About last night…

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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!

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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!

Wedding Wednesdays | Whimsy + Wildfox

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Celebrities are often stalked by paparazzi, and few engage in conversation with photogs. So, many of them make a statement without words– through their clothes. Some statements are political (like Drew Barrymore in this anti-Bush tee), while others are self-promoting (such as NeNe Leakes in this Girl, Bye shirt). Finally, some sport emblematic symbols of their personalities. Enter  Wildfox. To me, Wildfox has always been a brand synonymous with celebrity self-expression. Take Taylor Swift: sweet, hyper-feminine, romantic, and an unapologetic cat lover. Here are a few of her favorite Wildfox looks:

Now, Wildfox is offering a whimsical and romantic collection for the bride-to-be, and I can’t get enough.

For the Bride

The collection is hyper-feminine with an apparent aesthetic homage to early Sofia Coppola (think Chanel Mademoiselle, Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette).

Here are a few of my favorites from this collection (click each image for more info or to purchase)

Let Them Eat Cake Couch Princess Sweater

Let Them Eat Cake & Let Them Eat Cake Sweatshirts | Wildfox

Kiss the Bride Perfect Tee

Bride Tee Shirts & Bridal Tees | WildfoxJust Maui-d Sleepover Tee

Pink Just Maui-d Tee Shirt & Bride Shirts | Wildfox

Play Dress Up Princess Tee

Pink sweatshirts & Princess sweatshirts | Wildfox

For Breakfast Perfect Tee

Pop the champagne shirt & champagne tee shirts | Wildfox

What are some of your favorite bridal statement pieces? Post in the comments below!

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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.

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Wedding Wednesdays: Royal Wedding Touches for 2015

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Happy 4th Wedding Anniversary, Will & Kate!

As the world anxiously awaits the arrival of Royal Baby #2 (Charlotte? Alice? Diana?), the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary today.

Undeniably, Kate Middleton’s style is as classic as they come, and the tasteful details she chose for their 2011 nuptials will certainly stand the tests of time. However, I thought it might be fun to update a few of her details to fit with 2015/2016’s wedding trends! [Read more…]

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 | 7 Best Wedding Blogs

violet iris studios

violet iris studios

Planning your dream wedding can be so much fun — you’re able to pick out every tiny detail that will make your special day “yours.” But, it can also be extremely overwhelming. There are a lot of decisions to make, and it seems like there is endless “inspiration” coming at you from all angles– family, friends, wedding magazines, TV shows, Pinterest… you name it. Everyone seems to have an opinion. [Read more…]

Wedding Wednesdays | 10 Sweet Bridesmaid Gifts

photo credit: violet iris studios

photo credit: violet iris studios

Happy Wednesday, brides-to-be and wedding lovers!

About this time last year, I was in full-fledged wedding planning mode with five months to go until our May nuptials. If you’re reading this post, chances are you have already asked your bridesmaids to be part of your big day, and you’re looking for some inspiration on ways to thank them for helping you get down the aisle.

Here are ten of my favorite bridesmaid gifts! A bonus at the end: the real gifts I chose for my bridesmaids!

1. Matching Kimono Robes

Mint Bridesmaids Robes, Kimono Crossover Robes, Spa Wraps, Bridesmaids gift, getting ready robes, Bridal shower party favors, Floral

Mint Bridesmaids Robes // Etsy

[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

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

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

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

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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

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

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Here’s our wedding description from the website:

ABOUT THIS WEDDING

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!

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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

Wedding Wednesdays | Favorite Wedding Shoes

It’s officially been a little over a month since our beautiful wedding in Richmond, VA. So hard to believe!

I had so much fun picking out all of the different fashions for my wedding– from the wedding dress to the bridesmaid dresses, earrings to veil, it was all so much fun! My absolute favorite thing I wore on my wedding day, though, were my beautiful, funky, and special kate spade new york charm heels ($328, kate spade). These shoes made such a statement, and I can’t wait to wear them again!

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

photos courtesy: violet iris studios

Love this look but want it for less? Check out a similar version from J. Renee Rosina

J. Renee Rosina Shoes – $56.00 | 6pm.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite wedding day shoe? Post in the comments section below!

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