Lindsey Zovko Photography | Charlottesville Wedding and Elopement Photographer
Everyone has their own unique story, and your images should reflect that. A firm believer that true beauty comes from being yourself, I feel grateful to photograph authentic and joyful people during some of life's biggest moments.
“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” (Dorothea Lang)
If I can’t be in control of time slowing down, then the least I can do is use my camera to freeze little moments as they whiz by me.
A popular question I get as a wedding photographer is “what is your approach to photographing a wedding day?,” and my answer is always that it’s the same approach I take to photographing my life: I’ll create a few portraits to honor how you looked, then spend the majority of the time capturing the story. The moments. The exchanges. The moods. The expressions as the naturally occur within the hours. Ultimately creating images that you can feel as much as you can see.
So as a mom, my ultimate gift to my girls is to provide them with a collection of frozen moments from their life to help them remember what it felt like to grow up. Goodness knows they won’t be getting any handmade dresses or special recipes from me, so hopefully these hand me downs will do.
(Images shot using a Canon EOS 1-N and Kodak Portra 400 or Kodak 400 TX film, developed using The Find Lab for color and PhotoVision for B&W. Last four images shot with my trusty Canon 5D Markiii and edited using my favorite Mastin Lab presets to emulate film.)
Alyson and Ethan’s wedding day at The Kyle House may have been absolutely freezing, but I’m going to get a little cheesy and say that all the love surrounding their day added a type of warmth that helped your forget about the cold. Well, unless you were standing outside for more than ten minutes…but Alyson was thoughtful enough to give everyone hand warmers for those moments, so that when the theoretical warmth wore off, there was technical to tide you over.
But enough of my talking. Below is a summary of their beautiful wedding day story, beginning in the gorgeous historic house and ending with a getaway in a vintage car restored by Alyson’s dad – classy and meaningful, the best kind of detail.
Backyard weddings. The phrase has such appeal, alluding to couples exchanging their vows in a comfortable space with a familiar feel. I’ve been fortunate to photograph several amazing weddings in a backyard, and without a doubt there is a relaxed vibe that naturally comes along with being in a space that feels like home.
Though traditionally a backyard wedding referred to a couple exchanging vows in a yard that belonged to them or a family member, the good news is thanks to AirBNB and other home rental sites, you can pick the backyard of your dreams in any location you can think of to hold your wedding.
So, if you find yourself needing to find a backyard, here are a few pointers to get you started:
As mentioned, AirBNB is a great tool for finding a venue that offers a wedding space you can personalize anywhere in the world.
To search for homes that offer event usage as part of their rental fee, simply make sure to set your search results to 16+ guests, choose that you’d like to rent the entire home, and select “suitable for events” under the additional filter of house rules.
Home Away is another wonderful site for finding a wedding venue, though I was unable to find a filter that included homes that could be used as event spaces when doing the initial search for rentals. So going through this site could require more time contacting owners. (As a side note, this backyard wedding took place in a gorgeous home found via Home Away, and I’d highly recommend it if you’re hoping for a Virginia country estate backyard feel).
Alrighty. The backyard has been secured. Now what?
Well, besides hiring a *ahem* photographer to document all the awesomeness your day will bring , there are certain vendors who will be the key players in turning a yard into a wedding celebration – whether it be on a simple level or over the top.
Naturally, a wedding planner would be someone to hire first, as they will help you execute the vision – or help you create one if you’re at a loss. However, if you’re opting to plan it yourself, these are people you’ll want to contact first:
A caterer: Not only will they bring the food, but often they can provide tables/chairs/linens – and an ABC license if you’re intending to serve alcohol (note: if you don’t have a caterer, you’ll need apply for a banquet license so you’re wedding won’t be shut down in a horribly awkward fashion…)
A floral designer: Nothing takes a space from plain to exquisite quicker than beautiful flowers. Besides bouquets and centerpieces, floral designers have the creative vision and skills to produce larger installations such as floral archways, making your space unique and memorable.
A tent company and/or furniture rental company: Tents aren’t always necessary, but they’re a great thing to have if weather if a concern, and tent companies also provide lighting installations for dark outdoor spaces. Also, furniture rental companies such as Paisly and Jade offer lots of unique pieces that can be used to personalize your space!
DJ or musician: Music always helps make for a great party, but note that you’ll need to check in about noise ordinances before deciding on the type of entertainment you’ll have.
Transportation: It may be that your wedding guest list is small enough that parking space doesn’t need to be considered. However, if that is a concern, hiring a transportation company to alleviate parking problems (or fees from ruining a yard) is highly recommended.
Additionally, here are two things your photographer will thank you for considering:
Lighting: String lights and candles are the best way to add ambience to a space after sunset – and ensure that your photographer isn’t literally shooting in the dark (and guests aren’t tripping all night).
Ceremony arrangement: When you have complete control over where you’ll hold your ceremony, it’s best to have your photographer guide your placement choice so as to ensure the best lighting. Unless you’re getting married at sunset or in a completely shaded space, the direction of the sun in regards to where you and your guests are facing has a huge impact on the lighting of images. Therefore, asking your photographer to do a site visit prior to the ceremony is strongly suggested – and much appreciated by those of us hoping to give you the best quality images for the day.
So there you have it, a small guide to getting started planning your wedding. But before I go, here are two caveats:
1- It may be that your whole purpose of getting married in a backyard was to make things simple and avoid paying for extras. If that’s the case, then by all means ditch the detailed planning list, get dressed up and have a low key celebration around a bon fire if that’s what you want to do. At the end of the day, what makes a backyard wedding special is that there are almost no restrictions, expectations, or budget minimums. So do what makes the day memorable to you.
2- It may be that you want a backyard feel but prefer to go through an established venue, as ultimately they are the experts on executing weddings and taking care of all your needs. If that’s you and you’re looking to get married in Virginia, three venues that offer a beautiful home and backyard setting that I’d highly recommend are The Clifton Inn, The Farmhouse at Veritas, and Boxwood Villa.
Hope you found this helpful, and if you have any other tips I’ve left off that should be added, please feel free to share!
Every time I’m given the honor to photograph a wedding day, this is my goal:
To tell the story.
The story of when you committed yourselves to one another and began a new chapter in the big book of life.
The story that will inevitably include moments of natural beauty, authentic connection, unpredictability, and a hundred little vignettes of life, love, and celebration as it plays out.
I also believe that my job is to not only help you remember that story, but to preserve your story for your future generations to come.
Which means I show up on your wedding day ready to tell your story in an honest way. Freezing moments that can’t be staged or recreated. Preserving emotion in its purest form. In short, providing you with imagery that you can feel.
Yes, your wedding day will be beautiful, but you deserve it to be remembered as more than just a pretty picture.
And to show you just how beautiful real weddings can be, below are snippets of the stories I was honored to help preserve in 2017. Every couple was unique, and every story was unique, and I’m forever grateful to have been a part of their days.
“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.”
Every holiday season for the past 14 years I’ve watched Love Actually, and every single time I’m crying within the first 2 minutes of the opening monologue. Not just because Hugh Grant speaking beautiful words in a British accent makes me weepy, but because watching the peoples’ expressions as they reconnect and hug is showing raw emotion and human connection at its finest.
Which leads to me to talk about my role as a wedding photographer and expert people watcher, where I feel that what I get to witness at every wedding is very similar to what you may see in airports. Reunions, bear hugs, expressions that are mixed with joy and other overwhelming emotions. It’s often said that a wedding day is a celebration of the bride and groom, but it shouldn’t be missed that -whether you have one guest or 200 – your day is also a time when the friendships/bonds/connections with others in your life are honored as well.
So given that I highlighted my favorite images of couples’ connections in my previous post, below are favorite moments captured between the couple and their other loved ones. Though I can’t provide Hugh Grant’s voice to narrate and make you cry while viewing, hopefully the emotion seeping out of the scenes gives you a smile or tear of joy today.
One of the things I love most about photographing weddings is that every couple is different. Even if I shot a wedding in the same location all year long, the images wouldn’t be the same because no two couples are the same. Their love stories, their personalities, their style, their families and friends. All unique to the day, which makes my job so fun and interesting.
However, if I had to pick on thing that every couple I work with has in common, it’s this: they’re happy and they know it and they aren’t afraid to show it. Their joy is palpable and there’s no stopping it from radiating out of their beings.
So below I’ve pulled two favorites from each 2017 wedding, each one showing wedded bliss and the natural beauty that stems from these amazing couples allowing their light to shine freely and their joy overflow. In short, they show what getting married to your best friend should look like, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have been the one to captured that look.
(and feel free to go back to the blog archives to see their stories in full….)