Tuesday, January 01, 2013


College sweethearts returned to Smith Mountain Lake for a romantic lakeside wedding

For many years, true love was waiting just across Smith Mountain Lake for Jessica Bohn and Keith Bishop. But the couple had to venture to the New River Valley to find it.

Jessica Bohn grew up in the Moneta area of Bedford County, never missing a Fourth-of-July fireworks celebration at nearby Parkway Marina. Keith Bishop spent his youth in the Pittsylvania County town of Chatham, about 30 miles away. Though they were not far from one another in childhood, the two were strangers until college.

“I attended Radford University and lived in Blacksburg while Keith was in college at Virginia Tech. Mutual friends of ours introduced us in 2008. We hit it off and became college sweethearts,” said Jessica, who now works as assistant director of admissions at Chatham Hall, an all-girls boarding school in Chatham.

“I was drawn to her outgoing personality, kindness and attractiveness. We were a perfect match,” said Keith, superintendent of a construction company in Chatham.

Keith proposed on a rainy day in September 2011 on a beach in North Carolina. A year later, the two wed in a rustic and personalized wedding at one of Jessica’s favorite lake locations, Parkway Marina in Huddleston.
“It was a special place because I grew up just two miles from there and, from the spot we were mar-ried, you can see part of Pittsylvania County across the water,” said Jessica. “We were able to incorporate both our homes into the wedding that way.”

The couple took advantage of the location’s sprawling five-acre peninsula, inviting 500 guests – 385 attended – and using the space to create an atmosphere suited to the bride’s rustic taste.

“It was definitely a do-it-yourself wedding,” said Jessica. “My mom and I were able to get all the resources locally. We decorated with a mantle, barrels, chalkboards and primitive centerpieces from Olde Mill Primitives in Goodview. We used pavilion ferns from Smith Mountain Lake Flowers and baby’s breath from the Kroger in Westlake. I bought old books from the Moneta library for the centerpieces, and the Common Ground Bluegrass Band, also from Moneta, played during the ceremony.”

Firepits for making s’mores, hay bales for seating, an antique dresser used as a photo prop and a simple bride-and-groom seating set added to the home-spun vision.
The days surrounding the Bishop wedding were prime opportunities for guests to take advantage of lake amenities. Some of those who lived at SML traveled to the event by boat. The ones from farther away shopped and dined locally and enjoyed nearby attractions.

“Keith’s dad and stepmom turned our wedding weekend into a vacation by renting a home on the water. All of our out-of-town guests stayed at Mariners Landing Resort, and many of our guests ate at local restaurants. Keith and his groomsmen ate breakfast at the Mayberry Diner and golfed at Mariners Landing the morning of the wedding,” said Jessica, adding that guests were impressed with the elaborate design of the wedding, as well as Smith Mountain Lake itself.

“Many people commented on how detailed the wedding was but would always add in, ‘And the lake, how much more perfect can you get?’” she said.
After celebrating their dream wedding, the couple spent their wedding night at Mariners Landing before heading to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina for their honeymoon. Both bride and groom said they were overjoyed with how their big day turned out.

“I really enjoyed everything about the wedding, from the bluegrass at the ceremony to all of the dec-orations,” said Keith. “It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it. The best day of my life.”

Jessica added, “Smith Mountain Lake was a special place to us already, so being able to add even more memories to this place gave us such a good feeling. From now on, every summer we pass Parkway Marina by boat, we will never forget … how beautiful the setting of our wedding was on a late-summer evening at Smith Mountain Lake.”