A Truly Personalized Virginia Wedding
Lisa Marie and Matthew
Sometimes, when bringing a vision to life, it's easier to begin with what you don't want. That was true for Lisa Marie O'Quinn, a Washington, D.C.-based fine-art wedding photographer, while she planned her wedding to Matthew Blumenstein. Over more than a decade of documenting other people's nuptials, she'd been taking lots of notes.
Lisa met Matt, a lawyer, online in 2013, and they had their first date at a neighborhood diner. Right away, he loved her liveliness and quirky banter. "It wasn't typical boring small talk," he says. She was thrilled to discover their common interests, especially indie-rock concerts. Overall, "it was very successful," Lisa remembers. "I laid a big kiss on him at the end of the night."
They dated for a year and a half before moving in together and were engaged a year after that. While they were clearly building a future, and were surrounded at home with images of Lisa's work, they took an old-fashioned approach, not discussing their own wedding at all until after Matt's July 2015 proposal. But once they started talking, ideas came together quickly.
They would have liked a D.C. wedding but knew their guest list would be long, and many city venues were too small. They didn't want a far-flung destination—that would have left out local vendors Lisa counted as friends. When they visited the Goodstone Inn, in the nearby Virginia wine country, they had the answer. "The façade is stunning," Lisa says. "When we drove up, I was sold." With the venue in place, planner Emily Butler of Karson Butler Events and other trusted vendors helped the couple decide on the details of the day—and avoid those on the 32-item no list Lisa had compiled. Some examples: no muted tones, no cupcakes, no matching bridesmaids' dresses, no mustaches on anything! One essential yes: "Dutch Masters still-life-style orals paired with edgy black-and-white stripes," she says.
On the big day, 200 guests arrived for the wedding on the inn's stone-wall-lined grounds. A floaty mauve-and-white fabric marked the ceremony spot. Matt's cousin, an Episcopal priest, officiated. "He flew out from Texas a couple of weeks ahead and talked about how we could tailor the traditional ceremony so it would be personally meaningful," says Matt. After the vows, everyone strolled to the pool area to enjoy a cocktail hour timed to coincide with the sunset, and to claim their table numbers—which were inscribed on beach balls and set afloat in the pool. (Other balls around the pool area bore the words Love Blumes, a catchphrase that honored the couple's newly shared name and inspired the décor of the day.)
Family toasts and touching moments were enjoyed at dinner before the band, Rhythm Collective, launched into a mix of old-school hip-hop, modern pop, rock, and soul classics to get people up and dancing. "We love live music, and they were phenomenal," says Matt. Later, the couple cut into a dramatic black wedding cake and eventually made a sparkling exit, leaving friends to continue the fun.
"The groomsmen threw an after-party, but we didn't attend," says Matt. "Lisa and I retired to our own little house on the property." It was their wedding night, after all—and uniquely their own.
Stationer Cheree Berry Paper created a floral design that was used to tie together many elements of the wedding, beginning with just a sampling on the save-the-date. The pattern, in a bigger version, showed up again in the invitations and the day-of paper goods, and throughout the reception décor. The fox motif was another recurring theme—a nod to the hunt country surrounding the venue.
Welcome to Virginia
The bride and her 'maids prepared for the big day in dressing gowns that hinted at the day's look: florals against black combined with a range of rich, plummy, solid hues.
The Bridal Bouquet
Jenn Pineau of Nature Composed created the bride's bouquet from mostly locally sourced blooms, including passionflower vine, eupatorium, swamp dogwood berry, elderberry, lisianthus, dahlias, and scabiosa, mixed with clematis and garden roses. Lisa's long-sleeved sheath gown with a deep-V neckline was by Inbal Dror.
Lisa's best friends and a cousin made up her bridal party; the women wore a mix of solid and patterned dresses in the palette of the day: plum, aubergine, mauve, and emerald, combined with neutrals and forest green.
A Nuptial Canopy
500 feet of fabric was hand-dyed for the ceremony structure, which was topped off with a wreath of greenery.
Have a Ball
Oversized beach balls were tossed casually around the venue, sporting the couple's tagline for the day: Love Blumes.
Flower girl, Lila, wore a headpiece composed of garden roses, scabiosa, and wax flowers.
All the Groom's Men
The groom, his eight attendants (including his brother, who was best man, a cousin, and six close friends), and nephew strolled the grounds of the Goodstone Inn with furry ring-bearer Jolene.
Hand in Hand
Young Lila accompanied Lisa down the aisle. "I felt because I was 31, I didn't need anyone to walk me there," Lisa recalls. "I love my step dad, but I'd envisioned walking alone. But then I thought it would be nice to have someone escort me so I didn't fall—she was lovely and so happy to help."
Walking down the aisle, Lisa was giddy and excited. It wasn't until she got to the end of the aisle and saw Matt—he was getting emotional—that Lisa lost it. "That was my favorite moment," she says.
The couple's dog, Jolene, was the ring bearer—she was escorted down the aisle by the groom's nephew, Nelson. The wedding rings were attached to her collar by Matt's brother, who untied them when it was time for them to be exchanged.
The florist draped panels of fabric in white and various shades of mauve, topped with a wreath of greenery, to form an ethereal ceremony marker that stood tall over an altar of planted flowers. Lisa collaborated on the concept, with lighting in mind. "I wanted the light to come through the fabric, but not too harshly," she says, "illuminating that magic hour before sunset."
"Being at the altar was a very powerful experience. Lisa and I kept looking at each other, and we had to look away—we'd start to well up," says Matt of his most memorable moment.
An Interactive Seating Assignment
Guests waited poolside as swimming attendants retrieved black-and-white beach-ball escort cards—one of the most striking visual details of the day. Lisa was adamant about utilizing the venue's pool during the wedding. "It reminded me of [iconic 1930s Sunset Strip hotel] the Chateau Marmont," she says. "So charming."
Matt nixed the idea of synchronized swimmers, but planner Emily proposed the beach balls as escort cards, with "swim girls" to retrieve them. A quirky idea—and on the list it went.
Names were hand-calligraphed by Laura Hooper on each ball (staff on dry ground held table lists, in case there was any difficulty finding a name).
Wanting to create a visual separation between the lounge area and the rest of the reception space, "we came up with the idea to build shadow box frames in which to create a living still life," says Jenn Pineau of Nature Composed. A mix of textures, colors, and styles, were used for the rental pieces used in the lounge area.
Setting the Table
The table settings evoked classic still-life paintings with centerpieces of loose, lush florals.
The Place Settings
A menu at each place setting was wrapped in the wedding's signature floral pattern.
The team at Revolution Event Design and Production pulled off some big effects for the party, including the dance floor, which was covered in the wedding's floral motif on printed vinyl. The newlyweds chose "Peachtree Street" by Rosemary Clooney and Frank Sinatra for their first dance song.
Field of Blooms
Lisa credits Emily Butler of Karson Butler Events with coming up with the idea of adding the floral pattern to the dance floor. They asked Cheree Berry for a high-resolution file of the design they created, and the team at Revolution Event Design and Production used it to make the oversized floor appliques. "Guests were so excited to enter the tent and recognize the design from the invitation on the dance floor!" Lisa says.
The Wedding Cake
A black cake created by Buttercream Bakeshop was a focal point. After the cake-cutting, gluten-free chocolate cake and lemon cakes were sliced in the kitchen for serving.
A selection of baked sweets was perfectly on-palette.
Light up the Night
Guests held long sparklers to give the couple a bright send-off.
Location and catering, Goodstone Inn & Restaurant
Event planning and design, Karson Butler Events
Flowers, Nature Composed
Photography, KT Merry
Stationery, Cheree Berry Paper
Cake and desserts, Buttercream Bakeshop
Ceremony and cocktail-hour music, Sage String Quartet
Reception music, Rhythm Collective
Décor and swimmers, Revolution Event Design and Production
Hair and makeup, Amie Decker Beauty
Groom's tuxedo, Giorgio Armani
Transportation, Sunny's Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation
Chair sashes, Mosaic, Inc.
Fox-cookie favors, District Baking Co.
Tent and lighting, Sugarplum Tent Company
Love ball, Big Love Ball
Honeymoon planning, Lesley Cohen of SmartFlyer