A Retro-Inspired Intimate Wedding in Virginia
Casey and Louis
Virginia natives Casey Brown and Louis Cartwright blended a nostalgic view of the 1940s and the bride's love of Japanese culture to create a perfectly intimate wedding. The Navy petty officer and crafter/designer wed on a cold November day in front of 65 of their closest friends and family members.
The couple originally toyed with the idea of a courthouse wedding in Florida, where Louis was stationed; they ended up returning to their roots in Virginia after finding a church tucked away in the countryside outside a small town in the northern region of the state.
The couple's wedding photographer, Kate Headley, spotted an old house on the way to the church the morning of the wedding. Thinking the setting felt like something from an old photograph, the couple agreed to take their portraits there.
The old: Most of the bridal attire was vintage. Casey says her vintage evening dress's elegant lines and simple silhouette felt part Jackie Kennedy, part "My Fair Lady." She wore opera-length gloves that she's had since she was a teenager.
The new: Casey's handmade jewelry was created using faceted glass beads and some pearls. The necklace and earrings were fashioned with help from a book called "Bead Simple" by Susan Beal.
The borrowed: To keep warm in the cold temperature, Casey topped off her ensemble with a fur shrug on loan from the day's photographer (also a friend of the bride), Kate Headley.
The blue: Casey found a cheerful pair of vintage green and blue floral shoes. Plus, Louis wore his uniform, a.k.a. "Navy blues."
Hair and Makeup
With help from her friend (a Mary Kay consultant), Casey did her hair and makeup. The elegant and understated updo with the classic red lip and winged eyeliner added to her vintage aesthetic, which suited Louis just fine -- he thought she looked like a model.
Casey's mother handled all the floral elements. The bride and her mom brainstormed, then assembled the bouquets the morning of the wedding. Casey's bouquet of red carnations and roses fit perfectly into the palette of red and white.
Simple take-out containers were wrapped with Japanese "washi" paper from Paper-Source.com and secured using stickers designed by the bride that feature the Japanese kanji character for "love." The couple filled the boxes with candy and added a note thanking each guest for being a part of their day.
Designed by the bride and made by Lana of Lana's Sweets, the three-tiered cake was dotted in red icing and topped off with a cake topper that mimicked Alfred Eisenstaedt's famous photo of a sailor and a nurse embracing in Times Square on V-J Day. The topper was found on eBay and perfectly brought together the thematic elements of the wedding.
A Favorite Moment
Both Casey and Louis fondly recall their cake cutting. The couple amused themselves and their guests by smearing cake on each other's faces.
Inspired by strands of lights and lanterns at garden parties, Casey decorated the gymnasium of the church using paper lanterns and twinkle lights.
To elaborate on the wedding's 1940s theme, the couple chose to play big-band music from that era during the reception. While most of the reception was spent visiting with friends and family, Casey and Louis managed to squeeze in a dance with each other and their parents.
The Guest Tree
Instead of a traditional book, guests signed a guest "tree." Casey had read a lot about Japanese temples and the traditional practice of writing prayers on pieces of paper. Using that idea as inspiration, she asked her guests to write their well wishes on little pieces of paper and tie them to a branch.
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