The events leading up to our wedding day – the best day yet! – were full of love and laughter. From my bridal shower in November to our joint bach party in Ocean City, Maryland in December all the way to our magical wedding weekend in February, everything was perfect. We started planning right after we got engaged in 2021, thinking it would mean less stress the closer we got to our Valentine’s Day wedding. Unfortunately, that wasn’t true since there’s always something forgotten.
Despite the random last minute details and the fire alarm going off during our first dance, our wedding was absolutely perfect! It snowed the day before our wedding, so we even got to have some snow in the background. Our wedding weekend kicked off the morning of Saturday, 12 February with a spa day for me, my mom, Mother-in-Law and bridesmaids. After some much needed pampering, we all headed to Bonefish Grill for lunch before meeting up with another one of my good friends to get our nails done. You would never guess finding the right nail salon for your wedding would be so difficult until you try and book an appointment with a specific nail design request, but the girl who did my nails did a fantastic job!
After our nails, it was time for Casino Night at the Hollywood Casino in Charlestown, West Virginia. My bridesmaids were unfortunately unable to go to Casino Night, so my mom, Mother-in-Law, and I headed back to my house to get ready and grab Russ before heading to the casino to meet up with some friends. We snaked our way through the the crowded casino to find Final Cut Steakhouse where we met up with our group of friends for a delicious dinner, champagne, and several cocktails before enjoying an evening of gambling. Our waitress was phenomenal and helped make the evening that much more special.
Remember how I said I didn’t win anything when gambling in Vegas? Well, my luck turned and I doubled my money gambled. Wanting to end things on a high note, I cashed out after winning… which meant I gambled exactly one time. The snow began as we headed home to get some rest before leaving our house the next day for the last time before being married.
The next day was a whirl as we gathered all our bags and various wedding decorations and packed up our cars before heading out to Berryville for our rehearsal at Historic Rosemont Manor. To say we were nervous as we walked through the doors and into the gorgeous manor, was an understatement. The excitement and nervousness pulsed through our veins as we gathered with our families and bridal party to begin rehearsal preparation. In all honesty, I’m super grateful for our videographer capturing our rehearsal since it all happened so fast that it blurred together and watching the video triggered so many great memories.
After our rehearsal, we headed to the Hilton Garden Inn Winchester for our rehearsal dinner with our wedding party and out of town family. The chef went above and beyond making our custom “Maryland Theme” to honor Russ’s side of the family a reality. There was SO much food and it was all phenomenal! We started with crab, shrimp, and crab cake tacos and buffalo wings before Maryland crab soup and caesar salad followed by our plated dinner of fried rockfish, crab cakes, or chicken piccata with sides of potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, and corn pudding. My mom ordered Smith Island Cakes, traditional Maryland cakes, for dessert. The evening was fun and full of love and laughter, including Russ and his mom “practicing” their mother-son dance by chicken dancing.
The next morning Russ and his guys slept in while me, my mom, Russ’s mom, and my girls got up and scurried through the snow to pile into our vehicles and head to Rosemont Manor to start getting ready. With pedialyte in hand, we popped some champagne and OJ for mimosas as our makeup and hair team arrived. The entire experience was surreal and felt like a dream. Before we knew it, we were piling into my mom’s car and heading from the Bridal Suite up to the manor for the ceremony.
My heart was racing as I climbed the manor steps to the Eisenhower Suite to put my dress on. Before we knew it, it was time for our first looks. I tried to steady my breathing as I walked through the manor door to the portico for my first looks with my dad’s two best friends who played key roles in making our wedding day so special – my godfather, Uncle Dave, who officiated and Scott, who filled in for my dad since he passed in 2018. A few quick words and hugs later and I was tucked away so Russ could take his place on the portico for our first look.
We debated for months on if we should do a first look, but we are glad we ultimately decided to do it. We were both in tears as we hugged, taking in the fact that we were so close to finally being Mr. and Mrs. Abell. We were able to use the time before the ceremony to take our photos so we were able to enjoy some of our cocktail hour with our bridal party and closest family before having our grand entrance at our reception at Rosemont Springs.
Before we knew it, we were tucked away in preparation for the ceremony. The second I walked out the doors to step onto the portico and make my way down the aisle, it was as if I got tunnel vision and the only person I saw was Russ. Before we knew it, we were married! A quick cocktail and some of our delicious hors d’oeuvres and I was bustled and we were headed to the barn for our reception. Our entrance was EPIC as cold sparks went off, illuminating the stunning barn. Ed Sheeran‘s Thinking Out Loud began and we spun into our first dance. Cold sparks went off again, setting the fire alarms off and causing us to burst into laughter. Something you would think would “ruin” the moment, created an extra memorable first dance.
Our reception was full of love and laughter and was so magical and perfect. Celebrations Catering did a fabulous job with the meal and our wedding planner, Michael Haymaker, and his team brought our vision to life by decorating the ceremony and reception space beautifully. Our florist, JP Wedding Flowers, did an amazing job with our flowers and brought our vision to life with lush flowers being the center of attention for elegant decorations in our reception space. She even decorated the fireplace mantel, tying in the entire room with our vision. Our cake by the wonderful Cake Boutique was delicious and so visually stunning. Sara took our vision and enhanced it to bring the most beautiful wedding cake I have ever seen and it tasted delicious, to boot. I may be a little biased, but we couldn’t have been happier. To go along with our cake, we had a dessert table full of cookies me and one of my best friends made, as well as hot coco and hot cider.
We danced all night long, surrounded by our closest friends and family. Our DJ, DJ Theo, did a great job keeping the vibe going and the dance floor hot. He had smooth transitions and did a wonderful job with the lighting, which really helped tie all the many elements of our day together. All too soon, the evening came to a close and we climbed into our car to head to the Hillbrook Inn and Spa for the first few nights of our honeymoon.
Our room at the Hillbrook Inn and Spa was so charming and a perfect way to spend our first several days as Mr. and Mrs. Breakfast was delicious and changed each morning and the staff even remembered us. Our dinner on our second evening was splendid. We were seated in an intimate dinning room with four other couples and were able to partake in conversations with the other tables, as we felt, and our waitress was phenomenal. The Hillbrook will definitely be a new favorite stop for romantic weekend getaways, especially since it’s only about an hour from our house.
Extra special shoutout to our photographer, Cait Kramer, for enabling us to bring home cherished memories that will allow us to remember our perfect day forever. We’ve heard horror stories of photographers taking close to a year to deliver galleries, or worse, but Caity had our huge sneak peak gallery to us before we were done with more than a day or two of our honeymoon in Jamaica and we had our full (HUGE) gallery back within a day or two of arriving home.
The only problems we had throughout our entire wedding day, was some broken promises and headaches with planning and finalizing with Rosemont Manor and the clean up done by our coordinator and his team since it was rushed, which caused several items to go missing (including an heirloom handkerchief that was my grandmother’s that was lost prior to our wedding) or become damaged.
Make sure to come back next week to read all about our AMAZING and super relaxing honeymoon in beautiful Jamaica!
2 oz orange vodka
1 oz triple sec
2-3 oz of orange juice 7Up
2 oz grapefruit vodka
1 oz triple sec
2-3 oz grapefruit juice
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Martini
Creme de Cacao
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