After the World Nomad’s writing scholarship, Tim Neville encouraged me to start taking my writing more seriously. His first piece of advice – to start small and local.
When I saw that the Virginia State Parks had their own blog/website, I decided to reach out and see if they would be receptive to my writing a piece about mine and Tim’s wedding at Pocahontas State Park. They agreed, and two weeks ago my piece hit their page! Below (and linked here to the original source!) is my post:
Virginia’s secret wedding venue hidden in plain sight
If you Google Virginia State Park weddings you’ll see some amazing, though perhaps predictable, results. There is no denying that our great state parks make for a beautiful backdrop for wedding ceremonies and receptions.
But there is a hidden gem you may not see in your Google search, and that is Pocahontas State Park located in Chesterfield, Virginia.
Sarah and Tim making an entrance
My husband, Tim, and I recently had our wedding ceremony and reception at Pocahontas State Park. We are travel bugs at heart, and we love immersing ourselves in history, nature and culture. That passion, combined with the fact that I grew up in Richmond and most of my family still lives there, made central Virginia a perfect choice for us.
We researched extensively in the area for a place that had historical and natural significance. We live in Wisconsin so this meant a lot of visits down to Virginia to tour venues and meet with vendors.
I loved exploring our options, but we were quickly disillusioned with the wedding mark-up on rental spaces and with the pretense of some venues.
We wanted something that felt warmer, more intimate, and more authentic.
And then we found Swift Creek Hall in Pocahontas State Park. This park was the site of my countless middle school cross country meets, adolescent summertime flirtations at the pool, and a favorite spot of my father, who passed away a little over a year ago. Never had I imagined it would one day be where I said “I do,” but once I found out the park had two event spaces for rent (which I discovered by falling down an hours-long Pinterest rabbit hole one evening).
I couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else.
Our first dance in Swift Creek Hall
Swift Creek Hall itself is tucked 2.5 miles from the main entrance of the park down a narrow road surrounded by Virginia’s trademark lush green forest. When you arrive, you feel as you’ve stumbled upon someone’s humble house in the woods. And then, when you step inside, it’s floor to ceiling gorgeous hardwood. If you’re looking for rustic-chic, look no further!
On our wedding day, which was also Earth Day, it poured rain – a potent reminder that nature does not adhere to human plans. Even so, it was a beautiful day. The park was alive, shaking off the spring pollen and drinking up the water that feeds its forests, waterfalls, and rivers.
I visited Pocahontas State Park multiple times over the past year – hiking to waterfalls, playing like a kid on the swings, kissing my now-husband on the stage of the amphitheater.
Each time, as always with time spent in nature, I felt closer to both my partner and the earth.
Because here’s the thing – we often proclaim the importance of supporting our parks, but the truth is, no matter who you are – a kid running the trails, a dad taking his kids to the pool, a bride stepping into her dress – when we support our parks, it’s actually our parks that support us.
A kiss captured on a rainy day on the stage of the amphitheater at Pocahontas State Park
Photo credit: Amber Kay Photography
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