I met James and Danielle about half way through their elopement on the Augusta County Courthouse steps. During my morning coffee run, I noticed a cute couple getting married just outside our photography studio in downtown Staunton, without a photographer! Danielle’s mom was there snapping a few images on her phone. But I certainly couldn’t let their wedding go on undocumented! So, I spontaneously photographed their Augusta County Courthouse Elopement. I rarely get to provide elopement photography. Maybe a couple times a year! So, this experience was really thrilling for me.
Meanwhile, my business partner Amanda watched from the studio doorway as I ran to my car, grabbed my camera, frantically found an empty memory card, and began taking photos. I got there just a minute before they sealed the deal with a kiss! As the ceremony concluded, I introduced myself and asked if they’d like some wedding portraits in downtown. Danielle was giggling so much, and the whole interaction had already made my morning!
The story behind their elopement
We only spent about ten minutes together in total. But as we took a short walk around Staunton for some portrait locations, we got to know Danielle and James a little better. They met many years ago, while their families were missionaries in Africa! What are the chances?! These two were in elementary school together, I believe PreK or Kindergarten. James’ family is British, while Danielle is from around here in Virginia. It’s pure serendipity that they ended up in the same location at the same time! Now, of course they didn’t fall in love in elementary school. The two reconnected when James reached out to an alumni group, looking for some former classmates. They met up, started talking, and realized they are so compatible!
Now, they weren’t always planning a mid-week, 10 AM elopement. James’ father was flying in from England to marry James and Danielle at their *real* wedding that weekend. However, non-citizens cannot officiate weddings in the United States. On a whim, they decided to elope a few days prior to save them the headache of having two officiants for their wedding celebration. Given the upcoming full wedding, they didn’t feel the need for arranging an elopement photographer for their short, weekday ceremony. But I’m so happy I stumbled upon them! The spontaneous nature of everything was so meant to be, and the joy was evident in their portraits. Elopement photography may be my new favorite service!
Spontaneous Augusta County Courthouse Elopement Photography from a downtown Staunton VA wedding goes viral on Instagram.
Okay, okay. We’re not talking millions of views. But tens of thousands in a few minutes is huge to me!! Amanda documented their story and behind the scenes of us working together. Afterwards, I created a reel showing the whole interaction unfolding, and the resulting images! Their elopement photos are so gorgeous, and quickly becoming some of my favorite to feature. See their elopement story on Instagram here.
And finally, the photos from their downtown Staunton elopement!
Now that you know the story, enjoy these joy-filled, unplanned newlywed portraits in downtown Staunton!
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Jo Mahaney is a professional photographer of PhotographyByJo.net based in Staunton, Virginia, specializing in wedding photography. With over eight years of experience, Jo is dedicated to creating effortless, joyful imagery that authentically captures the essence of each couple’s unique love story. She is known for her ability to create meaningful galleries filled with emotion and personal narratives. Jo is not just a photographer; she is an active supporter of her clients, providing resources and guidance to ensure a stress-free experience. From the initial inquiry call to the wedding day, Jo is transparent, open, and ready to get to know her clients to provide the best service possible. Her commitment to her craft and her clients is evident in the glowing testimonials she has received. Jo’s work extends beyond Staunton, covering areas such as Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Lexington, Roanoke, and Richmond. She has also had the privilege of photographing weddings in various locations, including the Outerbanks, DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, and even Spain.