The love story of Kat Barnes and Tim Skeen began in the quaint town of Lexington, Virginia, home to Washington & Lee University nestled in the Shenandoah Valley. What they didn’t know in college, however, was that this school would continue to weave their paths until they would become intertwined forever. Though the pair weren’t close in college, they reconnected in 2015 at the wedding of a fellow W&L friend. After months of long-distance courting and weekend stints to different cities exploring breweries, running trails and interesting, sustainable restaurants (three mutual loves), Tim finally transplanted to New York City to be with Kat.

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We are thrilled to give you a peek inside this jaw-dropping North Carolina mountain wedding.

In December 2017, Kat and Tim got engaged in the manure shed (you read that right) at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a beautiful, highly acclaimed culinary haven about 45 minutes outside of New York City. Early into the meal, Tim and Kat were ushered across the courtyard into a private, cozy dining area (the manure shed) to have their next course, and it was there Tim dropped to one knee. As if the engagement and 28-course meal weren’t enough excitement, Tim surprised Kat by bringing her into the kitchen to meet one of her heroes, Chef Dan Barber (you might know him from Chef’s Table). “We have an engagement!” the chef announced to the kitchen staff as they banged their pots and pans.

Kat and Tim’s vision was a small-town North Carolina mountain wedding, as they share an appreciation for the outdoors and wanted to be married in Kat’s home state. They landed on the beautiful The Eseeola Lodge in Linville, NC, and quickly got to work with Barbara Pollygus, the venue coordinator at Eseeola and their planner, Elizabeth Hempfling. After months of thoughtful planning, family and friends bunked up in adjacent cottages, enabled their vacation auto-responses and cozied into an unforgettable weekend in the mountains.

“We really wanted the wedding to be a reflection of us as a couple and the creative touches — the escort cards, the table cards, the craft beer bar, the bands, the guest book, the cakes and the menu — were all really fun for the two of us to collaborate on in the wedding planning process. We put our own spin on things.” Kat says.

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The bride wore a custom “Eleanora” gown by Elizabeth Fillmore. Kat wanted a dress that fit in with the venue — light and easy, high-to-low with flowered accents.

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Equal parts rustic and elegant, The Eseeola Lodge was the perfect canvas on which the future Skeens could paint their dream event.

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Kat allowed each bridesmaid to choose her own dress. The emerald green contrasted beautifully with the lush bouquets.

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Natty Boh beer and Cheerwine were served out of a canoe at the ceremony, nods to the bride’s and groom’s home states.

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Overcast skies made for a perfectly cool backdrop (and temperature) for an outdoor ceremony.

After snagging a beer and koozie from a canoe on the way to their seats, friends and family from near and far convened on the grass by a lake, and Kat and Tim said their vows through ear-to-ear smiles. Every touch at the outdoor wedding and open-air reception was unforgettable. The party began with an unexpected performance by an impressive Zac Brown Band (the couple’s favorite group) cover band 21 Ride, topped off by a saxophone sit-in to Dave Matthews Band’s “Ants Marching” by the bride’s brother. One huge dance party unraveled from there.

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The pair said traditional vows, but felt strongly about substituting the word “choose” for “take.”

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What you can’t hear is every guest belting “Ants Marching” as Kat’s brother, Walker, takes over the stage on the saxophone.

After the first of two bands wrapped up, the warmed-up crowd of 250 sat down to a family-style spread of Southern favorites: heirloom tomato and succotash, biscuits, North Carolina pulled pork, Southern fried chicken, collard greens and bowtie mac ‘n’ cheese generously piled onto plates. The cakes were delivered from NYC-based Momofuku Milk Bar — a favorite treat of Kat’s. The hero cake was “Birthday Cake.” Other flavors included Chocolate Malt, Strawberry Lemon, Dulce de Leche and Salted Pretzel.

While the creative cake spread was a guest favorite, a different element rises to the top in Kat’s mind. “The best planning decision I made was hiring Madi [Flournoy],” Kat says of her Nashville-based photographer. “Nothing is more valuable than having a photographer who makes you feel comfortable. There are so many intimate moments on your wedding day, and you want them to feel natural. Madi was with us for every laugh and tear … she even cried along with the two of us at our first look.” You share the majority of the day with your photographer, and I feel so lucky for the memories she captured and to call her a friend now!”
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The green lettering on each table card was hand-stamped by the bride and groom themselves and contained a business card from one of the couple’s favorite restaurants around the country. On each corresponding table was a marker explaining why the restaurant is special to them. This was one of the most talked-about touches of the whole weekend.

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What cooler wedding cake than Momofuku birthday cake?

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From the first dance (“Homegrown” by Zac Brown) on, Kat never stopped smiling — though sometimes through happy tears — the entire night.

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They wanted an earthy color palette with a pop of color, as the venue already had such natural beauty. Callista designs by Janna Avery (with the help of the bride) created a Southern mountain feel with greens, cotton and pops of yellow. They even had a wreath made of hops to adorn the getaway ride.

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The couple heads off into a blissful wedded life (but first, to the after-party).

After some late-night snacks of popcorn, hot dogs and fries, it was time to see the couple off. A sea of sparklers encapsulated the newlyweds and their siblings as they pedaled away in a mobile beer tavern from PubCycle in Boone, NC. In true Kat and Tim fashion, they embarked on an adventurous honeymoon over the holidays to Japan (skiing, eating, exploring) and Hawaii (relaxing, beaching, more exploring). The couple still lives in Manhattan, but Kat’s strong Carolina roots and Tim’s ties to Maryland might, in time, draw these two southward. Until then, we “cheers!” a craft beer or three to the Skeens.

RESOURCES

Venue: The Camp at Eseeola Lodge
Photographer: Madi Flournoy Henderson
Planner: Events by Elizabeth Ashley
Bride’s gown: Custom “Eleanora” by Elizabeth Fillmore
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Hunter green, an assortment, chosen by each bridesmaid
Hair: Canvas Beauty Bar
Groom’s custom suit: Knot Standard
Groomsmen’s suits: The Black Tux
Invitations & programs: Emily Mayne Studios
Menus & weekend brochure: Zoe Yarborough
Save the date artwork: Helen Robinson Art
Table cards: Collected by the bride & designed by Print Space Manhattan
Additional custom table decor: Addie Vermillion
Flowers: Callista Designs by Janna Avery
Getaway car: PubCycle Boone
Catering: The Eseeola Lodge
Music: 20 Ride & Evolution Party Band
Cake: Momofuku Milk Bar

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