Dunia and Evan traveled to the mountains of Asheville to elope with their nearest and dearest. Surrounded by their immediate families during a tumultuous year, they exchanged vows at The Swag, seemingly on top of the world.
Personal touches include rosemary pinned to everyone's lapel (including mine!) from Dunia's Croatian parents and the Breaking of the Glass representing Evan's Jewish heritage. Personal touches to show who you are as individuals and as a couple are must - such beautiful + meaningful moments to look back on.
There were mementos from loved ones on Dunia's wrist and above her veil. They wished to have friends with them for the celebration but 2020 had different plans. They adjusted beautifully for an intimate outdoor celebration instead. I hope the photos will help loved ones feel close to the day.
For cocktail hour, the group of 7 danced to a local bluegrass band and toasted champagne with the sun fading behind the mountains in the background.
This post was originally created in January of 2020 and has been revised throughout the year to be reposted on January 4, 2021.
Air B&B weddings are popping up all over in Asheville and since I've photographed quite a few, I'm familiar with some great spots!
Below I list + link wedding-worthy homes for you to browse but, first, let's talk about what you should look for when choosing a rental home for your Asheville wedding!
Part 1 - Is a rental home right for my wedding?
Now's the time to look for things that a traditional event venue may offer and decide if those are necessary for you. These decisions may be based on your guest list - is it just you 2 eloping to the mountains? Just immediate families with no special needs? Grab your guest list to reference then go through the list below.
A traditional wedding/event venue will offer these things and a rental home likely won't:
Still loving the rental home option?! Now that you're ready to nail down a sweet lil rental for your big day, what should you be looking for?
What to look for in the rental home to ensure a smooth wedding:
If you have to move this party indoors... It's likely you're planning part of the event to be outside but what if you need to move the whole event indoors? Every rental home is different but 2 things the can make a world of difference to capturing beautiful images indoors: window light and a nice style.
Part 2 - Where are the best rental houses in the Asheville area?
On to the good stuff! Below are a few of my favorite Asheville area rental proprieties for your wedding or elopement!
ModCabins - A set of 3 stylish and modern cabins in the woods. They even have beautiful covered porches for a rainy day back-up!
Hart House - Beautiful side yard for a private wedding ceremony + sweet little covered porch for cocktail hour. Southern manor feel on the outside. The photos on this blog post are from Hart House!
Pine Hollow - Multiple outdoor location options for a ceremony and reception! There's gorgeous trees, a lush yard and even little pond.
Cabin Heaven - Cute cabin and some of the best mountain views I've seen from the sprawling lawn!
River's Ridge Lodge - Spacious yet cozy cabin creekside with a killer deck and gazebo. And wedding-hosting experience too!
Stecoah House - An incredible modern rental home for a stylish couple wanting the cabin vibes.
Laughing Waters - Plenty of mountain views in WNC but we have a few spots for the water lovers too, like this one!
Laurel Falls - Multiple cabins, rustic yet modern. Mountain views and plenty of photo spots!
The Gables - Newly built home with room to sleep 20 and all the amenities needed for a fun family getaway.
SKI Quaint Farm Barn Loft - This is such a cute option for an elopement for 2 - a modern charmer!
Big Butte Retreat - Multiple cabins, very rustic, perfect for a giant sleepover with your closest family and friends in the mountains. Mountain views, a small pond and plenty of photo op spots!
Weaver House - More of an event venue than an Air B&B but it is a house-like setting and since it's new - a hidden gem in WNC!
Continue your search on VRBO, Air B&B or HomeAway - these have been helpful for my past clients.
Don't forget to check out local Inns and Bed & Breakfasts in the area too. The owners are often excited to help coordinate the event with you and they provide great insight. And some have stunning settings, check out the gorgeous tree at Mountain Magnolia Inn for your ceremony backdrop or the stately setting at Albemarle Inn!
Part 3 - Found the place! Now what?
You've chosen your rental home and you're ready to plan this party!
Can you do a walk-through? Ask your vendors if you need to scout anything for them - such as...
More planning tips:
I've shot many Air B&B weddings and they always turn out wonderful. I've never been to the same rental house twice for a wedding and I've experienced rained out weddings and all kinds of hiccups - it always turns out awesome. You've got this, happy planning!
The last wedding I got to photograph in 2020 landed on a sunny day in December! Sarah and Troy gathered their closest family members to get married on their original wedding date with a larger event planned for December 2021 which will include extended family and friends.
The ceremony was held on the rooftop of Highland Brewing, one of my favorite venues! All of their incredible vendors are below, I recommend everyone listed!
Venue: Highland Brewing (rooftop for ceremony and Barrel Room for brunch after)
Planner: Plain with Sprinkles
Florals: The Freckled Petal
Hair / Makeup: Pop of Color
Dessert table: Hole Doughnuts
I just loved how the Barrel Room at Highland was setup for this small wedding! The early afternoon sunlight was shining through the skylights onto the hanging planters which are a staple of the space. It's a spacious room so you could set it up in a number of ways to suit your style.
As we all know, the worldwide pandemic derailed many many wedding plans. Some postponed, some cancelled, some pivoted. Lauren and Nathan decided to reduce the guest list, keep everything outdoors and offer all the precautions (space to distance, masks, sanitizer, safe vendors) to continue with their wedding day in May of 2020.
The rain showed up for part of the day but luckily we had the covered pavilion at Olivette to shield us during the ceremony. Olivette is a beautiful newer community right on the French Broad River in Asheville. We all met after at Reverie Events in downtown Asheville to finish the evening with a delicious dinner and cake the bride's mom made!
Below are my favorite moments from a very joyful afternoon in Asheville.
Ceremony Venue: Olivette
Officiant: Elope Asheville
Reception Venue: Reverie Events
Catering: 67 Biltmore
Cake: Mother of the Bride
Because, you know, COVID.
Share this lovely day with your far away loved ones! This is a quick post, here my photographer-perspective tips:
-Test test test! Make sure you get internet connection easily at the ceremony spot. Test the exact way you plan to connect to prevent freak-outs on the day-of.
-Invite your virtual guests, make them feel special and welcome. Emotions are running wild this year, let's make people feel loved a missed! On the invite, include all login details, make sure they login 5-10 minutes before the ceremony begins and include your time zone in your invite.
-Which program to use? I'm not a tech-person so I don't know much but I do know the free version of Zoom is limited. Consider FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or any other program you've been using this year. Make sure there are no ads, time limits or other distractions that would interrupt. Bonus feature is if you can mute your virtual guests so you aren't distracted by their noise as you exchange vows.
-Try to use an iPad, laptop or a propped up phone instead of someone being in charge of holding the phone/iPad. If one of your in-person guests is holding a device then I'll be less likely to capture candids of them enjoying the ceremony because they'll be looking at + fiddling with it throughout. I highly recommend unplugged weddings to encourage all who are present to be in the moment while I handle the photo-taking!
-Place the iPad, laptop or phone as out of sight as possible during the ceremony. Don't block anyone's view who is there in person! Don't worry if we see a bit of laptop in your wedding photos, that' part of the story of your wedding day!
I just love the sunrise. I'm a morning person who rarely gets to do my main work in the morning! I'm often chasing sunsets with couples or models. Sunsets are golden and wonderful but the sunrise is an unsung hero ;)
I drove out to Lenoir, NC to meet Jennifer and Hans for their private elopement. It was just the officiant, myself and my husband, who took the drive with me and was their 2nd witness.
Hans setup the fire before the sun was out as it's an important part of the ceremony. He and Jennifer would be circling that fire as a beautiful ritual. After exchanging vows, they shared cake and champagne, it's never too early for those things! We roamed around the rental home property for couple portraits then I left by 9am to drive home while they enjoyed the rest of their day.
There was so much joy in this small ceremony by the lake!
Rebecca and Max's family got together this summer to celebrate with a smaller wedding before their larger wedding next year. There's been a tradition in the family where all of Rebecca's sisters married on labor day weekend and they wanted to keep that tradition! I love that sentiment and I love LOVE a lakeside wedding. The colors are so gorgeous and a lake represents summertime fun and a serene calmness.
Sweet words from the couple:
"Chelsea could not have been more wonderful as our wedding photographer!! When our original plans were scrapped, we reached out to her 6 weeks out, and she was responsive, helpful, and kind throughout the planning process. We really appreciated working with someone who respected and advocated for a safe environment for everyone involved. Then, the photos... they are truly stunning!! We got a sneak peek two days after the wedding and our collection two weeks after our date. Beyond all of the big moments captured so beautifully, there are so many wonderful candid photos that display the pure joy and real happiness of the day. The little details she shared with us just put such smiles on our faces. We couldn't be happier with our experience and couldn't recommend Chelsea enough!"
Eloping has always been special to me but it's extra special in the times of COVID!
We're all adjusting our old goals and dreams to fit into our new reality, at least for now. Eloping to the mountains is the picture-perfect way to still get married and keep it safe.
We covered what to pack for your outdoor elopement, now what about if you're planning a picnic for two, too?
What to Pack for your Elopement Picnic:
-Food, choose your favorites and remember some food are messier than others
-Drinks, especially water
-Blanket, bring 2 if one side isn't water resistant in case there's mud or buy a cheap drop cloth
-Cooler with ice packs, even if that's just for the car because you have a cute basket for photos!
-Plates, cups, cutlery, napkins, serverware
-Corkscrew/bottle opener + cork for unfinished bottles
-Wet wipes for sticky things
-Trash bag, always leave no trace
-Pre-slice items like the fruit, baguette, cheeses or focus on finger foods.
-Be sure to use the restroom before your picnic, only some trails offer facilities.
-Alcohol isn't allowed in most popular park spots, check for permitting before you pack your basket.
-Rain is always a risk. Do you have a back-up location like your front porch? Could you open up the back of an SUV in a pinch for your picnic?
Most of these set-ups are quite elaborate but there's no harm in some inspiration! Check out these gorgeous settings!
Prefer someone else create the picnic of your dreams so you don't have to worry about it? I hear ya!
I love a great reason to outsource and I can't imagine a better day to outsource than your wedding. These companies can handle the details and get you setup for a simple pick-up.
I highly recommend:
The Rhu - some of my favorite pastries and salads in town!
Asheville Picnic Company - locally sourced goodies from everyone's favorite Asheville makers!
Tick Tock Concierge - Asheville's top concierge service who can manage any request you have!
A sweet note from the happy couple:
"I'm sorry this reply is so late, but all of your pictures were/are AMAZING!! I can't stop staring at them, thank you so much. Everyone I show them to are instantly blown away. The USB and Asheville print made it here safe and sound, and the thought you put into the package was so sweet...
Thank you so much for capturing all of the little moments on our big day!"
Natasha and Jake had a big wedding planned for 2020 but, like many engaged couples, COVID derailed 2020 wedding plans. So they accommodated for the new norm and rescheduled for 2021. In the meantime, they wanted to be married!
Honoring their original wedding date, they brought 13 of their closest loved ones to the mountains for a small wedding in June of 2020. I kept my mask on and plenty of space between myself and the guests while capturing this sweet wedding at the Indigo Retreat in Old Fort, NC.
I asked Natasha to turn away from the camera for a moment to capture her veil and hair details. In looking toward the hydrangeas with a calm posture, she looks like a piece of artwork and created one of my favorite images!
The creek by Indigo Retreat is so beautiful and the perfect spot for couple photos in the woods. We had just enough morning light streaming through the trees to highlight Natasha and Jake on the bridge.
The morning event ended with a family brunch on the porch. The sun was shining and everyone chatted about hiking, napping or both that afternoon. The perfect family getaway to Western North Carolina for a very special reason.
I have openings this fall for small weddings (micro weddings?) and elopements that allow for social distancing. Stay safe out there!
The blog post was originally published on 11/6/2018 and updated on 5/20/2020.
You’re in the gown or suit that took weeks (months?) of research and shopping to find. Your hair is the most on point it has ever been. The venue you’ve selected is perfectly curated with floral arrangements and personal accents. Everyone you love has gathered to celebrate your milestone. This moment is joyful and intentional.
...and unfortunately, the professional photographer you’ve hired to artfully capture this moment is dodging Aunt Jocelyn's camera flash that keeps going off and side stepping your roomie from college who’s half way in the aisle with his iPhone.
It’s literally impossible to capture the important moments because your guests are hovering in the aisle and snapping photos of you with their iPhones as you head to the altar.
It goes without saying that your photos will be of much higher quality if your designated photographer isn’t dodging friends and family to do her job. The less obvious but super powerful benefit of going the unplugged route is that everyone attending is fully present. They're there to witness and engage with their eyes and hearts, rather than with their technology. Eye contact will replace staring into screens if you’ve asked for full participation, rather than documentation.
Making Your Unplugged Wedding a Reality!
Let’s talk about how you prepare your guests for going unplugged:
Most people understand that the photographer was hired to complete a job, and it’s never anyone’s intention to hinder that. And there were many years where I said little about the inclusion of phones/iPads/laptops during the ceremony but I now feel like it's my responsibility to speak up. The usage has increased for everyone and I can see the effects.
Remember: your wedding is about you two! Don’t be afraid to create boundaries!
PS - Need help with your verbiage? Check these out for inspo!
This post was originally published on 8/22/2018 and updated in the fall of 2020.
Weddings. Sigh. They’re magical.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen quite a few couples turn into stressed out project managers during their wedding days, instead of fully enjoying the wedding they’ve worked so hard to create and share with their loved ones. Even the small, intimate weddings I love to photograph can sometimes challenge my clients to soak up the love and really live in the moment.
If you are already anticipating that you’re going to need a plan for controlling stress levels or anxiety during your wedding day, let me offer a few thoughts for truly enjoying this time, and avoiding potential freakouts!
Before Your Wedding
-Checklists FTW! Stay ahead of the game by giving yourself ample time to think about and plan each of the major components of your wedding day, and then break each of those components down with details. If you aren’t hiring a wedding planner, start a document that holds critical information such as the the vendors, materials, budget, and extra support people required for your ceremony, music, transportation, catering, flowers, makeup, hair, and photography. Having a central document will ease the burden of trying to recall mental notes and will help you think through the logistics of the day. You can even share it with your vendors and support people prior to the event.
-Know yourself! If you're an introvert like me, being the center of attention and chatting with 70+ people in 1 day can be exhausting. Think through what works for your personalities and keep that in mind when making decisions. You want the day to feel fun, not obligatory.
-Communicate! You're hiring professionals to create your wedding day and they're there to help. When you have a concern that falls under catering, chat with your caterer asap to ease your worry.
-Have a backup plan. If you're holding any part of the wedding outdoors, always always have a backup plan in case it rains.
-Plan your heart out, pin pin pin then let it all go on the wedding day so you can enjoy!
-Ask for or hire help. If you think you'll need a hand packing the car, cleaning up after the rehearsal dinner or just zipping up your wedding dress then you're probably right! Don't be afraid to ask for help or hire a pro
On the Day
-Assign roles to family members or your best friends to oversee each of the major components of your wedding. Aunt Jean can welcome the catering crew and Grandpa Joe will love making sure the band is set up on time - this is especially great for those family members who arrive early. Remember, you’re supposed to enjoy this milestone and you can’t be in 5 places at once, so make this a community event and enlist your nearest and dearest to help get it all done.
-Don't get wrapped up in pre-planned moments. Maybe you want a specific photo of you and your partner kissing at the end of the aisle but you forgot to do it. Don't worry about it!
-Leave snacks, supplements, essential oils, headache meds and water in your getting ready room or to-go bag so that you can restore your blood sugar and take a breather, as needed.
-Have a loved one or professional give you a little massage. Even 5 minutes of gentle touch can significantly calm nerves and shift your perspective.
In Front of the Camera
Some of us are nervous in front of the camera in the best of times. I have total compassion for my clients who deal with the compounded stress of making sure their wedding runs smoothly in addition to being the subject of a photoshoot. I love being a support for my clients and will guide you the entire time, as needed!
Here are some basic tips for keeping the vibes calm and cool as I capture the day:
-Stay hydrated and eat something. You’ll look and feel better.
-Loosen up! Wiggle, dance, laugh, get silly. Take deep breaths, relax your shoulders, release the tension in your mouth.
-Limit distractions. I know, easier said than done! It’s OK to say no to an audience watching while you take portraits.
-And my favorite tip, ignore me! Most of my couples love a natural and candid feel to the images. Best way to make that happen? Forget I'm even there and I'll handle the rest!
Check out this post for more tips!
Choosing to Bask in the Glow
My biggest hope for my couples is that they let their guard down to enjoy the wedding while I capture it honestly. Yes, things can go wrong. But still... this is your wedding day. There is a special kind of wonderment intrinsic to weddings. The glow of the community surrounding you two. The creation of memories. Experiencing a milestone. Celebrating love in all of its forms! Don’t forget to take care of yourself so that you can bask in that magic you’ve created.
The post was originally published on 6/1/2018 and updated on 5/10/2020.
Many engaged couples choose their wedding package based on pricing + their day-of timeline. Hopefully both, not one or the other!
I've got another reason to consider, what moments do you need your photographer to NOT miss?
Is Grandpa secretly a cryer? Do you have a group ready to dance their asses off at the reception? Or maybe it's definitely NOT a dancing group so you know late night won't be necessary. Envision the day and how you see it unfolding to really know what you want photographed!
Let's start with the most common wedding day photo ops:
Getting ready photos
The dress/suit before it's put on
Hanging out with friends + family during the day (I hear mimosa glasses clinking in anticipation)
Details of invitation suite, rings, shoes, florals, etc.
Photos of the venue decor + setting before guests arrive (ceremony + reception)
Wedding party portraits
First dance / Father & daughter / Mother & son / Any version of these
Candid moments of guests enjoying themselves
Let's look at how they each play out based on my experience with small weddings + elopements (for which I offer an hourly rate).
Covers the basics. For my 2 hour couples, we generally fit in a few getting ready or scenic photos + the ceremony + family photos + couples portraits. Boom. Done. If you only need the basics and have a small group in attendance, this may cover your needs. Or maybe it feels too limited...
Covers the basics plus you get time for candids. For my 4 hour couples, we fit in a few getting ready + scenic/venue photos + the ceremony + family photos + couples portraits + candid moments.
Honestly, I'm trying to capture candid moments even if we're together for a 1 hour session. But during a wedding day, things can get hectic. If we're trying to make it all flow smoothly, find the best lighting and are slightly rushed then I won't have the freedom for candids. Candids require some breathing room for the photographer to walk around and find unexpected moments.
For my 6 hour couples, we fit in getting ready + scenic/venue photos + the ceremony + family photos + couples portraits + a touch of reception fun + plenty of candid moments.
This is a great option for a multiple location wedding too! If we're having a ceremony on a mountain top and a reception downtown, it's likely you'll need to add in driving time to the timeline. I consider the 4 and 6 hour options my most popular packages for small weddings.
For my 8 hour couples, we fit in getting ready pics of both partners + scenic/venue photos + the ceremony + family photos + couples portraits + ROARIN' reception fun + plenty of candid moments.
If you're booking me for 8 hours, you likely have a larger wedding and/or you have a full timeline with multiple locations and activities that can't be missed!
I offer packages from 4 hour to 10 hours of photo coverage but I'm happy to customize. I'll always ask for the most important-can't-miss-photos you are dying for + I ask for enough time to get couples portraits + I photograph the sweet details of the day. Those are non negotiable ;)
I'm always available to take a look at your timeline too, happy to throw in my 2 cents.
The post was originally published 11/15/2017 and updated on 5/5/2020.
Since I last created a list like this, so many new places have popped up. Couples coming to the mountains for their elopement or small wedding have plenty of options for dinner afterwards! Or maybe you need a spot for you family dinner the night before the wedding, these are all great options!
Asheville is known for its food and drink scene, we've got you covered for any style or cuisine.
Buxton Hall BBQ private event space - The Remingtin Room
Smoked whole hog BBQ is quite fitting for a trip to Western NC. Buxton Hall offers up comfort food in a stylish atmosphere. The restaurant itself is beautiful and The Remingtin Room upstairs brings the same vibe in a cozy space. Head here if you love pulled pork, veggies cooked under the pig and southern desserts.
Rhubarb private event space
Rhubarb is known for its dedication to farm-to-table, a very Asheville mindset! We love our local farms and producers and we love supporting them. Rhubarb is all about seasonal dishes with a southern flair. Not long ago they opened up a private event space with all the charm and romance needed for a wedding reception or special event.
Cucina 24 private event space
Although I've never photographed an event in this space, we often go to Cucina 24 for our date night. The Italian food is impeccable with local + seasonal ingredients and an ever-changing menu. We are never disappointed with atmosphere, service or dinner here.
The Montford Rooftop Bar
Full disclosure, my husband runs The Montford so I may seem bias. But! The views of this space speak for themselves, the small team loves interacting with guests and the food + cocktails are killer. I'll say no more since I'm attached to this establishment in some ways but I will say everything on this list is tried and true!
Sovereign is a beautiful cocktail bar in the heart of downtown Avl. The 2 private dining spaces are ready for you and your guests with an eclectic + laid-back feel and local + seasonal dishes. I've been thrilled to take photos for this team a few times and their commitment to quality ingredients is impressive.
Curate is one of the most popular restaurants in Asheville, it's always a booger to get into so make reservations in advance! The chef, Katie Button, is well known for good reason, the authentic Spanish tapas cuisine is unique in this region and on point. They opened up an intimate private dining space with a cozy feel similar to a wine cellar.
Although this list doesn't cover everywhere available to you in Asheville, it certainly covers my favorites, cheers!
The beauty of a winter elopement in Asheville is that there's few people around. We began at The Foundry hotel with getting ready + anticipation photos. Then the bride and I met her groom at Antidote bar for the ceremony followed by beers at Burial brewery, a local favorite.
One of my favorite bouquets by local florists The Freckled Petal, hair + makeup by Anarie Brides and dress from Wildflower Bridal.
Kind words from the bride:
"Chelsea is a true gem that helped our wedding be the amazing day it was. Our pictures are absolutely incredible. Everyone that has seen them has been in awe at how beautiful she made every moment look. They are timeless and captured every detail and emotion from our day. Chelsea went above and beyond in not only her talents as a photographer, but she was willing to help me out as a mini wedding planner when asked for her suggestions. Our elopement would not have been the same if Chelsea wasn’t there and our day was perfect. I would hire her again and again. Thank you Chelsea for everything you did! These pictures will help us remember our wedding day forever." - Sam
This quick list will help you find someone with professional experience who is ready to give you the best images no matter the circumstances - my personal definition of a killer wedding photographer.
That being said, just because a photographer can't check off everything on your list doesn't mean they're a bad match. You likely have a gut feeling, go with it! A checklist is guidance, you still know the big picture and can make the best decision for you and your sweetie.
1. Look for people on their website who look like you!
Some photographers work a lot with models for campaigns and commercial work so they may not have experience working with people who aren't as comfortable in front of the camera. It's literally a model's job to pose well for the camera, their job! Non-models can't compete with that unless you happen to be effortlessly confident ;) Find examples you can identify with so you know you're in good hands.
2. Look for photos of venues similar to yours!
If they only have photos of mountain top elopements at golden hour and you're getting married inside a cabin at night, wouldn't you want to see how that setting would be photographed?
Photographers are masters of lighting. Foggy morning light, bright midday sunlight, warm golden hour, cool-toned dusk, flash lighting, lamp lighting, kitchen lighting... I won't go on but I think you can already understand how different every single lighting situation is! Seeing something similar to your setup is a great way to get a glimpse of what your day could look like in images.
3. Not seeing what you want to see on their website or Instagram? Want to see a full wedding gallery? Ask!
Couples have asked for full galleries and I'm happy to send examples to show what I can offer. The more info from the couple the better too, do you want to see family photos? An elopement? Something in a cabin? Something at Craggy? This will help me select a gallery to share!
4. Think about how you want the wedding day to feel when you're in the middle of all the fun.
The best way to get this conversation started is to simply ask "what's your approach and why?". Your photographer will be excited to share this with you!
Weddings often involve some compromise because it's not a day setup just for photography (like a commercial shoot would be). Weddings are setup based on emotion + location + weather + budget + style + family requests and much more. Do you value your experience in the moment or the photos later? Do you prioritize photography and are willing to go off the timeline to get *the shot* of you and your partner? Or do you prefer your photographer let you enjoy time with your family and friends and they can get candids instead?
One more consideration:
As photographers are getting started, they may not have experience in the exact same scenario you're planning and that doesn't mean they can't rock out your wedding! The opportunity to photograph an elopement at a local brewery on a Sunday morning maybe hasn't crossed their path yet! I've had my business open for 5 years and I just photographed my first maternity shoot - it went beautifully and I'm thrilled they trusted me to capture those memories for them!
Happy photog-finding! Wishing you all the best with your wedding day, I hope you enjoy every moment and look back on your photos often.
Rome is a city full of personality.
You should only order espresso in the AM hours, religious notes are mixed in with sex while the graffiti tangles with creeping vines in the most charming corners. Personality.
It's loud except in the early morning where you don't even notice commuters. Is there a rush hour here? There are people everywhere as the afternoon rolls around and the city is everyone's backyard for gatherings, dog walks and cocktail hour.
I'm visiting with my husband, my bff Alicia and her fiancé Ryan. Rome is Alicia and Ryan's favorite city and they're here to get married!
I've known Alicia for many many years. We became close in college then life + jobs took us in different directions (geographically speaking). We haven't lived near each other in almost 10 years but we remain close friends and it was a joy to watch her marry Ryan in a private ceremony created just for them.
As soon as she told me her plans, I invited myself along because duh.
Alicia picked out flowers at the daily market below our Air B&B. The lady running the shop was kind enough to arrange and bundle them beautifully for her.
The windows are open as Alicia gets her hair and makeup done and Ryan irons his shirt. We can hear everyone below buying fruits, vegetables and juices.
We head to a beautiful park where the officiant awaits. The park is pretty empty and I'm relieved to avoid onlookers.
Did you know Americans can legally get married in Italy? It's not just symbolic unless you want it to be!
We walk the park then into a favorite neighborhood for a mix of settings. There's no bad place to take a photo, my mind is on overdrive narrowing down options for lighting, posing and setting. I offer light direction then let them be as they are, doing what they want. Documentary is my favorite approach.
Watching Ryan guide Alicia, it looks like a movie still. The black and white images from this wedding top my list of favorites.
Are you even a wedding photographer if you don't make your couple get into a flower bush?
When planning your wedding timeline and noting your favorite photo ops, make sure there’s enough time for your photographer to get candids of your guest enjoying themselves!
All these folks dressed up, bought gifts, possibly travelled and are excited to support you, you'll want to look back and remember how much fun they had! Are candids of your guests important to you? It's one of my most requested type of images for my couples! And it takes the right kind of photographer to capture those fleeting moments before they're gone. It requires patience, discretion and speed.
Your guests are pretty cute, let's include them in the story of your wedding.
I recommend 2 approaches to making sure you get great guest candids: ensure there's plenty of time in your schedule for your photographer to capture guests OR include a second shooter in your photo package for a tight timeline.
Most of us are comfortable covering the day on our own as long as we can find time to bounce around throughout the day to capture everything. If we feel we need to be in 2 places at once, a second shooter could be awesome!
If you have 1 photographer and they’re taking couple portraits with you during cocktail hour, there won't be anyone to snap pics of your guests enjoying themselves at cocktail hour. You have the option to tailor your timeline or discuss second shooter options with your photographer.
Second shooters shoot with the main photographer on the wedding day. The main photographer (who you hired) will edit all the images together so the collection is still cohesive.
You are lucky!
If you're eloping with a simple ceremony, you have a LOT less to think about than the couple planning + packing for a traditional wedding.
But, there is still some thought to be put into this. After all, you want to create special memories just as the same, right? Right!
This is unlikely your first hike so any other items you deem important to take on your other adventures, bring these along for your elopement too, at least in the car! “Follow your heart but bring your brain with you.”
Is your pup joining? Check out this list to prepare for them too!
Pre-wedding + pre-hike thoughts: sunscreen and bug spray aren't your usual wedding day accessories but they're important, consider adding them into your getting ready plans.
Here’s what I’ll bring:
Hiking on the wedding day is nothing to fear or get nervous about, it adds to the fun and romance of your day! Throw everything you need in the car or in a backpack (depends on how long the hike is) and let's go!
“I want to look good in my wedding/engagement/professional pics but I’m so awkward!!”
"We’ve never had our photos professionally taken."
"We don't like having our photos taken but we want to make the most of the experience."
This is what I hear before almost every single shoot. You're in good company!
1. Take comfort in the fact that I swiftly delete any photos where I think either of you don’t look great. I don't require you to look like a supermodel but I also never want you to cringe looking at an image of yourself! My goal is to shoot and edit in a flattering manner, always.
That being said, how I see you will be different than how you see you, how your mom sees you or how your new spouse sees you. We all have different points of view and I think that’s such a gift.
If I see a profesh image of myself (I walk you through my actual reactions to my anniversary pics here) and I’m not thrilled with it but I know my photog would never have sent me an image where he or she thinks I look bad, it means that they see something positive where I see something negative. It means that there is beauty in flaws. It means that if I walk out of my house with a bad hair day, I’m likely the only one to notice. It means that when I feel a lil frumpy, others don’t care. We are our own worst critics, wouldn’t it be nice if we gave ourselves more grace and ignored the flyaway or the extra 5lbs of Thanksgiving weight? Wouldn’t it be nice if we looked at a photo of ourselves and saw the joy our the smile instead of the size of our arm?
2. Part of my job is to guide you as needed (when the light is bad, we switch angles / when my angle is unflattering, I adjust my viewpoint). I will guide you! Listen to the guidance because there are likely at least 3-5 reasons the photographer is giving that instruction.
3. What about when guidance isn’t an option? I'll also capture candid moments and special details where guidance would ruin the magic. So I still shoot shoot shoot and if I find later the shot isn’t salvageable, I’ll delete it. If the photo needs tweaking then I manage that in my editing process. I cannot treat a wedding day like a photo shoot, it just doesn't work that way! And that's why we get so many beautiful candid images. So guidance is great but realness is too - I'll adjust accordingly!
4. I have yet to meet a couple who hasn’t claimed to be awkward, uncomfortable, nervous or downright unexcited about getting their pics taken. Seriously, none! So if you like the images you see that I share on my website, please know that they all felt the same way you do. You’re in good company because I’ve worked with some really fun, sweet and often introverted couples who feel nervous and we always make it work.
5. I’m shooting for you! I'm not taking photos to fill a quota, to improve my Instagram or to practice my skills. I'm taking photos to fulfill your photo needs and I’m thinking of you the entire time. So share how you’re feeling, tell me what could help and let me know if you only want photos of your left side 😉
We got this, don't stress.
Thinking of including your dog in your wedding?
Full disclosure: dogs are my fave. I love 'em all. Troublemakers, seniors, small, huge, furry, cuddly, mutts, pure-breds, you name it. So, I'm all for it! A little prep work and consideration is required but you can handle it.
Here are my tips!
Best part of bringing your dog along for the day? They'll be so sleepy by the time it's over!