Richmond vs. Charlottesville–Which Venue do YOU prefer for YOUR Wedding

Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Richmond vs. Charlottesville–Which Venue do YOU prefer for YOUR Wedding
Venue outside Charlottesville, Trump Vineyard
As a wedding officiant I have the opportunity to travel all over Virginia, but most of my work is concentrated in the Richmond and Charlottesville areas.  You have to pick someplace to do your business and both Richmond and Charlottesville are close to my heart—I grew up in the former, and live in the latter. 
I am sure there will be those who will say I am being too much of generalist, after reading this.  Sorry, I am going to make the comment anyway.  Having been an officiant for fifteen years now, and having officiated at weddings in both places,  I can honestly say that I find that weddings in Richmond to be different than those in Charlottesville.  It’s like the difference between Downton Abbey and The Waltons,or between a Lincoln sedan and a Chevy Truck.  Ok, I’ve overdramatized the contrast maybe, but I want the difference to be clear. 
The Wickham House, Richmond
Couples who marry in the Richmond are drawn to the history of the place, the grand hotels, the historic homes and the historic churches.  Think of the John Marshall Ball Room built in 1929 in Richmond’s downtown area.  In its heyday (the 1920’s to 1970’s) that elegant venue hosted entertainers such as Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley. At least three presidents both dined and danced there: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. Or, think of the Historic Wickham House , which houses the Valentine Museum.  That Wickham was built in 1812 and is a fine example of architecture from the federal period. Many a bride and groom have exchanged vows in that magnificent edifice.   And then there are the Hanging  Italian Gardens at Maymont Park, part of an 100 acre Victorian country estate once owned by financier James Henry Dooley and his wife, Sallie May.  Many a bride and groom have exchanged rings in the beautifully planned gardens and trained vines of that place!  As I said, history and also elegance.  That’s what Richmond is about.  
Such history and elegance seem to require a traditional wedding service.  I often wear my robe at Richmond weddings, use God language, offer prayers.  Men and women dress formally, and maybe I am making this up, but I think not—people seem genuinely courteous. Richmond women stand up straighter, and seem daintier then their Charlottesville counterparts. 
Pippin Hill 
On the other hand,  Charlottesville is farm country and wine country.  Couples who marry there want to take advantage of the verdant vineyards,and the majestic mountains and stretches of farmland..    Charlottesville weddings are less formal, since they are most often out-of-doors. .  That doesn’t mean that Charlottesville weddings aren’t marvelous affairs.  They are.  My goodness, Pippin Hill, a newish venue just outside Charlottesville, has a fine tasting room and a separate ballroom/dining room, the decor of which will take your breath away. 
Maymont ‘s Italian Hanging
Gardens, Richmond
Jefferson Hotel at Christmas–wedding was in a side room
One of the major decisions a bride must make if she is to marry out of doors in the Charlottesville area is, “What shoes shall I wear?”  Those elegant, spiked heels are a challenge to walk in in a vineyard, or on a mountain overlook!  Some brides make do with flats, some opt to wear boots under their long white dresses.  Outdoor weddings in the Charlottesville area are usually more casual than Richmond weddings.   In fact, couples who marry in Central Virginia often ASK that I prepare a casual service.  They may want me to wear street clothes or “something comfortable.”  A few couples have asked me to wear jeans!  Their weddings are fun affairs, more like hoedowns.  Hay bales sometimes serve as pews or chairs, and beer or wine kegs serve as flower tables. 
So, if you do have the liberty to decide where your wedding will take place—or if you have already decided you want a destination wedding but

you just don’t know where, consider very carefully the ambiance you are trying to create.  Reserved and traditional or fun and laid back. It’s possible to choose one or the other and still get married in the wonderful state of Virginia.   It’s your call because it is your wedding.  Make it your own. 

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