September 28, 2022

Rachel & Dom

Swannanoa Palace Engagement Session | Afton, Virginia

Rachel and Dom’s engagement session felt like stepping into another world. Located in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains, Swannanoa Palace provided the perfect backdrop for this session with amazing architecture, stunning grounds and mountain views.

Swannanoa Palace was built in 1912 by Major James Dooley, an executive with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company, for his wife, Sallie May Dooley. Dooley, who owned the Maymont estate in Richmond, built this 52-room, 23, 000 square foot marble mansion as a token of love for his wife. The exterior is white Georgian marble from the US while all the interior is Italian imported marble. More than 300 artisans were hired to create the palace as a replica of the Villa de Medici in Rome. The Tiffany stained glass window at the top of the grand staircase is of Sallie May, his wife, and is the largest Tiffany found in any private home in America. Today the property is operated as a private venue only available to visit by private booking or ticketed events.


Rachel and Dom met at JMU their sophomore year. Rachel’s group of friends had met Dom and they all went out together one night. Dom and Rachel spent the whole night talking. He asked her out on their first date the next morning.


Dom was helping Rachel at an exhibition change at work. He was on edge because he found out a bunch of people at work got COVID (all were exposed right after he left to stay with her for a few days). To calm down, they took a walk on the Quad where he proposed.

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