Vows in Virginia
16 Nov 2010
Fran @ Hitched
On Saturday November 6th, my dear friend Kathleen married Carl, the man of her dreams in the quaint town of Alexandria, Virginia.
This was not the first wedding abroad that I have been to, but it certainly was one to remember!
Kat and Carl live in Dublin together and got engaged a year ago. They had been planning every detail of their wedding ever since and seeing everything come together through out the year was truly enjoyable for me as an outsider looking in.
Like Kat, I also needed to find a dress, book a flight, plan my trip, organise a budget and make sure that my camera was fully loaded with a battery that was going to last the whole day!
I landed in Washington D.C just two day's before the wedding so that I could get over the jet-lag and get used to my surrounding's. After my good friend Patrick collected me from the airport I was welcomed at the Embassy Suites Hotel with a goody bag and letter that Kathleen and Carl had prepared for oversea's guests. This was a very welcoming surprise and my bag was filled with personalised 'K&C' themed bottles of water, Irish and American sweets, a map of the area, a Kat & Carl crossword, and plenty of other refreshments to help me relax and feel comfortable at the hotel. Fab idea for people who don't know the area or who have travelled from afar!
A lot of friends and family flew in from around the world on Thursday evening and a drinks reception was held at the hotel bar so that everyone could be introduced! This was a great idea and a good time to catch up with old friends. After a 9:30am start for me (even though the shops didn't open until 10am!) I made sure that I was back at the hotel in time to attend the rehearsal dinner which took place at an Irish pub about half a mile away from the hotel. Carl's family is Irish and Kat's family are American so bringing the two cultures together at an Irish pub was a fantastic idea! Meeting new people and seeing the excited couple embrace the night before they tied the knot was a lovely experience and a perfect environment to calm the nerves! There wasn't a shortage of Guinness and it ended up being a slightly later night than everyone had planned!
I of course wanted to make sure that I was on top form and looking my absolute best for the big day so I headed back to the hotel at 1am as opposed to 4am like some party goers!
Saturday afternoon arrived and at precisely 4:30pm Kat and Carl said their vows in front of 120 guests in the atrium of the Embassy Suites Hotel.
Amy and Laura, Kathleen's bridesmaids wore stunning brown dresses to the knee and carried an orange bouquet of flowers each as they walked down the aisle. Kathleen and her father followed behind with Carl anxiously waiting for his bride at the altar.
Kat and Carl had truly unique vows. During their wedding planning they laid several different vows that they had found through research on to a table and highlighted the words that they felt meant the most to them. I don't think there was a dry eye in the atrium at this stage and everyone whistled and clapped as they entwined in their first kiss as Husband and Wife! The newlywed couple walked back down the aisle to the sounds of 'The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba'.
The wedding breakfast and reception was held just one floor up from the atrium. We walked in to a bar area where the string quartet had set up. To the right was the wedding breakfast area, and to the left was a social section. After a busy cocktail hour and photograph's Kat and Carl were circled on the dance floor as they proceeded to have their first dance as a married couple. Traditionally here in the UK we wouldn't have the first dance until later in the evening, but actually this way worked really well!
The wedding breakfast also had an interesting twist compared to British weddings. Rather than sitting through about an hour of speeches, Kat and Carl divided the speeches up between courses. Kathleen's father spoke before the salad, Carl's father spoke after the starter, Laura and Amy spoke after the main course, and Neil the best man spoke during dessert. It felt as if the entertainment just kept on rolling through out the night.
Kathleen has always been creative and wanted to add her special touch to her wedding day. She literally hand made everything...from the invitations, to the centre pieces, menu's, table decorations, chair accessories, order of service cards and more! Seeing as the wedding took place in the Autumn there was a very 'fall' theme that surrounded the whole day. Different shades of brown, orange, red and ivory decorated the event from start to finish!
After the wedding breakfast had been served and the toasts had been announced it was time to hit the dance floor. The resident DJ played up-beat tunes all evening and absolutely everyone was on the dancefloor for most of the night. On occassion guests would sneak over to the candy bar that had been set up, or they were tasting a cup-cake from the beautiful display in the corner.
Rather than having a guest book Kat and Carl decided to have a wishing tree. Each guest got to write a wish for the newlywed couple down on a coloured leaf which had a string attached to it. Eventually Kat and Carl will read and hang all of their wishes up somewhere in their new home. Also, rather than having a standard postbox for cards, Kathleen decorated a birdcage with ribbons in her colour scheme for guests to know that their cards were safe. Such a good idea!
I don't think anyone wanted this wedding to end...but by 11pm we were all danced out. Or so we thought! We went on to an after party down the road, and then all met up for breakfast the next morning to share pictures and memories of the wonderful day that we all had.
A wedding doesnt have to be just an afternoon or a day. This is a once in a life time experience and when so many of your friends and family have come from so far it is nice to see them all together for more than just a few hours.
As a guest I enjoyed every minute of Kat and Carl's wedding weekend and loved the personal touches that were sprinkled through out the day.I wouldn't have missed attending my best friends wedding for the WORLD!
So 'Slainte', or in other words 'cheers' to the happy couple and I wish them all the luck in the world!