Tips for brides and grooms hosting a Picture-Perfect Wedding at River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia

Location, location, location! This adage applies to more than real estate. In fact, choosing a venue for your wedding is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during the planning process. As soon as your guests walk into your wedding venue, they’ll experience the specific style and visual vibe of your wedding.

That’s why we’re writing these blog posts for you! In this series, trusted experts will share tips for hosting a picture-perfect wedding at unique venues around the Washington, DC area. From monumental properties like Hotel Monaco in Washington, DC to countryside destinations like River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia, we’ve got you covered.

In this first post, we’ll share tips for brides and grooms who are hosting their wedding at River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia. There are also plenty of photos included to help you visualize your own wedding!


Tip One: Check out these hidden gems for your portraits.

Even in the most popular wedding venues, there are off-the-beaten path spots for lovely portraits. These unique places create the perfect backdrop for portraits of brides and grooms, or even family groups. After many years of photographing weddings at River Farm, we’ve discovered ideal locations for portraits. Here are just a few favorites:

The Andre Bluemel Meadow: A four-acre part of the property filled with native grasses and wildflowers, portraits here can make you feel like you are miles away from anyone else. When planning your wedding, be sure to check out the River Farm's guide to bloom times to see what will be flowering in the meadow during your event. But since the meadow is ever-changing with the seasons, there is always something beautiful blooming. River Farm wedding photography River Farm wedding photography

The Garden Calm: A beautiful shady spot on the property that features a massive, 200 year old Osage-orange tree. It's simply spectacular and adds a wonderful natural element to photographs. Additionally, the tree's lovely limbs create beautiful, dappled light that is a perfect backdrop for photographs at any time of day. Be sure to check out this unique spot!

River Farm wedding photographyPicture-Perfect Wedding at River Farm

Down by the River: You'll be thankful if you carve out about 20 minutes in your wedding day schedule to walk to the riverbank in the evening around sunset. As we've mentioned in previous posts as the "golden hour," this time of day is perfectly flattering for portraits and photos of groups. The light will be soft and glowing, and you'll be able to get fantastic portraits with a gorgeous backdrop. River Farm wedding portrait

An added bonus: in this area of the property, the light at this time will be pretty from both sides! So you'll get great photos with the light falling on you and the river behind you, or even facing away from the river and standing on the bank with the light behind you. 

River Farm wedding photography

Inside the reception room of the Estate House: While not a time for formal portraits, you are still going to want some amazing shots of your first dance, and we recommend doing this indoors, rather than under the tent on the patio. The reception room at River Farm is lined with windows that provide beautiful, natural light that most ballrooms don't usually have. It's a special setting, so use the ambient light to your advantage! The downside to the outdoor tent is the bright "Exit" signs that must be displayed for safety, but stick out like a sore thumb and create a distraction in your photographs. So go for a first dance inside the reception room. Your guests will never forget it!

River Farm wedding photography

River Farm wedding reception River Farm wedding reception

Tip Two: Light up the room!

Lighting is one of the most critical elements of your wedding. Whether it’s warm candle light or colorful dance-floor illumination, lighting helps dictate the vibe of your wedding. Are you hoping for a classically elegant evening or a rustic, family-friendly feel? Either way, lighting sets the tone for the entire event. Your guests will notice lighting as soon as they walk into your reception, so choose carefully.

You don't have to go overboard with lighting or do anything super fancy – even simple colored lights can transform your reception and let everyone know it's time to show off those dance moves! 

River Farm wedding photography

The tent provided by River Farm with your rental includes fairy lights to light up the night while guests are dining and dancing. The twinkling lighting shows up nicely in photographs and adding just a few supplemental lights can really spice up the dance floor!

"We like to keep it simple at River Farm when it comes to lighting. If we were to add anything it would be a liner for the tent to make it look more polished and finished. We like to use lanterns or chandeliers hanging from the tent to dress up the space." -Pam Barefoot, Atrendy Wedding

Picture-Perfect Wedding at River FarmRiver Farm wedding reception

Tip Three: Don't be afraid to get a little dirty!

One of the many advantages of a lovely venue like River Farm is having access to acres of outdoor space and endless opportunities to create gorgeous images. From the giant Osage-orange tree, to the rolling meadows and fields, to the Potomac River bank, River Farm is full of spots to create unforgettable portraits. But you have to be willing to go for it. What do we mean by that? Well, simply said, you've got to be willing to walk around and get a little dirty (just a little). Trust us, it will be so worth it! So ditch those stiletto heels, slip on comfy shoes or sandals and hike down to the river, and wander into the meadow to be surrounded by wildflowers. Fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty that's all around you. Looking back on your incredible wedding photos, you'll be glad you ventured outdoors!

River Farm wedding photography

Love Life Images

Love Life Images

Those are just a few favorite tips for getting great photographs at River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia. During the next few posts in this series, we'll share more ideas for couples getting married at various venues around Washington, DC, Baltimore and Virginia. So stay tuned for beautiful photo ideas for your own wedding.