Who says a bride has to wear white?  Caroline and Justin decided to do their own thing for their New Year’s Day winter wedding in Virginia, incorporating beautiful jewel tones throughout the day, personal touches – and Caroline wore a stunning purple wedding dress!  Photographed by Jennifer Domenick of Love Life Images and with event planning by Jessica from Simply Chic Events, Caroline and Justin’s wedding is elegant, chic, and impeccably modern.

From Caroline: I wanted our wedding to be elegant and chic, but modern.  We had so many out of town guests and it was important that everyone just have a good time.  Purple was our main color, and by the end, I was surprised how well we could incorporate purple into everything! My bouquet was wrapped with the cuff of my mother’s purple and white lattice wedding dress, which fit perfectly with our wedding colors.

Our main priority was to do things our way and to make sure people had a good time.  Although I had to convince my husband of this, I did non-traditional things: wore a purple dress, no bouquet toss, short ceremony, no cake cutting.

For the ceremony, since it was winter and the bridal party were all wearing dark colors, I decided to go with white everything – including bouquets and chairs.  I wanted a lush feel, which was created with hydrangea and candles.

It might not be my favorite, but the most memorable moment of the day involves our wedding rings.  We forgot to bring the rings to the ceremony!  AFTER I had walked down the aisle, my mother-in-law (who, with my mom, was going to give us the rings) whispers to us, “Where’s the ring?”  Graham, our groomsman ran outside the glass doors to the other side of the room.  He went up to his fiancée, who was my bridesmaid, and asked her for her engagement ring.  He was the hero of the night!  The moral of this story: always assign someone to bring the rings!

We tried to have as many personal touches as we could come up with in our wedding. We asked a family friend to be our officiant (we legally wed at the courthouse in November since Virginia has strict officiant rules).  He told him what we thought would sound nice and he came up with what he said.  He did a beautiful job; I had many compliments after the wedding about how moving his speech was.

Since I was not wearing the traditional white dress, but rather a sleek long gown, I wanted our reception area to be chic and trendy. Our purple was thrown in with red, black, and white.  We even had a curtain to hide it while we’re doing cocktail hour (something I’d definitely recommend to other brides).  When we “revealed” the area, people were so taken back.  It was a great moment of the night.  Jessica from Simply Chic Events was full of ideas and information.  I never knew the importance of lighting, like pin spotting and purple up lighting on the walls.  It really transformed the area into what we wanted.


Our cake topper was my husband’s grandmother’s (they were both brunettes like us).  Our champagne flutes were my maternal grandmother’s that she got as a wedding gift.  Each table name was a location that was special/important to me and my husband.  I baked, from scratch, chocolate chip cookies as favors and the escort cards were little lanterns with candles in them.  We also had a “Favorite Drink List” at each bar, which included classic cocktails: gin gimlet, bourbon Manhattan, vesper martini.

In lieu of a cake cutting ceremony, we had a torching of the creme brulee.  My husband is a chef, so the food in general was important!  We chose to have a plated dinner reception, and had many tastings to make sure everything was perfect.

We also had a “Newlywed game” instead of bouquet toss – I still hear about that from my guests.  A lot of people had never seen it done at weddings and it got a lot of people laughing, especially close friends.  We sat in chairs with our backs together.  We each swapped one shoe so that we each had one another’s shoes in corresponding hands.  I had, ahead of time, asked a bridesmaid if she could come up with 10 questions to ask both of us, like “Who carries the most cash in their wallet?”  Then Justin and I would raise the shoe that corresponded to the answer.  We got a reaction from the crowd each time we raised a shoe!

Caroline’s advice to other DC-area engaged couples:

For those new to wedding planning, but maybe a little controlling (like me), I always recommend hiring a wedding planner FIRST, before making any decisions.  They are patient, the most experienced, and knowledgable.  They know the ins and outs of the wedding field, the good deals, where to spend your money, what concepts will actually look they you imagine it, and cohesive design ideas.  Lighting is well worth the money, as is a good DJ.  People won’t be bored and your pictures will look fabulous.  Communicate your priorities with your wedding photographer.  Finally, try to have a romantic moment with your spouse.  I was told that too, but I don’t think I truly understood it until it was all over.  I was such in a party host mood/having a good time, I forgot to look at my new husband endearingly and say “I love you, we did it!”

The following Washington, DC area wedding professionals contributed to Caroline + Justin’s wedding:

Venue & Catering: Whitehall Manor, Bluemont, Virginia
Photography: Jennifer Domenick, Love Life Images
Event Planning: Jessica Brown, Simply Chic Events
Lighting: Frost Lighting
Floral Design: Philippa Tarrant
Cake: Fluffy Thoughts
Bridal Attire: BCBG, purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue
Hair & Makeup: KC Felton Bridal Hair & Makeup
Groom’s Attire: Hugo Boss, purchased at Bloomingdale’s
DJ: DJ D-Mac
Ceremony Music: Bialek’s Music
Transportation: Swift Limos

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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