Five Tips for Finding a Wedding Photographer | Virginia Wedding Photographer | Belle Eve Photography

You just got engaged. You have chosen your wedding date. You have chosen your wedding planner and have narrowed down your choice of wedding venue. You found your florist, the caterer, the cake artist, the DJ, a stationer, and your stylist. You have your eye on several wedding dresses and have made an appointment to get fitted for the dress of your dreams for the biggest event of your life. Now, how do you even begin looking for a wedding photographer? Which photographer will be the best choice for you? Here are five tips you can use when searching for your wedding photographer.

  1. Take the time to look at the portfolio on their website. Consider the editing style you’re looking for. Light and airy? Moody? Clean / true to life? Does the editing style appear consistent overall? If you absolutely love a certain photographer but prefer a completely different processing finish, the final product may result in frustration. Understanding the editing style of your photographer will help you to have realistic and accurate expectations of the final product.
  2. Along the same lines as processing and editing style is “photography style.” If a photographer is strictly photojournalistic, they will document your wedding day with a minimal emphasis on posed portraits and styled details. There will be mostly candid images. On the other hand, a traditional wedding photographer will mostly shoot carefully posed images of key moments. The photographer will have a strict “shot list” and will use that to provide images of those moments. Currently, the majority of wedding photographers in the Hampton Roads area use a “documentary / wedding photojournalism” style, which is a hybrid of the two previously mentioned styles. They capture candid moments and posed moments throughout the day, providing you a combination of images where you and your guests are “camera aware” and images where you and your guests don’t appear to “notice” the camera.
  3. Consider the photographer’s personality and temperament. Take the time to get to know your prospective wedding photographer during the consultation. It is really helpful to hire someone who isn’t going to clash with you, your guests, or other vendors on your wedding day. Having someone who causes strife and interpersonal conflict can contribute to a lot of unnecessary stress. Find a photographer with a positive attitude who is organized, professional and desires to serve you well.
  4. Light. Where will you be getting married? Outside during the day? Inside a church or other type of indoor venue? Will your reception extend into the evening after sunset? While some indoor ceremony sites have beautiful natural lighting, not all do. Most photographers begin learning to master their photography skills using natural light. However, when the situation arises where there is very little light or very dim light, it is usually necessary for the photographer to know how to utilize “off camera flash”. Using lighting equipment adds a professional “finish” to images taken in low light environments, especially after the sun goes down.
  5. Packages and Collections. After you decide on your photography budget, find out when you meet with your prospective photographer what is included in their base price. They will be able to educate you about what they include, set packages, or a la carte items. For example, will the base price include a downloadable gallery? How long will it take to get your digital gallery? Will there be a second shooter? Travel fees? What print products to they offer? Do they offer albums? Knowing exactly what is included will help you to plan ahead for what other products you will want to purchase after your wedding images have been processed so that your wedding photographer can serve you well.

Venue Tour | Colonial Heritage Club | Virginia Wedding Photographer

Colonial Heritage Golf Club is located in Williamsburg, Virginia. It has a championship golf course that sits in the woods, with lovely landscaping on pristine greens. It is also an incredibly opulent Virginia wedding venue with grand amenities, limitless beauty, and friendly staff.

As I arrived at Colonial Heritage, I immediately noticed how welcoming and friendly the staff was. Stacy Krick, Director of Sales, led the tour and kindly showed me the many amenities there, both inside and outside. The large outdoor ceremony space – the Knoll – is situated behind the British – Colonial style 25,000 square foot club house and is adorned with gorgeous views of the rolling hills and fountain on the golf course and the club house.

Your reception can take place in the main grand ball room, which can hold 300 guests or in the smaller reception space – The Heritage Room – which can hold up to 80 guests. The Heritage Room also offers access to the outer veranda which overlooks the Knoll and provides an amazing view of the sunset.

The staff will work with your event planner to create your reception layout for the placement of the DJ, the cake, the sweetheart table, the head table, and beyond. Additionally, they will help you with your menu plan.

For portraits, a staff member will take you by golf cart to various locations on the property to serve as a beautiful backdrop for your wedding party and couple portraits. Some of the locations that stood out were the gazebo and fountain, a flower lined path, a wooden footbridge, and a Magnolia tree lined road (just for the bride and groom).

Venue Tour | Cousiac Manor | Virginia Wedding Photographer

Cousiac Manor, a wedding venue located in Lanexa, Virginia is a beautifully scenic and secluded location. Nestled along the Pamunkey River sits the original Manor House, built in 1746 by Augustine Claiborne, who was a Virginia state senator. He and his wife Mary had 13 children while living there, one who became a United States Congressman. The first First lady, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was born just a few miles west of Cousiac Manor along the Pamunkey River. Because of the beauty and rich history there, it is truly a gem for events.

The Manor House (which is currently under renovation) serves as a beautiful backdrop for both ceremonies and photography. Immediately in front of the house are two gorgeous Magnolia Trees which provide shade from the sun, a natural center aisle for ceremonies, and also contribute to the charm of this lovely Southern wedding venue.

The Rose Mallow Barn is used frequently for wedding receptions and also has a new patio which overlooks the river. The barn has open doors which allows air flow and a beautiful view of the water. It includes a climate controlled dressing room for the bride and bridesmaids, a groomsmen suite, catering kitchen, and guest restrooms. The groom and groomsmen can get ready in a nearby building which sits near the Manor House. Additionally, the Pavilion is also available as an add on to use for your ceremony during inclement weather or as an additional space for your reception.

There are several spaces outside where you can have your ceremony with a view of the water, which includes a pergola to frame the couple during the ceremony. There are a variety of locations for wedding party, family, and bridal portraits, including the water front, outside of the Manor House, fields, and even a silo. If you are looking for secluded waterfront venue with rustic and historical charm, this is definitely the wedding venue for you!

Senior Session | Norfolk, Virginia | Virginia Senior Photographer

Photographing high school seniors always warms my heart, inspires me, and excites me because not only do I have a chance to get to know them, I also get to be a part of such an important milestone: graduating high school and becoming an adult.

This sweet Senior was so much fun to capture for her Senior Session! And this honor student also happens to be my daughter. She’s pretty amazing, if you don’t mind me saying so! Annika read an engagement session blog post that I wrote about a year ago and fell in love with the artistic quality of the Pagoda and its surrounding gardens. The brightly colored Pagoda in Norfolk, Virginia stands proudly. As you walk along the meandering brick path in the lush gardens, the waterfall and weeping willows hush you into silence and beg you to sit, reflect, or even to paint.

Annika is an artist. Therefore, she wanted her Senior portrait session to illustrate her love and passion for art and her artistic view of the world. She is passionate about crafting imagery that is real to someone. She pours dreamy creations onto a page for all to see. Her next step is college, where she will study Animation and Art. She was inspired to learn more about and practice art by her older sister, Rachel. Rachel is also an unbelievably talented artist.

This creative outlet initially became a way for her to express herself. She used it to cope when she was going through a rough patch during middle school. Over time, she enjoyed it so much that she began striving to learn as much as she could about it. I am confident that she will do incredible things in college!

Venue Tour | Under the Stars Farm | Virginia Wedding Photographer

Have you ever been somewhere that hasn’t been completely developed yet, but when the person describes their vision for the location, you can totally see it clearly? I had the honor of meeting C.J. McDonald, owner of Under the Stars Farm in Gloucester, Virginia, this week. To say that her vision for her wedding venue is “incredible” doesn’t seem enough. This place is going to be amazing, friends!

After meeting her at her farm house, built in 1842, C.J. took me to the venue location on her property. Currently, they are in the process of clearing land so that they can begin executing their plan for the first phase of the project- a pavilion and gorgeous lavender fields. They are currently growing a test patch of lavender, which smells heavenly! If only you could smell the fragrant lavender through this blog post! The current field and the upcoming several additional acres of lavender that will be added will be a beautiful backdrop for weddings since it will be adjacent to the pavilion, which will also overlook a scenic pond. Eventually, they will also build an event barn. So if you are engaged and plan to get married in 2020 you will have to check out this new wedding venue. Not only will it be the picture perfect location to wed, there is so much heart behind all of it.

Location of Upcoming Lavender Fields

C.J. dreams of using her farm, which has animals too in addition to the lavender, to help others. She desires to help others create beautiful memories by providing a place where couples and their family and friends can have a wonderful experience. Her plans also include using the lavender to create soaps and lotions. You can find out more about when these products will be available here! You can also learn more about the farm, watch the progress and learn about the launch of some additive lavender products on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet Christen Turney | Professional Calligrapher | Allocco Design

The Handwritten Note

The handwritten letter.  I always dreamed of having beautiful handwriting when I started learning cursive in school.  I have fairly neat handwriting, but achieving a traditional calligraphy style of handwriting hasn’t happened for me yet. I have mastered D’Nealian print because of my primary teaching background, but it isn’t nearly as elegant as calligraphy.  There is just something special about an artfully handwritten note that sets it apart from text messages or emails.  It takes additional effort and time.  The thoughtful effort makes something handwritten unique and makes the recipient feel valued. 

Professional Calligrapher

Allow me to introduce to you Christen Turney of Allocco Design.  She is a very talented calligrapher based in Southeastern Virginia.  She uses a traditional style of calligraphy that is refined and absolutely gorgeous.    She got her start in calligraphy when she participated in Project 52, a project that led her to post some form of art weekly.  Eventually she focused her artistic interests more on calligraphy.  A book that her mom gifted her in addition to classes helped her to refine her calligraphy skills which are a wonderful fit with her background in graphic design.   

A Variety of Wedding Calligraphy Services

Christen provides a variety of calligraphy services ranging from weddings to commissions.  For weddings she does invitations but that is only one piece of the puzzle.  Not only can she design your wedding invitations, she also can address the envelopes, design elegant wedding signs (table numbers, seating chart signs, etc.) for the reception, vows and other signs for the ceremony, and more.  She also teaches calligraphy classes and has a podcast as well.

Advice for Brides

When I asked Christen what advice she has for prospective brides, she suggested planning ahead.  When working with couples for a wedding, she caters to each unique event.  Since calligraphy is an art form, it takes time to complete it just as it takes time for any other type of visual art.  For invitations, for example, she suggests allowing 3-4 months.   See below for a sample of her lovely work!

A Grandview Nature Preserve Engagement Session |Virginia Wedding Photographer

Jordan and Zack

Engagement and wedding season officially began for me in April and I’m so excited about the couples I have the honor to work with and serve in 2019!  And of course, I am still doing Anniversary Sessions for families and capturing high school and college Seniors as well.  

I recently had the opportunity to capture the sweetest and most easy going engaged couple along with their beautiful dog, Maple.  Jordan and Zack were my recent Engagement Session Giveaway winners.    It was so much fun getting to know them as we walked along the shore at Grandview Nature Preserve in Hampton, Virginia on a warm, sunny Spring day. 

Jordan, a dental hygienist, and Zack, a professional fisherman and owner of Salt Treated Sport Fishing, met in high school.  These high school sweethearts have been together for 12 years and recently got engaged!  They will be tying the knot in September of 2020 and are very excited about their upcoming wedding in Powhatan, Virginia! 

 Jordan wore a lovely, flowing white and pastel striped cotton high-low dress and Zack’s denim and crisp white shirt complemented her very well.  They looked amazing!  I absolutely loved their casual beach vibe, complete with their sweet German Shorthaired Pointer that loves playing on the beach (and was very interested in the pelicans and seagulls flying just over the surf).

I was so thankful that the sun was shining and that it was in the 70’s especially after having to reschedule because of rainstorms.  We walked a distance down the beach and found a more secluded area with beach grass and driftwood.  I could tell right away how much they adore one another because of their close friendship.  It was truly a pleasure and honor to gift an engagement session to such a sweet couple. 

Meet Kari Scruggs | Two River Events | Vendor Spotlight

Meet Kari Scruggs of Two River Events, LLC. She is a wedding and event planner located in Southeastern Virginia who serves Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas. Kari established Two River Events in 2013 because of her own wedding.

She and her mother planned her wedding, which was perfect since her mother was a veteran wedding planner. While it was a successful and beautiful wedding, it was also pretty stressful. She recalls wishing that she would have had a coordinator on her wedding day as her phone was ringing nonstop while she was getting ready. Her mother ended up having her hair done twice because she was working so hard after the stylist did her hair the first time that she was literally sweating as she got all of the details set up. Ultimately, Kari missed out on time with her mom because of all of the work it took to make her wedding day a success. Because of this experience, Kari understands first hand the stress of a wedding and how it can impact a couple and their families without help. She is passionate about making sure her clients are so well taken care of that they can enjoy their wedding day free from stress. She truly desires for her couples to be free to enjoy time with family and friends, knowing that their wedding planner is handling all the details.

As we were chatting over lunch, I asked her this question: What is some advice that you would give to potential clients? Kari suggests that as you plan your wedding, make sure you have a good understanding of your wedding budget, knowing that your guest count will dictate everything. She also recommends being flexible. Sometimes unexpected things, such as weather, illness, missing wedding rings, and so on happen. Things will probably happen that are out of your control. Being flexible and having a plan B will save everyone a lot of stress.

Two River Events, LLC has several options to help you plan your wedding with the understanding that each couple and wedding is unique. Therefore, the experience will be customized to fit your needs.

  • Event Management: This option allows the bride and groom to design their own day. Kari will help with the timeline and the execution of the details of your day.
  • Partial Event Planning: This option incorporates some designing, conversations about the design, 1-2 vendor meetings with you, and the timeline and execution of the details of your ceremony rehearsal and your wedding day.
  • Full Event Planning: This option includes full design, all meetings with you and your vendors, and the timeline and execution of the details of your ceremony rehearsal and your wedding day.

Hair stylist: Lauren Barefoot

A James River Elopement | Belle Eve Photography | Virginia Wedding Photographer

A little less than a year ago two people took a trip to a beach along the James River, yet they did not know each other. Jacob was standing at the water’s edge, looking out toward the horizon and taking in the beautiful day. As Emily was walking by, Jacob turned around and literally ran into her. This moment was the start of a beautiful relationship. From then on, they knew they would be together. They began dating and their love flourished. Since Jacob’s orders from the Army were going to move him elsewhere, they decided to elope on the very spot where they met. On a chilly April morning, with only a minister, their parents, and several close friends they united their lives together in marriage in the most beautiful ceremony as the fog hovered over the James River.

The bride wore an ivory bohemian inspired dress adorned with lace on fluted sleeves along with her grandmother’s gold locket with pictures of her late grandparents. The groom wore navy trousers and a crisp white shirt along with a skinny floral tie. The ceremony was brief and included their vows, exchanging rings,and their first kiss as husband and wife as their loving families and friends stood on the sand nearby and supported this new union. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to capture this part of their journey. Congratulations, Emily and Jacob!

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An Historic Yorktown Teen Session | Beauty Revived Runner-up | Belle Eve Photography

It was a warm summer evening when I had the honor of meeting Lydia and her family in Historic Yorktown, Virginia to photograph her as the runner-up for the Beauty Revived “50 Beautiful Children” campaign. The Beauty Revived organization emphasizes and promotes the inner beauty of children, teens, and women.

Lydia is a beautiful, sweet gal who truly shines. It wasn’t her external beauty, however, that motivated Sharon, a family friend, to nominate her for the “50 Beautiful Children” campaign. When asked “What makes this child truly beautiful?”, Sharon wrote: “Lydia is truly beautiful in appearance, but her heart is what is most beautiful. She is a young teenager but she doesn’t seem to be swayed in the ways that most teen girls are. There is a purity about her. She loves God deeply and steps into moments that reflect His love and affirmation of her God given gifts and talents. She also has a strong confidence about her, willing to step into the hard things. She also loves people with depth, a beautiful thing for a young woman her age.”

The inner strength and faith of Lydia is inspiring. She has a heart for others that manifests in a maturity beyond her years. As an elementary school student she and her sister sold lemonade to raise money for poor children in Haiti. As a teen, she has become a Bible study leader for her peers- the youngest one last summer, in fact.

It isn’t always easy to be a leader. Leadership can often mean standing on your own two feet even when you are the only one standing. Sometimes it means walking alone because you took a stand for doing what is right. It takes courage, and Lydia most definitely has this beautiful quality.

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