This autumn wedding is just bursting at the seams with Southern country charm. The day unfolded in the bride and groom’s home state of Virginia and was filled with line dancing; numerous nods to the couple’s beloved country music greats; and—of course—cowboy boots galore, from boot bubbles to “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” cozies. “Before Matt even popped the question, I had a vision of a laid-back, country-themed fall wedding,” said Amanda, the fun-loving bride. And that vision couldn’t have come to life any more resplendently. The bright harvest palette, which featured Amanda’s favorite color, vibrant orange, was deepened by a rich eggplant hue. The two shades not only reflected the warmth between the couple but also represented their respective alma maters. Worlds collided at the jazzy Carlyle Club, Alexandria’s Art Deco marvel and the couple’s reception venue, which took on the ambiance of an autumnal country bash, complete with assorted miniature pumpkins, fall foliage, and wagon wheels. The intriguing blend of rusticity and glamour made for a truly unique setting. Every part of the day was photographed brilliantly by Rebekah Hoyt, who has a knack for gracefully capturing moments of pure joy and beauty.
Q + A with Amanda
What’s your love story? How did you meet and fall in love?
As with many great love stories, ours began at a bar about six years ago! One of my good friends from college (Christine) was dating a new guy (Greg) she had recently met in the D.C. area, and she asked me to join her for a night out. She said Greg was bringing some of his friends. I was hesitant because I was looking forward to relaxing on the couch and watching Duke basketball on TV that night, but I gave in and just decided to wear my Duke sweatshirt out to the bar so it would be obvious that I was more interested in watching the game than conversing with guys I didn’t know. Greg invited Matt to join him as his “wingman” at the bar that night. Later I found out that Matt also didn’t want to leave the house that night but let Greg talk him into it anyway. Although Greg and Christine didn’t work out (both are in great relationships with other people now), Matt and I started chatting about basketball at the bar and quickly realized that we had a lot in common, including mutual friends and interests. At the end of the night, Matt asked if he could kiss me before we parted ways, and the rest is history. Greg was a groomsman in our wedding, and Christine and I now work together and see each other almost every day.
Can you tell us a little bit about the details of your wedding and your sources of inspiration?
Before Matt popped the question, I had a vision of a laid-back, country-themed fall wedding. Autumn is my favorite time of the year in Virginia; I love everything pumpkin, and I have a passion for country music. Luckily, Matt shares this passion with me, and he was happy with my ideas. We also wanted a theme that was more laid-back, so people would be more likely to let their hair down and have a great time at the reception. Orange has been my favorite color for many years—I’d always dreamed of having an orange Mustang as my first car—so that was an easy choice for my primary color. I didn’t choose my second color until we went shopping for bridesmaid dresses, and one of my bridesmaids, Whitney, pointed out an eggplant-colored dress that looked awesome with the orange. It worked out wonderfully because Matt’s alma mater is UVA, representing the orange color, and mine is James Madison University, representing the eggplant color.
What was the planning process like for you?
Event planning is part of my career, and I was enrolled in a strategic event planning course the summer before my wedding for my master’s program, so I decided to tackle wedding planning without a coordinator. It was quite an undertaking while working full-time and taking a grad school course, but I managed to pull it off with help from friends, family, and the wonderful vendors Matt and I selected. My preacher’s wife, Audrey Davidson, whom I’ve known most of my life, was our day-of coordinator, and she did a great job keeping everyone in line during the rehearsal and wedding ceremony.
How did you decorate your reception space?
I really wanted the table cards to reflect our country theme and personalities, so I came up with the idea of naming the tables after country concerts that Matt and I have attended together. However, our venue setup called for lots of tables, since most of the tables only seated four to six people, so I had to get creative and name some tables after songs by our favorite artists, too. For the tables named after concerts, I included a picture of us from the concert, a quote from one of the songs, and a description of our memories from the day. The downside: Although it was a great idea in theory and ended up being a big hit, it was a very tedious and time-consuming last-minute project, since we ended up with more than 20 tables.
Our favors were cowboy boot–shaped koozies. We went with this choice because we wanted our guests to take away something fun and practical. These were really easy to throw into a suitcase for those who flew to the wedding, and they were unique because of their shape.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your reception?
Instead of doing traditional bouquet and garter tosses, we decided to play the “Shoe Game.” We thought this would be more fun for everyone in the crowd. Two chairs were placed back to back on the dance floor for Matt and me. We removed both of our shoes, then traded a shoe with each other so that we were holding one of each. Next, the DJ asked a series of questions about the two of us that were selected by my dad. After each question, we had to hold up the shoe of the one we thought was the best answer to the question. Being back to back, we couldn’t see how the other one responded!
One of my bridesmaids, Whitney, worked so hard to scan photos of Matt and me over the years in order to make a slideshow for our reception. It was a lot of work, but it turned out wonderfully! Everyone really enjoyed the slideshow during the cocktail hour and the dinner, and it’s a keepsake that I’ll cherish forever. We tried our best to show pictures that included the family members and friends who were present.
What was on the menu?
To stay within budget, we selected a pasta buffet and customized it by having three types of pasta: one with veggies and shrimp, one with marinated chicken, and one butternut squash ravioli to tie in the fall theme. We also had a turkey carving station with awesome cranberry stuffing. Our venue’s staff made us plates of food as soon as dinner started so that we could really enjoy the meal before getting distracted, and it was amazing. They even made us to-go plates so that we could eat it when we got back to our hotel that night. All the guests raved about it as well.
As for desserts, we decided to pick three different kinds of pies instead of serving cake, and the flavors we selected—pumpkin, apple, and pecan—fit into our country fall theme. We still wanted to do a traditional cake cutting, however, so we got a small pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing that was just for us to cut. For the cake topper, I came up with the idea of using a picture frame topper so that I could include pictures of Matt and I eating cake on our first birthdays.
What was your first dance song?
Our first dance was to “First Dance” by Corey Smith. Matt and I went to see Corey Smith, a country rock singer, in concert at the 9:30 Club in D.C. the year before the wedding, and we quickly became fans. I went on iTunes the day after the concert to download more of his music, and that’s when I came across this song. Tears started flowing as I listened to the lyrics, because they were perfect for the occasion, and Matt and I both had such a fun shared experience watching Corey’s live performance. I knew it would be our first dance song the second I heard it, and Matt loved it as well. By the time of the wedding, we knew all the words, which made the dance even more fun and entertaining to watch.
How did you make your exit?
We decided to do our exit at the church so that all of our guests could enjoy it. We got cowboy boot bubbles and handed those out as people were walking into the church for the ceremony. It ended up being the perfect fall day (70 degrees and sunny), so the bubble exit worked well. Another reason why we didn’t do the exit after the reception was because we decided to have an organized after party for guests so that we could spend more time with them. We all stayed at a hotel just a few blocks from the reception and met everyone at the restaurant bar next door.
Did you experience any disasters/calamities leading up to the wedding or on the day itself that you can laugh about now?
We were very blessed in that everything went smoothly on the wedding day. The main hiccup was that my niece, the flower girl, didn’t get a nap. She’s two years old, and she did not want to put on her dress. She threw a fit, and I thought she just wasn’t going to be in the wedding. But my preacher’s wife performed a miracle and brought her out dressed up just in time for a few pictures. Then she fell asleep in my arms, and my sister carried her down the aisle. I’m just so happy that she could be a part of our big day, and I know we’ll continue to joke about her sleeping down the aisle as she gets older.
What were your favorite moments of the day?
1. The feeling I had looking in the mirror after my hair and makeup were done—that was the first time I actually felt like a bride. My hair and makeup team did such a wonderful job.
2. When a huge bug flew out of my dress in the bridal room at the church. Matt and I had gone out to the woods for our first-look photos, and I picked up a little visitor from our adventure.
3. Teaching Matt’s mom how to “Wobble” in the bridal room before the ceremony.
4. The moments just before I walked down the aisle with my dad. I had some time to reflect on all the many blessings in my life, and to really soak in the moment with one of my lifelong friends, Kara, who was one of my bridesmaids.
5. Looking out into the crowd and seeing the faces of those who have impacted our lives throughout the years all in one place together.
6. Listening to my pastor reflect on my baptism, which he conducted when I was 10 years old, during the ceremony and hearing our soloist sing my favorite worship song, “In Christ Alone.”
7. Hanging out on the limo bus right after the ceremony. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders; all the planning was over, and it was time to just sit back, have fun, and really enjoy all the planning that Matt and I did for our big day.
8. Our first dance. We just winged it, but many people thought we choreographed it. I was a dancer growing up, so I enjoyed doing our dance on a stage.
9. Listening to the toasts—they were all incredible and meant so much to us.
What kind of advice would you offer to future brides?
Regardless of your budget, hire a videographer! It wasn’t in my budget, but I decided to hire one about a month before the wedding. I found a videographer who only films weddings as a hobby, and I was able to get a great rate. It was definitely worth every penny; we’ve watched the video many times already, and we’ve given extra copies to family members as gifts.
The most important part of wedding planning is vendor selection. While it may seem tedious to spend time researching venues and calling references, if you select the right vendors, everything will fall into place much easier. It took us a few months to decide on a venue, and it was frustrating after a few venues fell through, but the time we put into it paid off in the end when we found the perfect venue that exceeded our expectations and provided us with a vendor list for many other services (e.g., DJ, hotel accommodations, etc.).
Make timelines and checklists for the important people. I created timelines and checklists for each important person/group participating in the wedding. There was a master list for me, a list for the wedding party, a list for my day-of-coordinator, a list for the DJ, and a list for the photographer. It may sound crazy now, but the days leading up to the wedding go by so fast, and it’s very easy to forget things when you’re in the moment and focused on other things. You’ll want to focus your time on your groom, family, and friends, not logistics.
Photography: Rebekah Hoyt / Videography: Brad Freitas / Ceremony Venue: First Baptist Church of Alexandria / Reception venue: Carlyle Club / Event design: Bride (Amanda Kiely) / Day-of coordinator: Audrey Davidson (pastor’s wife) / Flowers: Free Spirit Floral / Catering: Carlyle Club / Cake and pies: Amphora Bakery / Officiant: Pastor Don Davidson / DJ: Scott West of Soundwaves DJs / Transportation: Reston Limo / Hair: PR at Partners Salon and Spa / Makeup: Lorna Basse / Bride’s dress and veil: Allure Bridals, purchased at Katherine’s Bridal Boutique / Bride’s boots: W. J. Colt / Bride’s necklace: Father’s mother’s engagement ring on a pendant / Bride’s earrings and bracelet: Macy’s / Wedding rings: Ascot Diamonds / Bridesmaid dresses: Liz Fields, purchased at Ann’s Boutique / Groom’s and groomsmen’s attire: Savvi by Sarno & Son / Invitations: Ashley Elizabeth Designs via Zazzle / Favors: Cowboy boot koozies
This wedding was submitted via Two Bright Lights.