Hi there, I’m Ashley Edmunds and I photograph weddings all over the world but my heart is in Virginia.
I grew up in Richmond, lived in the heart of Shenandoah for 7 years, and then found my way back to Richmond. Once you get to know me, you’ll see I’m a little Richmond obsessed. I can help you find the best restaurant, park, or brewery for any part of this wonderful city. I love photographing weddings here at home, in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, DC, and beyond! When I’m not photographing weddings I’m most likely chasing River, my yellow lab trying to get a shoe out of his mouth, teaching my high school kiddos, or traveling with my amazing fiance Craig.
Hiiii, how is everyone? I can’t believe we’ve been in quarantine for over two months already, so crazy!! I recently thought about how it might help my brides and future brides if I shared a little bit about my own wedding planning journey. Planning a wedding is always semi stressful but right now it is even crazier with the virus restrictions. I am going to walk you through our search for a venue and share some tips and tricks throughout!
When I got engaged I knew I would unfortunately be competing with 2020 and 2021 brides for a venue because of the virus. I’ve had a lot of my own brides sadly have to reschedule to 2021 so I wanted to book a venue pretty quickly. Craig and I had so many dates to work around. I already am photographing 5 weddings next Spring, I couldn’t get married the weekend of prom or graduation at the high school I work at, and our parents gave us 2 dates that didn’t work for them. We also didn’t want to get married in the middle of summer because of the heat.
My first piece of advice- if there are ANY vendors that are must haves for you, contact them BEFORE you pick a date. I knew I wanted a certain photography style and price point for my photographer so I reached out to a few photographers BEFORE I went to look at venues. I picked my photographer, Corrin Jaskinski Photography (more on this soon), so I also went to the venue with the dates that she was free. Talk about needing a very specific date, ha!! I honestly thought we’d be getting married in Fall 2021 because of how picky we had to be on dates. I am so excited to say, we found a Spring date!!
Craig and I will be getting married on May 22nd, 2021!!!
When thinking about where we wanted to get married Craig and I had a few things we were looking for. We wanted to be outdoors (Lord willing there is no rain May 22nd next year), we didn’t want anything too fancy, and we wanted an intimate, unique wedding. I have photographed weddings at 32 different Virginia wedding venues. I have loved every single venue I shot at, but I could actually see myself getting married at two of them- Pharsalia, and The Market at Grelen. I also have heard amazing things about The Clifton Inn in Charlottesville so those quickly became my top 3. God had his hand on this because I reached out to 9 wedding venues to tour and my top 3 were the only 3 that were offering in person tours during COVID. The other 6 venues offered me virtual tours which I ended up not doing because I booked our venue the day after our tours!! The other venues I reached out to were some wineries in Virginia and a couple outdoor venues in DC.
Another piece of advice- Venue shopping should be fun, not stressful!! Bonus advice- make sure to schedule your tours the same day or the next day so you can make a decision while they are all fresh in your mind.
We planned for me, my mom, and Craig to all go venue shopping together on a Friday! Last minute, Craig couldn’t go because of work but we rolled with the punches. We already had all three tours lined up on the same day and I promised Craig lots of pictures. Honestly, I think Craig was a little relieved, ha!!!
My mom had the idea that I should take a picture with each venue sign, this made the day so fun!! I didn’t know which venue would be the one until that night!! We also took a break after going to two venues to get pizza at one of my favorite places out west called Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. We ate it in the middle of the parking lot since the actual restaurant was closed, so fun! First up was Pharsalia!! Pharsalia is a flower farm in Tyro, Va. I photographed my Friend Kate’s wedding here in 2017 and fell in love. It is a beautiful venue surrounded by mountains, flowers, and vineyards. The venue is family owned and is very intimate, check that box. The venue rental also includes the rental of a white sailcloth tent for the reception, swoon!! There is also a pool on the grounds for cocktail hour, ohh all the ideas I have for decorations. I didn’t take a ton of pictures while looking at venues but here are a few!
The flower farm is HUGE here and with the wedding package you get to come the day before the wedding with your bridal party to pick your own bouquets. I REPEAT YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN BOUQUET STRAIGHT FROM THE FIELD.
This is the manor house that I will get ready in and walk out of to walk down the aisle to Craig…whoops did I just give away what venue we picked?!? Also, side note- when the tour guide explained where I would walk down the aisle my mom started crying!
This is view the guests will have while sitting on the lawn on benches during the ceremony! The huge tent wasn’t currently up so I don’t have any pictures of that or the beautiful pool area! The next venue we went to was The Clifton Inn right in the heart of Charlottesville. This venue was equally beautiful!!! The venue includes a huge manor house, gardens galore, cottages for guests to stay in, a swimming pool, and a tent. Sound familiar?! It was honestly so hard to choose between these two venues. It ultimately came down to price!
I would LOVE to photograph a wedding at the Clifton Inn. If you know anyone getting married here, I will give them a discount!!
Later in the day after pizza, we went to visit the Market at Grelen. It was raining at this point so we ran around the venue (I have shot weddings here so I knew all about the venue but I wanted my mom to see the important parts). I didn’t take my phone out to take any photos but you can check out the venue by looking at MJ and Lauren’s blog post HERE! They did such a great job with their wedding it made me want to visit the venue again.
Once we got home, I talked with Craig for awhile and laid out ALL the details. The pros and cons of each venue, the dates available at each venue (this was VERY limited), the prices of each venue, etc. There was so much to consider. Some venues allow you to bring in your own vendors, some require that you use some of their preferred vendors. Some venues allow you to be there all day, some only give you a few hours. Some venues are close to lodging options, some are not. Some venues have beautiful getting ready spaces, some do not, etc. There is SO much to think about.
My mom and I both had that gut feeling that one venue fit our needs above the rest but I wanted to give Craig the chance to get that feeling as well. After laying out all of the details, he immediately said “It sounds like a no brainer- Pharsalia sounds like our spot.” This was exactly my feeling as well!! We emailed Pharsalia the next morning to confirm our date choice of May 22nd, 2021!
Honestly, once you have a date and venue you can breath a sigh of relief. Next you can think about other vendors and start your countdown!! We are exactly a year from our wedding date and we can’t wait.
What other aspects of our wedding would you like to hear more about? Let me know through instagram or in the comments on the blog!
**If you missed our proposal story, click HERE!