The Merry Minks: The First Look and Ceremony Space

A pretty severe storm had just blown through the area around our venue, Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards, and there was a break in the weather. As soon as I saw a little sunshine, I wanted to get outside and take some pictures. For all I knew, we had the only break in the weather in front of us. The ceremony we so wanted to have with the Blue Ridge Mountains behind us wasn’t going to happen, but maybe we could get a few pictures of the view that sold us on our venue. Goodness knows the pile of dirt that had been there when we signed our contract wasn’t the selling point!

Of course, first looks come before portraits, so I anxiously waited for Mr. Mink to be put in position so we could have our first look. Just as I felt butterflies when the men arrived at the venue, I was nervous for this moment. It made no sense. Mr. Mink is the kind of guy who says you look great in pajamas. I knew his reaction would be sweet and positive…


…and it was.


Want to see that from another angle? I actually like this black and white image because I’m staring at Elisa, our photographer, and Mr. Mink is staring at Edward, Elisa’s husband and second shooter. It’s as if we’re both wondering if we’re doing this whole first look think correctly.


I think we did it right.


Elisa and Edward left us alone for a few minutes to take in the room. The “granary” room at Pippin Hill was going to be our reception space all along. We had been faced with three options when it was clear that the ceremony would not be outside.

A. Have the patio furniture moved and set up the ceremony chairs on the patio. We would be assessed an extra fee of several hundred dollars. We’d be outside for the ceremony, but some guests would be exposed and would get wet if the rain started to fall again at an angle. What’s more, the cocktail hour would have to be in the vineyard’s tasting room. The patio might not be a space for guests to gather later in the evening.

B. Have the ceremony in the vineyard’s tasting room, which would not allow for everyone to be seated. This would allow the patio to be used later in the evening.

C. Have the reception tables pushed to the sides and set the ceremony up in the middle of the main room. This would leave the patio and tasting room open for use later on. I was told that we could have vows in front of the open door, which might give us the mountain background. I thought that was a bad idea for photographs and suggested setting up in the opposite direction, but everyone said the doorway would work out.

Which option do you think we picked?


To be honest, I wasn’t happy with any of the suggestions because of how they’d affect our music. We hired local musicians William Walter and Tucker Rogers to play the ceremony and cocktail hour. Originally, William and Tucker were supposed to set up on the edge of the Pippin Hill patio so they’d be heard in during the ceremony and cocktail hour.

With this set up, guests would be inside for the ceremony, then move outdoors for the cocktail hour. That meant there would be no audible music during cocktail hour. Music is so important to us and the set up was disappointing.


Music aside, I think our DOC, Amanda Gray, and her team did a wonderful job making the best of the situation. If you ignore the reception tables on the outskirts of the room, it looks pretty, doesn’t it?


I thought Pat and Sherry from Southern Blooms by Pat’s Floral Designs did a beautiful job with the flowers and I loved how my lanterns looked lining the aisle.



Did your ceremony space wind up looking a little bit different from what you expected?

All images by Elisa B Photography


Did you miss a Merry Mink recap?


Mrs. Mink

Charlottesville, Virginia
Wedding Date:
June 2012
One Man, One Wife, One Love Through Life: First Look
Biggest Surprise Ever!
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  1. Member
    LaughLines 348 posts, Helper bee @ 1:35 pm

    I think “it looks pretty” is an understatement! I know it isn’t what you originally imagined, but if I didn’t know that, and just saw these pictures, I would still think it’s exquisite – the details of the room, including the beams, the chairs, the lanterns (love), the flowers (the blooms AND the containers)… beautiful!

    Oh and your first look is perfect! We shared a big hug, too! Such relief!

  2. msdragon Bee
    Mrs. Dragon 814 posts, Busy bee @ 4:34 pm

    Your ceremony space was gorgeous!

  3. mink Bee
    mink 2178 posts, Buzzing bee @ 5:01 pm

    @Mrs. Hermit Crab:Aw, thanks, HC!

    @almost-mrsp: I have to remember that most people don’t know what it was supposed to look like!

    @Miss Sword: Thanks, Sword!

    @Miss Toadstool:I think everyone was trying to make me feel better by throwing the doors open. 🙂

    @LaughLines: Thank you so much, LL. You’ve always been so kind!

    @Mrs. Dragon: 🙂

  4. graywolf Bee
    graywolf 725 posts, Busy bee @ 8:36 am

    the lanterns look amazing. did anyone know that it was supposed to be outside?

  5. Member
    ChemistryBride 2431 posts, Buzzing bee @ 3:19 pm

    Everything looks so beautiful! I completely understand the disappointment when weather changes the ceremony plans. The same thing happened at our wedding, a storm forced us to move our outdoor ceremony inside. You can also see the reception tables in the back of the room during the ceremony, but I was amazed how many guests didn’t notice that! I had people not realize they were there during the ceremony at all!

    I’ve had a couple pity parties about having an indoor ceremony, and when I see super amazing outdoor pictures I get jealous, but in the end, it was beautiful, and we got married. That’s all the matters in the end (I grudgingly admit!)

  6. Member
    sunnybrook 369 posts, Helper bee @ 10:22 am

    @Mrs. Mink:
    I know that I realized a while back that we were both in Charlottesville… but (in true Charlottesville fashion), it turns out that we’re connected! I know your groom! Such a small world!

    Those photos of the first look are amazing. He looks so nervous, and then when he sees you it’s like he just melts with joy. Beautiful!

    I love the lanterns, too. Did you buy them locally? I’d love to do something like that along my aisle.

    Oh– and I plan to message you about your seamstress! But I’ll try not to rely on you as my personal Charlottesville wedding expert. Promise!

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