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Destination I Do
Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Married In Mount Ida

Words by Candice Maniga
Photos courtesy of Amanda McMahon

David and Amanda, having spent the first year of their relationship as a long-distance couple, are no strangers to traveling. The two would stay at bed and breakfasts in northern Virginia and spend Saturdays exploring the wineries the state had to offer. Amanda credited those small getaways from Washington D.C. to be some of their “most memorable weekends,” so it was no surprise when they chose Charlottesville, Virginia, to be the location for their most memorable moment yet.

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The couple started out looking at 137 venues in Virginia, narrowing it down to seven within the week and touring the final three with the bride’s parents a week later. They found touring to be the hardest part of the planning process because in writing, the remaining venues all seemed to be perfect for similar reasons, but had blatant differences in-person.

“Some venues felt too much like a conference hall or didn’t feel warm and inviting,” they explained. “We wanted to feel like we were the only ones there…at peace and completely undistracted by the outside world.” They chose Mount Ida Farm, a venue which they said “truly spoke” to them, and guests later said was a clear reflection of David and Amanda as a couple, as well as individuals.

To ensure the venue felt more familiar than foreign, David and Amanda used do-it-yourself projects to personalize their wedding. The bride and groom share a love for literature, so they chose to decorate the reception hall by displaying their favorite quotes in vintage frames. “During our long-distance dating, we often left little love notes to each other in our luggage,” Amanda said. The two found a way to recreate those memories and include their wedding guests by having a table where guests would find a framed story of their tradition with their own personalized ‘love notes.’

“They were encouraged to keep their note, but replace it in the envelope with one of their own, giving us their best advice for a long and happy marriage.” Guests placed their notes in a vintage mailbox Amanda had found in an antique store in northern Virginia. David and Amanda also had a travel table at their wedding, which consisted of photos of their favorite trips as an ode to starting out as a long-distance relationship. It was also a coy reminder that their wedding was another trip to add to the list. 

Because the couple’s family and friends live all over the map, they knew traveling would have been unavoidable. “Unless we had the wedding in either of our hometowns in Pennsylvania or Connecticut, all of our guests would have to travel in order to attend.” The couple visited the local visitors bureau to create welcome bags filled with items like informational booklets and coupons to ensure guests felt at home in Mount Ida.

Although their wedding took place in late August, most of the planning in winter meant having to cancel meetings due to heavy snowstorms and jam-packed planning trips with back-to-back vendor meetings.

To avoid as many traveling issues as possible, the bride and groom created a wedding website with detailed driving instructions, reserved blocks at two hotels and provided information on the nearest airports and other hotel options. Lastly, they hired two large shuttles to transport guests from their hotels to the ceremony.

Unfortunately, health and mobility prevented some older family members from attending, but the couple said that would have been a factor no matter the location and felt they got much more out of their location than they would have at home.

Amanda found that having a wedding outside the city meant paying less for vendors, rentals and food, thus spending more money where they wanted. During the planning process, they used Microsoft Excel to keep detailed notes of their conversations and ideas with vendors.

David and Amanda powered through planning by staying organized and on the same page to divide and conquer. “As a couple, we used an app to track our to-do lists and were able to make notes and share information throughout the day as we made calls or signed contracts.” When it came to communicating with vendors, they took notes on their phone calls and used a joint email account to prevent emails from getting lost in their personal inboxes, sometimes even getting on Skype if they were unable to meet in-person for later discussions. Their tactics proved useful for more than just the wedding planning: “We still use the joint email to this day.” 

While destination weddings can take quite a bit more planning, we asked Amanda how her wedding would have been different if it were near their home in Washington, D.C.

“Our wedding would have been completely different - different venue, different feel, different everything - and it would not have been the wedding we had wanted.” Pleased with how her destination wedding went from the planning process to the big day, we asked Amanda to share her secret to a successful destination wedding.

“Stay organized…let your wedding mirror the personalities of both of you. At the end of the day, it is your wedding - don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!”

Vendors: Photographer: Amanda McMahon, Videographer: Doug Stanford, Wedding Planner: Samantha Ehredt of Best Day Ever Events, Ceremony/Reception Site: Mount Ida Farm, Florist: Hedge Fine Blooms, Cake: Sweet Haus, Organic Apple Cider Donuts by Carpe Donut, Hair & Makeup: Hair by Chris Nusz, Makeup by BRIDEface Richmond, Stationery: Wedding Paper Divas, Lighting/Draping: MS Events, Quartet: Plum Blossom Quartet

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