Our area is absolutely breathtaking and couples had been using it as a backdrop for their weddings at increasing rates, until the novel coronavirus hit this year.
“I think last year, Virginia ranked 13th in the country for weddings with more than 60,000 weddings,” said Stacy Burleson, owner of Burleson’s Big Day, a wedding planning company in Orange County. “And in 2020 we were supposed to double that number; it was supposed to be a hot year for weddings because of all the double-digit dates—10/10/20 has been off my calendar since 2018. So, some of these people have been planning their day for years.”
According to the Virginia Department of Health, there were 185 marriage licenses in Greene County in 2018, the most recent statistics available at press time. Madison issued 117 licenses and Orange 399.
Heather Tusing, owner of Golden Horseshoe Inn Weddings in Stanardsville, said they were poised to have their best spring wedding season ever.
“It’s just gone now,” she said. “Obviously, our first thought is with our couples, it’s devastating for them. It’s just such a big moment and it’s really hard to kind of say goodbye to what they were originally thinking. All of our last March couples and all of our April couples have postponed and I’m so appreciative to all of them because nobody so far has canceled, they’re all just moving their date; they still want to get married with us which is really sweet.”
Tusing said it’s important to her that couples adhere to any social distancing rules in place—which is no more than 10 with six feet apart, according to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
“I think in the last week I’ve probably married three couples just signing their wedding license so they can be legally married,” Tusing said. “I think that’s something that’s been kind of sweet … even though it’s hard to say goodbye to the wedding plans, a lot of these people just genuinely want to be married and they just want to strengthen their relationship and face this as a married couple.”
Burleson said she loves that.
“I truly love the fact that they want to tell coronavirus to stick it,” she said. “Those are my kind of couples. It’s about love and come hell or high water they are going to commit to each other.”
She said it doesn’t cost too much above the investment couples have already made to hold an intimate ceremony now and the party later.
“You may have to pay the officiant a little more to be there twice, but it’s worth it if that’s what you want to do,” she said. “It’s very touching.”
Julie Winslow, owner of the Barn at Edgewood in Stanardsville, said they’re trying to live with the governor’s stay-at-home order and limiting size of gatherings, but that’s impacted their spring wedding season.
“We’re taking a lot of calls for next year, so life is moving on,” Winslow said. “And what’s impressed me about the brides is I’m not hearing a lot of anxiousness or anger over it. Truly, nobody can do anything about it.”
Some couples are not rescheduling right now, Winslow said, because they’re waiting for the crisis to be over so they don’t have to change their date twice.
Winslow said she’s grateful they’re not sick and are trying to stay positive.
“We are so blessed that we live in this beautiful area and we’re trying to stay well,” she said. “And my husband is now retried and has a lot more time to take care of the place.”
Jen and Corey Jacober, owners of Touchstone Manor, the old William Cox Inn in Stanardsville, purchased the property right before Thanksgiving.
“We had to do a lot of work and worked really hard to get opened by February,” Jen Jacober said. “We have so many different event spaces. We’re ready.”
The main house includes the circa 1700s cabin with three bedrooms, as well as an addition that was added to create a bed and breakfast several years ago. There’s a large barn that can hold 150 wedding guests, a small cabin that can be rented, a pool, a small birthday party room the couple created in the basement, a two-story tree house, river and mountain views and more.
“We want to serve the community,” she said. “We want to share it and we’re trying to figure out how to do that. We were just starting to get reservations, but they’ve had to cancel. The only upside is that we still had projects to finish before we really get back to normal and that’s the other thing we’re battling—what is that ‘normal’ going to be? Are people going to want to have events anymore? I mean, I think so.”
Jen and Corey Jacober live in Ruckersville, but Jen Jacober has wanted to get into events for a long time and their current property wouldn’t work.
“When we got married, we wanted something fun and unique,” she said. “Most weddings are designed around five or six hours … but we made it a weekend. We got married on an estate in Rappahannock County and it was fabulous. We were hoping we would get this business up and running right away and we’d be in a good financial position. Now, we’re jut trying to make ends meet.”
Touchstone has a small birthday room or child care room for wedding receptions.
“We were happy because we could offer birthday parties somewhere that isn’t Greene Hills Country Club where you have to be a member,” she said. “Because we have children, we wanted to be a child-friendly location. It was just at the cusp of being amazing before the virus.”
Tusing said one comfort for her is it’s happening everywhere.
“Couples aren’t feeling sorry for themselves, they’re not freaking out. It’s sort of a universal suffering, so people are taking that to heart a little bit,” she said. “And I think it’s making people understand what this is all about in a weird way—it’s not about the cake or the color scheme, so that’s kind of sweet.”
For information about Golden Horseshoe Inn, visit goldenhorseshoeinn.com.
For information about the Barn at Edgewood, visit barnva.com
For information about Burleson’s Big Day Events, visit burlesonbigdayevents.com.
For information about Touchstone Manor, visit www.touchstonemanorva.com.