving our guests an ‘American’ experience, so we hired Hog Wild BBQ, a local husband and wife team to cater, and a band we knew from our local Irish pub (where the rehearsal dinner was held the night before) to provide music. They were a huge hit, and learned several Irish songs especially for us. Stella sang a duet with the band as a surprise for Terence, and a few of the girls later got up to sing a song together.

One of my favorite things that Stella left in her wedding notes to me, was her advice to those planning a wedding:

Finding vendors who we clicked with and understood our values really made the event more enjoyable. Spending your budget on local small businesses and handmade items makes it much easier to part with! :)

I couldn’t agree more with this advice! Finding the right DC, MD, & VA wedding vendors & trying to go local, or DIY with your wedding helps not only your budget, but makes your day WAY more enjoyable!

Congratulations Stella & Terrence – thank you for sharing all the details of your wedding day. I loved how much your family & friends were involved in your wedding day! A special thanks again to Douglas Pettway Photography & Two Bright Lights for making this submission possible!


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