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Don’t have access to private fields, picnic tables, and several hundred place settings of your grandmother’s china? Not to worry: These venues offer a slice of the farm life in a setting that’s readymade for a wedding.
King Family Vineyards, Crozet, Va.
Functional polo fields and horse stables add a stamp of authenticity to the vineyards, with plenty of room to host weddings in the meadows that overlook the Blue Ridge and the vines. The vineyard’s indoor facilities can accommodate from 40-200 guests; in good weather, leave the spacious barn doors open to blur the lines between inside and out.
Pippin Hill Farm, North Garden, Va.
For views of the Blue Ridge that might just upstage the happy couple, Pippin Hill takes the cake. The brainchild of hotelier Dean Andrews (formerly of Keswick Hall) and uber wedding planner Lynn Easton Andrews, this barn-slash-winery is the very definition of rustic elegance: lavishly appointed porches, manicured greens, an exposed-beam ballroom and a charming tasting room; brides can prep in a luxurious suite. Pippin Hill’s knockout chef Amalia Scatana sources nearly 80% of her ingredients locally, changes her menu with the seasons, and cultivates a chef’s garden on the property.
Veritas Vineyard, Afton, Va.
An acclaimed winery in the foothills of the Blue Ridge that offers a full-service wedding venue: all food, beverages, and much of the equipment is included in the rental fee, and the site is equipped to host parties ranging in size from a few dozen to a few hundred.
Wollam Gardens, Jeffersonton, Va.
A cut-flower farm (see our flower guide) that has recently started to host tented weddings on their grounds, the site also provides the wedding-planning services of Aimee O’Grady as well as the floral design expertise of Cammie Fuller. Fuller was married at the gardens in 2004 and now lives on the property.
Castle Hill Cider, Keswick, Va.
Some of the area’s most upscale caterers rave about the backdrops that this cidery offers for a wedding. With multiple locations both in and out of doors, from barn to orchard to lake, the site can easily accommodate a few hundred guests. A library is converted into a staging area and lounge for the bridal party on the day of the event.
Fat Cat Farms, Scottsville, Va. 434-286-4509
The garden-dotted home of Beehive Events (see our flower guide) can also host weddings for up to 200 people—more if you choose to tent—either al fresco or in one of their covered spaces.
Grandale Farms, Neersville, Va.
On-site catering facilities source locally whenever possible and have existing relationships with several nearby wineries. The property’s multiple ceremony sites overlook the Blue Ridge; the farm’s own tent can be set up to hold up to 250 guests for a reception, while smaller events can be held in the restaurant.
Hermitage Hill Farm, Waynesboro, Va.
At this working equestrian center, couples can celebrate their wedding with up to 200 of their closest friends in a custom-built banquet hall. An adjacent patio with a stone fireplace provides space for open-air entertaining.
Montfair Resort Farm, Crozet, Va.
Wedding incomplete without a bonfire and a hayride? You’ll get both of those here, in addition to hiking trails, wildlife, and a rustic lodge at your disposal—all in an eco-friendly campground sprinkled with ‘60s-throwback cottages for overnight guests.
Monticello, Charlottesville, Va.
Do you know you can get married at the storied estate that Thomas Jefferson built? They now welcome private events, receptions, and conferences.
Mount Ida Farm, Scottsville, Va.
Part of a 4,000-acre private estate with views of both lake and mountains, the reception facilities and outdoor patios are fully equipped to host up to 200 guests for a wedding and 65 for a sleepover. Take advantage of the estate’s limo and horse-drawn carriage to ferry guests around the property.
Mount Vernon Farm, Sperryville, Va.
Totaling 830 acres, Mount Vernon Farm is nestled along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Rappahannock County, Virginia and has been farmed by the Miller family since 1827. It is graced by large, gorgeous, historic barns and incredible views.
Old Dairy, Warm Springs, Va.
A few miles down the road from the Homestead, this 1928-built dairy has been recently restored, with seven buildings, two silos, and charming meadows that are available to host events both indoors and out.
Panorama Farms, Earlysville, Va.
This privately owned farm on the outskirts of Charlottesville is a rustic gem: As part of the farm’s renewable resource efforts, rain water is collected in barrels for use in flower arrangements, facility lighting is solar powered, and all waste from events on the site will be composted.
Pharsalia, Tyro, Va.
This 200-year-old plantation home is both a cut-flower farm and a ready template for a wedding reception, with grounds flanked by vineyards, orchards and gardens and vistas of the Blue Ridge.
ThorpeWood, Thurmont, Md.
Tucked into the Catoctin Mountains, this woodland retreat was established as a learning space for at-risk youth, but its rustic lodge and verdant acres double as a backdrop for fairytale nuptials. On-site caterer Canapés (see our catering guide) is particularly adept at vegetarian/vegan menus, plus all food waste is composted.
Locations—Off the Farm
These venues are more luxury than farmland, but they still have roots firmly planted in terroir: The chefs who cater them are experts in employing local ingredients and can seamlessly assemble a menu of seasonal bounty for hundreds. Below are some venues that offer eco-savvy couples a way to tread lightly while celebrating exuberantly.
The Ashby Inn, Paris, Va.
This quaint historic inn sits at the base of the Appalachian trail, nestled between mountains, farms and vineyards.
Goodstone Inn, Middleburg, Va.
Your favorite thing about this 18-room inn in the middle of farm country might be a three-way tie between the restaurant’s farm-to-table menu (sourced from the property’s organic gardens), the stunning backdrop of ivy-covered walls and a poolside reception, and the spa.
Catoctin Hall at Musket Ridge, Myersville, Md.
An organic garden on the property irrigated by water collected in rain barrels and a commitment to “zero food waste”—or to recycle anything (including turning kitchen grease into biofuel) that can’t be composted—makes this indoor/outdoor site an easy choice for couples who prioritize sustainability.
Clifton Inn, Charlottesville, Va.
A slice of country-chic indulgence, the Clifton Inn’s 100 acres of woods, lake, meadow and gardens offer stunning backdrops for both indoor and outdoor weddings; 17 rooms means that you can fill up the property and run amok to your heart’s content. Chef Tucker Yoder is a master of all things local: Whether he’s creating a dish anchored by produce pulled from his 15-bed chef’s garden or by pasture-raised beef from nearby Buffalo Creek Farms, Yoder elevates cooking with what’s seasonal and fresh into an art form.
Glen Gordon Manor, Huntly, Va.
This 45-acre estate with captivating views of the Blue Ridge Mountains traces its roots back to 1833 when it was a Wells Fargo stagecoach stop.
Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Va.
A Virginia institution and paragon of five-star dining situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, the Inn offers both private gardens for intimate weddings and a larger banquet room for up to 100 guests. The haute-est of local cuisine is served up in spades with tongue-in-cheek charm by internationally acclaimed chef Patrick O’Connell.
Keswick Hall, Keswick, Va.
Weddings at this 600-acre resort, which consistently ranks among the best in the country, have an equally top-tier ambiance; yet the pristinely groomed grounds and sweeping views of the mountains allow gatherings here to feel squarely planted in Virginia terra firma. Several reception locations are available, including Treble Wine Cellar for up to 12 people, Fossett’s Restaurant for up to 90 guests, or in tents on the Lower Terrace for up to 400.
James Madison’s Montpelier, Montpelier Station, Va.
At this historic home with views of mountains and a steeplechase racecourse, weddings can be held on grounds in the formal gardens or in Madison’s “Temple,” an open-air cupola perched under a canopy of trees. Space for up to 250 guests is available both inside and out, although couples need to provide tent rental.
The Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, Va.
A Richmond stalwart, this fully renovated classic hotel– originally built in 1895 — is know for its gracious stairways, vaulted ceilings, and gorgeous food.
River Farm, Alexandria, Va.
Formerly owned by George Washington and currently the headquarters for the American Horticultural Society, River Farm provides a quiet place to foster our connection to the earth through plants. Plus, it comes pre-decorated: redolent with blooms and manicured acres that surround a charming estate that’s nicely sized for smaller weddings—about 50 guests in the ballroom, 160 on the patio.
White Hall Manor, Bluemont, Va.
This two-century-old mansion has been recently renovated to provide ballroom space and a full-service kitchen for large affairs. Ceremonies can be held on the 50-acre property tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge, and site rental includes a catering package that provides everything except alcohol and cake.
Willow Creek Farm, Ashburn, Va
A Clyde’s property, this restaurant unites five historic restored farm buildings with a fountained patio, arbor, and a minifarm on site.
Woodend, Chevy Chase, Md.
Home of the Audubon Naturalist Society, this nature sanctuary’s 40 acres offer multiple open-air ceremony spots, a tented terrace for up to 150 guests; the mansion’s ballroom spaces provide indoor alternatives. The site employs green practices, such as recycling and water-conserving efforts, and rental fees support environmental education programs, of which $1,500 is tax deductible.
Woodlawn Plantation, Alexandria, Va.
Weddings at this historic plantation, which was a gift to George Washington’s nephew, are catered exclusively by Star Catering (see our catering guide). Chef TKTK sources as many ingredients as possible locally, and much of the produce comes from sister site Arcadia Farm.
Here is your shining opportunity to show off your locavore cred: Chefs advise that the most abundant options are available during the summer and into the fall, but there are plenty of resourceful chefs who flash-freeze or can August’s bounty to take advantage of summer ingredients during winter months. Consider, too, your style of service: Gay Beery, owner of boutique Charlottesville caterer A Pimento, has been doing local since before it was a thing; she suggests that planning a sit-down meal with family-style service at a larger sized table is both more intimate and more relaxed. “You meet more people and exchange food with the people around you. It’s a great way to ease into a meal.” She also suggests shifting the focus from prime cuts of meat to the more “primal” cuts of meat. In other words, strip loin, whole roasted lamb.
These caterers either source locally regularly or will do so at a bride’s request, and many use “green” practices like filtering their own water and composting waste.
Occasions Caterers, Washington, D.C.
Known for presentation that’s as stunning as the dishes are delicious, this award-winning outfit is skilled at being creative with local ingredients, even out of season: think tomato jams, pickled vegetables and flash-frozen berries.
Mike Lund Food
Designed to service the most discerning and conscious “foodies” through out Virginia and the Washington DC foodshed. You know and like good food, you shop at your local farmers’ market. Why should you change that for a special event?
Root & Stem Catering, Falls Church, VA
Root & Stem was created to bring chef driven local foods to catered weddings in the area. Sourcing all of our foods from local producers or small time specialty providers, your wedding food is never an afterthought.
A Pimento, Charlottesville, Va.
Chef Gay Beery has both the bedside manner and the in-depth knowledge of regional cooking that make locavore couples swoon.
Canapés, Frederick, Md
Chef ML Carroll specializes in vegan, vegetarian, locavore menus and is the exclusive caterer for ThorpeWood (see our Farm Locations), but can cater other locations, too. Their production and waste practices are 100% wind-powered and environmentally responsible.
Design Cuisine, Arlington, Va.
The catering experts at Design are savvy in using seasonal, local ingredients (their house-made ice cream uses hormone-free products from nearby dairies) as well as being conscientious about water and energy conservation and food waste.
Ridgewells, Bethesda, Md.
Long a DC mainstay, Ridgewells has updated their practices to reduce their carbon footprint and up their green quotient, including making it a priority to use local, seasonal ingredients in their fare.
Feast!, Charlottesville, Va.
The charming Main Street Market food shop that seeks to support the community through food and deed can also cater small affairs.
Federal City Caterers, Washington, D.C.
Environmentally friendly water, waste and recycling practices make this large-scale catering operation appealing to couples who want to embrace green values in all aspects of staging their wedding.
Harvest Moon, Charlottesville, Va.
Partnerships with area farms, artisanal cheese makers and florists who use local blooms combined with extended knowledge of seasonal ingredients have made Harvest Moon a favorite among Charlottesville-area couples.
The Local, Charlottesville, Va.
The beloved restaurant has a boutique catering arm that showcases small farmers, brewers, vintners and artisans, embracing both season and whimsy.
Main Event Caterers, Arlington, Va.
In addition to bottling their own still and sparkling water and being 100 % wind powered and carbon-neutral, this ultra-green catering company finds creative ways to recycle and reduce waste, offering free compost and oil for biodiesel use.
Panache Catering Co., Middletown, Va
Panache uses fresh local ingredients, herbs and edible flowers from its own garden.
The Rock Barn, Arrington, Va.
Offering menus that are “at once cosmopolitan and distinctly Virginian,” The Rock Barn specializes in food that’s grown in the Blue Ridge, butchered in-house, and prepared. Chef Benjamin Thompson earned his culinary stripes at per se and the French Laundry before taking his craft and experience to Virginia.
Star Catering, Falls Church, Va
“Chef-driven and food-focused,” the catering arm of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (which includes Evening Star Café, Vermillion, Birch and Barley, and Red Apron Butchery) often receives requests from couples who have gotten to know and love dishes through their restaurants.
Susan Gage, Oxon Hill, Md
While elegant presentation and exquisite food have long been Gage’s stock-in-trade, the caterer has now teamed up with local farmer Georgia Ravitz to help offer clients a stockpile of local, organic, seasonal ingredients. They also boast an in-house water filtration system for both still and sparkling water that allows them to eliminate bottled water.
Windows Catering Company, Alexandria, Va.
A fixture in the DC catering scene, Windows is taking strides toward becoming a more environmentally responsible operation, including employing “green” business practices and seeking sources for sustainably raised food.
While many bakers will accommodate requests to use local ingredients like eggs, butter or fruit, the ones listed below make a habit out of sourcing their products from nearby farms, dairies and orchards on a regular basis.
Maliha Creations, Charlottesville, Va.
Ask and you shall receive: Baker Anita Gupta can use local duck eggs, strawberries from nearby Carter Mountain, and Virginia orchard fruits and berries in her sophisticated, clean-lined layers. Her cake graces the cover.
Albemarle Baking Company, Charlottesville, Va.
Cake flavors at this all-natural bakery are delicious but simple (there are only four choices on their menu), but their graphically stunning marzipan cakes are anything but plain. They also offer a fresh-baked one-year anniversary cake so that couples can serve their entire cake at their wedding.
Cakes by Rachel, Crozet, Va
The girl is wedded to local: Pastry Chef Rachel Willis custom designs cakes from a huge array of flavors, all made with “whole, natural ingredients and eggs from our own hens.”
Charlottesville Cupcake, Charlottesville, Va.
Baker Maria Porter’s charming confections have just the right ratio of icing-to-cake, are completely customizable—from the flavor to the color to the embellishments—and are made with organic ingredients.
Kendall’s Cakes, Falls Church, Va.
Commissioned by everyone from White House royalty to literary luminaries like Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, baker Kendall Barrett grows her own lavender for use in her white chocolate lavender cake, makes all her own preserves, cans her own local apples and peaches, and sources all eggs and dairy from nearby farms like South Mountain Creamery and Lewes Dairy. No need to save the top tier—Barrett gives couples a gift certificate that they can use to order a fresh cake on their anniversary.
Maggie Austin Cake, Old Town Alexandria, Va.
Ballerina-turned-pastry-artist Austin painstakingly creates only two cakes per week with mille-feuille-esque frills, hand-painted designs, and handmade sugar flowers that look real but last forever—a souvenir more permanent that a top tier of cake. Unexpected flavor combinations are seasonal delights: a sour cream cake (made with sour cream from Trickling Springs) is filled with homemade local peach/apricot preserves draped in Earl Grey buttercream.
Out of the Box Bakery, Falls Church, Va.
Husband and wife team Jennifer and Shawn Lassiter make gluten-free, dairy-free cakes and sweets using nut flours, fair-trade Theo chocolate, local honey, pastured eggs, and seasonal local fruits.
Sticky Fingers Bakery, Washington, D.C.
The famed vegan and organic cupcakery also does weddings. Their cakes and baked goods are completely free of animal products, and they can also do nut- and gluten-free options.
Buying local flowers cuts down significantly on environmental impact, and blooms tend to look fresher and last longer. We’ve dug up some flower farms in the area that cater to weddings as well as florists who source their stems locally. The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers provides additional resources and a national directory.
Greenstone Fields, Purcellville, Va.
In addition to the several dozen varieties of flowers that grow on this organic farm, they also offer herbs, tomatoes, mushrooms and berries for small-scale weddings and DIY arrangements.
Singing Frog Farm, Leesburg, Va.
From April through November, this sustainably managed farm offers both cut flowers in bulk for DIY brides as well as bouquets for pick-up and full-service arrangements that can be delivered. They work with only homegrown stems and ones sourced from neighboring farms.
Wollam Gardens, Jeffersonton, Va.
An 11-acre “destination” flower farm (see our farm guide), Wollam Gardens is open to the public; they also have outposts at farmers markets in the D.C. area. Owner Bob Wollam doesn’t do boutonnières or décor, but from April-November, he provides seasonal bundles and cut flowers at farmers market prices for couples who want DIY flowers.
Beehive Events, Scottsville, Va.
Not only is wedding stylist Shawn Cossette deft at incorporating unexpected flora—herbs, sea oats, ornamental grass—to create lush, aromatic arrangements, but she also helps create the entire vibe for the wedding, from tents to tables to tea lights. Cossette cultivates her own gardens at Fat Cat Farm (see our farm guide), where she also hosts a handful of weddings each year.
Blue Ridge Floral Design, Charlottesville, Va.
Amy Webb works with local, seasonal flowers (many of which she grows herself) to create everything from simple boutonnieres to elegant arbors.
EcoTulips, Brightwood, Va.
An organic bulb vendor and grower, EcoTulips offers bridal parties both freshly cut and cold-stored flowers fresh through early spring at $1 per stem (50 free stems if you purchase 250). Couples can bring photographers out to the fields during off-hours for prenuptial photo sessions.
Flowers by Foxie, Tyro, Va.
Pharsalia’s (see our farm guide) designated floral designer uses the farm’s bounty in arrangements and bouquets for nuptials both on-site and off.
Hedge, Charlottesville, Va.
Owner and floral designer Karen Walker uses pesticide-free blooms, sourced locally whenever possible, to create boutonnieres, wreaths and everything in between.
Local Color Flowers, Baltimore, Md.
Owner Ellen Frost founded her business with the goal of supporting the local flower industry. She works exclusively with flowers that are grown on Maryland or Virginia farms; she also reuses and recycles many of the containers in her arrangements and composts floral waste and facilitates post-wedding flower donations.
Sidra Forman, Washington, D.C.
Flower designer Forman is an authority on spinning seasonal blooms into romantic expressions, consulting with couples on a vibe and budget before culling local, sustainably grown flora into elegant arrangements. Forman’s expertise also extends into food: She provides menu consultation services and can help guide couples on how make the most of what’s in season.
Sugar Magnolias, Rochelle, Va.
Floral designer Jenn Pineau uses recycled containers and fresh-picked local stems from nearby flower farms to keep her business firmly planted in sustainability. She also donates $25 on behalf of each couple to the Kiva organization, which helps alleviate poverty and grow communities worldwide.
WillowHill Springs Farm, Path Valley, PA
WillowHill Springs Farm specializes in produce, herbs, and flowers that are grown using organic methods – pesticide and herbicide free.
Celebrating your big day with Virginia or Maryland wine is a no-brainer, but here are some other locally sourced options to round out your bar.
• Champagne-style wines made locally are rare, but Thibault-Jannison (www.tjwinery.com)—made in Charlottesville from Monticello-grown grapes by two vintners from Champagne and poured from their a signature bottle that’s all voluptuous curves —is a standout. Also worth trying is the label’s Virginia Fizz at a slightly more accessible price point.
• Ciders are festive in all seasons. Try the hard ciders from Foggy Ridge (www.foggyridgecider.com), Albemarle CiderWorks (www.vintagevirginiaapples.com), Potter’s Craft Cider (potterscraftcider.com) and Castle Hill (www.castlehillcider.com).
• Create a signature cocktail with small-batch whiskey made in Virginia. Offerings from Wasmund’s (www.copperfox.biz), Eades (www.vadistillery.com), and Bowman Brothers (www.asmithbowman.com), Catoctin Creek (catoctincreekdistilling.com), Smooth Ambler, Reservoir, Cirrus, and the soon to open New Columbia Distillery are equal to the task.
• An explosion in locally brewed craft beers makes it almost a crime not to stock the bar with Virginia suds. Some favorites include Starr Hill (www.starrhill.com), Port City Brewing Company (www.portcitybrewing.com), Devil’s Backbone (dbbrewingcompany.com), Legend (www.legendbrewing.com), Old Dominion Brewery (www.olddominion.com), and Richmond newcomer Hardywood (www.hardywood.com), DC Brau, and Chocolate City. Slightly farther afield in Delaware is Dogfish Head (www.dogfish.com), which—in addition to an award-winning roster of microbrews—also makes its own rum, gin, and vodka.
• Looking for a non-alcoholic option? Sangria made with Oakencroft grape juice (www.oakencroft.com) and local fruit is as lovely as it is delicious; berries can be picked in summer and flash-frozen for use in a winter wedding. Or try a root beer or ginger ale from Old Dominion Brewery (www.olddominion.com), or apple cider, straight or sparkling – Le Mousseax is one Virginia brand.
You can make a big impact in terms of both environment and quality just by choosing local food, flowers, and beverages, but another way to spare your budget (and the environment) is to focus on a few big-impact facets of your event and dispense with any wedding traditions that don’t hold significance for you. Skip the ceremony programs; instead of place cards, create a handwritten seating chart on a ribbon-hung blackboard; if you decide to do wedding favors, chose something locally made and consumable. Here are a few simple ways to up the eco-factor of your fete even further.
Carla David Design, Savage, Maryland
For ready-made invitations that look specially designed — and can be delivered in as little as two weeks — check out Carla David Design in Savage, Md. Her blog — carladaviddesign.com/blog — offers lots of great tips and ideas on wedding style. Of course, she does traditional invites, too.
• Traditional, multilayered paper invitations are fast becoming extinct. Instead, have Rifle & Co. (riflemade.squarespace.com) retell your love story on a postcard and request that your guests reply via email, or send plantable invitations made from recycled paper from Botanical Paperworks (www.botanicalpaperworks.com) or Staccato Stationery (www.staccatostationery.com) that, when combined with soil, water and sunshine, yield a tiny wildflower garden.
• Scrap the tiny bottles of bubbles and tie up a twin box of Virginia-made Gearhart’s Chocolates (www.gearhartschocolates.com) with a coordinating ribbon and a custom-engraved card. Better yet, have the chocolates delivered to your guests’ hotel rooms with a note of thanks.
• There’s something almost biblical about Jam According to Daniel (accordingtodaniel.com), and it’s not just the name: The flavors (Italian Plum & Lavender! White Peach & Hibiscus!) seem to suggest an almost carnal knowledge of taste combinations that are decadently sweet and delicately twisted. Two-ounce jars can be customized with the couple’s monogram or message in any of the current flavors…so many options that we lost count.
• Toast the sweet life: A jar of local honey prettied up with your own ribbon and label is both personal and practical—a favor that no one will “forget” to take home. Try Bearer Farms (www.bearerfarms.com) near Richmond, Gunter’s in Berryville, (540-955-1734) or Ritchie’s Honey Farm in Manassas, (703-897-1507).
• The spectacle of a fairy-tale sendoff can be both unforgettable and environmentally responsible, thanks to ecofetti (www.ecofetti.com) and plantable confetti from Botanical Paperworks (www.botanicalpaperworks.com). For even more drama, light up the night with Asian-style Wish Lanterns (www.wishlantern.com) made from eco-conscious bamboo and rice paper.
• For a host of favor ideas, check out Feast! (www.feastvirginia.com) in Charlottesville. This little shop is packed with treats like Virginia Peanut Butter Balls, a Virginia Feast in a Box with cheese and locally made charcuterie, cheese straws, and fruit jams (to welcome special out of town guests?) and even bottled water from local springs. They’ll put together a custom selection for your wedding.