In August of 2015, two years after Annalise Ashdown and Austin Lee first met, the pair was getting ready to move to Stanford to attend business school, and planned a going-away party for the occasion. “The party was on Saturday, but Austin asked me to take Friday night off from prepping so we could relax and have a date,” she recalls. After dinner at her favorite restaurant, Annalise discovered that Austin had lit their deck with string lights that flickered in the Bay Area fog. “Austin asked me to dance, and it occurred to me that he might be proposing—but I quickly squashed the thought and enjoyed the moment,” she says. But when the song ended, Austin did, in fact, get down on one knee.
With business school on the horizon, Austin and Annalise gave themselves two years to plan their wedding and set the date for October 14, 2017 at Austin’s parents’ home in Middleburg, Virginia. “I’m a California girl, but adore the charm of Middleburg," she says. "It was also so sentimental to get married at a place Austin and I both love.” (Also, how else would we get their Cali business school friends to a farm in Virginia except for a wedding?!) She mixed a little 19th-century inspiration in with clean lines and a feeling of casual elegance, which ended up being the perfect match for a ceremony on the lawn and a reception in a tented horse arena. With so much time to plan, the bride took on new hobbies (like letterpressing and calligraphy!) that fit right in with her vision, making their wedding day even more personal. Keep reading to see all her handiwork (and more!) in these photos by Heart Visuals.
Annalise grew up sewing, and combined that skill with her new calligraphy chops to hand-monogram PJs for herself and her bridesmaids to wear as they got ready.
“Trying on wedding dresses was so valuable, and what I’d loved on Pinterest was nothing like what I loved in person, but I still wasn’t finding ‘the one,’” she says. The bride kept imagining what she’d create if she had time to make her own dress, and decided to turn to a pro to make it happen. Julie Ireland Dressmaking helped Annalise take inspiration from Kate Middleton’s reception gown, add lace and a dramatic detachable train (no bustling required!), and create a long, flowing veil to match. “I got to be part of the creative process without having to sew the dress myself,” says the bride.
The couple headed to the neighboring farm for their first look, which took place on a path that was perfectly framed by rows of trees. Austin also wanted a custom ensemble, and turned to friend who founded Chookhare and Sons to create a bespoke tuxedo.
Annalise created an ombré palette for her bridesmaids using Jenny Yoo and Hitherto designs from BHLDN. “My maid of honor wore dusty rose, Austin’s sisters wore soft plum, and my three other bridesmaids wore dark cherry and cabernet,” the bride describes. "We can’t think of a better range of colors for a fall wedding!" The bride carried a white and cream bouquet of garden roses, ranunculus, tulips, jasmine vine, sweet pea, and japonica. “My dad and I used to plant sweet peas in our garden, and that was his nickname for me when I was little,” Annalise explains.
For the sunny ceremony, guests gathered under paper parasols as they waited for the “I do’s.”
The bride’s father walked her down the aisle to a copper altar that he and the groom’s father built together.
Guests’ table assignments were displayed in an oversized gold frame draped in greenery.
Bundles of olive branches and arrangements of roses and hydrangeas welcomed guests to the tent, where long tables were set with low compotes of dusty pink roses. “I knew I wanted lots of candlelight to reflect the history of the location,” Annalise explains.
The Virginia-meets-California menu included a green salad with goat cheese, biscuits instead of bread, and short ribs with caramelized figs. Austin’s signature cocktail was a Manhattan, while Annalise’s was a sparkling French gimlet with elderflower, lime, vodka, and soda.
After a friend of the couple sang “Die a Happy Man” by Thomas Rhett for the first dance, the bride and groom cut into a very special wedding cake. “My mother passed away when I was 14, and I wanted to include her presence in the most joyful way possible,” says Annalise. “A friend of ours baked our cutting cake from the recipe my grandmother used for all of my mom’s childhood birthdays, then guests were served German chocolate cake, my mom’s favorite flavor of Baskin-Robbins ice cream!”
Later that night, guests were treated to the newlyweds’ favorite childhood treats, too: PB&J sandwiches and chocolate croissants!
Wedding Coordinator: Kim Newton Weddings
Venue: Groom’s parents’ home
Officiant: The Right Reverend Marc Andrus, Bishop of California
Bride's Dress: Julie Ireland Dressmaking
Bride's Veil: Julie Ireland Dressmaking
Bride's Shoes: Kate Spade
Bride's Jewelry: Giraux Fine Jewelry
Hair & Makeup: Anna Breeding
Bridesmaids' Dresses: BHLDN
Groom's Attire: Chookhare and Sons
Groomsmen's Attire: Men’s Warehouse
Engagement Ring: Giraux Fine Jewelry
Wedding Bands: Giraux Fine Jewelry
Floral Design: Love Blooms
Paper Products: DIY by the bride
Catering: Purple Onion Catering
Cake: Homemade (cutting), Momofuku (for guests)
Ceremony Music: William Hagen & Andrea Ashdown
Reception Music: Nightsong
Rentals: Select Event Group, Something Vintage Rentals
Transportation: Limousines, Inc.
Photography & Videography: Heart Visuals