A rogue dog couldn’t help but admire this wedding up close, and we don’t blame him. We’ve been giddily pouring over image after pretty image from Jen Fariello and have come to the conclusion that this day, featuring the floral design of Pat’s Floral Designs, is unbelievably beautiful. The perfect sunlight over the gorgeous vineyards, the stunning couple, the great fall decor. And, not to mention, the amazing gown – made by the bride’s mother. We capital LOVE everything. Everything!

From the groom … Although Santa did not bless me with much needed punctuality this past holiday, he did deliver a gift far more magical and exciting. My boundless love for a very special woman was formalized on December 30th in the Ohio winter sunshine at the bottom of Clifton Gorge, where I spent many a day hiking and swimming growing up. Alana Nicole Harrison and I have spent the past three years together—and apart—in Boston, San Francisco, Hilton Head and Charleston, SC.

Six years ago, during my tenure in Tanzania, I picked out a beautiful and near perfect (albeit small!) piece of Tanzanite that I would, in theory, save for the day that I found the love of my life and propose. My mother has safeguarded that small blue stone all these years in places that even she cannot recall—but thank goodness, did recall when I phoned her this past fall to dust it off. A jewelry artist in Yellow Springs, OH subsequently put the stone into an original pendant and I presented Alana with that pendant in December. She must be completely crazy because she actually said yes! That same artist designed and crafted Alana’s engagement ring.

About 15 miles west of Charlottesville, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, lies the quaint hamlet of Crozet. Crozet now marks a very special place for us as it is home to King Family Vineyards, where had our wedding. Certainly, the Charlottesville area does not lack extraordinary options for a wedding, from Monticello to Ash-Lawn to more than 20 scenic vineyards. And after visiting many more wineries than necessary (hey, free wine tastings!), Alana and I clearly knew which one had found a special place in both our hearts.

Although we do genuinely enjoy sharing a local bottle of fruit, good wine is in truth but one piece to the larger puzzle. We searched for an open space that not only overwhelms one’s senses with natural beauty and wilderness, but provides the comfort and warmth of stone fireplaces, modern amenities, and ample shelter from an unplanned storm. The grounds are vast, accommodating fish ponds, horse barns, kite flying, hiking, and even a polo field. In fact, the Ark in the 2007 movie Evan Almighty was built on an adjacent property (yet I insist that this unusual incident had no influence on our decision)!

We envisioned a long weekend filled with reconnecting and sharing in a beautiful environment. As I mentioned, the Charlottesville area boasts bountiful history, sites, and activities—better yet, we have found it to be an absolutely wonderful place to do nothing but relax and unwind.

Photography: Jen Fariello / Flowers: Pat’s Floral Designs / Dress: Made by mother / Venue and Wine: King Family Vineyards / Catering: 20 South with Pierce McCleskey / DJ: Derek Tobler / Flamenco trio: Beleza Brasil / Lighting: The AV Company / Officiant: Rev. Tony Perrino of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlottesville / Dessert Bar: Whole Foods / Hair and Makeup: Face Value Salon

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