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MARRIED // Elena + Cody’s Purcellville Wedding

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I’ve got wedding numero tres ready for you all!! (WHOA…. How is it possible that I get to say that?? And that isn’t even all the weddings I’ve shot to date yet…!!) I was a second shooter for Gracie Withers again for this special couple’s wedding.

I want to slow it down and really break down this wedding for you guys. Elena (Romanowski) and Cody Hunt’s day was probably the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever had the privilege of attending. I’m pretty sure this one will go down in the history books for me, even after I’ve shot my 100th wedding one day.

Getting Ready

I started the day driving up to the beautiful Airbnb mansion that Cody and the Hunt family were staying in. The groom was waiting for me in the driveway, gave me a warm hello, then walked inside with me to introduce me to his groomsmen and family.

The men were warm and inviting, and the friends and family accompanying Cody were always offering me a helping hand wherever I needed it, from fetching a stray groomsmen, holding onto my bag or the groomsmen’s belongings, etc. I could tell from the start that this would be an easy day!

We took groomsmen portraits in the beautiful glowy field behind the house, and even snuck in some family portraits of the Hunts. Ending right on time, we loaded the cars to head to the wedding venue. Cody hopped in the car with me (Side note: I’m a great driver and all… but when you have the man of the hour climbing into your car, you begin to notice every road hazard and speed limit sign as if they’ve grown 10x in size).

I began asking Cody more about his career, how he and Elena met, questions about their relationship. I found out that they are both followers of Jesus by Cody’s own admission. There were two things Cody said in the car that I still remember a month later (paraphrasing to the best of my memory):

  • “There will be lots of believers, lots of unbelievers at our wedding. I’m so thankful we get to bring them together and share our story and Jesus’ love with them.”
  • “I just love [Elena] so much.”

This was the moment I realized this wedding would be very different than the others… I not only had a groom that loved his bride with his whole heart, but he adored his Savior and wanted his family and friends to know it.

As we’re conversing about the day ahead, Cody suddenly asked me to pull over. He didn’t explain why, but he hopped out of the car as I pulled to a stop. I watched him as he walked into the roadside field, and my eyes welled up for the first time that day (start counting… theres more to come) when I saw what he was doing — picking wildflowers for his future wife. I quickly grabbed my camera and tried to sneak a few shots without bothering him in this precious moment.

We got back in the car and continued the drive to the venue after he had a fist-full of gorgeous orange lilies. Gracie assigned me to capture ceremony details during this moment, but Elena and Cody had a blindfolded “First Look” where he presented the flowers to his bride.

The Ceremony

All of the elements from this day were pulled together through a lot of hard work from the bride and groom. All of the vendors were also close friends of the couple, which made every thumbprint on this wedding much more personal. Elena did the beautiful signage herself.

The ceremony started much like my first two weddings. But when the tree-hung curtain pulled back to reveal the stunning bride, I had a feeling I needed to rush to a different angle to get a shot from behind her. I’m glad I did, because I was able to capture my first “crying groom” shot.

The couple wrote their own vows (always a favorite moment for me)! Both choked up at each other’s words, as did Cody’s mom and younger brother. Then for the unity ceremony, the couple stepped to the side and Cody straight began PREACHING!

He spoke of their individual lives before one another and before Christ as parallels. They two poured their own wine glasses into one glass flask as Cody explained the miraculous union that happens when they join together as man and wife, and when believers join together with Christ as the church. Next, Elena and Cody each put their emptied wine glasses into burlap sacks and broke them on the ground, a sort of “denial of self” illustration as they drank from the new glass of wine together. Then they shared that glass with each of their parents.

Cue choked up photographer moment #2. It’s a wonder how I got enough in-focus images! I might have to steal this idea for my own wedding one day.

The moment moved from union ceremony to a song of worship performed by a friend of the couple.

So many favorite moments from this ceremony, but a huge highlight was their proclamation as man and wife and that first kiss. Sure, that’s always a highlight at the wedding, but they layered climax of “There Will Be Time” by Mumford and Sons underneath the moment. I felt like I was watching a movie scene as they ran off down the aisle together — married.

The “Mr. and Mrs.” Portraits

Moving away from the narrative of the day, I want to show you some of my favorite portraits of the newlyweds post-ceremony.

These photos were SO fun to take, not so fun to edit. Because the wedding took place in thick woods, the amount of light that shone through the trees was weak and cool. It also cast a lot of green onto their skin, so it took me some time to get the images to look like my usual style.

After a lot of work, I ended up wanting to redo this portion of the gallery entirely! Something was still off and I needed to start from scratch to figure it out (kind of like starting a Rubik’s cube, getting one side done, then jumbling it all up again).

Honestly, that was the best thing for me! I am finally happy with the consistency of the entire gallery and the style I achieved in these newlywed portraits. (SPECIAL shoutout to Gracie Withers for the amazing posing job!)

The Reception

Finally, the reception…

The dance floor sat in the middle of a clearing in the woods, surrounded by family-style table settings. Above our heads were hung vintage light bulbs swooping between the trees, and tiki torches outlined the perimeter to keep bugs away. The details were just gorgeous!

I won’t go into minute detail about the entire reception, but I do want to talk about their first dance.

The images from Cody and Elena’s first dance were some of my favorites from the entire day. They swayed and spun to “River” by Emeli Sandé. But it was the way they held each other and looked at each other that moved me most. I think these came out to be some of the most compelling images of the entire gallery!

Then, PLOT TWIST… After their slow dance finished, the song faded into “Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root (as Elena calls it, “The song Matilda makes pancakes to”). The two showed off their killer dance moves and had a ball just freestyling to the faster tune. Definitely in favor of two first dances on a wedding day! What a way to mix it up and keep your guests entertained!

Final Thoughts + Link to Full Gallery

Elena and Cody,

Thank you for including me in this perfect day. I’ve shot a handful of weddings already with very different styles, budgets, traditions, and guests. But shooting your wedding was not only fun because of my love for my craft, but of how welcome you and your guests made me feel.

To illustrate just how kind everyone was, you should know that one of your guests took time away from their dinner to put together a plate of desserts for me and Gracie, two of every kind of dessert on the table for us to split. You stepped away to remind us to help ourselves to pizza, and Cody paid extra time asking everyone at his Airbnb to make me feel welcome and listen to my instruction when I needed a picture taken.

Your wedding reminded me how much I love serving people with my art. But your marriage reminds me just the kind of man I’m looking for, and the kind of wife I want to be one day for him. You guys are awesome, and I wish you both a lifetime of blessings and joy!

Gracie,

Thank you again for hiring me as your second shooter! Your instruction, feedback, and praises are so appreciated as you help me grow my skills. You’ve always kept such a steady head even when details can be miscommunicated or the day gets a little hectic. I admire your ability to keep focused and be a friend to your couple.

Watching you is inspiring and so helpful! I can’t wait to put into practice all that you’ve taught me when I shoot my first (solo) wedding in August!

//

For a link to this full gallery, click here. If you have gotten this far and are wondering how to reserve your wedding date on my calendar, you can Contact Me here!!

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