I drove to Daniel + Katriona’s Peaks of Otter wedding from my parents’ home on Smith Mountain Lake. My mind was racing with all the lessons I learned from my second shooting jobs from the previous months. I reviewed in my head the countless tips I gleaned from watching Katelyn James Education videos. I also tried to recall the nuggets of advice given by friends in the industry. The day finally arrived… the day I would shoot my first wedding as a professional, solo wedding photographer.
I started the hour+ long drive at 5:45 A.M., arriving at the lodge around 7:20. From the moment I hopped out of the car to gather my things, my heart was racing and my palms began to sweat. Nerves hit for sure.
I walked inside to find Daniel, the groom, in his dressing room with a few of his groomsmen. After introducing myself to the men and hugging Daniel hello, I went to find the girls. Katriona was in the adjoining suite getting her hair curled. I greeted the beautiful bride and her friends, then retrieved her rings and details to start photographing them outside.
By the time I began photographing rings, shoes, bouquets, etc., my nerves shut themselves into a little box. I switched on like I was in autopilot. I had done this before! I LOVE doing this! This is the very thing I have prepared for. It’s the thing I know I am good at, and the very thing I am here to accomplish… I’m a wedding photographer. Finally.
Once my instinct took over, the entire day flowed like a steady river. I was ready for each new part of the day as they came. I moved easily from details, to groom portraits, to getting in the dress, to dad’s first look, to ceremony, family formals, bridal party portraits, newlywed portraits, reception, and finally the exit. It all happened so fast, but I felt so confident the entire day.
It only heightened my confidence as a handful of sweet guests and the couple’s parents approached me to thank me and compliment me. I tear up just thinking about it. This is what it is all about for me: making the day a dream for everyone involved.
Daniel and Katriona had a beautiful wedding. The wedding venue at Peaks of Otter Lodge included a mountain-view ceremony location in front of the lake. The reception was held in a beautiful chic-rustic space with large windows, light-grey wooden floors, and white shiplapped walls. Their staff was friendly and helpful. I recommend a Peaks of Otter wedding to any local Virginia bride!
The weather was sunny, with just enough clouds to keep everyone cool enough during the high noon heat. The ceremony progressed quickly but beautifully. The bride and groom wrote their own vows and there were definitely laughs and tears from all.
The families were so gracious. Both sides of the family dealt so kindly with me, and patiently awaited their turns for pictures with the newlyweds. The pastor and his wife were especially helpful! His wife even helped me organize the family formal groupings. Family formals went so smoothly thanks to her!
The one thing that stood out the most, however, was the flawless fit I witnessed between Daniel and Katriona. The entire day, I just got to know them better and could truly see that they were best friends. Even during their newlywed portraits, there were moments between poses where they just hugged each other, burying their faces into one another as though they were so overwhelmingly happy to be married. Interacting with their guests and families only confirmed what I was witnessing… these two are the perfect match and have a beautiful future ahead of them.
Thank you, Daniel and Katriona, for taking a chance on this first-timer, making my dreams come true, and allowing me to make YOUR dream day even more of a reality. I’ll always know you two as my “First Couple” on what I hope is a wild journey ahead into wedding photography.
Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Felkel!! May you two have a blessed marriage and future together, always knowing the love and respect you have from all those around you.
And now… here are a few highlights from your special day. Feel free to share however you wish!! Can’t wait to send you the full gallery in a couple weeks. Enjoy!
If you are a bride planning a Peaks of Otter wedding, or you’re getting married in the Blue Ridge, VA area, be sure to contact me! I’d love to chat about making your photography dreams come true.
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Wedding days can be stressful, but they don't have to be. One of the number one causes of wedding day stress is a disorganized, tight timeline. In this guide, I'm sharing a sample wedding day timeline I use to craft all my brides' wedding day timelines, as well as diving into some pro tips only a photographer might know.