Danielle Covatta & Nick Riva

June 17, 2017  • Bowman’s Folly, Accomack

“I had always thought it would be so nice to get married at home.” – Danielle, Bride

It was a warm June day in 2016, and Danielle Covatta and her then-boyfriend Nick Riva were at her family’s home, Bowman’s Folly, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The couple,who was living in New York City, had cometo in Virginia for a bridal shower Danielle and her mother and sister were hosting for one of Danielle’s childhood friends. 

After the shower guests departed, Nick invited Danielle down to the dock of the historic Federal-style home with a bottle of Champagne and two glasses in hand, telling her he wanted to toast the fourth anniversary of their first date.

“Perhaps this gesture should have tipped me off,” says Danielle. “But with all of the preparations and talk of my friend’s upcoming wedding, a marriage proposal was as far from my mind as possible.” Despite Nick’s declaration to Danielle years earlier that anyone who proposes on a dock is tempting fate since the ring could so easily slip into the water, that was his plan. First, though, there was that bottle of Champagne to be opened. While Danielle’s mother and sister watched through binoculars from the house, the couple left the dock in search of something to pry open the stubborn cork. A knife retrieved from the boathouse did the trick, and just minutes later, the bottle was opened and Danielle had said an enthusiastic yes to Nick’s proposal. Just one day shy of a year later, the couple, who had started out as friends and boarding school classmates in New Hampshire and then had gone separate ways while both attended college and then graduate school, was married in a celebration steeped in Eastern Shore tradition.

“I had always thought it would be so nice to get married at home,” Danielle explains. The ceremony was held outdoors facing the front of the house. Danielle and her mother, an accomplished gardener who owns a local wholesale plant nursery, spent the year cultivating hydrangeas, gardenia bushes and tree roses for the ceremony and reception decorations, designing the ceremony and tented reception space décor to highlight the natural beauty of the gardens at Bowman’s Folly. 

The couple says a favorite moment was after their exchange of vows when they greeted their more than 200 guests in a receiving line through the home’s formal entryway. Guests were then invited to wander down to the dock on Folly Creek to admire the view before returning to the garden for passed appetizers and Aperol Spritzes.

A professional museum exhibit designer, Danielle created all of the paper designs herself, including a hand-painted map of the Eastern Shore for their save-the-date cards and the velvet cover of their guestbook embossed with a crest featuring a magnolia, a nod to a 300-year-old tree on the property. 

“I always tell couples to plan buffer time throughout the day so they can sit and laugh with their family and friends.” 

–Sarah Culver, Photographer

The couple took every opportunity to infuse their wedding with the area’s unique culture, from the rehearsal dinner held at Ker Place, the home of the Eastern Shore Historical Society, and a welcome party for guests set at a wharf-side restaurant in the nearby town of Onancock to the papier-mâché cake topper of the couple and their beloved English springer spaniel made by local folk artist Mama Girl. Favor bags included sweet potato biscuits, an Eastern Shore specialty.

With so many of the wedding weekend celebrations set outside, Danielle says the fear of rain was her biggest source of stress: “The forecast was changing up until the last hour before the ceremony.” Fortunately, a steady rain gave way to a clear evening for the wedding. “We had a stunning sunset,” Danielle says. The newlyweds enjoyed it overlooking the water from the same dock where it all began with a simple question a year earlier.

Photographer: Sarah Culver, Annapolis, MD, SarahCulver.com
Videographer: Brian Morrison, Crofton, MD, WoodRoomWeddings.com
Wedding Planner: Fine Events by Deborah Wayland, DWFineEvents.com
Wedding Gown: Alexandra Grecco, New York, NY, LovelyBride.com
Catering: Sweetwater Cuisine, SweetwaterCuisine.com
Flowers: Angela Benton, Parksley (Reception) and Cynthia Downing, Onancock (Ceremony)
Rentals and Lighting: Eastern Shore Events and Rentals, Exmore, EasternShoreEventsAndRentals.com

For a complete list of Danielle and Nick’s vendors, and for inspiration for planning your own big day, be sure to check out our 2018 Virginia Living Weddings issue.

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