As I log on to my computer every morning, I watch the dates slowly change on my calendar, and it’s finally starting to set in. My wedding is almost here. It’s hard to believe it’s been eight months since Tim got down on one knee in the gardens behind the Governor’s Palace… and asked me to marry him.
I don’t want to bore you with the details of his proposal (I could tell the story over and over)… so I’ll stick to the abbreviated version. It happened one brisk fall day last November, with help from the Making History Team. They had planned a blog shoot and I was under the impression we were going up in the Cupola (something we’ve always wanted to do!), to get sweeping shots of Palace Green. Little did I know what would actually unfold that day…
As we rounded the corner behind the Palace, Tim walked out from behind some Boxwood and started heading toward us. As you can see in my expression captured by photographer friend Fred Blystone in the above picture, I was initially extremely confused. It definitely took a minute for me to process what was happening. In fact, I was so much in shock, I actually failed to let Tim put the ring on my finger. I simply said “yes” and immediately threw my arms around his neck—knocking the ring out of his hand and flying on to the ground! And let me tell you, trying to spot a diamond ring in an oyster shell path isn’t easy. I kept yelling behind blurry tears, “Don’t step on it!’
Once the ring was securely on my finger, Tim informed me he had another surprise waiting. That’s when we headed to the Restoration Bar at the Williamsburg Inn where our friends and family were waiting to celebrate. Between toasts of champagne, Executive Chef Travis Brust stopped by to give his congratulatory wishes and handed us a sweet, plated surprise. I’m lucky to be able to call our chefs friends after working together with them on so many blog shoots, and this simple gesture really touched me. It was late on a Friday afternoon and I knew how busy they were behind the scenes.
After the initial bliss had time to sink in, Tim and I started to seriously discuss wedding venues. Initially, given our mutual love of wine, I thought we should exchange our vows at a winery, but after looking into (and even touring one of) our top contenders, we decided it wasn’t for us. A big challenge we discovered was finding a site that is handicap-accessible. My mother has secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) and will be in her wheelchair that day. We don’t want her to miss out on a single thing—from me getting ready to giving me away at the alter to living it up on the dance floor! So any site that couldn’t accommodate us, and her, was immediately checked off our list.
Just a few days after our latest venue letdown, event coordinator Michele DeRosa approached me and asked if I’d considered a Colonial Williamsburg wedding. Now, here’s where I feel like I need to be totally honest with you guys. Of course, we knew we would LOVE to have our wedding here; I just assumed there was no way it could be in our budget. But after talking to Michele, she assured me there were several different options and packages from which we could choose. In the end, we opted for the Williamsburg Inn for both the ceremony and the reception.
Michele also guaranteed my mom would have no issues participating in any part of our day… and she even had a unique way to tie in our love of vino! Instead of a cocktail hour, we are planning to have a wine tasting immediately following our exchange of vows. Mike Harper, the sommelier at the Inn has paired some unique choices with our chosen hors d’oeuvres and will be on hand that day to explain the selections to our guests.
It’s been a whirlwind of planning as Tim and I try to incorporate several different Colonial Williamsburg details into our day. Our invitations actually just went out! We decided to seal them with an 18th-century touch and even included a custom Historic Area map for out-of-towners.
We plan to serve hot apple cider and American Heritage hot chocolate to guests as they arrive. They’ll leave with signature fresh-baked gingerbread cookies from the Raleigh Tavern Bakery.
There will be a horse and carriage to whisk us off for an intimate carriage ride minutes after we become Mr. and Mrs. Wauhop. And we’ll even have a Fifer and Drummer to escort everyone from the East Lounge to the Regency Room for the reception (Because come on, what’s more CW than that?!?).
Ultimately, we want our friends and family who’ve never visited to see why we love this place so much and why we’re so blessed to call this area home. Tim and I also recognize how precious everyone’s time is and getting married in a vacation destination is a win-win for us.
We’re now just two months away from the wedding and just a couple of weeks ago we had a menu tasting with the amazingly talented chefs at the Williamsburg Inn (major props to Chefs Travis, Scott, Melissa, and Michelle!). It happened to be on my birthday and instead of taking our family out to a nice restaurant, we decided to include them in what turned out to be a fun (and delicious) step in our planning process.
Everyone walked away saying this is going to be hands down the best food they’ve ever had at any wedding. Huzzah! Our hope is for good food, good wine, and even better memories!
We’re also working with chef Tony at Shields to create an unforgettable experience for our wedding party and out-of-town family during the rehearsal dinner. It’s going to be an outdoor barbecue in the picnic area behind the tavern. We want to make sure everyone gets a literal taste of the Historic Area, as well as the hotels.
That brings me to today—as I sit here typing this post. It won’t be long before my byline will read “Wauhop” instead of “Ross.” Local photographer extraordinaire Lisa Martin Lee has agreed to capture our big day so I can share it with you once we get back from our honeymoon. I hope it will prove a way to help other brides and families of newly engaged couples consider using Colonial Williamsburg as a backdrop for their big day.
Please, stay tuned…. #WauhoppilyEverAfter
(Engagement pictures by Blink of an Eye Photography)