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A Dreamy Private Estate Wedding Full of Sweet Personal Details

July 19, 2018

There’s something so magical about a wedding that the bride and groom pour their whole hearts into. This is one of those weddings. Mary Shea and Nick had so many beautiful + personal details wrapped into their wedding day, that it’s hard to decide where to begin! The stationery, the grooms gift, the dress, the family property–the list goes on! We can’t even handle all this pretty, just wait until you see what I mean…

From the bride, Mary Shea: Save the Dates | For the save the dates, we took a picture of a big, 6-foot oil painting Nick painted for my parents that is in their living room. The painting is of the view from my grandparents home on the Corsica River in Centreville — which is where we had our reception! We had a wonderful printmaker, Jodi Bortz of Blue Canary Letterpress in Chestertown, turn Nick’s beautiful painting into a letterpress print for the save the dates. The same printmaker helped us with the invites. For those, Nick’s mother Jackie, who is an oil painter, painted a beautiful, abstract, floral-inspired watercolor for us. Since it was such special artwork, Jodi helped us design a unique envelope with a rectangle window that showcased Jackie’s artwork on the front, and opened up to the wedding details. Jodi sealed the invites’ envelopes for us using a VW (Valliant and Watson — not Volkswagen ) seal and wax that we found in an adorable shop while we were in Venice, Italy!

Wedding Dress | A Bedford, Virginia-based seamstress named Carissa Suter of The Gilded Thimble helped me re-design my mom’s wedding dress from 1984. We kept the bodice portion very much the same, except for cutting off her very 80s-inspired poofy sleeves. I had always envisioned a more full ballgown-esque skirt on my wedding dress, and since my mom’s dress was tea-length, we had some work to do on the skirt. So, we visited Church Street Bridal in Lynchburg, Virginia (which was founded by the YWCA of Central VA and raises funds for programs benefitting women and children. Big name wedding dress designers donate tons of dresses there.), and found a skirt that looked like it was MADE for the dress. My ceremony dress was my something old and something new. My something borrowed was the beautiful set of pearl drop earrings from Nick’s mom, and something blue were my shoes from Ma Petite Shoe in Baltimore. My reception dress was the Grace Loves Lace dress I intended to wear on the beach in Culebra — I bought over a year before our wedding was planned to be held in Culebra, so I was sitting on it for quite some time! It is so light and flowy and comfortable, so with temperatures and humidity soaring the day of the wedding, it was a perfect dancing dress.

Ceremony & Reception Location | St. Paul’s Parish has been my family’s church for generations. About two weeks before my wedding, I was at St. Paul’s to say goodbye to my grandmother at her memorial. Six months before that, I was there for my grandfather’s memorial. While I had hoped desperately that they would be at the wedding and would enjoy the reception at their home, the world had other plans. Since we had such a cold winter, all of the wild rhododendrons and azaleas bloomed JUST in time for the wedding — normally they would have been spent by then. I like to think that we had two angels looking down on us, making sure everything was just perfect. My brothers and I grew up spending much of our summers and holiday dinners at that property. It will always hold a very special place in all of our hearts. The Rt. Reverend James Shand has also known my family for more than thirty years! He is actually retired, so we were touched that he performed the ceremony.

Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands | My engagement ring was also given to us by my mom — parts of it were from her engagement ring. We had the help of Andrew Minton Jewelers and with Nick’s artistic eye, they remade it into a new design that was exactly what I had dreamed of. With the help of a Charlottesville jewelry maker named Mia van Beek of Formia Design, I made a beautiful necklace for my mom that reincorporated pieces of her original engagement ring. She waited until my wedding day to wear that necklace for the first time! For my wedding ring, I again went to Mia. I had Nick draw a bunch of floral designs, and gave those sketches to Mia. She then hand-engraved a white gold band with Nick’s drawings. It is so special and unique and an otherworldly perfect match to my engagement ring! Since Nick is a knifemaker, he went to a knifemaker named David Parums for help in designing a custom ring for him. It fits his tastes and talent SO well!

Nick’s Gifts | Nick is a knifemaker and it’s his dream job. So, I wanted to give him his dream knife — but I had no idea where to start… He has very specific tastes and does all the cooking in our house — suffice it to say I know far less about cooking and knives than I should! So, I talked to his bosses at Monolith Knives, and had them make up a fake client who asked Nick to build his dream knife. Which is exactly what Nick did! He came home every day from work talking about this special knife with a really unique design (the handle is from old Martin Guitar wood, he hand-forged the blade, and designed it with a special grind that doesn’t let food stick to the blade), and I was hoping desperately that this was the knife intended for him — which it was! He was so surprised to see it come back to him, and now uses it every day. He also loves fancy cars from any era, and I surprised him with a ride in the GORGEOUS 1950s Rolls Royce. What a treat! Major props to my wedding planner Paige and Jack from Concours Vintage Limo for hooking us up in style!

Wedding Florals | My parents’ dear friend and incredibly talented floral designer Sue Hansen did my bouquet and the stunning table arrangements. I loved the mix of long florals on the farm-style head tables, and tall florals on the other round tables (they were actually in birdbaths!). I especially loved the florals hanging over the dance floor, the floating candles and flower petals in the pool and the hanging florals around the poolhouse. My bridesmaids actually made their own bouquets with the help of Murdoch Florists in Centreville (that was Sue’s fabulous idea for a fun pre-wedding activity). They also made wristlets for my mom and Nick’s mom and grandmother, and boutonnieres for the groomsmen, my dad, Nick’s dad and grandfather. And they made a lovely hairpiece for me!

Reception Menu |Local, local, local! Nick and I always try to buy local in Charlottesville, so we took that mentality right to the Shore — and why wouldn’t we?! It’s the best food in the world! We love Chef Dave Perry of Casual Caterers, and he put together an entirely local menu for us — he even caught the ENORMOUS rockfish he served at the wedding a day or two before, in a kayak right near his home on Love Point! We also went local with the beer — Bull & Goat Brewery in Centreville supplied it for us and got rave reviews from all of our guests. The Winery in Chester helped us pick out our wine — which, funnily enough, comes from the island of CORSICA in Italy (our reception was held on the Corsica River)! Graul’s made our wedding cake and these adorable mini Smith Island style cakes we served at each table — those were a HUGE hit and we had NO leftovers of either!!

Decor | My mom found all of the silver candelabras featured at the head and family tables at Crumpton Auction (Eastern Shore folks will know this!) and re-polished it back to its former glory. We also used all of her crystal glasses at the head table, and incorporate both of our families’ wedding photos in the screen porch guests first walked into after arriving at the location. We again had Jodi Bortz‘ printmaking help in creating lovely signs for the table seating, the bar, and various food stations. The table seating cards were hung on a Moroccan screen I’ve always admired of my parents’ and that used to belong to my Great Aunt Alice! We again incorporated our Venetian seal on the table cards, and also a beautiful NM crest that Nick’s mom designed for us on the signs and party cups. Of course we to incorporate our pup Coosa somehow, so he made an appearance on our Etsy-found cake toppers. Nick designed and made the cake knife from reclaimed copper, and laser printed a “W” on it that his mom drew for us.


Photography | Heather Dodge Photography
Ceremony | St. Paul’s Parish
Reception | Family Home of Bride’s Grandparents
Planner | Paige Evans
Rentals | Ebb Tide Tent & Party Rentals
Rolls Royce Getaway Car | Concours Vintage Limo
Dessert | Graul’s Bakery
Florals | Sue Hansen, Walter and Queen Annes Garden ClubMurdoch Florists
Catering | Dave Perry Casual Caterers
Reception Bar | The WineryBull & Goat Brewery
Cake Toppers | Lovecats Cake Toppers
Second Shooter | Emily Brianne Photography
Videography | Brian Morrison, WoodRoom Cinema
Hair & Makeup | Behind the Veil Beauty
Entertainment | The Bachelor Boys
Invitations | Jodi Bortz, Blue Canary Letterpress
Invitation Artwork | Jackie Watson
Reception Signs | Blue Canary Letterpress, Flora South Designs
Wedding Dress | The Gilded Thimble
Reception Dress | Grace Loves Lace
Bridal Shoes | Ma Petite Shoe
Grooms Attire | J.Hilburn
Groomsmen Attire | Bonobos & BHLDN
Bride’s Engagement Ring | Andrew Minton Jewelers
Bride’s Wedding Ring | Formia Design
Groom’s Wedding Ring | David Parums Design
Groom’s Wedding Gift | Monolith Knives
Shuttle Bus Transportation | Limousines Inc.

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