“What a splendid day! I pity people who are not born yet for missing it. They may have good days, of course, but they can never have this one.“Anne of Green Gables
I wanted to wait until we had a breath of Fall in the air for this one.
Get a cup of tea, maybe take a minute to go grab that comfy blanket that you probably found at HomeGoods, finally take time to light that harvest scented candle, make yourself cozy in a reading nook wherever you are, and search your music streaming app for Anne of Green Gables. Set the playlist to shuffle…
…and let’s go to the mountains.
While I’m writing this, I have “Anne’s Theme” conveniently playing on repeat, taking me back to the best memories of watching Anne of Green Gables as a kid with family. Family is everything. That’s how I felt during this wedding, so this all seems perfectly appropriate.
When I saw that Natalie had chosen this journal for her vows, I got all misty eyed. Then immediately got distracted reading the quotes inside while I was snapping the detail shots. As I read the quotes, I could hear each character’s voice coming right back, in the exact tones that I heard them for the first time.
It was no surprise that the jewelry for this wedding was stunning. The East coast knows that if you need jewelry, you contact Atlantic Jewelers, because they are known for being the best… and the people behind Atlantic Jewelers just so happen to be the bride’s parents. Their customers love and trust them so much that it’s no surprise that this precious antique piece was given to Natalie to be worn on her wedding day by one of their long time clients.
Now, can I just say what I woke up to the morning of the wedding?
This photo below was the start to my glorious day in the Great Smoky Mountains. I walked out onto my private balcony and took it all in.
Sound spoiled? I was.
Please know that I will absolutely say “no thank you” if you offer for me to stay in a hotel room with your parents if I am supposed to be shooting your wedding. That is a hard pass no matter how much I love them. Now, that being said, just go look at the cabins provided at Brothers Cove… and you’ll quickly see why I agreed to tragically suffer through having my very own magical spiral staircase up to my own suite, private bathroom, windows that went to the tippy top of the insanely high ceilings, and that private balcony to this view, that yes, happened to also be in the same cabin as the bride’s parents. *(who I also happen to love!)
It’s true, I was extremely spoiled for the entire weekend.
I also woke up to coffee & breakfast that I didn’t have to make, and felt energized enough to walk out of the door just to see how steep the mountain roads were that would lead me to the bride and groom’s cabins.
When right at that moment, we all saw this guy:
Keep in mind- all my formal bear training (aka google reading) goes out the window every time I actually see a bear. While staring at this guy, I couldn’t remember which bears were more friendly, and which were more aggressive, which ones you don’t make eye contact with, if those are the same ones you never run from (because you immediately look like prey) and which you make yourselves bigger and yell at for them to go away. This article makes it seem like I would’ve been fine… but testing that theory is not on my long list of things to do on someone else’s wedding day.
I’ll keep myself in one piece for now, and for later, thank you very much.
After that unexpected little rush of adrenaline, I whole heartedly agreed that I indeed should be shuttled around from cabin to cabin like the bride had already intended.
Once my ride pulled right up to their doorstep, walking in to the girl’s cabin was nothing but a great time. They had their own amazing view off their own huge balcony, coffee brewing, a full charcuterie board of things to munch on, and these matching shirts:
The energy Natalie got from her closest girls and family passed on to everyone in the cabin and stayed as if we glued it down with hairspray like Dolly herself.
Look at the way the venue was already looking as everyone was primping and prepping…
If you stare at the details like I do, you already noticed the quote on the mirror. I truly feel with these two that their greatest adventures are still ahead of them.
As I jetted back and forth with whomever was driving up or down the mountain, I found myself finally where the groom was getting ready.
Matthew was sitting out on his own balcony *(it seems unreal the amount of breathtaking mountain views are possible from one resort) and writing out his vows while talking to his best friend about all his thoughts about finally getting to have this wedding day with Natalie.
Now, if you can take a pause from the magic of this wedding to understand the following:
There have been a few times in my career that me being a fly on the wall has had me wanting to run to the bride and shout “DON’T DO IT!! Do you ever hear how he talks about you??? How he talks about other women????” Typically, I make a sincere, yet quiet remark to the bride, alone, and get the same reply “oh that’s just how he is...” and my blood boils.
Okay, snap back to this beautiful day… Because this was literally the opposite.
Thankfully, there have been way more times in my career that I want to yell “do you know how they talk about you? They just love you so much and they can’t help but gush about you to their friends” …and the same thing happens next, I do go tell the other partner, but just a bit louder and with a lot more pride.
I run back and make sure to tell the other side when a few sweet things that were said, and I let every one know that it’s such a beautiful thing to be a part of it all. It’s the sweetest part of my job to see two people genuinely realize what they have, and choose to bring their family and friends along to celebrate it.
So here Matthew was, making sure he knew how he would put everything into words, and it was just so refreshing to be able to listen in. This couple doesn’t lack on love, humor, or personality… so I really felt like I could sit back and enjoy.
No matter how long I do this, there is something so energetic about a great group of friends all getting ready in one room, all excited about the same thing. You can feel it.
Or maybe I was still feeling the cuban coffee from 7pm the night before… I may never know.
Looking back at these moments, (scroll on…) I know it was these people.
Natalie had mentioned that she saw a spot on their drive up to the cabins that could possibly work for a first look. When I saw the area, I knew exactly why it spoke to her heart. It was an old run down, abandoned theater on someone’s property, that also happened to have mountain views.
You guys should know by now I tend to shoot first, ask permission, or forgiveness, later… but thankfully they had already spoken to the property owners about using the area. We were allowed as long as we didn’t go on or in anything, since it could literally break apart.
I loved that answer. I think we worked perfectly in those guidelines… *(huge thanks again to both of their friends that drove down and helped with everything!)
I mean… does it get any better?
When it was time to get the ceremony going, you could see all the guests just taking in the views. You couldn’t help but just stare out at the mountain skyline and breathe in all that fresh air.
It was time for the ceremony to start.
They found musicians who not only fit the aesthetic perfectly, they added to the beauty of the mountain views as they started playing the theme song to Anne of Green Gables.
They also chose to include their parents in the ceremony which is such a beautiful touch. Not everyone is blessed enough to have their family earth side for these special events, so any time a couple finds a way to have them involved in a special way it’s a wonderful thing. These two had both of their dads help between blessing them and officiating and they did a great job!
Everything fell into place and Natalie was not the only one wiping away tears as they said their vows to each other.
After having to wait so long, I am so happy they chose to take time and really make everything personal!
If you think things started winding down after the ceremony… the kiss was literally just the tipping point.
We partied the rest of the night like we owned the mountain!
I wouldn’t be able to fully describe how fun the reception was without one extremely special woman.
The grandmother of the bride was an absolute force of nature. From the rehearsal dinner when her grandkids were joking with her, asking her whether or not she would get out there on the mountain to wipe down the ceremony chairs if it rained the next day- and her response was a swift “when Hell freezes over!!” I felt that spirit, and couldn’t admire that response more. 😆
There are people that will make an impression on me during a wedding, and really stick with me, and she was one of them.
It hurts me to write that this family lost their sweet Nana Rose the same month, and I know she will be remembered by every person who had the pleasure of meeting her. In these photos she is happily dancing to the song “New York, New York” in its entirety, which will remain a highlight for everyone. The videos people captured were amazing!
When I say this crew danced the night away, it’s not an understatement. I think the only breaks anyone took were to have some of the amazing food and dessert, grab a drink, and then it was back on the dance floor!
By the time the night was over, no one wanted the party to end. I’m pretty sure they kept going in the cabins for hours after, but I ran up my magical spiral staircase to upload these photos because I just couldn’t wait until I flew home to see them!
Congrats, you two. I am forever thankful that you chose me to go on this journey with you! I’ll be following along on the rest of your amazing journey together, and cheering you on the whole way.