When I drive up and see Chappell Lodge I’m struck.
Then when I realize this is only the spot that the bride and her girls are getting ready?!
I start to act like I’ve had 3 cups of coffee.
*(Had not had ANY at this point, by the way..) If you’re following my weight loss journey on my Instagram– you’ll believe me when I say I had my super healthy home made smoothie packed and ready before heading out.
Okay- back to the fact that I drove up to a homestyle vineyard with a cottage that was perfect for a wedding venue…
but I was thinking romantic getaway.
*(As I edit I’m constantly planning stay-cations. Some real, some imaginary. This is now on my I-really-want-to-stay-there list!)
You walk through a huge wooden door into the courtyard that took you to multiple rooms on different levels, so I just stood there staring around for a bit.
Now which door to choose.
I never like bothering a bride on the wedding day- so I figure I’ll make an educated guess. Oops. Nope. Not the right room. Try again! Calling wedding planner now.
I started with her details. Grabbing the earrings, shoes, dress with custom hanger, the “usual” items I look for in the bride’s room.
After seeing her dress I knew exactly where I wanted to photograph her earrings. I had no idea they were her something borrowed from her mother in law.
Aaaand It gets better.
These earrings were a gift to her mother in law on her wedding day, from her groom. (Cue the “awwww” track, please??)
Starbucks was being delivered, which perked my coffee addict ears up. I quickly focused back on my work and got things done before having to head out to the venue.
Le San Michele, be still my heart.
I told you. This day just kept getting better.
Look at that set of blue doors, please.
(Go scroll. Look.. Okay.)
Now imagine walking through them.
They give the tiniest of creaks- as do the stairs- but it gives every moment you walk through it a feeling of displacement in the best way.
You feel removed from the city, removed from distraction and if you’re in my mind you’re now feeling removed from the states all together. You walk a little further and meet Virginia, the owner, who welcomes you like you’re family and you immediately feel at home.
That feeling washed over every guest that came through, and you could see it. They walked through the European style gardens with their cameras up and smiles on. They were still snapping their photos (yes mostly selfies, no shame.) as the seating process started. Who could blame them? That property is filled with photo opportunities. Sunflowers, outdoor chandeliers and a water fountain that would make anyone want to log onto instagram instead of socializing face to face.
Their wedding ceremony was played out as I expected after I was able to see them do a non-first look.
*(That’s where the bride and groom get to talk to each other before the ceremony without actually seeing each other.)
Simple, yet romantic and meaningful. They allowed everyone to be a part of their relationship and said “I do” to a celebration of confetti. Guys- That ceremony exit definitely needs to happen more!
Others had been tracking the storm, but if you know me at all- you know I never watch weather updates. I figure if it’s *that* bad I’ll see it coming, right?
I also don’t mind shooting in the rain. At all. Helpful, since I travel for weddings and typically can’t reschedule my shoots.
The threat of bad weather wasn’t about to stop anyone from having a blast during cocktail hour. Jenga and corn hole competitions, customized hors d’oeuvres, and finding your seat with your name tag attached to the cutest jar for your drinks kept everyone entertained before the “real” party started.
DJ David Hexum already had guests dancing about as they mingled, so after all the formalities of the first dance *(which was way too precious, you see those twinkly lights??) and more food *(so so delicious), everyone was ready for more grooving to the music.
At the same time- that lovely Texas sky darkened, wind picked up in a snap, and intimidating lightning bolts started making their way close to Le San Michele. Once we realized the rain was coming in horizontally– sound equipment got moved inside just in time.
From there- DJ Hexum managed to throw a house party and a tented reception simultaneously. You could tell these guests were loving it! Bartenders stayed the course outside, same with the photo booth crew. Basically? People partying at every angle.
If you’ve been following along with the weddings I blog and the craziness I post on Instagram– you already know how much this next part excited me.
Towards the end of the night we still wanted a night shot, but it was raining. Without skipping a beat they said they were down to follow me into the dark to still get their night portrait!
(Insert my eyes turning into hearts right here.)
That’s when the magic happened. We were literally in the middle of wildflowers, sunflowers and twinkle lights- and we trapped a lightning bolt just for Alei & Luke.
I didn’t even try to hide my excitement!
They danced together under a lit up archway to the gardens before going back to join in their party… and it was beautiful.
I’ll forever be thankful for them and any other couple who will just throw their hands up and choose to have the best day ever- regardless of anything that tries to stop them!
Venue: Le San Michele
DJ- David Hexum