Staunton Wedding Photographer

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





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!


Photographer: Christy McKee Photography

Second shooter: Leah Otten, Feather and Oak Photography

Venue: The American Hotel Staunton, VA

Florist: DIY, Bride

Rings: Kay’s

Dress: David’s Bridal

Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal

Suit/Tux: Men’s Warehouse

Hair: Brooke Peters (Bride), JoAnna Garland, High Tech Salon and Spa

Makeup: Brooke Peters

Cake: Kyna Baehr and Jim Baehr (Mother and Father of the bride)

Catering: Patsy Wood, Country Cooking

DJ: Lance Gray with Epic Sounds


Josalyn & Dustin The American Hotel | Staunton Wedding Photographer

Josalyn and Dustin are such a sweet couple and I cannot wait to share the images from their wedding day! This couple is laid back and easy going, yet organized and efficient what I consider the perfect combination and often how I describe myself! They knew exactly what they wanted when planning their wedding and wedding photography, yet were very open and relaxed throughout the process.

Josalyn and Dustin chose to get married in a beautiful church with an amazing wood ceiling and stained glass window.  The wedding party got ready at the church and the couple chose to have a first look before the ceremony. The church was surrounded by trees and fields which were perfect for the first look and wedding party photos. Their September wedding was a bit warm, but the cloudy day provided some relief as well as a great filter for our outdoor photos. Josalyn's dress was a custom design by White Dress by Greta Kay. The dress was so elegant, I loved the material and the "flair" at the bottom!

After the ceremony and family portraits at the church we all headed to downtown Staunton for some fun wedding party portraits! I love taking pictures downtown because there are so many options for different looks. Downtown was actually filled with high school students this night because it was homecoming so we had to be even more creative to escape the crowds for some intimate bride and groom portraits. We also took advantage of the historic Sears Bridge, which is very close to the American Hotel, during sunset to capture the views and the night sky. Then it was back to the reception at the American Hotel, which is also an historic building in downtown Staunton. The American Hotel has exposed brick, high ceilings, stained glass, and is such a beautiful mix of upscale and rustic which is exactly what the couple wanted to represent their wedding day. After a reception filled with laughter and dancing the couple made their exit through the sparklers lit by their friends and family. Then stuck around to play with a few themselves!

A special thank you to my second shooter Stephanie Hill!

Venue: The American Hotel

Church: White Hill Church of the Brethron

Dress: White Dress by Greta Kay

Flowers: Susan Roepke

Bridesmaids dresses: David's Bridal

Cake: Paris Cake Company

Rings: Fink Jewelers

Hair: Bonnie Bush

Makeup: Dianne Ramsey, Detente Spa Services

Catering: Dustin McGann (some amazing homemade BBQ and sauces) and Woody's Cafe

Invitations: Vista Print


Hiring a Second Shooter For Your Wedding Day | Staunton Wedding Photographer

Every bride need to consider the idea of hiring a second shooter for their wedding day. However, not all brides need a second shooter. I will discuss, in my opinion, the benefits of having a second shooter as well as when a second shooter is necessary.

Here are some questions I always ask my couple's when deciding if they "need" a second shooter. Are you both getting ready at the same location? How many getting ready moments do you want to capture for both the bride and groom? Do you want to have a first look with the groom or father of the bride? How close is the getting ready suite to the ceremony site? How close is the reception to the ceremony site? If you are not having a first look with the groom, how long after the ceremony do we have for portraits? How large is your wedding party? How many family portraits would you like to have?

Regardless of how you answer these questions having a second shooter is always an added benefit to your wedding day. A second shooter will provide you with more images from your wedding day, as well as more of a variety of shots. A second shooter can be beside the photographer catching different angles or at a different location capturing other events. If the bride and groom are getting ready at separate locations , or you're having a first look, a second shooter is so nice to have. If you're choosing not to see each other before the ceremony and want to take all your bridal party photos before the ceremony this is also a really great time to have a second shooter. A second shooter can be hired for fewer hours than your wedding photographer, or the same amount of time depending on your needs.

If you're undecided on hiring a second shooter consider the questions above and discuss them with your photographer. Together you will make a decision that is right for you and your wedding day!

I'm including some photos I took when I had the opportunity to second shoot with a wonderful photographer in Culpepper, VA. Michelle from Leib Photographic is an amazing photographer to work with. These photos are great examples of how a second shooter can enhance your wedding day.

50's Inspired Styled Wedding | Staunton Wedding Photographer

This session highlights so many things that I love about photography! First, I love all things vintage! I love the outdoors and shooting near water because the light is amazing. I also love working with and supporting local vendors which is really what a styled shoot is all about. Take a look at this gorgeous styled wedding that was featured on Glamour and Grace!

I met with Liz from Gaie Lea to discuss putting together a styled shoot that showed how beautiful her venue is during all seasons. This shoot was actually done during the fall but it would also be the perfect spring or summer wedding concept.  We both wanted to focus on the 1950’s which is when the venue was built. We wanted to highlight the use of family heirlooms and using items from your mother’s wedding. I decided a casual picnic theme would be perfect by the water, but still keeping a sense of elegance and formality from the 50’s. We stayed very true to the era in terms of wardrobe, hair, and make up. We used all original 1950’s family heirlooms for the styling, most of which belonged to the venue owner’s own mother and grandmother.  Other vintage props were supplied by Valley Heirlooms.

Sara Kite from The Faded Poppy styled the shoot. She always find the most amazing vintage pieces and did such a great job combining them with the family pieces we borrowed from Gaie Lea. Sara, and her adorable puppy Charley (seen below) designed the perfect tablescape and reception setting. Sara has such a creative eye and can work with any vision. Sara also created the retro inspired bouquet. This petite bouquet comprised of a soft palette mix of locally sourced blooms including cream mums, peach roses, white limonium and fresh sage & thyme sourced from Gaie Lea's herb garden.

We had a team of three doing the hair and makeup. They matched the true style of the 1950's so perfectly. Omar De Leon Molina owner of Omar's Hair Salon did a wonderful job styling our models hair. The before and after was simply amazing. Veronica Vargas from Glamorous Makeup and Hair by Judith Veronica did a beautiful job defining the look with the glamorous red lips and minimal, but bold, Sophia Lauren eyes. Make up was such an iconic part of 1950's fashion and Veronica portrayed that perfectly. 

The wedding dress, named  Betty, was custom designed by wedding dress designer Greta Kay. The dress is fashioned with a sweetheart neckline and full tea length skirt. It features hand-beaded alencon lace on tulle. The shoes which can be found at White Dress by Greta Kay were the perfect accessory to this dress.

 I decided I didn’t want to use a traditional cake so I decided to use pies which were very popular in the 50’s and went along with the picnic theme. Paris Cake Co. supplied pies in two sizes and they were both beautiful and delicious!

For jewelry I visited the new owners of H.L. Lang & Co.,  a jewelry store that carries estate and other fine jewelry. They owner and her mother chose original 1950’s pieces that were perfect for the shoot. They chose a red colored stone for the engagement ring, graduated pearls, and a beautiful pin. This theme was so much fun to plan to see through. Everyone involved had so much fun researching the era and finding fun ways to incorporate traditions and era specific details.

Photographer: Christy McKee Photography

Venue: Gaie Lea Staunton, VA

Styling: Sara Kite, The Faded Popppy

Florals: The Faded Poppy

Wedding dress, shoes, and wardrobe styling: White Dress by Greta kay

Jewelry: H.L. Lang & Co

Pies: Paris Cake Company!

Vintage Rentals: Valley Heirlooms

Hair: Omar’s Hair Salon (no current web page)

Make Up: Veronica Vargas



Favorite Wedding Photos: The Ceremony | Staunton Wedding Photographer

You've spent months planning every detail of your weddings. You've scoured through every wedding blog and magazine there is, and have seen every single flower arrangement, invitation, place cards, and other decor ideas imaginable. However, when you really think of your wedding day these are not the most important parts of the day.

The absolute most meaningful and most important part of your wedding day is the ceremony. This is when you become husband and wife. This is when it doesn't matter which cake flavor you chose, or what color your bouquet is. The ceremony itself doesn't last long, but the result of the ceremony is to become husband and wife forever. The photographs captured during your ceremony show the last time you are Miss... and the first time you are Mrs..... The images from your ceremony show true emotion, there is no staging, no posing, no interruptions. These are the most natural, true, raw images of the day. Your first kiss, the look in his eyes when you say I do, these images are irreplaceable. When you look through your wedding album in two months and in twenty years, these images are the ones you will stop to look at the longest. These images will bring the most emotion and the best memories from your wedding day.

If you love weddings as much as I do, then you can't help but love the images from the ceremony. I wish more blogs and magazines shared these special images!


Favorite Wedding Photos: The Portraits | Staunton Wedding Photographer

My favorite wedding photos series part 2 is all about the portraits. Portraits consist or bridal, groom, and couple portraits as well as the bridal parties. If your wedding day schedule is tight and there isn't a lot of time for portraits, or there are a wide variety of portraits you would like to have, you may want to consider scheduling bridal portraits before your wedding day. I suggest that brides think of any general poses they would like to capture and discuss this in your pre wedding meeting. However, I do not recommend making or printing a long list of "Pinterest" poses for the day. Doing this can take a lot of time and also ruin a lot of natural moments that occur during the portraits. If you find something on Pinterest that you would really love to re create we can discuss this ahead of time and definitely work it into the portraits.

Couple portraits are such a fun part of your wedding day. Portraits can be done before and/or after the wedding ceremony. This will depend or rather or not you chose to do a "first look" check out a separate blog post about considering a first look! I suggest finding a quiet place without any guests, family members, or bridal party to take the couple portraits. This is a great time for the bride and groom to have a quiet moment "alone" (with your photographer) as well as capturing some memorable images.  I prefer all portraits to be less staged and more natural. Allowing the bride and groom to just be together and talk is a great way to capture true emotion and those real moments from the day. Of course your photographer will guide you when the time is right to look at the camera or to do some poses as well.

The bridal party and family portraits can be a time of creativity and fun. This is also a great time to have a wedding coordinator or designated family member to help organize groups and make sure everyone is around for their group. If the photographer or bridal party member is spending time finding or waiting on missing guests then opportunities for more photos as well as time is lost.

So my advice for portraits is to plan ahead and work closely with your photographer to schedule them appropriately. It's also very helpful to have a wedding coordinator or other helper.