I met Nikki back when I was a waitress in college and she was a hostess at Cornerstone (which is still one of my favorite locally owned restaurants in Asheville). When she messaged me that she wanted to hire me for engagement pictures and that she was determined to get snow even if it meant a drive up to a ski resort... I was so in.
So we coordinated schedules, planned outfits ahead of time, and started researching.
We found a blog about Snowshoe Engagements with a pretty frozen lake but had zero luck figuring out how to get to it, which would have been a bummer except we DID manage to find this "Kissing Bridge" once we got to the resort (a whole 6.5 hour drive away) even after not having luck "Googling" directions to it when we sat down to plan this shoot. How incredibly cute is it?! The bridge is one of my favorite spots for pictures, ever.
You can't tell because these two are troopers, but it was 22 degrees here and after this we took a "hot hands" break in the car before leaving to hunt down some snow.
The frozen creek beside the bridge was so pretty (and slick). The ice was starting to melt in places and it made for some really cool patterns in the ice.
To get to this bridge from Snowshoe Mountain Resort you;
Leave the resort and at the bottom turn toward Snowshoe Mountain Inn (it's a right at the stop sign if coming from the resort). You'll drive down that road, pass a gas station with a subway on the left, and come to another stop sign with a ski/snow store on the left. Turn left. Drive a few miles and you'll see a little post office on your left next to a green barn (this is where we parked since it was closed). The bridge is on your right RIGHT across from a little antique store/museum.
Every time we touched the ring to the ice it would melt it a little and settle into it - and anytime we picked it back up it brought a little ice with it.
Also - how amazing is her ring made by Marthaler Jewelers?
After the barn we walked across the street to the old antique museum (store?) and found the dreamiest light and the coolest gas pumps. Win win.
The green barn next to the Post Office where we parked made for a fun backdrop, too.
So like I said, we had sat down at Starbucks a couple of weeks before leaving to plan this out and by the end of our planning session we determined we wanted to find "the cool stone building," "the frozen lake," (which was the only thing we did NOT find), "the kissing bridge," and "a snow covered road."
What we didn't know was that we would also find that antique museum, the pretty green barn, and a mountain overlook with a herd of deer. DEER, you guys!! Although we only found the deer after a kind of crappy end to the first round of engagement photos... because a sarcastically fun surprise is that I apparently am susceptible to altitude sickness... which we started to figure out on the drive from The Kissing Bridge to the snow.
About the time we found the snow I thought I was getting carsick (spoiler, I wasn't I was starting to have some serious altitude sickness symptoms that were messing with my heart condition) and had to ask Nikki to let me stop talking (if you know me you know I NEVER stop talking). We got to this snowy location and I psyched myself up to get out of the car even though I was a little dizzy because Nikki & Blake were a little bummed the whole village at Snowshoe wasn't covered in snow and that there really wasn't much outside of the slopes (we thought on day one) but then we found THIS magical little pull off.
So dizzy or not, I was getting out.
& I'm glad I did because look...
You would NEVER know that we struggled to find solid snow looking at these photos at the pull off. It looked like Narnia.
Remember when I said the ring would pick up ice and snow? This is what I mean. & it may be one of my most favorite ring pictures ever because 1. the ring 2. the snow and 3. I was laughing so hard when it brought a chunk of ice and snow back up with it.
So [and stick with me through the next few paragraphs because the following photos are worth it] after these photos we were going to do one more location in casual clothes before changing for formal photos and some sunset photos. BUT when we pulled in I had to lay my head back for a second (and was super embarrassed, because my heart problem doesn't just make me faint-y for no reason I usually have to be running or doing something super strenuous and it was very confusing why I suddenly wanted to pass out and couldn't feel my face/catch my breath and why my head felt like it got hit by a ball bat).
Which is about the time the world's MOST PATIENT couple ever told me to lay back for a few minutes and see how I felt. Long story short - they ended up having to drive my car back to the resort, we made the tough call to forgo sunset photos and instead wake up early the next morning and do the formal photos, and Nikki helped walk me to my room where I had to lay down and take a three hour nap. In hindsight there were some signs that the altitude was getting to me (I didn't know it was a thing until they told me). When we first walked into the hotel I was SO dizzy I couldn't find the hook on the wall to hang my coat and chalked it up to being tired from the drive (probably was the start of symptoms), I remember telling Nick my camera bag felt VERY heavy even though it had less stuff than usual and it was weird (my muscles were weak at this point I just didn't put two and two together until later), and I kept getting SUPER hot and feeling what I thought was "claustrophobic" in the snow clothes or something but turns out my oxygen levels were just low and I couldn't breathe well.
Seriously. They were truly so accommodating and understanding about the altitude getting to me and I'm so grateful because even though I couldn't help it and even though I toughed it out for as long as I could until I literally couldn't stand up I felt horrible that we had to change plans after planning this shoot for months.
I vowed to make the morning session 100% worth it and am not being dramatic when I say I prayed that whole evening for good weather and pretty light the next morning so that it would at least be worth it for them to wake up early and get ready TWICE for engagement photos.
We got those things... and you know what else we got? That we wouldn't have gotten if I hadn't been the world's faintiest photographer the night before? A herd of SUPER curious deer that photo-bombed their engagement shoot and in my opinion made the ENTIRE drive 100% worth it even if we hadn't found snow, the bridge, the stone building (I'll add those previews soon), the snowy road etc. JUST LOOK!!!
We had pulled into this overlook and saw them to the left of my car, got out slowly, and tried to get them in the background of the photos. BUT the deer were nosey and came toward us. At one point I could have stuck my hand out and pet a little one that kept getting closer to me but I was afraid to scare it.
This one really wanted to be part of their shoot.
JUST LOOK AT THIS SWEET LITTLE FACE. This is the little one that kept getting super super close to me I think it liked my camera noises.
A few of the big deer kept crossing their paths and checking them out. It was a really neat experience because they were not scared of us at all (and we did not lure them to us with food or anything, we just didn't move much and tried to be super quiet). These photos could have been the only photos we took and I would have considered the 12 hour drive worth it in every way.
I hope you enjoyed their previews as much as I enjoyed spending time with these two and these nosey deer.