Gracie Withers Photography is based in Loudoun County, Virginia.

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Our Wedding | Stoke Farm | Middleburg, VA


I planned on getting this post out a couple of weeks ago and actually started writing it. I was going to talk all about wedding planning, how’s it been going, what we are most looking forward to, and chatting all about our vendors. Guess what? I am STILL doing that! However, since things have taken a turn over the last few weeks, I am going to be shouting out our vendors even more and even including those who we looked at for our wedding. I strongly believe that during this time, small business like these need all the shout outs they can get!

I am not going to allow the craziness of everything to sadden me or bum me out, but it is simply a little more challenging these days. I am still so incredibly excited about our wedding day SO below, you will find all of the vendors who will be a part of it, links to their website, my top tips when planning a wedding, the talks to have with your fiancé before you get started planning, AND all of the incredible engagement photos that Compass Studios took for us!

I am going to preface this and say, I am not going to be talking about the coronavirus and the unfortunate circumstances that have evolved from it. I am going to focus on our wedding planning and some amazing small business that I truly love. Plus, all of the good that will still come out of this crazy situation. I’m calling it the light at the end of the tunnel!

I will also say (because I know people are wondering) that as of right now, our wedding is still on! Our date is May 9, 2020 and I’m sure some of our guests will stumble upon this so I also wanted to start off with that news. As you can imagine, we have had many more wedding discussions over the last week and the next couple weeks will be extremely critical and telling for what our final decision will be. We have shared an update on our wedding website so if you’re a guest and would like to check out those details, please do!

Photographer & Videographer | Compass Studios

Most likely this won’t surprise you with the fact that I am starting with this vendor. I started looking at photographers a year and a half before our wedding date. Granted, we did get engaged in July of 2018 but still! This is obviously something that is incredibly important to me as a fellow wedding photographer but it was super interesting being on this side of the situation. I would also like to mention that I hadn’t thought for a second about who would photograph my wedding before we got engaged. Even though I have been photographing weddings for years, this hadn’t crossed my mind so I have done a lot of research on this! Now, we were pretty certain that we wanted a videographer BUT it did depend if we could find someone in our budget. I did find some other fellow videographers that I had worked with, that fit in our budget and who we really liked!

I was actually told about Compass Studios from a planner named Samantha who I worked a wedding with at Mt. Ida. She mentioned them when I told her we were looking for a videographer and when I went to their website, I saw they also did photography. I was absolutely intrigued and also saw that it was a husband and wife team, which I loved! Looking at their galleries, reading their reviews, and watching wedding videos, it seemed like a great fit for us. We of course wanted to set up a time to meet Katie and Ryan in person before making a final decision but we knew after meeting them that this was it! They actually had recently gotten married in the fall so it was fun hearing about their wedding day. They love animals, I’m obsessed with the videos and pictures Katie shares of their pets on instagram, they love hiking, they’re easy going, and simply our kind of people who we could sit and talk with for hours. Ryan and Dan love chatting disc golf, and I love asking Katie questions about their cats and their real estate photography life! We are beyond excited to have these two be a part of our wedding day!!!

I also want to shout out these other talented photographer and videographers who we also looked at: The Mullins Photo Co, Massei Photography, Laurentina Photography, Harrison Films, Silver Streak Media, and Ryann Winn Photography! At the end of the day, you have to go with the fit that is best for you and your fiancé!

Catering | Back Street Catering

Tutti Perricone has been a talented caterer for many years and as a kid, I remember going to events in Middleburg where Back Street Catering was always providing the delicious food. You would usually be surprised if you saw someone else catering all of the events in town. She also had a cafe in Middleburg called Back Street Cafe and she now focuses on serving food at other places in Middleburg, as well as events and weddings in the area. Tutti was incredibly flexible and helpful when we came up with the menu for our wedding. We wanted to incorporate some of our favorite foods and meals that Dan and I like to cook together, which she easily helped us with. She also provided her expertise on how to create the entrees, sides, and the cocktail hour menu.

We also did a tasting with Smokin’ Willy’s in Purcellville and looked into Dizzy Cow Pizzeria (pizza truck). Both amazing options!

Music | Cedar Creek

I actually watched Cedar Creek perform at a wedding I photographed a few years ago. The main thing I remember about them was that it was such a fun party, which was exactly what Dan and I wanted. We knew from the start that we wanted a band, mainly because we just love the atmosphere when we have seen bands at weddings. The search for this vendor was probably the toughest because many bands we looked at were out of our budget. We did look in depth at The Excellent Drivers, Half Pint Harry, Bachelor Boys Band, and even some smaller 2-3 person bands. These were a couple of bands that were legitimate options for us because we liked the music, the people, and they were within our budget. We went with Cedar Creek because we both love the music they play and after our first call with the lead singer Danny, it was a no brainer that we wanted them to be a part of our wedding!

Venue | Stoke Farm

Our venue is a family friend’s home and while they used to host weddings there regularly, it is not considered an official wedding venue like many places in the area. It is basically a back yard wedding and Stoke Farm is a family owned property that is absolutely beautiful (see a couple photos below). My parents live just a couple of miles from it and they actually celebrated their wedding reception at this very place 35 years ago. Stoke Farm also hosts a large Jazz party every other year that we as a family have been going to ever since I was a little one.

Stoke is an incredibly special to us and it’s one of those places where it’s just naturally beautiful that you don’t have to dress it up too much. For example, we aren’t having too much decor to set up for the wedding because of this. There’s a boxwood maze, stone water features, and so many beautiful gardens across the property. To be honest, this was the only place we looked at for our wedding venue, and we couldn’t be happier! Not only is it close to our home but it’s a couple miles away from my parent’s house, and the entire bridal party will be able to get ready on the property.

Rentals | Jefferson Rentals

Since this is basically a back yard wedding, we have to bring in the tent, tables, chairs, linens, bathrooms, etc. I looked at a lot of rental companies and not only was Jefferson Rentals the most reasonably priced, but their website was also super easy to navigate. Once I reached out to them, I told them what we needed, and they sent a detailed document with the options and pricing that worked for the size of our wedding. Every phone call and email with someone from Jefferson Rentals has been an easy conversation and I highly recommend this company out of West Virginia!

We also looked at Capital Party Rentals, Sammy’s rentals, Gibson Rental, and Brooks Rental Center.

We are also using some plates and decorative items from my mom’s antique show, Mercer Tavern Antiques in Aldie, Virginia.

Dessert | LillyBird Baking

If you know me, you know that my sister is LillyBird Baking :). Dan and I are not doing a traditional cake cutting and in the beginning we actually looked at dessert trucks like Moo Thru, Captain Cookie Milkman, and Scoops2U. All of these dessert trucks were excellent choices and they all had amazing options so if you are looking for a dessert truck for your wedding, I would definitely check them out! For us, my sister Lilly offered to take care of the dessert for us and honestly, with how talented she is, it was hard to pass that up. She is an incredibly talented baker and you should check out her Instagram to see some of the amazing desserts and specialty cookies she makes (@LillyBirdBaking). Not only does everything she make look really good, but it’s all just delicious! For our wedding, Lilly is putting together a cookie sandwich bar 🙂

Dress, Hair, & Make-Up

I got my dress from Vivid Bridal Boutique in Woodbridge and I actually went there because they were having a trunk show of the dress designer I potentially wanted. Everyone there was super nice to work with and I highly recommend dress shopping there! I also tried on dresses at La Reve in Leesburg.

Dina from Dare to Dream Hair is doing my hair and she actually did my hair for a styled shoot I was in in the fall of 2018. She is super talented, laid back, easy-going, truly my kind of person to work with and I’m so excited to have her a part of our day! I also looked at these other talented make-up and hair stylists; Best Face Forward, Sasha Hickerson, Ashley Frost, and Hair by Katelyn.

My friend Anika is doing my make-up and I actually did my trial with her a couple of weeks ago and I love what she did. It’s perfect for me and exactly what I was hoping for! She’s an incredibly talented make-up artist and photographer! You can find her on instagram at @anikametcalf

Save the Dates & Invitations

We ordered our Save the Dates from Vistaprint (no joke). We didn’t use a template, ended up customizing them ourselves and they turned out amazing! We ordered our invitations from Shutterfly, i’m pretty obsessed with them, and I will definitely be framing some of them. With the coupon codes we found, we were able to save a lot of money on both of these items!

As our officiant, we have Dan’s close family friend Jim performing our ceremony. He has been a best friend of the family for a long time and from the beginning, we knew that we wanted someone who we were close with. We know he is going to provide the perfect combination of emotion, comedy, and sentiment for our ceremony and we cannot wait!

Dan and I really prioritized the aspects that were most important to us for our wedding and we definitely feel like we achieved that with everyone that we found above! We have also been very cost conscious for our wedding and are keeping it pretty simple. We are sticking with the essentials and while yes we spent a lot of time doing research, it was absolutely worth it to find all of these vendors! When planning your wedding, here are some of my recommendations…

  • do what you want to do!
  • don’t incorporate something into your wedding just because you saw it on Pinterest or just because you saw it at a friend’s wedding – incorporate the people and the things that YOU want to have a part of your day!
  • talk about what you want to prioritize
  • do all the research you can!
  • if you’re looking at bands, try and see them live – we did that with two of the bands we looked at
  • to try and save money, don’t be afraid to look at vendors who don’t specialize in weddings or who aren’t super local.

Couples and friends working on their upcoming wedding plans during this time, we got this! There is a light at the end of the tunnel and here’s to having an amazing wedding day! Thanks for reading friends!

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  1. Jennifer says:

    I love these tips! They are awesome. I want to know where you took your engagement pictures. It’s amazing!

  2. Karen Caffi-Lalle says:

    My daughter is getting married at stoke farm next May. We have used your blog as a jumping off point looking for vendors. Thank you so much for writing this. With that said, we are struggling with accommodations for the guests. You dont mention anything about where people stayed. I wonder if you could share your experience with finding accommodations