By Rita Pike
Featured in the fall 2021 issue of Virginia Bride Magazine
BRIDE: Sally Dahljelm Fife, 31, Social Worker
GROOM: John Douglas Fife, 32, Sales
DATE: September 5, 2020
LOCATION: River Farm, Alexandria, VA
NUMBER OF GUESTS: 114; 109 adults, 5 kids
“We first met in high school at Bishop Ireton in Alexandria, VA. Doug asked me to freshman year homecoming at the very beginning of the year in September.” Years later, when they knew they were meant to be forever, Doug proposed to Sally in the backyard of their home. “He said he had made something for our beloved dog Winston in the backyard, knowing I would come out to see. Then he dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. I said, ‘yes!’”
For their big day, the couple hired Laura Ritchie with Grit and Grace to plan the whole thing. “She made it look ‘easy’ but worked tirelessly to make it our dream wedding.” Sally has always loved blue and so he natural choice for their day was a southern garden party vibe with blues, whites, and greens in a tented soiree on the river.
“My gown was a departure from what I originally thought I would lean toward, but it was one of the best decisions I made! I choose a Monique Lhuillier gown with a slim mermaid silhouette and off-the-shoulder neckline with floral cutouts, which was a perfect complement to the stunning gardens at River Farm.”
Sally’s five bridal attendants wore light blue, floor-length Jenny Yoo dresses in a simple, flattering silhouette for the classic garden theme. Doug and his five groomsmen wore navy suits with a white shirt and navy tie from the Black Tux.
The couple chose the stunning backdrop of River Farm, home to the American Horticultural Society for the big day. “The ceremony was outside on the banks of the Potomac. Bride and groom faced the secret garden at River Farm, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers. Two huge urns flanked and denoted the ceremony location while guests watched on.”
For their flowers, they had “a gathered, yet clean and refined, bouquet of white blooms and greenery such as peonies, garden roses, freesia, spray roses, ranunculus, parrot tulips, ferns, and other coordinating greenery.”
The ceremony was traditional and conducted by a Methodist pastor. Both an uncle and a cousin did readings and a prayer, while the pastor used a book of common prayers that had been used during Sally’s parents’ and grandparents’ wedding ceremonies.
Their cake was a delicious choice from Buttercream Bakeshop: a classic buttercream stripe with an elderflower-soaked lemon cake, blackberry jam, and vanilla buttercream.
Sally and Doug received an especially wonderful gift: a beautiful, framed picture of our wedding invitation, highlighting a watercolor of River Farm.
CEREMONY AND RECEPTION SITE: River Farm, Alexandria, VA, 703.768.5700
PHOTOGRAPHY: Adam Barnes Photography, Lynchburg, VA, 434.665.4018
WEDDING PLANNER AND DESIGNER: Grit & Grace Inc, Leesburg, VA, 703.887.2459
OFFICIANT: Reverend Emily Moore-Diamond, Aldersgate United Methodist Church
GOWN AND VEIL: Monique Lhuillier from Carines Bridal Atelier, Washington D.C.
SHOES: Stuart Weitzman
HAIR AND MAKEUP: Hair and Makeup by Claudine, Falls Church, VA, 703.581.9091
BRIDESMAID DRESSES: Jenny Yoo Collection, Bella Bridesmaids, Washington, D.C.
INVITATIONS: Emily Baird Design, Alexandria, VA, 703.887.5999
CALLIGRAPHY: LH Calligraphy, Alexandria, VA
FLOWERS: Sweet Root Village, Alexandria, VA, 571.249.0588
RENTAL EQUIPMENT: Something Vintage, Temple Hills, MD, 202.596.8445, & White Glove Rentals, Forest Hills, MD, 443.567.5157, & India Amory Linens, New York
CATERING: Occasions Caterers, Washington, D.C., 202.546.7400
MUSIC: Sage String Quartet, Washington, D.C., 202.642.5612
ENTERTAINMENT: Klaxton Brown Band
CAKE: Buttercream Bakeshop, Washington, D.C.
LIGHTING: Frost Lighting, Alexandria, VA
TRANSPORTATION: Old Town Trolley, Alexandria, VA
ACCOMMODATIONS: The Alexandrian Hotel, Alexandria, VA
HONEYMOON: The Cloister, Sea Island, GA