I won’t lie...a Tuscan wedding is definitely in my top-dream-weddings-to-photograph list. I mean, can you imagine?
Well, I haven’t photographed a wedding in Tuscany (yet!), but Carley and Ryan seriously gave me the next best thing right here in North Carolina. Hidden away in the Yadkin Valley’s rolling foothills is a hidden jewel owned by an Italian family who traces their ancestry back to 1348 Mantua, Italy where their family still lives today.
Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery practically transports you to their roots in Italy with their hand-crafted fine Italian wines and Tuscan-style villa. The wide-open rolling hills overlooking sprawling vineyards with picturesque views of the Blue Ridge Mountains created a breathtaking setting for Carley and Ryan’s wedding.
Small and intimate, their wedding party consisted only of Carley’s sister as her bridesmaid and Ryan’s brother as his groomsman which really fit their personalities perfectly. Ryan and Carley are such a tightly knit pair...practically joined at the hip. It felt so easy and natural to see them pledge to join together as one. The reality of pledging her life to Ryan seemed to fully sink in as Carley slipped on her dress. During the ceremony, the officiant mispronounced Carley’s last name, and I’m telling you she must have giggled for a straight five minutes. Any jitters or butterflies she was feeling were lost in her laughter. That’s going down in history as one of my favorite wedding day highlights!
Another favorite moment was when I was able to photograph them alone in the golden light of sunset. They were both so thankful and happy to have some time to just be alone together. It was so clear how much they truly cherish one another.
The Raffaldini family and staff did an amazing job decorating and hosting. There were wine barrels situated around the property with lush arrangements of hydrangeas and other loose flowers. They were very kind and extremely knowledgable of their wines. The reception was held on the same patio as the ceremony which gave the entire event a warm, intimate feeling. During the reception, we danced under the stars. As you stepped away from the lights of the villa, you could see layers and layers of stars filling up the night sky. Absolutely breathtaking.
There are so many options out there for a bride and groom to hold their ceremony and reception. Stately churches. Grand ballrooms. Quaint gardens. Oceanside. Honestly, it can be dizzying!
But, I love having the opportunity to photograph such a wide variety of venues, and I've learned over the years that the location says something important about the couple. When you can see the reflection of the couple in their venue choice, it's easy to find their special beauty in any location.
Noelle and Brent gave me a real treat to photograph! They held their ceremony and reception at the Inn at Warner Hall in Gloucester, VA. The history behind this waterfront plantation is amazing - it was established by George Washington's great, great grandfather! The entire 38 acres of the property was breathtaking. Wide open spaces. Old, southern charm. Massive, plantation style house. Quaint boathouse. The Innkeepers are a married couple, Troy and Theresa, living out their dream to restore and maintain an historic site. I can't say enough about how wonderfully Theresa handled all the details. She kept everyone emotionally grounded and focused on the beauty of the day.
Noelle and Brent held their ceremony under the trees. There was a long gravel driveway with white fencing lining each side, leading directly towards the house. The reception was under a huge white tent in the backyard. There were tall, branch-like white flower arrangements that perfectly complemented elegant and earthy decorations. The color scheme of the wedding was earth tones…browns, greens, yellows, and orange. Simply put -- it was beautiful.
Noelle really showed how much she treasures each member of her bridal party. She gave each of them a custom-made robe in their own favorite color, tailored to fit them perfectly, with matching flip flops and jewelry. Each girl was genuinely thankful to be a part of Noelle's day, and that speaks volumes to me about who she is as a friend.
Have you noticed the beauty of the bridal gown? There's a very special secret about her dress that I'll let you in on...it was handmade by her grandmother. A detail made even more significant by the fact that Noelle's mother passed away when she was young. To me, the dress was such a symbol of healing over Noelle's heart. I just don't have words to describe these heartfelt, gestures of care that spring up in weddings. Again and again, I have the honor of seeing first-hand the miracles that come forth from love.
Noelle and Brent, may the beautiful moments of your special day be among your fondest memories -- that as the years pass by you will look back and continuously celebrate the joy of your love for each other.
Dear Katie and Ryan, it was such a privilege to be alongside you every step of your wedding today. Your love is beautiful and contagious; you're the type of couple that draws the life and laughter out of those around you. My favorite part of the day was your First Look in the Pecan Grove. The moment was so perfect that time stood still. When Ryan turned around to see you for the first time, I could see his love for you in his smile. It was in that moment, that I realized that this is what fairy tales are written about. Then, during your ceremony, I couldn't help but to stand still and take in all that was happening. Your friends and family from all over the east coast....there to celebrate your love, the cool,crisp breeze blowing through the tent, and the beautiful vows that you exchanged...it was a moment to behold, and it was an honor to not only photograph it, but to witness the power of the promises you made. Thank you for sharing your love with Brooke and I; we will forever remember your amazing wedding day. Here's a little sneak peek....