Emily and Cathal live in a cottage in Ireland, but Emily grew up in the DC area – so when it came time for Emily and Cathal to be married in Virginia she knew she wanted to do something a little closer to home.  Emily found the perfect location overlooking the Potomac River at River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia and drew her inspiration from the idea of an English garden party.  Emily incorporated elements from Cathal’s Irish heritage and her own southern roots into the wedding day, with Love Life Images there to document the day from start to finish.

From Emily: Our inspiration was an English garden party.  I first walked into River Farm while visiting my family, after Cathal and I had just become engaged.  I fell in love instantly – who wouldn’t between the view of the Potomac, the history of the house, and the gorgeous gardens?  I could picture the whole reception straight away and knew this was where I wanted to get married.  From the beginning I had always wanted a venue outside, with a laid back but elegant feel.  After living in Ireland for 6 years I wanted a bit of sun and knew that all the Irish coming would enjoy the good weather.

The clothesline was my favourite detail.  I printed out a mix of photos of our family and friends, as well as the two of us growing up.  My mother also loves poetry so she picked out a few meaningful quotes and I printed them out.  I mixed everything up and strung them on a clothesline held up by clothespins and had them going the length of the tent.  Everyone loved looking through the photos, especially because I tried to include photos of all the guests.

It took me such a long time adding little personal touches, naming the tables after different trips we’ve taken, photos of the wedding days of various family members, making the seating chart look like art work and framing it or making the table clothes.  I thought for awhile that I was crazy.  But honestly all these touches made me the happiest on the day of the wedding.  The fabric that was used for the tablecloths I still use in my kitchen, the photos and quotes were made into an album, and we use the cake toppers (salt and pepper shakers) everyday.  I love walking into the house and being reminded of our special day.

Cathal grew up on a dairy farm in Co. Cavan, Ireland.  We live in an old Irish cottage nestled in the middle of his farm, surrounded by the cows.  I wanted to incorporate his heritage and our future.  We asked his cousins to perform a few Irish dances and they surprised us with an old celtic ballad.  In addition, we used salt shakers in the shape of a cow and bull as our cake toppers.  I also wanted a nod to my Southern upbringing by bringing in some of my favourite foods like pulled pork, fried chicken, and corn soufflé.

My main priority was always that the guests enjoy themselves.  I wanted them to be comfortable, have good food, have lots to drink, and a few great songs to dance to.  Our biggest splurge was the venue; to capture that relaxed, comfortable, elegant feeling I was going for I knew the location was key.

There are so many moments I cherish from our wedding day: from getting ready with my sisters, messing up our lines several times in the ceremony (very us), or pushing Cathal away when we were supposed to kiss (I was waiting for the priest to say we could kiss and thought it was the wrong time), the dance with my father, his cousins singing for us, and being held up by all our friends when our DJ played Mr. Brightside (one of Cathal’s favourites).  There were so many great moments that meant a lot to the both of us.

Emily’s advice to other DC-area brides and grooms:

Definitely research the vendors and see what the reviews say online; I found most of them to be spot on.  Ask your married friends and family for advice – that definitely helped me out.  Make a thorough budget to account for everything and maybe give yourself some wiggle room for anything you underestimate. I went over my wedding budget by about $5,000 and it was those last minute details that did it.  But my biggest piece of advice is to not leave anything to the last minute.  If it has to be done close to the wedding, then delegate to your friends or family.  I made sure that the last three days all I had to do was pamper myself, visit with family and enjoy myself.  When the wedding day came I was completely relaxed and ready to have fun, not a care in the world.

The following Washington, DC area wedding vendors contributed to Emily and Cathal’s wedding:

Reception Venue: River Farm
Ceremony Venue: Good Shepherd Catholic Church
Photography: Love Life Images
Catering: Matters of Taste Catering
Wedding Coordination: Your Perfect Day Events
Cake: Buzz Bakery
DJ: DJ PGee
Bridal Attire: Hannelore’s
Bridesmaid’s Attire: J.Crew
Men’s Attire: Debenham’s

Don’t forget to visit our vendor guide for more fabulous Washington, DC area wedding professionals or our real wedding gallery for more beautiful weddings!

Photo Credits: Love Life Images

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