It's really funny how the world works sometimes- how people find you and your paths cross! This definitely goes for Lizzy and Rob! They had been looking for a wedding photographer for their intimate woodland wedding at Seneca Creek State Park, and their friend had found me and passed my name along! Being a born and raised Marylander, I was not only stoked at the opportunity to shoot a wedding in my home state but also incredibly excited to meet Rob and Lizzy and capture their day! When I first met Lizzy, I could just tell that they were my kind of people- super laid-back, relaxed, and avid outdoors lovers. These two met at their rock climbing gym through a mutual friend and the rest is history.
This year has been one of the rainiest wedding seasons I've ever experienced! The day of Rob and Lizzy's wedding, I remember looking at the hourly radar constantly. At first, I hoped for no rain, but when it became apparent that there was a 100% chance of rain, I began to pray for a mist instead of a downpour. I arrived at the hotel to capture some details and a few getting ready shots and then headed to the park. While waiting for Lizzy to arrive, I had chatted with the officiant, who was a friend of Rob and Lizzy's. I knew he looked familiar. We kept trying to figure out where we had met and finally found out that he had attended college with my best friend! Seriously, such a small world! We laughed for a moment and saw Lizzy's car pull up. Luckily, the rain turned into a mist just in time for Lizzy to arrive.
After saying their vows surrounded by just close family and friends, Lizzy and Rob became husband and wife under Seneca's giant pine trees. We then explored the trails and took photos by the lake. Lizzy and Rob even put on their Saucony trail runners to hike around the park. I'm SO glad that Lizzy and Rob are such a laid-back couple- they truly took the rain in stride. After photos, we all joined their guests at the pavilion, where their friends and family gathered for Chipotle catering, beer, lawn games, and to celebrate Rob and Lizzy.
Rob & Lizzy -I am so thankful that our paths crossed and you invited me to capture your big day. I just love your adventurous souls and wish you many years of happiness together!
Huge thanks to all of Lizzy & Rob's vendors who made their day amazing!
Venue: Seneca Creek State Park, Gaithersburg, MD
Officiant: Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall, friend of bride and groom
Chelsea is an incredibly talented photographer and graphic designer here in the Tri-Cities! We first met at our local Tuesday's Together chapter meeting and really clicked (fun fact, she makes a mean guacamole)! She also designed and hand drew my new logo and branding! Needless to say, when she messaged me about photographing her and Tom's vow renewal for their 10th anniversary, I was completely honored and excited for her and Tom!
Chelsea told me that she and Tom got married on a super hot and humid day in Florida. She laughed and told me that she had said to Tom that she wanted their vow renewal to be the complete opposite of their wedding day, and we definitely were given that! I knew Chelsea had wanted sweeping mountain views, so I suggested we make the hike up to the balds on Roan. We had originally planned on renewing their vows on a Saturday, but super rainy weather told us otherwise, so we moved their day to Sunday. When we arrived on the mountain, we were greeted with high winds and such chilly temperatures! It was downright cold! We all bundled up and started hiking.
On our way up, we stopped along the trail to grab some couple and family portraits. Chelsea and Tom brought along their little boy Connor to be the ring bearer. I felt so bad that everyone was freezing cold, but they all braved it so well! By the time the sun started to set, we set up these gorgeous boho lanterns that Chelsea brought to become the altar. The wind was whipping as Chelsea and Tom said their vows to each other and renewed them for years to come! After the kiss, we boogied down the mountain to try and get in our cars and warmed up as fast as possible!
Chelsea & Tom - thank you so much for asking me to be a part of your special vow renewal! Thank you for braving the weather and the hike up to the balds! Cheers to many more years together!
Oh my goodness, where to even start with these two?!
Coby is a good friend of my husband's- they practically grew up together! They both play drums, enjoy music and tattoos, and even recently started a custom drum company together. Being such a close friend, you can imagine how excited Andrew and I were when we found out that Coby had proposed to Gretchen, and she said yes!
Coby and Gretchen are super athletic and outdoorsy folks, and that's how they met! Coby LOVES riding his bike for miles and miles and Gretchen is a runner and has completed marathons and runs almost daily! Coby had arranged a group bike ride with some friends but had locked himself out of his house that day. When they met up, the guys in the group had been hanging around the parking lot trying to help him figure out ways to get back into the house. Gretchen knew of another group of people who were trying to start a group ride, and they had, unknowingly, planned for the same night, same time, and same place as Coby and his group. Gretchen's group ended up not showing up, so she decided to ask the guys in the parking lot if she could ride with them, and of course, they said yes! I'm pretty sure their meeting was fate!
Coby proposed to Gretchen on a hike at Flint Mill, for the summit that has a gorgeous view of South Holston Lake. He said when they reached the top, he was almost afraid to get the ring out of his pocket for fear of dropping it over the ledge. Once it was free and secure, he got on one knee and asked Gretchen to marry him. Coby said, "I asked, and, thankfully, she said yes. She made my day...and the rest of my life." **Cue happy/emotional tears**
Since I knew that these two loved hiking and visiting waterfalls, I suggested that we hike to Laurel Falls for their engagement session. My friend, Jeremy Gouge, had originally shown me this trailhead that leads straight to the falls with some awesome features in between. I knew it would be the perfect place for Coby and Gretchen. We met up on a sunny Saturday and started our session hanging out (literally) by the creek in an Eno hammock. We then made our way to the falls, shooting on the trail at a bridge and rock walls. Eventually, we found ourselves at the staircase of doom (tough on the joints going down, tough on the glutes going back up) and took our time navigating the stairs. I can only imagine what it would be like to climb those stairs with a full backpack on! We finally reached the falls and took a moment to breathe it all in. Once it started getting closer to sunset, we made our way back up the crazy stairs.
Coby & Gretchen - Andrew and I have a tough time putting into words just how excited we are for you two! You guys are absolutely perfect for each other and we cannot wait for the wedding!
Well, ya'll- the first wedding of 2018 is officially on the books and oh boy, did we start off with a bang! As you all may remember from their engagement blog, Kayla and Aaron are a special couple that are close to my heart. Kayla happens to be my husband's cousin, and it has been so wonderful to get to know her and her family and to be a part of her and Aaron's story. You can definitely say that I've been blessed with amazing in-laws! We met up last Fall for their engagement session (you can see it here) and began the countdown to April- when they would finally become husband and wife!
Thanks for the photo, Danielle!
Kayla and Aaron were married on a beautiful Spring day in April at the Millstone! The week prior had been pretty chilly, for Winter kept lingering and bringing us colder temperatures. Luckily, the sun came out and warmed us all on their wedding day! I arrived in the morning with my sister-in-law, Rachel, to take photos of Kayla's dress, rose gold details, and the ladies getting ready. The bridesmaids had been buzzing about, helping with last minute decorations and starting the getting ready process! After lunch, Kayla put on her gorgeous, ivory and lace, Maggie Sottero gown and was ready for the first look. We then headed out to the lawn to meet Aaron, where she would see her husband-to-be for the first time.
After the first look and photos with the bridal party, guests and family members started to arrive! I was so excited that this was a family affair-- my husband ran sound during the ceremony/reception, my father-in-law was the officiant, Amy (Kayla's family friend) helped coordinate, and Amy's daughter did Kayla's makeup (not to mention the family members in the bridal party)! It's not too often that you get to work with family and make those memories together. Guests took their seats and Kayla walked down the aisle with her dad, Bud. To be honest, I had to hold back some tears from behind my camera. The two said, "I do," and kissed as husband and wife under the branch arbor! We then headed to the reception for delicious barbecue and cake to celebrate the newlyweds!
Kayla and Aaron-- congratulations, you two! Thank you for asking me to be a part of your beautiful day. We're all so happy for you! Welcome to the family, Aaron!
Also- big thanks to Danielle (Danielle Defayette Photography) for second shooting with me!
Huge thanks to all of Kayla & Aaron's vendors who made their day amazing!
Renita and Nate are getting married at one of my favorite venues in northeast Tennessee, The Millstone, this coming June and I couldn't be more excited about it! Renita met up with me for coffee and I just knew we would click! We sat and talked more about local hiking spots and things we loved than wedding planning and details!
These two are probably the most laid-back and relaxed soon-to-be married couple that I have ever met! I asked Renita how Nate proposed and she said that he brought it up casually and subtly in conversation one day while driving in his truck. They both knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together and started discussing on whether they wanted a wedding or to elope, and the plans started there. If you met these two, you would know that this is so true to themselves as a couple! They're not about the crazy proposals with super elaborate plans or huge weddings with the glitz and glam- they're focused on the simple things and the heart of it all, and that's being together with each other forever. Nate wanted to design and pick out the ring for Renita and she loved that idea! The designer told them to plan for the ring to be ready in about two months, but it arrived a month earlier than expected. Nate was able to surprise her with the ring, for she didn't know it had come in early!
We chose to meet up at Grayson Highlands for their engagement session, on a gray, cloudy, Sunday afternoon in April. I'm starting to think that I just have bad weather luck when it comes to Grayson, for the last three times I've been there have been cold, foggy, and gray! Nate had told me that he and his family had come to Grayson a few times while he was growing up, so it's a special place to him and Renita! These two were absolute troopers and stood like champs up on the high rocks as the wind whipped around us. We didn't get to see any ponies that trip, but the views were gorgeous and these two were so sweet.
Renita and Nate - thanks so much for hiking and braving the not-so-ideal weather in the highlands with me! I had a blast getting to know you both and absolutely cannot wait for your intimate wedding!
This wedding season, I was fortunate enough to add a new camera to my fleet of equipment- a Canon 5D Mark III, a camera I've always dreamed of having. Since my first wedding of the season was late April, I knew that I needed to set up a few shoots to break in my new camera and learn the in's and out's of it's functions to be ready by wedding day!
I've also always dreamed of shooting a bride by the lake. I love the combination of bohemian/nature vibes and the soothing view of waves and empty shoreline. When I started thinking about the shoot that I needed to schedule, I thought it would be the perfect time to get a bride by the lake for my dream bridal shoot. Over the winter and early spring, the lakes' water levels are dropped down to make way for potential flooding (snow and rain), so the shore is a bit more exposed, making it perfect for lakeside photos.
Once I had a location in mind, and a date in place, I needed a model and a bouquet! I put out a post on social media looking for a model and Whitney sent me a message- she happened to have the perfect dress for the shoot. After confirming with Whitney, I reached out to my friend Filomena, who is an amazing silk florist, and met up with her to pick out a gorgeous silk bouquet for Whitney to hold. We were set!
I met up with Whitney at Watauga Lake on a warm Tuesday evening! We've had the craziest weather here, so we were both thankful for a sunny and warm day. We walked around the lake and took photos in a gorgeous meadow where the sun had been filtering through the trees. From there, we made it over to the shore where the sun had been setting over the mountains. I had a blast getting to know Whitney and taking her portraits! She is such a sweetheart and has a love for adventure. I'm so glad that she reached out to me and was able to model!
Whitney -- I can't thank you enough for driving all the way to the lake to be my model! You are absolutely beautiful and loved getting to know you!
Spring is finally here, which means the grass is turning green, the trees are budding, birds are chirping, and of course, engagement sessions! I absolutely love shooting engagement, anniversary, and couple's sessions with my adventurous couples. It's so fun to explore, hang out, get to know each other and enjoy nature without the added pressure of a timeline on a wedding day!
Since these sessions aren't appointments that we regularly schedule, I know it can sometimes feel awkward to be in front of the lens (I still am). That's what I'm here for- to guide you and help make your session a comfortable and fun experience for both you and your fiancé/significant other! One of the best ways to feel more comfortable at the session is to plan out what you'll be wearing.
Of course, most of the photos you see below are from engagement sessions, but I wanted to note that it translates to anniversary or couple's sessions as well! Any portrait session where there are two of you to coordinate/prepare!
The most important thing to think about when choosing your engagement outfits is comfort! If you and your fiancé/significant other don't feel comfortable in the clothes you're wearing, it may show in the photos. I love it when couples relax through the poses and into each other, almost as if they're not even at a session and are just doing what they love together and enjoying each other's company. If you're wearing a shirt that you don't like or shoes that are uncomfortable, it may show through your expressions and body language. Also, keep in mind that while some articles of clothing may be comfortable to some couples, they may not be comfortable to all couples! Some women find dresses to be a super easy piece to wear, where some women may hate dresses and prefer jeans and boots!
Shoes are a big factor when it comes to comfort. Not only do your feet need to feel comfortable and not hurt at the session, but they also need to be practical for the location. Obviously, heels are not the best choice if we're planning on hiking up a mountain to some soft grassy balds. We can, however, throw them in a backpack and take them up the trail with us and then have you put them on whenever we stop to shoot. Boots, boat shoes, flats, and sandals seem to be the most popular pick among couples. Not only do the feel great, but they're perfect for traversing all types of land- mountains, trails, rocky areas, water, sand, etc. As you guys know, Chacos are my own shoe of choice for sessions (weather permitting)!
Another option of course, is just going barefoot!
Colors & Patterns
Now, I will put a disclaimer here: I am not a fashionista by any means! Fashion, make-up and today's trends are not my thing, so everything here is from personal experience and what I've noticed works well with my couples!
Whenever I get any questions from my couples regarding what to wear to their session, it most of the time is about what colors and patterns they should look into (or not wear). I think a lot of couples tend to overthink patterns and often shy away from them, but I definitely think they can be a gorgeous choice!
One of my personal favorite patterns is the plaid/flannel + solid coordinating color combo (Lyndsey and Josh did it perfectly above). There is just something so classic about it and it goes so well with outdoors locations and adventures! Floral pattern dresses are also a really gorgeous option when paired with a solid coordinating color! Michelle wore a beautiful mustard floral maxi dress and paired Johnny in a solid gray, button down for their session.
Another beautiful pattern with solid sweater on Ashley and Mike!
If you're not a fan of patterns, solid colors are always a 'solid' way to go (yeah, I went there)! I, personally, am a lover of neutral and muted colors. Navy, burgundy, gray, tan, and even white are all gorgeous colors that go so well with nature's color palette. I love that Ryan and Sara (as seen below) went with soft, solid, colors- white and cornflower blue. It really added to the summery, lake, feel to their session!
The only colors that I ask couples to stray from are bright highlighter colors, and that's simply because the digital camera sensors have a hard time processing the actual color. In the photo to the right of the hot pink flowers, you'll see that with its color (and the harsh sunlight) that the camera had a tough time reading it. But that's to the extreme side of the color spectrum. Everything else is fair game!
It's also best to try not to be exactly, "matchy matchy." I'm talking about both of you wearing white shirts and khakis (kind of like those beach portraits you see families taking). It's great to have variety between the two of you! If you're wearing the exact same thing, it's possible you two will blend together in the poses.
Prepare for Weather & Exploring
I'll never forget when I met up with Alexis and John Michael for their engagement session at Grayson Highlands in Virginia. I always look at the weather forecast a few days before a session and try to plan accordingly. I believe there was a high wind warning, so I knew there would be a chance that we couldn't make it to the huge rocks that Grayson is known for.
Alexis and John Michael had traveled from Georgia to Tennessee for the weekend, specifically for their session, so I knew there was no way we could re-schedule! We had to roll with the weather we were given! John Michael just happened to grab his grandfather's blue jacket as they were running out of the door and by luck it completely matched Alexis' blue peacoat! Some people don't prefer the look of almost matching colors, but I think it really worked for this adventurous pair and popped them off of the foggy backdrop! Plus, they were nice and toasty and had no problem hanging out in the blustery cold!
What's an adventurous session without a little exploring? As most of my couples know, I LOVE going off the beaten path. Some of the best features in nature are found when you go "off-roading" and find them yourself. It's great to have this in mind when preparing for your session! Amanda and Kenny were champs and didn't even hesitate when I asked them if they would mind to take off their shoes and socks, roll up their jeans, and walk through a creek! Of course, safety is one of my top priorities at sessions, so if something looks a little on the edgy side or if you'd rather not walk through the creek, just tell me and we'll head to the next spot! I am also a follower of "Leave-No-Trace" principles and try to leave places exactly as we found them.
Don't Forget the Ring!
Accessories are a great addition to complete any outfit, but my favorite is your engagement (or wedding) ring! I love taking detail shots of your ring at the session, using something found in the area, like a stump, wood, flowers, leaves, or even pine tree limbs if possible.
It's not required, but if you'd like your ring to sparkle to the max for photos, try and get your ring cleaned the day before the session! They will clean off any finger prints or soap residue and will make your ring ready for my macro lens!
Most Importantly... BE YOU.
Overall, your engagement, anniversary or couple's session is all about the two of you and celebrating this time in your lives! No matter what, the photos should reflect each of your personalities and therefore, you should rock what you're comfortable in! Wear your favorite sweater and pair of jeans, or wear that pair of boots that you wear daily and feel like a badass in! Wear the necklaces or bracelets that you received from your significant other! Be your beautiful, genuine, self and have fun!
These two are very near and dear to my heart! You guys may recognize Josh and Lyndsey from their cozy in-home engagement session that I shared back in September! Lyndsey and I first became friends in college, as we were both in the photography program, and have stayed in contact ever since! When Lyndsey sent me a message showing me a photo of her engagement ring, I screamed and jumped for joy for her and Josh!
Josh and Lyndsey were married on one of the coldest fall days at the beautiful Old Dairy in Warm Springs, Virginia (gotta love the irony there)! I remember Lyndsey telling me about the venue she had been eyeing and I just knew it would be the perfect backdrop for these two to become husband and wife. Josh and Lyndsey are both nature lovers, and Lyndsey has a deep love for agriculture and the Shenandoah Valley. As the name of the venue suggests, it had once been a completely functioning dairy farm, now restored and converted into a community space and venue! Across the street are two small cottages, the Herdsman Cottage and the Bull Barn Cottage, where family and friends were able to stay and get ready for the big day!
My friend and fellow photographer, Bethany, met me at the venue the night before so we could settle in and get our gear ready. I'll never forget that night-- we went on a little walk with Lyndsey and her dogs (she's a dog trainer), and the sky had been SO incredibly clear that we saw the Milky Way. It was amazing! We woke up the next morning and were invited to the Bridal Brunch, which is a family tradition in Lyndsey's family! After we were fully caffeinated, we bundled up, grabbed our gear, and started capturing the day!
Since it was November and the sun set early, Josh and Lyndsey opted to do a first look with not only Josh but also with Lyndsey's dad for a Father-Daughter first look! First looks always make me teary-eyed, but Father-Daughter ones really bring on the waterworks. It may have been a high of 30º, but these two cozied right up for their bride-and-groom portraits together. Lyndsey rocked a badass leather jacket over her wedding dress, and I'm pretty sure Josh had long johns underneath his suit! I love how Lyndsey incorporated her passion for dogs and had her two closest pups, Dot and Warden, be their flower girl and ring bearer for the ceremony! Once the rings were exchanged and vows sealed with the first kiss, we all headed to the reception for dinner, drinks, and casual conversation.
Josh and Lyndsey -- I am so incredibly happy for you two! I can't thank you enough for asking us to be a part of your big day-- we absolutely loved celebrating along with your friends and family! Cheers to many future adventures and memories together!
Also, big thanks to Bethany for being my amazing second shooter and right-hand lady! You're downright amazing!
Huge thanks to all of Josh & Lyndsey's amazing wedding vendors who made their day the best!
Just when I thought that I had made it through wedding season without rain coming into play, it finally caught up to me in October at Zach and Daisy's Sugar Hollow Retreat wedding! No worries, though- these two embraced it and didn't let the all-day downpour put a damper on their big day!
I first talked to Daisy about photographing their wedding about a year ago. At the time, the two didn't have a date set since Zach is a helicopter pilot in the Army and had been going through training. Daisy called me again a few weeks later to tell me they finally had a date and it was sheer luck that my calendar was open! It was meant to be! After chatting on the phone and hearing their story, I just knew that I would just love these two. I finally met Zach and Daisy in person at their Roan Mountain engagement session (you can see it here) and I was correct! I just love how fun these two are and the way they look at each other. We didn't stop laughing during their entire session!
Daisy and Zach were married at the lodge at Sugar Hollow Retreat in Butler, Tennessee. The original plan had been to have the ceremony on the lawn and reception under the tent, but Mother Nature had other plans! When we first arrived at the venue, the clouds had been looming. We were able to safely take photos of Daisy's dress and other details outside before the sky opened up! Luckily, we were able to take portraits underneath the awning of the lodge's entrance without anyone getting soaked! We all kept glancing at the weather radars, silently hoping there would be a break in the rain. The forecast didn't give any sign of it giving up, so Daisy made the decision to go for Plan B and moved the ceremony under the tent. Shortly after, the two said, "I do," to the sound of raindrops pattering on the tent and underneath the twinkling string lights. Talk about a romantic way to become husband and wife!
After the ceremony, we quickly took the couple and the bridal party up to the second-floor deck for portraits, where we could see the fog laying softly over the trees. Let me just say, thank goodness for clear umbrellas! As you all probably know, they are a photographer's best friend on rainy wedding days! Daisy, Zach, and their bridal party were true champs and embraced the rain! After the portraits, everyone dried off, headed downstairs for bridal party introductions, and to get the party started! Once the drinks started flowing, dinner was served and dancing commenced, everyone forgot about the rain and partied the night away!
Daisy and Zach -- thank you so much for inviting me to capture such a big day in your lives. I truly enjoyed getting to know you both and your families. I am so happy for you two and can't wait to see where life takes you! Cheers to future adventures together!
Also, super big thanks to Jeremy Gouge for not only being a great second shooter, but for also being a fantastic umbrella holder. You're the real MVP!
Huge thanks to all of Zach and Daisy's amazing wedding vendors who made their day the best!
If you've seen some of my previous blogs, you guys may recognize Bethany's name! She is a friend and fellow wedding photographer (check out her gorgeous work) who has shot a few weddings with me in the past! We first met back in college in the photography program, and soon became close friends, as we both loved bluegrass and contra dancing!
Speaking of contra dancing, that's how these two met! Matt happened to attend a dance where Bethany would go frequently. He was a beginner and Bethany thought he was cute, so she decided to show him the ropes and they've been together since! Years later, they went on a mini-vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. One of their favorite things to do together is to fly kites, so they decided to go to Jockey's Ridge where the sand dunes are amazing and perfect for flying. Matt had hand-sewn a very special addition to their kite collection, one that said, "Marry me?" When Bethany saw the new addition she said she "squeaked out" a happily surprised "yes!"
We started off the wedding day at the gorgeous Sheraton Suites in Old Town Alexandria, where Bethany and her bridesmaids started the getting ready process. Bethany had picked out a different gemstone color for each girl, creating a stunning fall color scheme! Bethany had lost her voice from the night before, but luckily, her bridesmaids came to the rescue and picked up some Zarbees tea and made sure Bethany kept chugging it! While the gals were getting ready, Bethany received her wedding gift from Matt- an awesome new keyboard for her Mac with incredibly clicky buttons. We all teared up when we saw the front of the card, which read, "You are my happy."
From there, we drove to the beautiful Mount Airy Mansion where the sun came out and warmed the air, making for a perfect wedding day. Bethany's voice magically returned (now we all swear by Zarbees!), so she hopped into her dress (which was so gorgeous and super soft) and headed out for the first look to meet Matt under a huge, beautiful, tree. One of my favorite moments of the day was during their ceremony, when Matt and Bethany played a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would say their vows first! I loved that they added this in to reflect both of their quirky personalities! We rounded out the evening with drinking homemade wine with friends, eating amazing barbecue and of course, lots of dancing! Matt attended West Virginia University, so of course, 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' by John Denver was played and I couldn't help but sing and dance along!
Matt and Bethany - thank you oh so much for inviting me to be a part of your special day! It was truly an honor to capture and celebrate your big day! Andrew and I are oh so happy for you two!
Also, big thanks to Amber (Amber Corryn Photography) for second shooting and all of her hard work on Matt and Bethany's day!
Thanks to all of Matt and Bethany's vendors who made their day the best!