Among so many gorgeous weddings submitted for Charlottesville Wine & Country Weddings, Volume 1, we were excited to announce Ellen & Chris Sweet as the winners of our Wedding of the Year contest, having been chosen by the popular vote. This wedding wowed our selection committee for not only its beauty and grandeur but also for the choices Ellen and Chris made to make their ceremony a most memorable affair. We hope you enjoy this inside scoop with photos and details from the wedding and that it inspires you as it did us!

Ellen and Chris joined hands on the picturesque grounds of Castle Hill Cider to recite their vows and officially declare their lifelong dedication to one another. With its gilded cupola, wide barn doors, latticed windows and walls of knotty pine, the barn provided a fabulous backdrop for the celebration of their marriage. In this rustic setting, surrounded by a hanging row of glittering chandeliers they chose themselves, Ellen and Chris shared their first meal as husband and wife.

Every detail reminded them of the places that they loved, from the tiny chicken-and-waffle appetizers from The Catering Outfit, reminiscent of Chris’ deep Southern roots in Texas, to the gift boxes of See’s Candies, treasured by Ellen from her parents’ native California. But, no memories shined as bright as the times they spent together on weekend getaways as their romance budded in Virginia.

Ellen stood in a full-lace gown by Alvina Valenta with asymmetrical tiers and a cascade of buttons down the back. Southern Blooms prepared the florals for the wedding and put together Ellen’s stunning bouquet.

Ellen and Chris thought a lot about their ties to Virginia and knew they wanted to showcase local artisans and businesses from the Charlottesville area, including the delicate place settings and invitations designed and printed by Jen Maton of If So Inklined, featured below.

Prepared in a labor of love by Kathy Watkins of Favorite Cakes, the wedding featured this stunning, all-white fondant cake decorated with the four different patterns of the formal china.

When you fall in love in a particular place, you also fall in love with the place itself. Every detail brought Ellen and Chris back to those first early days soon after they started dating—when it seemed like the world around them was suddenly enchanted. There are memories we keep, and memories that grow with us. Ellen and Chris knew that there was no other place where they wanted to begin the memories of their marriage than here, in the majestic foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

You can read more about the 2015 Wedding of the Year in Charlottesville Wine & Country Weddings here.

Venue: Castle Hill Cider

Event Planning & Styling: Shindig Weddings & Events

Photographer: Adam Barnes Photography

Videographer: Shaking Hands Productions

Caterer: The Catering Outfit

Cake: Favorite Cakes

Florist: Southern Blooms by Pat’s Floral Designs

Rental Companies: Festive Fare, Southern Blooms by Pat’s Floral Designs, Stonegate Event Rentals

AV and Lighting Company: Blue Ridge AV & Lighting

Stationary: If So Inklined

Bridal Dress: Alvina Valenta

Jeweler: Custom from I. Friedman & Son

Beauty & Hair Stylist: Virginia Glenn

Transportation: Camryn Limousine

Ceremony Music: Encore Quartet

Cocktail Hour & Reception Music: Liquid Pleasure


Wine & Country celebrates elevated living in Virginia Wine Country. Wine & Country Life, a semi-annual life & style magazine, and Wine & Country Weddings, an annual art book celebrating elegant Virginia weddings, are complemented by the Wine & Country Shop in Ivy, VA—a beautiful lifestyle boutique featuring over 40 Virginian artisans with everything from tailgating essentials and Dubarry attire, to locally made foods and award-winning Monticello AVA wines, as well as craft beverages for your next event. Sister publications under the publishers of Ivy Life & Style Media include the Charlottesville Welcome Book, a bi-annual publication guiding visitors and newcomers on all of the happenings and businesses in the region, and CharlottesvilleFamily’s Bloom magazine, a bi-monthly parenting publication.

Wine & Country Experiences are now also available and include exclusive tours and hands-on classes with leading professionals in the local farm-to-table and vineyard scenes.

Sign up to receive inspiration, tips, and exclusive updates directly to your inbox.

No, thanks!