Sarah and Hunter were married in an atrium wedding ceremony on a temperate summer day in Charlottesville, VA.
Sarah & Hunter’s Love Story
How They Met
The couple met on Match.com. They talked for three hours over brews and dinner at Capital Alehouse. “We had no idea that much time had passed,” says Sarah, “which was a good sign to both of us.”
How They Fell in Love
The couple, who lovingly refer to each other as “Burpus” and “Done Donkerson” bonded over a shared interest in music of a bygone era (she loves Tori Amos, he’s a huge Springsteen fan). They share a love of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and the outdoors. In their spare time they enjoy hiking and exploring local breweries and wineries. When they’re not adventuring outdoors, you can find them snuggled up with their cat, Ginger, watching terrible reality tv. “We blame our reality tv obsession on the [COVID] lockdown, but we haven’t stopped since things opened back up.”
A Non-Proposal and Engagement Announcement
This modern day couple chose to forego a traditional proposal. “We’d talked about getting married for awhile, and just came to mutual decision.” Still, Sarah and Hunter knew they wanted to do something special to celebrate such a special moment in their relationship. So they made the announcement to Sarah’s family over their weekly family Zoom call. “My grandma always quotes this one Bruce Springsteen song, so that night after my grandma quoted it, Hunter stepped in and said he wanted to share a Springsteen quote too. He said a verse from Springsteen’s ‘I Wanna Marry You’ and he gave me my engagement ring.”
What They Love Most About Each Other
“Hunter has the best sense of humor,” says Sarah.
“She’s the most hardworking and dedicated person I know,” says Hunter.
An Atrium Wedding in Charlottesville, VA
An Atrium Wedding Venue
The couple knew they wanted to host the entirety of their wedding in one location. “Most of our guests were from out of town,” says Sarah, “so we wanted to make things easy for them once they arrived; they should have to worry about traveling to different sites for the ceremony, reception, and lodging.” Naturally, they chose one of the most beautiful locales in their home state of Virginia: Charlottesville. “We chose The Omni Charlottesville because of its location. It’s right on the Charlottesville downtown mall, a wonderful place for their out of town visitors to explore. But our absolute favorite part of the venue was the seven story atrium where we had our ceremony. One of the walls was completely covered with windows, letting in lots of natural light. There is also a beautiful fountain and several trees. It gave us the feeling of being outdoors without any rain or humidity!”
Atrium Wedding Attire
The bride and groom both knew that when it came to wardrobe for their atrium wedding in Charlottesville, the simpler, the better. Sarah was adamant that she didn’t want a dress with all the bells and whistles; it just wasn’t here style! “Neither of us are flashy or over the top, so we wanted our outfits to reflect that. I knew I wanted an A-line dress with an open back, and something that was comfortable.”
In lieu of an over-the-top tux or suit, Hunter chose a dark grey suit with hunter green tie.
As many modern couples choose to do, Sarah and Hunter let the wedding party select their own wardrobe. The groomsmen wore black suits with green ties, while the bridesmaids selected floor length hunter green dresses. “Amazingly, they all coordinated pretty well!” says Sarah.
Atrium Wedding Details
The bride and groom chose a simple, yet elegant color palette of lush greens and creamy ivories, so as not to compete with the lush backdrop of their atrium wedding ceremony.
Atrium Wedding Flowers
The venue was so stunning that it didn’t need much adornment. Other than personal florals like bouquets and boutonnieres and flowers adorning the Chuppah, the couple chose minimal arrangements for the cocktail hour and reception.
A Traditional Jewish Ceremony
The bride grew up Jewish, and expressed how important it felt to incorporate some key elements of traditional Jewish wedding celebrations. “We had a Ketubah ceremony prior to the actual ceremony. The Ketubah is a contract signed by both spouses, a rabbi and two witnesses that outlines the couples vows and is typically a work of art. We found an amazing Ketubah artist that captured exactly what we wanted in our vows.”
The couple also chose to incorporate a Chappah, a traditional canopy used in Jewish weddings which symbolizes the couple’s home. This element of the event was particularly special, since the groom’s mother and father made it themselves. “Hunter’s dad worked on the poles, and his mom sewed the covering for the Chuppah,” says Sarah.
The couple stood beneath the Chuppah as their rabbi said the traditional blessings. The ceremony concluded with a traditional smashing the glass, at which point all of the attendees shouted “Mazel Tov!”
Elements of a Traditional Jewish Reception
The reception kicked off with a traditional Jewish wedding dance called the hora. It was a blast capturing Sarah and Hunter being lifted into the air while their family and friends danced joyously around them for over 15 minutes! “Fortunately there were no mishaps,” says Sarah. A dance battle immediately followed, with guests entering the center of the hora circle to showcase their best moves.
While the couple embraced other wedding traditions for their atrium wedding in Charlottesville, such as their first dance as husband and wife and cutting the cake, the pair chose to forego traditional parent dances, the bouquet toss, and the garter toss during the reception. Says Sarah of the hora festivities: “The highlights included a nine year-old break-dancing, a cousin pulling out his Russian dance moves and the best man (sort-of) clogging. Also, EVERYBODY danced! People in my family who I had never seen dance before we out there!”
Adding Personal Touches
As with most receptions, music played a special part in the party. Sarah and Hunter are both huge fans of The Boss, so they heavily featured Bruce Springsteen’s music during their reception. And, get this, two of the bride’s friends led a flash mob on the dance floor!
From the Couple’s Perspective
What was the most anticipated moment of your wedding day?
“There wasn’t one particular moment, but just having so many of our friends and family together was really special for us. Most of our family members had not met prior to the wedding because of COVID and because my family lives all over the place. [My entire bridal party] was from out of town, [so they] hadn’t met Hunter’s friends yet. We were really excited to see everyone come together.”
“Lining up with our parents and wedding party to walk down the aisle was also a special moment. We’d really been looking forward to that moment.”
When you look back at your day, what are the moments that truly stand out in your memory?
“The hora really stood out for both of us. It was wonderful to see everyone dancing together and having fun. It was also a blast being lifted in the chairs and seeing everyone showcase their dance moves. One of Hunter’s favorite memories is seeing everyone walk down the aisle. One of my favorite memories is in the middle of dinner, we looked out at everyone and saw so many people smiling and laughing. We were so happy to see everyone getting along (especially since so many people hadn’t met before) and having a good time.”
Do you have any advice for couples planning their big day?
“If possible, hire a day of coordinator. It takes all the pressure off so you can enjoy your celebration. Also, do what you want for the ceremony and reception; don’t feel pressured to do something you don’t like or are uncomfortable with because it’s “expected” or “standard” at weddings. And finally, enjoy the day! Make sure to eat the food and cake, and do whatever is fun for you, whether that’s dancing the whole night or sitting and talking to friends/family.”
What is your best advice for newlyweds AFTER the wedding?
“Take time off if you can! We wish we had taken a few more days off after the wedding just to decompress and regroup.”
How’s married life treating you?
“Post-wedding life has been great for us! We had lived together for a couple years before getting married, so day-to-day nothing has really changed, except now we get to make husband and wife jokes about each other instead of girlfriend/boyfriend jokes. Overall, we’re really enjoying making plans for the future and spending time with each other doing the things we love.”
Vendors for an Atrium Wedding in Charlottesville, VA
Wedding Dress JJsHouse
Hair Accessories: Island Treasures Boutique
Suits: Classic Menswear & Tuxedos
Cake: Cake Bloom
Invitations: The Knot