~ The following first appeared in The Floyd Press on August 9, 2012.
At 3:00 on Saturday, at Floydfest’s Virginia Folklife Porch, staffers set the stage for the wedding of Drew White and Jessica Smotrel, the first couple to take advantage of the music festival’s inaugural VIP wedding package.
Friends and family of the couple, along with festival-attendees who were drawn in, gathered on porch benches as a grapevine archway was adorned with flowers. The ceremony took place in between featured acoustic sets (July 28th) and was performed by Floyd Countian Kim Kessler, a festival hospitality staffer and licensed Virginia wedding officiate. It was the first official wedding at Floydfest and fitting for festival’s 11th year Lovers Rock theme.
Floyd mandolinist Abe Goorskey and guitarist Phil Gabathuler, both friends of the couple, provided music while the stage was being prepared. They continued to play as the wedding party made their way down the dirt pathway between the seating.
The bride was moved to tears, and sometimes laughter, throughout the ceremony. Kessler addressed the guests and spoke directly to the bride and groom, “May your hearts always be open to one another. May your love be a sanctuary for one another and for all that you hold sacred.” The couple embraced and the crowd cheered as Kessler proclaimed them “One life, one heart and one path.”
Following the service, the newlyweds were whisked by golf cart to the reception, held in a section of the Beer Garden around a group of picnic tables. Also included in the VIP wedding package, according to the festival webpage, were catered meals, a bottle of Virginia wine and a bouquet of flowers.
“We worked directly with Erika Johnson (festival co-founder). Everybody was more than accommodating,” said newlywed Jessica White a week later. She remarked on how easy it was and how much fun it was to camp with friends over the long weekend.
“Many of our close friends go to Floydfest every year, so they were already there,” she said. Her husband Drew has been a Floydfester throughout the festival’s eleven year run, but last year was Jessica’s first time. Others, like Jessica’s parents and Drew’s mother, were attending the festival for the first time this year. “They loved it. They’ll be back!” White said.
Drew and Jessica, who are both from Lynchburg, think it will be fun to celebrate their wedding anniversary every year at Floydfest. White doesn’t care about remembering the actual date. “Every Floydfest Saturday at 3:15, that’s when we’ll be celebrating,” she said. ~ Colleen Redman