“Smithfield is a wonderfully romantic town,” said Lois Tokarz, who promotes the area. “There’s something in the air that makes couples hold hands and cuddle a bit as they stroll down Main Street. Maybe it’s the slower pace or the historic charm — whatever it is, we see it all the time!”
With such a romantic atmosphere, it’s no wonder the small, picturesque town of Smithfield has become a popular destination for weddings — especially “encore” weddings. An encore wedding is a new concept for brides who are planning their second weddings, often with their children involved.
The folks in Smithfield are helping them enjoy an unforgettable experience on a more intimate scale.
When Michelle Hotte and her husband, Michael, of Hampton Roads, Va., began planning their encore wedding, there were more questions than answers.
“Marrying on a tight budget, we didn’t know what to do — should we elope, or just marry at the house?” said Hotte. “Then, we visited Smithfield and knew instantly this was it.”
The town is the perfect combination — a unique destination location and surprisingly easy to get to from the Washington, Maryland, and Northern Virginia areas.
Visitors feel as if they’ve stepped back in time, while still enjoying diverse options and all the modern conveniences. The town takes its motto “Hams, History, Hospitality and HeART” seriously, emphasizing “Hospitality and HeART” when it comes to weddings.
The Hottes were married a few months ago at historic St. Luke’s Church.
Hotte described the experience, saying, “The staff at the church diminished my stress level, knowing what I needed at every turn. I’m pretty sure the folks at St. Luke’s even made the weather cooperate. Smithfield is definitely a special place.”
Everything needed for an affordable, unique wedding is within the boundaries of the small town of Smithfield — often within walking distance.
Lodging choices vary from elegant 18th- and 19th-century bed-and-breakfasts to the historic Smithfield Inn to modern waterfront rooms and even a lighthouse at the popular Smithfield Station where you can arrive by car or boat to enjoy your stay or just a meal.
Numerous wedding venues range from a large, modern indoor/outdoor facility to a small wedding chapel on a 100-acre farm, and, of course, St. Luke’s Church.
Local businesses meet the needs of brides and grooms, too. The Main Event features planning services. The Taste of Smithfield has country ham biscuits and specialty items for hospitality bags.
There’s even full-scale catering available.
The Smithfield and Isle of Wight Convention and Visitor Bureau believes in the romantic appeal of the town so much that it will give encore brides and grooms a personal tour of the many wedding venues available, as well as help them decide what best suits their needs.
Visitors should call ahead; the tour is free. Couples can also visit the bureau’s website and view the “Genuine Hospitality” video, which features wedding venues.
“Our wedding day could not have been more perfect!” said Hotte. “Starting with the rehearsal dinner at Anna’s Ristorante and ending with dinner and a stay at Smithfield Station, Smithfield gave this encore bride and groom fabulous wedding memories.”
Smithfield highlights food and drink for great fun this winter and spring
“Pig Out and Feel Good About It” is the motto of Smithfield’s third annual Restaurant Week, being held Jan. 30–Feb. 7. A dozen restaurants will offer daily specials, including healthy choice selections, dessert, and beverage, for lunch ($10) and dinner ($20).
The BOB Fest, on Jan. 17 at Windsor Castle Park, begins with the 8K Chilly BOB Roadrace and continues with a party featuring bloody marys, oysters, Brunswick stew, and barbecue. (smithfieldvaoysterfest.com)
On the horizon is the new Wharf Hill Brewing Company, opening in January or February and located in a historic building at the end of Main Street near the river. The Smithfield Winery will be opening in the spring and will offer wine made from grapes grown at Smithfield’s own Windsor Castle Park.
For more information:
Smithfield Tourism: visitsmithfieldisleofwight.com