From our stay in the elegant Queen’s Suite to a royal ride in the Queen’s carriage—my wedding at the Williamsburg Inn was a real-life fairy tale. Colonial Williamsburg provided a truly unforgettable backdrop for one of the biggest days of my life and I’m so excited to be able to share some of those highlights with you!
Not even the lingering summer humidity could take away from the enchanting setting (and sweet moments like this with our ring bearers and flower girl). Together, my wedding planner and officiant (both childhood friends!) worked with the Inn’s event coordinator Michele DeRosa to map out the plan for the next day. Guests would arrive through the front lobby before being escorted through the back terrace and around the corner to be seated.
After running through the logistics of the ceremony, it was time to really start the festivities. And what better place for a rehearsal dinner than Shields Tavern, just a short walk away in the heart of the Historic Area?
As soon as we walked through the gate, our friends and family could tell it was going to be a truly one-of-a-kind evening. Balladeers greeted us with lilting tunes of the 18th century and the smell of slow-cooked barbecue, hickory-baked chicken, and country baked beans filled the air.
Tim and I were excited the skies had cleared enough for us to serve everything in the picnic area and not have to move inside. It made for a very romantic, and intimate setting where loved ones could give toasts, mingle, and grab one of CW’s special historic brews from AleWerks.
As editor of our Making History Blog, I’m lucky to have sampled the work of our tavern chefs over the years, but even I wasn’t prepared for the delicious spread Chef Tony and his crew put together. Highlights included Tavern Baked Creamy Macaroni & Cheese (topped with herb seasoned breading), Mason Jar Apple Cobblers, and Fresh Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Whipped Cream.
Not only did the chefs capture all of my favorite flavors of fall, but finally, even Mother Nature seemed to cave to our whims. As the sun set around us, the night began to cool and we spent the next several hours laughing with loved ones by the light of the lanterns.
It was official; our wedding weekend was off to an amazing start.
The next morning, my sister and I were up bright and early with a special delivery from Chef Melissa Alexander. The amazing spread presented and displayed in our bridal suite was just a taste of what was to come. I was incredibly touched by the lavender-infused water she sent to ease my nerves along with a sweet card signed by all of the chefs. This is exactly the type of southern hospitality you can expect from all of the staff at the Williamsburg Inn.
Everyone who stepped foot in the room gasped in awe and amazement at the classic beauty that surrounded us. If you’re getting married anywhere in Williamsburg, I highly recommend you book the Queen’s Suite for your bridal party.
The elaborate wallpapers, swooping drapes, and ornate southern furniture and fixtures make the perfect backdrop for capturing those behind-the-scenes moments as you’re getting ready. One of my favorite images from the entire day was taken by our amazing photographer Lisa Martin Lee. That’s my mother sitting in front of the window, the light cascading over her. I get teary eyed every time I look at it.
And then there’s this picture of my sweet flower girl Sarah. You can see the innocence and anticipation captured in this simple shot. It was Sarah’s first wedding and she was completely captivated by the pomp and circumstance of getting ready for her big role.
While the women were upstairs getting pampered and sipping on cocktails, the men were downstairs in the Restoration Bar enjoying champagne and getting their bow ties and socks just right. The socks were one of the gifts to our groomsmen. The bridesmaids received vintage broaches added to the autumn bouquets by Williamsburg Floral.
There are definitely several amazing locations for pictures at the Inn including the library just past the lobby, and the sitting areas leading to the East Lounge. You can’t go wrong with getting interior shots of your wedding party and family (no matter the season), so make sure you scope out the area with your photographer in advance of your big day!
One of my favorite moments was an unexpected one. As I was getting my hair done, I learned Liberty had stopped by to say hello. After getting some love from Tim and his parents, she made her way up to the bridal suite to check in on the ladies. It definitely made my heart smile to see her and her handler Taylor walk through the door.
Finally…. the time came to take the elevator down to the first floor to line up for the wedding. The staff did a great job of keeping Tim and me apart (we opted not to do a first look) so that the moment I walked down the aisle was the first time he saw me in my gown.
My dress was extremely sentimental as it was the same one my oma wore in 1955 when she married my opa in Germany. Fashion designer and alterations guru Bishay Wang was able to use the delicate material and give it a modern twist including a beautiful belt gifted to me by my mother as my “something new.”
While the sky had been overcast all day leading up to the ceremony, as soon as guests started to arrive, the clouds cleared and the sun shined down over us all. I honestly thought Tim would be the emotional one but I was the one who had to keep wiping away my tears.
In addition to signing the guest book and taking advantage of the apple cider and American Heritage hot chocolate—we also asked our friends and family to participate in a ring warming ceremony. If you haven’t heard of this ritual, it is an opportunity for your guests to pray over and bless your wedding bands so that when you exchange vows, you are also accepting the love and support of the most important people in your lives.
The other unique addition to our ceremony was a wine time capsule. Both Tim and I are somewhat of wine connoisseurs and loved being able to incorporate our shared passion into both our ceremony and reception.
We wrote letters to each other which we sealed in a custom wine box with a bottle of one of our favorite wines to open on our one year anniversary.
The wine theme didn’t stop there! The Inn had the grand idea of turning our cocktail hour into a wine tasting. We met with the Sommelier Mike Harper a couple months before our wedding and he paired some amazing and unique selections with each of our delicious hors d’oeuvres. One of our favorites was the Boursin-Braised Beef Short Rib in a Tart Shell served with a glass of Brancnia Tre.
As our guests were enjoying the pairings, Tim and I were taking an intimate carriage ride through the Historic Area in our first moments as husband and wife. I’m so glad we took this time to ourselves before rejoining our loved ones. We think every bride and groom in Williamsburg should take advantage of this offering. The director of Coach & Livestock will work closely with the Inn to make these rides beautiful and intimate. And oh yeah, did I mention the Queen rode in this same carriage when she visited? What an honor!
The transition from the wine tasting to the reception was done in true Colonial fashion. We had Fifers and a Drummer announce the plan as they escorted everyone outside to the next chapter in our celebration.
All of the fun details and moments were leading up to the grand finale… which magically unfolded in the Regency Room. After our wedding party announcements, everyone was seated to enjoy delicious food and crooning from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Perry Como.
This is by far one of the most elegant and beautiful rooms in all of Colonial Williamsburg and the staff truly outdid themselves. Led by Chef Melissa Alexander, the team presented the most heavenly samplings. I can’t tell you how many guests stopped us to compliment the food and tell us it was the best they’d had at any wedding. One of my personal favorites was the Butternut Squash Crema with Cavaetilli Pasta and Ricotta, garnished with pumpkin seeds and a port wine reduction. Tim and I love food almost as much as we like wine so we knew we wanted the very best which is why we chose this venue and our award-winning chefs.
We were very thankful that the staff made sure to plate a little of everything so that Tim and I could enjoy the evening too. One of the perks of booking your wedding with Colonial Williamsburg is that the chefs will also do an elaborate and elegant tasting ahead of your big day so we already knew to expect great things!
Throughout the reception, you could see the special touches added by the Inn staff including the gorgeous chocolate plates that included inspirational quotes and fun sayings about our relationship.
And then, of course, there was our cake topper incorporating not just our love of wine but our three pups too! In my wildest dreams, I didn’t anticipate how well they would capture our love story.
We wanted our favors to be special too. In addition to our boxes of homemade chocolates and custom table cards made from champagne cages—we also had a basket of Raleigh Tavern gingerbread cakes for guests to take home.
The evening ended with s’mores on the back terrace and one of my favorite shots taken by a friend looking from the outside in at all the fun. It was such a special moment where we were able to reflect on what an amazing day/night our wedding turned out to be. If you look closely, you can see people still having fun on the dance floor, others laughing at their tables, and some taking pictures—so many pictures! I’ve included some more of our favorites from Lisa Martin Lee in a slideshow to showcase the beauty of our special day from beginning to end. We hope you enjoy.
Now, I suppose I should change my byline before I publish this! #WauhoppilyEverAfter
COMPLETE LIST OF VENDORS
(it takes a village…)
Wedding Day Food, Wine & Cake lovingly prepared by the Williamsburg Inn
Rehearsal Dinner Food, Drinks, Dessert & Entertainment presented by Shields Tavern
Ginger Cakes Baked Fresh by Raleigh Tavern Bakery
Wedding Moments captured by Lisa Martin Lee
Rehearsal Dinner captured by Blink of an Eye Photography
Wedding Gown designed by Bridal Alterations and Bishay Wang
Horse & Carriage Ride coordinated through Colonial Williamsburg Coach & Livestock and Williamsburg Inn
Flowers and Centerpieces designed by Williamsburg Floral and Gifts
Ceremony & Reception audio and music done by the amazingly talented Howie Alexander from Colonial DJs
Wedding Coordinator: Amanda Addison Dent
Officiant: Christina Everman
Decorations from Tim & Jess’ bridal party