Real Wedding

Chris & Aaron’s Intimate Clifton Inn Dinner Party Wedding

clifton inn lgbt wedding
clifton inn charlottesville virginia

Feb. 21, 2015

Aaron and Chris met in Syracuse, New York, where Chris grew up and worked as a consultant. Aaron was a law student new to the area when he sent Chris an “adorable and unsuspecting” email via a dating site, according to the couple.  After exchanging a few emails, the two decided to meet for dinner, and Chris offered to show Aaron around town.

Chris thought he was simply playing tour guide, but Aaron believed he’d just been on an amazing first date. It took a little convincing to get Chris on a second date, but he eventually agreed and the rest is history.


Aaron and Chris wed at the renowned Clifton Inn, a restaurant and upscale hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia. Both grooms share a love for discovering new restaurants and for wine and craft cocktails, so their nuptials incorporated those aspects. With a trim guest list of 60, the couple created an intimate, dinner party feel for their wedding. 

It wasn’t long after meeting that Aaron and Chris knew they would be life partners. Chris said he knew Aaron was “the one” after he was invited to a bowling party with Aaron’s law school friends. It was a seemingly small moment, but Chris realized that Aaron was fretting over whether Chris would have fun and be happy to go with him.

“I realized then, more than ever, that this was someone who was thoughtful and who really cared about me and my happiness,” he told GayWeddings.

For Aaron, it wasn’t one moment, but more realizing how much he admired Chris. “Chris pushes me to be the best person I can be. He encourages me and never lets me settle,” said Aaron, “and so many more things!”

clifton inn lgbt wedding aaron chris

After a decade together, Aaron and Chris mutually decided to tie the knot after bidding on an event package at Human Rights Campaign’s Chefs for Equality fundraiser in 2014. The auction item was a 50-person cocktail party at Clifton Inn. After winning the auction and talking with the Clifton Inn’s wedding coordinator, Aaron and Chris knew that the historic spot would be the perfect location for their winter wedding.    

The best part about wedding planning was setting the vision for the night, which was to host a dinner party for 60 of Chris and Aaron’s closest friends and family.  Whether sharing stories by the Clifton Inn’s roaring stone fireplace or laughing with friends over their favorite cocktail (the classic Old Fashioned), Aaron and Chris’s goal was to invite their guests to share in an experience that brings them joy and contentment: fresh local food, strong cocktails and a warm fire.  

The focus of the wedding reception was a beautiful five-course dinner featuring seasonal and local ingredients and signature cocktails designed by James Beard Award-nominated mixologist Derek Brown and JP Fetherston—friends of Aaron and Chris’ from Washington, DC.  

Wedding guests were given gift bags containing a deconstructed Old Fashioned – a 4oz. bottle of Catoctin Creek rye whiskey, a mini bottle of Hella Bitters, an orange, sugar cubes and an instruction card. 

Chris and Aaron’s favorite moment of their wedding day was enjoying alone time before the ceremony. It was a cold, snowy Virginia day and the two both recalled finding peace and solace in their cabin together.  

“We were able to enjoy some time alone in this serene and surreal setting, and it still strikes me as a peaceful moment where I felt closer to Chris and truly relaxed and content,” Aaron remembered. 

Their LGBTQ-Friendly Vendors

Photographer: Roger Hammons Photography//Venue and Catering: The Clifton Inn//Wedding Planner and Florist: Amore Events by Cody//Officiant: Rev. Claire Goodman of Sacred Ground Ceremonies//Cake: Buttercream Bakeshop

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