A Magical Backyard Wedding
I'll start with - this blog post is a long time coming. 2020-2021 included some of my favorite sessions and weddings and some of them haven't even been posted to social media yet - let alone graced the blog. The last two years have been so busy that I haven't had time to share all of the pretty things I was lucky enough to be able to witness in real life. It isn't a reflection of how much I loved a session or wedding, either, because this one was one of my favorites in my career and I am just now - six months later - finally blogging it.
Even if I wasn't obsessed with Amanda and Andre (which I am) and even if I hadn't seen this backyard days before when Alan & Tonia were just beginning to turn it into a magical and romantic place for these sweet souls to say, "I do," and celebrate with their loved ones all night (which I did) I think I still would have gasped when I saw how it all came together. As it stands, when two people you hit it off with immediately (truly - it's like we were fast friends) and who deserve the most perfect day actually pull off the most magical backyard wedding you've ever seen - you walk around marveling at it. Or I did, anyhow. Seeing it days before when it was just a yard (albeit a yard that you can tell is always meticulously cared for because Alan and Tonia have amazing taste and a beautiful property) made it even more impressive.
Just look at how Springvine, their Asheville team, transformed a white tent into a temporary wedding venue that rivaled actual wedding venues.
As a color-lover, I'll be the first to admit this wedding had me considering an all-white wedding for one of the first times in my life.
This is the kind of wedding that people will still be talking about twenty years from now and it won't be out of style. So many trends are fun "right now" and then six months later people wish they had gone a more traditional route because the trend passed and turns out they didn't choose it because they loved it but because it was popular. Always, always choose what you love.
The florals were beautiful. I would not have guessed that an "all-white" wedding with white florals and bouquets could have so much variety and texture just in the florals, but Springvine nailed it.
PS - I love they passed out little shawls for guests. It was a windy fall day and be nighttime it was absolutely freezing. All of these were happily used by the end of the evening.
I mean - the gold chairs really were just *chef's kiss*
Just look how pretty her cake is with the bud vases accenting the table and all of the pops of gold. Perfection.
Amanda's mom passed away far too soon after fighting pancreatic cancer and like Cystic Fibrosis (what my little brother fought before passing), the color is purple. I teared up seeing her mama in her wedding dress surrounded by the only colorful flowers at the wedding - this beautiful purple bouquet.
PS; You can make a donation in her mama's honor here.
As a mother myself, I can safely and assuredly say that Amanda's mom would have loved Andre and would have walked into the tent that day and been overwhelmed with how perfect her little girl's day was. If she could have been there in person and not just in the hearts of everyone who knew her - she would have been.
Where was the "there?"
At Amanda's god-father's home. Alan (of Alan Jewelry and Pawn if you're a local and recognize the name) and his wife Tonia were best friends with her mom and dad - and you could tell they consider Amanda one of "theirs." Like I said, I saw their yard before the wedding, and nobody does the kind of work these two did for someone they don't consider family. They didn't just hire help - they, themselves, did a lot of the heavy lifting and decorating. I watched Tonia carrying buckets of mums and Alan working on landscaping. Because Amanda isn't just a dear friends' daughter - she is their family. So they transformed their home into the most perfect wedding venue.
Just - absolutely transformed, truly.
Their home is somewhere Amanda associated with another home - and one of her favorite things about it are these donkeys. It was so cute listening to her talk about each of them and their personalities.
How beautiful is just a small snippet of their home? This driveway was one of Amanda's "we need photos by" requests. I was happy to oblige (you'll see them soon).
Fresh Aire Salon & Spa was walking distance from the home and that's where the girls got ready for the day. Danielle, the owner, is actually who introduced us and I am forever grateful because I consider Amanda and Andre friends (they are stuck with the twins and I forever now and the only beach vacation we have planned for this year is to visit them in Florida this summer break). Fun fact! I actually shot Danielle's daughter's wedding a few years ago and have regularly worked with her and her team for styled shoots. All of the girls do an amazing job.
Regina, who worked on Amanda, is also a client of mine (and friend) so the wedding day was really fun for me because it felt like hanging out with friends more than it felt like work in some ways.
Look how cute Amanda is even in a robe being all shy and not realizing she looked like a model before she even got dressed.
In other ways, the pressure was on, because I had been texting Amanda for months and knew how hard she worked to pull off her dream day. She planned ever single detail intentionally and sentimentally so that it wasn't just a perfect day for her, but for Andre as well. One of my favorite details was the inscription inside of his wedding band. My most favorite? Her ring - because it was made with her mother's diamond.
Her earrings and necklace were made for her by Alan and Tonia as a wedding gift out of her mother's jewelry - and the mama in me wanted to cry watching them place them on her after their first looks and knowing her mama would be walking down the aisle with her, dancing with her, and celebrating with her in so many small ways, even if not in the way everyone there wished she could.
I could do an entire blog post on her freakin' shoes. They were gorgeous.
Everything she chose went together perfectly - and her wedding details look like something out of a styled shoot's inspiration board.
If you asked me to I could tell you the reason she chose almost every single piece of jewelry and every detail - because like I said before she chose things intentionally and most of her details held sentimental value. I loved that. I think when wedding planning it's easy to get wrapped up in what your friends would like to see, what the internet tells you that you need, what Pinterest tries to convince you to buy - and it's easy to end up with a bunch of things that aren't really "you" or "the two of you" and it's always nice to be at a wedding where that isn't the case at all. Everything there, everyone there - mattered to the couple.
When Amanda read her vows later at the ceremony and got to the part about finding happiness for the first time since her mama passed - I wasn't the only one crying. I will love Andre forever just because I know how much of a light he is in her world.
After the girls got ready at the spa they headed to the house to get dressed and love on Amanda & Andre's fur baby.
Before you ask someone to be your bridesmaid, ladies, make sure they'll keep you laughing and smiling your entire wedding day. Just like these girls did. Zero drama. 100% supportive. The entire day.
Right before Amanda got dressed she finished writing her vows while the boys spent some time with my associate photographer practicing their modeling skills.
Then she read her vows for the videographer - and we all cried a little.
Truly. She has a way with words. She pulled at my heart strings reading it. You could hear it - she is so in love with him. Spend some time with him around his nephews or his niece and you'd be like, "Oh - of course she can't wait to start a family with this man."
Plus look how well he cleans up - of course she's smitten.
They had fun modeling with Alan's classic cars. Andre looks like a pro.
These two little men stole the show, though.
Until Amanda put on her dress, that is.
Her reaction to his letter and gift before the ceremony was so sweet.
Look at her face in that one with her reading the letter. Just the absolute cutest I swear.
The bracelet he picked for her was the most perfect accessory for her look that day and complimented her other diamond jewelry flawlessly.
Once it was on, it was time for first looks with her dad, Alan & Tonia, and her grandmother before it was time to walk down the aisle.
The ceremony. I'm going to let the photos speak for themselves. I'm certain you can guess the parts that made me cry - and the parts that made other people cry.
I can't wait to watch these two celebrate their fifth, tenth, and fiftieth wedding anniversaries. Some couples you just know are going to last a lifetime. In 50 years follow up with me - I'm not even a little worried about these two making it.
After the ceremony we played with this floral arch for more photographs of the couple and their loved ones while the florist waited patiently to move it to the reception area and use it for their sweetheart table. I 10/10 recommend asking your florist how to utilize your ceremony formals for your reception so that they aren't just left alone the rest of the wedding and so your reception can have even more florals than you might have planned to have otherwise.
If we didn't want them to get to their friends and family and celebrate, we could have taken photos on this bridge with these two, all day. As it stands, I do actively try to be quick so that my couples can join their party and eat the dinners they picked out.
This photo is one of my Top Three favorites from the day. The roses. Her smile. Their snuggle. Her dress. The falling leaves around them. It's the photo for me that really summed up the way they felt that whole day.
Honestly, we couldn't stay at the bridge because 1. The florist needed us to give the arch back (I never wanted to do so) 2. Because they needed to get to their reception and 3. We had like... 15 more beautiful places we wanted to take photos. Like in front of the house.
This sweet pup was so happy to see mama.
& daddy, too.
Remember when I said she wanted pictures in the driveway? I didn't forget.
I wanted to snap some in front of the house that means so much to her - where she has so many amazing memories and where she made even more of them on her wedding day. These are my other favorites from the day.
My associate and I stood side by side and took this series of photos with three different cameras. It's so wild to me how much the images change based on the lenses - and it was really fun to see them in a row like this. Our elbows were almost touching. That's how close we were together.
Still touching elbows here - but the difference is night & day between these two shots. I love them both.
We adventured a little more and then we ended back up at the blue classic cars - because blue is my favorite and even if I'm not a car person I can appreciate how nice these two vehicles are.
Did I cut my arm climbing into this thorny bush? Maybe. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
After these we headed down to the reception. & these two had a blast dancing and partying with their loved ones. There were sweet speeches, shots taken, nana's grinded on (hahahaha), delicious dinners, and sweet desserts. It was a perfect evening and since I can't share the hundreds of photos of the reception, I'm just going to include the ones I think give a good summary of their evening.
(I loved the mums)
*Let the party begin with puppy snuggles*
Congratulations to these two, again.
I truly am so happy for you both.
To everyone who made it to the bottom of this - I truly did spend a week narrowing down the photos from about 400 to however many are in this post. It was hard, y'all.
[Full vendor list coming soon because I want to publish it now and my phone with the whole list is dead]
Hair & Makeup - Fresh Aire Salon & Spa
Bride's Jewelry - Alan's Jewelry & Pawn
Florals - Springvine Designs
Venue - Private Residence