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bride and groom embrace moments after their first look, getting a moment alone on their wedding day

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Most people imagine their wedding day as this amazing experience you get to have together as a couple. In reality, you won’t spend much of the day side by side unless you make intentional time and space for it. Between getting ready separately, being in the spotlight for your ceremony, trying to talk to all your special guests, and other formalities… your focus is elsewhere for most of the day! To really enjoy the day together, you have to plan ways to get quality, alone time with your spouse on your wedding day. Here are some of my favorite ways to get alone time on your wedding day.

bride and groom embrace moments after their first look, getting a moment alone on their wedding day

1. Have a first look before your ceremony

A first look is really popular option! Not for all the reasons you think though. Yes, you might get a big reaction from each other and sweet, emotional first look photographs. And of course, it helps us schedule portraits in a way that allow you to go straight to your cocktail hour after the ceremony. But beyond that, it gives you space to feel the joy of the day.

Here’s the difference between a first look before the ceremony, and seeing each other for the first time during the ceremony.

As you walk down the aisle towards your fiancé, they might react with emotion, tears, etc. Or, they might also be so aware that they’re in front of people that they don’t let it fully sink it. Whether or not they react, in that moment, they can’t tell you how they feel. They can’t spin you around and soak in all of the details of your carefully picked out attire, hair and makeup, and shoes you spent weeks looking for.

Most importantly, you can take a moment to debrief together. Express your nerves, your joy, what part of the day you can’t wait for. Hold onto each other for a little while if you want. Cry a bit if you need, or laugh a lot! You can hide away in private too. It doesn’t have to be photographed or about the portraits! As much as I’d love to photograph

2. A private champagne toast after your wedding ceremony

If you have a wedding planner or coordinator, ask them to have some champagne and hors d’oeuvres ready in a private room as you walk down the aisle. It’s going to take some time for the rest of the wedding party and family to process down the aisle anyway. Go ahead and take an extra few minutes to breath with your BRAND NEW spouse!  Plus, let’s be honest, you’re probably starving by this point.

3. End the night with a private last dance

This is one of my absolutely favorite ways to end a wedding! Once you’ve danced the night away with your friends and family, clear the room and share a last dance for just the two of you. You can be yourselves, you can soak it all in together. Celebrate the conclusion of your wedding together, dancing alone in the room where your friends just celebrated you!

bride and groom walk off into the sunset alone together after their wedding reception

4. Schedule time for a sunset walk/portrait walk, just the two of you

The absolute best time for your newlywed portraits is the last ~30-40 minutes before sunset. But, that doesn’t mean it’s ONLY for photos! After your portraits, walk away from your reception for a few more minutes to talk to each other. All the rest of the evening, your friends and family will be SO excited to see you, dance with you, laugh with you. You want to say hi to all of them, but with 130 guests, that takes so long! Carve out some time for a conversation with your spouse. Better yet, a romantic walk at sunset.

5. Sit a little away from your guests at dinner

Setting yourself a table away from the masses ensures you space for quality time together on your wedding day. It also ensures you can eat! Most couples don’t eat their fill between all the different conversations, congratulations, and questions from excited guests. It’s not their fault. Your guests are just excited, and they’re probably been there an hour or so already and can hardly wait to share their love with you. Make it a little harder to interrupt your first dinner as newlyweds by putting space between you and your guests. You’re going to spend the whole evening with them. I promise you won’t miss out on anything by sitting down to eat on your own.

Alone time with your spouse on your wedding will help you soak in the day, and actually spend it together!

I hope this helps make your wedding special and stress free.

All of my wedding advice boils down to reducing your stress, increasing your enjoyment, and amplifying your joy. If you liked this article and want more wedding planning tips, photography content, stories from wedding days, and the occasional deal or announcement, join my email list.

I want your day to be as perfect as possible.

Over six years of wedding photography, I’ve picked up on dozens of little ways to help my couples enjoy their wedding more. It’s mostly behind the scenes things, communicating with vendors, and small tweaks to the schedule to make sure they stay IN the moment, giving us more candid, authentic, and joyful photographs. If you’re reading this as a bride or groom to be and this sounds like what you want in a wedding photographer, please reach out! Hello@photographybyjo.net is my email. I’d love to talk to you now, whether your wedding is in three months or three years. Let’s get a drink, hop on zoom, and figure out what you’re looking for in a wedding photographer. I betcha I either know someone, or am someone! ?

A man is down on one knee, facing his girlfriend while standing in front of the blue ridge mountain overlook on raven's roost at the skyline drive. The girlfriend is shocked and happy, with her hands on her face. He has pulled off the perfect surprise proposal plan.

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It’s not unusual that the idea of proposing makes you nervous, you have no idea where to start or what to say. After all, most people do this once in a lifetime! If the topic of marriage and engagement rings have been coming up favorably, it’s time to start thinking about how you want to propose. Planning a proposal can range from simple and spontaneous, to elaborate romantic gestures. Whatever style is right for you, this guide will cover all the things you need to consider before you propose.

A man is down on one knee, facing his girlfriend while standing in front of the blue ridge mountain overlook on raven's roost at the skyline drive. The girlfriend is shocked and happy, with her hands on her face. He has pulled off the perfect surprise proposal plan.

What to do before you propose

Before you get down on one knee, there’s a few things you need to take care of first. Some are common sense, and you might not have thought of all of these yet!

Talk to each other about engagement and proposals

Make sure you are on the same page about whether marriage is in your near future. Don’t rely on passive clues. It’s totally okay to talk about the life you want together! A proposal can still be a delightful surprise, despite talking about it first. You never want to find out that you’re moving faster than your significant other when you pop the question. Talk about it first, and wait until you’re both ready!

close up image of man holding out engagement ring box just before his proposalFind out their ring style and size

This is arguably one of the hardest parts of planning a proposal. Few people fully understand their partner’s style enough to shop for them. This might be something you talk about also! It’s a big investment, and a lifetime one at that. You want to make sure they really love what you pick out. You can do this subtly, by pointing out styles you see and commenting on them. Their friends and family might be a great help too! Show them some of the rings you’re considering, and see what they think. More tips on how to find out their ring style at Martha Stewart Weddings.

Planning a proposal

Now we get to the good stuff. You’ve got the ring, you know you’re ready. Now what? You know your person, probably better than anybody. Do you think they want to be surprised and whisked off to an engagement party with friends and family? Or, maybe popping the question over a meaningful private dinner would be more their style. Whatever you decide on, be sure to be true to what you both love. It’s easy to get swept up in what’s trending, what might be really photogenic, or suggestions from friends and family. Ultimately, the gesture needs to be meaningful to your partner!

event staff at a wedding venue are tossing flower petals in preparation for their friend's proposal plan, helping him set up while the couple is on their way to the surpriseHiring a proposal planner

If you’re thinking about a grand gesture that might need a little extra coordination, you can actually hire a proposal planner! If you live in a rural area, there might not be planning services that specialize in proposals. But, wedding planners can help you out! Need flowers or candles set up in a remote location? A proposal planner has your back! While you’re distracting your partner with a day date and elaborate excuse to go on a drive in your best sundress, they can have everything ready for your big surprise.

Booking a Proposal Photographer in Virginia

Photography has become an important part of the proposal magic. The split-second reaction when you ask your partner to marry you is unpredictable, emotional, and one of a kind. They will love having photos of that moment! This is one they’ll want to relive as much as possible. To find a proposal photographer, you’ll want to look for someone who specializes in weddings and engagements. They have lots of experience with candid moments and couples, and have likely photographed a few proposals before. You can start looking for a photographer as soon as you’ve decided on a date, or at least time frame, for your proposal.

Woman shows off her brand new engagement ring to her friends and family at a surprise proposal party picnic just minutes after her fiance proposed in front of their friends and family

Coordinating with your proposal photographer

Communication is tricky when trying to plan a surprise proposal. You may not have met in person, so make sure they know what you look like ahead of time. Send pictures so they know who to look for. Pick out a clear location and give explicit directions on where, when, and even what specific spot or section of the location you’ll be in. For instance, if you’re proposing in a park or public place, you make want to specify the nearest cross street and send photos of the spot you’re envisioning. If you need help figuring out the best spot, your photographer can guide you!

couple embraces and kisses after proposal at ravens roost overlook in afton, virginia. The blue ridge mountains create a scenic backdrop for the proposal.What does a proposal photographer cost in Virginia?

Virginia rates–on average– are slightly above the national average for photographers. Like I explained in my article on wedding photography prices in Virginia, photography is a very independent industry with a wide range of pricing structures. Skill, demand, experience, equipment, availability, business costs, and cost of living all play a factor. In addition, the circumstances of the job like travel, hours of coverage, and what products you’d like included will impact the price as well. In Virginia, you can find proposal photographers ranging from $250 to $900.

For me, I price proposals like a normal portrait session. While my actual photography time is usually less than the typical session, the planning, staging, and ensuring the moment is captured requires more time commitment up front. I feel the pricing balances out. In addition, couples who have booked me to photograph their proposal get a nice discount on any full wedding and engagement package. I find it so beneficial to know the couple well before we work together on their wedding day. It helps with chemistry, ease in front of the camera, and understand who and what is important to the couple that day. Because of this, I offer an incentive to those who are working with me for proposal, engagement, and wedding photography. The session fee for proposal photography (Usually about $325-$450 depending on what you need) can be applied towards to wedding photography package towards the retainer. This way, by the time you pay for the wedding photography package, your proposal session was gratis (free!). You can inquire here.

engagement portraits taken right after a proposal at devils backbone brewery in nelson county, virginia

How to choose a place to propose

Similar to deciding when and what style of proposal you want to plan, this is a very individual choice. Some couples choose places for the sentimental value, like where they first met, a favorite restaurant, their college campus, or family property. Others choose romantic locations for the views, like an overlook, waterfall, city scape, or canyon. Whatever your style, here’s some things to consider.

Things to think about when picking a proposal location:

  • Accessibility: if you want an awesome mountain overlook, make sure you’re not hiking to a place where you’re going to be sweating and out of breath by the time you get up there.
  • Permits: for public places or government-owned facilities–such as the national mall or monuments in DC–you might need a permit if you’re going to have a professional photographer there. These are typically easily applied for. Just ask your photographer for help.
  • Crowds: going to a popular location might mean you don’t have the place to yourself. If you think this will make your partner uncomfortable having public attention, maybe propose more privately before or after your trip.
  • Travel: many people propose while on a trip or abroad. Make sure that you pack everything you need in your carry on in case your checked luggage is delayed or misplaced.
  • Weather: if it pours down rain, will this ruin your plans? Have a plan B if this is a concern.

image of man proposing to his girlfriend in the rain in DC in front of the Bartholdi Fountain.

Woman looks surprised as she walks into a surprise engagement party on the day of her proposal.Preparing for your proposal

That week, you’ll want to make sure everyone is ready for the big moment. If you’re working with vendors, send the final details of your plan and get them to confirm receipt. If there’s a surprise engagement party afterwards, make sure everyone knows what time you’ll be arriving and where to park. Emphasize that it’s a surprise! Some people might assume otherwise.

Get ready for the engagement ring

Back to that ring that you spent so much care and money on finding just the right one. If your partner is the kind of person that doesn’t like to be caught off guard and generally likes looking put-together, you may need to find some excuses to get them dressed up for the big day. Plan a believably nice date for the two of you–something that isn’t too out of the ordinary for your relationship, but still a special occasion. They may want a manicure a few days beforehand, so those ring photos are as gorgeous as possible!

close up image of engagement ring on a woman's hand with a fresh french manicure

What to say when you propose

Asking someone to marry you is a hard question to start. How do you sum up your feelings about this person in a couple sentences? Or, maybe you don’t normally talk about your feelings and the whole things feels very unnatural, but you’re ready for this. Don’t sweat the speech! By the time you start getting down on one knee, your almost-fiancé is going to be in a little bit of shock, maybe overjoyed, possibly trying to answer before you can even get the question out. Keep it simple, short, and to the point. Like these:

  • “I can’t imagine my life without you, and I want to be your partner forever. Will you marry me?”
  • “Your smile and laugh first drew me to you. I want to be the one that gets to see that smile every day for the rest of my life.”
  • “You bring out the best in me. I can’t stop picturing our future together. I can’t wait to get started on forever.”
  • More ideas on what to say when you propose

Tip: Write down what you’re going to say and practice it beforehand. It may sound silly, but it’ll help when the time comes and the nerves hit. Then, keep those words written down and save them somewhere. You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget the specifics of the moment when you both get swept up in the adrenaline, and then time passes.

How to conceal the engagement ring before you propose

It’s common to be going on a date or driving somewhere together just before the proposal. This can make it trick to keep the engagement ring hidden until you propose. Do NOT, I repeat do NOT!!, use the giant black box the ring came in to carry it with you. Those things are bulky, and your partner is likely to notice it sticking out of your pocket. I recommend having a little synch jewelry bag or discrete slim ring box instead. Ring stash is another great option! If you are wearing a blazer or jacket, use that pocket instead of your pants pocket. A little bit before the proposal, discretely take the ring out of its packaging and hold it between your fingers. This also allows you to slip it on their finger and go straight to a hug and celebration without having a box in your hand.

parents embrace their children after witnessing their proposal

They said yes. Now what?

So what do you do after the proposal?! When you first get engaged, take a little time to yourself to soak it in. It feels like a whirlwind, so consider making plans ahead of time for how you’re going to celebrate. Don’t start talking wedding plans right away. Give it a few days of pure joy! When you’re ready for what’s next, read what to do after you get engaged for the conversation starters you need to start wedding planning off on the same page.

Still need tips on planning a marriage proposal?

That’s okay, I got you! This article from Bridal Guide has more great proposal ideas. You can always look to the Knot for all things wedding preparation, and Brides Magazine has you covered for trendy proposal ideas.

close up portrait of couple celebrating after their proposal, right after they got engaged

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They proposed. You said yes! You’re looking down at your ring, maybe a little in shock. And it hits you. You have no idea what to do now that you’re actually engaged. You probably have no experience planning a wedding, may not have been expecting the big question, and it’s all a whirlwind. That’s okay–I’ve got you. I’ve done this before, and been to over 100 weddings. In this article, I’m going to share what to do after you get engaged as well as how to build your relationship during this season of engagement as you plan for your marriage, not just your wedding day. Let’s dive in!

close up portrait of couple celebrating after their proposal, right after they got engaged

Things to do right after the proposal

Experience all the joy

You will only feel like this once in your life, so soak it all in! Maybe take a minute to write some things down, like what your partner said when they asked you. I know for me I hardly remember those details. Take some photos, FaceTime your mom. Get excited!! Stay off Pinterest for now and avoid the overwhelm. This is the time to revel in the joy. Someone wants to love you forever!

Announce your engagement

Call or visit your closest friends and family to announce your engagement! Once you’ve told all your inner circle (and, they probably knew this was coming), make that ring selfie Facebook official! (I guess Instagram official is more accurate now, but I’m stuck in 2010 lingo). If you had a proposal photographer (great job, fiancé!), you’ll likely get these photos back in a week or less for the announcement.

Go on a date

Sometimes it’s easy to jump right into telling everyone, wedding planning, asking your wedding party, and all the exciting things about getting married. Meanwhile, you neglect to spend good quality time alone, enjoying the engagement together. Keep up with regular date nights! Talk about the excitement, and openly communicate about your wants for the wedding throughout the engagement. It might be a good idea to have date nights where wedding planning is a banned topic. Planning has a tendency to take over your life and relationship for a while, so it’s healthy to take a break. 

Have an engagement party

Some couples skip this formality, but I think it’s such a fun one! Get your inner circle together and celebrate with an engagement party. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can get a large table at your favorite restaurant and toast to the happy news. You only do this once, so indulge yourself a bit.

Insure that ring!

Some homeowners or renter’s insurance cover valuable jewelry. Call your insurance company and see what they offer. You’ll want your ring insured. In the first two years of marriage, my engagement ring broke at the band, on the prong, and lost a small stone. I was not rough on it and worked a desk job. Some jewelry stores offer warranties for this sort of thing, but it wouldn’t cover loss or theft. You’ll need to take it in to be cleaned and inspected every 6-12 months in order to keep the warranty active. Additional insurance for loss or theft is always a great idea! Remember that you want to get insurance for the value of the ring, not just what you paid. You might need to get it appraised, in case the value is well over what you paid.

My top wedding planning tips for newly engaged couples

Okay, before we dig in, I want you to keep these things in mind.

First, no wedding is perfect. Seriously, all the money in the world can’t buy you a perfect wedding day. Approach your wedding day with a plan A, plan B, and an open mind. Be flexible when changes arise. Years from now, your guests and friends won’t recall the little details. Focus on the most important things to you, and release the stress of planning the perfect day. The perfect wedding is the one you enjoy. Most weddings run behind at some point or another, and there’s always some family members that don’t remember where to be for photos, and little things like that. Let it all go and let your vendors take care of those issues. Enjoy yourself! You can tell in the image, I promise.

Second, make sure you plan some alone time together on your wedding day. You are in front of people for most of the day, on a tight schedule, and in the spotlight. Set aside some time to spend with each other so you can talk together, look at each other, and appreciate the moment. This can be a first look, secluded dining table, last dance, or sunset walk. There’s lots of creative ways to spend time together on your wedding day!

Lastly, be practical. This applies to the amount of planning you take on by yourselves, the schedule of the wedding day, the wedding budget, the vendors you’re booking. At the end of the day, some wedding fantasies aren’t realistic. Work with a planner to figure out what’s feasible for you, and try not to overcommit yourself to too much work or expenses that aren’t comfortable for you. Start your marriage out as stress-free as possible.

How to start planning your wedding

Okay, so how does a couple with no planning experience plan a party for 50, 100, 200 plus of their closest friends? Little by little, and with a lot of help! In the beginning, start thinking about who might be willing to help and how you can delegate some responsibilities. Decide on some bigger picture ideas before you get concerned with the little details. Everyone’s first instinct is to start looking at Pinterest boards and Instagram hashtag feeds at dreamy wedding photos. But a lot of those viral ideas are from expensive styled shoots and aren’t easy to replicate. They can cause overwhelm. Ever heard the term you can’t see the forest through the trees? This is a common issue in early wedding planning. Read on to avoid falling into that pattern.

Your first big wedding planning decisions to make

Come up with a wedding budget.

Talking finances can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s important to set and stick to a budget up front. Every wedding decision you make has financial implications, so you can’t get started planning until you know the numbers! Who’s paying? Is it parents, grandparents, just you two, a combination? Do you need to set up a savings plan for the next year or so? Or, are you comfortable going into debt for your wedding and honeymoon? (Not encouraging this, but I know some people do!) It’s time to get on the same page about the investment you intend to make on your wedding. This is a great introduction to talking about joint finances too!

Decide on a general size and style for your wedding.

Do you want to get married in a ballroom with 250 people, or a historic inn with 40 guests? The size and venue options are somewhat related to your budget discussion. But you need to agree (or, maybe compromise) on what kind of wedding you want to have. This will help you start looking at venues and getting quotes from vendors. There’s dozens of styles of wedding, and you’re going to bring your own unique styles to the event too. Talk big ideas early on, so the details are easier to decide on!

Think about wedding insurance.

Did you know wedding insurance is a thing!? Special event insurance is becoming a more common investment. You might need to know some details before you can purchase insurance, so this step might come a few months after engagement. There’s a few different types of insurance. Some offer coverage for cancellation, which includes reasons like illness, weather, deployment, or other uncontrollable reasons. The second type is liability. This would cover you if there was damage to the venue during your wedding, or someone was seriously injured during the event. Allstate has a great resource explaining types of wedding and special event insurance.

Discuss wedding dates and seasons.

Have a general idea of when you want to get married. I’d suggest picking a month or range at the early stage of planning. You might want to stay flexible until you’ve found a venue and know their available dates. Some dates are more popular than others and may be in high demand in your area. In general, spring and fall season are quite busy in the Mid-Atlantic, since the weather is so nice for outdoor ceremonies and portraits.

Next, hire a wedding planner!

While many think this is optional, I consider it essential. Planning a wedding doesn’t have to be stressful, and you don’t have to start from scratch. Wedding planners can do this in their sleep. They know the ins and outs of the process, the local vendors, and the logistics of a smooth wedding day. Even for the most organized, type-A, likes to be in control couple… you can’t do everything on your own!

Is it worth it to hire a wedding planner?

There’s no good wedding planner I know that isn’t worth every penny. They make up their cost by saving you money and headache on helping you stay on budget, negotiating contracts, recognizing and educating you on unexpected costs before they come up, and taking care of the details so you don’t have to be everything to everyone on your wedding day. Not to mention the hours and hours of planning time they save you! Worth. Every. Penny.

What does a wedding planner do?

There are several different types of wedding planning services. You can hire a day-of coordinator to help with logistics for the event, a partial planning service, a full service wedding planner, and even a wedding designer to deliver your aesthetic vision. Full service wedding planners can offer help with every stage of the wedding process, from venue scouting to managing the experience on the day of the wedding. There’s a long laundry list of tasks that wedding planners can handle for you. But that doesn’t mean you’re handing over control! You still get to make all the important decisions on your wedding plans, and leave the execution up to the planner.

What does a wedding planner cost?

The cost of a wedding planner ranges quite widely based on what’s included in your contract, when and where you’re getting married, and the type of event you’re planning. A small elopement with two vendors and a ballroom event with dozens of vendors and detailed tablescapes are going to be vastly different scopes of work. This is why you need to understand your overall wedding vision before contacting any vendors.

Full service wedding planners cost about 12% to 18% of your overall wedding budget. Some wedding planners charge a flat rate package. In central Virginia and Augusta County area, you can find partial planning services starting around $1,000 and full service planning closer to $2,000 – $5,000. Just like my article on the cost of wedding photography, costs for wedding planners vary outside this range. Experienced planners that offer a higher level customer experience will charge more. In general, you get what you pay for. But like I mentioned in the beginning, most of what you invest in a wedding planner will come back to you in some way or another. Whether it’s sourcing materials at a better price, negotiating vendor contracts, or saving you hours of time or time off work… they are worth every penny!

When to start planning your wedding

Don’t jump in right away. Give yourself some time to be excited together and enjoy this new stage of life. You will need to decide up front whether you’d like to have a long or short engagement. If you think your wedding will be 12-18 months away, you can afford to wait a few weeks before talking about wedding planning. If you think a short engagement fits your plans better, maybe take a few days or a week before diving in. According to Wedding Wire, 19% of couples plan their weddings in 6 months or less! If this is your plan, jump in as soon as you can, but definitely not the day of your proposal.

Wedding planning timeline: When to book your wedding vendors

There are already dozens of wedding planning timelines and checklists out there. You can even order a planner specific to your wedding! I’m going to cover the highlights for the major vendors here. As we roll into 2022 and 2023 wedding planning, vendors are more booked up than ever before, so it’s important to book early. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to rush any decisions! But if floral design or photography or a live band is super important to you, find those things right away. It is never to early to inquire and start asking questions.

When to book your wedding venue

Besides your wedding planner, the venue is the first thing you’ll want to secure. You can start looking at wedding and reception venues 12-18 months ahead of time. If you’re on a shorter timeline, you’ll want to get this secured right away. While new DJ’s, Videographers, Bakers, etc crop up all the time, venues are a little more scarce and have to fit your specific wedding needs, like style and capacity size.

When to book your wedding photographer and videographer

Wedding photographers and videographers will typically allow you to book as far as 18 months out. As soon as you’ve booked your venue, you’ll want to start researching your photographer options. You might even save some money by booking at their current rates, before your wedding year!

When to book your florist or floral designer

In 2021, we had a floral shortage and logistical issues with supply. So florists with inventory access were in super high demand! I don’t think every year will bring these same challenges, but there are fewer quality florists than most vendors. I’d say it’s never too early to start looking into floral design. They can help guide you on what will be available in your season, which could impact your wedding vision early on. Book your florist shortly after your venue, about 12 months in advance if possible.

When to book your wedding band or DJ

If you’re looking for live entertainment, you may want to reach out 8-10 months in advance. Skilled wedding bands are less prevalent than wedding DJ’s and MC’s. For DJ’s, start researching and inquiring 6-8 months before your wedding day.

When to book your wedding officiant

Start contacting wedding officiants 6-8 months in advance. If you are part of a church or having a religious ceremony, you may have a minister available in your religious organization. Non-religious officiants should be registered with the state where you are getting married. You can have a friend marry you in most states, but you’ll need to check with the licensing requirements in your state and possibly county. These are details a planner can help you sort out.

When to book your caterer and bartenders

Check with your venue right away about catering and bartending options. Some venues have in-house caterers, preferred vendors you have to use, or a short list of approved vendors that are familiar with their policies and site. If you’re bringing in off-site catering and bar services, start looking 9-12 months before your wedding. Catering companies are among the vendors that typically only serve one wedding per date, so availability will get more limited the longer you wait.

When to book your wedding hair and makeup artists

You’ll want to leave plenty of time for a hair and makeup trial, so start looking 8-10 months out! Pro tip: time your makeup trial with your engagement session date for the perfect, photo-ready look!

When to buy your wedding attire

6-8 months in advance, you’ll want to start trying on dresses. Picking out wedding attire is not as simple as buying formal outfits. You’ll likely have multiple fittings to make sure your dress is altered perfectly to your shape and will be comfortable to wear all day. For the ladies, bridesmaids dresses can take a couple months to come in after you order them. If you’re doing mismatched dresses, they need to be ordered around the same time so that the color all comes from the same dye lot. Otherwise, there may be color variance. For the men, give them several months to all go get measured to ensure a proper fit. Final fittings and measurements for all the wedding party should be in 4-6 weeks before the wedding, unless your attire provider says otherwise.

When to order your wedding cake

Bakers for wedding cakes are able to take on multiple weddings in a day, so long as the delivery distance is feasible. You can be more flexible with your planning timeline for this vendor. Still, you want to make sure this vendor is secured 3-6 months before your wedding. If you have a very specific vision, dietary restrictions, or unique flavor request, reach out sooner to schedule a tasting.

When to book your wedding musicians

Like live bands, skilled wedding musicians are more scarce than other vendors. Contact musicians 8-10 months before your wedding day.

When to book your rehearsal dinner

1-2 months ahead of your wedding, start looking for places to host a rehearsal dinner. Large restaurants can accommodate a request like this with just a few weeks heads up. If you’re planning a catered dinner at a venue, you’ll need to start looking sooner. Your wedding planner can help with this also!

Planning your wedding party

Asking people to be part of your wedding is a huge honor! But it’s also a lot of responsibility. Members of the wedding party have to buy expensive formalwear, take time off work for multiple wedding events, foot the bill for the bachelor and bachelorette party, incur travel expenses, write speeches, help make sure the wedding goes as planned, and generally be there for you on your wedding day. It’s a large commitment! Start talking to your wedding party as far in advance as possible so they can plan accordingly. Make sure you are all open and honest about the financial and time commitments, so your wedding party members have enough time to plan for the cost, or decline your offer without leaving you high and dry.

These people will be there to help you prepare for your wedding morning, in your wedding portraits forever, and will make a huge impact on how your day feels. Think about asking only people who are in your most inner circle, who you can see adding helpful and positive energy to the day.

More wedding planning guides

Wedding planning has an endless list of subtopics. There’s still your registry, décor and design, honeymoon, shower, and other details we haven’t even touched on. Not to mention after the wedding! Change of address, filing your marriage certificate, changing your name, tax filing status, and more. For more checklists and resources on wedding planning, check out these articles:

Wedding photography of a bride and groom under a willow tree snuggling together with text overlay that reads:

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The cost of a wedding photographer is a beast of a topic to tackle! According to BRIDES magazine, the national range is as wide as $1,000 to $10,000 for a wedding photography package. This is not a helpful statistic if you’re trying to budget. The majority of wedding photographers run independent companies. Their packages vary based on business costs, what they include, their skill level and experience, business model, and even variables like local cost of living and regional demand. Virginia is a highly competitive region for wedding photography, where pricing varies drastically. This is predominantly due to the cost of living variance between northern, southern, and central Virginia, as well as the abundance of photographers in the state. In this article, we’re going to break down how much a wedding photographer costs in Virginia. To be thorough, we’ll look by region, experience, skill, and other variables like your wedding size and budget.

The average cost of a wedding photographer

National averages aren’t the most helpful when it comes to setting your budget. But, it’s great to start with context! The Knot estimates the average cost of a wedding photographer in the US is $2,400 to $3,200, while Zola suggests you can expect to spend 10-12% of your budget on wedding photography. The average price of a wedding photographer is not necessarily what you’ll end up spending. Deciding how much to spend on wedding photography is all about what you value and can afford. The biggest factors that impact your wedding photography cost are going to be what’s included in the package, and how experienced your photographer is. Next, let’s break down the wedding photography market in Virginia.

Wedding Photography Prices in Virginia by Region

map showing regions of Virginia and cost of living variance

Virginia is full of variety. Whether its cost of living, career opportunities, politics, population, or wedding cost, the regions of Virginia have distinct differences. For instance, we know the average household income in Northern Virginia is almost TRIPLE the average income for Southern Virginia. The difference between average wedding budgets in Northern Virginia and Southwest Virginia is nearly 40%! This is why I’m breaking down the cost of wedding photography by region.

Keep in mind, these are regional averages and generalizations. There’s always going to be people that break the mold in an industry with this much variety and independence. There’s also photographers who work in all these regions, nationally, and even internationally! The rest of the article will help put these pricing brackets into perspective, and explain why some photographers may not fit in these boxes. Let’s dig in.

Wedding Photography Prices in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia

Of course, I’m starting with Central VA! If you are new here, I am based in Staunton, Virginia. Staunton is about 30 minutes equidistant from the college towns of Harrisonburg and Charlottesville, located in the central Virginia region. It’s considered a relatively rural area, though not as rural as south and southwest Virginia. This is where I learned wedding photography and have the most knowledge on the local industry.

In general, wedding photographers in Central Virginia charge just above the national average. You will find professional wedding photographers with several years of experience and a nice client experience for around $2,800 to $4,200 for a wedding package, depending on what’s included. New and inexperienced photographers may charge $1,000 to $2,000. Charlottesville, Winchester, and Lynchburg areas are likely to see higher average pricing than places like Rockingham and Augusta county. Predominantly, this is due to cost of living. Photographers with substantial experience, exceptional skill, who offer a higher level or customer experience, or who specialize in luxury weddings may charge $5,000 – $8,000. 

Wedding Photography Prices in Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia is the most expensive region of VA for cost of living. Wedding photography prices in Northern VA (or NOVA) are no exception. With its proximity to DC and a plethora of luxury wedding venues, total wedding cost in NOVA is exponentially higher than the rest of Virginia. The demand in the area is higher, so photographers may increase their prices as their calendars fill up. Brand new wedding photographers may still charge in the $1,000 to $2,500 range as they build a portfolio. The average cost of a wedding photographer in Northern Virginia is around $3,200 to $5,200. Luxury and fine art wedding photographers may charge upwards of $10,000 to $14,000.

Wedding Photography Prices in Richmond and Hampton Roads Virginia

While technically separate regions, the eastern side of Virginia–Richmond, Hampton Roads, and the eastern shore–are similar for the sake of demographics and wedding photography cost. You’re going to find a range of prices and wedding photography packages that fall between the costs in Northern and Central Virginia. An established professional will be in the range of $3,000 to $5,000, while high end and in-demand photographers may cost $6,000 to $10,000. Like Central Virginia, prices may be higher in come cities. Richmond has the highest cost of living in this area.

Wedding Photography Prices in Southern and Southwest Virginia

The southern parts of Virginia have the lowest cost of living and lowest population. In general, the venues there are more rustic, with lots of barn-style venues, vineyards, breweries, and churches. Photographers who live there tend to charge less than the rest of the state. Professional wedding photography in southern Virginia averages $2,000 to $3,200, while highly experienced photographers in this area may charge $4,000 to $7,000.

What does a wedding photographer cost in Staunton Virginia?

Finally, I’m glad you asked! Wedding photography prices in Staunton vary just like anywhere else. Your average wedding photography package for moderately experienced professional photographers runs about $2,600 to $4,200. Personally, my packages for elopements start at $1,800 and weddings average about $3,800 with engagement session included.  After we talk about wedding plans, I typically make each couple a custom proposal based on their specific needs. However, my standard packages are available to the public! I believe in transparency. I don’t want to rope you into a call, just for you to feel frustrated later if I’m not in budget. Check out my Virginia wedding photography packages and prices.

Summary: Virginia Wedding Photographer Cost by Region Chart

Looking for the basics? This chart summarizes wedding photographer cost by the regions of Virginia. It represents a range of amateur pricing, averages, and luxury wedding experiences. Check for your region in the map above, and cross reference this chart to find out what wedding photographers are charging in your area.

What percent of a wedding budget should be spent on wedding photography?

According to a 2017 Zola survey of over 750 engaged and newlywed couples, both groups ranked wedding photographer as the second most important element of their wedding. These couples spent an average of 10-12% of their wedding budget on their photographer. The Knot estimates photography makes up 10-15% of most wedding budgets. This doesn’t mean you can’t spend over or under 10% of your budget on wedding photography. Remember, your wedding budget decisions are your own. Whether you spend 5% or 50% on wedding photography, it’s perfectly fine!

Each wedding is unique. Decide what to prioritize in your wedding planning, book those vendors, and then make the rest work, possibly by making some concessions on items of lower importance to you two. If you’re having an intimate wedding with few guests, your rentals, catering, centerpieces, and other costs are going to be much smaller, while photography and videography could easily make up 40% of your budget there. All these numbers are flexible and circumstantial. When you see “average” on big wedding planning sites, think national average for a traditional, 150-person, $40,000 wedding. It doesn’t mean that’s the most common situation. It’s just what you get when you total all the year’s weddings together divided over the number of weddings. 

What’s included in a wedding photography package?

Okay, are you tired of me saying it depends? It depends! Wedding photographers have the independence to craft their own packages and client experience. Some photographers offer luxury albums and wall art, some shoot film in addition to digital, some specialize in elopements, and others may provide digital files only. This variety of products and services adds to the vast pricing range that can make it overwhelming to select a package. It’s important to read the details of each package option to ensure you’re comparing photographers and prices accurately. When evaluating a wedding photography package, you’ll want to consider the services they offer, the products they include, and the client experience they provide.

Photography Services Vary

For most wedding photographers, this is going to boil down to hours. Many wedding photography packages are based on continuous hours of coverage. For example, if the photographer is on site from 12 PM to 8 PM, you’ll need to book an eight hour package. In addition, you’ll want to know how many photographers will be shooting your wedding. Some photographers offer a second shooter as a default, some have a second photographer as an available add-on. Lastly, your wedding photographer may offer more services than just the wedding day coverage. Ask if they include an engagement session, bridal portrait session, rehearsal dinner coverage, or any other service in their packages. 

There’s no perfect wedding package, or universal “must-have” for wedding photography packages. I start every wedding consultation with an open-ended conversation about how they envision their wedding and what’s most important to them. This way, I can help them build the wedding photography package that’s right for them.

Photographers Offer Different Products

Photography products can include both digital and print options. Some photographers offer a digital gallery and release you to print your photos wherever you please. Your contract will specify the details of how those photos are delivered, you can use them and how, and whether they will be high resolution or just for digital sharing. Most photographers who provide digitals allow for social sharing, downloading, printing, etc for personal use, but restrict commercial or business use and do not allow you to edit or alter final photographs. This is a pretty standard agreement.

Print products is where it starts to get a bit hairy, when it comes to pricing. Products you buy from a professional print lab and your neighborhood Walmart photo service are very different. The photographer annually calibrates their computer screen to match the print lab’s presses, so that their color correction and editing is as close to perfect as possible. Photos look different on each digital display, and when printed at different machines. When you print through someone else, you run the risk of discoloration. Professional print labs offer warranty and quality assurance on their products, and will typically correct a problem if the coloring comes out wrong. 

How much do wedding albums and prints cost?

Even among professional labs, there’s such a wide variety in quality, pricing, and customer service. There are labs that mass produce albums at $200 a piece, and labs that offer concierge album design and hand stitch leather covers for $1,200 — cost to the photographer before their markup, commission, or compensation for their time. 

Lastly, prints and wedding albums tend to be less expensive when bundled together with your wedding photography package. If you plan on purchasing print products after your wedding, make sure to ask your photographer about this up front. You may be able to save by committing to a larger total package in advance.

Is it worth it to get a wedding album with your photography package?

The only way to decide if it’s worth it to you, is to see a sample and ask yourself if you want to hold the physical copies of your wedding images. Albums tell a story, and are a tangible piece of family history you can pass around the living room at holidays and re-experience the memories together. So many couples intend to make their own wedding album, and end up putting it off for years while their photos are sitting on a hard drive. Ordering through your photographer streamlines the process, so you only have to pick out some photos, and then the album arrives at your door. The combination of the album and the easy process are worth it to some, while others would rather make their own. Whatever you do, print your photos! They should be doing more than eating up storage on your phone.

Wedding Photographers Offer Different Client Experiences

Here is the ultimate differentiator. Each wedding photographer offers a completely unique experience. Wedding photographers spend so much time with you on your wedding day–even more than your future spouse. You have to like how they connect with you, talk to you, and interact with your friends and family.

Some photographers get involved in pre-wedding planning, meet you for venue walk-throughs, and want to get coffee before you decide to work together. Others are more reserved, observant, fly-on-the-wall and photojournalistic. Some are outgoing and energetic, while others are sentimental and appreciate preserving the emotion of the day. Each one will offer you a completely different experience.

How do you compare client experiences?

In addition to how your photographer interacts with you as a person, they may offer some more concrete elements in their client experience to help you make your decision. Maybe your potential wedding photographer has a client closet or style guide for engagement sessions. Maybe they have a champagne viewing party for your wedding photo reveal. For me, I provide professional hair and makeup for engagement sessions so that the couple feels special, spoiled, and confident before we go into what is likely their first professional photoshoot in years, if not ever.

What factors into the cost of wedding photography?

Okay, so how do photographers come up with their pricing? There are lots of business models for this. But at a basic level, photographers have to cover their cost of doing business plus pay themselves for their time in order to turn a profit after taxes. Then, factors like skill and the client experience they provide have additional value. There’s no one calculation to come up with pricing as a wedding photographer. As photographers grow in their skill and receive more inquiries, they increase their pricing. There are only 52 weekends in a year, which limits their ability to grow their business without inching up the pricing over time. 

Your Wedding Photographer’s Time

Of course you’re going to pay more for a wedding photography package that includes more hours. But hours of coverage barely scratches the surface on the time photographers spend working on each wedding. $300, $400, $500 per hour seems like a ton, until you look at the total work before and after, and take out business expenses. This breakdown will vary based on business model and working style, but below is a breakdown of the time I spend working on each wedding:

  • Consultation, booking, and contract: 2-3 hours
  • Engagement session: 2-4 hours
  • Editing engagement session: 2-3 hours
  • Wedding preparation, planning, timeline creation: 2 hours
  • Travel on a wedding day: 1-3 hours
  • Wedding photography coverage: 7-10 hours
  • Backing up data: 1-2 hours
  • Culling, editing, exporting, and uploading: 7-10 hours
  • Product and album design and delivery: 2-3 hours
  • Total time spent per couple: 26 to 40 hours for a 6 to 10 hour package

 

Travel fees for wedding photographers

If you’re hiring a photographer outside of their standard service area, you might have to pay a travel fee. For short trips, this may be $1-$2 per mile plus potential parking cost. If photographing your wedding requires a long day plus a few hours on the road, you may need to cover hotel expenses, mileage, meals, and opportunity cost. Each photographer has their own travel pricing structure. Be sure to ask whether travel fees are included or extra for your venue, as well as to wherever you plan to take engagement portraits.

Demand and Experience

As photographers gain experience, their prices increase. The wedding photographer with 50 weddings under their belt charges more than the wedding photographer who has shot 5 weddings. Typically, with more experience comes greater demand. While photographers could technically take a wedding every weekend, working weddings means saying no to lots of family events, school events, friends’ weddings, and other fun weekend activities. Some photographers will limit themselves to a certain number of weddings per year in order to avoid being overworked and burned out. Limited availability and high demand result in premium pricing. The same is typically true in reserve. New photographers with open availability and limited inquiries are likely to be more affordable.

Privacy and Exclusivity

Wedding photographers book new clients based on their portfolio and exposure. If you’d rather your wedding photographer keep your images private and offline, you might have to pay a privacy fee. This is because it restricts the photographer’s ability to market themselves and their past work. Not all photographers charge a fee for this, but it’s definitely something to ask about.

Don’t forget the hefty cost of professional wedding photography gear

This topic pains me to write about, but it’s necessary. This year, I switched brands from Nikon to Sony camera systems and had to buy all new cameras and lenses, as brands are not cross-compatible. Wedding photography requires a system with a variety of lens focal lengths, and great dynamic range with low light capability for receptions. Wedding receptions require flash systems or other lighting equipment as well. The camera bodies run about $2,000 to $4,000 each depending on the brand, sensor size, and feature preference; while quality lenses run about $600 to $2,400 each.

Cost of upkeep

There are maintenance costs as well. These need to be cleaned, calibrated, and maintained each year. Photographers are also spending money on high speed reliable memory cards, batteries, chargers, backup equipment (either rented or owned), computers, hard drives, safe gear bags, flash stands, and more. This is the biggest expense in a photography business, and unfortunately it’s not a one-time investment. Each camera has a limited shutter count (number of pictures it can take) before it exceeds its life, similar to a car and mileage.

The cost of doing business as a wedding photographer

Self employment taxes eat about 30% of your profit as a wedding photographer. Business expenses include liability insurance, website hosting, data storage and backup software, gallery delivery software, editing software, gear and gear cleaning, materials for print, batteries, as well as more discretional and fluctuating expenses like education, travel expenses, and marketing tools. You can see how quickly variables start to complicate things! Don’t worry, we’re still going to go over price ranges and how to select a wedding photographer in your budget. This background will help you understand what you’re receiving and whether it is worth the cost.

Professional Photography costs more, but comes with assurance

New, budding, and part time photographers often have lower operating costs. They prioritize essential costs, and may not have invested in certain aspects of their business yet. For example, the proper storage, backup, and long term protection of data–IE, your one and only wedding photographs–is expensive. And important! It took losing one part of one client’s wedding back in 2016 to realize that backups and failsafes are a crucial, non-negotiable expense.

Now, I shoot on dual memory cards, where each photo is getting recorded on BOTH cards in case one corrupts. When I get home, the images get backed up on my computer and on an external hard drive. Once the wedding is complete and the gallery is delivered, the images also get stored on my archive hard drive, and removed from my active computer hard drive. The archive hard drive is backed up daily to the cloud, and I pay for forever storage by the gigabyte. This is not cheap, but it is worth every penny to protect my clients’ images! 

Professional vs. Amateur Wedding Photographer

Other examples like this are having a solid contract in place, having backup camera equipment, business liability insurance, business license, and other areas where photographers can technically operate without incurring the cost, but may not be prepared for emergencies and fallout. Professionalism does cost money. The trade off is the assurance that comes from hiring an experienced professional. There are very few wedding investments that last, but your photographs and videos are hopefully going to be around for generations. For me, I wanted to ensure they were done right, saved right, and reflected our day well.

Should I hire a new wedding photographer to save money?

That’s up to you! There are pros and cons to this, and the decision is highly personal. A big part of wedding photography prices is experience. In addition to having a lower cost of running a business, new photographers tend to charge less for their time. If your budget is limited, then hiring a new or inexperienced wedding photographer could benefit you. They might even be crazy talented! The best of wedding photographers all have to start somewhere. You just have to be comfortable knowing that they might not be prepared for everything.

Photographing a wedding is extremely different from family and portrait photography. It combines skills of portrait and event photography, still life, styling, natural and artificial light. Preparing an organized timeline, wardrobe malfunctions, rounding up family members, knowing what to do if it rains, handling terrible lighting, or running into technology issues is all part of the gig. Lots of this is learned only through experience. If your photographer is just starting out, know that these elements might be part of the learning curve. You have to personally weigh the pros and cons to decide if this is the right choice for your wedding.

How do I choose a wedding photographer?

There are thousands of wedding photographers in Virginia. Seriously! I asked the Knot when they called me about advertising with them, and it’s crazy. There’s so many of us! It’s hard to weed through all the websites to figure out who is available, what they offer, where they serve, prices, and so on. Search sites like Google, the Knot, Wedding Wire, and Zola can be good starting places, but will surface a ton of results. A Google search will serve photographers closest to you on the business profile side of things. In the search results, you’ll see photographers who either have hired great SEO strategists or copywriters, or who have been in business a long time and have great content out there.

Google has an algorithm to what they show you and won’t necessarily show you all the photographers in your area. I suggest you also ask your friends and family, ask your venue, talk with a planner, and get some good word of mouth recommendations. Sometimes the best photographers don’t have the best online presence. There’s nothing better than the personal testimony of someone who’s worked with them!

What to look for in a wedding photographer

In addition to understanding what they offer, there’s a few key things to look for in a wedding photographer. Not all these items are obvious, so this section is important!

Photographic styles and editing styles

First, you need to think practically. Do you like the editing style and work of the photographer? Can you see yourself in those photographs? Do you like how the couples are posed or interacting? If you can’t imagine yourself in those photos when you look through their portfolio, you might not love their style.

Photography within your Budget

Everyone has a budget or range of feasibility. Your dream photographer might not be able to work within what you can afford. It’s okay to interview photographers who are a little outside your budget, or consider reevaluating your vendor priorities if you find someone you absolutely have to book. But in general, try to book consultation calls with those in your price range. You don’t want to waste your time and get your hopes up, just to be frustrated in the end.

Competence in various settings

If their portfolio is entirely outdoor portraits, photos taken by large windows, and only posed moments, that’s a red flag! Wedding photography is about documenting the event. You want to ask to see some reception photos, dances, and images from a variety of settings to ensure they’re capable of photographing the entire event.

Personality and connection with your wedding photographer

This is THE most important part. Yep, even more important than the pictures! So important I wrote a whole article on it a few weeks ago. You will spend SO much time together. If they make you feel awkward or you don’t feel at ease in casual conversation, that minor tension is going to start showing up in your photographs. I’m saying you have to have some level of chemistry with your photographer. You don’t have to become best friends. But, you want to be able to be your whole self around them! Read more on that here.

Questions to ask your wedding photographer

There are SO many articles out there telling you what to ask your wedding photographer. So many terrible articles with useless questions, if I’m honest. If you don’t feel like you need to know the answer, don’t bother with the question. The spirit of these articles is to educate you about topics you might not have thought about yet. You’re not in the wedding photography industry, so there’s some differences between photographers you might not know to ask about. I get it! But, not all the questions will be essential or important to everyone. Here are some of my favorite questions to discuss on a consultation call. Remember, if the answer doesn’t matter to you, you can skip it!

  • How would you describe your approach to wedding photography?
  • Can we review a full client gallery?
  • What happens in the case you’re not available due to an emergency?
  • Do you have a rain/weather plan for wedding days?
  • What does your contract say about print release, copyright, etc?
  • How long is your pricing or quote good for? (Or, how long do we have to decide?)
  • Do you charge travel fees to my area?
  • What is your payment plan?
  • What retainer do you require?
  • When and how will I receive my images?
  • Can I see a sample contract?

What should be included in the wedding photography contract?

This is a long and complicated topic, but I’m just going to hit the essentials here. You want to make sure you read and understand your contract. If you have questions, definitely ask your wedding photographer! Your contract should outline expectations from both parties. It should specify what you need to pay and when, how you need to help the photographer prepare, and what the photographer will deliver. Essentially, it should be a manual for all the expectation and what to do in sticky situations. This includes things like whether you’re required to participate in pre-wedding planning calls, what happens in the case of cancellation, how long it’ll take to get your photos back, any important studio policies, and how you are or aren’t able to use the images you receive. It should also specify what to do in the case you need to modify the contract or go to mediation and/or arbitration.

Do payment plans exist for wedding photography?

Almost all wedding photographers require a retainer fee. This may get applied to the balance of your wedding photography package. But, the intention is to reserve your wedding date and protect the photographer’s time. Couples book their photographers on average 8-14 months in advance. This means that if you cancel your wedding 4 months prior, they are likely going to lose income. The retainer commits you to that wedding date and provides the photographer with payment for damages if you cancel close to your wedding date. The retainers vary in amount. Some require a small amount down, while others require as much as 50%. A 25% to 30% retainer fee is average for the wedding photography industry.

Most photographers accept multiple partial payments. It is an industry standard to require the final balance to be paid 2-6 weeks prior to the wedding day. In some cases, photographers may offer a payment plan extending up to or after the wedding date. However, it is unlikely a photographer will deliver any photographs until the balance of your wedding photography package is paid in full.

In short, it depends on your photographer. Ask them!

Should I tip my wedding photographer?

When it comes to tipping wedding vendors, it’s totally up to you! In general, the etiquette is that vendors who do not own the company should get tipped, and owners or solopreneurs do not expect tips. That said, it’s always a welcome surprise! If you had an excellent experience or want to show your photographer some love, a tip and a review are awesome ways to make them feel appreciated. Most wedding photography tips are about $50 to $200 per photographer.

How to get a discount on wedding photography

Wedding photographers work hard and balance the difficult task of creating art while capturing important moments before they quickly pass. They hold the moments of your wedding day in their hands. Maybe the last hugs you have with some people. The only time your spouse will see you walk down the aisle towards them. In no way should their value be discounted. However, if you are struggling with your budget and need to save money, there are some ways you might be able to go about getting a discount on wedding photography service.

Book an off-season wedding date

Flexible with your wedding date? Ask the photographer if they have different rates for Fridays or Sundays, or off seasons like winter weddings. This is not something everyone offers, but is a fairly common practice in the wedding industry. Remember that their cost of doing business, taxes, and compensation for their time will still need to be sufficient, so the difference might not be very much.

Go with fewer hours

I promise you do not need four hours of wedding reception coverage. The dancing to every song looks exactly the same in photographs. Prioritize the moments that are most unique, important in telling the story of your wedding day, and where the people closest to you are spending time with you. If photos of your exit are really important to you, we can grab your parents, siblings, and wedding party for a quick faux sparkler exit during your reception.

Go to bridal shows and enter giveaways

Bridal shows are a great way to meet local vendors and get ideas for your wedding. Often, vendors will have bonuses or giveaways at these events. Showcases are paid events, and not all photographers like this style of marketing. Just because someone isn’t at your town’s big bridal showcase, doesn’t mean they aren’t worth working with.

Ask about military and first responder discounts

You never know what a photographer’s company values might be! If they offer discounts for your profession or military service, you may find yourself a good deal.

Hire someone new in business

Like we talked about above, you can hire newer and inexperienced photographers at a lower rate. This comes with the tradeoff of knowing they don’t have the industry knowledge, preparation, and skills of a seasoned photographer. This decision all depends on your values and budget.

Take advantage of the occasional offer, sale, or promotion

Got engaged before Black Friday or Christmas? Photographers in your area might be running a special! This is not common among more seasoned or high end photographers, but there’s likely a few people in your area that run seasonal discounts, sales, and promotions.

What does a wedding photographer cost in Staunton Virginia?

Well I’m glad you asked! Wedding photography prices in Staunton vary just like anywhere else. Your average wedding photography package for moderately experienced professional photographers runs about $2,600 to $4,200. Personally, my packages for elopements start at $1,800 and weddings average about $3,800 with engagement session included. I typically make each couple a custom proposal based on their specific needs after we talk about their wedding plans. If you’d like to learn more about the wedding packages I offer, please inquire directly. I’d love to hear about your wedding plans! Or, you can email me at hello@photographybyjo.net.

Want to connect with Photography by Jo?

Thanks for stopping by! I love educating people on wedding photography and planning. I am an Augusta County and Staunton wedding photographer dedicated to creating images that showcase the connection between each couple I get the joy of serving. Connect with me on social! I’d love to follow back and see how your wedding plans are coming along. Vendors welcome too! Comment, question, DM me. I’m an open book, and love conversation and connection.

exterior photograph of historic staunton va wedding venue gaie lea, featuring large white porch and columns

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Welcome to my venue guide! Here, I’ve compiled some of my favorite and the most popular wedding venues in Staunton VA. Virginia as a whole is filled with gorgeous wedding venues and options in every style, size, and budget. In this list, I focused specifically on Staunton, although there are many more venues in nearby cities and counties. You can visit my full vendor guide for more details on venues in the surrounding area. I compiled as much information as I could about capacity, style, contact information, pricing and rental fees. Some information is only available as you inquire directly with the venue. I hope this helps you with planning your Staunton wedding! When you’re ready to look for photographers, please reach out to me for more information.

exterior photograph of historic staunton va wedding venue gaie lea, featuring large white porch and columns

Downtown Staunton City and Staunton VA Wedding Venues

BLACKBURN INN AND CONFERENCE CENTER

With a boutique hotel and picturesque landscape, the Blackburn Inn is the go-to for both indoor and outdoor weddings. When you tour, you’ll notice there are four different location options for your ceremony. At the Blackburn, the landscaping is incredible! It’s one of my favorite views in Staunton. With the massive historic building, iconic porch, rolling hills, and beautiful weeping willow trees, it’s just the perfect place for portraits. When the sun is going down, the property is just gorgeous! Inside, the hotel features modern, industrial style upgrades. Its spiral staircases are the perfect photo op! They even have a secluded rooftop with adorable bistro lights. The Blackburn is located just steps away from downtown Staunton, where Rt 11 meets Rt 250. In addition, they offer on-site catering and bar, and have many of the rentals you’d need. You won’t have to stress about your tables, tent, and chairs. Pricing varies and is only available upon inquiry. 

 

AMERICAN HOTEL BANQUET ROOM

The American Hotel is in the heart of Downtown Staunton VA, located by the train station. Built in 1855 by the Central Virginia Railroad Company, this venue has kept the style of the grand ballroom with modern touches. This Staunton wedding venue has a capacity of 200 guests, a bar, a dancefloor, and multiple tables. The main room features exposed brick and a spacious balcony. It’s neutral décor can be transformed to match any wedding vision. It is conveniently just a short walk from iconic portrait locations like the Staunton Warf and Sears Hill Bridge. This venue is a very popular Staunton choice, so make sure to book your tour and ask about your wedding date as far in advance as possible. The American Hotel Historic Banquet Room structures its pricing around peak days. Thursday and Friday weddings are less expensive (starting at $2,800) than peak weekend rates, starting around $3,500. Please inquire with them directly for exact pricing details.

 

HOTEL 24 SOUTH (FORMERLY THE STONEWALL JACKSON HOTEL)

The high-rising neon sign of this classic Staunton wedding venue can be seen for miles at night. Located beside the Blackfriars Shakespeare Theatre in historic downtown Staunton, this romantic and recently renovated hotel can accommodate from 100-300 guests depending on which ballroom you decide to use. The starting range for rental fees is about $2,000 to $3,000. If you’re looking for a classic ballroom style venue in the Staunton area, this one is the best! As a bonus, your guests will be able to stay at the hotel, and enjoy the shopping, food, and history of the downtown area during their stay. 

 

GAIE LEA

I have only been here as a guest, but Gaie Lea is one of my absolute favorite wedding venues in the Staunton VA area! From the lustrous grasses surrounding the lake to the cottage to get ready for walking down the aisle, this venue has all of the whistles and bells for a dreamy meadow wedding. The venue can seat up to 250 guests. The rental fee ranges from $5,350 to $8,500, but inquire for exact details. There are multiple ceremony site location options. The property features historic architecture, water views, beautiful landscaping, fall foliage, rolling hills… it’s perfect for any wedding style! 

 

Rustic and Barn Wedding Venues in Staunton VA

FRONTIER CULTURE MUSEUM

The frontier culture museum is a budget-friendly wedding venue with lots of landscaping to explore. There are three location options, and they do host multiple weddings on the same day. It is located right off interstate 81 on exit 222, right beside hotels, restaurants, and convenience stores. The property is expansive, exploring the history of homes and farms throughout the world. This is one of the most affordable wedding venues in the Staunton area, ranging from $500 to $2,500 in rental fees for events of up to 400 people. However, several of the location options are not weather-proof or air conditioned. Consider a weather plan as you make your decision. 

 

CANA BARN

This 90-year-old bank barn has been taken down, moved and rebuilt the same way it was before but with modern amenities. Located in Staunton, Virginia, this one of a kind barn also has a balcony and rooftop deck. The barn is also ADA accessible so that all persons can enjoy their visit. The exterior of our barn is slate blue, while the interior reveals the beauty of the original barn’s chestnut wood. Inside, we have air conditioning, heat, and a gorgeous fireplace. Outside, our ceremony space is wooded but close to the barn for the convenience of your guests. You have a built in Rain/Hurricane Plan if you are planning an outdoor wedding but the weather chooses not to cooperate. The barn’s capacity is 135 people, and rental packages start at $4,000. 

 

VALLEY MILLS FARM

A blend of historic and modern, Valley Mills Farm sits nestled in the hills and features a riverside gazebo, and brand new reception barn. The perfect blend of old and new, Valley Mills Farm in idyllic Swoope, Virginia (Augusta County, just outside of Staunton limits), offers a 15-acre park-like setting with lots of photographic locations, and a brand new reception barn with panoramic views and all the amenities modern events require. Valley Mills using a peak season pricing structure, with non-peak dates starting at $2,800 and peak season weekend rentals starting at $6,000 for multi-day events. Overall, a very beautiful and affordable venue. 

 

FOUR WINDS AT NORTH MOUNTAIN

A beautiful waterfront ceremony space with a chic barn for the reception with lights for once the sun sets and the dinner turns into a dance party. If you’re looking for a rustic setting, beautiful Virginia mountain views, and space for a large party, then Four Winds is your venue! Pricing is available upon inquiry. 

 

INN AT MEADCROFT

Located in Swoope VA just outside of Staunton limits, the Inn at Meadcroft offers a quaint cottage environment and beautiful mountain views for your outdoor or small indoor ceremony. It’s been a perfect location for microweddings and mini reception gatherings while navigating wedding size restrictions. The hills offer wonderful views in all seasons, and lots of photogenic opportunities. The bridal suite is spacious! And, stay overnight and enjoy a soak in the gorgeous claw foot tub. Your honeymoon can start right away! The capacity and pricing for this wedding venue aren’t clearly displayed. Based on past experiences working there, an indoor reception would likely be capped around 50-60 people. The venue is likely able to accommodate a lower budget event. 

 

newlywed couple sit on front porch of the inn at meadow brook in swoope virginia, just outside of staunton va. The two are snuggle together on the wooden porch swing of the historic, rustic cottage, nose to nose and about to share a kiss.

STELLE ROSE AT STAUNTON STATION

Update: this venue has rumored to have closed down during 2021, and may not be opening for 2022 weddings. Proceed with caution. Because of covid, many venues have changed pricing and policies. 

Stelle Rose is a beautiful, modern venue with a rich history. It is located at the old Staunton train station beside the Amtrak and Depot Grille. The ceremony space is filled with beautiful natural light, and the getting ready suites are spacious! A historic wedding venue with beautiful architecture around every corner, Stelle Rose has a capacity of up to 150 guests. It’s within short walking distance of iconic portrait locations like the Staunton Warf and Sears Hill Bridge and Overlook. This is a must-see if you’re looking for wedding venues in downtown Staunton! Unfortunately, pricing is only available to those who inquire directly. Based on reviews and testimonies, it appears that rentals average over $4,000. 

 

More Staunton VA Wedding Venues and Augusta County Locations

Now that you’ve explore the major venues in Staunton, you have a better idea of what the area offers. For more on venues, things to do in Staunton, and the surrounding areas, you can check out the visitor’s bureau. They have their own great list of venues!

 

Ready to find your wedding photographer?

If you’re planning a wedding, you have come to the right place. I’m now scheduling consultation for 2022 and 2023 couples. View more wedding photography information now, or reach out directly!

black and white image of newlywed couple under swooping cathedral wedding veil. The two are looking into each other's eyes, rather than looking at their wedding photographer.

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newlywed couple sit on front porch of the inn at meadow brook in swoope virginia. The two are snuggle together on the wooden porch swing of the historic, rustic cottage, nose to nose and about to share a kiss.

Whether you realize it yet or not, choosing your wedding photographer is a very personal choice. Staunton is full of talented wedding photographers, and our style, approach, perspective, and demeanor are all a little different. You might have read lists from wedding planning magazines and blogs entitled “20 questions to ask your photographer before you book,” or something like that. I’m here to tell you they all miss the mark. They all focus on logistical things like must-have shots, what’s included, what the contract says. These things are important, yes. But they really don’t tell you how to find a great photographer, connect with the right photographer, or make sure you’re confident in your choice. 

The thing is, there are probably a handful of photographers in your town who shoot a similar style, have an eight hour package with a second shooter and engagement session, deliver wedding galleries within 3-5 weeks, and may even use the same equipment and data backup services. But, while they offer the same service, they do not offer the same experience. Because of the personal nature of wedding photography, no two photographers or companies can provide the same experience. If you ask them that cookie-cutter list of surface level questions, you’re going to find out if they’re professional and experienced, but not if they’re right for you. 

So what things do you really consider when choosing your wedding photographer?

While some vendors may be in and out of your wedding day without much interaction with you, your planners, photographers, and videographers are there for the majority of the day. We’re side by side with you, witnessing your joy, your nerves, your family’s stories and legacy. We will probably spend more time with you on that day than your future spouse. On a wedding day, I do a fair amount of straightening dresses, blotting away mascara smudges, pinning boutonnieres, and behind the scenes work to make sure your day is running smoothly. It’s the approach to this unseen part of the day that will make the biggest difference in your experience. 

Connection and personality are some of the most important factors in choosing your wedding photographer.

Both your photographs and your memories will be impacted by how your photographer manages the day between the shutter clicks. By being present in the room, we photographers naturally shift the mood a little bit. People straighten up a little, emotions aren’t quite as raw, and people can appear a little more stiff and put-together. This makes capturing the organic moments and authentic emotion of a couple and their family on this sweet day a little challenging. 

Between the posed portraits are the moments you truly don’t want to forget. The ability to connect with people and make them feel at ease in front of your lens is essential for a wedding photographer. This allows us to capture the familial exchanges, meaningful glances, and events that transpire on a wedding day with authenticity–truly telling the story of your wedding. Building this connection is going to look different with different couples. It all comes down to personality and connection.

Personality of your photographers impacts your wedding day

Despite being a completely capable photographer, if there’s a glaring personality conflict, that discomfort is going to seep into your wedding portraits and impact the photographer’s ability to make you feel comfortable. Likewise, if your photographer has taken the time to get to know you before booking, blends in well with your wedding party, and your personalities get along wonderfully, your wedding images are going to reflect the joyful day more fully. 

This is a lot to consider when you’re choosing a wedding photographer. I try to take some of that work out of the process for you. When couples inquire with me, I ask them to answer a few questions to see if we’re a “good fit.” I’m not trying to pick and choose my clients. But if someone hires me, I want to be 100% sure I’m only going to add positivity to their wedding day. I am sentimental, fairly introverted and subdued, very organized and Type-A. For some couples, these qualities make me a great asset to their wedding day. For others, it kills the vibe, so to speak. By taking the time to get to know couples during our consultation and even engagement session, I can better ensure I’m the right photographer to serve them on their wedding day. 

How can you tell that a photographer is the right fit before you book?

Treat your consultation more like an informal interview than a Q/A call. Try to ask important questions about their approach to wedding photography. Choosing a wedding photographer is like choosing a backup bridesmaid. No, really! Ask questions that give you a feel for who they are, and try to imagine them with your friends and family during your wedding. Instead of asking how many photos they deliver, ask them what their favorite part of a wedding day is. You might ask them why they chose wedding photography over other photography specialties. Ask to hear some of their favorite stories from weddings they’ve worked. And most importantly, ask what their client experience is like. Their answer will tell you what past clients have valued most about working with them. If the things they mention are not important or appealing to you, it’s probably best to interview some other photographers. 

More generically, you can ask about their approach to wedding photography. They might talk about their posing and lighting, or the photo editing. Or, they might talk about connection and capturing authentic moments. Hopefully they mention some things about how they prepare for a wedding day and work with you to create a wonderful and stress-free experience. Whatever their answer, it will give you a window into how they view their job as a wedding photographer. 

black and white image of newlywed couple under swooping cathedral wedding veil

The story of an introvert and an extrovert: two Staunton wedding photographers 

I want to introduce you guys to my friend Amanda. In many ways, she’s a lot like me. We grew up in Augusta County, have loved wedding photography from a young age, and have a light, bright, and romantic style. We both prefer prompting over posing, showing connection and authentic emotion in our photography. There’s so many similarities! We have preschool aged sons, played sports in high school, went to college for marketing and design, started our businesses at the same time, and even both have ADHD. When it comes to our business, we offer similar packages, have comparable technical skills, and shoot similarly, with a slightly different editing style. 

What Amanda brings to a wedding day

Amanda is the energy in the room. If you are looking for a photographer who enters the getting ready suite and drops everything to tell you how amazing your makeup looks, how incredibly excited she is for this day, and how special it is to her that you chose her to capture it all… Amanda is your girl. She will hype you up, and she will bend over backwards to make sure your day is awesome. As an extrovert, she’s never met a stranger. She knows how to direct a bridal party efficiently, and still keep the fun energy going. I guarantee she will get some genuine laughs out of you guys for your wedding portraits. There are so many more things about her personality that make her an excellent wedding photographer

What makes me different

I am her opposite. I am introverted, subdued, and try to be a fly on the wall during a wedding day. Remembering how I felt on my own wedding day, I do subtle things throughout the day to make sure you get more alone time with your new spouse, remember to eat, etc. Before the wedding, I try to connect with the parents and siblings of the couple so that I know what moments and relationships are most meaningful, and can rely on their help for family portrait organization. 

I’m not quiet on a wedding day because I’m not just as thrilled as Amanda is to be there and do this incredibly important job for you. Trust me, I am SO invested. I’m probably going to tear up when you take the dance floor for your father daughter dance. I notice the quiver of your voice during your vows. It’s not lost on me that this is the very first day of your new family’s legacy. I am honored to be there.

The takeaway here: Finding the right photographer for your wedding day.

Amanda and I have both talked about how you can tell when your energy is off putting to someone. It’s harder to create images that show the joy of the day when your presence changes the mood. Our businesses and skills are similar, but we are oh so different. This makes us the best photographer for a different kind of couple. We are uniquely suited to serve people in our own personal style. 

If you’re interviewing a photographer, and it’s just not the right personality fit, it’s totally okay to say that. In fact, I want to know! I never want to pressure someone into choosing me as their wedding photographer when it’s just not right. Being honest about how you feel will save us both some uncomfortable moments in the future. I can reopen your wedding date to other couples who are a better fit, and I know some pretty talented people in the industry who can be of better service to you! I love referring my photographer friends, truly. My goal with each inquiry is to make sure they are served well on their wedding day, whether or not I’m the one they book. People come before income–always have, and always will. 

Wondering whether I’m the right photographer for you?

If you’re reading this and were considering me for your own wedding, first–thanks! I’m glad you’re here! Secondly, the best way to chat through your vision for your wedding day and how I can serve you is through a call. Email me to set up a consultation so I can answer all your questions and concerns. Learn more about my approach to weddings.

In general, here are some things about the couples I serve best:

  • Their wedding plans revolve around special traditions, family moments, and spending time with guests more so than elaborate decor and wedding trends
  • Besides their newlywed portraits, they are most excited for photos of special dances, toasts, and moments between family and friends
  • Their love languages are typically quality time, acts of service, and words of affirmation
  • They are service-oriented people, usually holding jobs in education, healthcare, social work, hospitality, nonprofits, or childcare
  • Tucked away in their nightstands are mementos and notes from early in the relationship, and keepsakes from family and friends
  • While they are generally laid back, they do want to have a detailed plan for the wedding day to help things go smoothly
  • They prefer candid, emotive, relaxed, romantic images over more posed portraits where everyone is looking directly at the camera. (This doesn’t mean we won’t take both!)
  • Framed pictures hang in the halls of their homes
  • They are typically the type to prefer a quiet getaway to the mountains, beach, a tropical vacation or foreign historic city rather than sightseeing in a bustling city
  • They would rather give a gift that’s personal or handmade than something expensive and designer
  • My brides are typically quieter people, usually known as the “group mom” among their friends

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The internet is full of wedding invitation ideas. Pinterest is so overwhelming sometimes with literally thousands of ideas to sort through. Basic Invite is a wedding invitation and stationary company that has one of the best selections in the industry. Their customized sample process, extensive inventory, and template wedding invitations help make your selection process easier, without limiting you to over-used and ordinary templates. Personally, I love that their designs offer something for every style. Check out their wedding invitation selection for yourself!

Designing your wedding invitations

The selection is truly unlimited. Basic Invite has over 900 wedding invitation suites to choose from. Combine that with 180 custom colors, and you’re looking at endless possibilities! Plus, they offer an upload-your-own feature for custom designed suites. You can even create a custom sample so that you can see you wedding invitation ideas come to life. Most companies offer to send a sample with random names and wording. With Basic Invite, you preview your actual wedding invitation!

It’s all in the [wedding] details

I loooove a good coordinating stationary suite! When you receive your wedding photos back, having a cohesive theme throughout your details, decor, and even reception settings really pulls the gallery together. It looks great in albums, adding easy transitions between the moments of your wedding day. You can add customized place settings, envelopes, menus, and programs to pull the whole look together.

The easiest way to send wedding invitations

Collecting and writing addresses, sealing envelopes, getting them in the mail, and tracking down RSVP’s is one of the worst parts of wedding planning. However, there’s a few services that have made it easier! Basic Invite offers address collection services, as well as seal and send invitations with a perforated RSVP card. That combined with an online RSVP, such as a free wedding website, will make your life so much easier! It’s seriously the easiest way to send wedding invitations. I can’t believe I hand addressed all of mine. Sharing so you don’t have to!

Still searching for wedding invitation ideas?

Below are some of my favorite invitations from Basic Invite. Remember that you can completely customize these. The template wedding invitations are just intended to get you started.

Wedding invitation ideas with basic invite

Wedding invitation ideas with basic invite

Wedding invitation ideas with basic invite template wedding invitations wedding invitation templates

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bride and groom stand in an open field at sunset, noses nuzzled together, close and relaxed. Their wedding reception is going on in a nearby barn in Staunton Virginia, and wedding vendors work to create space for them to take portraits.

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bride and groom stand in an open field at sunset, noses nuzzled together, close and relaxed. Their wedding reception is going on in a nearby barn in Staunton Virginia, and wedding vendors work to create space for them to take portraits.

Your complete guide to Staunton, Virginia wedding vendors and finding great vendors throughout Virginia.

Finding wedding vendors is arguable the hardest part of planning a wedding. Once you’ve decided on your date, guest list size, and general style, the vendor selection begins! This Staunton Virginia wedding vendor guide is meant to take some of the initial research off your plate. You’ll likely want to start with your venue and planner, if you’re planning on hiring a wedding planner. A full service planner will likely have a recommended vendor guide, and can help you navigate choosing the right people for your wedding day. Wedding vendor selection is not one size fits all. You have to consider your style preferences, personal needs, budget, and then of course their availability comes into play.

 While I have not personally worked with all of these vendors, they come recommended by friends, venues, and other photographers in the area. This list will save you hours of Googling for officiants, DJ’s, florists, and more! As you know, Staunton is a pretty small area. There are vendors listed here from about a ~90 minute drive radius. Wedding vendors are used to some degree of travel during wedding season. But I aim to feature the most localized list possible!

… But where are the wedding photographers?

You’ll notice that photographers are not listed here. This is because I am one! I use this guide to help my clients find vendors, typically after they’ve booked me, so photographers aren’t a necessary category at that point. If you’re still looking for a wedding photographer in Staunton or Augusta County, I’d love to talk further with you. Please inquire on my website, and we can set up a call! If we’re not a good fit or I’m not what you’re looking for, I have plenty of photographer friends I’d be happy to connect with you.

Virginia Wedding Venues

Stelle Rose at Staunton Station

A historic wedding venue with beautiful architecture around every corner with a capacity of up to 150 guests. Located in Staunton, Virginia.

www.stellerose.com

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American Hotel Banquet Room

Built in 1855 by the Central Virginia Railroad Company this venue has kept the style of the grand ballroom with a capacity of 200 guests, a bar, a dancefloor, and multiple tables. Located in Staunton, Virginia. 

www.theamericanhotel.net

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Hotel 24 South (formerly The Stonewall Jackson Hotel)

Located near historic downtown Staunton this romantic and recently renovated hotel can accommodate from 100-300 guests depending on which ballroom you decide to use. Located in Staunton, Virginia. 

hotel24south.com

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Gaie Lea

From the lustrous grasses surrounding the lake to the cottage to get ready for walking down the aisle this venue has all of the whistles and bells for a dreamy meadow wedding. The venue can seat up to 250 guests and is located in Staunton, Virginia. 

www.gaielea.com

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Market at Grelen

With flowering gardens and over 600-acres of tree nursery this venue offers a greenhouse, rustic barn, berry field, or their half-moon garden to choose from. Located in Somerset, Virginia. 

www.themarketatgrelen.com

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The Granary at Valley Pike

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

thegranaryatvalleypike.com

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Belle Garden Estates

Belle Garden Estate has views overlooking the Blue Ridge mountains with blossoming gardens and a warbling creek. Their outdoor pavilion can seat up to 200 guests. Located in Wirtz, Virginia. 

www.bellegarden-estate.com

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Omni Homestead

The Omni Homestead combines the southern charm found in the mountains of Virginia while effortlessly tying into a beautiful resort. You can choose from a smaller reception hall seating up to 300 people or a grand lawn with accommodations for up to 1,200 guests. Located in Hot Springs, Virginia.

www.omnihotels.com

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Blackburn Inn and Conference Center

With a boutique hotel and picturesque landscape, the Blackburn Inn is the go-to for outdoor weddings. Located in Staunton, Virginia.

blackburn-inn.com

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On Sunny Slope Farm

Offering lush landscapes, a rustic chic barn, spacious outdoor tent, or their egg house to choose from, this venue has something for anyone looking to host their event. Located in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

onsunnyslopefarm.com

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Trump Winery

 If you are looking for a venue with amazing views and bliss consider the luxurious and award winning Trump winery in Charlottesville, Virginia.

www.trumpwinery.com

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King Family Vineyards

Views of the Blue Ridge Mountains surround this vineyard with sprawling hills and a lake lined with trees. Located in Crozet, Virginia. 

kingfamilyvineyards.com

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Early Mountain Vineyards

Surrounded by rolling hills and a cottage for the reception, Early Mountain Vineyards has wine, cuisine, and a grand event hall. Located in Madison, Virginia.

www.earlymountain.com

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Blue Ridge Vineyards

Located in the mountains on 300 acres of land and a 5,500 square foot barn this venue offers the ultimate rustic mountain feel and has multiple options for an indoor or outdoor ceremony site. Located in Eagle Rock, Virginia. 

www.blueridgevineyard.com

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The Inn at Willow Grove

A stunning Inn with a timeless feel and multiple venues ranging from an intimate garden to a rustic barn accommodating up to 150 guests. Located in Orange, Virginia.

www.innatwillowgrove.com

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The Clifton Inn

Historic charm and impressive outdoor space for the ceremony among a garden of blossoming flowers and a reception space with a beautiful patio, pool, and lighting. Located in Charlottesville, Virginia.  

www.the-clifton.com

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One Eleven South Main, Bridgewater

Offering elegance and class in the well preserved 1849 home of Dr. J.G Brown with both indoor and outdoor spaces to host events. Located in Bridgewater, Virginia.

www.111southmain.org

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Red August Farm

Reconstructed in 1927 and with 4,300 square feet of space the rustic barn is full of vintage details and space for up to 300 guests. Located in Waynesboro, Virginia.

redaugustfarm.com

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Pippin Hill Farm

Breathtaking views of the surrounding Blue Ridge mountains and vineyards creating an intimate backdrop for your and your guests. Located in North Garden, Virginia.

www.pippinhillfarm.com

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Sky Ridge Farm

An updated barn on a large piece of farm land, allowing for guests to attend your magical day at an unforgettable venue. Located in Waynesboro, Virginia.

www.skyridgefarmevents.com

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Montfair Resort Farm

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.

montfairresortfarm.com

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Frontier Culture Museum

An outdoor living history museum with a diverse range of spaces to choose from for a variety of events. Located in Staunton, Virginia. 

www.frontiermuseum.org

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Keswick Vineyards

A backdrop of the rolling hills and a gorgeous vineyard surround a timeless estate. Located in Keswick, Virginia. 

keswickvineyards.com

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Veritas Vineyards and Winery

A timeless farmhouse to prepare in with romantic indoor and outdoor event spaces for the ceremony and reception. Located in Afton, Virginia

veritaswines.com

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12 Ridges Vineyard

Sitting on top of a hill looking down onto the vineyard and the 270-acres of land you may feel like you are on top of the world at this venue located in Vesuvius, Virginia.

www.12ridges.com

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Moss Vineyards

Moss Vineyards offers both indoor and outdoor seating for facing the Blue Ridge Mountains with seating for over 120 people. 

www.mossvineyards.net

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Blenheim Vineyards

Dating all the way back to 1730 Blenheim is rich in history but carries a simple and modern feel making it the perfect mix of historic and new. Located in Charlottesville, Virginia.

www.blenheimvineyards.com

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Mount Ida Farm

Multiple venues both indoors and out including a tasting room or the water’s edge in addition to their patio with a fireplace sure to keep all of the guests cozy. Located in Charlottesville, Virginia.

mountidafarm.com

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The Boar’s Head Inn

Classic yet contemporary venue offering many venues including but not limited to an open field with a lake view or the waterfront. Guest accommodations vary based on the venue chosen for ceremony and reception. Located in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

www.boarsheadresort.com

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Cyrus Ridge Farm

Believers that good things come in small packages, this is the ultimate micro wedding site with accommodations for up to 25 guests you will be able to focus more on the celebration. Located in Waynesboro, Virginia.

www.cyrusridge.com

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East View Farms and Venue

Private and peaceful barn with a contemporary rustic feel in the middle of a 45-acre piece of land. Located in Waynesboro, Virginia.

www.eastviewfarmsvenue.com

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Frieden Farms

This venue is both indoor and outdoor with options for a pond or climate controlled barn ceremony along with offerings for micro weddings and elopements. Located in Mount Crawford, Virginia. 

www.friedenfarms.com

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Mountain View Farms

Mountain View Farms has a stylish take on rustic elegance, providing guests with a beautiful barn and the rolling hills every which way. Located in Mt. Solon, Virginia. 

www.mountainviewfarmofmtsolon.com

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Valley Mills Farm

A blend of historic and modern, Valley Mills Farm has a 15-acre setting with hills, riverside gazebo, and brand new reception barn. Located in Swoope, Virginia.

www.valleymillsfarm.com

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Faithbrooke Barn and Vineyards

The Faithbrooke Barn has a modern spin on the classic barn with extravagant windows to look out and beyond the mountains and beautifully stained wood. The ceremony space can seat up to 200 guests and the climate controlled barn can seat up to 50. Located in Luray, Virginia.

www.faithbrooke.com

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Cross Keys Barn LLC

The renovated barn is over 100 years old with a large deck and windows for plenty of light, but once you set foot into it you will see that it still has its original wood and siding adding the rustic feel to the space. Can accommodate up to 250 people. Located in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

www.crosskeysbarn.com

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Grace Estate Winery

Covering 450 acres, this venue is extravagant in many ways, including their beautiful estate mansion and rolling vineyards. Located in Crozet, Virginia.

graceestatewinery.com

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The Columns at Six Penny Farms

An elegant mansion atop a hill with a lawn that stretches for acres can host up to 50 guests. Located in McGaheysville, Virginia.

brixandcolumns.com

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James Monroe’s Highland

This beautiful and historic venue has ancient gardens that couples can stroll through to capture portraits of their day and a ceremony space under the lush trees. Located in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

highland.org

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Cana Barn

This 90-year-old barn has been taken down, moved and rebuilt the same way it was before but with modern amenities. Located in Staunton, Virginia, this one of a kind barn also has a balcony and rooftop deck. 

www.canabarn.com

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Four Winds at North Mountain

A beautiful waterfront ceremony space with a chic barn for the reception with lights for once the sun sets and the dinner turns into a dance party. Located in Swoope Virginia.

fourwindsatnorthmountain.com

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Shenandoah Woods

This venue offers several locations for your ceremony, a pavilion located in an intimate and private valley or you can choose to have your ceremony in the chapel in the woods with cabins for guests to stay overnight. Located in Stanley, Virginia.

www.shenandoahwoods.com

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Melrose Caverns

A historical and breathtaking venue with charming features including two outdoor ceremony sites and a lodge is located in Harrisonburg Virginia.

www.melrosecaverns.com

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The Kyle House: Fincastle, VA

Choose from a  historic and romantic Victorian style home or rustic barn chapel both with the opportunity for up to 144  guests to celebrate and explore the one of a kind venue. Located in Fincastle, Virginia.

www.schaalsevents.com

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Stover Hall

A beautiful barn with large windows looking out to the surrounding mountains, a cocktail area, and firepit for once the warm day cools off. Located in Luray, Virginia.

stoverhall.com

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Stoneyman Valley Ranch

At Stoneyman you have the option to choose from their historic barn, or event barn with the optional dancefloor, this cattle ranch serves views from any part of their land. Located in Luray, Virginia.

stoneymanvalleyranch.com

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Blue Ridge Mountain Lodge

High on a cliff in Linden, Virginia sits a lodge that has breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains from sun up to sun down.

bmpoa.org

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Wild Wolf Brewing

A range of spaces that can accommodate up to 140 guests including an outdoor courtyard that has a koi pond and gazebo along with the extravagant event center complete with sparkling chandeliers and rustic accents. Located in Nellysford, Virginia.

www.wildwolfbeer.com

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Virginia Wedding Planners and Day-Of Coordinators

Karissa Coffey Events

Based in Charlottesville, VA

www.karissacoffey.com

Instagram

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The Faded Poppy

Based in Waynesboro, VA

www.thefadedpoppy.com

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Day-of Coordinator | Maureen at Just a Little Ditty

Based in Charlottesville, VA

justalittleditty.com

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Another Chance Events

Based in Rockingham, VA

anotherchanceevents.com

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Cheers Darling Events

Based in Washington, D.C.

www.cheersdarlingevents.com

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Pinterest

It’s Your Day

Based in Harrisonburg, VA

www.itsyourdayva.com

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Down The Aisle Events

Based in Harrisonburg, VA

downtheaisleevents.com

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Pinterest

Angelica and Co.

Based in DC, MD, and VA

angelicaandco.com

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Pinterest

Garden Rose Events

Based in Roanoke, VA

www.gardenroseevents.com

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Staunton Florists and Floral Designers

The Faded Poppy

Based in Waynesboro, VA

www.fpmercantile.com

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Honey Bee’s Florist

Based in Staunton, VA

www.honeybeeflorist.com

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Rask Florist

Based in Staunton, VA

www.raskflorist.com

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Foxtail Cottage

Based in Crozet, VA

www.foxtailcottage.com

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Touterelle Floral Design

Based in Charlottesville, VA

tourterellefloral.com

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Pinterest

Ivy Nursery

Based in Charlottesville, VA

www.ivynursery.com

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Pinterest

Lacy’s Florist and Flower Cottage

Based in Orange, VA

www.lacysflorists.com

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Pinterest

Brin’s Posy Floral

Based in Staunton, VA

www.brinsposyfloral.com

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Harmony Harvest

Based in Weyers Cave, VA

www.hhfshop.com

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Bakers and Cake Makers in Staunton, Virginia

Paris Cake Company

Based in Staunton, VA

www.pariscakeco.com

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Cakes By Rachel

Based in Crozet, VA

www.mycakebyrachel.com

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Stevie G’s Gluten Free Bakery

Based in Waynesboro, VA

steviegglutenfree.com

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Sweet Nana’s Cakes

Based in Waynesboro, VA

sweetnanacakes.com

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Miller’s Bake Shoppe

Based in Stuarts Draft, VA

www.millersbakeshoppe.com

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Country Confections

Based in Fishersville, VA

www.countryconfectionsva.com

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Buttercream Dreams

Based in Weyers Cave, VA

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Firkin Pie Company

Based in Staunton, VA

Facebook

Chandler’s Bakery

Based in Charlottesville, VA

www.chandlersbakery.com

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Harvest Moon Catering

Based in Charlottesville, VA

hmcatering.com

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

Paradox Pastry

Based in Charlottesville, VA

www.paradoxpastryshop.com

Facebook

Albemarle Baking Co.

Based in Charlottesville, VA

albemarlebakingco.com

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Virginia Wedding Videographers

Citrus Ceremonies

Based in Charlottesville, VA

www.citrus-ceremonies.com

Facebook

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Pinterest

Vimeo

David and Sarah Films

Based in Charlottesville, VA

davidandsarahfilms.com

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Josh Gooden

joshgooden.com

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Yev Studios

Based in Harrisonburg, VA

www.yevstudios.com

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Studio Mac Films

Based in Staunton, VA

www.studiomac.info

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YouTube

Amative Creative

Based in VA

amativecreative.com

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Instagram

Pinterest

YouTube

NuGen Media

Based in Culpepper, VA

www.nugenmedia.com

Instagram

Vimeo

Hoopla Media

Based in Culpepper, VA

hooplamediastudios.com

Facebook

YouTube

Wedding Hair & Makeup Artists serving Staunton Virginia

Please note that some providers offer both hair and makeup services, while others provide one specialty. You may need to hire two vendors for hair and makeup. My recommendation is to book the one more important to you first, and then ask who they typically work with for weddings.

Jensen Brook Makeup

Facebook

Bonitas Salon

Based in Staunton, VA

Facebook

Kyndall Hart

Based in Staunton, VA

Facebook

The Studio

Based in Harrisonburg, VA

thestudiohairsalon.com

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Elena at Gorgeous Gal Makeup

Based in Staunton, VA

gorgeousgalmakeup.org

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Avenue 42

Based in Richmond, VA

ave42.com

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The Hairitage Co.

Based in Orange, VA

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Wedding Catering Companies in Central Virginia

Table 44

Based in Staunton, VA

pariscakeco.com

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Harvest Moon Catering

Based in Charlottesville, VA

hmcatering.com

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

Dayton Tavern

Based in Dayton, VA

daytontavern.com

Facebook

Letoile Catering

Based in Crozet, VA

letoilecatering.com

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Instagram

C&O Restaurant

Based in Charlottesville, VA

candorestaurant.com

Facebook

The Local Restaurant and Catering

Based in Charlottesville, VA

thelocal-cville.com

Facebook

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Blue Ridge Pizza Co.

Based in Charlottesville, VA

blueridgepizza.com

Facebook

Instagram

White Hill Catering

Based in Stuarts Draft, VA

whitehillcatering.com

Facebook

Full Circle Catering

Based in Lexington, VA

fullcirclecatering.com

Facebook

Eric Stamer Catering

Based in Staunton, VA

ericstamer.net

Facebook

Southern Inn Catering

Based in Lexington, VA

southerninncatering.com

Mike Lund Food

Based in Staunton, VA

mikelundfood.com

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Wedding DJ’s and Entertainment Companies serving Staunton

Sound Enforcement

Based in Charlottesville, VA

soundenforcement.com

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Instagram

Prime Time Event Group

Based in Fishersville, VA

Facebook

Level Up Entertainment

Based in VA

lvlupent.com

Facebook

Instagram

Class Productions

Based in Verona, VA

classprodj.com

King Studios

Based in Staunton, VA

djyourwedding.com

DJ Adonis

Based in Staunton, VA

eventsbyadonis.com

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Melodies to Memories

Based in Richmond, VA

m2mweddings.com

Facebook

Instagram

Another Chance Events

Based in Bridgewater, VA

anotherchanceevents.com

Facebook

Instagram

Virginia Wedding Officiants

Faith in Marriage

Based in Staunton, VA

faithinmarriage.net

(434) 531-7957

jennifer@faithinmarriage.net

Blue Ridge Wedding Pastor

Based in Staunton, VA

blueridgeweddingpastor.com

(804) 690-7919

tim@blueridgeweddingpastor.com

Julie Trump

Based in Central VA

julietrump.com

(434) 249-1357

julie@julietrump.com

Reverend Alex Zuber

Based in Central VA

Facebook

(540) 309-2414

Sacred Ground Ceremonies

Based in Charlottesville, VA

Facebook

(434) 296-9885

revclaire@sacredgroundceremonies.com

Virginia Wedding Vows

Based in Central, VA

virginiaweddingvows.com

(540) 395-6488

kathleen@virginiaweddingvows.com

Roses and Lace, Weddings with Hope

Based in Spotsylvania

www.rosesandlace-weddings.com

(919) 273-8350

Louise Mason

Based in Richmond, VA

Facebook

(804) 240-8703

weezyweddingofficiant@gmail.com

Elope RVA

Based in Richmond, VA

eloperva.com

(803) 773-5163

CHANTAL@ELOPERVA.COM

Christy Harman Weddings

Based in Ashland, VA

christyharmanweddings.com

(804) 837-2297

Gail Olberg

Based in VA

marriageofficiantgailolberg.com

Facebook

(804) 994-5940

marriageofficiant.gailolberg@gmail.com

Reverend Cory Newell and Associates

Based in VA

hamptonroadsweddingpastor.com

Facebook

(757) 876-4920

the@hamptonroadsweddingpastor.com

An Affair of The Heart

Based in Alleghany, VA

naffairoftheheart.com

revmaggie@naffairoftheheart.com

Dave Norris Wedding Officiant

Based in Charlottesville, VA

letdavemarryyou.com

Facebook

(434) 242-5165

Cathy Stapleton & Co

Based in Scottsville, VA

cathystapleton.co

cathy@cathystapleton.co

Rentals, Photo Booths, and More

Rental companies typically provide tents, linens, tables, chairs, and other hard-to-find amenities for your wedding celebration.

Silly Shotz photo booth

Based in Central, VA

sillyshotsphotobooth.com

Valley Heirlooms

Based in Mt. Crawford, VA

valleyheirlooms.com

Facebook

Instagram

Central Virginia Rentals

Based in Staunton, Waynesboro, Charlottesville, Lexington, and Harrisonburg

cvrrental.com

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