“I’m excited to share the latest post from my blog, The Novo Project. It’s written by sisters Kiki and Caroline Slaughter. Kiki, a talented artist (get to know her here) and Caroline, a fabulous comedic actress (you might remember her from “Devil Wears Prada.” They know a thing or two about the gorgeous Virginia town because it’s where they grew up. And where you’ll want to visit after reading this dispatch.” — Jenna
Visitors are drawn to Charlottesville for a number of reasons: The University (UVA); to admire Thomas Jefferson’s architectural brilliance displayed in Monticello and the Rotunda; to see what all the hype is about with an expanding wine industry, or this time of year: to attend one of the many weddings thrown here by couples striving for a memorable nuptial weekend.
Charlottesville is becoming to weddings what Pebble Beach is to golf, which is fitting for a state that boasts the tagline, “Virginia Is For Lovers.” Since wedding season is upon us, we thought we’d prepare you if you’re visiting for such an event. (Hint: These tips work even if you’re not in town to hear the ‘I Dos.’)
The flight into CHARLOTTESVILLE AIRPORT was a smooth one until you land and realize that your luggage was lost during your layover. Deep Breath…The stress of the situation melts away as you gaze at the blue-tinted Blue Ridge Mountains, as calming as the ocean, in the distance.
You’ve booked reservations at KESWICK HALL, a 48-room Italian style mansion in the heart of Virginia’s hunt country. You would love to sit by the pool and revel in the scenery, but without a stitch of clothing for the weekend, what else is there to do but SHOP! The concierge points you in the direction of the DOWNTOWN MALL where local trendsetters go to pick out their stylish duds. EG carries bohemian chic clothing that will have you fitting in with the effortlessly stylish locals, and because every girl likes to play dress-up your next stop is ELOISE, the Barney’s of Charlottesville.
Your wedding gift was in your lost luggage? No problem! Be transported to Paris when you enter CASPARI where the selection of gifts is vast and refined. If rustic elegance is what you have in mind for this bride, ROXY DAISY, just across the street, has a variety of eclectic gifts to peruse. Add a personal touch to your gift with a hand-written note on custom stationery or a funky card from ROCK PAPER SCISSORS.
While you’re in shopping mode why not pick up a little number for after hours at DERRIÈRE DE SOIE with a selection of elegant lingerie. Who knows, after this romantic rendezvous you might be shopping for a third so be sure to pop into PETIT BEBE – we guarantee that your child will be better dressed than you are.
Weighted down by shopping bags, it’s time for a well-deserved break. Stop by HAMILTONS’ for prime people watching and a late lunch. As you dig into your heavenly, jumbo lump crab cake your husband nonchalantly mentions inviting three friends and their dates to your hotel suite for cocktails before the rehearsal dinner this evening. Really?!
Of course he assumes you can just pull this together, and you can, if you visit MAIN STREET MARKET, a one-stop shop for everything local. Pick up artisanal cheeses & local wines from FEAST!, or indulge in raw oysters from SEAFOOD@WEST MAIN and to add a little extra kick to this delicacy stop by THE SPICE DIVA for the finest and most flavorful spices, herb teas and extracts. (It’s a good thing you decided to buy those cocktail napkins at CASPARI). For the finishing touch, grab some peonies at HEDGE FINE BLOOMS and Viola! Your job is done, and in less than 10 minutes.
Reward yourself with a chocolate dipped macaroon from ALBEMARLE BAKING CO. and try your best to tear your boyfriend away from the prime cut of meat in the window of THE ORGANIC BUTCHER that he would much rather be grilling tonight than buttoned up at the rehearsal dinner…DANG! His bow tie was in your luggage — Quick stop at ELJO’S, the one and only Charlottesville men’s shop since 1950, for his purchase and you’re on your way. Quick and easy, just like your next stop at SCARPA for shoes & accessories that never fail to make a sophisticated statement.
After pulling on your new wardrobe and savoring a glass or two of local wine from POLLAK VINEYARD you and the crew hop into a cab heading to the rehearsal dinner at CLIFTON INN, which possesses a historical charm that makes you feel like you’ve taken a step into Gone With The Wind. The excitement of the evening continues as you head downtown to catch a late night show of the local band, Sons of Bill, at THE JEFFERSON. Charlottesville boasts an impressive music scene with the likes of Dave Matthews and Parachute emerging from the mix.
After rockin’ out, you spot the grand windows overlooking the downtown mall of the restaurant TEN, which offers a modern twist to Japanese cuisine and an exclusive selection of sake. The boys have a late night hankering for rib eye and duck into C & O, a Charlottesville original, which was used as a railroad bunk house during the depression but has since morphed into one of the most acclaimed restaurants in Charlottesville.
Surprisingly you wake-up with an appetite and you’re craving Southern home cookin’ so you head to BLUE MOON DINER where all the fixins’ are made from scratch daily.
Driving through the Virginia countryside, past picturesque homes, makes you want to play house. Check out CURIOUS ORANGE for ardently curated antiques and interiors from an artistic perspective. The pieces you’ll find here are as creative and hip as the store’s amusing name. AND GEORGE, titled after its owner’s beloved bulldog, is another store that’s memorable pieces match its meaningful name. This is tastemaker territory, so don’t be surprised if you want to emulate their perfectly crafted vision of Virginia living at its finest. All green thumbs point to IVY NURSERY for the finishing touches to an idyllic home. From gardens, to gifts, to exquisite orchids people travel through state lines for –- this wonderland of a nursery has you covered.
On your way back to Keswick, fill up on gas and grab a gourmet sandwich at BELAIR MARKET. Yes, you heard correctly, gas & gourmet under one roof! UVA grads will argue which is best, but we vote for the farmington or birdwood. Time Check. It’s back to the hotel to freshen up before meeting the crew for a 5pm cocktail at CONTINENTAL DIVIDE, a place so local they only need a sign outside that reads “Get in Here” to amass a nightly crowd. After a round of margaritas and a plate of red hot blues, y’all are glad you obeyed, but your chariot (bus) awaits.
You roll up to the main event, the wedding… Wait. Is this real life or are you in a Nancy Meyers film? PIPPIN HILL an upscale barn that sits on a pristine vineyard with a view to swoon over, takes the entertaining experience to a new level. It’s said to be one of the most romantic wedding venues in the country. Make sure to tell your single friends …
After the bride & groom bid adieu, you and the crew are taxied to the corner for some late night bites. You and your husband have conflicting ideas of what ruining your diet means. He opts for the famous gus burger at THE WHITE SPOT while you chow down on a tasty sub from LITTLE JOHNS. It’s a win-win, just like the day has been.
Let’s be honest, your body can’t handle a big night like it used to. Kick start the morning with a strong espresso from SHENANDOAH JOE COFFEE and soak up last night’s vino with a breakfast sandwich from the renowned BODO’S BAGELS, which is a strong contender with NYC’s finest.
Not quite back to normal? Some fresh Virginia air will do the trick! Take a hike on the MONTICELLO TRAIL and check Thomas Jefferson’s MONTICELLO off your list of historic must sees. Then hop over to a neighboring attraction, CARTER MOUNTAIN ORCHARD, for apple picking in the fall, peach picking in the summer and one of the best views of Charlottesville year round.
You worked up an appetite? Good thing GREENWOOD GOURMET GROCERY is on the way to your next destination. While you wait for your sandwich (we suggest the blue slate or landrance) browse the vast selection of local wine, beer and a variety of other regional products.
Finally… time to sit back and soak up some rays while sipping crisp Viognier and watching cute Argentines play polo at the KING FAMILY VINEYARDS. On the way back, stop by DUNER’S, the Cheers of Charlottesville, where local characters come for not only the delectable eats but also the town gossip. This is the kind of place that knows your drink order (like our little bro’s regular –- an old fashioned). Raise a glass to a memorable weekend and the promise of future weekend escapes to Charlottesville.
– Caroline and Kiki Slaughter