Summer Picnic-Inspired New York Wedding: Andrew & Amanda – Part 2

December 27th, 2013

Yesterday, I shared with you part one of Andrew and Amanda’s summer picnic wedding. After their wedding, Amanda and I discussed what went on behind-the-scenes to put together such a gorgeous, heartfelt wedding. She told me, “It was important that our wedding felt like a big gathering of our family and friends, so we were looking for a theme that wasn’t high maintenance or pretentious. We wanted everyone to feel comfortable while they celebrated with us. In thinking about our favorite times with family and friends, we settled on a summer picnic theme – everyone coming together for good food, good drinks, and good company. The picnic theme was relaxed enough to fit our vision, but we could still dress it up a little and make it feel really special.”

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Planning is in Amanda’s nature, and their wedding was no exception. Every last detail was meaningful, and this has to be my favorite “Something Blue” ever. Her cousin and bridesmaid Megan suggested finding a way to remember the members of our family who have passed away, so Amanda carried a little slip of paper with the names of their grandparents and Andrew’s uncle handwritten in blue ink by each of their parents.

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“We both value family and Andrew grew up in a household of anthropologists, so it was really important to us that our ceremony and celebration reflect the items and traditions that are important to both of our families. It was also really important that every element of our wedding truly reflect us, so for the standard wedding traditions we opted to observe, we tried to personalize them – like joining syrup from our home states instead of a lighting a unity candle or pouring sand,” Amanda shared. She continued, “We designed our ceremony ourselves but with the guidance of our officiant, who was the pastor of the church I grew up in. She recommended asking our families to each choose a reading as an offering to us, which we did. Both of our families took that assignment very seriously, and we ended up with a mix of funny and traditional readings. They were perfect. We also borrowed from the Quaker tradition and asked all of our guests to sign a certificate with our vows on them as witnesses to our commitment, and we now have a beautiful visual reminder of the friends and family who were there with us.”

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No sooner had the ceremony ended than a few rain clouds rolled in. Before the rain came, though, Andrew and Amanda stole a few minutes to take leave of their guests and share some time reflecting and celebrating the fact that they were finally Mr. & Mrs! The lush and beautiful grounds of Lake Lodge were the perfect backdrop for their display of complete joy.

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We did manage to get caught in the rain, but Amanda’s uncle Craig was on standby with his and her umbrellas to keep the lovebirds dry. By divine providence, the umbrellas even matched the blue and yellow picnic theme.

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Reception details? Perfection! Seriously, Amanda thought of EVERYTHING!

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Andrew and Amanda’s reception kicked off with the traditional first dances, and in the true spirit of the day, there was no shortage of emotion to photograph.

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Cake! Enough said.

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As the sun was setting, the rain finally broke, so we sneaked out and headed down to the dock for a few more couple portraits. Andrew is ever the gentleman, and I know he will spend his lifetime making Amanda proud.

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Andrew and Amanda, thank you a million times over for inviting me to be a small part of your very special day. My wish for you is a lifetime of adventures as you grow together through the seasons of life. Love and hugs!

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A special thanks to all the vendors who made Amanda & Andrew’s day so very special!

Hair: Salon 96 | Venue: Lake Lodge in Alfred, NY | Amanda’s Dress and Bridesmaids Dresses: David’s Bridal | Quaker Wedding Certificate: Dancing Pen & Press | Mens’ Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Ties & Pocket Squres: The Belle and the Beau

And to my wonderful second shooter, Mary Beth  of Mary Beth Mahaney Photography — thank you a million times over for blessing Andrew and Amanda with your time and talent. You rocked it, girl! 🙂

Summer Picnic-Inspired New York Wedding: Andrew & Amanda – Part 1

December 26th, 2013

Amanda and I met what feels like a lifetime ago when we worked together at the Pulmonary Hypertension Association in the Washington, DC area. She was smart, driven, but most importantly, she was the definition of grace — always available to lend an empathetic ear, thoughtfully help solve a problem, offer up a kind word and a smile, and she wasn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty, as the saying goes. As a colleague, she was top notch, and we quickly became work buds. At the time, Amanda and Andrew were in the process of falling in love, and every once in awhile she’d regale us with stories of her handsome sports writer with the crazy work schedule. Being with him made her undeniably happy, and several months after we’d both moved on from PHA and I had moved away from DC, I was thrilled to learn that Andrew had finally popped the question.

When Amanda and Andrew reached out to ask me to photograph their wedding, I was both honored and humbled — and crazy excited!!! On this chilly December day, I’m so excited to warm things up by sharing with you part one of their gorgeous summer wedding. (Check back tomorrow for part two.) Everything about their summer picnic-inspired day was perfection, from the thoughtfully planned details to the picture-perfect Lake Lodge setting. But the absolute best part of the day had to be all the joy and warmth in which the entire day was steeped…way more refreshing than even the tallest glass of iced tea!

We kicked off the wedding day with morning hair appointments at Salon 96 for all the lovely ladies.

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Amanda’s mom Bev played the part of proud mama to perfection, and it was clear that mother-in-law Dinah had embraced Amanda as her own. Look at the lovely hand-stitched veil she made!

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After the hair appointments, we headed over to Amanda’s aunt’s home — which incidentally was the home where her father, aunt, and their siblings had grown up. Their rich family history could be felt in every room. I ducked out on the beautiful wrap-around porch to photograph Amanda’s dress and stunning details while Amanda, Dinah and the others finished up some last-minute flower arrangements.

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I should note that Amanda made her own bouquet…STUNNING!

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Once the details were photographed and the final flowers had been arranged, it was time for Amanda to get dressed.

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Paying tribute to Andrew’s family’s rich history, Amanda wore the Lavalier, a family heirloom that had been worn by generations of women in Andrew’s family on their wedding day.

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Meanwhile…
Andrew and the guys spent the morning at Amanda’s family home helping with final preparations for brunch the following day, and it was finally time for them to get ready.

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Before Andrew and Amanda’s first look, we set aside a few minutes for the bride’s dad Den to hug his beautiful daughter. The way he embraced her and then stepped back to admire his little girl was beyond beautiful, and I’ve decided that a father/daughter first look is a must whenever possible.

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Andrew and Amanda’s first look was tender and emotional and incredibly touching.

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I loved that Andrew and Amanda were fully committed to being “in the moment” and soaking in all the emotion of the day. And their commitment to “being present” was contagious — the family photos were filled with emotion, too.

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Let me just say…Amanda and Andrew sure do know how to pick awesome friends. Best bridal party EVER!

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And I’ll leave you with this little sweetie pie ring bearer…adorbs!

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Be sure and come back tomorrow for part two of Amanda and Andrew’s beautiful wedding, including the gorgeous, emotional ceremony and super-fun reception.

 

Bridal Trivia: Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

November 12th, 2013

Ever wonder WHY we celebrate certain wedding traditions? I’m a huge trivia fan, and I recently got to wondering where one of my favorite wedding traditions originated:

Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue,
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.

As it turns out, this rhyme — and thereby tradition — hearkens back to the Victorian Era, and each item mentioned in the rhyme is meant to bring the bride good luck. If she carries all of them on her wedding day, the marriage will be filled with happiness.

Something Old represents the bride’s family and helps her carry a piece of her family’s history into her future.

Something New is a symbol of hope and joy for the bride’s life ahead.

Something Borrowed usually comes from a happily married friend or family member, whose good fortune in marriage it is hoped will spill into the bride’s life. It also serves as a reminder to the bride that she has family and friends she can count on to help her, counsel her and guide her as she learns what it is to be a wife.

Something Blue represents fidelity, purity and love. Throughout history, blue has been connected to weddings. Brides in ancient Rome wore blue to symbolize love, modesty, and fidelity. In Christianity, the Virgin Mary is often depitcted in blue, associating the color with purity. And prior to the late 19th century, blue (not white) was the color of choice for wedding gowns, inspiring proverbs like, “Marry in blue, lover be true.”

"Something Blue" by St Louis Wedding Photographer Christa Donald Photography

And finally, the Silver Sixpence represents wealth or financial security, likely dating back to an old Scottish custom of the groom putting a silver coin under his foot for good luck.

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If trivia is your thing, you might want to check out the post on why traditionally a bride and groom choose not to see each other on their wedding day before the ceremony!

Simple & Elegant Autumn Wedding | Elliot & Ginger

October 31st, 2013

It was a perfect Autumn day…the sun was shining, the air was crisp, and there was a slight haze of dust hanging in the air, signaling that it was indeed harvest time in Central Illinois. And on this most simply perfect of Fall days, in a rustic country church surrounded by family and friends, Elliot and Ginger finally tied the knot.

I first met Elliot and Ginger late last Spring for their engagement photos. The spring had dealt us lots of rain — and accordingly a few complications with scheduling their engagement session — but when I finally had the chance to meet these two in person, it was obvious that they were perfectly in love and following a destiny that had been laid out for them to bless the world with their togetherness. They just fit…a casual, comfy fit where each of them felt free to embrace their inner selves — goofiness and silly inside jokes included. And their free, easy way with one another just has this effect of making everything with the world just seem right when you’re with them. And at the end of our engagement session, I was all the more thrilled to have the honor of photographing their upcoming nuptials later in the Fall.

Ginger — you and your mom put together a beautiful, rustic Autumn-themed wedding. Everything, from your dress and flowers to the ceremony details and reception décor reflected the spirit of your and Elliot’s relationship perfectly — casual but refined, simple but elegant.

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Elliot and Ginger decided not to see each other before the wedding, but they did manage to take some time to pray together before walking down the aisle. It was a special and powerful moment.

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Upon the announcement that they were officially “Mr & Mrs,” Elliot couldn’t contain his excitement, dancing back down the aisle with his gorgeous bride. PURE JOY!!!

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The ring bearer and flower girls were picture-perfect…so stinkin’ cute!

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What an awesome bridal party…so much fun — and so thrilled for their friends. LOVE!

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Elliot and Ginger had the brilliant idea to head to a local B&B, The McGrady Inn, for the bridal party and couple portraits following the ceremony. The Inn was formerly a church that has been lovingly restored and converted to guest space, and it is phenomenally cool. And with the amazingly huge, beautiful picture windows, we were able to take advantage of some killer window light.

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Ginger, your smile can light up an entire room…and add an extra sparkle to Elliot’s eye!

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The reception was beautifully styled by Ginger’s mom. She took special care to incorporate so many fun, rustic details — like the burlap seed bags that served as a backdrop for the wedding favors — that reflected not only the season, but also Elliot’s family history of farming. And that cake — it tasted every bit as good as it looked. Yumm-o!

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And we’ll end on a note of gratitude…thank you so much, Elliot and Ginger, for inviting me to be part of your beautiful wedding day. I wish you an incredibly blessed future together, and I thank you for touching my heart with your kindness, generosity, and grace.

XOXO,
Christa

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A special thanks to the wonderful vendors who helped make Elliot & Ginger’s day so very special!

Caterer: Smoky’s House BBQ | Florist: Noble Flower Shop | Cake Artist: Randy Coonce | Officiant: Ben Hoerr | Wedding Gown & Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal | DJ: The Rockin Tater Show Mobile DJ Service | Assistant Photographer: Kelsey Rundle

Reading Is For Awesome People…and Shannon’s Especially Awesome!

May 16th, 2013

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to read ALMOST as much as I love being behind the camera. Seriously, is there anything better than snuggling up on the couch with a soft blanket, a hot mocha or cool glass of lemonade, and a good book? The only person in the world who I think knows this better than me is my super-awesome sister Shannon. She’s my go-to gal when I’m looking for a new book for my Kindle, so I’ve invited her to join us once a month or so and clue us in on what she’s been reading. If it’s on her reading list, it should be on yours! So without further ado….here she is!

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Hi, everyone! My name is Shannon and I’m a book-aholic. I have spent all of my life (or a lot of it) with my nose buried in a book. When I was a teenager, I would happily reject plans from friends to curl up on my bed with a book. I always thought that books could take me further away than the plans of teenage friends. Yes…I was a little bit of an introvert. As I’ve gotten older, my love of books has not diminished. However, I have learned to add some balance in my life. Once you’re married and you have three kids, there isn’t nearly as much time to read as you would hope. When my sister Christa asked me to be a guest blogger for her, I was stoked! I get to read books and write about them. The second part of this kind of had me panicking for a moment…so I decided to (as Nike would say) “just do it”!

For my first contribution for the blog, I went back and forth and back and forth with what book I should write about. I have read so many and there are so many that I still have in my must-read list. And then I started thinking about an idea that has been bubbling around in my head for quite a while. What if I went back and reread some of the books that we had to read in school. (In my opinion, being made to read books in school is the best way to take any enjoyment out of the act of reading. I know that it is necessary but still…). So here goes…

The Giver by Lois Lowry: I remember having to read this book in middle school. This book is only 200 pages or so. It is something that can be read in very little time. (I remember that it took much longer in school. LOL!) The beginning of the story is presented as a utopian society. Gradually throughout the story, you realize that the “utopian society” is not necessarily the term that should be used to describe this story. I remember that in school I was able to read the book, do the work that went along with the book, and actually receive a decent grade to go along with it. I DON’T remember being so moved by the plight of the main character, Jonas. As an adult, I feel that I appreciated this book so much more than I did as a child. I would definitely recommend picking this book up and reading it even if you have read it before as an adolescent. I just think that there is so much more that this book has to offer an adult. So get going!

The Giver By Lois Lowry

 

Want to read it? Get your copy here!

And if you’ve already read it, be sure to leave Shannon a comment and let her know what you thought!

 

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