Rachel and Matthew met the old fashioned way, in a bar. When it came to planning their wedding, they both agreed that they wanted something that was classic, yet unpretentious. Rachel dreamed of a fall wooded wedding and Matthew really wanted a mountain wedding, so they combined their visions for a rustic wedding set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Luray, Virginia. They originally planned to get married in the spring, but due to COVID, the wedding was pushed back to September, allowing the couple to incorporate more fall elements into the décor. It was a real DIY, family-oriented celebration from Rachel and her sister making all of the flowers to her mother baking the cake.
How did you meet?
We met the old fashioned way, in a bar. I was out with a couple of friends, and was feeling like a third wheel, and stepped on to the dance floor to dance to dance and give them some space. The dance floor was pretty slow, but there was one guy dancing by himself. I approached him to see if he wanted to dance, and things went from there.
What is your proposal story?
Our engagement story is less exciting. We had bought a house together nearly a year before getting engaged. He had always told me his was not interested in getting married, but at that point, we had already been living together for several years, and even owned a house together. Marriage just seemed to feel like a small additional step at that point, so we made the decision to push forward and celebrate a life together.
Tell us a little a bit about your wedding (your vision, color, style, and location choices).
I was inspired by nature and classy rustic looks. I really wanted a fall, wooded wedding, and my husband wanted a mountain wedding, but we both agreed that we wanted something that was classy yet unpretentious. Originally, due to my husband’s school schedule, we were going to get married in the spring. Due to COVID, the wedding was pushed to September, and I was able to incorporate some fall elements. Overall, we wanted something that felt close to nature and would provide a comfortable and peaceful experience.
Tell us about your attire choices.
The dresses were all from JJ’s House. I did not want to pay a large amount of money for something that was only going to be worn once. I spend $180 for a beautiful dress that I got lots of compliments on. It was a total steal, and I was very impressed by the quality and style. The men wore grey tuxedos from Generation Tux. We looked at a few companies for tux rentals, and this one had the most responsive customer service, great prices, and modern/classy suits. They also offer a free tux rental to the groom, so we took advantage of this.
What was the most important to the two of you while planning? Was there anything that you chose to splurge on or skip?
Make a plan, and know what your priorities are. We had areas that we knew we were willing to spend more, and when confronted with decisions to add or subtract services, we kept within those bounds. We knew we wanted quality music and food, and paid more for that, but took a budget approach to the wedding dress and cake, which were less important to us.
What were your favorite parts of the day?
Hands down, the favorite memory for both of us was seeing how happy our guests were. People seemed relaxed and were enjoyed the evening, which was our biggest hope. Enjoyed seeing friends and family all in one place to enjoy the evening and the beautiful location together.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
My mom made the wedding cake. She was very nervous about that, but at the end of the day, people loved it and were complimenting it, without even knowing she made it herself. It is so simple to make a rustic wedding cake. Imperfection is your friend. Flowers are a good pay to cover up spots you don’t like, and gives it a beautiful look.
Please describe any DIY, handmade, or personal details.
I also made the flower arrangements. My sister made all the bouquets. I knew from day one that I wanted to make the flower arrangements, but I also knew that transporting glass containers and lots of flowers could turn into a mess very quickly. As a base for the table arrangement, I found some moss-covered, moon-shaped planters online, that were not breakable and met my guidelines of classy rustic. I wanted to make sure that the flowers arrangements didn’t look too engineered, so I purchased bulk seasonal flowers from Costco, as well as several greenery garlands from Costco. The table arrangements were made using a variety of cut flowers densely placed into florist foam, and the greenery garlands were embellished with extra cut flowers. It took a team of bridesmaids about 4 hours to make all the flower arrangements the day before, but it was well worth the time. Overall, we spent less than $400 on flower arrangements, which made it a huge DIY savings.
Why a mountain wedding? What’s your biggest piece of advice for other couples planning a mountain wedding?
Be sure to look at several venues and be a little more open-minded. I did not have an idea of what I wanted to do for a wedding until we actually started planning. While you might have a dream idea of a venue, you might find something similar that checks a lot of your boxes for a fraction of the cost. Our venue was not at the top of our list before visiting it, but after viewing it, it jumped to the top.
The below wedding pros made this amazing event happen. See more of their work by visiting their website.
- Classic Photographers
- Reception Venue
- Stoneyman Valley Ranch
- Downtown Catering Company
- Reception Musicians
- Celtic Music for Your Wedding
- Wedding Dress
- JJ’s House
- Groom's Attire
- Generation Tux
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