It's not every day that you get to photograph in a manor built in the 1920's that happens to look like a European castle! But that's exactly what I got to do for Ashli and Dustin's wedding! From her intricately-beaded gown to their floral exit to the warm, golden sun: start to finish, the whole affair seemed straight out of a fairytale.
Yet, what I loved about working with this couple is that they're so down to earth, focusing on the importance of their commitment and love for each other rather than the appearance of their day. Not only did they make sure to schedule plenty of time to be with family - like with Ashli's sister and mother helping her get dressed or the father-daughter first look - but they topped their cake with personalized Star Wars bobble heads! Most importantly, even decked out in their full wedding finery, they couldn't stop looking into each other's eyes.
We started the day, as usual, photographing the getting ready process. I think I say this every time, but I love getting to start here, telling the complete story of the day. Homewood's bridal suite has a beautiful paneled mirror that made my job very easy - both for portraits and for details - not to mention the picturesque entranceway to the ceremony that was perfect for dress shots as the gown billowed in the breeze.
To calm their jitters, the ladies did a (couple) toasts before Ashli had not one but two emotional first looks. The first was with her father; parent first looks are often even more emotional than those for the couple and this one was certainly no different. That first glance from Ashli's father and his subsequent happy tears made all of us a wee bit weepy. Ashli and Dustin's first look was just as sweet, but this time full of happy grins and excited giggles as they took in the full weight of the commitment they were about to make - and how fantastic the other looked.
Though their ceremony was relatively short, it was jam packed with beautiful sentiments. By far my favorite was their anniversary box - a hand-build box they filled with a bottle of wine and letters to each other. If I remember correctly, their officiant also declared this their "in case of emergencies" box to open if they really needed it. I love their commitment to each other, knowing that marriage is not an easy thing and not taking it lightly, but preparing to work hard together.
They exited as a married couple, celebrating through a tunnel of flower petals thrown by their loved ones - a photographer's dream, let me tell you! Afterwards, we went straight outside for a few family portraits in front of the manor before returning for fireplace photos. We capped off our portraits outside in front of the castle as the sun shone brightly through the trees making the vibrant colors even more deliciously vivid. Erin can attest to the fact that as I was photographing, I was literally dancing around saying "Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness, this light is gorgeous!"
Though I'd obviously taken plenty of photos during their engagement session, I only just then learned the inside joke that they call the "Ashli face," an excited, eyes and mouth wide open smile that totally portrays her cordial personality. We took plenty of "Ashli face" photos during our group shots that kept everyone in stitches laughing.
Finally, we sent everyone back to the celebration and spent a bit with just the happy couple, capturing the contented yet fervent connection these two share. While I selected the locations, I hardly had to give them any creative direction; they were already so attuned to each other that any movement and every look made for a perfect personality portrait.
We ended the evening capturing the festivities, from this Cinderella & Prince Charming look-alike's first dace to the funny and at times tear-jerking toasts from their bridal party and finally the bumpin' dance party.
Even through a few tears, the whole day was full of nothing but smiles. It was such a pleasure to get to not only interact with Ashli and Dustin again to document their day, but capture their love of family and friends throughout the important moments, both planned and unrehearsed.
I'm glad they chose the images for their photo album because I certainly wouldn't have been able to narrow them down! You can see their first family heirloom here.
Thank you to everyone who helped put on such a beautiful event!
Beverages: Asheville Beverages
Cake: The Hop
Caterer: Caroline Allured Catering
DJ: Sound Extreme
Dress: Wedding Inspirations
Favors: Chocolate Fetish
Flowers: Swannanoa Flower Shop
Planning: Carolina Love Events