Jess & Logan Outdoor Wedding | Charlottesville Wedding Photographer

Jess and Logan planned the most beautiful outdoor wedding. They lived and worked on the farm in Charlottesville for several years and wanted to be married there before moving off the property. The property at Oakencroft is breathtaking. There are mountain views and open fields for miles and it's the perfect location for an outdoor wedding. They chose a spot on the top of a hill for their ceremony and reception. Guests were invited to camp at the property just down the hill from the festivities. Outdoor summer weddings can be tricky to plan. There was an 80% chance of rain for ten days leading up to their outdoor wedding. The day before the wedding the chance of rain dropped to 20% and there was not a single drop of rain the entire day!! We did trade the rain for some very sunny and warm weather for their June wedding, but I'll take that over rain any day!

Jess, Logan, and their friends were a blast to work with. They were full of laughter and energy throughout the whole day and night. Their portraits show how much fun they were truly having and their wedding reception even included the limbo! Jess and Logan chose the wedding colors of plum, lavender, and sage to compliment the outdoor farm venue.  The bridesmaids and brides"man" also wore the most beautiful plum dresses and tie to compliment the groomsmen and their sage ties. They filled their reception with sage greenery and pops of plum flowers. Their naked cake and whoopie pies topped off the night along with an amazing sunset and a high energy sparkler exit. If you are planning a June wedding, or an outdoor wedding you will want to check out all the details of this blog post!!



Second Shooter: Sierra McCray Photography

Florist: The Faded Poppy

Band: E3 (Sam Hill Entertainment)

Invitations: Jana Gamble (Stellajacksonmarketing)

Cater (and cake): Roadside Chive

Rentals: Gibson Rentals

Bus: Easy Riders Bus Company

Hair and makeup: Anne Marie and Co

Rings: Angelo Jewelry

Dress: Jeanette's Bridal

Bridesmaids: Weddington Way

Groomsmen: Combatgent

Desserts: Yoder's Country Market

Erin & Mike's Intimate Wedding | Charlottesville Wedding Photographer

Erin and Mike planned a very small and intimate wedding at The Local in Charlottesville. I spoke with Erin about their wedding over the phone but due to all the rain I was never able to meet them before their wedding for their engagement session. Walking into Erin's room on her wedding day I felt like I had already met her and hung out with her a few times!! She was calm and collective and stunning in her floral silk robe. I was so excited to begin capturing their day and to focus on the real moments and emotions. Erin and Mike only had one person with them getting ready which set the stage for their small and intimate wedding day. Their focus was on the relationships with those that were invited, and while their details were beautiful I knew the real beauty of their wedding day was in the moments happening before my eyes and I did my best to capture those moments.

The Local in Charlottesville is a quaint and unique wedding venue. Tucked away in a small neighborhood with a few other restaurants the scene is a mix or urban and country. Erin and Mike provided their guests with a three course meal from The Local's amazing menu. The food was so delicious!! They ate outdoors under a tent in long family style tables. Each place setting had not only handwritten place cards, but also hand written letters to each guest thanking them for coming! Now, this is something you don't see very often, if at all. Later in the evening they cut a naked cake decorated with berries. Friends made the crochet decorated embroidery hoops, the wooden candle holders, and the signage to hang in front of the wine bar. They also added a few lanterns, wooden chargers, and lots of candles to set a very intimate and romantic mood for their small wedding.


Photography- Christy McKee Photography

Florist -

Rings - Adele Diamond

Bride's dress - David's Bridal

Matron of Honor dress -  J Crew Bridal

Suits - Maya Couture

Hair/Makeup - Chessy Hewitt of Blushing Brides

Cake - The Mad Batter

Catering - The Local

Invitations - Vistaprint (bride created)

Decor - Hylin McAndrews of HyHopes Natural Creations

DJ - David Verde of DV Entertainment

Meaghan & Matt Engagement | Charlottesville Wedding Photographer

I am so excited to share Meaghan and Matt's engagement session! First because they are two of the most cheerful people I have met and it was just so much fun being around them. Second they were my first couple that chose to do a documentary style engagement session!! I always send each couple an engagement questionnaire before their session to help us plan the session, and to get to know them a little better. Meaghan mentioned that they enjoy visiting the local wineries in Charlottesville and doing wine tastings so I asked if they would be interested in doing that as part of their session. We met at Blenheim Vineyards in Charlottesville, it was a little crowded because it was graduation weekend at UVA. Everyone at the winery was so nice and accommodating and they gave us a little spot at the end of the tasting bar. So while Meaghan and Matt did their wine tasting and chatted with the nice person pouring their wine, I took pictures! It was so much fun to document them just relaxing and participating in an activity that they enjoy. They didn't need to pose, or look at me, or feel awkward, they just got to drink wine! Now, I will say I'm sure the first five minutes still feel a little awkward because they knew I was there taking their pictures which isn't all that normal at a winery, but they were completely relaxed within minutes and it all became so natural and real. I really encourage other couples to consider this type of session for their engagement photos and I'll gladly help you come up with some fun ideas and locations!!

After their wine tasting we went outside and did a few more photos on the grounds of the vineyards. We weren't allowed in the actual vineyard but found a few spots filled with lavender and cherry trees which were equally as beautiful! Next they changed into a more casual outfit and we drove a few miles down the road to the Saunders Monticello Trail for a little romantic hike. A change of scenery and an outfit change help give your session more variety! During this part of their engagement session they did some walking and "goofing around", as well as a few posed photos which is great practice for the wedding day. Meaghan and Matt were so comfortable in front of the camera at this point I didn't need to give them much help at all. You can tell how happy these two are through these images and I hope they inspire you as you plan your engagement session too!

Sallie & Josh American Hotel Wedding | Staunton Wedding Photographer

Sallie and Josh's wedding was special in so many ways. First, on a personal side they were the first couple that was actually referred to me by my husband. Now this doesn't sound that unique, Josh and my husband work together about once or twice a month. However,  my husband sees on average 40 people a day and has never referred anyone, so he knew this was going to be a great match. Sallie and Josh are laid back but still very fun and silly. They are so easy to get along with and are so comfortable together it made taking their pictures quite easy.

Sallie and Josh's wedding was mostly special though because they were married in the church that Sallie attended since she was little. This church holds a lot ofhistory for her family and she always knew that is where she wanted to get married. Augusta Stone Church is so beautiful! As soon as I pulled up I couldn't stop thinking of all the great spots for portraits. Then I walked inside the church and it was equally as beautiful. There were so many great details in every room, great architecture, and good light too which is rare for a church.

Sallie and Josh chose not to do a first look before their wedding. Josh's face beamed with happiness has he watched Sallie walk down the aisle. This was after the sweet little flower girl fell and had to be comforted which Josh quickly took care of before his bride began her decent down the aisle. The kids at this wedding were beyond adorable!! After a very touching ceremony we took advantage of the gorgeous stone church and did family and wedding party portraits outside before heading to downtown Staunton.

Sallie and Josh held their reception at the American Hotel in downtown Staunton. I have done several weddings at the American Hotel and it is one of my favorite venues for many reasons. I love the exposed brick and the light that pours in the windows in the evening. I also love the easy access to downtown for portraits! Every wedding I have photographed at the American Hotel has had a different reception layout so it always feel just a little different each time. Sallie and Josh opted not to serve cake at their wedding and instead had an ice cream truck parked right outside. Smiley's Ice Cream Truck is bright red and full of fun and unique flavors. They told me I "had to try some" so I did and it was in fact amazing! They made custom ice cream bowls and spoons to feed each other their favorite dessert. I love when couples think outside the box and come up with ideas for their wedding that are true to what they love and enjoy!

Take a look through all the wonderful images captured during this spring church wedding filled with all the details, love, and emotion you could imagine on a wedding day!

Vendor List

Second photographer: Nvision Photography

Flowers- Flowers by Rose

Ceremony venue- Augusta Stone Church

Reception venue-  American Hotel and Banquet

 Ice Cream- Smileys Ice Cream from Mount Crawford

Wedding dress/bridesmaid dresses/groomsmen outfits: Amanda's Touch

Food- Country Cookin

Hair and make by High Tech Salon- Sam Halterman (make up) and Brittany Davis (hair)

Invitations-  Etsy

Rings- (bride) Christopher Williams


Jessica & Walt Richmond Engagement Session | Richmond Wedding Photographer

Although I don't live too far from Richmond it's a place I have never explored beyond Short Pump shopping! I was so excited for Jessica and Walt's engagement session so I would finally have the chance to explore the city a little more. We met atByrd Park near the Carillon building. This park was so full of life with people, and dogs, of all ages and activities. There were so many fun spots at the park but we couldn't photograph them all because we had another location to visit too! I loved the amphitheater with the stone steps and all the dogwoods that were bloomed. The Carillon building itself had amazing steps as well.

When I asked Jessica and Walt to describe themselves they said they were adventurous and liked to explore new places. They were so much fun and really up to try anything I suggested, even running through a crowd of people on a very long bridge! One of my favorite moments, and now outtake photos, was the couple right in front of them that realized they were in my frame and they started running too.

Our next stop was the National Battlefield park by Tredegar. This is definitely a place I will return to explore more myself. We spent most of our time on the bridge and then a short walk back to some local street art. The sun set so beautifully behind the bridge and the weather was simply perfect. The bridge was a little crowded but this just added to the images and everyone was very nice with giving us a little extra space. I loved the lines of the bridge both standing on it as well as under it. The steel work is a great contrast to the water and trees surrounding the bridge. I was a bit shocked at how loud the water was, just a little beyond peaceful, but so beautiful.

I am so excited for Jessica and Walt's Wintergreen wedding this summer. I know it will be filled with adventure and laughter!!!

Desert Bridal Portraits | Scottsdale, Arizona Wedding Photographer

A little back story about me! I grew up in a military family so I am "from" so many places. One of these places is sunny Arizona! I moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University and began my teaching career there as well. Upon meeting my now husband I left Arizona to move to Virginia. However, I am lucky enough to be able to return to Arizona a few times each year. Last year during the heat of the summer, I talked this gorgeous lady into modeling at one of my favorite locations. I would love to start shooting one or two weddings a year in Arizona, or even doing some elopements. I am typically in Arizona in January or February and again in June. However, for a wedding I can travel anytime of the year at no additional travel costs!!

For this desert bridal session I found a sweet model who put up with a little walk to get to our location, and very high temperatures to make this shoot work. I packed this amazing dress by White Dress by Greta Kay in my suitcase all the way from VA just for this shoot. I also had an online consultation from my favorite florist, The Faded Poppy to help make my own bouquet using local flowers and greenery! These mountains are part of the Papago Park trails. There is over a 1 mile hike from the parking lot to the amphitheater where I wanted to take bridal portraits (we took a little short cut). I love the red rocks of Arizona in contrast with the green cactus and the gorgeous sunsets! As we were leaving the session there was even a drum circle at the bottom of the mountain, too bad we were too hot to stay and listen, well that and we were chasing the sunset across the street at the time!

A little about the dress by designer, Greta Kay. This dress is a fit and flare style featuring our Paisley lace and leather straps. It can be customized with different leather strap colors or jewelry straps of pearl or precious stones.

Questions for a Wedding Coordinator and More! | Meet Jessica from Main Street Weddings

I hope these wedding vendor spotlights are providing both wedding professionals and brides with some useful information. I would like to continue my wedding vendor interviews with Jessica from Main Street Weddings. I have not had the chance to work with Jessica, but have heard so many wonderful things about her and her business Main Street Weddings. Jessica offers more than wedding coordination and you should continue reading to find out more about just what her business offers! Meet Jessica

Photo by Lieb Photographic

Photo by Lieb Photographic

Tell me a little bit about yourself:

Well, hello! I’m a young 30’s professional wedding planner who has been in this industry my entire career. I grew up just outside DC in Centreville, VA and moved to Culpeper (my husband’s home town) back in 2008. I’ve been married to Jon for eight years and we have a four year old son, Luke, and a daughter due in just in a few months.

Tell me a little bit about Main Street Weddings:

Main Street Weddings began as a brick and mortar planning boutique in downtown Culpeper. Our original focus was to highlight the small town wedding destinations and event professionals in Culpeper and surrounding counties. With our development of, we’ve shifted gears with Main Street to fully embrace the planning, design, and rentals side of the business.

How did you get started in rentals and event production?:

What started as a wedding coordination service has come full circle to event production with the steady fast growth of our rental inventory. As of this year, we now offer event lighting, dance floor, table and chair rentals, arbors, china, and a wide selection of specialty linens. The rental inventory is available to everyone, not just our planning clients. However we are able to offer special rates for clients who hire us for both full scale production.

How long have you been in business?

Our business was formed in August 2014.

What gets you most excited about what you do?

Seeing it all come together! I’m a very visual person, and nothing is more exciting than taking a design from concept to completion. Whether it is providing a budget conscience bride with colorful napkins to add a pop of color to her tablescape, or filling a tent with our farm tables, bistro lights and barn wood dance floor – I just love being able to offer these specialty options to enhance the venue.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your field that would help others just getting started?

You have to run your business like a business, not a hobby. I knew that being an entrepreneur would have its demands, but didn’t anticipate the constant work mind set. It’s hard to “turn it off” if you want to keep the momentum going. So much energy and sacrifice is required in those infancy years of your business. You have to be prepared to take it seriously and be in it for the long haul!

What is your current favorite wedding trend?

I LOVE the richness of mauve/rose taupe/dusty rose – a super trending color that appears to be quickly replacing the ever popular blush trend. Also, loving the “Flower-Gran” craze! Can’t get enough of it. Two of our brides last year incorporated their Grandmother’s into the ceremony in this capacity and it. was. amazing.

What is a trend you would like to see less of?

Honestly, if it makes the bride happy I am not opposed to any trend! I’m a firm believer that I should only provide guidance – every wedding shouldn’t match my own personal tastes but that of the couple. As long as it’s unique to them and they’re happy, I’m happy!

What tips or advice can you give a couple that is just starting to plan their wedding?

Breathe. Prioritize. Know that you’re going to change your mind quite a bit in those first few months so be sure to allow plenty of time to plan and adjust.

What tips or advice do you have for couples on their wedding day?

Again – BREATHE! Take it all in! It goes by SO fast. Hire the right people so you that you can focus all of your time and energy on this incredible day with the people you love the most.

Please share a favorite memory or story from a wedding you have done this year.

Our season kicks off in exactly one month! A favorite memory from last year would have to be watching one of our favorite bride’s walk down the aisle with her Dad OUTSIDE right after a rain storm. It was so important to her to have the ceremony outdoors and we just kept watching the radar and doing everything we could to make it happen. By delaying the ceremony by just 15 minutes by having guests wait inside the venue, we were able to wipe down the seats right after the storm stopped. This bride was the sweetest ever and we weren’t going to let a little rain ruin her vision for the day. She literally squealed with excitement walking down the aisle – our hearts were so full!

What are things your past clients have said about you after their wedding day? These can be reviews online, emails, thank you cards, or in person comments.

How can readers find out more about your business?

Cassie & Robert Blandy Farm Engagement Session | Staunton Wedding Photographer

We were lucky to have a very mild winter this year in Virginia! Cassie and Robert were trying to find a time to schedule their engagement session so they could use the photos for their save the date cards, which can be tricky when you hire your wedding photographer in the winter. Well, thank goodness for our finicky VA weather because when I saw the 10 day forecast was calling for 70 degree weather it was the perfect opportunity for a winter engagement session! We decided to meet at the State Arboretum of Virginia or Blandy Farm. This was my first visit to the arboretum and even in the winter it was beautiful, and now I can't wait to go back in the spring and fall as well.

A few of my favorite things about the arboretum were the variety of trees and stones. There were so many interesting areas filled with different textures and colors, which I love! There was a small pond that although a little dirty, the reflection was still beautiful. There were several benches, staircases, walkways, and so many places to explore. One thing that makes your engagement session stand out is variety. Having a location with a wide variety of colors and textures really adds to your images. I think we could have spent another hour taking pictures at the arboretum.

Questions for a Bridal and Menswear Fashion Designer| Meet White Dress by Greta Kay

I am loving my vendor spotlight posts and learning so much from all the talented, local wedding vendors we are fortunate enough to have in our area. I have known Greta now for about 2 years and have had the opportunity to photograph several of her custom dresses and new menswear line! Every dress I have photographed has been unique and fit to perfection. Below you will find the interview with White Dress by Greta Kay as well as images from weddings and styled shoots I have photographed of Greta's custom bridal and bridemaids' dresses and menswear. Now, you must check out White Dress by Greta Kay's website and Facebook page to see even more of her amazing dresses and more photographs.


Tell me about yourself.
I’m Greta Kay, fashion designer, boy mom, and Oma (grandmother).  I love living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and just moved into an historic pre civil war home that my husband and I are looking forward to restoring.  Speaking of my husband, Scott, we will celebrate our 29th Anniversary on Valentine’s Day.  That should prove that I love a great love story and I love weddings.  I take pride in helping couples design their wedding day fashion.  I love to be a part of their love story!

Tell me a little bit about White Dress by Greta Kay.
In 2013, I left my corporate job with a leading national sportswear company.  I still have designs in their national catalog!  I decided that it was now or never to launch my own brand and have my own design voice.  In 2014, my capsule collection walked the runway for the first time at Virginia Fashion Week where I was named the Emerging Designer of the Year.  
In the spring of 2015, I decided to open my flagship boutique, White Dress by Greta Kay, a showroom housing our existing Greta Kay bridal line, bridesmaids and accessories.  Couples can select from our existing collection or take advantage of our custom design services.

How did you get started as a fashion designer?
I have always loved fashion.  I recently found a few fashion magazines that I had kept since I was a teenager.  My mother was a seamstress and taught me to sew when I was very young.  I never bought prom or formal dresses.  She and I designed and made them together.  We also designed my wedding dress and accessories.  I designed and made wedding dresses and formals for people on the side along the way and then got away from it for a while.  While working for the sportswear company, I started doing some freelance design.  That just ignited my passion and told me that I needed to not waste another year not doing what I love.

How long have you been in business?
The boutique and studio opened to the public in early 2015.  We are now just entering our 3rd year.

What gets you excited about what you do?
I love hearing people’s stories and being a part of their story.  Every couple has a unique vision for their wedding.  I feel honored to be a part of that vision.  When I hear someone say they just can’t find exactly what they are looking for, it is exciting to put pencil to paper and help them see their vision come to life in a concept sketch.  The best part thought is the reveal, when they see their custom fashion for the first time.

What’s a typical day like for you?
Because of the custom nature of my brand, I wear a lot of hats.  That means a lot of hours and often working 7 days a week, even when the boutique is closed.   I manage the day to day operations of my brand and meet with clients to work on designs.  When I’m not meeting with clients, I am often working late hours in the design studio, draping or patterning and sewing.  Because we source often from the Asian textile markets and our factory is located in China, I’m often actually working in the middle of the night because of the 13 hour time difference.  It takes a lot to oversee a design from start to finish.  
And, believe it or not, I try to be a mom first and foremost.  I try to carve out time for my family and have dinner at home as a family.  On Saturdays during little league football season, you’ll find me on the sidelines cheering on my little football players as often as possible.

What is your favorite part of your business?
Designing!  I have so many ideas and concepts for new wedding fashion and I love sketching fashion croquis and then seeing those ideas walk the runway.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your field that would help others just getting started?
Never put your dream on hold because you think you should be doing something else “more lucrative or productive.”  Follow your passion from the beginning and take the necessary steps to learn more, whether that is college classes, research, or working with a mentor in the field.  Put what you learn into practice every day, even if it’s just on the side until you can make it your career.  Do not be afraid to take a risk or knock on a closed door and if the door you are focused on doesn’t open, that’s ok.  Build your own door.

What is your current favorite wedding trend?
Separates!  I have had a collection of separates for a while now and it just makes sense in both versatility and comfort.  I’m also slightly obsessed with custom modern cut suits for grooms.  Anyone can wear a black tux, but to see a groom styled in a perfect fitting suit?  Yes, please!

What is a trend you would like to see less of?
I am not a fan of the lingerie or sheer trend.  I’m not a prude,  I love illusion and playing with cut outs in a fun way, but I also think brides choosing to wear those barely covered, strategic lace placement designs (think Jennifer Lopez or Beyonce) will regret that choice on their wedding day.  Do you really want Grandpa or your partner’s Crazy Uncle Joe to see that much of you?  It’s definitely a trend still seen at market in 2017, but I’m hoping we will see those sheer dress designers making use of lining fabric again soon.

What tips or advice can you give a couple that has just gotten engaged?
Hire a wedding planner and write out a budget.  The budget has to be the blueprint for every decision that you make for your wedding.  Be realistic about what you can afford and the max that you plan on paying for each thing on that list.  A professional wedding planner will be worth their weight in gold.  They will have amazing resources for every wedding vendor you will need and can help you stick close to your budget.  
Once your budget is set, book your venue and then make an appointment at White Dress by Greta Kay. Your venue will dictate the aesthetic of your wedding. When we know the venue, it helps us understand the look you want.  We are a one stop shopping resource for everything wedding fashion related and can help you make decisions that you will love for your entire wedding party in your price range.

What tips or advice can you give a couple that is ready to start shopping for their wedding attire?
If you have decided your budget, that should be the top of the list.  You will then want to create a mood or inspiration board for your colors and style.  Look through magazines, Pinterest, etc. to get a feel for what appeals to you.  Bring these to your appointment as they can be inspiration for what you ultimately wear.  Be prepared to think outside the box too.  Your wedding should be a reflection of your style, not an exact copy of your Pinterest board.  
Please share a favorite memory or story from a wedding you have done this year.
This is easy.  I have many stories that I have loved being a part of, but my favorite was meeting a bride and her mother with the mother’s vintage wedding dress.  The bride wanted a modern style, but wanted to use what she could from her mother’s dress.  When the bride came for her reveal, she informed me that her mother had passed away.  I cried, she cried.   Her sister, her father and her aunt were at that appointment.  It was just so special that she had that dress that had been created from her late mother’s dress.  We also made a handkerchief for the sister so that she could have a piece of the dress at the wedding too.  

What are things your past clients have said about you after working with you?

We love when we get reviews and they are out there on Facebook, Wedding Wire, The Knot, etc.  Often our clients are amazed that we offer the customized experience that we do in a budget friendly way, for all body types and styles, right here in Virginia.  I’ve been called “Greta the Gown Guru,”  I loved that!
 Here are a couple statements that reflect what people have said about us:
“We got just what we wanted at a great price.”
“I absolutely loved my experience with Greta.”
What business accomplishments are you most proud of?
Every day that I get to come to work and design wedding fashion makes me proud.  I consider it an honor when someone selects me to design her dream dress.  
It’s also nice to be recognized in the fashion world internationally.  Already this year, we have been invited to show at Vancouver (Canada) Fashion Week and The Grand Bahamas Fashion Week.  

How can readers find out more about your business?
We are on social media, Facebook and Instragram – White Dress by Greta Kay
You can also visit us on the web at





Questions for a Wedding Planner and Florist | Meet The Faded Poppy

I have had the pleasure of working with Sara and Jason Kite on several occasions for weddings, events, and styled shoots and they are such a dynamic duo! Sara is so creative and always thinks outside the box. Sara and Jason are also serious supporters of their local community. Their networking skills and ability to support and encourage other professionals in the wedding community is one thing that sets the apart from other small businesses. I have learned so much from working with them and am lucky to also call them both friends. Please visit their website, Facebook page, and Instagram to learn more about their amazing business and everything they offer to their community. Also, read their interview below mixed in with some of their amazing floral arrangements!

The Faded Poppy: Vendor Interview

Tell me a little bit about yourselves
We, Jason & Sara Kite, are the creative husband & wife team behind TFP. After meeting during one of Jason’s visits from the UK and spending a few months of 8+ hour phone calls we found ourselves planning a wedding oceans apart. Sara has always loved flowers, planting, cutting and arranging them, she grew up with a grandmother who taught her everything necessary to be a great hostess. Jason, coming from England which is the epitome of extravagant gardens and flora, has a natural eye for creative arrangements. 

Tell me a little bit about The Faded Poppy
The Faded Poppy is an event planning & floral design business that specializes in weddings.  Based in Waynesboro we are on the doorstep of a great number of exceedingly beautiful outdoor wedding venues including wineries, breweries & historical presidential sites.  The “Poppy” portion of our name stems from “poppit” which is an old English term of endearment and is what Jason’s parents called him when he was a child and what Jason continues to call Sara.  Associating this with our business saw this converted to “poppy”.

How did you get started in floral design and event planning?
As the wife of a prominent minister, Sara’s grandmother would frequently decorate her home to entertain large gatherings of friends & family.  Sara would assist her from a young age and that passion continues into The Faded Poppy.

How long have you been in business?
Sara started planning & designing small events for family & friends around 7 years ago and created flowers for her first paying client 5 years ago.  This was very exciting for us because they were getting married at Ash Lawn–Highland which, as the estate of James Monroe, is very important to Virginia and the entire country.  2 years ago The Faded Poppy was officially formed and last July we moved into our own dedicated premises in Waynesboro.

What gets you most excited about what you do?
Floral design trends are cyclical meaning that a large number of our clients approach us with similar color palette & design requirements.  For us we love the challenge of purposefully creating something unique for each client so we get to experience their elation upon seeing the unexpected on their wedding day.  We have never failed to disappoint and our business statement is to continuously & consistently exceed all expectations.

What’s a typical day like for you (can answer as a wedding day or a working day or both)?
Work day: Long.  We start our day off with a finite list of tasks to accomplish.  Half way down the list things are under control and the end is in sight.  Then responses to emails start coming in as well as a couple of new enquiries.  It’s hard work but good fun.  We never want anybody to wait too long for a response; we are very proud of the commitment we have to our clients, responding promptly and in the detail & clarity they deserve.  Jason will send the first emails at 6:30am and Sara the last, typically, around 2am!

Wedding day: This is hard work in a completely different way.  Where correspondence is mentally taxing this is both mental & physical.  It requires a lot of running, answering questions, putting out fires, a few tears, lots of pretties, a couple of hugs, many thank yous, from & to us, and, at the end of it all, a grand exit.

What is your favorite part about floral design and event planning?
Floral design: an art piece is being formed: a small basis culminating in something huge & beautiful that brings joy to the recipient and gratification to us.

Event planning: besides attending a wedding each weekend and visiting our plethora of beautiful venues, it’s the clients we get to work with and seeing their joy when they commit to each other for the rest of their lives.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your field that would help others just getting started?
Don’t underestimate the power of networking, making friends and having a support system.  Above all else pound the pavements and put your name in front of everybody that will listen.

What is your current favorite wedding trend?
The abundance of greenery and textures being used.

What is a trend you would like to see less of?
Conformity or feeling obliged to follow the rules of traditional weddings.  We get enthused by those couples we meet that have ideas & desires away from the norm.

What tips or advice can you give a couple that is planning their wedding?
Do not underestimate the benefit of hiring professional wedding vendors, no matter how tempting the idea of performing this yourself or accepting the offer of free work from a friend or guest may be.

At the end of the day it’s your wedding and, with lots of opinions coming in from all directions, decisions should be made by you and your spouse.

How do you think couples can most effectively use a wedding planner?
A wedding planner has the knowledge to assess their client’s requirements and recommend those professionals that are going to work best with them and produce the best results.  Clients should tap into this and let the seasoned professional do all the hard work.  On your wedding day, be a guest and enjoy it rather than wear yourself out by attempting to coordinate it.


Could you share some examples of when couples have been very glad they brought a wedding planner on board?
The overall consensus from reading reviews from our clients is that hiring a wedding planning & day-of coordinator was the best decision they made because it reduced their stress immeasurably and allowed them to enjoy their day.
We coordinated a wedding this past summer where, moments before we arrived, an out of town bridesmaid discovered her dress was sized incorrectly.  Fortunately, armed with a good network of fine wedding professionals, I was able to call a local wedding dress maker (White Dress by Greta Kay) and within 20 minutes the bridesmaid was measured and her dress in the process of being altered.  She was returned to the venue without a trace of modification to the dress and the ceremony took place on time.

What are the main characteristics of a good wedding planner?
Patience, preparedness, organization, tough skin, selflessness, creativity, quick thinker, professionalism, dedication, motivation & likability

Please share a favorite memory or story from a wedding you have done this year.
We coordinated the wedding of a couple that had been friends throughout school but, following graduation, went their separate ways.  He became a Navy Seal and was deployed to Iraq.  While in the front line he and one other were ambushed and he took what should have been a fatal shot to the abdomen.  As soon as they were able to they crawled out of their hiding and made it to the medical center back on base.  Certain he wasn’t going to make it he had the hospital phone his friend back home who, at the advice of her father, flew out to Iraq to visit him as soon as she could.  With this, their long term friendship took a different direction resulting in marriage.

What are things your past clients have said about you after their wedding day? These can be reviews online, emails, thank you cards, or in person comments.
Thank you card:
“Words cannot express how deeply thankful we are that you were able to help us coordinate our wedding day so perfectly.  We feel so honored that you were there to help us celebrate one of the biggest days of our lives together.  It was fete that our paths crossed this year in such a beautiful way.  We wish you and your flowering business all the luck in the world!
We look forward to seeing you again soon!
With lots of love & gratitude,
Megan & Erin.”

What business accomplishments are you most proud of?
A growing familiarity of our business by other professional wedding vendors in the area.  It’s always a pleasure to have people exclaim “I’ve heard of you!” or “we love The Faded Poppy’s work” when we introduce ourselves to them for the first time.

How can readers find out more about your business?
They can visit our website ( where we have information on the different planning & day-of coordination services we offer as well as many examples of the floral arrangements we’ve created as well as our Instagram ( and Facebook ( pages.

What are you working on at the moment?
We’ve launched a discussion forum ( designed principally for couples marrying in Central Virginia providing them a way to pose wedding-related questions for vendors, venues and married couples to share their knowledge and offer impartial advice.  By being specifically for our area it aims to provide posters with more relevant information.  As a new service we’re just now building awareness but hope this to bloom soon.

What are you looking forward to in 2017?
We already have a long list of fabulous couples that have asked us to plan & coordinate and create the floral arrangements for their wedding next year so we’re looking forward to that, and we’ll be working at some amazing venues for the first time so look forward to forging relationships with them.

Questions for a Wedding Photographer | Meet Christy McKee Photography

I am so excited to start a new series of blog posts highlighting local vendors with my vendor spotlight posts!! Not only will couples get to know some great wedding vendors, but these interviews will help answer a lot of questions that couples have about planning their wedding. I decided that I will go first to help the vendors I've asked to answer questions ease into them, it's always challenging talking about yourself! So here is my own "self interview", I am not sure what else to call giving myself an interview, ha ha!!

A little bit about Christy McKee: I was raised in a military family and moved around quite often. I never know how to answer the question, "where are you from" which people around here ask often. I was exposed to many different cultures and environments at a young age which has led to my eclectic style. I went to college for special education and was a teacher for several years before starting my photography business. I was married in 2007 to my then boyfriend of 6 years! We had a very small outdoor wedding on a chilly April day. We now have three girls and are in the process of building our dream home on 65 acres.

Images by Kelly Dean Photography

A little bit about Christy McKee Photography: I have been interested in photography since grade school and photography had been a serious hobby growing up. I took photography courses in college as my art electives. I started shooting on a film camera and still use my first "real" film camera from time to time. I started my business is 2010, but officially in 2011 when I received my business license. When I first started business I only wanted to photograph families, but after photographing my first wedding this all changed! I always thought weddings would be stressful and too much work (mostly because I had young children). However, they were NOT, to me anyway. My first wedding was so much fun!! I loved getting to know the couple and helping them plan their timeline. I enjoyed every minute of the wedding day and teared up more than once (this hasn't changed). The wedding day was anything but stressful. I am very organized, but also very laid back. I was able to keep up with the schedule and also make adjustments easily as needed and there was zero stress involved. While the editing was a lot of work, it was work I truly enjoyed. I never got tired of editing those images. Each image was such a pleasure to see and improve upon. As I've shot more and more weddings the editing has gotten easier because I've learned to get the image right "in camera" meaning I don't have to do as much editing as I did with my first wedding.

What specifically do I like about photographing weddings? This answer always seems the same from every photographer, and yes I do "love love" like everyone else, but to me it's more than that. First, going to a wedding doesn't always feel like work to me and that's how I knew it was the right job for me. I don't think your work should ever feel like a job! Anyway, when I go to a wedding I feel a rush of adrenaline. There is so much energy in the air and emotions fill the entire day and I love this type of a working environment. I also enjoy wedding photography because of the creativity. There are so many beautiful details and moments happening ALL DAY LONG, and so many chances for being creative! My favorite things to photograph also happen to be everything you see during a wedding. I love capturing emotion and telling stories and that is what a wedding day is all about!

If I could describe my wedding photography is 6 adjectives they would be: Bold, rich, emotional, intimate, classic,  and detailed.

What is my favorite part of the wedding day? This is hard to answer because there are more than one that immediately comes to mind. If I had to pick just one it would be the bride getting into her dress. It's such a beautiful moment filled with emotion. It's also the moment it becomes real, she's getting married and now is the time! I love capturing all the emotions in the room while she's getting dressed and seeing herself for the first time. I love capturing the details of the dress itself and being buttoned or tied, and adjusted by everyone around her.

Some advice for couples looking for a wedding photographer: First you should LOVE their style. Take a few minutes to view all the images on their website and blog. These images should invoke a feeling inside you and speak to you in some way. Next, you'll need to inquire about their availability and pricing. I always book my fall dates the quickest, I think fall brides tend to like my style more because of my use of color. Do not hire a photographer based on pricing.  You are making an investment that will give you images that last forever!! This is not an area you want to save money. I offer payment plans to help with the cost of my collections and others may as well. Lastly, meet in person or have a phone conversation. You want to make sure you feel comfortable around your photographer as they will be there during some very intimate and emotional moments. Feeling relaxed around your photographer will show in your images.

A few tips to help your wedding day go more smoothly: Create a detailed timeline and stick to it. If you have a coordinator they will help with tremendously and I highly recommend using one. However, if you don't have a coordinator delegate a close friend or family member to help keep track of the timeline. I love a good schedule and work closely with the couple before the wedding to create a timeline. I also have the timeline on me at all times and follow it throughout the day. Now, we cannot control everything that will happen and that is OK. I am great at making up time and rolling with the punches, or changes, of the day. Communicate with your vendors about your timeline and share copies with them. Double check delivery times prior to your wedding day with vendors.

A few tips to help couples enjoy their wedding day: You have a great timeline in place and a good coordinator and your big day is finally here, so now you get to just enjoy it!! The day will go by so quickly and there will be so much going on. Don't worry about the details anymore. What's done is done and you have to let yourself enjoy your wedding day. Enjoy getting ready, enjoy watching your friends and family. Enjoy dreaming about getting married and your future. Play your favorite music, have a glass of wine/beer/soda, and don't let everyone into your space while you're getting ready. Create a relaxed and fun getting ready atmosphere. After the ceremony don't feel obligated to talk to everyone, you will have lots of time at the reception. Let your coordinator guide guests away and allow you space and time to enjoy the first few moments of being married! If your wedding party, or groom, seem to be getting tired of taking pictures towards the end of the day then start having fun with them. Being silly always helps everyone smile! Also, trust in your photographer and vendors. You hired people to help make your wedding day perfect so now sit back and relax and know they will help make your wedding details perfect. Don't miss out on moments happening while they are happening. Be present and take it all in and I will be there capturing it all for you to look at over and over and over!  

What couples have said about Christy McKee Photography: This is always the hard part, sharing good things about yourself, but it's important. These are the comments that let me know I'm doing a good job and doing something I should be doing! I'm not using direct quotes, those can be found on my Facebook or Wedding Wire reviews. Couples have told me first and foremost how calm I am. Even if we're running one hour behind schedule I always feel calm, because I know I can handle it. Me being calm keeps the couple calm! I've been told often that I'm flexible, easy to work with, and good with communication. I have been known to be helpful too. Couple's always express how much they love their final images. Specifically images they didn't even know I took, details or moments they forgot or missed. I am so lucky to work with such amazing couples. It really is so important to me that couples take the time to get to know me and hire me because they not only love my work but enjoy being around me and trust that I will capture their most important images in a way that they love!

Last, but not least my favorite wedding memory this year: I had a mother of the bride ask me a very unusual request early in the wedding day this year. Her father, the bride's grandfather was in the hospital and not able to make it to the wedding. She was very upset about him missing the wedding and not being in the family portraits. She asked if there was any way we could all go to the hospital so he could be in the portraits with their side of the family. I'll be honest that my first thought was looking at the timeline and worrying how this change would affect the rest of the day. This thought quickly subsided as I said, of course we can, we'll make it work! So after the ceremony we did the groom's family portraits at the church and the rest of the family and bridal party head to the hospital. We spent about 15 minutes there taking large and small group portraits with the family. The bride had a special moment with her grandfather and we all left for the reception. A few months after this I received and email from the bride that her grandfather had passed away. Those were the last images of her grandfather and they are more meaningful than ever. I am so lucky I was able to be part of such a special moment and had to chance to meet such a special man!

Best Wedding Images of 2016 | Virginia Wedding Photographer

Happy New Year

I have officially finished my 2016 wedding season and it was such an amazing year, full of even more amazing couples. I've spent the past few days going through every single wedding photo I took this year and pulling out my favorites. It was time consuming but I love reflecting on and revisiting all the beautiful weddings and engagements from the year. During this reflection I not only found a few new favorite images, but I learned so much about myself and my work. As a photographer I am always growing and changing. I find new passions and learn new techniques. It's fun to look back at my work to see how it has evolved. I fall in love with new ideas and new types of images as I get to work with a wide variety of couples and weddings. So this blog post is filled with beautiful images and inspiration, but it's also a personal and professional journey of my year.

My Style and Passion

As a wedding photographer I tell the whole story of a wedding day, from getting ready, to all the small details, the ceremony, group portraits, and the reception, these are standard wedding images. However, I have always added a little more to this story by watching every moment of the day. I want to show the smaller more personal moments that occur and help tell the story of the wedding. It's not just about a pretty ring shot, it's about the groom twirling his ring as he gets used to wearing it that first hour after the ceremony. I love a pretty dress shot, but my favorite dress images are the mother of the bride spending 20 minutes buttoning it up and enjoying every second. In fact most brides don't see the look on their mother's face while she's doing this until she goes through the wedding gallery. The bride twirling her hair, the flower girl dancing in the corner, the father of the bride giving the groom "that look". What the guys and girls really do during their getting ready time, again these won't be seen until the gallery reveal. I enjoy watching these special moments unfold and making sure I capture them all.

The type of photography I just described, and my general style, is referred to as photo journalistic or documentary wedding photography. I love this type of photography and the stories the images tells. The unique way of showing details that will be remembered forever. I also incorporate this in my engagement sessions too. Watching the couple interact and letting them be themselves without too much posing helps me capture the real relationship between them. It's important to me that during and engagement session and the wedding day that couple has fun, feels relaxed, and don't notice I'm even there half the time.

In reviewing my favorite images there is something else I learned about my passion for wedding photography. I love fine art portraits!! I love taking a portrait of the bride as soon as she's dressed. She's nervous, excited, emotional, happy, and so much more. I want to take a portrait that not only shows how beautiful she looks, but how she feels at the very moment. I really am taking a picture of her on the inside and out. Fine art portraiture is a creative art. It's a very thoughtful and specific process of taking a portrait. I didn't realize how much I enjoyed this art until reviewing my favorite images. I love finding a few minutes for the bride alone, the groom alone, and the couple together for some beautiful portraiture. I want these portraits to take your breath away every time you see them, to make you tear up, to make you feel like it's your wedding day all over again.

           Click on the image to view the Best Wedding Images of 2016 gallery                                                       suggested viewing on a computer :)                                          

Kim & Ben Fairfax Hall Wedding | Waynesboro Wedding Photographer

I am so excited to share Kim and Ben's Christmas inspired wedding today! Ben proposed to Kim during their family Christmas party while reading the book How the Grinch Stole Christmas. So while meeting with Kim to plan her wedding day timeline I was sure to ask her to bring the book for some fun photos to help them remember this special time.

Fairfax Hall was decorated like your dream living room on Christmas day with lights, trees, and greenery everywhere. The candlelight and tree lights are what lit the room so it was very dark and romantic, which I LOVE!! The bridesmaids wore the most beautiful shade of red that just screamed Christmas wedding and the men were accented in green of course. The two flower girls had dresses with red bows and red shoes and were simply adorable. Speaking of red, Kim's red shoes by White Dress by Greta Kay were stunning!! The red satin covered with lace and the red ribbon were simply Christmas wedding perfection! Then there was the amazing bouquet by The Faded Poppy. Full of red roses and a single white rose in honor of the bride's father, it was simple and elegant and perfect in every way. The men had white rose boutonnieres with a hint of holly. The greenery around the fire place and tables, along with pine cones and other wood elements made the room even more cozy. Every detail of this wedding was thoughtful and perfect.

Having a December wedding can be tricky in Virginia. The weather could be 60, or we could have a foot of snow. The weather for this December wedding was perfect. It was calling for rain, but it never came althout it did provide us with the most perfect clouds for a sunset portrait. December weddings are also the perfect time for intimate indoor weddings such as this, so even if the weather didn't cooperate it wouldn't matter.

Enjoy a preview of this beautiful December wedding full or red and green details and even more full of love and laughter!!


Wedding coordinator Sharon Buchanan

Flowers The Fadded Poppy

Rings Kay's

Bride's dress Alfred Angelo

Bridesmaids dresses White Dress by Greta Kay

Tuxes White Dress by Greta Kay

Hair Taylor Dewitt and Amanda Buchanan

 Cupcakes Sweet Nanna Cakes

Cakes Catering Patsy Woods

DJ Epic Sound


Bryanna & Ethan The American Hotel Wedding | Staunton Wedding Photographer

Bryanna and Ethan traveled from Seattle, Washington to get married in the lovely Shenandoah Valley. They picked the most perfect time of year for their Virginia wedding too. Fall weddings in Virginia are very popular because not only is the weather so nice, but everywhere you look it is so beautiful! Bryanna and Ethan met while attending Virginia Tech and were anxious to return to Virginia to become husband and wife.

Bryanna and I spoke on the phone several time before their wedding but we never met in person until their wedding day. Bryanna, Ethan, and their family were so easy to get along with it didn't matter that we had never met before. Her family welcomed me into their home, where Bryanna and her bridesmaids got ready, and into a very special day of their lives. I actually started the day at the American Hotel where the parents of the bride along with their siblings were preparing the final touches on the reception area at the American Hotel. Bryanna and Ethan chose to do most of their wedding decor themselves, along with the help of their family and they did an amazing job. The mother of the bride made four, yes four, wedding cakes. She chose different styles that the couple expressed interest in so they didn't have to pick just one. I was able to capture photos of her mom and dad putting the cakes together at the American Hotel that morning. The tables were filled with cute fall decorations all DIY of course. The wedding party table was so pretty with pumpkin place cards and a custom heart with the couple's initials. You can tell the amount of time and love that went into every decoration there.

Bryanna and Ethan got married at a local church, also decorated by family. The church floor even matched their wedding colors of plum and red. The wind was in full force so we did many of the portraits inside of the church that day. After the very sweet and emotional ceremony we made one more unique stop before heading to downtown Staunton. The bride's grandfather was unable to attend the wedding because he was in the hospital with pneumonia. So, we took the bride's entire family to the hospital for a few family portraits with her grandfather. He was so happy to see the bride and groom and the rest of the family, it was such a special moment!

Next, we headed to downtown Staunton. The wedding party braved the chilly winds to do some outdoor portraits before entering the reception. The American Hotel is surrounded by so many great locations for wedding portraits. We also snuck out for some sunset photos on the Sears Bridge.

The reception at The American Hotel was so much fun. The DJ kept things moving with fun music and all the guests were dancing throughout the night. Bryanna and Ethan not only had four wedding cakes, but homemade fudge and cookies too. Then later in the evening they put out a sweet and salty snack bar for guests to enjoy! Luckily the wind slowed down enough for the couple to have a sparkler exit before they left for the tropical honeymoon!