WEDDING- Wedded bliss: The to do's of recent I do's

Tirzah Fitzkee & Robin Lollar

May 31, 2008

Location: Veritas Vineyard

Guests: 120

Engagement: 15 months

Budget: We never had a specific budget, but I'm pretty sure we ended up spending more then we intended.

Splurged on: Veritas Vineyards; chartered buses to take guests to and from Veritas; extended time with our photographer so we could take photos on the Downtown Mall and UVA grounds; and a wedding planner.

Scrimped on: Minimal flowers and decorations at the reception because Veritas is such a beautiful setting. We also went with a DJ rather than a band and were very happy with that decision. 

Weather: A thunderstorm blew through in the afternoon delaying our pre-ceremony photos, but after that, it was bright and sunny for the rest of the day. Our photos turned out amazing because of the beautiful weather, and we were able to have the ceremony outside as we had hoped. 

Music: DJ John Garland

First dance song: "All I Want is You" by U2

Best: Having my grandfather who is a minister perform the ceremony was wonderful. 

Worst: Honestly, the worst part was knowing it was all over on Sunday  night. 

Unexpected: We learned the next day that some of the chartered buses were too hot. 

Advice: Do the best you can to drink in the entire day. I was feeling really overwhelmed right after the ceremony, so Robin and I ducked into the reception area for a quiet moment alone– I'm glad we took that pause for ourselves. I also definitely recommend taking photographs before the ceremony so you can enjoy your cocktail hour!

Debbie Thurneck & Brandon Schultz

July 19, 2008

Location: UVA Chapel and Colonnade Club

Guests: 120

Engagement: 13 months

Budget: We figured it out as we went along. My parents were very generous.

Splurged on: My dress and the flowers

Scrimped on: We got a really good deal on the guys' suits (from S&K)

Weather: Sunny and very hot

Music: Hipshack (a fun band from North Carolina)

First dance song: "Till There Was You"

Best: Having our family and friends there to celebrate with us, and lots of dancing!

Worst: Nothing, except for the hot weather.

Unexpected: Debbie's mother and father and Brandon's mother all had birthdays within 10 days of the wedding, so we surprised them all with a small birthday cake. Also, Brandon's ring was a little loose and, due to the heat, it fell off his finger at the beginning of the reception. Thankfully, a friend found it within 15 minutes. We laugh about it now!

Advice: Try to get everything done at least a week before the wedding so that you can just relax and enjoy the special time with your family and friends. 

Tatiana Sainati & Justin Bell

July 6, 2008

Location: Veritas Vineyards

Guests: 75

Engagement: 18 months

Budget: $50,000

Splurged on: A wedding planner, Jennifer Carroll of Jennifer Carroll Events. This was probably the best decision of the wedding– she made the fairy tale come true!

Scrimped on: Accessories. I found sandals for sale online, a vintage clutch from an antiques store for $10, and borrowed my grandmother's pearls

Weather: The rain held off until right after we finished the ceremony and snapped a few pictures. Then we had a summer thunderstorm!

Music: Derek Tobler was our DJ. We gave him a list of our favorite artists and he created an eclectic playlist for us: everything from Phish to Leftover Salmon to Modest Mouse to Madonna.

First dance song: "La Vie en Rose," by Edith Piaf

Best: Having our friends and family travel from around the country to join us in celebrating a new life together!

Worst: Watching the storm come over the mountains during the ceremony was nerve-racking. We kept expecting a downpour. But ultimately, the rain held off, and we have very dramatic photos of dark clouds rolling over the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Unexpected: My bridesmaids and I took these beautiful pictures out in the vineyard. Afterwards, we discovered that dozens of bugs had found their way into the netting underneath my dress– and we spent the 15 minutes before the ceremony debugging the bride. 

Advice: Our wedding was an enchanted affair, and I really think it was because of our vendors: Pat's Floral; Emma of Saks Bridal Salon in Richmond; Lucinda of Face Value Studio; our DJ; Malia Creations crafted the most delicious wedding cake; Jen Fariello; and Jennifer Carroll orchestrated everything and made our dream wedding a reality.


Jenny McClister & Will Musser

July 5, 2008

Location: Ceremony at UVA Chapel, reception at the Colonnade Club

Guests: 140

Engagement: one year

Budget: $40,000 for the whole weekend: rehearsal dinner on Thursday night, BBQ on Friday night, wedding and reception on Saturday, and Sunday brunch.

Splurged on: Making the wedding as environmentally friendly as possible, which often meant we paid more money for things. Most of our food and all of the wine and beer was local. It was worth it to feel good about the products we had to offer.

Scrimped on: Decorations, but the Colonnade Club doesn't need a lot; flowers– University Florists provided beautiful bouquets of locally grown flowers, all for under $1,000; invitations. Ours were simple, not a lot of paper– just a card inside an envelope. This saved money and, for once, doing the earth-conscious thing cost less!

Weather: Hot, rained on wedding day but not during pictures before and after the ceremony. 

Music: We booked our music through Sam Hill Entertainment. For the cocktail hour, we had pianist Bob Hallahan– he set a great mood, perfect cocktail music. For dancing we had The Dickens– best reception band I've ever heard. 

First dance song: "Stand By Me"

Best: Besides the band, the food we selected. We used Harvest Moon for our Friday BBQ and reception and Carpe Donut for our Sunday brunch. The food was so tasty, and they worked with us to provide local products and ingredients. 

Worst: Maybe the rain, but all in all, that wasn't even bad. It cooled things off.

Unexpected: We provided compost-able picnic ware for the BBQ we had on Friday, but we forgot to bring the plates to the picnic site, so I had to borrow a friend's car and drive back into town to get the plates at our hotel. Luckily, I arrived back at the picnic site before anyone was ready to eat. I can't believe I wasn't stopped for speeding!

Advice: Hire a wedding coordinator for the wedding weekend. No matter how much preparation you do, it's a big event and doesn't happen without some coordination at the time of the event. You do not want to be the go-to person. You want to enjoy it. We spent $1,000 on Robin Martin-Lawson and that was probably the best $1,000 we spent. Hire a photographer for the whole weekend. We only hired one for the reception, Jen Fariello– all of our other ones of the rehearsal dinner, BBQ, and brunch just pale in comparison. Preserving the memories is worth the extra expense. 

Mercedes McAndrew & Scott Hershberger

September 6, 2008

Location: UVA Chapel and Keswick Hall

Guests: 80

Engagement: 6 months

Budget: We didn't really have a budget. 

Splurged on: Accommodations, food, drink, and photography

Scrimped on: Save the dates– we used "Virginia is for Lovers" postcards– and rehearsal dinner invites– they were homemade. 

Weather: Crazy! Because of the numerous hurricanes at the time, it poured all morning with no signs of letting up. Sure enough, the sun came out in full force and dried up all the rain just in time. It was fantastic!

Music: The Golddiggers

First dance song: "Ol' 55" by Tom Waits

Best: All the local vendors. The University recommended our fantastic organist, Jim Silvey. Angie at Serenity Spa did a great job with the hair and makeup. Keswick Hall was absolutely incredible. Benedicte, the sales and catering manager, was such a dream to work with. Shawn Cossette at Beehive Evens blew us away with her tall tapered arrangements. Last, but not least, our photographer Jen Fariello was there to capture it all.

Worst: It's hard to say because so much was so incredibly good!

Unexpected: We booked a room at Keswick that had a large patio area because my husband and I wanted to have a little after hours party once the reception ended. The staff at Keswick Hall decked the room out into a gorgeous honeymoon suite with rose petals strewn everywhere, a plate of chocolates and strawberries, champagne. We didn't expect that but we were pleasantly surprised!

Advice: Charlottesville was a destination wedding for us, and the best thing that we did was stay an extra day while others left. It gave us a chance to relax and just hang out after everyone was gone. And we really needed the rest!

Alison Pitzer & Matthew McCourt

October 12, 2008

Location: Woodhaven Farm, Scottsville

Guests: 201

Engagement: 10 months

Budget: N/A

Splurged on: I splurged on having the wedding at home, on the farm, because it meant we had to basically create the venue from scratch. We used the barn as the focal point, converted it into a "lounge," and placed tents off the barn for dinner and dancing.

Scrimped on: We saved money by buying all of our own alcohol: wine, spirits, beer, and champagne.

Weather: Incredibly perfect. We got married at 5pm, and it was about 70 degrees. A full moon rose over the ceremony site as the ceremony was occurring. 

Music: For the ceremony, we used a string quartet– Piedmont Chamber Players– and my uncle, who is a professional trumpet player, accompanied them. For the reception, we used The Dickens.

First dance song: "All the Right Reasons" by the Jayhawks

Best: We got married on a Sunday, but we planned events for Friday and Saturday evenings. Having three days with all our guests gave us enough time to see and talk to everybody– and we could be more relaxed and just enjoy ourselves on the actual wedding day. 

Worst: I wasn't ready for the evening to end– I wish it had gone on longer!

Unexpected: The farm is on 100+ acres, and the nearest neighbor is a couple of miles away... so we were surprised when the cops showed up because someone had complained about the noise!

Advice: Enjoy yourself. You'll never again get everybody you know and love in one location, so just be thankful for the experience, and have a good time.

Kristin Bell & Scott Roth

November 8, 2008

Location: Paradisus Palma Real Resort, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Guests: 50

Engagement: 18 months

Budget: $35,000

Splurged on: The resort was top-notch, all inclusive with five-star food and more open bars than you can imagine. Instead of a rehearsal dinner, we did a rehearsal cruise with our family, the entire bridal party and their guests. We also splurged by paying for our bridal party's stay and paying extra to secure a gorgeous venue called Gabi Beach for our reception and a six-piece band. We paid for a photographer (William Walker) to come along and do our photography.

Scrimped on: The cake– the top wasn't going to make it back to the United States anyway!– and the centerpieces (Kristin had the bridesmaids use their bouquets as centerpieces for the dinner tables). We ultimately went with something simple for favors for our guests– personalized wine tags for their champagne glasses that doubled as place cards and mint tins with our monogram on them.

Weather: We stayed for a week, and the first five days before the wedding were a perfect 80 degrees. The day of the wedding it was significantly hotter!

Music: We put together an iPod playlist for our cocktail hour and then had a local cover band play for the reception.

First dance song: "Everything," Michael Buble

Best: Having our closest friends and family with us at an amazing resort. The best part about the whole wedding was that we had multiple days to enjoy with all of our guests which meant at the reception we didn't feel obligated to spend a lot of time with each person.

Worst: The priest was really late to the ceremony, and all of the guests were seated before we knew he was going to be late. It was outdoors, and everyone was boiling under the sun.

Unexpected: The priest who supposedly spoke English kept calling Kristin "Christine" which in the beginning was embarrassing, but eventually became funny. Also, in his sermon, he used the term "Three-ity" instead of Trinity, which got a great chuckle from the guests. 

Advice: When planning a destination wedding the communication barrier can be tough, so always follow up on any email you send to your wedding planner. In hindsight, we learned that stressing over small details was pointless because the atmosphere of our wedding more than made up for any minor details we might have missed. If you are planning a "wedding weekend," have things planned in advance for your guests. When you have the choice, always pick the live band over the DJ!


Charlie Anne Norton & Andre Luiz Xavier

Friday, October 3, 2008

Location: King Family Vineyard in Crozet

Guests: 100

Engagement: 10 months

Budget: $17,000

Splurged on: Venue, photography, food and beverage

Scrimped on: We chose not to have a wedding planner to save money, but now my husband and I wish we would have thought that decision through a little more. Friends and family helped me to make my own invitation, save-the-dates, and wedding programs. I used photos from the wedding to create a very charming postcard-style thank you note. Real flowers were only used for the wedding party. My mother prepared all inside decorations including the centerpieces. We were always looking for great deals on decorative items including votive candles, ribbon, glass vases, etc. I scrimped on the dress because you don't need to spend a thousand dollars to look great!  My mother is very talented, so she made the jewelry for my bridesmaids and me. She also made my two veils, which were embellished with beautiful beading and swarovski crystals.

Weather: Sunny and 70 degrees

Music: We chose Montebello string quartet for the ceremony and DJ Derek Tobler for our reception.

First dance song: "Fade into you" by Mazzy Star

Best: The party!  Sharing our wedding with our family and friends was the best part. We truly had one of the best venues which made my dream of a beautiful outdoor wedding ceremony perfect.

Worst: Price Tag!  There's still a lot of cost associated with planning a wedding, no matter how much money you have or how much money save.

Unexpected: The ceremony was delayed by a half an hour because no one could find my father to walk me down the aisle. Later, I found out that an hour and a half before the ceremony, the already decorated Arbor blew over and broke. My Dad searched all of Charlottesville, found one, and put it together at the last moment.

Advice: Be sure to hire a wedding planner so you can enjoy the wedding instead of worrying about everything that happens. No matter what, your wedding day will be perfect, so don't sweat the small stuff!


Josh Davion Williamson and Meagan Brett Lane

August 30, 2008

Location: Ceremony at Grace Episcopal Church in Keswick (My parents were also married there); Reception at King Family Vineyards

Guests: 150

Engagement: 9 months

Budget: Our parents were extremely generous! I will admit, we went way over budget

Splurged on: Reception site, and it was well worth it. King Family Vineyards is beautiful. My photographer, Sarah Cramer, was incredible!

Scrimped on: We saved money on several things. Stationery for starters. We made the programs, menus, and letters/itineraries to the overnight guests. It gave a very personal touch, especially the programs. We added notes to  our parents and a poem I wrote. We didn't rent a limo to get us from the ceremony to the reception. Instead, we had the best-man take us in my Jeep, complete with champagne. We went back to our home on the wedding night. We had such a great honeymoon planned in Maui that we chose to save a couple hundred dollars and spend it there!

Weather: It didn't rain! And for the wedding being at the end of August it was cool enough that during the cocktail hour many of our guests relaxed outside and enjoyed the view.

Music: We had a DJ who played country, rock, and 70s. My cousin, who had just returned from overseas with the Army, sang us two beautiful songs after the toasts. It was so special, Josh and I got up and danced. Her songs were really our first dance.

First dance: "Bring it on Home," Little Big Town

Best: Marrying the man of my dreams, of course! Spending that weekend with close friends and family. Many of

our guests traveled great distances to be there, some halfwayaround the world. My father's speech is definitely on the top of my list. Five pages! Not a dry eye in the place. 

Worst: If I had to mention something it would be our DJ. My husband and I spent days putting together a song list, and our DJ didn't play many of the songs we had selected. There were special songs my mother always wanted to hear at my wedding that he didn't play. Time flew by before we realized we hadn't heard them. Be extremely specific about what you want played.

Unexpected: How truly fast the day went. My year and a half old flower girl making it down the isle with a huge smile and a strut. My husband getting stung by a bee on his forehead during the pictures!

Advice: We took a day between the wedding and leaving for the honeymoon. We had a chance to see many of our guests off who stayed overnight in Charlottesville, we packed and attempted to unwind. We spent Sunday night in DC and flew out early Monday morning. Best decision ever! Also, if the bride or groom's car is going to be located at the reception, do not give your keys to anyone, and keep the doors locked!


Lori Nam, Jonathan Rhee

May 31, 2008

Location: Ceremony held at Global Mission Church of Greater Washington in Silver Spring, Maryland; Cocktail hour and reception held at Marriott Gaithersburg Washingtonian Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland

Guests: 650

Engagement: 13 months

Budget: N/A

Splurged on: Food and alcohol (reception dinner & cocktail hour, upgraded open bar, personalized candy bar), music (live jazz band), photographer, videographer, wedding gown.

Scrimped on: wedding cake

Weather: Two hours of rain in the late morning, clear and sunny in the afternoon.

Music: DJ (80's, hip-hop, R&B), cocktail hour (live jazz band)

First dance song: "The Way You Look Tonight" by Matt Dusk

Best: Beautiful flower arrangements, amazing photography, special song during the ceremony; the candy bar was a major hit at our wedding!

Worst: The time crunch with two receptions back-to-back; not enough time to spend with family and friends who attended our wedding.

Anything unexpected? Rain in the morning meant we were unable to take pictures with bridesmaids outdoors.

Advice: Plan in advance! If you're having a large event, it always helps to hire a wedding planner to keep yourself organized. And don't forget to enjoy the events.


Jenna Silverman & Mark LaSota

August 8, 2008

Location: The Colonnade Club on UVA Grounds (for both, which provided a charming and historical setting with plenty of room for guests to dance, sit and chat, and eat.) We wanted something unique to Charlottesville.

Guests: about 70

Engagement: 2 years

Budget: $30,000

Splurged on: 1) Caterer: A Pimento which was completely worth it. The food was delicious and presented creatively and artfully. All guests from vegetarians to avid meat eaters loved the menu. 2) Music: The Jangling Reinharts for the reception. They had so much energy and were so much fun many of our guests asked where they would be playing again; and Jan Smith and Jeff Vogelgesang (guitar, mandolin, beautiful singing for the ceremony, which really worked well with our outdoor ceremony to make it more intimate and lovely. 3) Photographer: Billy Hunt who had a friendly style for putting the wedding party and guests at ease and the pictures made us look so glamorous. 4) Rehearsal dinner at Bashir's. They made an amazing meal for 50 people including the whole bridal party and most of the out-of-town guests. We had the whole restaurant to ourselves. 5) Flowers  from Hedge, which created beautiful flower arrangements and bouquets which added so much to the style and ambiance of the location.

Scrimped on: Wedding dress and accessories (great accessories at Target for reasonable prices); bridesmaids' dresses (they chose their own dresses and shoes); programs and wedding invitations (found great sites online for very reasonable prices).

Weather: 75 degrees, clear, and unseasonably perfect for August in Charlottesville

Music:The Jangling Reinharts for the reception and Jan Smith and Jeff Vogelgesang for the ceremony

First dance song: "The Question" by the Old 97's

Best: Everything! Since the Colonnade Club is also a B&B, the bridal party (everyone lives out of state) stayed there. The ceremony was beautifully conducted by Rev. Claire Goodman and really captured what we wanted to share with our guests. The sand ceremony was very special. The reception was both fun and in a relaxed environment (like a lovely home) that allowed us to spend time with all of our guests. Many did not know each other (from 18 different states)  and yet everyone was very outgoing, meeting new people and having a great time. We still hear how much they enjoyed themselves. Finally, the highlight, and what most guests  remember, was when the groom got up on stage, played his guitar and sang a song he composed for the bride when he proposed.

Worst: The maid of honor left the bride's earrings at the hairdresser and had to run back to get them right before the ceremony

Anything unexpected? The weather was better than we could ever hope for, which made the evening so much more enjoyable and eliminated the stress of an outdoor wedding.

Advice: Have a wedding director. We hired Marge Sidebottom who did a magnificent job of keeping everyone calm and the ceremony and reception on time without ever feeling rushed. She did her job so well we were able to relax and enjoy ourselves the whole evening and never looked at the time.



1 comment

Beautiful issue makes me want to get married all over again.

Charlottesville is blessed with so many gorgeous settings for that special day and talented caterers, photographers, florists and planners to make it happen.

Maybe I will do it again