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

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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! ?

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!

 

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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!

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