est. 2008

Rustic + Elegant Barn Wedding : the Details

Mary Dougherty

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ABOUT mary

I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories





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mn_35It’s easy to fall in love with Virginia. The mountains, valleys, and rolling countryside that connects them are enchanting. The seasons appear – although in a much milder form – which is why fall in Virginia is the perfect time to get hitched. When Mike and Nikki, now New Yorkers living in the city, were deciding on a wedding location it just seemed right to have it an the farm that Nikki grew up on in Culpeper, Virginia. From the moment they made that decision, it became a true team effort and the barn wedding planning began. The to-do list was long but with the help of parents family and friends their vision for a rustic yet elegant wedding day in the country came true.

I arrived at the Jebson farm on October 16th to find it bustling with activity. Planning a wedding is one thing, but planing and executing a wedding at home is a horse of a different color. I had first seen the farm during the engagement session I shot for Mike + Nikki which allowed me to see things in progress. They had thought of everything and this is what the scene looked like when I arrived on the wedding day. The field behind the house had been leveled out and set up with hay bales for guests to sit on during the ceremony. It over looked a pasture where cows could be heard softly mooing and beyond that was a view of the mountains. The barn, with walls repaired, a new floor and a fancy coat of red paint stood regally and beckoned you inside. Outside the barn a screen door held place card tags that fluttered in the wind next to a sign citing distances to some of Mike + Nikki’s favorite locations. Across from that an old carriage that once belonged to Nikki’s grandfather contained favors for the guests – some of Mrs. Jebson’s famous homemade pickles and beans that were grown in the summer. Inside, the tables were set with cream linens, terracotta napkins and burlap runners. Votive candles flickered amidst mason jars filled with wild flowers and vintage soda bottles that held table numbers. The dessert table beckoned with snicker doodles, mini pies, cupcakes and brownies that overflowed from an array of cake stands and wooden crates.

Nikki stood inside the barn, with hair and nails done in a casual button up shirt and jeans, and directed table set up. Mike was nearby, moving tables and bringing in the last pieces to make the set up complete. The buzz of energy in preparation only made the day more real, more palpable. Now it was time for them to make their final preparations and so they both slipped off and within the hour returned transformed, as bride and groom, ready to start what they had been waiting for.

I have particularly enjoyed being a part of Mike + Nikki’s wedding and documenting such a unique event. The elegance and rustic charm of their wedding was brought to life by the personal touches they wove in which is why this post is all about the details and preparation. So, buckle up, get comfy and enjoy post one of two from their fabulous wedding!


Wheat accented the front trellis and showed up in other places as well – including on Mike’s boutineer. Packets of lavender were in radio flyer wagons so guests could pick them up on their way in to the ceremony, and toss it for Mike + Nikki when they walked out. note: when you have a “tossing” of any kind, it’s another good reason to do a first look… lavender, rice + birdseed have a way of getting everywhere :)mn_04mn_05mn_06mn_07mn_09mn_10mn_11mn_12mn_13mn_14mn_15mn_16

The desserts were made by Meghan Smoot Becker and one of Nikki’s friends from NYC contributed snickerdoodles and brownies.mn_17mn_18mn_19

Nikki’s Melissa Sweet dress was gorgeous and featured Swavorski crystals and cream colored wooden beads, fitting in to her rustic elegance theme perfectly.mn_20mn_21mn_22

The ring pillow and flower for Nikki’s hair were made by Mike’s mom Cyndi and were both beautiful! mn_25mn_24mn_26mn_27mn_28mn_29mn_30mn_31mn_32

Mike and Nikki had a quick first look before the ceremony and I’m so glad we fit it in. The light was beautiful and they both looked stunning! Mike’s suit is Gucci, when he bought it a few years ago he swore he’d wear it to everything – including to their future wedding – and after not having any luck with other suits that became true! mn_33mn_34mn_36mn_39

Gorgeous Gorgeous Gorgeous! mn_40mn_41

Love those blue suede shoes. Nikki was looking extra fierce….mn_42

…while Mike rocked that suit and put on an extra layer of handsome.mn_43


It didn’t take long to have some amazing photos before the ceremony, and after that they went off to take their places and seal the deal. Look for part two tomorrow! mn_53

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