How One Couple Transformed a Virginia Estate into the Ultimate Southern Lawn Party Wedding

There’s something magical about a Southern wedding in the summertime, especially when it takes place outdoors on the green grass and embraces traditions like burying the bourbon. Ashley Holbrook and Brannen Blazer’s Virginia wedding includes all of the above, and it’s captured in the photos below by Michelle Lindsay Photography.

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Some gals might be turned off by a stranger calling them “sweetheart,” but Ashley’s affinity for Southern charm made the moniker a win for Brannen when they met in DC a few years after college. The groom was smitten, too: “She made me feel so, so good. Her smile, warmth, and love of life are magnetic.”

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A first date at Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan led to a two-and-a-half-year relationship, some of which was long-distance while Ashley pursued a master’s degree in London. Ashley, who works in African development consulting, became a Mrs.-to-be when Brannen, an investment banker, tied the engagement ring to a branch of her mother’s Christmas tree.

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Six months later, the duo made it official with a down-home celebration that included “bug juice” bourbon cocktails, church pews relocated outdoors for the ceremony, and a vintage Ford truck photo station. When not munching on garden-fresh dips and crudités, guests lounged on hillside blankets and in vintage mismatched dining chairs. Joyfulness was all around, but the bride’s was especially evident. Says Brannen: “Among all the smiles, my sweet wife’s was the biggest.”

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After the bride and groom cut into their cake, chocolate and vanilla cake pops from Candy Valley Cake Company were served while guests enjoyed sampling the cigar bar. A sparkler send-off brought the evening to a close before the new Mr. and Mrs. departed for a honeymoon in India.


Venue: The Maples (private estate) | Photographer: Michelle Lindsay Photography | Event Coordinator: Becky Armstrong of Middleburg Events Studio | Venue Design: Manuel Simpson | Flowers: Country Way | Bride’s Gown: Nicole Miller, Lovely Bride | Groom’s Tux: Kenneth Cole | Caterer: Charlene’s Kitchen | Cake: Ellwood Thompson’s | Transportation: Dulles Executive Sedan Service | Rentals: Something Vintage | Music: Jukeboxx, EastCoast Entertainment | Invitations: Paper on the Avenue | Calligraphy: Mary Sue Sanderlin 

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Sarah is the Editor-in-Chief of Washingtonian Bride & Groom, and writes about weddings, fashion, and shopping. Her work has also appeared in Refinery29, Bethesda Magazine, and Washington City Paper, among others. She is a Georgetown University graduate, lives in Columbia Heights, and you can find her on Instagram at @washbridegroom and @sarahzlot.