This Virginia Wedding—Attended by Just 36 Guests—at a Georgian Manor Blended Cultural and Regional Traditions

bride and groom holding hands walking in the grass under trees
Audra Wrisley Photography

Katie and Luis met at Northwestern University, where they lived in the same freshman dorm. It wasn't until their senior year, in January of 2012, however, that the pair's paths crossed again in class—and that's where their story really begins. In 2018, Katie planned a weekend trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, for Luis's birthday, where they would stay at a bed and breakfast in Virginia wine country. Luis surprised her with a morning proposal on a dock overlooking a private lake.

The pair wanted to plan a wedding inspired by the English countryside, but with an American backyard wedding feel. They decided on Catesby Farm Estate in Middleburg, Virginia, for the beautiful surrounding landscape, relaxed feel, and upscale details. The hardest part of the preparation process? Deciding on which areas of the venue to use and when—but Katie and Luis relied on their planner, Kaitlin Pzezdziecki of Cheers Darling Events to guide them towards making these choices and, ultimately, achieving their vision. "We discovered that so much goes into planning even a small event," Katie says. "Luckily, Kaitlin was there every step of the way and made things so much easier. We changed our minds a lot—she totally rolled with the punches!"

They invited 36 of their closest friends and family to attend their intimate garden wedding on September 28, 2019. The romantic celebration that ensued was everything they imagined and more, with elements including plenty of flowers and a natural color palette of taupes, grays, blues, and green.

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Dusty Invites

raw edge white wedding invites
Audra Wrisley Photography

Invitations featured deckled edges, a custom illustration of the venue, and same custom floral illustrations by Emily Baird Design. The color palette included blues, grays, and taupe shades to reflect the natural outdoor landscape that would surround guests on the day.

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Virginia or Europe?

Catesby Farm Estates wedding venue
Audra Wrisley Photography

The couple invited guests to Catesby Farm Estates because it gave them access to two worlds—it captured the feeling of the Virginia countryside and a European-inspired garden party. Virginia is also one of their favorite places to visit and spend time outside—another major selling point, since they hosted an entirely outdoor event.

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A Classic Bride

bride wearing long lace train, v-neck, thin strap wedding dress with veil
Audra Wrisley Photography

Katie's mother, grandmother, and sister flew to Washington, D.C., to join her in the pursuit of her dream wedding dress. She felt like a bride in a V-neck spaghetti strap gown with floral appliqué detailing by Emmy Mae. "I continued trying on other dresses, but nothing compared!" Katie says. She selected a veil with floral embellishments, also by the designer, to wear during the ceremony.

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Sister of Honor

bride smiling with maid of honor wearing pale blue dress
Audra Wrisley Photography

She didn't have bridesmaids, but Katie included her sister as her maid of honor. She wore a floor-length slate blue Jenny Yoo dress with a V-neckline.

The bride held an organic bouquet of garden roses, spray roses, ranunculus and smaller blooms in neutral tones for texture.

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All the King's Men

groom with three groomsmen in classic black suits
Audra Wrisley Photography

Luis wore a midnight blue tuxedo with a black lapel from Suit Supply; his cuff links were a gift from his bride. As for his three groomsmen? The men wore black suits from Banana Republic paired with black bow ties and black.

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Creamy Boutonnières

white floral wedding boutonnieres
Audra Wrisley Photography

They all pinned boutonnières that featured spray roses and Italian ruscus greenery to their lapels.

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Together, Finally

bride and groom standing outside on stone stairs during first look
Audra Wrisley Photography

Katie and Luis shared their first look in front of the house on the property, and although it felt private, they noticed a few guests peeking through the windows. The groom says he was completely surprised by Katie's look; they spent the timing easing each other's nerves as they prepared to take on the day together.

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Vows on the Green

guests seated at outdoor wedding ceremony area
Audra Wrisley Photography

The ceremony took place on a shaded area of the lawn, where oversized all-white floral arrangements, placed in woven baskets, lined either side of the aisle's entrance.

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Under the Arch

white floral and greenery wedding ceremony arch
Audra Wrisley Photography

A large floral arch served as the space's focal point and defined the altar; the structure featured white-and-taupe florals and tons of greenery.

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Here Comes the Bride

father of the bride walking bride down processional aisle
Audra Wrisley Photography

The bride made her way down the aisle accompanied by her father while guitarist, Phil Kominski, played Ellie Goulding's "How Long Will I Love You."

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A Ceremony with Traditions

bride and groom with parents during wedding ceremony
Audra Wrisley Photography

The couple felt it was important to have an officiant who knew them well, so they asked their long-time family friend to officiate. They exchanged vows they wrote for each other.

It was also important to Katie and Luis to incorporate a few Mexican traditions, including the "lasso ceremony," where a rosary is weaved around the couple's shoulders in a figure-eight to symbolize their infinite unity. Luis' parents joined in on this ritual.

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Digging Up the Bourbon

groom digging up bottle of bourbon buried for wedding day weather luck
Audra Wrisley Photography

About a month before their wedding day, Katie and Luis decided to bury a bottle of bourbon at the venue—a tradition that's said to deter a rainy forecast. Almost immediately after Katie was pronounced his wife, Luis grabbed a shovel and dug up the bottle—which the newlyweds happily opened right away.

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guests gathered around cocktail hour area
Audra Wrisley Photography

The cocktail hour took place on the patio, where guests enjoyed an open bar, a cheese display, and delicious passed hors d'oeuvres, like mini crabcakes, hanger steak hashbrown bites, and crispy chicken wings.

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His and Hers

outdoor cocktail hour stand with white cloth cocktail sign
Audra Wrisley Photography

Katie and Luis served signature cocktails during the cocktail hour, including a hard berry lemonade for her, and an old fashioned for him; both drinks were outlined on a linen sign, which was draped over the front of the antique-style wood bar.

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Pretty Linens

cocktail waiter holder silver tray with blue floral print linen and hard berry lemonade filled glasses
Audra Wrisley Photography

The signature drinks also made the rounds—trays were lined with fabric that matched the reception's table linens.

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One Big Family

long wooden reception table with low white floral centerpieces
Audra Wrisley Photography

One long wooden table was set up for dinner on the back terrace. "We felt like it would make the party feel intimate and like one big family," Katie says. The table was topped with a white silk runner, low floral centerpieces, votive candles, and large glass hurricanes.

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Textured Settings

gold cutlery and blue floral linen wedding place settings
Audra Wrisley Photography

Each place setting included gold cutlery and a woven placemat topped with a blue-and-white patterned napkin, white dishes, and a printed menu.

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Etched Glassware

crystal wedding goblets
Audra Wrisley Photography

Etched glasses for wine and Champagne brought a touch of romanticism to the tablescape.

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Moving Words

father of the bride speaking during outdoor reception
Audra Wrisley Photography

After enjoying a three-course meal (that was entirely gluten-free for the bride), they listened to a heartfelt speech from Katie's father. "He welcomed Luis' family into the bigger collective family and shared some truly sincere, tear-jerking sentiments about his new son-in-law," Katie remembers.

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The Dancing Tent

large white wedding reception tent
Audra Wrisley Photography

A sailcloth tent was set up in the backyard and filled with a bar, dance floor, and several lounge areas. The tent posts were decorated with draped linens and wound with greenery. Lanterns in varying heights were placed at either side of the entrance and served as guiding lights as the sun went down.

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Let's Lounge

blue velvet couch wedding lounge under reception tent
Audra Wrisley Photography

Clusters of cozy furniture created a living room vibe inside the tent.

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Ice Cream Cart

ice cream cart with greenery under reception tent
Audra Wrisley Photography

The couple's planner also surprised them by stationing an ice cream cart in the party space, as well; the cart offered two flavors of Jeni's ice cream for dessert—the bride's favorite!

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bride smiling at groom during first dance under reception tent
Audra Wrisley Photography

Katie and Luis took their first married spin to "Promise" by Romeo Santos and Usher, one of the first songs they ever danced to together. Many of their guests didn't know that Katie and Luis love to dance to Latin music, so this debut, of sorts, became one of the most memorable moments of their wedding. "We captured so many surprised faces and there was so much support and cheering," the bride says. "It was really fun!"

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Floral-Topped Cake

three tiered white frosted wedding cake with white floral accent decor
Audra Wrisley Photography

The couple's three-tiered wedding cake was decorated with white buttercream and fresh flowers. The flavors included a gluten-free vanilla cake with raspberry filling and amaretto cake with blueberry filling.

To couples who are currently planning their weddings, Katie offers this piece of advice: "Disregard expectations if you can. Stay true to what feels right and comfortable for you. It's your special day, a once-in-a-lifetime event, and it should be exactly how you want it!"

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bride and groom share a kiss holding ice cream sundaes
Audra Wrisley Photography

Photography, Audra Wrisley Photography
Event Planning and Design, Kaitlin Przezdziecki, Cheers Darling Events
Flowers, Sophie Felts Floral Design
Invitations, Emily Baird Design
Bride's Gown and Veil, Emmy Mae Bridal
Hair, Georgetown Bride
Makeup, Beauty n the Bride
Maid of Honor's Dress, Jenny Yoo
Groom's Attire, Suit Supply
Groomsmen's Attire, Banana Republic
Music, Phil Kominski (DJ and guitarist)
Catering, Blue Water Kitchen
Cake, Scout's Bakeshop
Ice Cream, Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream
Rentals, Something Vintage Rentals; BBJ Linens; Emerson James Rentals; Nuage Designs; Party Rental
Tenting and Lighting, Sugarplum Tent Company
Restroom Trailer, Blue Ribbon Restrooms

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