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College Sweethearts Tie The Knot in Charlottesville—The Place Where They First Fell in Love

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Isaac Alongi

College sweethearts Ali Hebenstreit and Hunter Armistead first met on a double date their freshman year at University of Virginia—except not with each other. “We had both gone as friends, but after that introduction there were lots and lots of laughs,” Ali explains. “During a group spring break trip to Jamaica, Hunter said he knew I was the one. And a few dates later, I knew the same.”

The young couple dated for seven years and throughout that time frequently traveled around the world together. During a trip to Tuscany, the two were taking a sunset stroll through the Borgo Santo Pietro’s expansive gardens, when, surrounded by pink rose bushes and columns of Italian cypress trees, Hunter got down on one knee and asked Ali to marry him. “It was the most magical moment of my life,” she says. “With the biggest smile on my face, I said ‘Yes!’”

When looking for the perfect location for their wedding, the newly engaged couple wanted a place representative of both of them and immediately thought of their college town of Charlottesville. “What better place than the town where we met and fell in love?” she says. Together with Donovan-Grove Events, the couple ended up creating a romantic reception tent, with drapery and a clear-top roof, so that guests could feel like they were dancing beneath the stars. “It was everything I hoped it would be,” she adds.

For her dress, the bride chose a strapless lace dress by Carolina Herrera with a very delicate scallop detail at the bust, and wore a dramatic cathedral length veil with matching lace for the ceremony. “I removed it just in time for cake cutting!” Ali says, who later replaced it with delicate white dendrobium blooms pinned in her hair. She topped off her accessories with diamond chandelier drop earrings that her father gifted her on her wedding day.

Meanwhile her bridesmaids wore Amsale floor-length chiffon gowns in mint. Ali let her bridesmaids pick the cut of the dress, choosing between two different styles, and had her two sisters (both maids of honor) stand out as the only two attendants in strapless dresses.

When the fall wedding date finally arrived, the weather was perfect and sunny. “I’ve never felt so excited to see friends, family, and especially, Hunter,” Ali remembers. “My youngest sister Laura was sobbing so sweetly during the ceremony she had the rest of us laughing.” The couple was married by a close family friend, and after they were pronounced husband and wife, Marcus Hammond, another family friend, performed his Grammy-winning song, “Bless the Broken Road” for the new Mr. And Mrs. Armistead.

From there, guests went inside the tent to enjoy a seated dinner, which included toasts from the father of the bride and the groom’s best man. Later on, Ali’s new father-in-law and his friends surprised her with a song they had composed and written about her. “My husband even got involved in the surprise singing,” she says. “The performance was such a hit that they kindly obliged the crowd’s request to play it again at our reception. It was wonderful, unique, and absolutely unforgettable!”

For their first dance, the newlyweds chose a classic: Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me.” And later on, guests joined them on the dance floor as live music by a 17-person band called the Starlight Orchestra played all night. “They seamlessly moved from a lovely rendition of a Sinatra ballad to lively current pop hits to rap—the band brought it all with performances in every genre.” Ali recalls. “They had the dance floor packed from before the seated dinner up until the very end!” Just what every couple wants for their big day.