Jessica & Jeff have been engaged since Summer of 2018 - but weren't rushing their engagement. Jessica started looking at dresses in August, not really planning to fall in love with this gown from David's Bridal, but when the attendants dolled her up in the jewelry and veil - she had to have it. So she happened to already have the dress when she was diagnosed with breast cancer (HER2 triple negative breast cancer); it's uncommon and has a high likelihood of recurrence which makes treatment experimental as well as aggressive.
That was May 14th, 2019.
This wedding took place on June 14th, 2019.
I think Ashley contacted me for Jessica two weeks before the wedding, if that.
I had marked that date off in my calendar as "Vic - DO NOT WORK, JUST EDIT," and it had been sitting there wide open like God knew I would need to have it set aside, even if I thought the reason was to edit. I told Ashley to tell me their budget - and we'd make it work.
My mom is a breast cancer survivor.
So Ashley's email for Jessica (the bride) had me more than willing to make it work; especially when Ashley told me the photographs will be so important to the daughters of the bride. My own mother had a photo shoot with Emily & Noah before treatment began and they are some of her most cherished photos before she lost her hair to chemo. So the pressure was on for me, in the most sincere way when it came to photos of her and her daughters especially.
I looked at my calendar to see what shoot I would need to reschedule and it was open - 100% open. A total coincidence that of all the days I set aside I chose that one for the month of June.
I'll share more on the story of her diagnosis and treatment plan, which started the week after their wedding (ergo the one month planning extravaganza to make it happen "ASAP") when I have her entire wedding done in a couple of months and update this blog post with more than these "previews." The purpose of THIS blog post - is to brag on the bride and groom for throwing together an amazing event in about a month, on Taylor Ranch for making it possible, and the vendors who helped out. This post is meant to be a happy one - to share enough of Jessica's story so that you understand but not so much that when she reads it I accidentally make her cry anything but happy tears.
I told the couple I would have their formals back within two weeks of the wedding date, which is much earlier than I usually deliver them but I wanted them to have them when treatments were starting. I want her to have some happiness to hold on to. Which doesn't mean I pushed anyone else "behind" on my editing que, it just means I stayed up until 4am a few nights instead of 3am to make it happen.
& I assure you, happy tears were shed. By guests, by the groom, and by me the day of her wedding. Her daughters were such a joy to work with and it made me cry when they teared up during the ceremony. I had to keep looking at their sparkly dresses to distract myself from the looks on their faces when they watched their mama get married. I'm having to distract myself NOW by thinking about the dresses because I'm getting choked up again. So let's all just look at those now, shall we?
June 14th my family received horrible news about my little brother, Noah - and my friend and second shooter Kassidy (of Lightning Captures Photography) showed up "on the house" to be there for me so that I could be there for Jessica. She showed up with coffee and a hug and I think I would have had a harder time that day if she hadn't been there to crack jokes and distract me so that I could focus on serving Jessica. Asheville vendors are amazing like that when it comes to teamwork.
One of the things Kassidy and I talked about was how I could always spot a Stargazers floral arrangement by the tiny, trace amounts of gold glitter. It's her signature "move" and anyone who knows me knows I'm all about it. Her florals are always stunning and if you use her for your wedding flowers and she includes thistle in the arrangement, just know I'll be taking your detail shots on said thistle.
All of her jewelry came from David's Bridal, and normally these shots above would include the rings BUT Jessica at this point in the day hadn't actually SEEN her ring. Her groom, Jeff, had it made for her and it was a surprise. The engagement ring was in a jewelry store while they were strolling through one afternoon in Pittsburgh and she fell in love with it. She didn't know this, but later that day he excused himself to go to the restroom, ran to the store, gave them his credit card info, and told them he'd call with shipping directions. So he had the same store design the matching bands based on Jessica's ideas and she saw them for the first time when he slipped them on her hand during the ceremony (pictures coming when the gallery is done). Frost Diamonds did an amazing job - you just wait.
PS: Taylor Ranch does have rental cabins for wedding parties, but they were booked that weekend. Jessica rented the farmhouse where all of the images above were taken from Greybeard Rentals and it was maybe a two minute drive from the venue. I would 1000% recommend it to my Taylor Ranch Brides for getting ready.
After the ceremony we took lots of photos with friends and family, and these are a few of my favorites of them with their kids. Everyone was in such a good mood and the weather was weirdly perfect and sort of felt like fall.
She's showing off that pretty ring here.
Now (drum roll please) the moment you have all been waiting for - the photos of the happy couple <3
It isn't a Taylor Ranch Wedding with Victoria Grace Photography if I don't walk you down to the pond for a few formals, especially on a sunny day.
After they grabbed a bite to eat I drug them back out for a few sunset photos, because the sunsets at Taylor Ranch above the pond are always gorgeous.
"Our wedding was a reminder that life is a blessing, love is fortunate. No matter what my cancer holds, nothing can break our spirtits. Jeff and I have always said we would be a great love story and this is not our last chapter. Not even close," - Jessica, the bride.
Thank you, Jess & Jeff, for letting me be a small part of this chapter of your epic love story. You have all of my thoughts and prayers.
PS: I had to drag it out of her but I was able to convince Jessica to let me share her PayPal account information if anyone would like to donate to this family while she undergoes aggressive treatment (part one will happen from now until Christmas).
Second Shooter - Lightning Captures Photography
Jewelry, Veil, and Dress - David's Bridal in Asheville
Farmhouse Rental - Cane Creek Farmhouse
Venue - Taylor Ranch
Bridesmaids Dresses & Shoes - Dillard's
Wedding Cake/Cupcakes - Sam's Club
His band - Tiffany & Co
Her rings - Frost & Co
Florals - Stargazers
A huge thank you/shout out to Ashley of Taylor Ranch - who handled the brunt of the organizing, coordinating, planning vendors/contacting vendors for the couple to make their day as stress free as possible and the planning seamless for them and for making sure I kept it together during their wedding and intervened with food when she saw me starting to cry for Noah <3.