Dover Hall Revisited

Manakin-Sabot estate becomes new event venue

Jamie Hayes

Jennifer McBride

Given her last name, it’s perhaps inevitable that Jennifer McBride would claim a career in the wedding industry. The owner of Richmond-based McBride Events, which she began in 2001, has a portfolio that includes elaborate affairs as well as speaking gigs and showcases at national trade conferences. Last fall, she added something new to her business: staging parties in Dover Hall, a venue unlike any other in Virginia.

“About two years ago,” explains McBride, 38, “I really felt there was room for another facility” in the area between Short Pump and Charlottesville. Though she looked at “every square inch of field, barn, whatever,” nothing was hitting the mark, until she visited Dover Hall, a 33,000-square-foot private estate set on 55 acres of rolling hills in Manakin-Sabot, which was then for sale (the property was listed at varying prices, at one point topping nearly $12 million).

Fast forward to a few years later, when she met with owner, Dennis Pryor, a business plan in hand. “There were quite a few hoops to jump through, but when all is said and done, truly it’s a win-win,” she says of the resulting agreement to partner with Pryor and his wife Cindy to open the home, built in 1999, for events.

McBride says they want it to be a place “where you can feel like it’s your country estate for a day or a weekend.”

Winter brides might marry in front of the ballroom fireplace. Summer brides might choose a trellised backdrop on the lawn or the pool area or the coolly ornate interior. With 10 bedrooms and a dining room that seats two dozen guests, the manor can be a destination package that’s “refined and glamorous, with mystique,” she says, for a small group or hundreds of guests.

“I want to throw back to the service standards of long ago,” she explains. To a time when a host “thought of all the details to make guests as comfortable as possible.” DoverHallEstate.com

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