Erica and Caleb’s wedding day was truly unforgettable – a day bright with hope, built on love, awash in joy, and filled with the exciting promise of new beginnings. A day as radiant as Erica and as strong and sure as Caleb.
Erica is one of the sweetest, happiest, kindest people I have ever met. She greeted the day calm, relaxed and ready.
As she reached for Caleb’s hand through a doorway to pray together before the ceremony, Caleb’s nervousness melted into tears. You could feel the anticipation building. They were so ready to see each other.
Caleb is a caring, gentle and compassionate man who lights up in Erica’s presence. You can feel his incredible love for her.
Walnut Tree Weddings in Olton, Texas, the venue they chose for their wedding, is really something special. It’s like stepping into a 1950’s dream world of vintage signs, a soda and ice cream shoppe, and even a 1950’s truck.
The property is gorgeous too. Where most of West Texas is dry, flat and covered in dust, Walnut Tree Weddings is an oasis of 100 year-old trees, lush green grass and beautiful flowers, and the staff is amazing too. Jackie, Melissa and Robin, always smiling, made sure everyone had everything they needed.
Erica and Caleb beautifully blended tradition with their vintage venue in neutral bridesmaids’ dresses and tailored gray tuxes, and the perfect splash of color in blush pink bouquets of roses and peonies.
One of the most powerful moments of the day was when Erica saw her dad, Justen, for the first at the ceremony site before the wedding. It's common to have a "First Look" with a bride and groom before the wedding, but that didn't feel right for Erica and Caleb. What did feel right was a First Look with Justen and Erica before the wedding, especially since he hadn't seen his daughter in her wedding dress before. We set Justen up with his back turned away from the aisle. Erica, walked slowly towards him and when she was ready, she asked him to turn around. When Justen caught his first glance of his beautiful daughter, I couldn't help but to cry, it was such a beautiful, powerful, emotional moment. Erica’s love for her Dad is so deep, and his love for her is powerful.
Both sides of the family were incredible, offering so much love and support. Since Justen is also Erica and Caleb's pastor, it was only fitting that he marry them. It was beautiful watching Justen marry his daughter and son-in-law, seeing the way Erica look so deeply into Caleb’s eyes. They are moments I will always remember.
After the wedding, it was so sweet photographing Erica and Caleb alone. They were the easiest couple to photograph, keeping it natural, smiling, hugging, kissing and laughing without me stepping in to guide them and you can feel that in the images.
Their reception took place in an old feed barn with high ceilings, reflective metal walls and hundreds of twinkle lights. Huge arrangements of hydrangeas, peonies and roses added gorgeous splashes of color.
Guests enjoyed a s’mores bar, the soda and ice cream shoppe served by girls in poodle skirts, patio seating in the clear West Texas night, a fire pit, photo booth, and dancing in the gentle breeze under a twinkle light sky.
A highlight of the evening was the Father/Daughter dance. Justen had recorded their dance song and as the first notes played, Erica’s face melted. She laid her head on Justen’s chest and cried in his arms. A moment of deep and abiding love.
The love that characterized every moment of their wedding. A powerful and beautiful legacy of love. A love as radiant as Erica and as strong and sure as Caleb.
A love built on a sure foundation.
I looked over at Kaitlin with a smile and said, “Twelve minutes.” I’ve never seen two words completely shift the atmosphere in a room like those two words.
Kaitlin looked like a princess -- completely delighted in the entire wedding day process. And her delightedness spread like warm rays from the sun on everyone around her. It was surreal...like a fairy tale. It almost seemed like the day wasn’t real until I said those two simple words. That was when she realized how close she really was to her whole life changing for the better. I watched as nervous excitement washed over her face. Reality had set in. That was the moment when time slowed down.
Kaitlin is absolutely a ball of joy! She literally had me tears I was laughing so hard all day. I think it was probably her sense of humor that made the first part of the day seem to speed by. She kept everyone in stitches. Hunter lights up whenever he’s around her. He is so thoughtful and kind that when you talk to him, you feel like you’re the only person in the room. He’s very genuine. They perfectly complement each other.
When you meet such a balanced, well-rounded couple, you have to ask yourself, “Where did they come from!?!” Once I met their families, it became very clear. Kaitlin and Hunter are simply living out the beauty that has been planted in them by those that love them most.
Kaitlin’s parents are loving and genuine and have a balance to life that is admirable. They worked hard to make sure their daughter’s day was special, and they partied even harder at the reception. They know how to have fun and enjoy life.
The day was bittersweet for Hunter and his family. Hunter’s mom passed away ten years ago. Hunter, his dad and younger sister all brimmed with the kind of emotion that catches in your throat, making it hard to swallow. It’s a feeling that suspends you somewhere between honor and grief, between joy and longing. Hunter’s mom may not have been there in body. But, the legacy of her love was so real is was tangible. I could see it in the pride that beamed from his dad’s eyes. It could feel it in the way that his sister looked up to him. The permanent impression of a cherished wife and mother was there on each of them.
The ceremony was held at a lovely historic church in downtown Morehead, NC -- First United Methodist Church. Their theme was coastal inspired -- simple and chic. It was very beautiful. I loved watching the processional. Organ notes were filling the room as each member of the bridal party marched slowly down the aisle. As each person passed by Hunter, I could see him growing more nervous and emotional. But, as Kaitlin’s sister (the Maid of Honor) passed, she slipped him a note from Kaitlin. It had something light-hearted and hilarious written on it...just like Kaitlin. He burst into laughter! The rest of the day was pure, unhinged joy.
I loved the reception location. We were at Country Club of the Crystal Coast. The venue overlooks the Bogue Sound and was held outside under a tent. The weather couldn’t have been better! It’s rare to get a perfectly sunny and mild 75 degree day at the end of May in NC. There was a light breeze coming off the water that kept everyone feeling refreshed. And the day shifted to night with a magnificent sunset full of vivid pinks and reds. It was stunning.
The reception floor was packed from start to finish. It is very rare for nearly everyone to stay at a wedding through the sparkler exit. But, at Kaitlin and Hunter’s wedding...everyone was there to celebrate. It was such a sweet sight.
My favorite part of the day came right after the sparkler exit. Kaitlin and Hunter had already pulled away. The day was winding down to a close.
I walked through the crowd of sparklers and saw Kaitlin’s mom, standing alone in the foyer of the Country Club, staring back at the scene before her. Her eyes were full of stories. Brimming over with a deep affection for her daughter. I could see the pride in her eyes as she slowly took everything in. All of the friends laughing. All of her family under one roof. Her lovely daughter beginning a new life adventure. It was a moment that reminded me, yet again, of the love I have for my job. It’s miraculous that I get to peer into these wonderful lives, week after week, and share in their stories and capture memories for generations to cherish. I couldn’t help but to wrap my arms around Kaitlin’s mom with a deep embrace and simply savor that moment with her.