Here at the Venue Report, we look for variety, we crave rarity, authenticity, the sort of “I was jumping up and down unable to grasp how something could be so cool” type of originality. Just the other day, we found ourselves in that exact over the moon excitement state of being. Isadora Martin-Dye, owner and serious interior design savant of the famous Rixey Manor, sat down with the Venue Report to talk love, crystal chandeliers, rich history, and a whole lot more.
Rixey Manor, built in Culpeper, Virginia way back when in 1801 was bought by the now owners, Isadora and her husband, 20 years ago. They gave the Manor one heck of a face lift, including a 1,500 sq ft ballroom with twenty crystal chandeliers, yes I repeat, twenty crystal chandeliers. However, Isadora’s favorite addition to the home is the balcony rooftop terrace, a whopping 1,800 sq ft overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, unlike any other estate in the area. If that’s not cool, then I don’t know what is. With the help of photographer Lisa Blume, she and Isadora truly find a way to showcase how seriously out-of-this-world this vintage yet comfortable venue is, let’s take a look.
What is the concept behind The Rixey Manor?
We are. We were engaged and venue shopping both in England and the USA. We wanted to find a venue that felt like home, and that we were hosting our family in somewhere we felt relaxed. Not an easy thing to find, so we built it. We try to make every couple that comes through our door feel like friends (and then they genuinely become friends). The Manor itself has an elegant but relaxed vibe. People feel free to put their feet on the sofa and watch T.V. but they also get to oh and ah over the antiques and history.
Tell us a little bit about the team behind Rixey Manor.
It's my husband and I. That's it. Our couples always know that if they call they are going to be dealing with one of us. They also know that we don't have to get approval from a management team, or historic trust if they want to do something a little different. Ben and I can decide that in the room, and work out a way to make almost any idea a possibility.
Please tell us a bit about the story and how it was started.
The Manor itself was built in 1801 by Charles Rixey, he founded Rixeyville (the town we are located in) and it was in the Rixeyfamily until 1987. It's featured in many books about the area and has an interesting Civil War history. As for us, I'm from England and Ben was born in New Jersey. We met in Los Angeles, and moved to Virginia in search of a more positive life that we had in the film and TV industry. We found the Manor (it was in short sale and needed a lot of work).
We opened officially with our own wedding on May 23rd 2015.
Tell us a little bit about the design. Who designed it? What influenced the design?
My husband and I did the interior. He built the bar using a tree that had stood here since it was built. I did most of the interior decorating and the concept was vintage without sacrificing comfort. The colors are all pretty neutral, so any couple can easily make it their own with their wedding colors and family pictures.
What do you think makes Rixey Manor ideal for gatherings, reunions, group getaways, retreats?
The Manor has great practical flow, amazing views of mountains and lakes and amazing history that makes it memorable for guests. From a personal perspective it also has a couple who love what they do and genuinely want to make your wedding perfect for you.
Any fun stories to share would be great!
We try and keep each wedding as unique as the couple, we have done a wedding in full Suicide Squad costume, a weekend where we gave free weddings to deserving couples (which we hope will be an annual event), and then we really hit the news when we did a photo shoot with Madeline Stuart - the only professional model with Down Syndrome.
When type of customer is Rixey Manor aimed at?
We tend to attract a more mature bride who understand a wedding is not just a day but enjoy using our whole weekend, exclusive use policy to truly encourage their families to bond and join together as one. We find a lot of our couples want to have a wedding that celebrates all their achievements in life, be it children, careers, or vow renewals. We want them to feel like time has stood still, and that all the stress of normal life is put on hold. The Manor is completely surrounded by pastures, with horses, and the most stunning scenery. It is almost a timewarp and it encourages the guest to put down their phones and be in the moment.
We remodeled the Manor to accommodate those from the youngest to the oldest. Our newly built ballroom (and its chandelier lit bathrooms) are ADA accessible. Our Bridal Suite is big enough for all the bridesmaids a girl could want, and it's copper tub can soak two the night after. My favorite feature is the rooftop, it's 1800 sq ft and over looks the Blue Ridge Mountains. When the sun sets behind them the cake cutting and cocktail photos are spectacular. I also love that my husband wont let me forget the guys - we often do clay shooting on a Saturday and he is in the process of building a putting green so they can play golf with their groomsmen.
Are any of the design elements outsourced?
Our furnishing are a weird mix of antiques, Restoration Hardware and Home Goods! We tend to find Home Goods provides great finishing decor and we don't mind if it gets damaged. Most of our soft furnishings (and some great coffee table trunks) come from Restoration Hardwear - the sofas are the size of a twin bed, and MUCH more comfortable than their antique comparable. Most of our wood furnishings came from auction houses, my favorite item is a three paneled mirror from France. It's in the Bridal Suite and makes for beautiful soft focus pictures.
We love recycling original elements of the house that we find in the barns etc back into the decor. The bartop is made from a 200 year old black walnut that had to be felled to accommodate the ballroom, and the foot rail at the bar is trim from the original Manor front. It's a little strange when people realize that they are resting their feet on a 215 year old piece of carpentry but we LOVE that it is a great piece of upcyling.
One does not simply stumble-upon nor easily bring to life a venue such as Rixey Manor. But rather, a place and structure such as this, stands as it does for what it truly is because of the 200 plus years of antiquity, life and love, that can be seen and felt when in its presence. Its foundation is laced and embroidered with characteristics unique to itself, and that is exactly why Rixey Manor truly defines what it means to be one-of-a-kind.
Venue: Rixey Manor | Photography: Lisa Blume Photography | Bride’s Gown: Ava Laurenne Bride | Makeup Artist: Sara Dodson | Event Coordinator: The bride and groom, owners of Rixley Manor | Wedding Cake: Gateau | Florist: Good Earth Flowers | Caterers: A La Carte | Transportation: AA Lightfoot Transportation Inc | Music/Entertainment: Sound Design | Invitations: Forever Fiancés | Photo Booth: Photo Booth of Charlottesville