Olivia & James’ Rustic Fredericksburg Virginia wedding might look like “just another rustic wedding” on the surface – but there is really SO much more to this personalized, DIY wedding. They are both in the military and really wanted their wedding day to be small & intimate, including a Bed & Breakfast reception dinner and their small Jewish ceremony. They had a trolley take all the attendees around downtown Fredericksburg dinner and even stopped at a local ice cream shop to treat their guests — how awesome is this?! This is why I really love intimate weddings, because you can afford to really create some special, detailed moments for your guests.

Olivia, James & their family & friends made a TON of the details and decor in this wedding, including a stunning ribbon banner that hung above their dinner table! Olivia selflessly decided to donate her handmade details back to her vendors for future couples to us. Enjoy Olivia & James’ beautiful rustic Virginia wedding thanks to Erin Forehand Photography!

James & Olivia’s Rustic DIY Virginia Wedding at Lavender Heights Bed & Breakfast

rustic DIY offbeat Virginia bed and breakfast wedding


Photographer:  Erin Forehand Photography | Event Planner: Amore Events by Cody | Cake Designer: Cakes by Z | Caterer: FOODE | Event Venue: Lavender Heights Bed and Breakfast | Invitation Designer: Minted.com |Bouquets & Boutonnieres: DIYed | Ribbon Banner & Decorations: Handmade |  Submitted via Two Bright Lights

How they met:

In the age of technology, James and I met in a very old fashioned way, while volunteering at a nursing home in Fredericksburg, Virginia on Christmas Eve. James was there with his church; I was there with my Synagogue. As we walked together and visited with the residents, we took advantage of the opportunity to talk and get to know each other which eventually led to us exchanging e-mail addresses before departing. James worked at the Pentagon while I was home from Iraq visiting my family.

Shortly thereafter, the emails led to three-hour phone calls, which led to us watching movies on our laptops while talking on the phone. After two months of long distance dating, I returned home to visit my family and we finally had our first proper date. For the most part, it’s been a very long-distance relationship but we have managed to make it work.

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The proposal:

After a year of dating, we entered a Super Spartan race in Illinois with friends and after completing the grueling course, while covered head to toe in mud, James “officially” proposed to me. Planning our wedding in Fredericksburg was a challenge, while I was stationed in Indiana, James was deployed to Dubai, and because of our busy schedules we’d sometimes  go a week or so without speaking.

offbeat nontraditional blue engagement ring

Details on their wedding & wedding planning:

Though it was overwhelming at times, I am thankful that I found Cody at Amore Events in Charlottesville, Va., her experience and support were invaluable. She was always a text or a click away if I needed advice or just a little reassurance. She helped me find my wonderful photographer, Erin, and wedding planner, Karen.

whimsical rustic boutonniere rustic whimsical bouquet

Click inside for the rest of Olivia & James’ beautiful rustic, DIY Virginia wedding ~ including that awesome, handmade ribbon banner over the reception space!

We started with a stain glass window that featured two peacocks intertwined – one blue: James and one white: me. I’d found it at a vintage shop in Virginia and it became the inspiration for our Ketubah, Jewish wedding contract, which became the inspiration for our Chuppah and ultimately our vintage country themed wedding.

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With James deployed I threw myself into preparing for the wedding. We wanted our wedding to speak to our life philosophy – reuse, repurpose, recycle. First, my maid of honor, Annemarie and I flew out to Portland, Ore., to get my dress from Brides for a Cause, a non-profit that helps grant weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness or serious life-altering situations.

rustic DIY offbeat Virginia bed and breakfast wedding

We picked Lavenders Heights Bed & Breakfast for our wedding site because of its beautiful garden and it’s owned by a fellow veteran. While dating in Virginia we would often have brunch at FoodE in downtown Fredericksburg; however, we eventually selected FoodE for our reception because they used locally grown produce and products.  We wanted our family and guests to experience some of the things we loved about Fredericksburg – so we rented vintage trollies to take everyone from the wedding to FoodE. Along the way, guests stopped at Carl’s Ice Cream, a 1947 soft service shop and were treated to a sweet treat on us and also got a historic tour of downtown Fredericksburg before arriving at the reception.

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I hand made most of the decorations to match the invitation design, “Love Story,” I designed on www.minted.com. I found an old dictionary at Goodwill and from a template made with an x-acto knife and a metal ruler I cut nearly a hundred pendants.  Then I picked out five languages that represented our lives: Spanish, Hebrew, German, Italian, Greek and stenciled “Love” on the pendants, punched holes in the corners and hung them on jute cord. I also made more than a hundred feet of rag garland. I picked inexpensive fabric – burlap, drop cloth, flannel, in muted tones and cut it into strips. I added white lace and silk stripes and colored ribbon. After the wedding I donated the decorations to Amore Events so other brides could enjoy them.

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Annemarie and I made the men’s boutonnieres and our bouquets the night before. To keep costs down I had ordered dried flowers, fall-colored leaves, and premade bouquets on-line. We took the premade bouquets apart and added the dried flowers, asparagus, cotton blossoms, and lavender we cut from the garden to create beautiful and unique arrangements for the wedding. Scouring thrifts and antique stories I found some awesome pieces – pens for the bouquets and vintage handkerchiefs that I had “Let’s go JO!” “September 1, 2013” stitched on as gifts for our close friends and family.

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Also, because J(ames)&O(livia) – we thought it was funny that our name spelled out JO which was also the nickname for American Soldiers …

In the end, everything came together beautifully.


Congratulations James & Olivia! Thank you for sharing your beautifully handmade, personalized & intimate wedding with us!  A special thanks again to Erin Forehand Photography for sharing her images for today’s real Virginia wedding feature!



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