Caitlin Perna and Derek Barlow met in college when Caitlin spied Derek across the dance floor. Six years later they celebrated their wedding with a bash that was marked by enchanting details, from a grove of trees strung with crystal chandeliers to an arbor brimming with garden roses and peonies. The final touch? A custom whiskey bar stocked with crystal decanters full of the groom’s favorites like Knob Creek and Glenmorangie. Check out the images by Justine Ungaro below.
Caitlin and Derek met at a college party when both were attending Virginia Tech for their undergraduate degrees. She saw Derek dancing and immediately felt a spark, however, it wasn’t until she started chatting up one of his friends that he noticed her across the room.
“She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen,” says Barlow. The couple had their first date a few weeks later at Pandapas Pond in Blacksburg, where they walked a nature trail loop, discussing “everything and anything,” explains Caitlin, even touching on controversial topics like politics, morality, and religion.
“He had a certain magnetism and acted like he’d never met a stranger,” Caitlin recalls.
But their relationship would encounter a serious obstacle when, after graduating, Derek and Caitlin landed jobs in different cities. They lived nearly three hours apart from one another for close to a year. When the distance began to be too much, Caitlin broke it off. Devastated, Derek quit his job the next day and drove home to Damascus, Virginia. He was home for about an hour before realizing Caitlin was the only person he wanted to spend his life with. Again he hopped in the car. It took him six hours to reach Caitlin’s apartment in Arlington. He arrived at 3am, exhausted, but determined to have Caitlin’s hand in marriage.
For their wedding, Derek and Caitlin chose to wed outdoors in the groves near the Meridian House. They created a magical midsummer night scene by hanging crystal chandeliers from the trees, and decorating the groves with vintage furniture and mirrored tables. Standing beneath an arbor wreathed with coral charm peonies and garden roses, the couple exchanged their vows.
After a cocktail reception in the garden featuring a bright rosewater gimlet, the wedding party moved indoors for a seated dinner, followed by the cake cutting, and sips from a whiskey bar featuring the groom’s favorite whiskeys arranged in crystal decanters. The couple had their first dance to John Legend’s “All Of Me.”
Photography: Justine Ungaro | Wedding Planner & Designer: Sara Bauleke at Bella Notte | Wedding & Reception Venue: Meridian House | Florist: Toulies en Fleur | Bride’s Gown: Custom Liancarlo via Carine’s Bridal | Groom’s Tux: Calvin Klein via Jos A. Bank | Bride’s Hair: Julie Flurry at Jewel Hair Design | Makeup Artist: Shauné Hayes Makeup | Cake & Dessert Display: Occasions Caterers | Wedding Pie: Livin’ the Pie Life | Custom Bar, Indoor Bar, Furniture Vignettes and Chandelier Installation: Revolution Events | Lighting: Revolution Events | Linens: La Tavola Fine Linen, DC Rental, and Perfect Settings | Caterers: Occasions Catering | Wedding Music: Chris Dunn Classical Guitar | Reception Music/Entertainment: My Deejay | Invitations: Minted | Wedding Day Stationery: Paperzest | Calligraphy: Meant to Be Calligraphy