A Short Guide to Historic Venue Weddings

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Samantha and Corey originally planned on getting married at one of West Virginia’s state parks. But after some logistical challenges with the park, they ended up switching to Adaland Mansion in Philippi and I’m so glad they did. 

Adaland is a Greek Revival mansion built in 1870. It has been preserved as a historic home and is used both for tours and for events. It’s also one of the most surprisingly affordable venues in West Virginia – probably because if you’re not local to Philippi, I’m guessing you’ve never heard of it. 

Old mansions, estates, and bed & breakfasts have a special place in my heart as wedding venues. I love the character that decades or centuries of living brings to a building. Additionally, old spaces tend to have big windows, meaning lots of beautiful natural light for getting-ready photos. 

Adaland has been decorated with portraits of weddings and couples in bygone years. And so for a few of Samantha and Corey’s portraits, we tried to mimic that style and vibe to reflect the environment where their wedding took place. 

At Adaland, couples can get ready in two of the old bedrooms and then move out to the front lawn for the ceremony. The reception typically takes place at a pavilion -- built much more recently for this purpose -- at the back of the property. 

West Virginia is mountainous, but it can be difficult to SEE the mountains because they are so close together. At many venues, you have a better view of trees than ridgelines. But toward Phillipi, the mountains begin to widen just enough that the mansion boasts a bit of a view of the hills beyond. This means for sunset couples portraits, you can definitely get some of those wild and wonderful vibes. 

If historic manors are your thing, here are a few venues to check out. Some I’ve shot at, some I haven’t, so definitely explore and draw your own conclusions about whether or not the venue works well for you! There are more than are on this list too that are well worth considering, (and I may circle back around to blog about them in a future post) but here are five to get you started. 

Joshua Wilton House, Harrisonburg, Virginia

The Joshua Wilton House is a good fit for couples who are looking to have an intimate wedding focused around food. There is space in the main house for a small dance floor, but the main draw for this venue (besides the historic rooms and architecture) is the catering. The Joshua Wilton House has one of the best fine dining experiences in the area and is a great choice for people who want to spend their wedding day enjoying a multi-course dinner and watching the sun go down from the wide front porch. 

The Inn at Forest Oaks, Natural Bridge Virginia

The Inn at Forest Oaks is a beautiful 1800s-era property with panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. They have the capacity to host anything from elopements (check out the solarium for these!) to large traditional weddings. The Inn does require the rental of all available rooms for your wedding (but may be more flexible for an elopement) so it’s a great choice for moderately sized weddings or when you want the whole bridal party and/or immediate family to be able to congregate in one place. Finally, the fifty acres of pastures and woods means LOTS of places for wedding portraits =). 

The Inn at Willow Grove, Orange Virginia

The Inn at Willow Grove is a nod to Colonial era architecture and charm. Ceremonies typically take place in the Boxwood Garden while receptions have the option of three unique spaces -- the barn & ruins, a vintage restaurant, or a sunny hall -- depending on the size of your guest list. On property are 25 rooms and suites (including some cottages), so if you’re looking for a place your guest list can gather for the weekend this might be a great choice.

Historic Mankin Mansion, Richmond, Virginia

The Historic Mankin Mansion is a really cool space that’s pretty unique in the area. The original owner was a well-to-do brickmaker and the entire Italianette estate is made up of intricate brickwork. Ceremonies are typically held outdoors in the garden or in the newly restored vintage European gallery (so if you’re having a winter wedding this is an awesome choice!). For cocktail hour couples have access to a large patio, and then receptions are held in a climate-controlled tent on property. 

Sundara, Boons Mill, Virginia 

Sundara is located near Roanoke on a beautiful old property with views of the mountains. Couples have access to a vintage bridal suite to get ready in. The ceremony space is under a large poplar tree with a mountain view to the back, and then the reception is held in a large white tent on property. It also includes what they call a “pay it forward closet,” which includes decorations from previous weddings that clients are welcome to use free of charge. At the end of the night, adventurous couples can spend their night in the “glamping tent” and wake up to breakfast on property.