Nicole & Dan at The Parker Mill
First - I didn't realize I haven't blogged a single thing in 2023 (oops) until I logged on to blog Nicole & Dan's wedding. Which reminds me... how is it halfway through 2023 already, by the way? SO, you get a long one since it is well overdue.
Second - I knew when I sat down to edit their previews that I would need to blog them because I had too many things that I wanted to say for one social media caption. If you missed their night-of previews on Instagram you can find them here to leave them (and their vendors) a little bit of love.
My workday started by walking into the bridal suite, Nicole seeing me and yelling, "YAY!!!" & then her sister introducing herself to me and hugging me. At the same time Erika, the makeup artist, saying, "YAY! Vicki" So, that's always a nice way to start the day in Vicki World. (Okay, okay my workday actually started when I showed up early and ran into the cat at Parker Mill that I've never met before, and it let me give it belly scratches ... belly scratches. So, I had to get back into photography mode and snap out of cat lady mode).
Nicole told me over and over throughout this process and during every phone call that she felt less stressed every time we chatted, and that once I showed up the day of the wedding that she knew things were going to go smoothly. I hope I give all of my couples that kind of secure feeling - and I love her for telling me I make her feel stress free.
As someone who's main love language is, "Words of Affirmation," I had a really hard time not tearing up while she flipped through pages of words from her soon-to-be husband.
First impression of Nicole with her hair unfinished and no makeup on? She already looked like a dream in her polka dot bridal robe. I knew my job taking photos of her was going to be really easy when she looked pretty before she was even finished getting ready. Nicole knows herself pretty well, so she knew she was going to have to read the letter from Dan before her makeup was on. Thankfully, Parker Mill's bridal suite has the prettiest bathtub so it was easy to step into the big bathroom so she could have a private moment without kicking her bridesmaids out while they were getting hair and makeup done.
I wish more people could have seen her switch back and forth between laughing and crying as she read the letter from him. I don't know what it said. I know she held her hand over her heart. Wiped tears from her eyes. Laughed hard. & cried silently while smiling. I don't have to know what it said to know he spoke right to her heart.
Right after she read his letter Kristi with Stargazers showed up with Nicole's bouquet - and it's one of my favorite color combinations of all times. Nicole & Dan repurposed the bouquets from the wedding as center pieces for the big tables and I can't recommend this enough for couples, especially when they are this gorgeous. It makes me so sad to see them discarded by the end of the night and laying around the venue. This way they are on display from start to finish in some way.
The florals worked so well with the reception space. Nicole & Dan picked a color scheme that really complimented the venue, the mountains, and their summer vibes.
PS: The bridesmaids were a huge help here. It wasn't time to put the bouquets in the vases yet since the ceremony hadn't happened, but if I waited until after the ceremony for detail shots these tables would be full of people. So the bridesmaids carried them out, set them where they were going to go later, and waited for the videographer and I to get "the shots" before they carried them back to the bridal suite for me.
Let us all take a moment of appreciation for these blue glasses that Avail Weddings brought. Everyone who saw them stopped to comment on them and how they pulled the space together in a fun and unique way. Those of you who aren't new here know that I'm a fan of color and that my favorite color is blue, so blue glasses will always be a, "Yes," from me.
Look close - notice anything cute on their cake? Like... their doggy?!
Anytime I can, I try to do detail pictures with the floral arrangements so that the wedding albums flow together nicely. I can always count on Stargazers to send florals that I want to take all of the photos of.
A slow clap for her gorgeous ring and those beautiful florals. Also, my favorite band for a groom has always been, and will always be, a solid gold wedding band.
They used their engagement photos and a mountain photograph I snapped at the end of their engagement pictures for most of their stationary, thank you notes, and stickers for various things (like welcome bags). I loved that.
When I got there and asked her for her details she told me she wasn't sure which earrings she wanted to wear. That she was a "pearls girl" but she really wanted to wear the dangly earrings she brought, too. I told her if she was a pearl girl, to wear those - and so she decided to stick with them, even though she was torn. Then Dan sent her gift down - and wouldn't you know it. It was a pair of pearl and diamond earrings. They were exactly what she was picturing for her wedding day and wishing she had with her. THAT is a man who knows his lady.
During one of our pre-wedding phone calls Nicole mentioned that she and Dan were the proud aunt and uncle of two tiny nephews (not twins, just very close in age). I told her I thought it would be so sweet to get photos of their tiny shoes with Dan's wedding shoes... and I wasn't wrong.
Just. Look. At. The. Shoes.
THE TINY LITTLE MAN SHOES ER MAH GOSH!!!!
They both wrote little notes on the bottom of each other's shoes before they walked down the aisle. I thought that was so sweet.
Before they got into their dresses (to minimize the risk of wet spots on the dresses during the ceremony) they popped some champagne in their matching pajamas to celebrate Nicole becoming his wife. It's the bridesmaid guarding her hair from champagne spray, for me. AnaRie's hair and makeup artist champagne proof, for sure.
Two of her bridesmaids are pregnant. So I told them to just dump their champagne out when everyone else took a sip and it's honestly one of my favorite bridesmaids in pajamas photos, ever !
Do I drag this chair around every time I come here? Yes. Is it always worth it for the "putting the shoes on" shot? Also, yes.
How pretty is she?!
After she got dressed she did a first look with her dad, the bridesmaids, and the groomsmen one group at a time. Her dad almost made me cry.
The way he stood there shocked and then how big his smile got... before the tears of joy came. "My little girl..." he said (and the videographer, Silver Fox Productions, caught that).
Crying happy tears runs in the family so guess which bridesmaid is her sister. Nicole's bridesmaids wore these lovely dusty lavender dresses, and it was such a stunning look on all of them. The perfect summer shade, especially at a blue venue like Parker Mill.
Nicole seriously has the most distractingly beautiful smile (look at it in the corner of that floral shot). Orbitz gum, I found your next spokesmodel.
Then. She "Iced" the groomsmen. Which was hilarious.
Apparently, also very out of character for an 8th grade valedictorian we'd later learn during the speeches.
They think it is a first look.
The glares and side eyes from some of the groomsmen had me giggling while editing.
He was so proud to be the winner.
After this we sent her inside & did photos with the groom and his guys before we snapped a few of them when they couldn't see each other and then it was ceremony time!
This was a requested shot by the bride, and I love it.
Their ceremony was so sweet. Her dad was all smiles walking her down the aisle and that's how I know that she found someone her family loves as much as she does.
You can tell the moment they start to be able to see people.
I started to tear up again when Nicole rested her head on her daddy's shoulder before they opened the doors to the ceremony. She's the baby of the family - and he loved her first. It was so special to watch them share a final moment that was just them before he gave her away.
There were lots of laughs from them, their wedding party, their parents, and the crowd. There were quite a few tears, too. Even with haze from the Canadian wildfires the backdrop was gorgeous. Her dad caught me being sneaky trying to catch him wiping tears but it made for a pretty sweet shot so I'm not mad about it.
There are too many formals to include in their previews but I wanted to share a few of my favorite family photos and group photos - because I think they captured how much joy was shared on their day.
She gifted Dan and her dad each a tie with a picture of the two of them on it. Look how little she is here with her daddy.
One big family now that they've said, "I do!"
This crew was truly so much fun.
We took some of their formals near The Parker Mill's pond, and waited until after speeches just before sunset to ride to the top of the mountain for the rest of them after they exchanged private vows.
RIGHT about this time the fact I hadn't eaten much and my brain was trying very hard to focus on being creative while also keeping track of time resulted in a pretty funny moment that I'm not going to quote on this blog but Nicole knows what it was - and she should know I'm blushing and laughing embarrassingly again because I did "said thing that shall not be blogged" SO CONFIDENTLY (haha).
Ashley (their planner) said after we got back that, "Of course they got cotton candy colored skies - they follow you here." I hope they always follow me around, especially for couples like Nicole & Dan.
Their vows were so sweet and I really love that it's becoming more popular to exchange personal vows privately.
Please appreciate the bird in the corner. That scared me when it flew past and I saw it on my viewfinder.
We were a little afraid we'd lost sunlight before they could pop champagne, but we didn't!!! I can't wait to see how this turned out on video.
They made me feel so welcome and appreciated the entire day that I can only imagine what it feels like to be one of their friends or relatives and be in their lives daily. Those of you who are, you're lucky - and I am jealous that you get to see them more than once a year and that you get to be part of these next chapters in their lives.
Dan & Nicole, thank you for letting me be part of this chapter.
II Vendors II
(links and pretty formatting coming soon, I just really want to hit publish and I'm sleepy)
@victoriagracephotography (photo - that's me!!)
@availwed (planning, officiant, glassware)
@foragerscanteen (catering, rentals)
Listen. I need their chicken recipe. No joke.
@sandrastevens09 (charcuterie cups)
@emily.mitzel (cake and desserts)
@anariebeauty (hair, makeup)
I always recommend this team.
@sound_extreme_entertainment (DJ, photobooth)
@azazie (bridesmaids dresses)
High Country Travel - doesn't have social media accounts