Bright blue skies, the lake and mountains in the background, a romantic breeze, and the perfect serene environment. This is exactly how Jordan and Ryan envisioned their Smith Mountain Lake wedding. The groom’s family has a house on Smith Mountain Lake that provided the perfect backdrop for this intimate wedding.
I love outdoor weddings if they are done right. There are so many more logistics to consider (see here) and the risk of bad weather and unforeseen issues is much higher. However, if you luck out and plan accordingly, you can really have a gorgeous wedding and be one with all of the beauty that comes with an outdoor soiree.
Jordan and Ryan opted to have their wedding at the family’s gorgeous lake house. Jordan wanted to keep the guest count low so they could fit everyone on the patio for reception and dance under the stars. They decided to not bring in a tent as it would have obstructed the beautiful views of the lake and mountains. This was a tough decision to make. Without a tent they wouldn’t be protected from the elements should it have gotten really hot, or rain. We spent a lot of time debating what the best plan of action would be should there be bad weather or if it were too hot. They decided to take their chances with mother nature and we came up with an alternative rain plan. I am so glad that they had great weather. Not only could they not have asked for a more perfect day, but we also didn’t have to flip the inside of the house. HUGE WIN.
The second obstacle that Jordan and I conquered was parking. The estate has a large circular driveway, a long drive leading down to it, and a second gravel lot a bit up the road. However, the lighting wasn’t that great, and again, if we had bad weather all of their guests that parked far away would be soaking wet by the time they arrived at the wedding. The second struggle I knew we would run into was that we are at a lake. The closest major cities were about an hour away. Transportation shuttles were going to be expensive, what would we do with the guest’s cars, and where would be park a bus? I can now say with absolute confidence, that I am a transportation logistics expert. I called hotels and worked out deals to “borrow” their parking lots, contacted various shuttles, YMCA’s, school bus companies, uber, cab companies, private drivers, insurance companies, rental car companies, and I even spoke with some water taxis. Short of sourcing a real live unicorn, Jordan and Ryan were presented with every option possible to get their guests to their wedding safety, on time, and dry. Being as they lucked out with great weather we didn’t need to hire a professional service, another huge win. The guests were able to park in the driveway and the family used a Kubota to shuttle the guests that parked far away. It worked out perfectly.
Once we figured out the major logistical issues of having a private estate wedding, outside, at a lake, we were able to get to the fun parts. Jordan wanted light colors, a garden party, and a bit of rustic. We ended up sourcing from two rental companies. A local to the lake company provided all of the tables and chairs, while a local to Richmond shop provided the linens. We went local to Richmond for the linens so Jordan could actually see and feel the linens she was getting. Sometimes colors and textures online don’t look exactly like you want them to. Being able to go to a rental shop, pull multiple linens, and play, ensures that you get exactly what you want. The peach and seafoam green worked out great. We added some pattern play and everything came together. Once the basic aesthetic was established we contracted the rest of the vendors and worked out all of the details.
On the wedding day, the bridesmaids all got ready at the house, while the vendors set up outside. There were some house guests who were out on the boat when we arrived. The family was able to just relax on the balcony, drinking their coffee, and watch their property be transformed. It was just a rewarding experience to walk in on that. The ladies getting their hair and make up done, the friends out on the lake, and the family just enjoying their morning. The groomsmen were hanging out in the carriage house and no one seemed to have a care in the world. We all worked really hard up until this point and I was so glad to see that they were able to relax and just enjoy their wedding day.
Jordan was a beautiful bride and I loved how she included her daughter as the flower girl. Ryan’s mother had passed away a few years prior and it was important that she be honored on his wedding day. A white bouquet of roses was laid in her chair in memory. The guestbook was a map they had made of the lake for all of their guests to sign. They had plans to hang this in their house when they got back home. Their escort card display was a tri-fold made out of vintage shutters from the chasing unicorns inventory. The night unfolded with dinner and dancing under bistro lighting and uplighting strategically placed around the property. Towards the end of the evening, Ryan’s father snuck down to the lake and set off some fireworks. These weren’t your small backyard fireworks, these were legit celebration fireworks. It was such a great surprise and a great ending to their wedding day.
Huge Thank you to Jada and David of J&D photography for capturing their day
Photography: J & D Photography
Florist: Petal Flower Company
Rentals: Aztec Rentals
Specialty Rentals: Chasing Unicorns by Swoon Soiree
As always, I would love to chat.