Thursday, October 30, 2014

Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley

I've surprised you with the announcement of mine and Steve’s elopement, and I've told you allll about the planning of our elopement. So, now it’s time to tell you about our beautiful, magical, intimate elopement at Showalter’s Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley in Timberville, Virginia. You guys, it was perfect. It was US. It was more than we could have ever imagined it to be.
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
Why did we elope you might ask? Well, we’re a very private couple, and we've been together for well over 11 years, so for us this was really about our marriage, not a wedding. We just didn't want or need a wedding or all the hoopla that comes with it. It’s just not us. We wanted our wedding day to be about us, we wanted to focus on our marriage, and we wanted to be able to really live in the moment. We focused completely on everything that was important to us, and at the end of the day, we did exactly what felt right in our hearts.

So, let me give you the details! This is going to be a long one with lots of pictures, so settle in comfortably!
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
The morning of our wedding, I got up at 4am to start getting ready. I didn’t sleep all that well because I was so worried I’d miss my alarm! I wanted our day to be relaxed and stress-free, which is sometimes a challenge for me because I can be a bit of a perfectionist. But, I really kept myself in check from the moment I woke up.

I finished off getting ready by curling the ends of my hair, so it would have a bit of volume. It was a lost cause though, as you can tell from our pictures. My hair is just too thick to hold curls and it was sooo humid. Humidity = wavy and poofy hair. I’m a freak about my hair, but I really had to just let it go and not worry about it. 
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
After we were both ready, we packed the car, and stopped by the hotel lounge for a quick breakfast. We just had some oatmeal, a banana, and some scrambled eggs. Orange juice for me, coffee for Steve. I was just focused on leaving on time for the orchard, so I wasn't all too interested in eating. On our way to the orchard, we made a quick pit stop at McDonald’s for coffee, which we wanted to have for our pictures later that morning.
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
On our drive to the orchard, it was incredibly foggy, so we were definitely a little worried. But, as we got closer and closer to the orchard, the fog disappeared. Whew! When we arrived at the orchard our officiant, Bonnie, was already there. Her and her husband arrived early and watched the sunrise over the Valley. You guys, the sunrise was incredible! After introducing ourselves to Bonnie and her husband, we rushed off to change our clothes and do any last minute touch-ups. Our photographer, Caroline, arrived while we were changing, so when we came back outside we were all ready to roll.
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
We talked for a few moments about which location to choose for our ceremony. Wait, did I mention that it was a whopping 48 degrees that morning? We were freezing! Anyway, we decided to have our ceremony right in the apple orchard between two gorgeous apple trees and right next to the pumpkin patch—all with an incredible view. Caroline really liked this spot because she could capture us from all angles.
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
For our ceremony, we decided on standard, non-religious vows. We also both wrote our own vows, love letters to one another actually, but we wanted to keep those private. We’d planned to read our letters to one another in the orchard, but it’s a good thing we waited, because we both ended up crying. Aww! 

During our ceremony, Steve and I held hands and locked eyes the entire time. Bonnie was fantastic—the sweetest person! Everything she said during our ceremony was beautiful, and when it came time to say our actual vows, I almost lost it, but I quickly gathered myself. The ceremony was over before we knew it, and we were kissing as new husband and wife. We’d waited SO long for that moment, and it was perfect. Husband and wife!!!! Yessss, finally!!

Heel Click! Gosh, this picture makes us laugh so hard. Love it!
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
Bonnie was genuinely interested in us as a couple and was very happy for us, which meant a lot. There were hugs all around while we thanked her. After that, she handed us our marriage certificate, and ensured us that she’d send out our marriage license in the mail. We did it, we made it official!

Now, it was time for pictures! And pictures we did take—1,500 to be exact. That’s right! We took pictures ALL throughout the orchard for 5 hours. After about an hour, we were so frozen, it didn’t matter, so we kept at it. You know when I mentioned that we wanted our wedding day to be about us? THIS is what I meant. Eloping allowed us to have the day to ourselves, to focus only on one another, to capture EVERY memory.
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
Caroline is incredibly, incredibly passionate about her work and it shows. When I say she is amazing, I mean it in every sense of the word. She was 100% present and focused on us as a couple. She could tell we weren't all that comfortable in front of the camera at first, so she helped loosen us up and put us at ease. As the minutes passed, we became more and more comfortable. 

Thank goodness she’s creative because we didn't want too many boring, posed photos. Months before our elopement, I created a Pinterest board to share with Caroline and she studied everything I posted. She even printed out the pictures and brought them with her, so she knew what we wanted. I truly cannot speak highly enough about Caroline. We are already looking forward to doing our 1-year anniversary photos with her.

Don't you just love this Charlie Brown apple tree?!
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
Anyway, when I said we took 5 hours’ worth of pictures, I meant it. We covered what felt like every.single.acre of the orchard—that’s like 46 acres, mind you. AND, I chose to wear high heels. I was sinking all over the place! But, you know what? It was a stress-free day, so I didn’t care. My hair—yeah it became wavy with a bit of poof, but again, I just went with it. My make-up faded too, but oh well. Our day was just about love! I kept focused on what was most important—just the two of us.
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
We took pictures all throughout the rows of apples, and we did a lot of pictures of us walking toward and away from Caroline in order to capture the incredible view. We took pictures in the pumpkin patch, again with a view to die for. We’d ordered signs from Fresh Lemon Blossoms on Etsy, so we took lots of pictures with those—one of our wedding date and one with our last name. I also made a few signs myself, so we used those too. Caroline captured us in front of old trucks, in front of a John Deere tractor, in bamboo, in front of an old shed. Everywhere! Speaking of that shed, I cannot wait to see all the pictures she took of just Steve by the shed.
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
Oh, we also took pictures while eating our sweets. First, we had our blueberry fritter with a mug of coffee. We used our Showalter’s Orchard mugs, of course! Then, we indulged in our pumpkin spice cheesecake cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake along with a glass of fresh apple cider. Amazing, I tell you! We ended by taking a few pictures in the rocking chairs on the porch, and it was so incredibly peaceful!
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
Can we talk about our colors for a second? Chocolate brown, ivory, and orange. The perfect fall colors! So many people have commented on how our colors pop so gorgeously in our photos, and we must agree! We are so looking forward to seeing all 1,500 photos of ours, and we can’t wait to print them out! We especially want to print some canvas prints to hang. Aren't canvas prints just gorgeous? Very exciting!!
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
After all was said and done, we hugged Caroline and thanked here profusely! We were only scheduled to take 3 hours’ worth of pictures, but like I said, we did 5! She was so incredibly patient. Honestly, we could have kept going all day long. Although, we were a bit cold!
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read
We quickly changed clothes, packed everything up, and headed to our inn. We were in complete awe of our room, but more on that at a later date. We unpacked our stuff and settled in very comfortably! Then, we called our families to share our happy news. And, later that night we had dinner at an Italian restaurant.
Our Intimate Elopement at Showalter's Orchard in the Shenandoah Valley  l  Love.Bake.Read

Perfection—all that we imagined and more!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Baked Pumpkin French Toast with Cinnamon-Pecan Streusel

All this talk about our fall-themed elopement has me in a permanent fall-like state of mind, which is why today I am bringing you this over-the-top baked french toast that has FALL written all over it. You guys, this is fall on a plate and it knocked our socks off. This is a dish that makes you go mmmm…the entire time you’re stuffing your face with it.
Really, there are no words, so let’s stop here, okay? Just make this, stuff your face, and then stuff your face again. That’s what we did—this was dinner, yes DINNER, 3 nights in a row. That’s what I’m talking about. My kind of food.

Okay, I take it back. There are words.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Planning Our Elopement

Hello!! Hope you've had a lovely weekend. I've been married for 2 weeks today, which is very exciting! On the day Steve and I got married, we’d been together for exactly 11 years and 8 months. To say we waited a long time for our wedding day to arrive would be an understatement! I knew just 6 months into dating Steve that we’d get married one day, so it’s safe to say I’m beyond thrilled.
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Back in January of this year we began seriously thinking about when to get married. Do we wait until we’re done paying off our debt? No, because that’d put us in 2015, and well, I don’t like odd numbers. Do we wait until 2016? No, that’s a really long time from now, and we’d like to have a baby that year. So, we made the decision to get married in October of this year, despite being in the middle of paying off our debt.

When we checked the calendar for dates in October, we knew without a doubt that we’d get married on Sunday, October 12, 2014. I told Steve the date was PERFECT because it sounds really lovely, and it’s all EVEN numbers—10.12.14. How in the world did we get so lucky?!
Caroline Meyers Photography  l  Planning Our Elopement  l  Love.Bake.Read
Caroline Meyers Photography
In February, we were playing with the idea of possibly getting married on the west side of Michigan because we knew the fall colors would be brilliant. But, at the end of the day, we just didn't feel like that was us.  So, by March, we switched gears and started thinking about other possibilities. What fit us as a couple? What felt like us?

It took no time at all to decide that we’d search for a lovely apple orchard to get married in. Why you ask? I have always loved fall and everything that comes with it—trips to the apple orchard, apple cider, apples, pumpkins, fritters, everything! When Steve and I started dating we looked forward to visiting Erie Orchard in Erie, Michigan every.single.year (until we moved to Brooklyn!). There’s just something about the way fall makes us feel! It’s always just been our thing. So that was that—an orchard it would be.
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We knew the leaves wouldn't change colors here in Maryland until at least the end of October, so we searched fall foliage in Virginia instead, and luckily, it seemed as though we’d have good fall colors on our chosen date. So, I searched online for orchards in Virginia, and I came across Showalter’s Orchard in Timberville, which is in the Shenandoah Valley. Talk about GORGEOUS!

While viewing Showalter’s website, I came across these gorgeous photos of a family having a picnic in the orchard, and I thought to myself, how perfect! I finished browsing Showalter’s entire site and completely fell in love, but there was one small issue…the orchard was closed on Sundays. My heart sank, but I decided to e-mail the owners anyway and ask if it’d be possible for us to get married in their orchard, even though they were closed. We received a response a day later from Sarah—she and her husband, Shannon, own Showalter’s—saying “We are not open on Sundays, but are open to the idea of sharing the orchard with you on that day.” Oh my gosh, we could hardly believe it! Then, we wondered about how much the fee would be for using the orchard. So, I inquired, and Sarah said there wouldn't be a fee, but that she’d like to use our photos on the Showalter’s website. Again, we could hardly believe our luck!
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Right after I initially e-mailed Sarah at Showalter’s, I e-mailed Caroline Meyers, the photographer who took the pictures I’d seen on the orchard website. Steve and I just loved her photos! I knew from her website that she was available on October 12th and that she was incredibly affordable. She responded quickly saying how much she loved elopements and that Showalter’s would be a magnificent location for an intimate elopement. By this time, I could’ve screamed from a mountain top out of sheer excitement. Everything was falling into place nicely and in no time at all.

The following day, Steve and I booked an absolutely stunning room at Suites 249, a boutique hotel in Culpeper, Virginia. Our initial plan was to stay in Culpeper, drive to Showalter’s on our wedding day, and then drive back to Culpeper right after. I can tell you it’s a GOOD thing we did a test run at the end of August, but more on that later.
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By mid-March, we’d secured out elopement location, our photographer, and our hotel, so next up was an officiant. The first woman I called reminded me of Mags from Justified (on FX). She was really gruff and said “I suppose you’ll be coming here to my house to get married?”. I could hardly believe my ears. I said, “um no”…and so she provided me with the phone number of another officiant. Whew! So, I contacted the officiant she recommended, and she was available for our elopement date as well. Boy, we’re we feeling lucky!

In May, I searched online for a bakery in Culpeper that could make us a cheesecake for our elopement. I contacted Sweets by Monique, and she was fabulous to work with. She was incredibly patient with all of my million questions. It took a lot of back and forth communication, but we decided on an incredible 8-inch caramel apple pecan cheesecake, 20 fritter donuts, and 6 jumbo pumpkin-chocolate muffins. We were going ALL out! All for a whopping $37. Say what?! Again, we were THRILLED!

Now would be the time to tell you more about Culpeper. Steve and I did a test run on August 29th, just to see how everything would work out. Well, it took us nearly 2 hours to get to Culpeper, but we didn't think much of it at the time. We stopped at the Culpeper County Circuit Court and applied for our marriage license—THAT was super exciting!! We drove by Suites 249, just to have a look, and then we headed on to Showalter’s Orchard, where we would be meeting Sarah, Caroline, and our officiant. Our drive from Culpeper to Timberville is when we started second guessing the whole Culpeper-aspect of our plan. 
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It took forever and a day to get from one place to the other. Really, like 2 hours, but still. We did not want to drive 2 hours the morning of our elopement. Not to mention, the whole way there was back roads, granted it was BEAUTIFUL, but we had no cell phone reception and it was just a bit isolated for us. Because it took us so long to get to Showalter’s, we missed meeting our officiant because she had to leave. Ugh! Luckily though, we were still able to meet Sarah and Caroline, who showed us around the orchard (click here to read all about our August visit to Showalter’s). I didn't say anything about our elopement in that post because it was a SECRET, and I didn't want to give anything away. I'm sneaky like that!

Needless to say, when we got home from our test run, we immediately cancelled our reservation at Suites 249 and our amazing desserts order from Sweets by Monique. Both of these things broke our hearts, but it just had to be done. We couldn't find a hotel anywhere nearby Showalter's to accommodate us from October 11th-14th, so we ended up booking two separate places. No biggie, though! We booked a Holiday Inn Express in Woodstock, VA for October 11th, and then we booked an Inn in Harrisonburg, VA for October 12th-14th. I cannot wait to tell you all about the Inn. It was INCREDIBLE!! Don’t think old Victorian, think modern!  As for sweets, we decided on apple fritters from the Lancaster County Dutch Market in Germantown, MD and cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake in Bethesda, MD. Fabulous choices!
Caroline Meyers Photography  l  Planning Our Elopement  l  Love.Bake.Read
Caroline Meyers Photography
One last thing, and then I’ll wrap up for today. After visiting the orchard in August, Steve and I were set on having an 8am ceremony. We’re early birds, what can I say. Anyway, the officiant we secured back in March said she wouldn't be able to officiate our ceremony at that time. This was really disappointing because we were set on getting married at 8am on 10.12.14—get it?! All even numbers! 

So, we set out to find a new officiant. I was kind of at a loss, but decided to check the Rockingham County website to see if they had any officiants listed and they did. Whew! So, I contacted the few individuals that were listed, and we ended up selecting a woman named Bonnie. I’ll be honest here; we keep both Bonnie and our original officiant on the hook, just in case…and you know what?! It’s a good thing we did because our original officiant ended up being hospitalized the Friday before our Sunday elopement. That’s 2 days! We would've been in a real pickle had we not scheduled Bonnie as well. Good thing we went with our gut on this one and kept both scheduled. Bonnie is the sweetest! She was lovely to work with!

I didn't expect this post to be so longthank you for sticking with me! I’ll post more about our elopement and trip as a whole later this week, so look out for that! :o)

Thank you for reading and sharing in our day of love!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Autumn Love

I know things have been quiet around here lately, but I have a really exciting reason for why…

Steve and I ELOPED!! We’re married. MARRIED!!!! Oh my goodness, I am so excited! We got married on Sunday, October 12th at Showalter’s Orchard in Timberville, Virginia and it was the PERFECT fall day.

I literally cannot wait to tell you ALL about our day of love, but for now I’m going to leave you with this gorgeous picture of ourscourtesy of our a.m.a.z.i.n.g photographer, Caroline Meyers, of Caroline Meyers Photography out of New Market, Virginia. LOVE her!
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Wait—one more thing before I go. Last year, on my birthday, which is TODAY, I wrote a post entitled True Love is  Gift…what are the odds that exactly 1 year later, I’m writing to tell you that I got married?!

Love is in the air! Yessssssss!