AT THE CLIFTON INN: HEAVY SNOW & HEARTS AGLOW
On February 21, I drove from my studio in Ashburn, Virginia to the Clifton Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia to photograph Aaron and Christopher's late afternoon wedding.
The day's forecast was for blizzard-like conditions, turning to sleet, freezing rain, and ice that evening. I left early that morning, but the snow was already falling. My envisioned two-hour scenic drive through the Virginia countryside turned into a five-hour, white-knuckle ride.
The snowplows were unable to keep the roads clear. And, for long stretches, mine seemed to be the only car on the road. With the snowfall heavy and my windshield wipers icing up, I had visions of sliding off the road and not being found until the next day, huddled in my car, clutching my Nikon. Fortunately, I survived (and arrived at the Clifton Inn with a bit of time to spare)!
Aaron and Christopher were drawn to the Clifton Inn for its small-inn intimacy and exquisite fine dining. Their original concept was for a short ceremony followed by a quiet 5-course gourmet meal shared with a very small number of guests -- a simple affair, easy to plan, stress-free to execute. But, as so many do, their wedding took on a complicated life of its own! They hired Codie Burke Grannis, wedding planner extraordinaire, to bring everything together.
It turned out beautifully! The decor was masculine and elegant, in harmony with the Clifton Inn's classical ambience. Codie's eclectic mix of empty whiskey bottles, used as vases for flowers and greenery, was truly inspired. The piano music for the ceremony and acoustic live band for the after-dinner party were lovely. And, of course, the Clifton Inn cuisine was superb.
For me, the highlights of the celebration were the beautiful expressions of love heard throughout the day -- the ceremony performed by Claire Goodman, the deeply moving wedding vows by the two grooms, and the many heartfelt toasts from their close family and friends -- full of laughter, love, and life.
Aaron and Christopher wrote their own vows, each so different and so obviously true to their own personalities. Aaron is perhaps the more demonstratively affectionate, so no one would be surprised that my photographs from the ceremony often show tears on his cheeks. But Christopher too was frequently overcome with emotion as he said his vows. I love those photographs of him too.
Congratulations, Aaron and Christopher! For 10 years, you have forged a strong, committed life together as a couple. May your wedding inspire you to even greater closeness and happiness in the years to come.