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Rappahannock Romance: Planning a Local Wedding

If you met here and fell in love here, why not marry here? The region has many lovely venues, whether you prefer a riverside retreat, an historic site, or a formal ballroom. Having your wedding in your community also has advantages for those who have never visited our region as well as local guests.

Flowers, photographs, gowns, and tuxes are all part of a big wedding day, but there are some significant extras you can factor into your occasion to make it even more memorable:

Choose flowers with meaning
Orange blossoms, standing for eternal love, were a traditional part of wedding ceremonies in earlier days. The Victorians had an entire language of flowers which can be fun to use when planning your bouquets.

From the wedding to the reception
Many couples prefer to marry in a church, but for a reception site, they often choose a separate space, where there's plenty of room for dining and dancing. Limousines are an option, but locally we also have available a cheerful trolley service and elegant, old-fashioned carriage rides.

One-two-three-four, one-two-three-four
Dance lessons can add an extra touch of confidence and elegance to the proceedings. These can either be done by the couple together before the event, or, if you choose an unusual style such as Colonial or Elizabethan, you might consider having an instructor at the reception to help teach all of the guests.

To begin planning your local wedding, you will need to know all of your options. A dozen local wedding service companies have gotten together to offer free seminars for engaged couples and their families. The Events and Weddings Association plans to hold these seminars every other month, beginning in March of 2006.

Quite a bit of wedding information can be found on the Internet, including lists of service providers. Below, we have assembled some resources to make finding friendly staff to handle your needs just a little easier.

Online Directories of Services

A musician at a riverside weddingThese sites do not contain identical listings, and you will see some repeats.

The Star Directory: Bride's Guide
http://fredericksburg.com/Weddings/WeddingGuide/index_html
Click on Online Star Directory for companies that can help with wedding day plans.

VisitFred.com: Planning the Perfect Wedding
http://www.visitfred.com/groups/listings.asp?id=weddings
Fredericksburg Area Tourism provides a directory of venues in the City, Spotsylvania, and Stafford. Also has contact information for limousine services and tour services. The tourism department will also mail a visitor guide, dining information, maps and other appropriate brochures to out-of-town wedding guests at no charge. See their site for details.

Yahoo! Yellow Pages
http://yp.yahoo.com/
First, choose to limit your search by location. Listings include bridal boutiques, flowers, formal wear, invitations, photographers, planners, suppliers, venues, and wedding videography. This directory has a wider selection, but only sponsored links go to the companies' Web sites.

Wine and Weddings
Wineries are a favorite local destination for weddings and receptions, and there are many in our area. Most are willing to host private parties, including weddings. Check VirginiaWine.org for a complete list. After discovering the possiblities, call and stop by for tours and tastings.

Historic Venues

Belmont: The Gari Melchers Gallery
http://www.garimelchers.org
Gari Melchers Home and Studio, located in Stafford County near Fredericksburg, Virginia, is the former residence of the American figure painter Gari Melchers (1860-1932). The museum consists of the artist's home, studio and gardens. The stone studio and galleries house the largest collection of Melchers' works anywhere. Their FAQ page is extremely helpful.

The Mary Washington House
http://www.apva.org/marywashingtonhouse/
The home of Mary, mother of George Washington, has hosted many smaller weddings. Filled with boxwood and flowers, the garden is perfect for a stroll down the aisle.

The Rising Sun Tavern
http://www.apva.org/risingsuntavern/
This ca. 1760 frame building was built by Charles Washington (George's brother) to be his home. It was converted into a tavern in 1792. The tavern is filled with period furnishings and is open for tours daily. The tavern has just begun to be available for weddings. Please contact the manager for more details.

Community Centers
For a small, casual wedding or anniversary celebration, you may wish to consider using a local community center.

Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation: Dorothy Hart Community Center
http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/PR/index.htm
Click on Parks and Public Facilities (under Related Topics). Follow the link for information on renting the Community Center.

Spotsylvania Parks and Recreation Department Community Centers
http://www.spotsylvania.va.us/departments/parksandrec/index.cfm?doc_id=209
Spotsylvania County has five Community Centers that are available to its residents on a first come, first serve basis for meetings, birthdays, etc. Reservations can be made up to one year in advance through the Parks and Recreation Department, and users are responsible for clean up and trash removal. Each center has a large meeting room, kitchen, restrooms, tables and chairs. Fees vary according to type of use. To reserve a community center please contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 507-PLAY (7529).

Stafford Parks and Recreation: Carl Lewis Community Center
http://stafford.va.us/Parks/
Carl Lewis Community Center is located at 154 Telegraph Road, approximately one-half mile from U.S. 1. This facility has a baseball and soccer field. The Carl Lewis Community Center hosts wedding receptions, reunions and parties. Call (540) 658-5019 for rental information.

Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation: A.T. Johnson Recreation Center
http://www.westmoreland-county.org/index.php?p=county&c=parksRec
This site has a small auditorium, kitchen, meeting room and patio available for rental.

Wherever you choose to have your wedding, know that you can come to your local library for books and more on how to make your day beautifully memorable.

(Wedding images are provided courtesy of Clore Brothers Outfitters, located on the banks of the Rappahannock River)