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Jen & Michael

Jen & Michael just celebrated their 20th anniversary, and we wanted to catch up with them and share their wonderful wedding memories. Read more about their wedding story below!

When was your Fearrington wedding?
August 2, 1997 – we just celebrated our 20 year anniversary!

Why did you choose Fearrington to host your wedding?
From the moment we got engaged, we knew we wanted to have our wedding at Fearrington – it checked every box on our wedding venue wish list: causal, rustic, beautiful, non-traditional, outdoor, upscale, off-the-beaten-path, elegant, unique, and memorable. We didn’t look anywhere else – Jen grew up in Chapel Hill, and Fearrington felt perfect to both of us.

What do you remember most about your wedding day?
We have so many special memories! Some favorites include:

  • The bridesmaids peeking through the Inn room windows before the ceremony, excitedly giving guest “arrival reports.”
  • Watching our guests release hundreds of Painted Lady butterflies during the ceremony.
  • Our musicians (who had been playing lovely chamber music during the ceremony) transitioning perfectly into a Dixieland jazz band afterwards! They led our guests throughout and among the gorgeous gardens and to a cocktail hour in front of the barn, with “When the Saints Go Marching In.” It was perfect for kicking off the reception with a huge celebratory feel!
  • Michael accidentally stepping on the bottom of Jen’s tulle dress during our first dance, pulling a big piece of tulle loose that was dragging the floor – we determined that the only way to remedy it was to CUT it off! Seeing Gilda’s face when we asked her for scissors to cut up the wedding dress was priceless!
  • The gorgeous weather (especially for an outdoor August wedding!) and incredible sunset, complemented by the adorable Beltie cows happily grazing nearby.
  • Our guests’ reactions to coming to Fearrington for the first time – they fell in love with everything about it. We heard a lot of “I didn’t know a barn could be so beautiful!” that day!
  • Getting showered with rose petals as we ran down the barn aisle after the reception, to the DJ playing James Taylor’s “Copperline.”
  • Sitting on the balcony of our Honeymoon Suite, overlooking the site of our ceremony, and reminiscing about the incredible day.

How often do you return to Fearrington?
Fearrington is a regular destination for us – we live in Chapel Hill so we’re lucky that we can come back and visit whenever we like. From Jen’s monthly coffee dates at The Goat with one of her bridesmaids, to finding treasures at the Fearrington Folk Art show, to checking out the farmer’s market and walking trails, to ‘Oreo’ cow/goat/chicken and bookstore visits with our daughters, it’s not hard to find an “excuse” to head to Fearrington! It’s also the perfect place to take out of town guests, and we have occasionally indulged in spa treatments, dinners, and afternoon tea. We love staying at The Inn for special birthdays and of course, anniversaries!

Why has Fearrington remained a special place for you and your spouse?
Fearrington is truly our happy place – it holds so many wonderful and treasured memories, and we love being able to envision our wedding day each time we go back. It means a lot to us to bring our daughters (17 and 5) there and share the Fearrington love with them. At times it seems like they know our wedding “lore” so well, they can almost imagine attending it! The fact that Fearrington is a village, with so much life and so many things to do, makes it a fun and special destination – we are always interested to see the impressive evolution and progress of the grounds, barn, Inn rooms and décor, neighborhoods, and more.

Looking back on your wedding, what advice would you give wedding couples today?

  • As much as you can, try to live in the moment and truly enjoy your day – the cliché that it will be over in the blink of an eye is true!
  • Think positively – visualize what could go right instead of what could go wrong.
  • Be flexible if things don’t go as planned . . . there may be a silver lining! We experienced this firsthand, when a line supplying all the power to downtown Chapel Hill was cut an hour before our rehearsal dinner at La Residence, leaving us without a rehearsal dinner locale at the last minute! Fearrington came to the rescue and provided a delicious seated dinner for 50 at The Granary, turning a potentially stressful evening into yet another incredible Fearrington experience. Talk about memorable!

This wedding was designed and coordinated by Fearrington’s own Gilda McDaniel. Photography by Marthanna Yater.