Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wedding Wednesday: Our Venue, The Sutherland Estates

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I've decided to start sharing details about our wedding every week. I think it will be so nice to look back and relive the planning process once the big day has come and gone. Today, I'm sharing a little bit about our venue!

Eric and I got engaged about a month before my older sister's wedding (yes, my poor parents are experiencing back to back weddings!). Because of that, we knew we wanted to have a good amount of time separating Brittany and Brandon's wedding and ours. Brittany had been dating the same sweet guy for a whopping 10 years, so she needed her moment to shine and enjoy it and not have to hear about my wedding!

About a month after Britt's wedding, in November of last year, we decided to start looking at venues. The Sutherland was the first venue that Eric and I looked at and the moment we got out of the car we knew it was special. We had decided we wanted an 'all-in-one' venue, meaning the ceremony and reception were at the same place. Eric is from Boston and he has friends and family traveling in from all over the country, so simplifying things for our guests and having one venue worked best for us.

Of course, we went and looked at other venues in the area soon after, but couldn't get this place out of our heads and decided to commit to it pretty quickly. We chose May 5th, 2018 as our date, so hopefully the late spring weather will be nice and warm! I also love the fact that it's Cinco de Mayo. Maybe we'll have a margarita as our signature cocktail or a late night taco bar once the dancing is underway?! We definitely won't be having a Mexican theme, but I'd say a few sweet little elements would be kind of special.

The Sutherland has a fairytale, plantation, garden, romantic, rustic feel, all rolled into one (can you tell I love it?)! The big white house has been around since the early 1800's and is the most perfect Southern estate. They have different sections on their property for all the different events. I'll explain as I go!

Image from Classy Transportation

The Sutherland

The upstairs of the main house is where the bridal party gets ready. It's full of windows that let in an abundance of natural light along with vintage furniture and plenty of mirrors to glam.

The Sutherland

Nancy Ray Photography

One of my favorite parts is the little cottage where the groom and groomsmen get ready. I'm obsessed with those cowhide chairs and I love the addition of the chandelier!

The Sutherland

Our guests will enter in on the side of the house. Through that wrought Iron door is where our ceremony will be (start praying for no rain!!!).

The Sutherland

Dara Blakeley Photography

The ceremony garden is actually turf and not grass, so no mud or dirt, which is a major plus in my book! I love how there's a little built in stone stage where Eric and I will stand. It's literally perfect exactly how it is, so I don't think we'll be adding very much decor to this area!

The Sutherland

Cocktail hour will be in the space beside the house, which is equipped with a built in stone bar and a gorgeous gazebo. We haven't figured out how we'll use the gazebo yet, it's been used to hold the wedding cake, but I'm thinking about having a memory table where we'll feature pictures of loved ones who aren't with us anymore. What do you think? Suggestions?

The Sutherland

The reception will be in this fully closed-in pavilion, that has glass doors that can be opened up on a nice night. It is right off the cocktail area space and is big and open inside. I'll show more pictures of the inside another time, since I'll be having to make some decisions about lighting and decor later down the road!

Looking at these pictures, I'm starting to get so excited for our big day! I can't believe we still have about 14 months until we actually get married, but I know time will fly by so quickly. I need to do my research on anti-rain dances though, because rain and this venue don't mix too well. We need to start planning our rain plan. Say a prayer, friends!!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Our Engagement Story

As promised, I'm about to share me and Eric's engagement story!! Thankfully, I already have the whole shebang written out since our proposal was featured on How He Asked a few months ago. But just to forewarn you, this is a long one! So, if you're up for the challenge, settle in and read away...

how we met

Eric and I met in the fall of 2013, very unglamorously, in a crowded bar in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC. He had been living there for 2 years while working in the banking industry, and I had just completed flight attendant training and had recently been based in the area. After having only lived in DC for 1 week, I was already starting to miss my North Carolina home and had convinced myself that DC was simply not the place for me. Everything changed on September 28th, 2013 (yes, of course I remember the exact date of when we met)!

While out with a few friends, Eric approached me (although he likes to tell people I approached him), as I was getting ready to leave, and we instantly hit it off and exchanged numbers. After a few fantastic dates within the following weeks, we became completely inseparable! Needless to say, after dating for a little while, I decided that DC would become my new home and and that Eric would be a permanent part of my new life! Fast forward 3+ years and we are still just as inseparable as we were the first day we met!

how he asked

I've always told Eric that he would have a hard time surprising me when he proposed because of how well I know his little quirks and the way he acts when he gets nervous. But oh was I wrong! Earlier in the week, Eric told me that his mom was flying in from Boston on Saturday morning and that we would be going to a nice dinner with some of his extended family that lived nearby. When she arrived that morning, we went out for a great lunch and spent the afternoon shopping and wandering around DC before going back to our apartment to prepare for dinner. 

As we were getting ready, Eric's mom informed us that there was a slight change of plans and that we were going to meet his family by the Lincoln Memorial before dinner. Truthfully, this made me a little frazzled since I had less time to get ready and because we would be going to a very crowded and touristy area in the late summer heat before dinner (a makeup and hair nightmare)! While I was getting ready, I remember Eric was being extra sweet as I was frantically rushing around our apartment, trying to coordinate an outfit and be ready on time.

Once we made it to the memorial, Eric's mom said she needed to go and call the family to see where they were. She headed off in a different direction as Eric and I walked closer to the Reflecting Pool. As a back story, The National Mall is where Eric and I run together during the week, but because its usually packed with tourists during the day, it's rare that we are out there for more than just exercise.

Since we were both dressed up that evening, Eric wanted to take a few 'selfies' in front of the reflecting pool (which was a shock to me that he would even suggest such a thing), while we waited on an update from Eric's mom who had suspiciously gone missing. I remember Eric frantically whispering under his breath, "Wow, there are a lot of people!" to which I replied, "Yes! Of course there are. It's the National Mall on a Saturday!". As we casually stood together while holding hands, I noticed Eric had tears in his eyes. He turned to me, while reaching into his pocket and said "Are you ready for this?".

Immediately I figured out what was going on! In the back of my mind I was thinking, 'this can't REALLY be happening right now, can it?!' and after a moment of hugging and wiping each others tears away, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

What may have only taken a few seconds felt like an eternity, as if time had stopped for us. While we were both in our own little world together sharing our special moment, we hadn't noticed the crowd of eager on-lookers that had formed in a semi-circle around us!

As Eric stood up, the crowd proceeded to cheer once they acknowledged I had officially said 'YES'! The moment was overwhelming but also exciting and I remember I was shaking because I was still in complete shock. After we pulled ourselves together and took a few deep breaths, Eric introduced me to the stealthy photographer who had been hiding in the crowd the whole time, and then told me he had planned a brief photo session to document the moment!

After we finished taking our pictures, and once the dust had settled from the proposal, I was ready to call my parents and sisters, eager to share the exciting news, but he said we were running late for our celebratory dinner reservation and that I could call once we got to the restaurant. We quickly jumped into a cab, and I realized we were headed to Georgetown, which was when I started piecing together the rest of his mischievous plan: we were headed straight back to the restaurant where we first met, almost 3 years ago to the day!

As we walked into the restaurant, we were greeted by an overwhelming chorus of applause and 'congratulations!' by our families and closest friends. Little did I know that Eric had spent the previous 3 weeks calling relatives and friends (from both near and far), to be a part of the special event. The most impressive part was that he, along with everyone else, was able to keep his plan a secret! Our entrance was quickly followed by a champagne toast and an incredible dinner spent with our best friends and family! We later spent the rest of the night dancing and celebrating in each other's arms, which made the night that much more magical. It was the perfect proposal followed by the perfect evening, and it is certainly a day I will never forget! I am so lucky to have Eric in my life and I can't wait to be his wife!

To whoever made it this far... I'm impressed! :)