Wednesday, December 31, 2014

All Is Ducky

We get a lot of great guests here at the Ridge, but for the past week, we've had some particularly neat visitors—and they've been staying in the pond!

We've had a trio of hooded mergansers paddling around: two males and a female. They've been very shy and, so, hard to get a good photo of:

Mergansers are a type of duck best known for the gorgeous white crests on the males. In profile, the plumage looks like big white mohawk hairstyles fanning out from the backs of their little black heads. They also have streaks of white on their shoulders and breasts, and they have thin black bills.

The females are a dusty brown and black, with some lighter downy brown on their heads. That's pretty typical in the bird world: the males have all the fancy feathers so that they can attract mates while females have drabber plumage, which makes for better camouflage so they can better protect their young.

As usual, we also have some geese in the pond, too. We had as many as thirty over the weekend, but today it looks like there's only about a dozen of them. The temperatures are crisp, and there's a thin crust of ice in the shaded end of the pond, but otherwise the sun is out. Apparently, if you're a waterfowl, it's a good day for a paddle!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014's Final Wedding Weekend

While many people have the opportunity to enjoy some “down time” between Christmas and New Year’s, we’ve had a busy weekend with TWO weddings.

One lucky couple tied the knot in a small, intimate affair at the Riddick House on Saturday. The second couple brought an international flair to the Lodge on Sunday with immediate family members who came in all the way from Central America.

One of our grooms is getting ready to deploy overseas, so he will definitely be in our thoughts as the New Year dawns.

We had nearly sixty couples get married at Stevenson Ridge in 2014 (including me and Chris!). Congratulations to all of our couples, and all the best to them for a wonderful 2015.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Birthday to Stevenson Ridge!

While today is, of course, Christmas, it’s also Stevenson Ridge’s birthday!

Five years ago tonight, we welcomed our first overnight guests to Stevenson Ridge. They spent Christmas Night 2009 in the recently completed Log Home.

The Log Home was built in the 1830s in Standardsville, Virginia, in Greene County. At the time, Greene County was still part of Orange County, and the building was reportedly used as the courthouse for that part of the county. Another story tells of a slave girl who’d been trapped in the basement by her master; she’d hidden a gun there, however, and shot him dead through the floor.

Our own Log Home history is a lot happier, though. It remains one of our most popular lodgings, and the front porch has become a favorite spot for small dinner parties in the spring and fall.

Best of all, though, the couple that stayed here as our first guests returned to Stevenson Ridge in 2013 for their wedding—and they continue to live happily ever after!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Thousand Paper Cranes

According to Japanese legend, anyone who folds one thousand origami cranes can earn good luck. One version of the legend says that a live crane will appear and grant the person a wish. Another version of the legend says that the good luck will be everlasting.

For a bride who folds the cranes before her wedding day, she’ll be granted a long and happy marriage.

We recently had a bride at Stevenson Ridge who took up the challenge!

Not only did she fold a thousand paper cranes before her wedding day, she incorporated them into her wedding theme. According to the tradition, the cranes must be held together by string, so the bride used the strings of cranes to form a curtain between the chapel area of the Lodge and the banquet area. The result was simple yet eloquent—one of the most beautiful and unique designs we’ve seen. What a great way to look ahead with optimism toward the future while giving a nod to an old tradition.

Dan on "Road Trippin'"

For folks who haven't seen it yet, take a peek at Dan's TV appearance on "Road Trippin'"--a program on Fox Richmond. This first aired a while back, but a friend recently passed it along to me, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to pass it along to you, too!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Christmas Cactus in Bloom

At best, the relationship I have with my houseplants can be charitably described as “benign neglect.” I remember to water them once in a while, which seems to be enough to keep them alive, but I think they secretly resent me in the way that only plants can.

At least I thought so until this week.

Working at my computer, I happened to glance over the top edge of the screen to see a little red bud peeking back at me. The Christmas cactus that Chris bought for me last year, and which has sat on the front corner of my desk all this time since, has started to blossom.

It’s a good thing cactuses like it dry because the Christmas cactus is the plant I benignly neglect the most. I hardly ever remember to water it. If it wasn’t for our housekeepers, Sandra and Luz, the poor thing might not ever get watered. Being on the far side of my computer, it provides a splash of green for anyone sitting across from my desk—but it’s totally out of my sight. And as the old saying goes, “Out of sight....”

But after a year-long slumber and the most cactus-like conditions, it’s waking up again.

The cactus knows it’s Christmas time.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Virginia Wedding & Event Network Names Stevenson Ridge the Best Wedding Venue for 2014!

It was an exciting night for us tonight at Stevenson Ridge. We were selected as the 2014 Venue of the Year for Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania/Stafford by the Virginia Wedding & Event Network!

Elizabeth and I had the privilege of accepting the award, but really, this honor was possible only because the two of us have such a dedicated staff that works alongside us every day. We are the best because so many people work so hard to help us be the best.

We are deeply grateful to all the people who voted for us: brides, people who've attended weddings at Stevenson Ridge, vendors, guests, family and friends, and a whole lot of other great supporters. Thank you for helping make this happen.

I want to call special attention to all the event professionals we have the honor of working with. Brides and grooms so often remember their special day at Stevenson Ridge, but really, that's only possible because so many people pitched in to make the day so special—the DJs, the cake bakers, the wedding planners, the caterers, the florists, the photographers, and so many others. We are SO fortunate to work with so many first-class, talented professionals. Their combined effort makes what we do so memorable.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Trimming the Trees

We finally have our Christmas trees up at Stevenson Ridge!

The tallest tree, rising some twelve feet, stands in the chapel section of the Lodge. We decorate it with white lights because they're beautiful yet neutral enough to go with any bride's color scheme (and this December, we have a couple of them).

In the Riddick House, the tree stands a little shorter—just ten feet or so. The lights are also white, but the ornaments are much more colorful to reflect the rich color palette of the Riddick House itself.

Chris and I don't have our tree up at home yet, and Dan and Debbie haven't put up theirs yet, either, but those trees will go up this week. We first had to deck all the halls at Stevenson Ridge—a weeklong decorating extravaganza!

We hope Santa leaves something fun and wonderful under your tree this year.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Watching the Highlights from My Own Big Day

Chris and I received an early Christmas present last week: our wedding video arrived!

Produced by Wesley Rose and set to the song “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit and Jess Glynn, the video captures all the highlights of our big day from last April.

The bride in me was delighted at how well Wesley captured the spirit of the day; the business owner in me was delighted at how well the video showed off Stevenson Ridge.

Chris and I got married out in the woods near our historic earthworks, and we had our reception in the Riddick House. Also featured in the video is the upstairs of the Riddick House, where I got ready, and the Adrian Cabin, where Chris and his groomsmen got ready.

For anyone considering a wedding video, it’s certainly a wonderful way to remember the big day. And while I get to work with a whole host of wonderful vendors who do all sorts of great work for our brides at Stevenson Ridge, I’ll always have an especially good word to say about the videography of Wesley Rose. Check out more of his great work here.