Engagements, Loudoun County, Virginia Winery

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A Snowy and Romantic Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards Engagement Session

couple drinking wine at The Barns at Hamilton Station

I am SO excited to share this one with you all today!

I photographed Jenny’s sister and brother-in-law’s wedding four years ago here in Fredericksburg, and here we are, the year of Jenny and Adam’s wedding and I’m over the moon about it!

Despite that it’s now technically Spring, Jenny and Adam ended up having a snowy engagement session — but I really think that being at a beautiful Virginia winery while there was snow on the ground was really romantic. Because of the cold temps and snow, many of my sessions lately keep having to get rescheduled but Jenny and Adam were game for anything. Even though Barns at Hamilton Station Vineyards is literally TEN minutes away from my parents I had never been there before, so I was thrilled to be able to explore the venue a bit and check out the grounds of one of this awesome couple’s favorite Virginia wineries. Jenny and Adam did such a phenomenal job taking direction from me and standing around while cold wind whipped all around them and I was stoked to be able to capture this super exciting time for them. Jenny and Adam, thank you both for being so awesome!

Hope you enjoy this preview of their engagement photos and reading about their adorable story and how they first met! XX – Sara

inside of space at The Barns at Hamilton Stationupper level at The Barns at Hamilton Station

Jenny: Well…my sister had met this guy she thought I would like (who was on her husband’s rec sports team), and wanted to set me up with him.  I was reluctant, but agreed to at least go to a “casual hangout” type of dinner with them and my friend.  My friend couldn’t make it last minute, so it was basically down to me and Adam with my sister and her husband in a blind double date type of situation.  I’m skeptical of setups, but that all changed when Adam walked in.  He was attractive, confident, and hilarious.  We had great conversation that night and at the end of the meal, he boldly claimed that he knew what desserts we would like and ordered them for us: the challah french toast with whipped cream and berries and large chocolate truffles.  Those were two of the best desserts I’ve ever had, and I was impressed with his food ordering talents.  Not only were our senses of humor compatible, our tastes in food were too…what more could I want!  We’ve gone to that restaurant (Cava Mezze) every year since for our anniversary dinner.

Adam:  We met through Steve and Abby (who you’re familiar with)!  Through a mutual friend, Steve had joined my flag football team.  I then met Abby at one of our end-of-season parties (circa summer 2010) that we would throw back in our youthful days.  At the time, Jenny and I were both dating people that were not worthy of our love.  Apparently, Abby thought pretty immediately that we would be a good match, but the meeting would not come until two years later.

The plan was for the four of us to go out to eat.  I had been single for a while, but Jenny had somewhat recently broken up with her boyfriend of the time.  She was not really interested in meeting anyone, so she was planning on inviting a friend as well to meet me.  This was apparently planned weeks in advance, but naturally Steve did not tell me about it until approximately two hours before the dinner was scheduled.  I was able to put myself together and Jenny’s friend bailed, so it ended up being the four of us out to dinner at Cava in Clarendon.

As luck would have it, I had just been to Cava a few weeks prior and knew what some of the yummy stuff was to order, especially from the dessert menu.  When dessert ordering time came, I handled it and everyone (especially Jenny) was very happy with the selections.  It didn’t really feel like a double date, more just friends out to dinner, but a connection was there from the start.  Our “first date” didn’t come until a few months later, but that initial meeting at Cava is still special.  We go to Cava every year for our anniversary 🙂

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What was your first thought when you saw or interacted with him/her for the first time?

Adam: She’s pretty, a good height, and has a sense of humor.

Jenny: In all honesty, I was like “oh hello tall, dark, and handsome man”!  But what really intrigued me about Adam was his dry and sarcastic sense of humor – he made me laugh all night.  He made a sarcastic comment as we were leaving the restaurant and I can remember hunching over and laughing because I found it so funny.  I just wanted to keep talking with him and keep laughing.

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How did you start dating?

Jenny: Haha, it was a slow process.  I knew I liked him, and we kept hanging out with friends and spending a lot of time together, but after several weeks of this I started to get impatient as I really wanted him to ask me out.  Eventually one night – after my sister and her husband had enough of me complaining about it – they texted him my number.  Within minutes, Adam texted me and asked me out and the rest is history!  I’m leaving out some details here, but I suspect my sister may want to cover them in her MOH speech. 😉

Adam: We hung out a few more times with larger groups of people and I would talk about her with Steve and Jenny would talk about me with Abby, but I didn’t have Jenny’s number.  Eventually, Steve just texted me her number because I think he was sick of hearing Jenny talk about me and I sent her a text asking her out.

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What did you tell your friends or family about each other after your first date?

Adam: I don’t think I shared a ton with friends, they just eventually met her.  We started dating shortly before Halloween and the house I was living in had a massive Halloween party that Jenny was able to come to.  Some friends were able to meet her there and gave a big thumbs up.

As far as family, before dating Jenny, I had been single for a bit of time, so I think my mom was trying to set me up with a friend’s daughter-in-law’s friend, but I told them about Jenny and that I would not be needing to be set up with anyone.

Jenny: Given we had spent a good amount of time together prior to our first “official” date, I think we felt a lot of pressure to have a great date…but it actually didn’t go that well.  We went to dinner and I think I was home in a little after an hour.  I was bummed, but within a few minutes I received a text from Adam of a very cute little bunny.  It made me laugh and reminded me that one bad date doesn’t mean it’s over.  We agreed to go out again but in a more relaxed setting – just to a sports bar – where I think we were both more comfortably ourselves.  The conversation flowed much more easily.  That was a great date.

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When did you know that your partner was the one?

Jenny: This may sound strange but I was on a flight to India for work and Adam and I had a disagreement before I left (about what I don’t remember).  This is a LONG flight, so I had a lot of time to reflect on our relationship.  I tend to write when I’m conflicted, so I started writing.  By the end of that process, instead of being upset about our disagreement I discovered how much I loved him and that I wanted Adam to be a part of the rest of my life.  It was a really profound moment.  I didn’t come home and tell him that, but I knew with confidence that when he eventually proposed I was ready to say yes.

Adam: I don’t think I have a great answer for this one.  I think I thought we’d end up together somewhat early in our relationship, but I’m not sure there was a lightbulb moment.

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How did the proposal happen?

Jenny: I had no idea it was happening.  Yes we were in Paris and it was obvious to everyone else that it was going to happen, but Adam gave away no clues to me.  Instead, it just felt like a typical night for us – we had dinner at a cute French cafe and then we were walking around the city.  I was in awe of Paris and wanted to explore more, but Adam kept pushing me to go back to this quiet square we previously walked through with a water fountain.  Adam often writes me poems, so I didn’t even think too much of it when he started reading me one.  But as soon as his poem mentioned the first night he met me and he moved off the bench onto one knee, I FINALLY realized what was happening.  I was so excited/nervous/energized that I barely remember the rest of the moment – I think I grabbed the ring before I said yes so I had to hand it back and let him finish.  I later learned that when we were walking around earlier that day, Adam was scoping out spots to propose – particularly a quiet one where no one could see us, as I told him that was important to me.  I love that he prioritized that.

Adam:  The proposal was a few months in the making.  The wheels were first set in motion when I went to Abby and Steve’s apartment to deliver some Girl Scout Cookies they ordered through my work.  This is sometime in February 2017.  While there, I told them that I was planning on proposing and asked Abby if she could help coordinate a dinner with her parents so I could officially ask for permission to marry Jenny.  Abby did an excellent job scheduling the dinner (didn’t tell her parents that I was coming or what it was for) and we headed down to Fredericksburg on March 10, 2017.  We got there a bit early, so we went to a few jewelry stores at Spotsylvania Mall to start looking at rings.  We then headed to Firebird’s for dinner with the parents.  They were quite surprised to see me and Jenny’s mom was very excited about the bouquet of flowers that I brought her.  Before the meal started, I was able to ask the big question (they said yes) and everyone was very excited!  I told them about some potential engagement spots: Jenny has always loved Central Park and we might be heading to NYC in a couple months and Jenny also had a work trip planned for Paris in early May.  All agreed that Paris was an excellent idea.  On the way home after dinner, I was able to call my parents and tell them the exciting news.

A couple weeks later, Jenny and I were out to brunch.  She had always wanted me to come on the Paris trip, but at this point, I hadn’t committed to going.  I “reluctantly” said I would go, knowing that bigger things were in store.

Over the course of the next couple months, I was able to learn all about engagement rings!  I stopped by a shop near my work in DC and went to some places closer to our apartment in Arlington.  I always kept Abby in the loop with designs that I thought were good as we both had a basic idea of what Jenny would like.  Eventually, I got an appointment at Ascot Diamonds in Ballston.  The first time I went was just a thorough tutorial on all things engagement rings/diamonds and I was able to look at some rings.  I knew that this was the place I would be purchasing the ring.  The next time I went, Abby came with me and we were able to customize the ring and pick out the diamond.  I thought the ring would be ready well before we took off to Paris, but it was only ready the day before we took off.  Abby and I went to the shop to pick it up on May 10th and were both thrilled with how it looked.  Jenny and I had dinner plans with friends that evening, so I had the ring in a bag at dinner that I made sure not to open at any point.

We took off for Paris on Thursday May 11th.  We weren’t sitting next to each other on the flight and I used the opportunity to write my poem/proposal.  I have always written poems for birthday/anniversary cards, so I thought it would be a fitting way to propose.  We arrived on Friday morning, around 8 a.m. local time.  As our room was not expected to be ready until much later, we wandered around the area (we were staying near the Louvre), both delirious from lack of sleep.  After some obligatory croissants at local cafes, we returned to our hotel anxious to snooze.  I think the hotel staff was encouraged to get our room ready as I passed out on the couch in the lounge for about an hour upon arrival.  Eventually, we were able to get up to our room and get some much-needed sleep.

After feeling slightly refreshed, we went off to dinner at a nearby restaurant, stopping by a local market afterward to pick up some snacks and champagne (thankfully Jenny did not think anything of this).  My plan to drop off the food and pick up the ring was thwarted as Jenny came up to the room to use the bathroom.  Thankfully, I was still able to stuff the ring in my pocket without her noticing.

We ventured out to the city hoping to walk through the beautiful gardens near our hotel.  They were closed.  Onward toward the Royal Palace!  We walked through the picturesque square and I spotted the perfect bench to recite my poem/proposal.  Jenny was in no mood for sitting at this time, so we left the square and headed towards the Seine, catching a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.  After some encouragement, we went to head back to the Royal Palace square, only to be greeted by guards locking it up and telling us it was closed.  Undeterred, we were able to walk around to a not-yet-locked gate (it’s a big area) and sit on a bench.

I was able to get through the proposal.  Jenny blacked out about halfway through as she realized what was happening, but did say yes!  We returned to the hotel for some celebratory champagne and to call our immediate families, who did a great job keeping a secret.

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What quality/qualities do you love most about your partner?

Jenny: Physically, I love Adam’s broad shoulders and the great big hugs he gives with them.  But more than that, I love that Adam is a big softie on the inside.  He cares deeply about me, his friends, and his family.  Even if he doesn’t always express it with his words, he does with his actions.  When I told him I was cold in his house, the next time I came over he had bought me fleece pants with penguins on them, my favorite animal.  When we went away to a B&B for a weekend Adam surprised me with a detour to some Virginia vineyards (hence our desire to have our engagement photo session at a vineyard).  Adam does little thoughtful things like this all the time, he’s wonderful like that.  I love how smart he is and am hopeful he’ll get on Jeopardy one of these days.  But what I probably love most about Adam is that he grounds me and helps me keep life in perspective.  I can go a million miles a minute and quickly stress myself out, Adam is calm and steady and helps me slow down and relax.  He always has a huge smile and is genuinely happy to see me after work, it’s one of my favorite moments of the day.

Adam: Her kindness, her sense of humor, and she gives great hugs!

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What are some of your partner’s quirks that you love or appreciate?

Jenny: I love when Adam and I act like goofy little kids together.  He’s often doing something silly…like randomly yelling “the floor is lava!” and picking me up.  Adam is always one for a corny dad joke – but I’m kinda sucker for dad jokes too so they generally make me laugh.  I often get on Adam about his “negative tone”…so he’ll say something really blunt and then he’ll look at me and be like “too harsh?” Sometimes it is, but other times I find this so endearing that I can’t help but laugh…as his intent is just to be honest.  Probably my favorite quirk of Adam’s is his love for looking at photos and videos of cute animals.  More than half of his Instagram feed is dogs and he scrolls through them every night.  He melts when he sees pictures of Samoyeds “smiling”, and will physically slow down our car to look at a cute dog out the window.  We really need a dog…

Adam: I think she’s adorable when she gets a little upset.

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What moment of your wedding day are you most anticipating?

Adam: Seeing Jenny in all her bride glory, being around a ton of people that came together just for us, and eating all the delicious food!

Jenny: The ice cream bar!!!  Just kidding. 🙂  Probably the first look.  It’s hard during all the wedding planning to step back and realize that we’re going to be husband and wife (such big words!).  I tend not to grasp something until I’m in the moment, so I think it will all hit me during that first look when I see him in his suit for the first time and he sees me in my dress for the first time.  I’m looking forward to that.

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