This Wedding in Virginia Was Inspired by Chinoiserie and Tortoise Shell Patterns
Though two pandemic-related postponements did affect Christie Yerks and Chris Luhrs' wedding plans, the pair was in the best possible hands—those of the bride herself. The co-owner of Grit & Grace, a premier Washington, D.C., event-planning firm, Christie had her own expertise to lean on—plus the insight of her business partner, Laura Ritchie, event producer Brittany Hagaman, and a team she already had established relationships with. "We were so lucky to be able to work with all of the most amazing vendors that are truly more like our friends," says Christie. "The feeling of being taken care of by everyone we hired made the stress of rescheduling and replanning so much lighter. We also felt like each and every vendor put extra love and care into their work that day and we were so thankful for that." Thankfully, the couple's guest count for their original affair was exactly the same for their rescheduled event, clocking in at 75 loved ones. "I was incredibly touched that so many people made the time and effort to be with us and celebrate our wedding," says the bride.
Choosing a venue proved to be Christie's biggest challenge, as she was already extremely familiar with many of the event properties in the area. "Every time I would take Chris venue hunting, nothing felt quite right because they all felt like 'work,'" Christie explains. Fleetwood Farm Winery in Leesburg, Virginia, was not only a place she had never seen before—it also impressed Chris so much, that he walked in and said, "This is where we are getting married." The idyllic estate offered picturesque outdoor areas for the ceremony and cocktail hour, as well as a handsome indoor space for the reception.
As for the vibe the couple wished to create? Christie reports they "wanted to focus on family and the feeling of an epic dinner party with dancing for our guests," with "family" including the couple's three-year-old son. "We were so excited for Grant to be with us on our wedding day," she enthuses. "He was our ring bearer and he was super excited. He called his tuxedo his 'costume' and told everyone he was a superhero. In the end, he walked down the aisle with Chris' brother (the best man) and my sister (the matron of honor), and demanded they swing him by the arms. It was such a great, lighthearted start to the ceremony."
The entire event was a smashing success, and Christie thoroughly enjoyed trading places with her clients for the day. "It was so fun being on the bride's side!" she says. "I feel so strongly that weddings are the absolute best ways to make memories, so I felt like I was holding onto every moment as tight as I could." And she was more than willing to share her added insight as a bride with others: "Never forget the real focus of the wedding: you and your partner committing yourselves to each other surrounded by those that you love," she advises. "If you keep coming back to that, it doesn't matter how many changes, postponements, or crazy things happen—you will have made incredible memories."
After the pair's wedding was rescheduled, Christie and Chris distributed a digital version of their paper suite, which was a beautiful, letterpressed collection with chinoiserie accents and a custom monogram by Emily Baird Design.
Christie's graceful Mac Duggal wedding dress featured a sheer tulle overlay dotted with hundreds of floral appliqués and gleaming pearls. "I loved how soft the flowers looked, and the fact that I could add sleeves made it all my own," she says of the customized look. "It made me feel like I was glowing from within!" Her sister's veil served as her "something borrowed" and added the perfect finishing touch.
The bride's great-grandmother's pearl earrings were one of her only accessories. "They have always been special to me—they are so beautiful," says Christie.
Pale pink flats from BHLDN referenced her gown's blush underlay.
Sweet Root Village composed Christie's soft, delicate bouquet of warm-hued and cream blooms, which included sweet pea, garden roses, butterfly ranunculus, jasmine vine, and novelty ranunculus.
Right on the Dot
The coat and tie of Chris' tuxedo featured white pin-dots as a nod to the pearls on Christie's dress. "He looked amazing!" says the bride.
A Family Affair
A formally-dressed Grant beamed between his parents before the ceremony. "He told us we looked beautiful and shouted, 'Family hug!'" shares Christie. "It was the perfect 'first look' for the three of us."
The bride gave her attendants free rein over their attire, telling them to choose any dress they felt amazing in. "It did not matter to me at all if they matched, I just wanted them to feel great!" she explains.
A Little Grit, a Lot of Grace
Christie planned and designed the wedding with the help of her Grit & Grace co-owner, Laura Ritchie, right, and event producer Brittany Hagaman.
The Ground Up
Stalks of white delphiniums were used to create a lovely installation at the ceremony site. "We wanted to feel surrounded with beauty and love, and the flowers 'growing' up out of the ground around us were breathtaking," says Christie. Benches formed a square around the altar, offering every guest an uninterrupted view of the vow exchange.
The groom got emotional as his bride walked down the aisle, surprising him with "All I Ask of You" from Phantom of the Opera, one of his all-time favorite songs.
"We wrote our own vows with funny, meaningful promises to each other, like giving five-second hugs every day and raising our son in a home filled with love and laughter," says the bride.
Laura oversaw the proceedings, a choice Christie says was the easiest decision she made throughout the planning process: "We knew that we wanted someone who loved us, who knew our story, and who would put a personal spin on a traditional ceremony," says the bride. "Laura was the perfect person to mix in both the humor and seriousness of the day."
The pair attended nearly all of the cocktail hour, walking into the outdoor space hand in hand. "We couldn't wait to give everyone hugs!" says the bride.
In Good Taste
Attendees were offered an assortment of passed appetizers, which paired nicely with the wines the pair selected for the evening; they provided tasting sheets, emblazoned with the event's signature imagery and colorways, that included fun facts about the varietals.
In the Cards
Christie envisioned a seating station that nodded to Chris' passion for the guitar. So, pick-shaped accents in a tortoise-shell pattern were adhered to each escort card and layered over thin twine, which was reminiscent of a guitar string.
Antique wallpaper was installed on panels behind the table, creating a British-inspired backdrop that referenced the bride's love for all things Jane Austen.
To the Table
Custom linens echoed the aesthetic of the chinoiserie escort display, while cane-backed, velvet-cushioned chairs offered an Old-English vibe.
In Full Bloom
Sweet arrangements of fringed tulips, butterfly ranunculus, and garden roses were placed down the center of each table; fresh greenery was woven into the wicker lanterns overhead.
Multiple elements came together to compose striking settings, including tortoise-shell flatware, gilded plates and chargers, exquisite crystal, and menus emblazoned with the couple's monogram.
Chris and Christie wowed the crowd with their expert dance moves as they took their first married spin to "Joy of My Life" by Chris Stapleton. "The lyrics perfectly describe how we feel about each other and about Grant," says the bride. "There is so much joy now that we are together and living life as a family."
Come dessert, each attendee was treated to their own miniature cake topped with a fresh flower, courtesy of Fluffy Thoughts. "We went with a candy bar crunch flavor, which had marble cake filled with homemade salted caramel, dark chocolate ganache, Italian meringue buttercream, and crispy chocolate crunchies," Christie describes.
Loved ones lined the path out of the reception to give the wedding couple a sparkling send-off. Before the pair left for the evening, however, they shared one last song with the crowd: "The last song was 'Friends in Low Places,' and all of our guests locked arms and created a circle around us," reflects Christie. "We will never forget how amazing and fun that was."
Photography, Liz Fogarty Photography
Venue, Fleetwood Farm Winery
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Grit & Grace
Flowers, Sweet Root Village
Invitations and Day-of Paper Goods, Emily Baird Design
Officiant, Laura Ritchie
Bride's Gown, Mac Duggal
Hair and Makeup, Claudine Fay
Bridesmaids' Dresses, BHLDN
Menswear, The Black Tux
Engagement Ring and Bride's Wedding Band, Brilliant Earth
Music, Premier DJ Services
Catering, Design Cuisine
Cake, Fluffy Thoughts
Rentals, DC Rental; Something Vintage
Transportation, Limos Inc.
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