Colorful Beach Wedding Inspiration | Jennette’s Pier, Nags Head, NC

I love all things beach, especially the Outer Banks. My husband and I usually visit a few times a year–once in the on-season for a week with family and then again for a few days in the off-season, either spring or fall. It was during one of our fall trips that I was able to attend Amanda Hedgepeth’s Salt Air Workshop. Amanda is an amazing wedding photographer located in the Outer Banks who hosts a workshop each fall. During this particular workshop, she hosted a wonderful styled shoot full of colorful beach wedding inspiration with bright colors, beachy vibes and plenty of Outer Banks gorgeousness.

The shoot was located at Jennette’s Pier which is an eco-friendly pier located in Nags Head. It’s a rebuild of a former 754-foot long pier by the same name that was destroyed in 2003 by Hurricane Isabel. The new version, which opened in 2011, is 1,000 feet and all concrete. It features a variety of educational exhibits and the walkway is lined with fish plaques dedicated to various friends, family members and beach lovers.

The pier house is a multi-story building with the top floor dedicated to an event space, which is where most of the shoot was held. It has a wraparound deck and is a great location for weddings and parties with a beautiful view of the beach and the pier below.

The shoot made excellent use of the deck space with a biscuit bar, sparkly tablescape, cake table and more. The bride wore a gorgeous dress complimented by beachy waves with a bright, colorful bouquet featuring a mix of real and paper flowers. The cake was adorned with the same flowers and hand painted vases and seashells completed the tablescape.

I loved everything about the setup and love the bright colors. They offer a great inspiration for brides wanting a bold, bright, fun beach wedding and the Outer Banks is the perfect spot to do that.

Vendors:

Hosted by: Amanda Hedgepeth Photography

Planner: Sterling Dawn Events

Floral Designer: One Sweet Day in May

Bakery: Cakes by Chelsi Davis

Rentals: Distinctive Event Rentals and Waterford Event Rentals, LLC

Dress: Maya Couture from Pure English Couture Bridal

Invitation: Paperdolls Design

Paper Flowers: Sweet Pear Paper

Caterer: The Handsome Biscuit

Rings: Adele Diamond

Jewelry: All Washed Up

Hair and Makeup: Beauty by Sharra

Venue: Jennette’s Pier

Welcoming Hartley Grace

Just over three weeks ago, Hartley Grace entered our lives. I feel I should start off by noting that my labor and delivery experience is not the norm, so if you’re thinking about having children or even awaiting the birth of your first, please don’t let my story scare you away. That said, I had the best and easiest pregnancy. Aside from some horrific acid reflux which began around 14 weeks (hello Zantac!) I had no issues. I had very little morning sickness and really only felt a little off when I hadn’t eaten. A constant supply of crackers and mini candy canes helped with that problem, as well as some ginger candy, Preggie Drops and Sickless which is an all-natural magensium, B6 and ginger blend that helps stave off that unsure stomach feeling. I maintained a healthy weight (21lbs. gained from start to finish), kept moving and worked right up until labor began. As someone who had always been unsure about the idea of being pregnant, I was absolutely blessed.

Like other first time moms, my due date came and went with no baby. I was adamant about avoiding a c-section and knowing that inductions can increase that risk, I was hardcore against being induced. I know c-sections are unavoidable for some and absolutely support that, but the idea of major surgery was more than I could handle. That following Monday, after having a non-stress test and ultrasound to make sure everything was okay (which it was), I reluctantly agreed to setting an induction date of 41 weeks and three days–my doctor’s ideal deadline date. Thankfully, I ended up going into labor the Wednesday prior at 41+1 so no induction necessary. But she was obviously sold on that Friday date.

I went into the hospital Wednesday night, a little before midnight and didn’t welcome baby girl until Friday evening. Friday evening! I went through five doctor shifts and I can’t even tell you how many nurses. Thankfully, my doctor’s office, which is a large practice with multiple physicians, is into low intervention births. They don’t push things on you and all of them are so sweet and kind. I absolutely don’t think I would have made it through those two days without them. The hospital I delivered at is also into low intervention births which really helped. I was able to walk around and encouraged to lap the halls in order to move things along. I totally hit my Fitbit step goal that Thursday. Even so, I couldn’t seem to hit past that 4 centimeter mark. Family members were camped out in the waiting room, watching women come in, have their babies and then leave. Apparently, I was in it for the long-term.

Friday morning, I was started on Pitocin, received the most amazing epidural ever (seriously, best anesthesiologist ever!) and had my water broke. By 2 p.m., it was time to get her out. And then came the pushing. Four hours! Hands down, delivering baby girl was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Throughout my entire pregnancy, I tried to just focus on things as they came and I kept that same attitude during delivery. IV? Not a fan, but I can get through it. A gazillion rounds of antibiotics? Okay, let’s do it. Those horrible checks? Ok, but don’t tell me nothing has changed because I’m going to lose it. Four hours of pushing? Good grief. I will say I watched a lot of Million Dollar Listing and House Hunters during those two days. Mindless tv that you don’t really have to pay attention to is helpful believe it or not.

At 6:34 p.m. Friday, July 28, Hartley Grace was (finally!) born. She came in at 7.89 lbs. and 20 5/8 in. with a head full of hair (thank you acid reflux!). As soon as they laid her on my chest, she reached up and snatched my glasses off my face. Oh yeah, she’s going to be a wild one.

 

Special thanks to Jackie Fitzgerald for Hartley’s amazing handmade outfit. It’s perfect!

Fiesta Wedding Inspiration | Snead’s Asparagus Farm, Fredericksburg, VA

It’s Cinco de Mayo and what better way to celebrate than with a fiesta? I’m a taco girl and I love bright colors so this fiesta wedding inspiration photo shoot was a dream come true. The shoot was held at Snead’s Asparagus Farm in Fredericksburg which is one of my favorite places. If you’ve never been, check it out. I’ve been visiting since I was a young child back when you left money in a box on the front porch for your pumpkins. That’s changed a bit, I think they take credit cards now, but the welcoming feel of the place is still the same and the barns and fields made for the perfect backdrop for these photos.

Darling D’s Events went all out, channeling the fiesta theme through the table decor, colorful pinatas and more. Florals from The Floral Palette added to the theme along with a bouquet from Virginia Flora and paper flowers from Something Borrowed. Caroline Street Catering put together an amazing taco bar, complimented by a dessert bar from Erin Lozier and an appetizer display from Elegant Cuisines Catering. The cake was made by Sorby Sweets and had the best decoration along with little sombrero cake toppers. It was perfect!

Grab yourself a margarita and a taco and check out the highlights below. They will leave you completely inspired to throw your own bright, colorful fiesta inspired wedding complete with pinatas and all. And then email me, because I’d love to capture it.

 

Vendors:

 Coordinator, rentals and designs: Darling D’s Events

Venue: Snead’s Asparagus Farm

Dress: Ava Laurenne Bride

Hair, makeup: Bangz Salon

Seeing eye nails: Holy Chic Nail Bar

Table florals: The Floral Palette

Bouquet: Virginia Flora

Paper Flowers: Something Borrowed

Taco Bar: Caroline Street Catering

Dessert Bar: Erin Lozier

Appetizer display: Elegant Cuisines Catering

Cake: Sorby Sweets

Caligraphy: Caligraphy by Michelle

DJ: Virginia’s DJ Service

Videographer: Anchor Images

Shoot & Share Photo Contest | 2017

Like 9,999 other photographers, I entered photos into this year’s Shoot & Share Photo Contest. The contest is held each year and is based on peer voting. It’s nice because photos are uploaded into categories with each photographer allowed a maximum of 50 entries and then once voting begins, they are randomly grouped into grids of four with voters picking their favorite among the grid. There’s no identifying data so it’s not a popularity contest, but rather based on the photo itself. This continues for weeks, with the photos not receiving as many votes kicked out every few days until the 12th round which selects the winners. There’s also a bonus “Best of the Best” round which lumps the photos into smaller categories to yield the best the contest has to offer.

Last year, I entered 50 photos in the contest, because why not. It’s free, it’s easy, let’s do it. I was really excited when one placed in the Top 30 percent. The photo is from Rhen and Erin’s Paynefield Farm wedding and was entered into the “All Dressed Up” category. It made it to the fifth round of voting and placed 1,426 out of 22,953 photos in the category.

This year, the Shoot & Share contest size grew from last year’s 225,000 photos total to 330,000 so making it to the fifth round of voting doesn’t quite equal the Top 30 percent depending on which category it is. Some categories have more photos than others which helps determine what place certain badges are. However, I only had one goal in mind when I entered my 50 photos this year and that was to do better than last year. I’m so excited to say I achieved that goal. I’m no way near winning, but I’m still super excited that I had a few photos make it to the final rounds.

Four of my 50 photos made it far enough to get badges with one in the Top 30 percent, two in the top 20 percent and one making it to the final finalist round.

Hitting top Top 30 percent was this one, featuring my lilac bush. It made it to the sixth round of voting in the “Details: Ring Shot” category and placed 2,237 out of 8,304.

Making it to the Top 20 percent of the “Just the Bride” category was this photo of Kristen in her stunning wedding gown. The photo made it to the seventh round of voting and placed 2,304th our of 13,834.

Also hitting the Top 20 percent, but in the “Details: All Dressed Up” category was this shot of Aubrey’s shoes and jewelry. It made it to the seventh round of voting and was 1,016th out of 6,395.

Aubrey’s shoes and jewelry were also my top placing image. I loved her details so much I couldn’t just choose one and I guess voters couldn’t either.

This photo made it to the final round of voting in the “Details: All Dressed Up” category and placed 507th out of 6,395.

I had lots of other photos I loved from weddings, portrait sessions and styled shoots last year that didn’t quite badge up, but I don’t love them any less. The contest is just a fun way to see what people are working on. I also like voting because it helps me define my style. I love detail shots and I also love really wide portraits where the people are in focus, but you also get a sense of where they’re at and what their surroundings are. I think sometimes we focus too much on just the subject and forget about the beautiful field they may be in or the lake behind them or whatever and those are the shots that make for gorgeous canvases later. I’ve definitely made it a point over the last year to include more of those in galleries and that’s something that came out of voting in the previous Shoot & Share contest.

The contest is held once a year typically beginning with open submissions in January. I definitely plan to enter again next year with the same goal as this year–do a little bit better than the last.

Chelsea + Quartez | Fredericksburg Wedding

Chelsea and Quartez had a beautiful Fredericksburg wedding on a gorgeous June day at the Spotsylvania American Legion building in the Fredericksburg area. The two said “I do,” in front of family and friends before dancing the night away under a sea of twinkling lights.

Chelsea and Quartez’s wedding was a long time coming for both them and their families. The two began dating in high school, introduced when Quartez’s cousin and Chelsea’s sister began dating and later married. Chelsea and Quartez continued their relationship through high school and college before adding two beautiful children to their family and building a house. Chelsea, an RN, and Quartez, employed with a government contractor, just get each other. She appreciates his love of fishing and sports and he adores her. As parents, the two shine even brighter raising their son and daughter, both of whom had a prominent role in their parents’ wedding day.

For her wedding, Chelsea chose sunflowers, her favorite, for the florals complimented by pops of mint in the bridesmaids’ dresses and groomsmens’ accents. The mint was then complimented by grey suits for the gentlemen. The aisle featured sunflowers along the way and was bookended by two mint doors with sunflower accents and an arbor featuring a spray of sunflowers and greenery. Sunflowers were also featured in the table arrangements and in the favors–sunflower seed packets in celebration of Chelsea and Quartez. Guests dined on fried chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes and danced to both new and old songs throughout the night.

The reception was a highlight of the night as both young and old guests hit the dance floor to show off their moves. They wobbled, cupid shuffled, Footloosed and slow danced their way across the floor, with laughter and smiles all around. And, after cutting their cake and enjoying a champagne toast, the bride and groom headed off into the night, finally a married couple.

Venue: Spotsylvania American Legion

Bridesmaid dresses: David’s Bridal

Groom/Groomsmen Tuxes: Men’s Warehouse

Florals/Decorations/Favors: Kathy Hart

Arbor: Built by Bride’s family, decorated by Nikki and Kevin Seay

Doors: Built by Bride’s father

Catering: Shoney’s of Fredericksburg (Served by members of the groom’s family)

Cake: Shirley Wilson

DJ: DJ Flatlinelay (Reginald Lewis)

Bartender: John Burns