The most unusual place we've done it

The question's been popped, the ring's been accepted, and the day's been designated. Now all you have to do is pick the place. But you're Jewish and you're fiance's Baptist, or maybe you're both agnostic, or perhaps you simply don't want to be indoors when you say "I do." For whatever reason, a wedding in a church or synagogue just won't work for the two of you. So where else can you tie the knot in the Charlottesville area? Here are just a few of the available options:

Make your historic day historic. You two can become one in a presidential way at Montpelier, home of James Madison, or Ash Lawn-Highland, home of James Monroe. Montpelier hosts an average of seven weddings a year the formal garden, the temple and side lawn, and the front lawn each rent for $1,500. Twenty-five to 30 marriages happen annually at Ash Lawn-Highland, where the facilities range from the intimate Johns Garden with its rose arbor to the 50x80-foot covered pavilion with seating for up to 400 guests. Cost range: $200-$5,000. (Sorry, TJ fans no marriages at Monticello.)

Go forth and be fruitful. Many local wineries and vineyards welcome wedding parties. Oakencroft Winery holds seven to 10 weddings each year. Several sites are popular, according to Carolyn Graves, who notes, "Quite a few people have gotten married by a cedar tree up in the vineyard." Oakencroft's site fee: $1,000. The just-opened King Family Vineyard has already booked 12 marriages for 2003, with most occurring just outside the tasting roomfolks like its unobstructed Blue Ridge vista. Site fee: $1,500. At Barboursville Vineyard, which hosts a maximum of two weddings per month, you can literally experience love among the ruins for $500 or opt for a $3,500 package that includes a reception in the tasting room.

Get hitched with hospitality. Many B&Bs and small inns in the area provide gracious settings for nuptials. An advantage of these venues is they offer rooms for getting ready, taking time out, or crashing after the party's over. Prospect Hill's Gerrie Smethurst says the inn hosts 18-24 weddings a year and features a wedding gazebo in the backyard. The Prospect Hill price varies according to the size and requirements of each wedding party, but ceremonies with over 50 guests are always held outside. The Clifton Inn hosts a similar number of weddings, usually on its gracious front lawn. Clifton charges $2,500 for rental of the property, plus $50-$150 per person for food and beverages.

Wed like a Wahoo. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the University of Virginia have the option of exchanging vows in the university's famous gardens, where approximately 50 weddings a year take place. Although tents are not allowed, you can't beat the price it's is free as long as you reserve the space and have a UVA affiliation.

Marry on a mountaintop. If you're outdoorsy and feel like risking the weather, why not arrange to hold your wedding in Shenandoah National Park? Be forewarned, though, tents and chairs are not allowed. SNP issues nine wedding permits per year on a first come, first served basis. The special use fee is $94, and guests duck the park's usual entry charge. There are no restrictions on where you can choose to wed (overlooks, the Loft Mountain amphitheater, and White Oak Canyon are all popular marriage venues, according to park rep Karen Beck-Herzog), but couples should keep in mind parking restrictions.


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