Jodie and Surain's Arboretum Wedding
As the song says, it is, in fact, a small world. I've shot weddings for quite a few UNC Asheville grads and staff but was completely taken by surprise when a couple came to my office for a consult (until then the future bride had been my only point of contact) and the groom was a professor from UNCA! Not one I had had a class with, but one I recognized nonetheless.
Through our planning process, I knew Jodie and Surain were looking for simplicity in their day - to focus on their union and their new family. They were a perfect couple for me to work with because this gave me the freedom to focus on their emotions; their excitement at seeing each other in their fancy wedding outfits, their happy tears through the ceremony, their content smiles during portraits and their giddy excitement during the reception when the realization of their new life together had started to set in.
I started my day simultaneously capturing the getting ready process - all the more entertaining with the adorable flower girls there to help - and Jodie's bridal details. The most emotional moment of the afternoon, in fact maybe the whole day, came when Jodie put a sprig of flowers - her grandmother's - in her hair to carry a piece of her with her down the aisle. A hush fell over the room as we all watched Jodie, spellbound, our eyes filling with our own tears and for an instant I almost forgot to capture this scene (but only almost!) After another brief moment we all collected ourselves and got ready for the festivities to begin!
Every wedding is unique but some have more personal touches than others and Jodie and Surain had plenty. For starters, they included their sweet dog as the ring bearer, though he did need some help making it down the aisle sans distractions. Surain's two daughters also served as junior bridesmaids, a beautiful way to include the whole new family in the ceremony.
One of my favorite parts about shooting ceremonies at the Arboretum is getting the full 360 degree access to shoot the wedding ceremony that many more traditional places don't have. This helped me to get some really intimate captures of the couple looking at each other before they made their vows. To date, these have to be some of my very favorite ceremony photos because of their raw emotion.
After an emotional exchanging of vows, we used what little remaining sunlight we had to left for family portraits and then finished up the portrait session with a few quiet bride and groom shots by lamplight (and studio light.) Though Jodie and Surain didn't want to spend too much time on these portraits as they preferred the candid approach, the crisp evening matched with the warmth of their love helped create some intimate night portraits.
During receptions I like to walk around the room photographing little vignettes that can make up the story of the reception. So many of them from Jodie and Surain's Baker Center reception involved happy laughter, one also included a sneaky group faithfully catching the football game. The evening ended as they signed the marriage license (with a few photobombers in the background) and drove off into the night to enjoy their new life together!