Years after meeting as students at Washington and Lee University in 2014 and beginning a romantic relationship, Joseph Perrella planned a trip with Carter Ware back to their college town of Lexington, Virginia. He even sent her boss a LinkedIn message months in advance, personally requesting Carter have that Friday off from work. While promenading through their old campus, Carter thought something was amiss. Joe was uncharacteristically dressed up in khakis and a polo, after all. Her suspicions were confirmed when he got down on one knee with a Friend and Firestone engagement ring. He hadn’t even asked the question when Carter said, “Yes!”
Carter’s family’s farm, Stonehedge, just outside of Middleburg, Virginia has always been a special place to the couple, so choosing it for the wedding venue was an easy decision. “It’s also spectacularly beautiful, and such a unique place,” Carter adds. Her mother brought inspiration to the planning process, and Carter trusted her insight completely. Her mother was the one who suggested planting dahlias throughout the property and the wedding color palette. Carter and Joe enlisted wedding planner Pamela Barefoot to field, organize, and bring to life Carter and her mother’s most wildest dreams.
As the manager for global pricing and inventory at Tory Burch, the bride relished the fashion-forward experience of styling herself and her groom-to-be. She also curated her mother and sisters’ looks for the wedding, selecting Markarian gowns for each of them.
The weekend kicked off with a bridal luncheon hosted by Carter’s godmothers. She based most of her outfits around a pair of orange Prada slingbacks and wore a white Zimmermann dress with colorful floral applique. She paired the outfit with mother-of-pearl drop earrings and a show-stopping citrine and gold ring her soon-to-be mother-in-law gifted the night before.
The Tuscan-themed rehearsal dinner honored Joe’s Italian heritage with a delectable al-fresco meal made by Ridgewells Catering. Carter opted for a nontraditional bridal look with an orange Zimmermann skirt and top, Alma’s Cohniella Orchid and emerald earrings, and her college graduation present from her father and stepmother—an S. Carter bone and rough diamond cuff. Joe sported a tan check sport coat and checkered button-down from local favorite, English Country Classics. Perry Vaile photographed and Yeaettes Productions recorded every event of the memorable weekend.
While getting ready for the big day, Carter wore Sleeper pajamas and gifted her bridesmaids floral Piyama sets. Then, she switched into her made-to-measure Mira Zwillinger gown from Mark Ingram Atelier. The matching veil was topped with lace florets from her mother’s very own wedding dress. Carter stepped into white Manolo Blahnik mules and added sentimental jewels. Her mother-of-pearl, diamond, and pearl drop earrings were custom-designed by her late grandmother for her mother’s wedding. Carter’s wedding band was also crafted from her grandmother’s personal diamond collection. In addition to the gold bangle her mother gifted to her for graduation, Carter wore the Friend & Firestone tennis bracelet Joe gave her that day. Makeup artist and hair stylist Anna Breeding perfected the bride’s beauty look.
The groom donned a custom J.Mueser tuxedo. “We had the best time designing it at J.Mueser’s atelier in New York, just a few blocks from our first apartment together,” Carter recalls. “The tuxedo and silver studs from Friend & Firestone were my wedding gifts to Joe.”
On October 8, 2022, the bride—who is also an amateur competitive showjumper—completely surprised her guests when she rode in on her dahlia-adorned horse, Rolls Royce. Pamela helped Carter step out of her cowboy boots and back into her Blahniks before walking down the aisle with her father and her brother.
“Since we had the whole wedding weekend at my home, it was important to me to have parts of Joe’s life thoughtfully incorporated in the weekend,” Carter notes. His uncle served as the officiant and assembled a truly meaningful ceremony. Carter’s cousin, Frank, sang a tear-jerking rendition of Pearl Jam’s “Future Days.” Joe’s groomsman, Max, and Carter’s bridesmaids, Greer and Louise, delivered two touching readings.
After cocktail hour, guests strolled through a floral arch covered in wild vines and dahlias from Stonehedge to enter the tented reception. Carter describes the space “with lots of rich, warm colors that fit with the October timing and Virginia horse country setting.” Carter’s mother found inspiration in a vintage Maison La Carine plate and contrasted the old-fashioned aesthetic with embroidered Schumacher fabric. Sweet Root Village arranged spectacular centerpieces.
The newlyweds were introduced and immediately launched into their first dance to Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September.” From that moment on, the dance floor was never empty. The Atlanta Showstoppers‘s set kept everyone dancing all night, even between courses.
For the father-daughter dances, she danced with not one but three important men in her life—her father, brother, and stepfather. The groom and his mother swayed to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Midway through the reception, Carter changed into her second bridal outfit, a custom Markarian dress with metallic tinsel pom-poms over a white silk backing and gold platform Larroudé heels.
Joe, a longtime drummer, shocked partygoers when he jumped onstage and joined the band. Without ever letting Carter know, he had been practicing for months for this specific moment. His groomsman, Andrew, began shredding on the guitar. “My jaw was on the floor,” Carter laughs. “It was the most fun surprise to see my rockstar husband and one of his best friends on the stage!” At the crowd’s insistence, they even played an encore after “Baby I Love You” by Aretha Franklin of “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry.
Joe swept Carter off of her feet after the last song, and they left with a sparkler exit before jumping into a red ’68 Chevelle from Camelot Classic Cars as Mr. and Mrs. Perrella.