When Jenna Dagenhart and David Stolldorf’s wedding reception at Mount Ida Farm in Charlottesville ended Saturday night, the newlyweds and their guests piled into buses bound for the Corner for more revelry. By the time they arrived at the popular strip of bars and restaurants near the University of Virginia’s campus, a party already was underway, after students and alumni had poured into the streets to celebrate the Cavaliers’ first Final Four berth in 35 years.
Not be upstaged on her wedding day, Dagenhart, a 2013 U-Va. graduate, went crowd-surfing above the delirious throngs outside of Boylan Heights bar at the corner of Main and 14th streets — not once but twice.
“There was so much energy, so much cheering, so much celebration that we had to be part of it,” Stolldorf, who graduated from U-Va. in 2007, said in a phone interview this week. “The atmosphere was right, and the lightning bolt of opportunity struck, and Jenna seemed excited about it, so some nice guys helped me get her up. Everyone supported her well. She seemed safe.”
Revelers shouted “Wahoowa” and sang “The Good Old Song” as Dagenhart, who first met Stolldorf at a wedding in Richmond almost four years ago, was passed above the crowd. Stolldorf remained close, yelling, “Don’t drop her. That’s my bride!” Annie McDonough, the maid of honor, emerged from the bus a few minutes later, saw Dagenhart’s veil bobbing up and down in the crowd and decided it was the ideal time for the bouquet toss.
“There was this incredibly infectious excitement and energy,” said McDonough, who passed the flower arrangement to the bride.
Around the time he watched his wife toss the bouquet, which ended up in the hands of Virginia soccer player Simeon Okoro, Stolldorf had second thoughts about the whole enterprise.
“I panicked, like, ‘I just turned my new bride over to a mob,’ ” he said. “But I was able to chase her through the crowd, and she reclaimed her bouquet. One of the best parts was just seeing the expressions on so many students’ faces. Camera flashes started going off everywhere. It was electric, unlike anything I’d ever experienced on the Corner when I was an undergrad. It just felt so good, and I think it’s something people will be talking about for a long time."
Virginia fans won’t soon stop talking about the improbable play at the end of regulation that made Saturday’s impromptu celebration possible. With five seconds remaining and the Cavaliers trailing Purdue by three points, Virginia’s Ty Jerome made the first of two free throws. Jerome missed the second, but Mamadi Diakite tipped the loose ball into the backcourt, where freshman guard Kihei Clark tracked it down. Clark took a couple of dribbles and whipped a pass ahead to Diakite, whose short floater as the buzzer sounded tied the score.
“After our wedding reception I ran back into the venue to grab my purse and as I walked out to the buses, I saw each erupt in cheers about 10 seconds apart,” Dagenhart wrote on Facebook. “It was the shot that sent us into overtime.”
Dagenhart and Stolldorf had realized shortly after the NCAA tournament’s first-round matchups were announced that their beloved alma mater could be playing for a spot in the Final Four on their wedding day. Stolldorf told guests who asked that he would look into having a television set up in the reception venue, but he made no promises.
“I also said, ‘Let’s not hold our breath; U-Va. has to win some games first,’ ” said Stolldorf, who attended Virginia’s historic first-round loss to No. 16 seed Maryland Baltimore County in Charlotte last year with Dagenhart and her brother, James.
Without a TV, several of the dozens of Virginia alumni at the reception resorted to following the game on their phones before the DJ, Jason Guyton, offered up his laptop.
On the half-hour bus ride from Mount Ida Farm to the Corner, Dagenhart, Stolldorf and Dagenhart’s brother huddled around an iPhone to watch the Cavaliers eventually prevail in overtime, 80-75.
“We got to experience all the excitement and nerves at the end of the game,” Stolldorf said. “The stars really aligned for Jenna and I and all of our friends. That heart-lifting feeling of U-Va. pride and excitement that I had always known as an undergrad was elevated to a level that I didn’t think we’d ever get back to. On the Corner with my new bride and all of the undergrads, who were not only celebrating but also so congratulatory, it was the best."
“In addition to saying ‘I do,’ it was the best feeling ever,” Dagenhart wrote on Facebook. “And they both happened to be on the same day. . . . So are my shoes and dress still white? No. But my heart is full and we are so happy for the Hoos. Besides, I don’t need to wear the dress ever again . . . except maybe March Madness 2020 for good luck."
With the newlyweds’ approval, Boylan Heights owner J.R. Hadley is planning to frame Dagenhart’s dirty wedding dress, along with a photo from the impromptu celebration. The happy couple is leaving on a surprise honeymoon Friday that Stolldorf planned. Virginia plays Auburn on Saturday in the Final Four. Minneapolis, perhaps?
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