Five years (to the day!) after Emily Shenk and Jason Flory first met, Emily awoke to a note from her boyfriend that was taped to the bathroom mirror and promised an adventure. "Little did she know, she was about to begin an eight-hour, 13-site scavenger hunt that I had set up all over the D.C. metro area," Jason says. She covered 35 miles worth of locations, all with special meaning to the couple: The bar where they met, the restaurant where they first dined, and even the apartment building in which they had once lived together. At the last stop, Emily found Jason on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial where he waited to join her on a bike ride to their favorite city spot, Hains Point. There, Jason popped the question and received a resounding, "Yes!"
In the end, it was their engagement that solidified their wedding plans. "Just a few weeks after we got engaged, we actually won a local radio contest for best proposal," Emily says. And the prize afforded them far more than just glory. "It had some D.C.-area vendors selected for us, including our venue, so we had to start planning around that." The bride and groom were originally nervous they wouldn't like the pre-selected locale — the Evergreen Country Club in Haymarket, Virginia — but their fears were quickly diminished once they saw the expansive outdoor ceremony space and beautiful interiors.
With their nerves eased and their excitement building, the couple set the date for May 15, 2015, and planned the soft and romantic party they'd envisioned and had Jillian Michelle Photography there to capture every dreamy moment.
Emily and Jason invited 140 guests to join them for their wedding day. Their simple invitation suite got a special touch: "My mom is a professional calligrapher, among her many other talents, and she volunteered to address our blush pink envelopes in gold ink," Emily says. "She did them so beautifully and so quickly! We were thrilled with how they turned out." The suite matched the couple's overall color palette of gold and pink with pops of merlot.
Because many of their guests had to travel for the big day, Emily and Jason worked hard to make them feel appreciated. "One of the best comments we heard after our wedding was from a mentor of mine," the bride says. "She said she felt like we had a surprise waiting for our guests around every corner. I loved that she felt that way, because that's exactly what we wanted everyone to think."
Emily admits that she had a tough time finding the right wedding dress. But the second she spotted her Enzoani gown, she knew she had found it. "As soon as I saw the movement of the dress while I was walking toward the mirror, I fell in love with it," explains Emily. "I immediately realized this was the view Jason would have when I first walked down the aisle. Something about the way the dress moved when I walked felt so romantic and just how I pictured that moment would be on our wedding day."
Emily paired her dress with gold and crystal pumps.
The bride's blush and white bouquet was comprised of peonies, garden roses, ranunculus, Queen Anne's lace, lilacs, lisianthus, and roses, and featured touches of seeded eucalyptus. As a special accent, the couple's florist tucked a gold bracelet that Jason's father had given to his mother as anniversary gift in with the blooms.
Jason donned a charcoal gray tuxedo and pinned a larkspur, hypericum berry, and seeded eucalyptus boutonniere to his lapel.
With all six of her bridesmaids living in different states, dress shopping proved difficult for Emily and her attendants. The solution? The bride took a few friends out on multiple shopping runs, and the women settled on one-shouldered merlot dresses that popped against the otherwise pastel color palette. Each 'maid carried a smaller version of Emily's bouquet, which was accented with a good-luck brooch that belonged to the bride's grandmother.
Jason's niece acted as the couple's flower girl, wearing an ivory dress and a floral crown of berries and petite roses.
The groomsmen coordinated with Emily's bridesmaids' attire by wearing merlot-colored ties with their charcoal gray tuxedos. "They also wore pocket watches and tie clips, their gift from us," the bride says.
At their outdoor ceremony, a petal-strewn aisle and an arch covered in curly willow, greenery, and cascading flowers created a romantic vibe. Emily walked the aisle with her father, then exchanged traditional vows with Jason. "We did write our own vows," Emily explains, "but we wanted them to be longer and very personal, so instead of saying them during the ceremony we wrote them in letters to each other, which we read individually before the ceremony."
After their first kiss, the new bride and groom found themselves overcome with emotion. "Immediately after the ceremony, we were alone with our parents and the bridal party," Emily says. "Everyone just burst into tears, even many of the guys! I think it was a combination of everyone's nerves calming down and the realization that we were actually married now. We all just lost it."
Inside the country club, half of the round tables were decorated with large arrangements while the others featured tall, cylindrical centerpieces. Each contained a mixture of greens, roses, hydrangea, and Queen Anne's lace.
The couple's white-iced wedding cake featured layers of vanilla-chocolate marble and butter rum. On top, the couple placed the cake topper Emily's parents used for their wedding.
Emily and Jason took their first dance to Last Leaf's "OK Go," then joined guests outside for a surprise. "We had fireworks about an hour after sunset," Emily says. "The venue has a large wraparound patio that overlooks a golf course, and we all watched them from there."
The newlyweds enjoyed a seven-day honeymoon in Greece. Emily has this advice for brides-to-be: "Planning a wedding is very stressful, with so many logistics and emotions involved. When divvying up tasks, play to each other's strengths. Try as best you can to keep things in perspective and approach the engagement experience as just one of many adventures together. No matter how much you plan, little things will inevitably go wrong. While it's fun to aspire to the 'perfect' wedding day, what matters most is all the days that come after."
Venue & Catering: Evergreen Country Club || Bride's Wedding Dress: Enzoani || Veil: Bel Aire Bridal || Shoes: Badgley Mischka || Hair & Makeup: Makeup By Brooke || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Aria || Flower Girl Dress: Balance9 || Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Jos. A. Bank || Wedding Bands: Brilliant Earth || Florist: Flowers By Paulette || Invitations: By Invitation Only || Music: Chris Styles DJs || Cake: Occasional Cakes || Videographer: Creative Ideation || Photographer: Jillian Michelle Photography
Looking for more classic inspiration for your own big day? Then you'll love one couple's traditional bash in New York City, seen below.