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bride and groom pose smiling by in the spanish corridor at morias vineyards in virginia

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Ramona and Mark’s wedding at Morias Vineyards in Virginia was one of the most special events I have ever had the pleasure of photographing. I got to work for Weddings by Hana Gonzalez for this event, which is always a blast! Ramona and Mark are such loving people with infectious joy! You can’t help but be happier in a room with them. They are so thoughtful, they even brought their vendors gifts on their wedding day.

They describe the path to becoming husband and wife as a fairytale come true. Ramona says Mark is her prince charming, and she absolutely looked like Cinderella on her wedding day! During her bridal portraits, everyone was commenting on how stunning she looked and her unique dress choice.

These two incorporated their family into their celebration at every opportunity. Ramona’s son got to walk her down the aisle, and several of their grandchildren and close friends provided readings and songs for the ceremony. They even had a shared friend officiate.

After the ceremony, a jazz trio greeted guests as they made their way to cocktail hour in the courtyard. It wasn’t long before couples were dancing! At their reception, Mark and Ramona had a choreographed first dance in store for everyone to show off the skills that first brought them together. The reception was extremely lively, filled with movement and dancing from many of the friends who had watched the couple fall in love in dance classes over the last decade. The live band kept this crew moving from before dinner was served to late that night.

This day was a long time coming, and their joy was felt by everyone! Celebrating with their friends and family was extremely important to them. They had taken special care to ensure they could safely enjoy the day, including quarantining together for several weeks. They prepared personalized gifts to show their gratitude for many of their cherished guests, wedding party, and even the vendors who worked to make their day special. This thoughtful touch made me feel so valued and appreciated. Their love and warmth is truly contagious!

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Time has flown, and these cuties are just two weeks away from celebrating three months of marriage! It feels like just a few weeks ago that we were meeting up for their engagement session at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum at James Madison University. Alora and Frankie’s wedding day was my first of 2017, and it really set the bar high! This tulle-loving bride has the most detailed, personalized wedding decor I’ve seen to-date.


Their wedding was truly a joining of families. Not only did Alora become a wife, but she became a step-mother to Frankie’s son Dink (or “bonus mom” as her charm bracelet says). The love and support the bride and groom’s families showed each other that day really made an impression on me. Some wedding mornings have an undertone of stress and family tension, but this one was different. This was a celebration from start to finish.


Mountain Ridge Venue was a picture perfect wedding location. The tulle-strung ceremony backdrop, hearth with burning fire, and warm “LOVE” signage over the bar complimented Alora’s style perfectly, and really minimized the amount of decorating that the couple had to do. She and Frankie covered the reception area in pictures that told their story – from family outings and finishing trips, to the engagement photos and first Christmas. They put their personal touch on just about everything.


Having Dink in the wedding was such a blessing. It’s amazing that the couple got to share this day with their son. His spunk definitely added some character to these wedding photos. Take a look at that first kiss – hilarious!


I am just so happy for this family! Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Tayman. I was so thrilled to be a part of this day for you. I always feel honored to be chosen to photograph such a special day, but this wedding reminded me how far I’ve come. I remember stealing my mom’s camera to take pictures of the Grace Christian Varsity Girls Basketball Team when Alora and her bridesmaid Jul were playing. I followed my interest to high school yearbook team, and now I get to photograph some amazing weddings. Feeling blessed today!


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Your engagement announcement was probably met immediately with questions about your wedding date, where you will tie the knot, or the size of your wedding party. It happens fast. It’s hard as a bride-to-be not to get overwhelmed at some point during your engagement.


There’s blogs and magazines dedicated to helping brides plan. There’s Facebook groups of hundreds and thousands of brides and their questions. There’s Pinterest – which is an endless sea of ideas and suggestions and nearly impossible standards. It’s information-overload out there, and while those are all helpful tools, it’s hard to know where to start. Plus, everyone and their mother seems to have ideas about how your wedding should look.


This isn’t going to be a checklist, or how-to article. This is just a reminder to you about keeping you & your fiance at the heart of your wedding planning.


Some days, it will be about family. It will be about what your in-laws or your grandmother wants. It will be about who they have to invite or whether they want alcohol there or not.


Some days, it will be about money. What you can afford, what you wish you could make happen for your wedding. It will be discussion over who is paying for what and when. It will be frustration over finances, and gratefulness over generous engagement gifts.


Some days, it will be about creating the perfect event. It will be about your DIY projects and the lovely flower arches and donut walls and mason jar trends.


But every day should be about your relationship. Remember to continue to date each other. Don’t just plan a wedding, but plan a marriage. Pick your battles with your wedding plans by prioritizing the few things that mean the most to you. Don’t settle on those top priorities, but be flexible with the rest.


I’ve seen every kind of wedding under the sun. A tent in a field, vineyard weddings, a barn wedding, a historic manor, pretty farmhouses, a campground wedding, and everything in between. Some with decadent details and custom made decor, and others with just a couple strands of lights and flowers on the table. Some with guest lists of 300, and others with 25 close friends and family there to celebrate with them. Budgets from $2,000 to $20,000 +.


You know what they all had in common? Happy people celebrating the start of their lives together. The perfect event does not exist. Your wedding will not be the picture you have in your head of your ideal wedding. It will be even better.


And the pictures I have taken at these different weddings don’t showcase any frustration or budget woes or the fact that the bride didn’t get to invite as many people as she may have wanted initially. They showcase the happy and the celebrating and the friendships and the love! They’re equally beautiful and wonderful and sentimental albums.


The most memorable details from my wedding were not the ones I planned at all. It was the fact that my groom had no voice and all three of his sisters took turns reading his vows to me. It was the first time they had heard them too, so they couldn’t help but choke up. It was the moment when I heard to song my daddy had picked out for us to dance to during the reception. Or, the moment when my new sister-in-law told me she was pregnant! (whispering in my ear and not trying to steal my thunder of course, but I couldn’t help but do a little happy dance!).


Whatever kind of wedding you are planning, and whatever your frustrations or pain points with that are… just know that it’s going to be perfect!


PS –
I just got my wedding prints up on my walls, and I’m feeling much “more married” now. I LOVE looking through my photos, and do so whenever I have some down time in the evenings. They allow me to see the moments I wasn’t a part of – to watch my friends and family experiencing my wedding and relive that night all over again. I can’t describe the feeling of being on that “wedding high” during the day… it’s a bit euphoric, and afterwards the little details aren’t so clear. I couldn’t tell you about what the officiant said or anything about our toasts. But, I will tell you I remember the energy in the room and the friends who shared the day with me. It was truly the happiest day of my life, and I’m so glad I not only have my pictures and prints, but my video to rewatch for years to come!



Follow Jo on Facebook and Instagram too! Look forward to live videos, bride stories, advice, pretty images, and more!


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The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline Templates


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