For our second wedding of 2018, we traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia the first weekend of September to see one of H’s best friends get married. Despite the buckets of rain that fell throughout the weekend and realizing the week before that the dress I had planned on wearing wouldn’t work, it was a perfect country garden wedding and I pulled together a fabulous wedding weekend wardrobe.
The Week Before
The bride and groom met at UVA, so they decided to have the wedding in Charlottesville. I assumed that the wedding would have a bohemian vineyard vibe, so I planned to wear the same long gingham gown I wore to my cousin’s rehearsal dinner in Virginia Beach. The week before the wedding, H heard what I was planning on wearing and told me to research the venue, which I found out was a colonial-era mansion with an upscale English garden feel. I panicked, realizing that everyone would be wearing cocktail dresses, and rush ordered a new dress, hoping it would fit. It was sold out in navy, of course, so I ordered it in light pink.
I rushed home from work on Friday to try on the new dress, which had arrived that day, minutes before H would pick me up to leave for the wedding. The dress fit perfectly, but the blush color was much lighter than it looked online—dangerous territory for a wedding guest. I didn’t have time to decide whether it would work or not, so I packed it, along with a backup dress, and ran downstairs to meet H.
For the car trip Friday, I wore the outfit I had worn to work—a lavender polo shirt, light wash jeans, and Sperry topsiders—which had the same preppy Southern vibe as the other outfits I had brought for the weekend. Two of H’s other childhood friends were riding with us to Charlottesville, so the car was pretty full. I squeezed my L.L. Bean duffel bag and Lilly train case into the trunk and we were off. We hit a little bit of traffic heading out of town, but we barely noticed because we were busy listening to our wedding weekend playlist and swapping stories.
We stayed at the Graduate Charlottesville, which is on the Corner near UVA’s campus. We’ve stayed at the Graduate before and loved it—it’s decorated like a cozy hunting lodge, with plaid carpet, wood paneling, and paintings of foxhunting. That night, we walked to a quick dinner on the Corner and then headed to the wedding venue for the post-rehearsal cocktail party.
The cocktail party was our first glimpse of the Clifton Inn, a plantation house that had been beautifully redone as a bed and breakfast and event venue. We chatted with even more of H’s childhood friends who were there, and, of course, the bride and groom and their families. I also got my chance to ask the maid of honor about the wedding dress to gauge whether I could wear the blush dress—I was relieved to find out the bride’s gown wasn’t the same style or color as my blush wedding guest dress. The party was mainly on the huge back deck, but we also explored the gigantic formal living room, dining room that could easily seat thirty, and library (perfect for secret rendezvous).
For Friday night, I wore this crisp sleeveless gingham dress with inverted box pleats and simple gold sandals. I had briefly considered wearing this dress to the wedding but decided it was too casual. My outfit was perfect for the post-rehearsal party, but we went to Biltmore on the Corner afterwards and I felt SO OLD at a table next to a bunch of 19-year-olds wearing crop tops. (Note: My observations of Gen Z tell me that the nineties are officially back.)
The next morning, we went to Bodo’s for bagels, something H and I love to do anytime we even drive through Charlottesville. Afterwards, we walked over to UVA’s campus and explored the Rotunda and the lawn. Most of the time September in Charlottesville is oppressively hot and humid, but Saturday was blissfully cool and cloudy. I wore a comfortable outfit for our daytime exploring, a blue-and-white striped rugby shirt, navy shorts, and Sperry topsiders.
We had time to go for a run that afternoon, which was great because H and I were training for to run in the Virginia 4 Miler two weeks later, and then it was time to get ready for the wedding. After seeing the venue and talking to the maid of honor about what everyone would be wearing, I settled on the pink dress—it’s off-the-shoulder, cocktail length, and gorgeous but not too attention-grabbing. I kept the rest of my outfit simple with neutral pumps, sparkly stud earrings and a tiny gold necklace. I forgot to borrow my mom’s gold clutch like I usually do for formal events, so I carried my mint green crossbody.
Our group converged on the lobby, H sporting a striped tie in UVA orange and blue, and we left for the Clifton Inn. The ceremony was going to be on the lawn in front of the house, but it started drizzling as soon as we got there so everyone helped move the chairs under a large tent that had been set up for the post-wedding cocktail hour. The ceremony was beautiful—I especially liked that they had a classical guitarist doing the music.
The rain started in earnest during the cocktail hour, so we stayed under the tent drinking French 75s (the signature wedding cocktail!) until a wedding planner herded us to a covered pavilion for the reception. We found our table, which was with all H’s childhood friends and their dates. The bride and her dad kicked things off with a sweet first dance, and then there was more general dancing and frivolity before the toasts and dinner, followed by more dancing. Around 11 we ran outside for the bride and groom’s exit through a tunnel of sparkler-holding guests.
They hadn’t gone far though—the party reconvened on the porch of the inn with s’mores and mini grilled cheese sandwiches. Although it was only raining lightly, it was pretty chilly (I had claimed H’s jacket around nine) so standing around a fire pit roasting s’mores felt amazing. We left sometime after midnight, tired and happy.
The next morning we all eventually made it out of bed for the post-wedding brunch. It was worth it to spend a little more time with the bride and groom and eat amazing brunch food (think raspberry chocolate chip scones with honey butter). We hadn’t seen the grounds of the Clifton Inn in the daylight yet, and we admired the picturesque gardens studded with guest cottages. Despite the steady rain, I went with my originally planned outfit: a white t-shirt, colorblocked skirt, denim jacket, and Sperry topsiders.
Every aspect of the wedding was gorgeous and well-planned, and I was honored to celebrate the bride and groom! I was glad that I planned my outfits for the whole weekend, since we were at wedding events every day.
What do you guys wear for wedding events like rehearsal dinners or Sunday brunches? Let me know in the comments.