First of all, happy Thursday afternoon, friendsicles. Second of all, OMFGTHISWEDDING.
Wait wait wait. First, this:
Ok now we can move on.
As I was saying… it’s weddings like this one that remind me that you can’t just be a wedding photographer overnight. LOL. I know, common knowledge, obvs. But I just want to assert the truth of the statement right now, because the statement is the truth. Now see, this is not the case with all things. You can become an informed aficionado on a plethora (hey look I used plethora back there) of subjects, like take, for example, sweat lodges. I went from knowing the littlest amount you could know about sweat lodges, which was that I didn’t even know they existed, to knowing everything about a sweat lodge short of being inside of one, after watching 20/20 on a Friday night. … I mean, watching 20/20 on a… Sunday afternoon… because… I… DVR’d… the show on Friday night… because… I was totally out having a cool time with all my friends who are also cool and wouldn’t stay home on a Friday night to watch television… or anything… like that.
So, what I’m trying to say here is that sweat lodge savants are a dime a dozen. Really talented wedding photographers are not. So if I can tell you one thing about your wedding day (aside from the major things I always tell you, like step back and take mental snapshots, and remember that it’s all about love and togetherness) it’s that you’ve really got to find a good photographer to shoot your wedding. One who knows the angles (not the “Facebook Angles” ifyouknowwhatimean), knows the moments, and knows how to style and set up shots properly and skillfully. Also, one with a big heart, and a love for the art. And that’s where a photographer like Jesse of Jesse D. Green Photography and this wedding come in, because when he sent me this wedding I got really happy. Because it’s what a wedding should look like, documented in pictures. I think I used up my own personal ration of exclamation points when I responded to him, and probably ended the email with something like LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111111
Today’s wedding is a feel good situation. Babies, family, a fun bride who’s also TOTALLY HOT – not that it matters but I felt compelled to point it out, because I’m overwhelmed by it – and really lovely, simple decor elements that show you that you don’t need to go all out to have a great day. Because in the end, it’s all about family, food and fun.
Ok enough out of me, here’s the rundown plus some seriously IMPORTANT AND VERY WISE ADVICE from the ridiculously gorgeous bride herself, Rachael:
Matt and I spent our entire dating relationship 500 miles apart. After he “put a ring on it” with a picturesque proposal on a perfect October night, and we chose a July wedding date, there was a light at the end of the tunnel of our often strenuous long-distance relationship. With family and friends coming to our wedding from New York, Chicago, Texas, and beyond, we knew right away that we wanted to have a small, intimate destination wedding in a beautiful setting that would be a vacation for our guests.
We had sentimental attachments to the North Carolina mountains and knew firsthand how beautiful they are in the summer. So we picked a lovely stone church and historic farm inn in the mountains, just a few hours from our new home in North Carolina. Because of the stunning scenery and sweet southern charm, we let the backdrop speak for itself. We wanted to keep things as simple as possible and focus on the big picture. Throughout the sometimes-difficult planning process, we tried to focus on the joy it would be to finally live together in the same zip code! (And it is – by the way – pure, I- now-know-what-face-you-make-when-you-shave-and-lots-of-other-things-too, wedded bliss.)
We wanted the vibe of our wedding to be super relaxed and somewhat informal. We loved our rustic country setting and picked accents that would create an atmosphere that was homey, bright, and summery, like a big family picnic. My mom and girl friends helped with a few DIY projects. Instead of a standard guestbook, guests left us colorful note cards with words of encouragement or advice. My friends (with much greener thumbs than I) made the guys’ boutonnieres with fresh herbs and made gorgeous table arrangements with buckets of fresh, organic, locally-grown flowers from the nursery up the road. Matt and I expressed our personalities by incorporating some of our favorite things into the day, like giant bowls of ice cream, grilled cheese sandwiches, special music, and cowgirl boots. Our guests played lawn games, sat in rocking chairs, made silly faces in the photobooth, and fed the horse and donkey in attendance. There were many other personal touches, thanks to our close team working so hard to make every detail special.
One of my favorite moments of the day was our First Look prior to the ceremony. Matt and I are both introverts, and having those intimate minutes away from the spotlight to connect early in the day kept us centered and calm the rest of the day. Another favorite part of our day was a special song in our ceremony. My dad is a musician and arranged a piece for the occasion. The wedding party (myself included) turned to face the congregation and sang the song accompanied by Matt on the violin as a sort of gift to share with our guests. Lastly, a fun end to the evening was having both of our (seriously musical) families come together to sing a rousing rendition of “I’ll Fly Away” with the bluegrass band before we made our big exit. A few bits of planning advice for soon-to-be-weds:
1. Prioritize. As planning begins, pick a few things that are most important to you and prioritize them above the rest. Remind yourself of these things when making decisions, articulating your vision, and feeling generally overwhelmed. If your heart is set on having amazing music in your ceremony, then let go of the extra stress of finding the exact off- season flowers you saw in a Martha Stewart magazine. Pick your battles.
2. Designate “wedding-free” time. Wedding planning can become all encompassing. But guess what? There’s much more to you than your desire to single-handedly pull off the event of the century. Schedule time to step away from all things wedding (put it on your calendar!) and be a whole person – exercise, try something new, go out with friends with a ban on wedding talk. Most importantly, focus on your relationship with your groom. At the end of the day, this is about a lifetime of happiness together, so make time to emotionally prepare together and remember why you’re doing this.
3. Let the experts do what the experts do. (Ahem…easier said than done for an OCD micromanager like myself.) But that caterer who has been making wedding cakes for 30 years probably knows a thing or two more about wedding cakes than you do. Trust her and let her do her thing. Spend your energy on something else. That’s why you’re paying them the big bucks!
4. When wedding weekend finally arrives, let it all go and soak it all in. You’ve done your time, you’ve over thought every decision, you’ve prepared well – so when it’s go- time, enjoy every single moment. Enjoy being with so many people who love you, eat your delicious food you’ve so deliberately selected, and don’t forget to have giddy love- filled private moments with your groom. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of day!
5. Keep the big picture in focus, always. My fiancé and I repeatedly had to stop to remind ourselves that our wedding day would be just one amazing day in the midst of a million amazing days of our new life together. We wanted the day to be a sacred occasion that honored God and a party with all of our favorite people coming together in a beautiful place, and that’s exactly what we did. Any details that fell into place above and beyond that were just icing on the proverbial wedding cake.
↑ Let it be known.
↑ Shots capturing innocently beautiful moments like this happen only when you couple loveliness with killer photographic skillz. Jesse, seriously. There are like seventeen million shots you sent me and each of them is utterly BREATHTAKING. Ok, enough of that… moving right along…
And now… by special request… A Day in the Life of Bambino McPuppyPants…
Seriously. Every time. I’m not exaggerating.
Our lives are one never ending game of rope y’all.
Ok, my dahlings, if you don’t mind, Ich haaben zee questions for you…
1) I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say about this wedding! Even if it’s a simple “umm… love” or a “hi there!” or a “FIRST!” or anything longer than that. I’m just really into weddings with a lot of heart and a focus on people and the love that was bouncing around the room – or farm, or stable, or mountain top, or ballroom, or volcanic crater, or row boat, or what have you.
2) Do you think finding your wedding photographer is a top priority in planning your wedding? Or maybe you have different priorities? I’d love to hear what you think!
xoxo! – Alison
Photography: Jesse D. Green Photography / Bride’s dress: White House | Black Market / Bride’s and Bridesmaids’ shoes: TOMS / Bridesmaid dresses: Anthropologie / Men’s vests and ties: Express / Ceremony: Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church / Reception venue, catering, and cake: Mast Farm Inn / Band: Creekside Grass Band / Flowers: Peggy Mendel of Pearl’s Garden and Shady Grove Gardens and Nursery