After several bouts of blizzards, I prayed a hundred times that on the particular weekend of January 15th, 2011, God would decide that the kids of Lynchburg Virginia had more than enough snow days and that he would spare the state another winter weather advisory, just long enough for me to drive into town. That chilly Saturday the snow held off and Sarah and I met up to photograph the marriage of Melissa Grant to Michael Zehner at Randolph Macon Women's College. The bride and bridesmaids got prepared at the beautiful and historic Craddock Terry hotel in downtown Lynchburg ("You know, the one with the giant shoe on it"). Having only spoken with Melissa and Michael several times on speaker phone, I was thrilled to actually meet the glowing bride in person! She had described herself as a "low-maintenace bride" who simply wanted all of her guests to have fun and enjoy their spectacular day. Through the family's hard work and immaculate planning, the day with went off without a hitch! Melissa's family and bridesmaids were so hospitable and entertaining, they kept me bent over in laughter in between shots. After speaking with Melissa several times, I introduced the idea of doing a "First Look", where the couple sees each other for the first time before the ceremony in an intimate one-on-one setting. Seeing as though she and Michael both mentioned that they would possibly be "nervous wrecks" before they said I do, they thought it would be a great way to relish their love and passion for each other and a way to take off some of the initial wedding day jitters. Melissa met with Michael before exchanging their vows in the campus Engagement Tower where historically, military men would come and propose to their girlfriends (and, if you are not yet engaged, you and your significant other are not supposed to enter!). As the attendants filled the campus chapel the pianist played "Bella's Lullaby" by Carter Burwell. With a mix of warm candles, winter white florals, pinecones, and delicious comfort food served tapas style, the reception beautifully embodied a Southern winter. In lieu of cake, the couple served a down-home array of pies and cobblers, some yumminess that was in fact so good that I had to help myself to a serving...or three. Gently swaying her in the center of the floor, Michael peered into Melissa's sparkly hazel eyes where together they sang "and I'm thankful for her kind of lovin', 'cause it's simple...so in Janurary, we're gettin' married", the lyrics to their first dance "January Wedding" by the Avett Brothers (Yeah, I know. I teared up too). Surrounded by friends and family with such personality and even more awesome names, several songs set the stage for an emotional filled night, like the father-daughter dance to "Sweet Melissa" and Mother of the Bride Brenda's jam for Maid of Honor Eileen, "Come on Eileen". With the D.j. taking requests from the guests (who, naturally were sipping their drinks from mason jars, duhh.) the atmosphere stayed alive. A few banjo-pickin' tunes even had Michael's family boot scootin' boogie-in' some of Melissa's RMWC classmates across the dance floor. And trust me, this party was just getting started.
Like she even needs any make-up...
Melissa's mother, Brenda, has got to be the prettiest, sweetest woman in the world. & boy she can cut a rug!
Melissa snuck up on Michael for their First Look in the Engagement Tour. No peeking, Michael, we are watching you!
She always looks at him with such love and adoration.
When she kissed his hands I almost fell over. Soooo sweet!
They are the cutest, always cracking up at each other.