Posted on December 1, 2018
Kristen and Chris’s teal and gray wedding at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina was full of classic beauty adorned with crisp ivory florals. Weddings always portray the feeling of romance as two lives are joined together, but this wedding really stood out. Not only was it a stunningly beautiful beach and pier setting, it also left an indelible impression of the importance of marriage, family and friendship. The endearing moments on this day were priceless.
However, before I share about those moments, I have to tell you how their story began. Kristen and Chris met during Beach Week in 2011. For those of you who don’t know, Beach Week is a celebration of graduating high school seniors where students from all over Hampton Roads converge on the Outer Banks, North Carolina. They both happened to be down there with friends. While at a party, she noticed him across the room (cue romantic music). Kristen thought that Chris looked familiar, then realized that he was a friend of her best friend’s boyfriend. They soon began to get to know one another as they double dated that summer with her best friend and her boyfriend (Chris’s friend). On September 28, 2011, Chris asked her to officially be his girlfriend. Exactly 7 years later, on the same date they decided to be in a relationship, they married in the Outer Banks- the place where their lives began. (Sounds just about like a romantic movie, right?)
When I asked what marriage meant to them, they said this: “…the commitment of marriage means becoming a family. It means decisions are no longer made with just yourself in mind. It means having a partner to share life with, knowing you have the most important person on your team, always. It’s comfort, safety, security. It’s plans and dreams of the future together. It means to always love, to always trust, and to always make that person feel treasured.” These beautiful words were manifested in the details, the ceremony, and in the presence of family and friends on their wedding day.
When I arrived to the bride’s beach house, it was absolutely pouring down a monsoon amount of rain. Even though we had a rain plan, crazy rain like that can produce panic about the details of the day. This couple and their families were so calm, though. They just kept everything in perspective, remembering the reason they were all going to Jennette’s Pier. Ultimately, as much as I adore taking beautiful pictures, gorgeous details do not ensure a beautiful marriage relationship. Investing in your relationship with your spouse and your families, however, will definitely have a positive effect on your marriage. This is what Kristen and Chris are about.
I loved how the bride and groom included their families as they got ready. These are moments and traditions that will be shared with future generations. The bride’s mother, Karen, helped Kristen with the finishing touches of getting ready, which included lacing up the back of her lovely wedding gown and placing the veil, made with tulle from the veil Karen wore on her own wedding day, on Kristen’s head. Meanwhile, the groom’s grandfather helped him with his tie as they conversed and spent time together in the hours before the ceremony.
The skies became clear less than an hour before the ceremony began. I was so happy that they were able to proceed with the wedding outside on the pier. The ceremony overlooked the green waters of the Atlantic Ocean, with the wind whipping. Guests could see what seemed like miles of pier in front of them. After a lovely ukulele prelude, the bridal party began to walk down the aisle. When Kristen approached the threshold of the door to walk down the aisle, the joy was palpable. Her two brothers, representing their late father, proudly walked their sister down the aisle to give her away to her groom. Kristen just beamed as she made eye contact with Chris. There they were, exactly 7 years later, ready to commit the rest of their lives together- a love story coming full circle. During the ceremony, they used a plant to symbolize the joining of two people and their families together. My favorite part, though was the smiles on their faces after their first kiss as husband and wife. Y’all, they were glowing! They were all smiles as they recessed up the aisle, hand in hand. I have no doubt that they will have an incredible marriage. Best wishes, Kristen and Chris!
*See vendors at end of blog post.
Venue: Jennette’s Pier
Planner: Shelby White
Caterer: Sugar Creek Catering
Cake: Deb Wright
Flowers: M&M Flowers Virginia
Wedding Gown: Morilee by Madeline Gardner
Hair and Make-up Artist: Glimmer Hair and Make-Up OBX
Rentals: Metro Rental
Video: Delta Studios
Posted on November 15, 2018
November has flown by so quickly and the holiday season is about to begin! (Just a week until Thanksgiving.) (No, I haven’t starting my Thanksgiving prep either.) Can you believe that December is right around the corner, too? Time is important, friend, isn’t it? Family time should always come first and when the holiday season hits, it can become a struggle to keep everything in balance. It is so easy to get overwhelmed with all of the tree decorating, tree lighting, parties, concerts, baking, shopping, preparing for the arrival of family, all while maintaining focus on the reason for the season when you suddenly realize- “we have to get our family portraits for the holidays!!” (Insert stress….trying not to panic….and trying to keep a smile on your face…)
Just in time for the holiday season, we are now booking mini sessions. What is a mini session? It is a short portrait session (20 minutes) designed to capture you and your family. On Saturday, December 1, 2018, mini sessions will take place in Historic Yorktown. On Saturday, December 8, 2018, mini sessions will take place in Williamsburg. Session spots are limited, so if you have family portraits on your mind, let us know so we can get you on the calendar! 🙂
Posted on October 23, 2018
The resounding horn of a train draws you into the historic era of The Historic Boxwood Inn, a newly renovated wedding and event venue located in Newport News, Virginia. It is easy to imagine the hustle and bustle of people boarding and arriving from the train station across the street as the steam from a steam engine billows into the air during World War II as it lurches forward to travel to the next station. You can practically hear the swing band trumpeting out as people dance and celebrate in midcentury elegance, visiting this very charming Inn to conduct business in the general store or to comfortably stay the night. These are days gone by, however the new owners of The Historic Boxwood Inn truly cherish the historic aspect of this unique venue and have preserved its charm as they renovated. When we toured the Inn, we could clearly imagine this era and integrated it into our styled shoot. This incredible vendor team did not disappoint. (See the list of vendors at the end of this blog post.) Everything was absolutely beautiful and we enjoyed seeing it all come together. Check us out also on Hill City Bride!
Cake: Kadi Bakes ~ Kadi Spruill
Planner: Two Rivers Events ~ Kari Scruggs
Make-up: Beauty by Rachel Mills ~Rachel Mills
Hair: Kadi Spruill
Stationery: Kalos Designs ~ Suzy Matthews
Videographer: Brian Charles Films ~Charles Townsend
Venue: The Historic Boxwood Inn ~ J.J. and Lisa Murray
Rentals: Hampton Roads Event Rentals
Florist: I Do Weddings With Love ~ Annette Lindsey
Dress: Truly Yours Bridal
Models: Stella Mora and Miguel Mendoza
Posted on September 15, 2018
It never gets old. Seeing the miracle of a new life about to unfold in the lives of soon to be new parents never loses its luster. The excitement, the tenderness between two people in love, the dreams of what the new baby will look like, imagining ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes. You imagine the life you will have with your baby. You envision the books you will read to him or her. But mostly, you imagine what it will be like to love a person you’ve never met. “Will I actually be able to love this precious gift of life enough?” And yet, this does happen because of the love God gives us. This is a portion of the miracle of a new life.
Ashley and Ronnie were such joy to capture at Yorktown Beach in Yorktown, Virginia. We were so fortunate, too, that the rain held off just in time for their maternity session! The glowy light perfectly illuminated this sweet couple as we captured them as well as their adorable details. It is common to say that a pregnant woman is glowing, but Ashley really did glow! She was truly radiant in her white and blue dress and joyful grin.
One of my favorite things about their maternity session was the unique details. Ashley and Ronnie brought several items to incorporate into their session, including a 3D ultrasound picture. I love, by the way, how ultrasound technology can now show you your chlld’s cute little features! And where was this when I had my kiddos just a *few* years ago?? 😉 This session was completely precious, and we wish Ashley and Ronnie the best as they begin the journey of parenthood.
Posted on August 16, 2018
I was first introduced to Beauty Revived in the Fall of 2014. My daughter was a Senior in high school and we had just returned home to Virginia after a very challenging 5 years out of state. We had no idea what would be ahead when we left the area in 2009. We moved to the Midwest to be closer to family so that we could support my newly widowed mother from an easier distance. Our hearts were in the right place. Somehow, though, we didn’t see it. We didn’t see through the fog of friendly greetings as we met so many members of the church. We only saw the smiling faces. We heard so many “Welcome” greetings. I know there were some who were genuine, and I know that the entire congregation wasn’t “cruel”. But we soon learned that “grace and love” weren’t really a part of the equation. We thought we were in a loving, good place for our family. But the part that the fog hid from us came out of the shadows gradually at first, then more frequently as the months turned to years. What we didn’t realize in the beginning was that we were in a place that shunned. It wasn’t the stereotypical Amish shunning, but there were so many unwritten “extreme fundamentalist” rules. Those who didn’t follow the rules were ignored/shunned, belittled, and harshly criticized. Adults would warn their children to “stay away from the public schooled kids”. Before I continue, I must say that we are not anti-homeschool. In fact, we have several friends who have or are currently homeschooling their kids. We also chose to homeschool our daughter for most of high school (and our younger two kids for a year) because of the constant bullying at school. There are a lot of positive things about it if executed well. It is a choice that parents should have a right to make for their kids because of their own personal circumstance. It doesn’t make you a better parent if you choose to homeschool or if you choose to send your kids to public school. None of us are perfect, and parenting is hard enough without the judgemental criticism of others for an education choice.
What we imagined would be a closer move to family that included serving in worship ministry at a church (my husband was hired as the worship minister) turned into a disaster. Our oldest daughter who was in 7th grade at the time began being bullied brutally at school. She was called names at first, which isn’t uncommon in the middle school years. Of course it was hard for her. We encouraged her to respond with kindness, but to speak up and stand up for herself. It got worse, however, and became physical as well. When we spoke to administrators about our concern regarding how our daughter’s head was nearly slammed into a locker (thank the Lord a teacher stepped in to stop it from hitting her head), they made excuses for the boy involved. “He’s just quirky,” we were told. When she was punched on the bus and pulled hard by her wrist (two different boys), the administration spoke to the offending students, but also made excuses. Again, it got worse because of retaliation from the bullies. One school official told one of the bullies who made a complaint against him and asked him to write her a letter of apology which triggered more verbal attacks toward her. As she would get off of the school bus to come home, several of the offending students would throw trash at her. It was awful.
Meanwhile, at a church that we originally believed would show concern for our kids, life began to unravel month by month for our daughter as well as for our other two children. It was worse for her mostly because she was a teenager who spoke her mind and said what she thought. She was a teenager. Teenagers are going to make mistakes and that is just part of the deal. And, even she would tell you that she was one of those kids who, when told “don’t do ____”, she would jump over the boundary we set. Invariably, she would learn from her mistake, apologize to us, and we’d move on. Quite a few parents of some of the students, though, warned their kids to stay away from our daughter. She was called horrible names by several students and adults because she was a normal girl who was interested in boys (she was 15 at this point). Legalism was a revered way of life there. Although there were bright spots sprinkled in over the five years with some loving people who were our friends (we were so thankful for that), so many refused to try to understand her or accept her. How does a hurting teenage girl respond when she is 15 years old and believes that so many people, including adult youth leaders, are against her? She began to hate herself even more and take action on that sentiment. Self-injury, commonly known as cutting, became her go-to for relief. I know it may sound odd that I used the word “relief”, but we learned that when one self-injures, endorphins (feel good chemicals) are released in the brain. It is very easy for teenagers to conceal this with clothing and by acting happy, much to our dismay. We tried our hardest to love and support her the best we could as we desperately prayed for a way out of this dark period. Fortunately, God gave us a way out in 2014. Our house sold in 24 hours in an area where homes typically didn’t sell very quickly. He provided jobs for both my husband and I very quickly. There were so many answers to prayer during that time – so many, that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He never fails.
Eventually over time at age 16, we learned that our daughter had made a plan to end her life. Getting a phone call that your child just sent goodbye messages to one friend 30 minutes after you handed her the keys because she wanted to “get out for a little bit” is one of the worst feelings. It is difficult to put into words the helplessness, the anger, the despair we felt in that moment. How did we not see it? Our hearts were breaking for our daughter and the people who could have made a difference for good in her life made a choice. They chose to ignore her. They chose to withhold love and kindness. They chose to remain silent even though she was in the hospital three different times. It has been five years since that moment, and while our family has healed a great deal and learned to forgive over time (which is why I will not name the state, church, or names of individuals), I still ask the question “What if they had chosen to just be kind?” A place that should have shown the love of Christ ended up becoming a place that caused brutal damage.
It was because of our daughter’s recovery from severe self-injury and an eating disorder and her desire to care for other hurting teens that my sweet friend, Connie, nominated our 17 year old daughter for the Beauty Revived “50 Beautiful Seniors” campaign four years ago. She had a friend whom she met while living in another state who was a photographer. Meredith Ryncarz, an amazing photographer, captured our daughter for the campaign. For the first time, our sweet girl was able to tell her story. That experience really impacted our daughter and it meant so much to us as her parents. She felt pretty. She felt like she mattered. Most importantly though, she felt valued. No parent wants to see their child go through painful experiences. We know it is part of life, of course, but what if the adults and kids at that church and the school would have shown kindness and compassion instead of judgement and disgust toward her? Our actions, whether they are positive or negative, impact everyone around us. We all have the power to build others up or tear them down.
When I saw that Beauty Revived was accepting applications for the “50 Beautiful Children” campaign, I felt compelled to give. I was overjoyed in May when I got the email stating that I was one of 50 selected from around the country. It was truly an honor to be chosen to represent an organization which focuses on inner beauty. I had no idea who would be nominated or how many kids would be nominated, but I wanted to be able to give back and “pay it forward” for another family so that I could provide a positive experience that would build up and encourage a child. As a photographer, I have the capability to share stories and hopefully make people I come in to contact with feel good about themselves and feel cared about. Especially after the experience with our daughter, I desire to leave people feeling as though someone cares. After being selected as one of the Beauty Revived photographers, I set out to find a deserving child- one who makes a difference- to gift a session to. The nominations began coming in. There was one child who had multiple nominations. The theme of how “kind” this tiny 5-year old child was really stood out to me. Honestly, as I read her nominations, I began to get teary eyed. Meet Paisley. I’ve worked with primary students in public school as a classroom teacher. And while I have had some incredibly sweet students in my history as a Kindergarten teacher, I’ve never run into a child quite like Paisley. Her sweet demeanor melted my heart when I spoke with her for the first time. When I asked her why she liked to be so nice to others, she said, “I like to make friends. They are my friends.” She is sunshine. It was such an honor to not only photograph, but also to write an article to describe the sweet nature of this special gal. Being kind is a really big deal, and it is my hope that we will all learn a little from Paisley. She frequently puts others first, a trait which is usually not present in a 5 year old because of the nature of that stage of development. Even on the day I photographed her, after her mother told her that they would go get her a treat because she was doing such a good job during her session, Paisley told her mom that she wanted to get a treat for her baby brother too. She is a child to learn from and it is my sincere hope that we all pay attention to her message. I encourage you to check out her story on Beauty Revived here. Also, check out her feature on WTKR, News Channel 3: https://wtkr.com/2018/08/14/beauty-revived-national-campaign-features-local-child-for-kindness/
(Session Location: Williamsburg Botanical Garden, located in Williamsburg, Virginia)
Posted on August 1, 2018
I recently had the honor of touring this gem of a location in the Deep Creek Section of Newport News, Virginia. As I walked up to the office to meet Mary and Rachel, I took in the beautiful view of the marina. The calm water, the sailboats nestled into their spots neatly along the dock, and the pristine landscaping warmly welcomed me.
The reception hall, decorated with neutral colors, is lined with windows on the sides. This light and airy space offers a beautiful view of the marina. We love the covered deck just outside the reception hall that overlooks the water, perfect for cocktail hour or gathering with friends to take in a view of a pink, orange and purple sunset. We also loved the fact that it has a kitchen and a bar space that you can use for cocktail hour or for the D.J.
Keffer Hall has a lovely, spacious bridal suite complete with, makeup area, sitting area, and a restroom. The outdoor ceremony area is situated on a perfectly manicured green space. There, a white pergola stands where a couple can exchange their vows with a lovely view of Deep Creek.
We absolutely loved visiting this beautiful wedding venue and it is now on our bucket list of places we’d love to photograph weddings!
Posted on July 24, 2018
I was so excited when Kristen suggested having her engagement session at The Pagoda in Norfolk, Virginia. Torrential rain fell all day, but stopped just an hour before the most romantic, beautiful engagement session in the gardens which surround this brightly colored gem. The Pagoda, an Asian restaurant in the Freemason section of Norfolk, lends a majestic nod to the diversity in Hampton Roads. Also called the Marine Observation Tower, it originated in 1983 when the Taiwanese government decided to give it as a gift to celebrate trade ties. By 1989, the two-story building was constructed on pillars that originally supported a very large molasses storage tank.
At the beginning of our session as we were chatting, Kristen mentioned that the oriental garden is such a beautiful place to meditate. The hushing sound of waterfalls as the breeze gently moves the willow tree branches creates an atmosphere where you can just sit, read, and pray. This lovely garden has a variety of plants to admire, a koi pond, brick walkways and fountains which contribute to a tranquil and romantic feel.
Kristen and Chris looked fantastic for their session. Even with the occasional whipping wind, they were easy-going and full of smiles. Throughout the engagement session, I could see such tenderness in their interactions. I never grow tired of seeing a couple in love. The kindness, respect, and adoration they have for one another was apparent in the way they treated each other throughout my time with them. After nearly 7 years of dating, they have grown into a loving couple that supports the endeavors and dreams of each other. Selfless love. It was such an honor to capture their engagement session and I am excited for their wedding in Nags Head, North Carolina.