Is the standard wedding format a bit too—well, standard for you? “A lot of who we are is somewhat unconventional,” says Christie Jones of herself and her wife Mary Klavin. As they researched options for their April 2018 wedding, they realized that many venues were not only expensive, but “formulaic, and just not us,” she says. “Early on we said we’re going to make sure the ceremony is true to things that are important to us.”
Since the couple got together about three years ago, they’ve shared a mutual love for the outdoors and especially the Blue Ridge. They got engaged during a 2017 hike in Shenandoah National Park. And when they’re ready to relax, eat in restaurants, and listen to music, Charlottesville is one of their favorite getaway spots (they make their home in Alexandria, where Mary works for Adobe and Christie is a JAG officer in the Air Force).
Wanting to share their favorite place with their guests, they initially thought of getting married atop Humpback Rocks, but realized some loved ones might not be able to make the climb. The solution: a brief, early-morning ceremony at the Raven’s Roost overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, followed by an optional Humpback Rocks hike.
“The ceremony was very much centered on us,” says Jones, “but neither one of us are real comfortable in the spotlight.” Officiant Kate Adamson kept the ceremony brief and meaningful, and guests wore their hiking clothes. “I very much was in the moment,” says Klavin. “Our friends and family were standing around us and we were looking at the sunrise coming up over the edge. It was very intimate, and easy to be present without the formal pomp and circumstance.”
It was inexpensive, too; the “venue” cost around $60 for a permit. The couple also rented vans to transport guests from Charlottesville.
Between 45 and 50 guests joined the pair for the hike, which kicked off with Bodo’s bagels and Starbucks coffee at the trailhead. “People would group up and hike with different people and have an opportunity to really talk,” says Jones. “And people were really excited about making it to the top. One person said, ‘I didn’t think I could do that.’”
The trek culminated in a whiskey toast—a nod to a Klavin and Jones’ usual tradition at the highest point of a hike. Later that evening, the crowd gathered again at The Space downtown for dinner and dancing—“the most traditional thing we did all day,” says Klavin, adding that everything about their wedding, including the relatively short planning process, felt right to her and Jones. “Don’t be dissuaded by the wedding-industrial complex,” she says. “We don’t regret a single thing.”