Real Virginia Wedding | Reina and Sam at Mountain Lake Lodge, Pembroke, VA

Reina & Sam
October 17, 2020

Tell us how you met and about the proposal
Sam and I met through my cousin, as they were in the same cohort in their Clinical Mental Health master’s program. My cousin and I are very close, so I would visit her at JMU quite often (I was a senior at Virginia Tech when we met). The first time I met Sam he was in a relationship, but as that ended and some time had gone by, we were both single.

We first hung out together the weekend of JMU’s homecoming and, our first date was at the Homestead where he and my cousin were attending a conference for their program. At the end of the trip, the three of us stopped at a waterfall on the way out and walked to the bottom. My cousin stayed at the top and took a picture of us with his arm around me at that waterfall – our first picture. Five years later and that is where he proposed! He duped me into thinking we were going to the Homestead for a mini getaway because they were running a promotion and he got a discount. We stopped at the same waterfall on the way there and at the bottom he got down on one knee. Recreating our first date at the homestead afterwards was simply the icing on the cake.

Fun Fact!
My engagement ring diamond is from the ring my grandfather used to propose to my grandmother!

About the wedding
Our wedding was small and intimate with close family and friends at Mountain Lake Lodge and it was absolutely perfect. The ceremony was outdoors at their gazebo and the reception was at Mary’s Barn. Scott Lebrato was our designated event coordinator and I could not have done it without him. He was absolutely wonderful and helped to make our day entirely stress-free.

Our goal was to plan as much as we could in advance and choose schedules and vendors that would make it easiest for us to simply enjoy the day without feeling overwhelmed. The catering was buffet style so that guests could choose their plates, dessert was an assortment of pies (our favorites), and everything went so smoothly.

Did you know that Mountain Lake Lodge is one of the film locations for the iconic Dirty Dancing? Of course they had to do “the lift”.

Which part of your wedding did you want to WOW your guests?
This is interesting for me as I never really set out to WOW anyone. I wanted them to enjoy the food, enjoy the music, and experience our wedding with us. I think the coolest part of our wedding, though, was that all of our guests stayed at the resort with us. Our wedding day became more of a wedding weekend with all of our favorite people.

What was your absolute favorite part of the day? Does your spouse have a different favorite?
My favorite part was something that was completely unplanned. We had told our photographers that we didn’t want a ton of different group shot variations and extra pictures after the wedding, because we didn’t want to feel rushed getting to the reception. At other weddings I’ve been to, things go awry, pictures run late, and then the bride is racing to the reception and it’s very stressful. I knew I wanted everything to be as relaxed as possible so I could be as present as I could be. Well, due to that request, pictures actually finished EARLY. So we had a good 20 minutes before we were needed at the reception. Our wedding coordinator suggested we head into the lodge and have a drink, just the two of us, before heading into the barn for the reception. Those 20 minutes were so unbelievably special. We had that time to take a breath, hold hands, and bask in our newlywed bliss.
Sam’s favorite memory is when I was reading my vows. Somehow, even though we were outside, I was speaking into a microphone, and we were in front of an audience of 65 of our closest family/friends, it felt like it was just me and him & everything else fell away.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in planning your wedding?
COVID was a concern because for a while I thought the venue would be closed and we would have to postpone. Thankfully, the venue was perfect and everything was opened for us to stay there!

What is your best piece of advice for couples reading this?
Absolutely, without a doubt, 100% schedule time for you and your partner to have time together after the ceremony. It was SO worth it.

Post Wedding Updates:
I have recently started my own health coaching business; Sam will be a licensed therapist hopefully the end of this year!

Further Credits

Catering/Bar/Venue: Mountain Lake Lodge | Event Coordinator: Scott Lebrato | Shower Location: Horton Vineyards | Pies: Bittersweet Bakery, Harrisonburg VA | Wedding and Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal, White by Vera Wang Collection | Groom’s Suit: Banana Republic | Groomsmen Attire: Generation Tux | Hair & Makeup: Cheryl Sullivan Willis, P.ZAZ Salon and Spa | Florist: Jan Hendrickson, Green Designs | DJ & Music: Rick Pruett | Rings: Radcliffe Jewelers | Engagement Ring and Bride’s wedding band: custom by Marley Simon | Honeymoon: Skaneateles NY – The Packwood House

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