We’ve been looking forward to my cousin’s wedding ever since she got engaged on New Year’s Eve 2018! Since she and her fiancé are living in Princeton, New Jersey while he finishes his doctorate, they decided to have the wedding at the Princeton Chapel. I haven’t been to Princeton before, but I knew it would have that historic, preppy, college town feel I love, so H and I went a day early for ample time to explore the city and enjoy the wedding festivities. Packing for this trip, I brought lots of preppy classics, like I did for the weekend last year when H and I attended a wedding in Charlottesville.
Thursday – From Amtrak to the Dinky
H and I took the train from DC to Princeton Junction on Thursday afternoon, which was so much more relaxing than sitting in traffic! At Princeton Junction, we bought tickets on the Dinky, a local train that would take us to Princeton. We were still waiting on the Amtrak platform when we saw an adorable three-car train that HAD to be the Dinky pulling up on a tiny adjacent track. Climbing aboard was like stepping back in time—the train had classic leather seats and wood paneling. Hilariously, everyone else on the train was commuting, so we were the only people exclaiming over the vintage décor and taking pictures.
We walked to our hotel, the Nassau Inn, from the Princeton train station. The wedding reception was at a different hotel and conference center, but after I looked at the historic Nassau Inn, I knew we had to stay there! We were in Palmer Square, near shops and restaurants and right by the Princeton campus, so we could explore the city and walk everywhere.
For our travel day, I wore the same outfit I had worn to work, a sleeveless lavender button-down shirt tucked into light-wash jeans with Sperrys. This outfit was super-comfortable, even when we had to run to catch the Dinky, and had a classic, summery vibe.
Friday – All Around Princeton
Friday morning, we ordered room service breakfast from the Nassau Inn, which was everything I dreamed it would be. After devouring my berry pancakes, I drank at least three cups of coffee and lounged while H read the newspaper that they delivered with breakfast. We could already hear early risers in Palmer Square, and we were excited to see Princeton in the daytime.
After breakfast, H and I went for a run. We were training for the Virginia 4 Miler in September, and we didn’t want to totally abandon our training schedule on vacation. We ran along the perimeter of campus towards the river, then turned onto the canal path, which has such a cool Revolutionary War atmosphere! I love running in new places, but since we don’t know Princeton, we totally underestimated how steep the hill through campus would be. We were both exhausted once we got back to the hotel!
After the run, we walked to Einstein’s house, which isn’t open to the public but pops up immediately if you Google “things to do in Princeton.” It was a short walk from the Nassau Inn in a neighborhood of beautiful Victorians with gingerbread trim and wraparound porches. We would have walked right by Einstein’s house if it hadn’t been for the “Private Property” sign on the gate! Since we were meeting my parents once they got to Princeton for lunch, we walked back to Palmer Square and hung out at Small World Coffee, drinking iced coffee and people-watching.
After lunch with my parents, we walked around the Princeton campus, enjoying the Neo-Gothic architecture and eavesdropping on passing campus tours. The campus seemed endless, with courtyard after courtyard surrounded by beautifully designed dorms and academic buildings. Finally, we looped back up towards Nassau Hall and got ice cream at the Bent Spoon, a tiny ice cream place that was packed on a hot Friday afternoon.
On Friday, I wore a white button-down tucked into denim high-waisted shorts with Sperrys. I accessorized with a rattan crossbody bag and tortoiseshell sunglasses. This preppy-cool outfit was comfortable for walking, which was important since we racked up thousands of steps exploring Princeton!
That night we went to dinner with my parents at Agricola, a sustainable farm-to-table restaurant near Palmer Square. We sat downstairs at a cozy table for four and shared an amazing cheese board while we decided which organic entrees we would order. For dinner, I wore one of my all-time favorite dresses—a navy A-line with white piping around the sleeves and hem—with brown sandals and the same rattan bag I had worn that day. (No pictures since we were running late for our reservation, but I wore the same dress here!)
Saturday – A Revolutionary Wedding
Saturday morning, we went for another run, but we took a different road towards the river and ran the other way on the canal path than we had on Friday, past the massive sports center and boathouse. After our run, we went to the Revolutionary War-era Princeton Battlefield State Park. We walked through the house museum, and the nice docent walked outside with us to point out where the action happened on the battlefield. Since the wedding was at three, we got a quick lunch at the Dinky Café and then headed back to the Nassau Inn to get ready.
For our second day in Princeton, I used the same outfit formula from Friday: I wore a blue and white gingham shirt tucked into white shorts, with the same shoes, bag, and sunglasses I had worn the day before (hey, you try packing a cylindrical rattan purse in your weekend bag and see how much room you have left for shoes). The Sperrys were great since I knew we would be literally walking through a field.
At 2:45, we assembled outside the Princeton Chapel with extended family and the couple’s friends, some of whom I recognized from my cousin’s bridal shower. The outside of the chapel is grand, but the interior is breathtaking, with stained glass and massive Gothic arches. All the guests were seated in the front ten rows of the chapel, as we would have no hope of hearing the ceremony from further back, and since the chapel didn’t have air-conditioning, we were all fanning ourselves furiously after the first ten minutes. The ceremony was absolutely beautiful—my cousin’s childhood pastor was the officiant, and the bride and groom were picture-perfect.
Once the ceremony was over (and I had spent five minutes standing in front of a huge box fan to cool down before family pictures), we had an hour before the reception would start, so we walked to the Yankee Doodle Tap Room at the Nassau Inn for a drink. The bar is decorated with a huge Norman Rockwell painting and pictures of well-known Princeton alumni, and it was crowded with other wedding guests who had the same idea we did!
At the hotel where most of the guests were staying, we got to catch up with my extended family and meet the bride and groom’s friends from Princeton and DC at cocktail hour in the spacious, glass-enclosed lobby. When it was time for the reception, we walked out to a tented pavilion that looked out over the rolling hills of the hotel’s grounds for dinner and dancing. We had the best time toasting the bride and groom and getting down on the dance floor! Once it cooled down, we all spilled out onto the grass, talking in groups, until it was time for the bride and groom’s exit.
For the wedding and reception, I wore this pink Gal Meets Glam dress with a straight neckline and cap sleeves. The pink brocade fabric was formal enough for a wedding in the Princeton Chapel, and the full skirt was so fun for dancing at the reception. I accessorized with bejeweled stud earrings, which added the perfect amount of sparkle, nude heels, and a rattan bag. I chose a dark gray-green color for my manicure, since I thought blush pink would be too predictable!
Sunday (still no air-conditioning)
We rode back to DC with my parents and stopped to attend church in Pennsylvania with one of my dad’s friends from college. We giggled when we found out that the church wasn’t air-conditioned—after the Princeton Chapel we were ready for anything! I wore the navy dress that I had worn to dinner on Friday night to church and changed into a polo shirt and shorts for the rest of the drive.
This was a really fun wedding weekend—we loved celebrating my cousin and her new husband, spending quality time with my family, and seeing a new city. Princeton is such a cute college town, and I would love to visit again, especially in the fall!
What’s your favorite college town? Have you been to Princeton? Let me know in the comments!