Almost every young girl has had at least one daydream about the perfect wedding.
It’s the stuff that dreams are made of, and gives every young woman a chance to be the princess in her own special fairy tale.
Allison Ariail had her own fairy tale wedding in Alexandria a year and a half ago in Alexandria, but not without some difficulty first.
ALLISON ARIAIL WAS married at Christ Church on Sept. 28, 2001. “They got engaged in March of 2001, so we had about six months to plan a wedding for around 300 people,” said her mother, Leslie Ariail, who played an integral part in planning the event. “That seemed like plenty of time until we ran into a few little problems,” she said.
Getting the date for the church was the first hurdle.”Allison grew up at Pohick Church but we now live in Old Town,” Leslie said. They compromised, holding the wedding at Christ Church, but getting the Pohick Church minister from Allison’s childhood to participate in the ceremony, along with Pierce Klemmt, Christ Church rector.
Leslie Ariail thought that they had settled on a reception site, as well. “We planned to hold the reception at the Metropolitan Club in Washington because my husband is a member there,” she said. The wedding date, Sept. 28, was good for the club as well.
THINGS WERE GOING smoothly until that June, when Leslie and Allison learned that the International Monetary Fund was holding meetings in Washington on the same weekend as the wedding, and thousands of protesters were expected. By August, the reception had been moved from the Metropolitan Club to the Ariail’s back yard.
A party in the backyard meant a tent that would hold 300 guests for dinner and dancing. The tent covered most of the parking lot behind the Ariails’ house. There were two smaller tents for prep work and serving.
“I had hosted a very large party here the year before and so had a good idea of what was going to be required,” Leslie said. “We were able to use the same caterer that I had used for the previous occasion and were actually able to invite a few more people.”
Negotiating the bride’s gown was a bit easier. Allison purchased her gown, a Christos design, at Hannelore’s in Old Town. “She was going to wear my gown but we aren’t really the same size,” Leslie said. “Interestingly enough, though, the bottom of Allison’s dress and mine were similar, with lace insets and an empire waist.”
The bridesmaids wore Vera Wang off white skirts with celadon tops that Leslie designed. “Allison had two attendants, both very close friends,” Leslie said.
LESLIE’S GOWN WAS designed by Ivonne de la Vega, a Miami couturier. It was a dark periwinkle blue, made of silk peau de soie with an organza coat. The wedding was a white tie affair, thus determining the wardrobes of the men.
The church is less than two blocks from the Ariail’s house, so the wedding party walked to and from the ceremony, accompanied by a bagpiper. The service was traditional, with music by Bach and Mendelson and two trumpeters complementing the organ.
Dinner featured lamb, and the wedding cake was a rum cake. “We had very little time to select a wedding cake because, of course, the Metropolitan Club would have provided that,” Leslie said.
The bride wanted a rum cake because her parents had the same type of cake on their wedding day.“We worked with a wonderful pastry shop that made us samples of rum cakes with different types of icing so that we would know exactly what they tasted like and could make our selection,” said Leslie Ariail.
After eating, wedding guests danced to Oscar, a Richmond band that plays 1950s and ‘60s hits. “A friend of Allison’s sent her several tapes so that she could select the band that she liked the best,” Leslie said.
Despite the change of venue, it was the fairy tale wedding every girl dreams about, the Ariails said, with even the weather obliging. The couple honeymooned in Italy and now live in Charlotte, N.C.