Yves St. Laurent: Perfection of Style at VMFA

VMFAbysl-700x450There are few names in the fashion world that are simply iconic: Dior. Chanel. Armani. Gucci. Versace. And then, there are some icons that require three names, like Yves St. Laurent.

I absolutely loved learning about the history of these fashion houses in a college elective course (I think it was called “The Art of Fashion”), which gave some historical context to these decades-old couture legends. I’ve also always admired YSL’s ability to capture the feminine essence in an exact moment of time, while also possessing the ability to remain timeless and classic throughout different eras. So when I received a media preview invitation in the mail with a big, pink, statement bow on it, I excitedly (and immediately) marked my calendar to check out the Yves St. Laurent: The Perfection of Style exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.


I took this one of Gigi in the lobby at Quirk. Isn’t she gorge?

I was so fortunate to be able to attend the opening gala at the VMFA the night before the media preview, as well. We invited New York-based fashion blogger Gergana (or Gigi) of Fashion is My Forte to join us for the gala. We were able to show Gigi some of our favorite Richmond spots before and after the gala, including:



The gala was black-tie, which meant it was time to Rent the Runway! I ended up going with a beautiful Badgley Mischka stunner, the Fluorescent Chiffon Gown in pink (and I mean PINK!) Badgley Mischka sure knows how to make a girl feel special, I’ll tell you that!

I paired my dress with a pair of turquoise beaded tassel earrings (you can buy similar ones HERE ) and a white, sparkly vintage envelope clutch from Halycon Vintage in Richmond (you can find a similar one HERE on Etsy, or just stop in Halycon sometime! They always have a great collection of fun, festive and sparkly clutches!)

The exhibition itself was absolutely exquisite– and extensive. It’s the largest collection of his pieces, inspiration boards, self-portraits, letters, jewelry, accessories, videos, photos, and more. I can’t wait to go back and spend some more time in the gallery and soaking it all in! Check out this fun teaser video from the VMFA:

“I am no longer concerned with sensation and innovation, but with the perfection of my style” / Yves Saint Laurent

I took a few photos while I was there, but can’t wait to snap some more. Stay tuned for an updated post!

The YSL exhibition will run through August 27, 2017 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (200 N. Boulevard). You can buy tickets here!

I hope you love it as much as I did!


About last night…


As I write this post sitting on our screened-in back porch, it’s cool and rainy. I’m sitting here listening to the gentle sound of raindrops and breeze through the oak tree leaves– it’s incredibly peaceful. With such gloomy weather this morning, it’s hard to believe that only a few hours ago, we were dining al fresco under the light of globe string lights and a huge, uplit Magnolia tree. We had course after course of rustic Italian cuisine paired with perfectly complimentary Italian wines. Laughter, storytelling with new friends, and Catarina Valente softly playing in the background. An unforgettable dining experience.

This is Dinner in the Field.

Curious what this is all about? Here’s an explanation from the Chefs themselves– Paige and Gregorio:

My husband Gregorio and I are a Chef team, who fell in love while cooking and eating together in Southern Italy.

I had recently completed my culinary studies in Italy and Gregorio, an Italian native, was continuing to learn his craft from family members, who had been teaching him ever since he was tall enough to reach the counter. When Gregorio and I met, neither one of us could speak very much of the other’s language, but lucky, food became our universal language. We formed a strong connection in the kitchen–learning from each other, one dish at a time.  After just a few weeks, we were inseparable as we shared our passion for creating large family meals from food grown right outside Gregorio’s doorstep–milk from his cousin’s cow, orange juice from his orange tree, eggs from his Aunt’s chickens, and vegetables from his sister’s garden.  

These relaxed, alfresco family dinners on the Southern Coast of Italy inspired us to return to my hometown of Richmond and share our experience with the people of VA. Each Dinner in the Field event is focused on cooking from the ground up.  First, we find the local seasonally specific ingredients, then we find the breathtaking location, and lastly we create a menu to compliment the entire experience. 

We hope to see you at one of their family tables this summer. 

Working at Virginia Tourism, we have highlighted Dinner in the Field in our marketing– from an advetorial in Food Network magazine to connecting our friends from SORTEDfood with Chef Paige for cooking lessons on a boat and the Dinner in the Field experience for themselves. I had heard how special this evening was– most of these dinners sell out within 10 minutes of posting tickets — but I hadn’t yet experienced it myself. And I am so very glad I had that opportunity last night!

We arrived at the stunning Seven Springs, less than 20 miles from the heart of Richmond in King William county. The farm boasts expansive acreage dotted with little cottages, beautiful old trees, a fenced-in area for their Hog Island sheep, and a manor house (frequently visited by George Washington). Note to soon-to-be-brides: this is the most perfect place to get married. Look into having your wedding here!

*All photos courtesy Don Mears Photography/Seven Springs Farm

We strolled around the grounds with glasses of prosecco in hand, then relaxed in the outdoor living room while Chef Paige introduced the first course — the apertivo.

  • Rustici con riccota e pomodori secchi (a light, flaky pastry with ricotta cream, basil, and sun dried tomatoes)
  • Aged parmigiano reggiano cheese and local honey

adored the rustici — it was light and refreshing but also decadent in a way, as well! So yummy.

IMG_1006Next, Chef Paige asked us to find our seats at the long dining room table a few yards away, next to a beautiful Magnolia tree. The table was decorated with seasonal vegetables and bouquets of basil as centerpieces. Paige and Gregorio would come out between each course to tell us about what we were about to eat. Many of the ingredients were just hours or days off the vine– which meant they retained maximum sweetness and nutrients. And we also learned: never ever refrigerate your tomatoes! Each course was absolutely incredible.

Chef Paige and Gregorio also share some of their guests’ favorite recipes on their blog, and I was so pleased to find the recipe for tiramisu and parmigiana this morning. Yay!

We were treated to the following courses, each were fresh, seasonal, and, well, pretty perfect.

  • Insalata: Italian green beans, potatoes, onions, cherry tomatoes, oregano and basil.
  • Primo: Rigatoni al Pesto com Gamberi (basil, parmigiano, garlic, pine nults, walnuts and pistachios, blended and sauteed with rigatoni pasta with zucchini and shrimp).
  • Secondo: Parmigiana (layers of sliced eggplant baked with fresh tomato sauce, parmiggiano reggiano, basil, and provola cheese)– this was my FAVORITE! And lucky for me (and you!) Chef Gregorio has shared his recipe here.
  • Dolce: Tiramisu’ (with mascarpone, coffee, and cacao). Recipe here!

We ended the night around 11pm and made our way back to downtown, still chatting the whole way about each course and what a dreamy evening it was.

I simply cannot say enough about what a magical experience Dinner in the Field was, and I can’t wait to return for another. Chefs Paige and Gregorio are hoping to soon open a restaurant to share Dinner in the Field with more people — so stay tuned for what is sure to be an in-demand destination restaurant!


Two very happy campers last night above – thank you Chefs Paige and Gregorio for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will cherish forever!

RVA Shopping Guide| Ledbury Warehouse Sale | August 19-22

Attention RVA Gentlemen (and the ladies who dress them):

It’s that time of year again: out with the old, and in with the new! It’s time to toss your ratty old dress shirts (you know the ones) and replace them with brand new, gorgeously tailored shirts from Richmond’s sartorial darling, Ledbury. (PS: Did you see their fabulous feature in the Wall Street Journal? Check it out!)

ledburyLedbury is hosting their storied Summer Warehouse Sale August 19-22, 2015 at the 14th street shop in Shockoe Bottom, and it’s set to present some epic bargains (up to 75% off discontinued items!)

The Ledbury team is kicking it all off this Wednesday, August 19th, from 4pm-7pm at their wonderfully chic shop (117 S. 14th Street, Richmond). They’ll have tiki drinks, snacks, and great tunes — and a chance to shop the sale early.

Here are all the important sale details:

  • Expect savings of up to 75% discontinued items – and significant discounts on some current items, exclusive to local customers only!
  • Shop “Ledbury vintage” styles and new shirts from the past year or so, all in range of bold prints and classic go-tos.
  • In addition to shirting, they’ll have limited blazers, pants(!) and accessories.
  • Sips and snacks will be served throughout the sale.
  • Best strategy for shopping:
    • Come early Wednesday for your best shot to snag shirting in your size (especially slim fit) as well as a limited selection of blazers.
    • Stock will be replenished everyday, so it’s worth checking back in.


    • 117 S 14th St, next to LaDiff.
    • Free parking at 14th St and Dock St.


    • Wed, Aug 19, 10AM-7PM
    • Thurs, Aug 20 – Sat, Aug 22, 10AM-6PM

With Ledbury, surprises are always possible. Insider tip: keep an eye on all of Ledbury’s social media channels for a golden pineapple… that’s all we can say- but they did post this little teaser on Instagram. Stay tuned!



Happy Shopping! Hope to see you on 14th Street this week….


Top 10 Picks from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale!

It’s here! It’s here! The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is July 17-August 2, and there are thousands of amazing, designer items on sale.

Here are the top ten items on my NAS Wish List. As always, lots of these items will sell out fast, so get clicking!

1. kate spade new york glitter stud earrings

Sale: $24.90 // Click here to shop!

[Read more…]

Wedding Wednesdays | The Very Busy Bride’s Survival Guide

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that my blog originally was sort of a “single girl’s guide” to living and working in Richmond, Virginia. The blog was called Caroline’s Plate back then, and it would eventually be picked up by Richmond.com/Richmond Times-Dispatch as a weekly dating column of the same name.

illustration: victoria borges

Fast forward six years, and I’m still blogging – just as Sweet Caroline this time around. And a few months ago, I had the amazing opportunity to bring my Richmond romance writing full-circle: I was asked to pen an article for Richmond Bride magazine about juggling wedding planning and real life. It was a wonderful opportunity to share some words of wisdom with brides who are planning their weddings now. And, it was an honor to write for a magazine that I absolutely adore.

The summer issue of Richmond Bride hit the stands while my husband and I were on our anniversary vacation, and I realized this week I completely forgot to share the article on my blog. Better late than never, right?

Without further ado, click here to check out my inaugural article for Richmond Bride magazine. 

I hope you enjoy! Be sure to like and share on social media if you enjoy.


Shine Blowdry Bar + GIVEAWAY!

IMG_3014Once upon a time, in a little Southern city, the ladies who lived there were sitting quite pretty. From shopping to wine bars, hot yoga to barre, from Carytown to Short Pump, their favorite places were never too far. They had their Whole Foods to purchase kale and quinoa, they could even have a girls day at the Red Door Spa.

But when a Richmond gal had a special night planned — a wedding, a benefit, or seeing their favorite band- there was one thing missing, that one final touch, she didn’t know why but she wanted it so much.  She had the dress and the shoes, she had a manicure and her makeup done, too. But what did she need to make her look complete? “A good blowout,” she thought, with a sigh of defeat. For in Richmond this service was obsolete: only big cities had salons that offered this treat.

But lo and behold, her worries were over due to the arrival of a new Fairy Godmother. On Broad Street in the city’s Near West End opened a blowdry bar – which is a hot new trend. Shine’s doors swung open in April this year, so never again will a bad hair day you fear.

And the women of Richmond lived happily ever after.

I. Am. So. Excited. So excited that I even wrote that cheesy, rhyming fairy tale.

For years, if you wanted a simple blowout or updo, you had to compete with Saturday appointments at your salon: hoping to be squeezed in between highlights and haircuts on a coveted appointment day. It was nearly impossible – and almost always really expensive – to get your hair professionally styled even for the simplest occasion of a job interview or an anniversary date night.

Larger cities, like New York, DC, Atlanta and Charleston have had blowdry bars for years: a salon that only does blowouts and styling. No haircuts. No color. No muss, no fuss. That’s why I could hardly believe my eyes a few weeks ago when I received an invitation to a private after-party to preview the new Shine Blowdry Bar, just west of Willow Lawn on Broad Street.

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Blogger Christina from Tiramisu for Breakfast getting pampered

I joined some of my favorite fellow bloggers (Tiramisu for Breakfast, Southern Mrs, Petite Modern, I Heart Vegetables, and Kristel Poole) for an after-hours evening of champagne, amuse bouche, and pampering at the new blowdry bar– and I can’t wait to go back.

FullSizeRender (3)Shine offers six signature blowout styles, four specials, a few add-ons, makeup services, and facial waxing. I chose the Sunkissed: a beachy, “I woke up like this” style. I’m growing my hair back out after chopping it off  last fall a la Lauren Conrad, so I really can’t wait to try some of the other styles once my hair is a little longer (though they can work with any length of hair). It was such a fun, girly night with some of my favorite Richmond bloggers, and I was so glad to meet Shine’s fabulous owner, Allison Bridges. Here’s a little about Allison:

side-aboutLike many curly haired girls, Allison Bridges was forever in search of the perfect blowout. Then one day she thought to herself, “I can have fabulous hair every day if I open a blowdry bar here in Richmond!”

And so she did. Armed with an MBA and more than 15 years of business experience, Allison paired her professional savvy with her obsession with crowd-stopping hair to create Shine Blowdry Bar. For Allison and all of the lovely ladies of Richmond, it’s a dream come true!

Allison lives in Richmond with her husband, Lee, and their two children.

Shine also has some signature products, which I have been loving so far. The products run from $16.50 – $22.00, and they’ve all got cute, sassy names. I’m currently using Hot Momma (heat protection), After Party (dry shampoo) and Big Bang (texturizing mist).

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And, just for you, my lovely Sweet Caroline readers, Shine and I have paired up to offer one lucky reader a FREE blowout at Shine Blow Dry Bar! Just click here for your chance to win!*

*No purchase necessary. Contest expires May 16, 2015.


Wedding Wednesdays | Virginia is for Lovers Gift Bag Ideas

Almost two years ago, my best friend asked me to marry him on the steps of the Virginia state capitol. Soon, I was in full-blown planning mode dreaming up the details of our perfect, very Virginia wedding. Every detail of our wedding had a distinctly Virginia flavor to it, from my bachelorette party in Charlottesville to our rehearsal dinner at the historic Jefferson Hotel in Richmond to our wedding favors — yellow grits from Byrd Mill in Ashland. It was a “Very Virginia Wedding” indeed! (You can read more about our big day by clicking here and here!) [Read more…]

Wedding Wednesdays | 6 Dreamy Virginia Vineyard Weddings

photo credit: patricia lyons photography

Happy Wedding Wednesday, lovelies!

kewsick vineyards wedding | photo credit: cat thrasher

I’m finally bringing back the Wedding Wednesdays series to the blog — the timing could not be more perfect! I’ve always loved looking at real weddings– especially ones that  take place in my home state of Virginia. Over the past few months, however, Virginia weddings have become a big part of my job at Virginia Tourism Corporation as we try to market Virginia as the *perfect* wedding destination for brides-to-be. Talk about making my dream job even more dreamy!

A wedding in Virginia is pure magic — plain and simple. I may be a little biased, but there is no denying that Virginia’s lush countrysides, gorgeous vineyards, historic hotels, miles of sunny beaches and cozy mountain resorts can be pretty enchanting to even the most discerning bride. Virginia has it all, and I’d be willing to bet that whatever type of wedding you seek– you’ll find it here in Virginia.

View More: http://violetirisstudios.pass.us/caroline--paul

our wedding day! photo credit: violet iris studios

We chose a traditional church ceremony followed by a reception in a historic Victorian mansion in downtown Richmond, VA. If we hadn’t stayed in Richmond for hometown nuptials, our wedding would have taken place at one of Virginia’s 250+ wineries. From Charlottesville to the Eastern Shore, Northern Virginia to the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia’s wineries offer a picturesque rustic-chic experience. Whether you’re looking for an indoor/outdoor option, completely al fresco, or indoors with a view of the majestic mountains, here are six dreamy Virginia Vineyards to inspire your wedding planning.

So enjoy some of my favorite vineyard settings in Virginia, captured by some of the most talented Virginia wedding photographers! Click the title link for each wedding to see more gorgeous photos.

1. marty + jane (pippin hill vineyard) | by candi coffman


 2. laura + tim (castle hill cider) | jodi miller photography

3. laura + josh (trump winery) | once like a spark photography 


4. leah + will (king family vineyards) | by john schaaf


5. melissa + phi (early mountain vineyards) | nat wongsaraj photography

Melissa + Phi | Early Mountain Vineyards Wedding | Virginia Wedding Photography

6. katherine + nate (tarara winery) | katelyn james photography

Did we miss one of your favorite vineyards? Leave your beloved wineries in the comments below!

Our wedding is on Borrowed & Blue!

View More: http://violetirisstudios.pass.us/caroline--paul

A couple of weeks ago, our amazing wedding photographer Cate Gravatt of Violet Iris Studios let me know that our Richmond, VA wedding was going to be featured on one of my favorite wedding sites, Borrowed & Blue.

Here’s a sneak peek screen shot from the website:


Here’s our wedding description from the website:


Kicking the day off with glittery hangers and popping pink shoes, we know this one is going to be a show-stopper! Caroline & Paul are a darling couple, and we just love how well Violet Iris Studios captured them on their wedding day. Their very traditional celebration was highlighted with adorable personal touches and much creativity. (Wedding favors of grits? It doesn’t get any more Southern than that!) Perfectly romantic, we are pleased as punch to share the inspirational day with you. Enjoy!

From the photographer….

Caroline & Paul fell in love with each other years ago, and at the same time, they fell in love with Richmond. They love everything about the beautiful city, and Caroline actually runs her own Richmond-based blog fittingly titled Sweet Caroline RVA. There she writes articles about style, her personal life as a wife to Paul, and all the happenings around Richmond. Caroline’s sweet Southern style mixed with Paul’s classic tastes made for a gorgeous wedding. You could see their personalities in everything from the venues to the little details. Their love was radiating from them the entire day!

Certainly brings back HAPPY memories!!! Click here to read the full post on Borrowed & Blue, and here to see a collection of my personal favorite images from our wedding day.

Thank you Cate and Borrowed & Blue for helping us share and remember our special day!






Interested in all of our vendors? Here’s the complete list:

Photography: Violet Iris Studios | Bride’s Dress: Pronovias | Bride’s Shoes: kate spade new york | Bride’s Makeup:MakeupRichmond | Bridal Party Hair and Styling: Hair Theater | Bridesmaid’s Dress: J. Crew | Bridesmaid Earrings:LoveLikeStyle | Tuxedos: BLACK by Vera Wang | Paper Goods: Designed by bride, printed by Pro Printing Richmond | Florals: Anna Marie Mizell | Catering:Catering for All Occasions |Rehearsal Dinner Venue: TJ’s at the Jefferson | Ceremony Venue: Powell Chapel atSecond Baptist Church | Reception Venue: Bolling Haxall House | Band:Another Level | Transportation: Historic Trolley from WINN Transportation,Spoken4 | Favor Bags: Stamp from Tie That Binds; Grits from Byrd Mill Grits

Tuesday Ten // Virginia Craft Beers to Enjoy This Month


August is Virginia Craft Beer Month! With 82 craft breweries across the state (and counting!), Virginia is for Craft Beer Lovers, for sure!

In honor of Craft Beer Month in the Commonwealth, here are ten of my favorite Virginia Craft Beers to enjoy this month. Check them out after the jump!

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