True Romance! Local couples share the secrets to gettin' hitched

Sarah Boone & Patrick Bradshaw

April 25, 2009

Location: UVA Chapel, reception at Glenmore Country Club

Guests: 160

Engagement: 13 months

Budget: Let's just say it was over the national average.

Splurged on: Photography and dress. I also had no budget when it came to my dress, and the one I found was not cheap, but I loved it.

Scrimped on: We had a difficult time deciding whether or not to do favors, but ended up just getting personalized matches and tying them to sparklers. As for invitations, we were able to find some pretty and inexpensive ones online that matched our dogwood theme perfectly. My mom also made all of the programs, escort cards, and menus herself.

Weather: It was over 90 degrees in April. 

Music: DJ Derek Tobler was great and kept our guests on the dance floor all night long. We got so many compliments from our guests about how good the music was.

First dance song: "Your Song" by Elton John

Best: My pastor from Great Falls, Va came down to officiate our wedding. He made it personal by sneaking in an excerpt from something I had written for confirmation class when I was 13!

Worst: The trolley ride to the chapel was pretty miserable. There was no air-conditioning, and we did not want to open the windows for fear of messing up our hair!

Unexpected: The day was absolutely perfect until we made our getaway from the reception on my dad's golf cart and went back to my parents' house. My parents hadn't warned me that they had turned on their burglar alarm– needless to say, we ended the night with a visit from the police!

Advice: I wish I could go back and attend my own wedding as a guest, just to be able to get the full experience and see everything!

Andrea Dietrich & Brendan Murray

April 18, 2009

Location: Holy Comforter Church, reception at Boar's Head Inn

Guests: 125

Engagement: Exactly one year

Budget: $60,000

Splurged on: Lighting and three vintage cars– a Skylark, MG, and TR3

Scrimped on: We skipped the videographer, made our own wedding programs, and went without a wedding coordinator.

Weather: Perfect, sunny, and 78 degrees

Music: String quartet for the ceremony and DJ Derek Tobler for the reception.

First dance song: "Just in Time" by Dean Martin

Best: Renting the vintage cars, from Sports Car Rentals in Batesville, Virginia, was really worth the cost. Thankfully, the weather cooperated so the convertibles– one for us, and one each for our fathers– were a lot of fun to drive around town. Some of our best pictures were in the red, 1963 Buick Skylark.

Worst: Only regret was not filming the ceremony but we have some amazing pics from Jen Fariello that make up for it.

Unexpected: Brendan surprised me with flowers, a note, and breakfast for me and my bridesmaids delivered to the bridal suite. That made the start of my day even better.

Advice: Slow down and try to take everything in. It's a day about you and your husband-to-be. Everyone will have a great time and if something isn't perfect no one will even notice!

Griffin Ashley Thomas & Stephen James Morrisey

April 11, 2009

Location: Veritas Vineyard and Winery

Guests: 140

Engagement: 9 months

Budget: $30,000

Splurged on: Photographer, flowers, catering

Scrimped on: We handled the small details ourselves and were our own wedding planners.

Weather: Slightly overcast and chilly

Music: DJ Derek Tobler and the Linden Trio (for the ceremony)

First dance song: "Bless the Broken Road," Rascal Flatts

Best: Celebrating the weekend with family and friends

Worst: Time flew by

Unexpected: Griffin forgot Steve's ring at the altar!!

Advice: Take the time to soak in the details– it goes by so quickly. Don't get wrapped up in the small things that might go wrong, it is going to happen so focus on all the things that are right. Choose someone who is good under pressure to be your vendor point of contact– the last thing you want to be making decisions when you should be relaxing!

Melanie Mayer & Vishal Bhatnagar

May 10, 2009

Location: Veritas Vineyard and Winery

Guests: 120

Engagement: 6 months

Budget: $30,000

Splurged on: Photography, stationary

Scrimped on: We decided not to have live music.

Weather: Perfect (72 and sunny)

Music: DJ Derek Tobler

First dance song: Van Morrison's "Crazy Love"

Best: Watching all of our friends and family have so much fun!

Worst: Not being able to be everywhere at once and experience every moment.

Unexpected: How much fun the old folks had! They were dancing like they were young again.

Advice: Take many moments throughout your day to absorb what is happening around you– soak it all in!

Sarah Cramer & Matt Shields

April 17, 2009

Location: Christ Episcopal Church (on the Downtown Mall) and King Family Vineyards

Guests: 220

Engagement: 11 months

Budget: $30,000 for the budget, but it always ends up being way more than you expect because you want to have a great celebration

Splurged on: Food from Harvest Moon, which was absolutely incredible, music, reception venue, and the flowers

Scrimped on: We didn't scrimp on much.

Weather: Absolutely incredible. It was that perfect weekend in April– high 60s/low 70s, slight breeze and a beautiful blue sky.

Music: DJ Derek Tobler, John D'Earth, Black Voices

First dance song: We picked Frank Sinatra's "I Love Paris" because Matt surprised me with a trip to Paris to ask me to marry him.

Best: Carpe Donut was at our wedding reception as a gift for my groom, and John D'Earth played the trumpet as I walked in with my father during the wedding ceremony and Black Voices sang during our wedding ceremony. It was so special!

Worst: Everything was incredible. We are so lucky and loved every minute of the entire day.

Unexpected: How fast the day went. It flew!

Advice: Make the day your own. Do things that you want to do. If you want Carpe Donut at your wedding, go for it! Eat and drink well, dance hard, and try to soak up the entire day because it goes so fast. Savour every moment!

Kristen Sieminski & John Tiernan

April 5, 2009

Location: UVA Chapel and Farmington Country Club

Guests: 180

Engagement: 9 months

Budget: $18,000

Splurged on: Invitations! I found a vendor through who hand makes stunning pocketfold invitations with monograms and ribbons. KLS Designs tailor-made the invitations to match our wedding colors and our preferences. I still have friends telling me how beautiful the invitations were!

Scrimped on: The cake! We used cupcakes with decorative paper flowers, which doubled as centerpieces and desserts for our guests. We still had a small cake for the cutting ceremony. Cupcakes saved us $5/person and added a fun flair to the reception.

Weather: Beautiful! Around 75 degrees, clear and sunny

Music: We used local DJ Derek Tobler, who not only played music during the reception, but also gave us dance lessons beforehand and provided amplification for music performed at the UVA chapel.

First dance song: "Loving a Person" by Sara Groves

Best: Both of us had unknowingly planned surprises for the other, which we revealed during the reception. I announced that I had raised funds to buy awesome seats at the U2 concert for John. John surprised me by performing the song he wrote and sang for me when he proposed.

Worst: Finding out that some of our guests had car trouble and wouldn't make it to our wedding.

Unexpected: The early departure of guests because the wedding was on a Sunday and many out-of-town guests had to be back at work on Monday morning.

Advice: Make sure to have a website! I used I advertised the website on both the save-the-dates and invitations. Don't forget to also use online social networking sites such as Facebook to advertise and remind your friends of your big day.

Amanda Hubal & Brad Uhl

September 12, 2008

Location: King Family Vineyard

Guests: 200

Engagement: 5 1/2 months

Budget: $20,000

Splurged on: Food was important to us, so it was a majority of our budget.

Scrimped on: Music/MC, flowers, and cake– we had friends help out with each, and they were great!

Weather: Partly cloudy

Music: DJ/MC done by a friend

First dance song: "Be Mine" by David Gray

Best: Food (Harvest Moon) was great and location was beautiful

Worst: The ceremony was in a tent because of the weather, but it ended up not being a big deal.


Advice: If you can, get a wedding coordinator! At least for the "day of" details. Thankfully, we had a friend in the business, Megan Daubert, who helped us with a lot of the details. It relieved SO much pressure to have someone else running the show!

Jill Suzanne Miller & Robert Durgin Rockwell

February 21, 2009

Location: Westminster Presbyterian Church and Veritas Vineyard and Winery

Guests: 138

Engagement: This is a source of some playful "controversy." Bob thinks he proposed on June 24, 2008, and I think he proposed on September 12, 2008. This means we were engaged somewhere in the 5-8 month range.

Budget: This kept evolving; I'm not sure where it ended up.

Splurged on: Buses to and from the reception.

Scrimped on: Home cooking! We wanted to host a post-wedding breakfast for out-of-town family and friends and my mom and I love to cook, so we decided to prepare the food ourselves, and Bob and I hosted the breakfast at our new home.

Weather: Sunny and breezy in the upper 40s– as good as you can expect in February!

Music: The John Winntet from Richmond– the band members were fantastic and even learned to play an ABBA song in honor of one of my bridesmaids who came all the way from Sweden.

First dance song: "Make Someone Happy"

Best: Celebrating with family and friends from near and far who represented so many important, formative stages of our lives. The round tables at our reception were too small for the entire wedding party, so we dined with a table of our "long lost friends."

Worst: By the time the ceremony began, the train of my dress was covered in red clay from our pre-wedding photo shoot on the Lawn. My dear friend was unpersuasive in trying to convince me that she had successfully cleaned it, but I was actually to happy to mind.

Unexpected: Just before the start of the wedding, we had a great surprise– the students with whom I work at UVA's Batten School painted "Congratulations Jill & Bob" on Beta Bridge, located across the street from our church.

Advice: Choose wonderful people with whom to work and trust them to help you make good decisions. Also, consider getting married in February– vendors and guests are more likely to be available, you won't waste your energy hoping for an 80-degree cloudless day, and you can go skiing on your honeymoon!

Maureen Elizabeth Burnham & Geoffrey Matthew Basye

April 18, 2009

Location: UVA Chapel and King Family Vineyard

Guests: 125

Engagement: 20 months

Budget: We started with one... we finished with no abandon.

Splurged on: Reception and honeymoon

Scrimped on: Videographer

Weather: Sunny, high 70's.

Music: Grit City South (awesome), The Dickens (incredible!)

First dance song: "Me and You," Kenny Chesney

Best: Stepping back and seeing everyone you love in one place there to see you get married.

Worst: Not having a reason to converse daily with the vendors we grew to love!

Unexpected: How much we miss wedding planning.

Advice: While it's hard to focus on anything else other than the big day, have fun with the wedding planning. Geoff and I never would have guessed that we would miss the planning part of our wedding, but it truly was an awesome part of our experience. In large part because it got us to Charlottesville a lot, and also because our vendors weren't "vendors"– they became our friends. Really get to know the people who are playing a part in your special day.

Kelly Rourke & Kurt Plowman

May 9, 2009

Location: Sugar Loaf Farms, Staunton

Guests: 95

Engagement: 17 months

Budget: ~$12,000 for rehearsal, ceremony, and reception

Splurged on: We couldn't decide on cake flavors, so we ended up having a different cake on each table. Guests went table to table to try as many different cakes as they could. And a horse and carriage from Stagecoach Junction.

Scrimped on: Music– we created our own playlists on an iPod. We also had locally grown, seasonal flowers, with which a friend made the bouquets and arrangements.

Weather: It rained most of the week prior, and drizzled in the morning, but by ceremony time it was just very windy. We did have a very pretty sunset that evening.

Music: During the ceremony, three of our musically inclined friends played fiddles and guitar. During the reception we had three separate iPod playlists: instrumental for the cocktail hour, quieter romantic songs during dinner, and more upbeat music for the remainder of the evening.

First dance song: We didn't have a first dance. Four left feet.

Best: A good friend of ours became an officiant for the day, and he performed the ceremony. We also had great vendors to work with: The Dining Room catered, Cakes of Art made our cakes, and we had great beer from Cally's (the brewmaster is Kurt's brother). Our photographer, Jack Looney, also set up a photo booth, which our guests loved.

Worst: Not being able to spend enough time with our family and friends before we had to say goodbye at the end of the night.

Unexpected: The wind made it impossible to keep my veil on. It did help lighten the mood though when my dad, while reading the Irish Blessing, got to the line "may the wind always be at your back".

Advice: Try to find a photographer you click with. I'd met Jack previously, and really liked his photographic style, and him personally. From day one I wanted him to be our photographer, and he did an amazing job. Also, try to relax and enjoy the entire day. Not only good for you, but your guests will pick up on it and enjoy themselves more.

Hillary Mason and Andrew Dean

May 23, 2009

Location: Calvary Chapel, Charlottesville.Tri County Riding club, Scottsville.

Guests: 65

Engagement: 3 months

Budget: $3,000

Splurged on: Reception, flowers.

Scrimped on: Dress, it was 54 bucks! Crazy! It was perfect for me!

Weather: 85 and sunny

Music: Everything from Madonna to Amy Winehouse, Lynard Skynard, and Johny Cash

First dance song: Jason Mraz, "I'm Yours." That song just summed it all up.

Best: Food, beer, and guests.

Worst: The heat.

Unexpected: How it really does go by so fast.

Advice: Keep it simple, green, and fun! Don't get wrapped up in the hoopla. It will be a lot less stressful. (And Hillary's gotten good advice from her parents, featured on page 21.)


1 comment

Congratulations to all the couples! (After a while, though, I was beginning to think this article was a "DJ Derek Tobler" advertisement!)