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A Vintage Elegant Wedding in the Virginia Countryside

by Staff

Kate Ballou and Chris Sheeron met on March 25, 2017 at a mutual friend’s birthday party in Washington, D.C. “One of Chris’ best friends from college Ed Buckley introduced us at the party,” the couple shares. Chris was just in visiting for the weekend from Connecticut, but quickly realized he’d found something special in D.C.

A little over three years later, “Chris surprised Kate with a proposal in Montrose Park, one of our favorite places in Georgetown,” the duo says. He had a photographer hidden in the bushes, and dog Sully nearby. “Sully made sure everything went smoothly,” they laugh. “We celebrated with a Champagne toast on the lawn afterward.” The ring? A custom design with an east-west emerald cut diamond flanked by two baguettes.

As the interior designer behind Hendrick Interiors, Kate had a specific vision for her wedding day. “Early on, I was eager to make sure that color was a part of our day in a meaningful way,” she says. “I had a gorgeous yet subtle palette in mind that I wanted to weave through the weekend in various ways.”

A strong vendor team brought her vision to life at Goodstone in Middleburg, Virginia, an escape just an hour outside D.C. “Selecting our venue was the easiest part; we did not look anywhere else!” the couple shares. “We knew we wanted a setting that was open, inviting, and a feast for the eyes; a timeless and elegant venue at which our closest family and friends could gather safely.” Goodstone dates back to 1768 and features a working farm and gardens. “It provided a romantic and idyllic setting for our weekend celebration,” they share. Plus, it was all-encompassing as the entire weekend of events was on site and 30 bridesmaids and groomsmen, their significant others, and family members spent the weekend at Goodstone’s five cottages spread across the 265-acre property. The couple stayed in the sixth cottage known as the Bull Barn.

“Our vision was for a wedding of subtle color, with nods to the wild landscape of Goodstone and notes of tradition and antiquity that we so love and value,” the couple shares. It began with the invitation suite. “Oh Eleven Studio’s Patricia Heffner created a one-of-a-kind toile based on significant places in Kate and Chris’s relationship. Heffner hand-selected papers and envelopes that incorporated gorgeous shades of green, pink, purple, and blue that set the tone. Kate purposefully selected every color and detail.”

Kate wore a floral Willowby by Watters gown for the first of the wedding events on the property while Chris looked dapper in a chic blue suit.

“For the pre-wedding celebration, we opted for an en plein air dinner at the Manor House of Goodstone that featured bolder colors, neutral florals, and an abundance of candlelight,” they share.

For the big day, Chris donned a three-piece tuxedo with waistcoat by Suitsupply and a Ralph Lauren Purple Label shirt and shoes. “He wore vintage gold cufflinks and studs—the same in which his father was married,” Kate shares. “In addition, he wore a Tank Louis Cartier watch in yellow gold with an alligator strap, and his gold signet ring, which was given to him by his grandparents many years ago.”

He did some grooming prep leading up to the big day. “I sat for a fantastic Gentlemen’s Facial at the Four Seasons’ spa in Georgetown, and added a chemical peel and a collagen mask to the treatment,” he says. “Each night, I apply The Rich Cream by Augustinus Bader to my face. On occasion, I will supplement that with Shiseido’s wrinkle smoothing eye cream.”

Kate’s beauty inspiration for the day was classic and natural. “We definitely wanted my eyes to pop, but in a natural way. My makeup artist used beautiful feathery individual lashes to accentuate my own, but not overpower the overall look. I made sure to exfoliate my skin regularly in the month leading up to the wedding weekend. I used a gentle oil exfoliator from La Mer, and a replenishing oil exfoliator the night before so that my skin was fresh and well moisturized.” For hair, she opted for an updo. “I wanted my hair away from my face, but still soft and romantic—something that felt timeless and classic, but still youthful.”

I tried on so many dresses that just didn’t feel right to me. I went to nine different bridal showrooms across multiple cities on the East Coast,” Kate says. Finally, at The One Bridal Boutique in Brooklyn, she found it: a vintage-y lace Cortana gown with a neutral silk slip underneath. “It felt timeless, elegant, and so unique. The lace pattern is so sophisticated and unlike any I had seen. It was comfortable and lightweight. I ultimately chose this dress because it encompassed the romantic nod to antiquity that I desired.” 

Her accessories were also a nod to antiquity—family heirlooms, to be specific. “I wore a blue stone bracelet gifted from Chris’s mother, and pearl earrings borrowed from my father’s partner,” Kate says. “The pearl necklace is a family heirloom from Chris’s side of the family and a beautiful gift from his aunt.”

There was so much excitement and activity leading up to the wedding weekend, it was important to have that moment just the two of us.

The duo decided on a first look to calm their nerves before the ceremony. “It was a very special, quiet moment,” they reflect. “There was so much excitement and activity leading up to the wedding weekend, it was important to have that moment just the two of us.”

One of Kate’s hardest planning decisions was finding bridesmaid dresses that fit her vision. “I wanted the overall look to feel elegant and timeless. Since my dress was all about the texture of the lace, I knew having the bridesmaids’ dresses contrast in just the texture was a beautiful way to accent it.” She actually decided on actual bridal gowns. “Each bridesmaid chose their own style from the Ghost London ivory bridal collection. The dresses were either crepe or silk, and hinted at a turn-of-the-century, 1930s style to complement my dress with a bit more modern elegance.” To pull in a hint of color, each wore a handmade floral crown. 

The groomsmen wore classic black-tie attire, with best man Corey J. Sheeron donning his U.S. Naval officer dinner dress blue uniform. 

Upon entering the ceremony, guests could tap out notes for the newlyweds on an antique typewriter that served as the guest book. 

The ceremony’s focal point was built in: “a stunning ivy wall at Goodstone that we immediately fell in love with when touring the venue,” Kate and Chris share. “The ceremony decor was kept to a minimum to allow for the ivy wall to really shine.”

“Chris’s nephews, Patrick and Niko, served as the cutest ring bearer and flower boy,” Kate says. “They traveled from Italy to attend the wedding.” A string quartet played “Never Going Back Again” by Fleetwood Mac as the bridal party entered, then Kate and her father walked down the aisle to “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.

For the ceremony officiated by the bride’s uncle, the couple exchanged personal vows and opted for readings both religious and nonreligious. “The first reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, and [the second] was “It’s All I Have to Bring Today” by Emily Dickinson,” they share. ‘“Toward the end of the ceremony, Kate’s father and three of her uncles performed ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by The Beatles. It was hard to find a dry eye among attendees.”

As the couple recessed out to “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac, their 130 guests tossed floral petals. And, even these favors were special. “Kate, her two sisters, and her mother handmade paper cones from vintage books to hold dried flower petals for the petal toss,” the couple says. “The flowers were grown and dried by Kate’s sister, Celia, in Charleston.”

A cocktail reception around the pool was next. “The guests loved it, as they looked over the sailcloth tent in the hayfield,” the couple remembers. “It was the perfect setting—replete with croquet and shuffleboard—and guests were able to enjoy a stunning sunset. The showpiece was an epic raw bar, displayed in one of Goodstone’s canoes. “It was filled with oysters, shrimp, and clams, and got the party started in an opulent manner.”

Kate and Chris kicked off the party with a Champagne tower pour, then stepped away with their photographer for a sunset photo session with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

Guests walked through aisles of greenery to find their table placement, creating a fun and interactive experience.

Kate applied her unique vision to the escort display. “It was interactive, in an unexpected and romantic way, to accentuate the enchanted garden atmosphere surrounding the pool,” she says. “Escort cards were attached to vines of greenery strung from the rafters of the original farmhouse. Guests walked through aisles of greenery to find their table placement, creating a fun and interactive experience.”

The reception took place beneath a stunning sailcloth tent, erected in the property’s hayfield and overlooking the landscape. “It encompassed an atmosphere that made guests feel as if they went back in time,” Kate says. “Everything sparkled! It was really a highlight for me to look across the tablescapes and see the gold rims of the chargers glistening with the glassware under the candlelight.”

Eclectic vintage china amped up the romance and menus were letter pressed on hand made paper with wax seals. “The florals became an integral part of the day that created a beautiful progression from the moment guests arrived to their seated dinner,” Kate adds.

A 12-piece band, Good Shot Judy, performed Ella Fitzgerald’s “Isn’t it Romantic” for the newlyweds’ first dance. “They specialize in classic, big amp jazz from the 20th century,” Kate says. “Band leader Brett Cahoon arranged a special rendition of the song.”

It wasn’t the only special performance of the night. Later, Kate’s two sisters surprised her with a maid of honor toast that included singing, dancing, and a performance of “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid.

As an interior designer, Kate takes pride in creating spaces for people to gather—and she had the perfect idea for the wedding reception: a cigar bar with hand-rolled cigars. “This part of the evening was a must-have, as Chris is an avid cigar connoisseur,” she says. “The separate cigar lounge environment that I designed reinforced the old-world themes that we love.”

Guests enjoyed a menu of pan-seared scallops, salmon with saffron, beef tenderloin, and a fresh vegetable medley for dinner. Each dish was accompanied by the perfect wine, selected by working closely with the property’s sommelier. 

“Summer Wind” by Frank Sinatra played as Kate and Chris cut into a coconut cake with vanilla frosting. Then, the couple danced the night away before jetting off to a honeymoon at The Four Seasons Resort Nevis in West Indies.

Looking back, bringing their vision to life was all about communication—much like marriage. “Select your planning team and wedding vendors based on their ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and quickly,” the couple advices. “From their proposals to invoices all the way until the big day, this is essential to realizing your perfect celebration.”

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