Blog -


Everything you need to know about planning a Staunton Wedding, and all the vendors that can make your dream day happen.

Wedding Vendor Guide

Staunton Virginia

featured blog post





browse by category

Portrait of bride and groom embracing at sunset, overlooking the Shenandoah Valley mountains from Virginia's Mountain View Farm wedding venue.

filed in


Searching for the right wedding venue takes so much time. Venue websites don’t list all the details, there’s no comprehensive list, and there’s no good platform to compare capacity, price, style, and other features apples-to-apples. That’s why I started this Virginia wedding venue guide for my clients looking for beautiful outdoor wedding venues in central Virginia.

As a wedding photographer, I love getting to work at super photogenic wedding venues. Golden hour in the valley? Gorgeous! I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley and have photographed weddings here for eight years now. Here are the best wedding venues with gorgeous mountain views in Virginia.

Want to see more venue recommendations? Check out my Staunton Virginia Wedding Venues Guide.

King Family Vineyards – Crozet, Virginia Wedding Venue

Couple holds hands as they exchange vows outside at King Family Vineyards with the horses and Virginia Mountain views in the background.
Ceremony at King Family Vineyards in Crozet, Virginia – Photo by Photography by Jo

King Family is one of my favorite wedding venues in the Shenandoah Valley. It offers as expansive and private location with gorgeous mountain views. Plus, their rain plan has some excellent options! You can’t go wrong with King Family Vineyards. Even on gloomy days, we can use the indoor and covered porch spaces for photography and get the light, bright, romantic images you’re looking for. They offer tables and chairs for 200 guests, two dressing suites, and an on-site manager with their rentals.

Pricing: The last published pricing for King Family Vineyards Weddings was 2022 pricing, which I’m sure will go up or be adjusted shortly. They offer seasonal pricing and different rates for weekdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The rental rate currently ranges $4,500 for off-season (December – March) Fridays to $10,500 for peak season Saturdays. Compared to similar quality and in-demand venues in our area, this is an incredible price.

Big Spring Farm VA – Lexington, Virginia Wedding Venue

If you imagine getting married surrounded by nature, with huge weeping willows and water features nearby, maybe under a big sailcloth tent… this is the spot! Big Spring Farm is a wedding venue located in Lexington, VA and offers a large, private property for larger outdoor celebrations. The post and beam barn fits 150 and works as a great rain plan. However, the farm in general can host much larger events.

Pricing: Weddings begin at $6,400

Castle Hill Cider – Scenic Wedding Venue in Keswick, Virginia

Groom waits before his first look with his hands folded outside of castle Hill Cider wedding venue in Keswick, VA with the mountains in the background showing fall colors, and the white barn at Castle Hill to his right.
Groom waits for his first look outside of Castle Hill Cider – October 2021 – Photo by Photography by Jo Mahaney

Castle Hill Cider has an incredible view of the Shenandoah Valley, as well as a lake area. The leaves turn beautifully along the lake each fall! The barn at Castle Hill makes a gorgeous all white backdrop for your family portraits. You can get married beneath the trees, or huddle inside the barn if it’s raining outside. The capacity is fairly large, seating 350 even inside the barn. And best of all, there’s multiple spaces for the wedding party to get ready on the same property!

Pricing: Unfortunately, you have to inquire to get pricing information. I’ve seen weddings here of a variety of budgets, so don’t assume it’s out of budget!

Showalter’s Orchard and Greenhouse – Harrisonburg Virginia Wedding Venue

Couple kisses at the end of the aisle during their wedding ceremony on the hilltop at Showalter's Orchard and greenhouse, with virginia mountains in the background
Showalter’s Orchard and Greenhouse ceremony site – Photo by Photography by Jo

Want to say I do in front of one of Virginia’s “LOVE” signs, or directly in front of the rolling hills? Showalter’s Orchard has one of the best views around! Plus, the greenhouse is a photogenic, light-filled space for your reception. I just love shooting there! I rarely need to troubleshoot the light.

The one down side of Showalter’s is that it is on top of a hill… meaning there’s very little shade! It can get quite hot in the middle of summer. Beautiful portraits in the mid-day sun can be more challenging, but definitely doable. I want to be honest about the pros and cons of these venues, but this con isn’t so bad! Something to note if you’re getting married mid summer.

Pricing: Weekend rental rates start at $5,300. Showalter’s is a smaller venue than many of the others here so far, but they don’t list capacity online. My guess based off of experience working in the space would be 100-150 people seated in the greenhouse area.

Early Mountain Vineyards – Shenandoah Valley Virginia Wedding Venue

Early Mountain Vineyards is one of the most scenic, versatile wedding venues in central Virginia. The classic stone offers an alternative backdrop to the greenery at most outdoor venues. Their tasting room and other indoor spaces provide an excellent back-up plan for rainy days. The catering is incredible, the bridal suite is gorgeous, and the huge stone hearth is so dreamy. I could go on and on about aesthetics.

Pricing: The venue rents for $9,000 to $14,000, requiring on-site catering with a minimum of $18,000. It’s definitely a top tier choice in the Shenandoah Valley!

Montfair Resort and Montfair Resort Farm – Crozet Virginia Wedding Venue

Hidden in the forest under a canopy of trees is an intimate outdoor event lodge with mountain and lakeside views which are unforgettable. Located in Crozet, Virginia.

Irvine Estate at House Mountain Inn – Monterey Virginia Wedding Venue

Irvine Estate boasts panoramic views, with a ceremony location built into an overlook area. For rainy days, this outdoor ceremony spot is still completely covered! The indoor space offers lots of windows for natural light and seats up to 230 guests. A detached house nearby offers lodging and prep space for your wedding party. Pricing is available upon inquiry only.

Hazy Mountain Vineyards & Brewery – Nelson County Virginia Wedding Venue

Hazy Mountain in Nelson County on Virginia’s 151 offers four different event spaces and prime mountain-side real estate. the Spanish-inspired architecture offers an upscale look for portraits, while you have the option of rolling hills and gorgeous sunsets as well. Take a stroll in the vines, have your bridal portraits on their impressive staircase, and of course–have great wine!

Pricing: The average investment for a wedding package at Hazy Mountain is about $19,000-$22,000, and they have a minimum guest count of 150 people. You can view their weddings guide directly here.

Sky Ridge Farm – Augusta County, Virginia Wedding Venue

Sky Ridge Farm is one of central Virginia’s newest wedding venues. It features a modern white barn that seats 200. Their property has one of the best views in the valley! It is not your typical barn wedding venue, so if that’s not your aesthetic, don’t cross it off your list without looking! Conveniently, they have a large rental home nearby so your party can stay on site the entire weekend. They do book up fast! They already closed dates for next fall, and the spring is fairly full as well. I recommend reaching out at least a year in advance. Their rentals include the entire weekend, basic amenities, and even some vintage rental items, saving you money in those areas.

I am reaching out for pricing details and will update soon!

The Seclusion – Rockbridge County Virginia Wedding Venue

The Seclusion is known specifically for its stunning views. The ceremony site was built perched on the edge of an overlook, the perfect statement location to wow guests! Their wedding party accommodations are incredible (not to mention photogenic!), and the Grand Hall easily fits 250 guests. You and some guests can stay right on site and enjoy a stress-free commute to your wedding.

Pricing: You can expect to invest $14,000 to $20,000 depending on your date and day of the week. View their full investment guide and FAQs here.

Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards – North Garden Virginia Wedding Venue

Pippin Hill Farm features breathtaking views of the surrounding Blue Ridge mountains and vineyards creating an intimate backdrop for your and your guests. Located in North Garden, Virginia.

The Granary – Weyers Cave Virginia Wedding Venue

Described as elegant and defined, the Granary is a refined wood barn is nestled between the Allegheny and Appalachian mountain ranges in Weyers Cave, Virginia.

Red August Farm – Waynesboro Virginia Wedding Venue

Reconstructed in 1927 and with 4,300 square feet of space, Red August Farm is full of vintage details and space for up to 300 guests. Located in Waynesboro, Virginia. For a rustic barn venue, they have some of the most versatile landscaping for photography and the perfect bridal suite. Their lower level offers a weather-sheltered place for cocktail hour while your reception space above is enclosed in the barn. Or, dine on the lawn and celebrate with outdoor games.

They offer full weekend rentals, allowing you to rehearse, setup, celebrate, then stay the night and tear down the next day. The owners are incredibly friendly, and you can even have your engagement session here! They get cherry blossoms in the spring, brilliant blooms in the summer, and the best fall foliage. For winter weddings, you can utilize the outdoor stone chimney for a cozy look. You really can’t go wrong with Red August Farm.

Pricing: Weekend prices currently run around $8,000 and include tables and chairs, so you can cross rentals off your list!

The Omni Homestead and Resort – Hot Springs VA Wedding Venue

The Omni is a classic landmark, hotel, luxury resort, and beautiful place to get married! Located in Hot Springs Virginia, their historic resort sits on expansive acreage. The Omni boasts an impressive capacity of 1200! There’s no wedding too large for their space. Plus, spend the morning at their luxurious spa relieving your stress.

Pricing: Rentals at the Omni are based on catering purchase. There is a $10,000 minimum food and beverage purchase required, and many plate options are $90-180 per person. You can view their exact pricing here.

Mountain View Farm – Mount Solon Virginia Wedding Venue

Image taken by Photography by Jo at Mountain View Farm, October 2022

What would a list of venues with mountain views be without Mountain View Farm?! Just like the name implies, the views here live up to the hype. Located in August County in Mount Solon, VA, Mountain View Farm offers a barn-style reception venue that overlooks the valley, with the sun setting just outside the barn window. Imagine your first dance with that background!

Mountain View is on the smaller side, capping at about 100 guests. They are not climate controlled, so their season is typically mid March to mid November. They offer heaters during chilly fall days, but not full HVAC. I recently photographed a wedding with about 50 guests in 40 degree weather there. It was slightly chilly, but still a comfortable celebration!

Pricing is available if you reach out directly. I do love recommending this venue, as it’s just a few minutes down the road from me! I know my way around the space and would love to keep coming back.

wedding portraits of couple exchanging vows at their home in harrisonburg virginia

filed in


Emily and Heston hosted their closest friends and family for their wedding at their own property in the Harrisonburg VA area. They painstakingly cared for the landscaping, finalized the layout of their new garage for the reception, and made sure the property was wedding photography ready. Their hard work paid off! They pulled off their sweet and simple wedding ceremony with the help of lots of friends and family.

An intimate reception, with canine guests!

If you recall from their engagement session, they had promised their dogs would be in attendance. They were the highlight of the reception! They even snuck out on the dance floor for first dance, and had a seat at the head table for toasts. As an owner of four rescues myself, I was loving the way they roamed about the reception and made themselves at home.

Emily and Heston’s property is nestled in Rockingham county near Bridgewater. They have gorgeous mountain views, and an incredible front and back porch to watch the sunsets from. During the dinner break, we had a few horses on the neighboring property come close by to check out the commotion. They grazed on, unbothered by the reception music. On the way out of their property later, I had to pull over and snap a photo of the incredible sunset! We got so lucky with weather, location, and logistics all day. It was one of those flawless weddings that reminds me why I do this!

What I love about small weddings

I love weddings like this. Most photographers may cringe a little at the idea of a backyard wedding in the country, DIY details, or being one of few–if not the only–professional vendors hired for the day. Personally, I love it. With seven years’ experience, I put a lot of thought and effort into my clients’ experience with me. I know I’m not the cheapest option around or even close to it. Couples who book me are sure they want a great wedding photographer.

An investment in wedding photography is an investment in heirlooms, longevity of memories, and lasting documentation of a once-in-a-lifetime event. When a client on a modest budget books me over a low-budget photographer, I know just how much they value photography. That’s a lot of trust! I appreciate their trust and serve them just like I do my 250-person banquet weddings. After all, these memories and details are even MORE sentimental. They’re happening right in the couple’s first home together. Years down the line, I know they’re going to resurface these photographs to tell family stories, reminisce on their first home, and relive that wedding day. I’m going to do everything I can to appreciate their trust in me, and make sure every detail is crystal clear.

Trust me with your wedding photography

Does that experience sound like what you need? Ready for me to document your wedding day? You can inquire right here.

Harrisonburg Wedding Photography Gallery

Hair and Makeup by: The Studio in Harrisonburg, Va

filed in


The joke around the studio is that I accidentally became a brand photographer. And it’s kinda true! Over the last four months, I’ve gotten to photograph eight (!) headshot or brand photoshoots for small business owners and creatives in our downtown Staunton studio at Virginia Creative Collective. What started as offering photo trades with close friends, turned into a whole branch of the business we didn’t expect. I’m finally getting around to showcasing some of that work! It’s on the website now, so I guess I’m officially offering some brand photography options. Here’s a preview of one of our first brand photoshoots, for a Charlottesville based wedding photographer, Lyn Waldrop.

Lyn Waldrop Wedding Photography – Brand Photoshoot

Lyn’s brand photoshoot was somewhat unplanned. We hosted a content day at the studio to help wedding professionals capture everything they needed for fall and winter social media content. As part of this, guests could either bring friends to trade photos with, or book us. Lyn opted to work with us, and I was her in-house photographer. I’m so glad this worked out for us! Since then, we’ve become friends, sent referrals, seen her more in the studio community, and love cheering her along online! Wedding photographer friends are the best and are so necessary to have in this industry.

What makes her brand photos special

It was during this photoshoot that I realized a love for brand photography. No, I’m not leaving weddings behind or scaling back on families. But it pairs so nicely with my passion for helping small business owners create a sound marketing strategy, break into new price brackets, and work through the business side of creative industries. Since this sessions, we’ve been flooded with inquiries and requests for this type of small-but-mighty brand mini photoshoot. Stay tuned! The studio will be offering a huge brand blitz day in January to kick of 2023 with a bang!

Collage of highlight images from elopement photography clients in downtown staunton virginia. Young couple is walking through downtown staunton, smiling, wearing blue suit and white sundress for their late summer elopement.

filed in


I met James and Danielle about half way through their elopement on the Augusta County Courthouse steps. During my morning coffee run, I noticed a cute couple getting married just outside our photography studio in downtown Staunton, without a photographer! Danielle’s mom was there snapping a few images on her phone. But I certainly couldn’t let their wedding go on undocumented! So, I spontaneously photographed their Augusta County Courthouse Elopement. I rarely get to provide elopement photography. Maybe a couple times a year! So, this experience was really thrilling for me.

Meanwhile, my business partner Amanda watched from the studio doorway as I ran to my car, grabbed my camera, frantically found an empty memory card, and began taking photos. I got there just a minute before they sealed the deal with a kiss! As the ceremony concluded, I introduced myself and asked if they’d like some wedding portraits in downtown. Danielle was giggling so much, and the whole interaction had already made my morning!

The story behind their elopement

We only spent about ten minutes together in total. But as we took a short walk around Staunton for some portrait locations, we got to know Danielle and James a little better. They met many years ago, while their families were missionaries in Africa! What are the chances?! These two were in elementary school together, I believe PreK or Kindergarten. James’ family is British, while Danielle is from around here in Virginia. It’s pure serendipity that they ended up in the same location at the same time! Now, of course they didn’t fall in love in elementary school. The two reconnected when James reached out to an alumni group, looking for some former classmates. They met up, started talking, and realized they are so compatible!

Now, they weren’t always planning a mid-week, 10 AM elopement. James’ father was flying in from England to marry James and Danielle at their *real* wedding that weekend. However, non-citizens cannot officiate weddings in the United States. On a whim, they decided to elope a few days prior to save them the headache of having two officiants for their wedding celebration. Given the upcoming full wedding, they didn’t feel the need for arranging an elopement photographer for their short, weekday ceremony. But I’m so happy I stumbled upon them! The spontaneous nature of everything was so meant to be, and the joy was evident in their portraits. Elopement photography may be my new favorite service!

Spontaneous Augusta County Courthouse Elopement Photography from a downtown Staunton VA wedding goes viral on Instagram.

Okay, okay. We’re not talking millions of views. But tens of thousands in a few minutes is huge to me!! Amanda documented their story and behind the scenes of us working together. Afterwards, I created a reel showing the whole interaction unfolding, and the resulting images! Their elopement photos are so gorgeous, and quickly becoming some of my favorite to feature. See their elopement story on Instagram here.

And finally, the photos from their downtown Staunton elopement!

Now that you know the story, enjoy these joy-filled, unplanned newlywed portraits in downtown Staunton!

Couple poses for engagement photos in pollinator garden at blandy experimental farm in front royal virginia

filed in


When Carla and Glenn mentioned going somewhere with classic Virginia mountain views, field, or blooms for their engagement session, I had just the place in mind. Blandy Experimental Farm is a free, expansive, and gorgeous place for engagement photos! We caught the end of the summer season, with the pollinator garden still full of color. The location was a perfect reflection of what they love, and exactly what they’d opt for on a weekend off.

A candid-heavy, relaxed engagement session

These two, like most couples, had some reservations and nerves about dressing up and being posed for their engagement photos. Most people only hire a professional photographer a couple times in their life–senior portraits, graduation, engagement and wedding, family milestones. But we treated it like a date night, and just look at the results! Blandy farm was a place they were familiar with, and we spent the first part of the photo shoot just walking around and getting more familiar with one another. It took a dozen frames or so, but we figured out what worked best for them, and the rest of the session was a synch!

Love, laughter, pollinators, deer, and Virginia landscapes!

This session has everything. First of all, they’re adorable. Carla cannot stop laughing at Glenn! I mean, I get why. But they are too cute. And we had lots of precious animal guests along our session. First bunnies and pollinators in the garden. Then, turtles, birds, and even a deer friend that didn’t seem at all bothered by our presence! I had to include them in the engagement photos, of course. They were all part of the process, and it’s fitting they make the final gallery.

Ready for your own engagement photos?

Maybe you landed here looking for a photographer, or maybe you’re just looking for outfit or location inspiration. Either way, I hope you love the photos and get something out of this! If you’re searching for a wedding and engagement photographer, I’m here to help! Here are some helpful links.

Learn more about Photography by Jo’s wedding photography experience.

View reviews for Photography by Jo.

wedding detail flat lay showcasing a modern, black and white invitation suit in the sunlight with golden carnations and a champagne class nearby.

filed in


My approach to wedding photography is to be an incredible partner to your wedding day and vendor team. This includes helping you prepare a stress free timeline (along with your planner and team!), and resources to help you prepare for your wedding day. Gathering your details ahead of time is one easy thing you can do to streamline the first part of the day. Plus, you don’t have to do it yourself! You can designate a wedding party member to gather these things for you. I’m a huge fan of delegating anything you can!

Close up in a pink engagement ring sitting on an off white vow book next to a detailed wedding stationery suite.

What’s included in wedding details?

Wedding details covers a lot! There’s a few categories. I’ll take detail photographs and pullbacks of your full ceremony space, reception space, cocktail hour, and any other décor you’ve meticulously selected and designed. This means I’ll have to coordinate with the planning team, florist, catering, etc to ensure that the time I allot to photograph these details align well with the time they will be delivering and completing setup. But don’t you worry about that–I’ll handle those details!

Stationery details & wedding flat lays

Wedding flat lays with your full invitation suite take the longest. I love to include some personal florals, jewelry and rings, and other styling items like ribbon, ring boxes, hand written notes, wax seals, or anything important to you. I begin the day by styling flat lays. This way, your wedding party gets used to the sound of my shutter while I’m photographing wedding details nearby. They relax, and forget I’m there. This makes for great candid photographs later on!

Collage of various wedding stationery items, ribbon, ring boxes, and other wedding details.

For great wedding stationery details, make sure to save multiple copies of your full invitation suite. Order some additional stems from your florist to be included in the detail photographs. And, let me know what colors you’re using! I’ll bring coordinating items to style your wedding details.

Stationery covers a large range of items. You can also include menus, save the dates, place card or escort cards that coordinate, hand written letters, gifts, handkerchiefs, mementos from prior dates, and more! Get creative with the details you set aside. The more I have to work with, the more variety I can create for you! These images make great additions and transitional spreads for your wedding album designs.

Collage of fresh floral blooms and wedding stationery

Personal wedding attire

Wedding attire details are a must-have! I love thinking about the longevity of these detail photographs. We’re creating a record of trends and wedding fashion for future generations. And of course, the personal elements and individual style choices tell so much about your story as a couple! I know I loved looking through my family’s wedding albums as a kid. I hope my clients’ children will experience that same joy!

Details of your wedding attire include those classic images of your dress hanging up. Lots of brides choose a custom hanger, or maybe get their new last name painted! I’ll borrow your shoes, jewelry, bouquet, and veil for these images as well. I typically photograph these just after the flat lays, while I still have most of these items handy.

Black bow tie and red carnation boutonniere displayed in a groom's wedding details flat lay

Don’t forget the men’s details too!

I love a good groom’s flat lay! I typically don’t include the men’s details in with the full flat lay. Their accessories tend to be dark and bold, which don’t always photograph well with stationery suites. When I first start working with a groom, I’ll ask for his accessories. I’m looking for anything besides the suit, basically! Gather his shoes, bowtie or tie, cufflinks, his boutonnière, cologne, watch, and anything else sentimental. I’ll create an individual arrangement that aligns with the style of the wedding, but highlights his personal details.

Wedding details checklist

This is a lot to remember! I’m here to make it less stressful. There’s a mental checklist in my head that’s almost second nature at this point. Even if you don’t have your details ready for me, I’ll know what to ask for and can gather them up quickly. To make the most of our time together on your wedding day, I suggest gathering everything ahead of time. I’m providing my mental checklist below!


  • Dress
  • Veil
  • Bouquet
  • Earrings
  • Necklace
  • Hair clips and pins
  • ALL rings in one place
  • Shoes
  • Perfume
  • Any outfit changes
  • Pins, brooches, and family heirlooms
  • Garter
  • Full invitation suite (preferably two)
  • Save-the-date
  • Loose stems
  • Any accessories like ribbon or ring boxes
  • Tie/Bow tie
  • Pocket square
  • Cufflinks
  • Watch
  • Boutonniere
  • Couples’ gifts
  • Hand written notes
  • Vow books
  • Reception stationery: menus, place cards, etc
  • Any other sentimental accessories

Logistics considerations

Have all of your details gathered beforehand and a wedding party member in charge of knowing where they are. Keep all the rings (both of your bands and engagement rings as well) in one place. This is typically with the bride.

The florist should deliver personals (bouquets and boutonnieres) as well as loose stems before the photography time begins.

I will work with the planner to make sure there’s time allotted to photograph ceremony and reception details after they are completely set up, but before guests enter the spaces.

Reach out if you have any questions!

Downtown staunton runaway bride styled shoot snapshot taken on New Street, showcasing bridal crossing a crosswalk in the middle of historic downtown with a long veil flowing behind her.

filed in


It’s not often we get to just play in the wedding industry. It’s high paced, lots of weekend work, and the creative shoots are a much needed break to fuel our client work! This runaway bride inspired downtown Staunton bridal photoshoot was a small part of a larger editorial at Virginia Creative Collective. We worked with Atlas and Ember events to coordinate a second look. This portion of the bridal photoshoot incorporated a short playful dress, floral umbrella from One Last Avcocado floral design, a cathedral length pearl veil, leather jacket and…. pizza! Everyone needs pizza at the end of their wedding day.

Playful, punky bridal vibes

Breanna from Atlas and Ember spearheaded the styling for the runaway bride look. We opted for a short dress and leather jacket to bring a punk edge to the look. The cathedral style veil was a nice contrast! And, the pearl-studded look brought an extra trend into the mix. Most of the attire items were already owned by the studio and sourced secondhand from wedding sales. While we love to partner with bridal shops, we know this session would get things a little dusty and dirty. The veil dragged the historic brick of downtown Staunton, snagging some of the tulle layers. Ultimately, that added to the overall look!

Utilizing Staunton’s New Street and Courthouse Steps

If you don’t know us well, our studio is located right across from the Augusta County courthouse. We occasionally see courthouse weddings from our window. It was fitting to end the mini styled bridal photoshoot there on the steps of the courthouse. Breanna got to showcase her just-in-time wedding planner skills by delivering Shenandoah Pizza, a local favorite, to conclude the shoot.

Downtown Staunton Runaway Bridal Photoshoot Vendors

Venue: Virginia Creative Collective, Staunton Studio and Event Space

Photographer: Jo Mahaney, Staunton Wedding Photographer

Planner: Atlas and Ember Events, Charlottesville Micro Wedding Planner

Florist: Keturah of One Last Avocado, locally sourced wedding florals

Event Rentals: Argent Events, Waynesboro boutique event rentals

Model: Lexi Have

Makeup: Libby Makeup Co