Rich red, green, and gold accents and down-home touches created a festive fall atmosphere for these high school sweethearts.
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bride and groom smiling holding hands walking through yard
Credit: Abby Jiu

When Matthew Kelly asked his high school sweetheart, Jessica Crew, to marry him six years after they started dating, he and his bride-to-be knew immediately where they wanted to tie the knot: his childhood home in Purcellville, Va. "In addition to the sentimental value that the property brought us, we also loved the location," says Jessica. "We love the country and beauty of the area." Surrounded by the rolling hills of Virginia and frolicked by Matt's family's horses, the secluded, private property was the "venue of our dreams."

The sprawling grounds and fall date—October 23, 2021—allowed Jessica and Matt to incorporate several of their favorite aesthetic elements; Jessica's sister, the owner of Simply Chic Events, helped ideate a design landscape that tied it all together. "Matt and I wanted to mesh my love for flowers and plants and intimate family gatherings with his love for all things rustic and horse country," says Jessica.

Subtle details, like cowboy boot imagery on the invitation postage and backyard-inspired planters used as an escort display, complemented larger personalizations, like a Limoncello welcome toast that nodded to Jessica's Italian heritage and envelope liners that included a painting done by Matt's grandmother. When the couple's 160 guests joined them for the ceremony and reception—complete with a '90s country song list and late-night chicken nuggets and fries—Jessica and Matt savored their full-circle moment.

"We have so many amazing memories at the property, both as friends and as a couple," says Jessica. "Both of us really grew up [here], from high school parties, pool days with our friends, and movie nights to our first kiss, date nights, holidays, and family gatherings. Having the next milestone of our relationship start in the same place our relationship began was incredible."

brown and green invitation suite with family home painting
Credit: Abby Jiu

Heartfelt Art

An illustration of the family home where the couple held their ceremony—painted by Matt's grandmother—anchored the couple's invitation suite from Emily Baird Design. "Including Matt's grandmother's painting of the house and property was so special to us and to her," says Jessica. The rest of the design incorporated hues of green, tan, and brown with the couple's new monogram. "We wanted them to feel organic, calm and natural to preview what we wanted for the event," says Jessica. "We also loved the cowboy boot stamps that were incorporated to show our Southern roots and love for [the] country."

bride wearing long sleeve open back trumpet wedding dress
Credit: Abby Jiu

Back Story

After trying on multiple wedding dresses without finding one she truly loved, Jessica began to feel a little frantic. "I started to get nervous and felt like it was taking forever and I was overthinking it," she says. "I started to think that I was over-dramatizing the feeling of knowing when it was 'the dress.'" But when she stepped into a long-sleeved fitted gown from Lovers Society, with understated appliqué on the bodice and a dramatic back, her worries vanished. "It checked all the boxes: low back, simple and timeless, different than the average dress—not to mention both my mom and my sister cried when they saw me in it, and they didn't do that for any of the other dresses," she says. "But I'm so happy I took my time, because the feeling is real, and I knew the second I put it on."

bride smiling with ten bridesmaids wearing varying dresses in color scheme
Credit: Abby Jiu

To Each Her Own

Jessica wanted her bridesmaids' attire to illustrate each woman's personal style, so the bride handpicked each outfit from shops including BHLDN, By Malina, Free People, Needle and Thread, Park and Fifth, and Show Me Your Mumu. "Each was different from the next, all just having the color palette in mind," she says. 

bride holding warm toned floral wedding bouquet
Credit: Abby Jiu

Fall Flowers

Jessica's bouquet from Sweet Root Village included roses, ranunculus, campanula, sweet pea, dahlias, and lisianthus in neutral tones with rich fall accents, like rust, peach, and sage. "Matt and I both love the fall season so we really wanted to play off of that with a warm color palette and seasonal and local florals," says Jessica.

groom wearing brown checkered tweed suit
Credit: Abby Jiu

Mad for Plaid

Matt chose a patterned suit from Hockerty in a classic brown checkered tweed, adding a rust-colored tie that drew out the red detailing within the pattern. "We wanted him to be in something different than the classic blue or black groom's suit or tuxedo," says Jessica. "Matt loves flannel and plaid and we thought this suit really showed his style and personality." The groomsmen complemented his look in brown herringbone tweed from Studio Suits. "We thought that this suit was more elevated than a flat material, but was also simple enough not to compete with Matt's plaid suit," says Jessica.

groom covering his face during first look with bride outside
Credit: Abby Jiu

Then and Now

Jessica and Matt chose a sentimental spot for their first look: Under a tree facing the field where they shared their first kiss more than half a decade before. "Our first look was simply my favorite memory from the wedding," says Matt. "As I awaited to turn around to see Jessica for the first time in her wedding dress, I looked out into the same field where I first kissed her when I was just an 18-year-old kid and absolutely relished in all the amazing memories and how far we have grown together. When I turned around and saw Jessica, all the emotions began to flow and my heart sank into my stomach. Her stunning beauty in that moment was simply a final reminder that she was absolutely the one I wanted to have by my side for the rest of my life."

During their time alone together before the ceremony, the couple also privately exchanged vows they had written themselves. "I was just insanely happy," says Jessica. "Matt was so emotional and couldn't stop telling me that he loved me and how beautiful I looked—I had never felt more loved. Afterward, I was even more excited and ready to be able to call him 'husband,' and I wanted to basically run down the aisle!"

flower girl wearing floral crown smiling
Credit: Abby Jiu

Little Moments

The youngest members of the wedding party were dressed in their best, too: a BHLDN dress and floral headband for the flower girl, and J. Crew linen suits with ties that matched the groomsmen for the ring bearers. "Our flower girl and ring bearers were all siblings, which made it even more special," says Jessica. "The flower girl was nervous to walk alone so her older brother, one of the ring bearers, walked with her to make her feel more confident."

groom's family home front porch decorated for wedding ceremony
Credit: Abby Jiu

Over the Edge

A priority for the couple and their floral designer was making the installations and arrangements a seamlessly natural part of the landscape. "We wanted the florals to feel like they were there from the start," says Jessica. "Sweet Root nailed this with the balcony floral installation—guests continuously asked if it had always been there."

low floral arrangements lining ceremony chair rows
Credit: Abby Jiu

Natural Beauty

The home's floral-draped balcony became the backdrop for the ceremony, with chairs set up facing the front porch. "Aisle florals looked like they were growing into the garden surrounding the home," says Jessica. "The natural wood from the wishbone chairs, mixed with the classic benches, was the perfect mix of wood tones and that modern/classic vibe we were looking for."

bride smiling holding hands with father of the bride during first look
Credit: Abby Jiu

Father and Daughter

Jessica and her father also shared a private first look before he escorted her down the aisle. "My first look with my dad was so special," she says. "He is truly my best friend and the best man I know—Matt's a really close second—so to have that moment with him was incredible. He loved my dress and said that it was even better than he expected."

bride and groom celebrating during recessional
Credit: Abby Jiu

The New Mr. and Mrs.

An acoustic guitarist provided music for the ceremony, during which officiant Jim Burch led the couple through their vows in front of their friends and family. "There were religious elements, but we didn't want it to be over the top," says the couple. "Jim did a great job."

outdoor shelving with seating chart written on plant filled pots
Credit: Abby Jiu

Plant Yourself

As guests moved into the cocktail and reception space, they were greeted by a display of local plants and wildflowers in custom pots that listed the seating assignments. "We now have all of these vessels at our home, and many of the plants (well, the ones we didn't kill)," says Jessica. "It's so fun seeing them and the names that have held on."

varying skewers cocktail hour food
Credit: Abby Jiu

Sips and Small Bites

A menu from Heirloom included passed canapes—bourbon bacon jam crostini, shrimp and grits, and crispy gnocchi skewers—alongside a burrata bar with honey, warm cinnamon apples, spiced walnuts, and white balsamic. Jessica and Matt served two signature drinks: Hers, a smoked fig and plum tequila cocktail, and His, an old fashioned made with spiced honey bourbon. "Heirloom made it so easy for us to combine our taste of southern comfort and classic Italian cuisines, which helped represent both of us on the menu selections for the night," says Jessica.

large white tent with hanging lanterns and greenery over long tables
Credit: Abby Jiu

Light It Up

Jessica and Matt went for big impact inside their tent, with a ceiling installation that contrasted rattan light fixtures with others made of amber glass. "I have a boho side but also love to give it a modern twist," she says. "It was definitely one of the biggest wow moments of the night that people still talk about today." Patterned linens and low centerpieces added layers of texture and interest to the wooden tables and modern chairs.

spotted cream colored plates on ratten chargers with linen napkins and green menus
Credit: Abby Jiu

Setting Standards 

When designing the tabletop aesthetic, says Jessica, "Layered textures and elements for the place settings made them feel elevated but grounded." The bride was drawn to the handmade, no-two-alike ceramics from Something Vintage, which the couple complemented with rattan chargers, leather-tied napkins, and black-handled flatware. "It gave us a layered look that was super unique. Each piece was strategically selected, and it felt incredible to be able to make something special for each guest to walk in and see," she says.

calligraphed shot glasses
Credit: Abby Jiu

Salute!

As a nod to Jessica's Italian heritage—and her family's tradition of toasting with Limoncello instead of Champagne—the couple poured Limoncello shots into shot glasses calligraphed with each guest's name, which also served as place cards. "With my dad giving the welcome toast, it felt appropriate and special to kick off the night this way," says Jessica. "Guests took the glasses home and now have something to continue to take Limoncello shots with."

bride and groom cutting four tiered wedding cake
Credit: Abby Jiu

Sweet Stuff 

Jisoo Cake Design created the couple's multi-tier confection of lemon elderflower and Bailey's chocolate cake, with an ombré design of buttercream florals darkening from top to bottom.

bride wearing short shimmery reception dress with white cowgirl boots kissing groom
Credit: Abby Jiu

Sources

Photography, Lisa Ziesing for Abby Jiu
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Simply Chic Events
Catering, Heirloom
Flowers, Sweet Root Village
Videography, Clayton Film Co.
Officiant, Jim Burch
Stationery, Emily Baird Design
Calligraphy, Proper Letter
Cake, Jisoo Cake Design
Music, Lamplighter, Elan Artists
Rentals, Nuage Designs; Social Supply Design; Something Vintage Rentals; Sugarplum Tent Company
Bride's gown, Lovers Society
Bride's accessories, TARA Bridal veil; Jeffrey Campbell shoes; Loeffler Randall shoes; Sophia Webster shoes; Nicola Bathie jewelry
Hair and makeup, MAB Hair and Makeup Artistry
Bridesmaids' attire, BHLDN; By Malina; Free People; Needle and Thread; Park and Fifth; Show Me Your Mumu
Flower Girl dress, BHLDN
Groom's attire, Hockerty
Menswear, Studio Suits
Transportation, MJ Valet
Cookie favors, The Cookie Crumb Bakery
Guest book, Arcoalbum
Rings, Quest Fine Jewelers 

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