Just three and a half years after they met at a dinner with mutual friends, Ashley Winfree and Ryan Jackson planned an elegant winter wedding at the Meridian House, featuring a black-tie dress code, and holiday-inspired accents, from the green, red, gold color scheme to the velvet and mercury glass materials. Scroll through their wedding details below to see how the pair used the venue’s existing decor to enhance the vibe at their winter wedding.
How They Met
Ashley, from Richmond, and Ryan, from Oklahoma City, were introduced by mutual friends who lived in Oklahoma but were visiting in DC. They invited both Ashley and Ryan to dinner, and the pair hit it off.
“I remember laughing all evening–Ryan is a great storyteller and very witty,” Ashley says. “I could tell immediately that people are drawn to him and enjoy being in his company. He is intelligent, yet modest. He is a gentleman, but also has a smile that makes you think he is constantly up to some type of mischief. I haven’t stopped laughing since I met him.”
Ryan was equally smitten. “Ashley was so sweet and very gracious. Apparently, she actually thought I was funny, but I really initially thought she was simply humoring me,” he says. “She’s so approachable and before I realized it, we had spent a few hours in our own conversation despite a number of mutual friends having conversations all around us. I knew I wanted to see her again, and hoped we could get dinner together again soon.” The very next day, Ryan called Ashley and invited her to dinner again that week.
Their First Date
For their first date, the two shared a quiet dinner at Darlington House, followed by dessert at the Capital Grille. Two years later, Ryan swept Ashley away for a surprise birthday trip to Irvington, Virginia. Upon arrival, he presented Ashley with “several beautifully wrapped gifts,” she says, the last of which included an antique 1920s ring and a proposal. “We celebrated all weekend relaxing by the river,” Ashley says.
An Elegant Winter Wedding
For a year and a half, the pair planned their perfect winter wedding.
“We envisioned an elegant winter wedding with festive highlights—green and red velvet accents, silver and gold mercury glass on the tables, and a lot of twinkling lights,” says Ashley. “We also asked the band to incorporate a few Christmas songs during the dancing.”
Because they opted for a winter wedding, one of the couple’s priorities was a ceremony and reception in close proximity. In choosing the White-Meyer House for the ceremony, and the Meridian House for the reception, the couple and their guests had to walk just a short path from one to the other. The couple decided on a festive black tie theme for their winter wedding, and loved that each room of the Meridian House was decorated for Christmas, with several elegantly adorned trees.
The morning of the big day, Ashley got ready with her mother, grandmother, and her best friend. When it was time for the ceremony to begin, Ashley surprised her father, a car aficionado, with the transportation that would take the two to the ceremony: a 1955 (the year he was born) Rolls Royce. “We will both always remember that drive,” Ashley says. “We had such a good time on the way to the ceremony.”
One of Ashley’s favorite details was her dress—a perfect winter wedding dress, she says—the pewter and gold embroidery on which “shined under the twinkling lights of the Meridian House.”
An Intimate Winter Wedding Affair
“It was important for us to have an intimate ceremony,” Ashley says. “We had a matron of honor (my best friend) and a best man (Ryan’s brother). Our nephew was the ring bearer, Ryan’s uncle officiated the ceremony, and we had three more loved ones serve as ushers.”
As gifts for their groomsmen, the couple gave each a different fun, festive Brackish Bow Tie from Grady Ervin & Co., one of the couple’s favorite stores in Charleston, South Carolina, to wear on the big day. The night before the wedding, Ashley gifted Ryan an ivory linen handkerchief embroidered with the couple’s new monogram in dark green. Walking down the aisle, Ashley carried, in addition to her bouquet, the bible that her grandmother, mother, and aunt had carried at their weddings, and wore the diamond bracelet that her father had given her as an engagement present earlier that year.
At the reception, signature drinks included Old Fashioned, French 75s, and festive, sparkling apple cider mocktails. The wine offerings included selections from Barboursville Vineyards—the couple’s favorite winery.
After a dinner that included mini chicken pot pies, butternut squash tortellini, slow-roasted short ribs and mushroom-crusted rockfish to name a few dishes, the couple served a cake of elderflower-soaked lemon cake with blackberry jam and vanilla buttercream layered with apple spice cake, pear butter and salted caramel buttercream.
Following their winter wedding, the couple honeymooned in New York City and Palm Beach for the holidays.
Photographer: Liz Fogarty Photography | Venues: White-Meyer House (ceremony); Meridian House (reception) | Event Planning & Designer: Caroline Dutton Events | Florist: Sweet Root Village |Invitations: Steph B. and Co | Catering: Design Cuisine | Cake: Buttercream Bakeshop | Hairstylist: Georgetown Bride | Makeup Artist: Nour Kazoun Makeup | Music: Sage String Quartet; The Joker’s Wild Swing Band (reception) | Transportation: Vintage Limos, Inc.; Limousines, Inc. | Valet: MJ Valet | Lighting: Dan Goldman Events | Bride’s Dress: Oscar de la Renta, Betty Bridal Atelier (Charleston, SC) | Groom’s Attire: custom tuxedo, Geoffrey Lewis; bow tie, Brackish Bow Ties from Grady Ervin & Co.