So can everyone just take a second and just go with me? Close your eyes (actually keep them open to continue reading this) and imagine that 14 months ago you take a vacation to Virginia for your birthday and the man of your dreams asked you to marry him. You tirelessly spend the next 13 months and 28 days planning, preparing, and prepping every little detail. From the napkins to the vows, from the perfume bottle to the crazy socks. Of course wedding planning is stressful and there will always be hiccups. Maybe you buy 3 pairs of shoes because you don’t know which you’ll want to wear at the reception to dance, or maybe early on the photographer has to cancel for personal reasons, so you book another……then the new photographer has to cancel 2 D A Y S B E F O R E Y O U R W E D D I N G D A Y ! ! !
WHAAAAAATTTT?? Open your eyes wake up from this horrible dream, right? Goodness my palms are sweating, just thinking about it!!! Welcome to last Wednesday for our new friends Liz & Brandon. These two rolled with the punches though. They went straight to their wedding planner, Blake from Melrose Knitting Mill who contacted us. Let me tell you it was meant to be for us to be their photographers. October is our busiest month out of the year. This October we are shooting 18 out of 31 days. That doesn’t include days we travel or our much-needed office days! We literally had Friday, October 18th (their day) and one random Tuesday free this month. So, after one 25-minute phone call with Liz’s mom Valerie, Kala and I made arrangements with Elliott’s Nana for babysitting purposes, and we were set to be there for them on the BIGGEST DAY OF THEIR LIVES!
We arrive at the Renaissance North Hills in what may have been the happiest bridal suite I’ve ever been in. Liz has everything ready for us to start! She’s getting hair and makeup done, by Blown Away Dry Bar. All of her wedding party is in matching robes and bubbling with happiness and excitement. Before wedding attire was put on everyone piled on the bed for a super cute shot of them before the day officially began!
Just before getting into her dress Liz had one more task at hand. She had an unopened letter from Brandon, her groom, to read. She grabbed her ‘happy tears’ handkerchief and sat on the edge of the bed. Brandon knew how loving and emotional his letter to his bride was; he even placed a wipe tears here direction. Once makeup was touched up, Liz had her mom help her into and button up a fairy tale dress.
Time for the first look with her dad, Bill. A moment he has probably thought about for years, such a pure time as her daddy seen his little girl in her wedding gown. One word. Tears. Okay two words. Happy tears.
Then Liz’s bridal party lined up so she could walk in, and they could see her dressed in her bridal gown for the first time. Gina, Kasey, Colby, Jerica, and Paige all linked arms and waited for their best friend to open the door. Liz. Has. The. Best. Friends! Everyone needs friends like Liz’s. As soon as she walked in they went crazy! You can see in the photo below they were gushing over how she looked and let the tears fall over how happy they were for her. They all hugged grabbed their bags and it was time to go to the venue!
At the venue the coordinator Blake and the bridal party hurriedly hid Liz from Brandon before their first look. Brandon had a few minutes, so we went to the front of the venue for some magazine quality portraits. Y’all this guy looks like he stepped out of a GQ Magazine. Classic black suit and tie, fresh haircut, and a beard line so sharp you would think it was painted on (I’m admittedly jealous). Now it was his turn to read his letter from his bride before the ceremony. After a couple deep breaths and a hard swallow Brandon suppressed the emotions down and held the tears back.
Time for the first look! The videographers, Joe and his wife, with George Street Video, joined us just as Liz came around for her first look with her groom! As Brandon turned around to see his bride for the first-time nerves, excitement, and emotions almost visibly swirled around them. This time together for them is the reason Kala and I love first looks so much. The first few moments they seen each other on their wedding day was so intimate and cherished.
Immediate family and the bridal party joined them after their time alone for family formal portraits. You can tell the family and friends are close to each other and rich in love. They did amazing! The party was fun and accommodated all of our crazy directions for photos, sometimes poses feel awkward but look great! Since some of the nerves had passed Brandon let us know that he was in the mood for a Cheesy Gordita Crunch from Taco bell. LOL!
Once the photos had finished, the bridal party went back to the Mulino, the restaurant under the Melrose Knitting Mill, to relax before the ceremony. Liz and her bridesmaids were at the bar chatting and toasting to the day, the guys on the other hand in true groomsmen fashion were bellowing out random country songs with their arms around each other standing in a circle!
4:30 pm time for the ceremony! The mill was decorated so wonderfully and absolutely gorgeous. Candles and tea lights framed the aisle way between beautiful bouquets and rose petals from the florist, Expressions of Love. The cue to the start of the ceremony was from the beautiful music played live by the violinist Dave Binanay. Prompting the brothers of the bride and groom, Justin, Pat, and Aaron to assist individuals to their seats. The officiant, Erin Scheithe, entered from the front of the hall with the groom and his groomsmen, Devin, Zach, Bryan, Ryan, and Brad. The bridesmaids glided down the aisle followed by miss Nora the flower girl. A little reserved you can tell Nora was unsure about everyone watching her walk down the aisle. When she reached the front, she gave her uncle Brandon a kiss on the cheek and sat down with the mother of the groom, her grandma Deborah, and her mom Michelle. The ceremony was lovely, simple, and elegant, building up to the most anticipated moment, when Brandon and Liz were pronounced husband and wife and kissed each other for the first time as a married couple. The crowd, roared, clapped, and cheered.
After the ceremony, Kala and I get to our favorite part of wedding days. The husband and wife portraits. I mean y’all just look at these two. I’m pretty sure we were photographing royalty Friday evening. By the way Melrose Knitting Mill literally thinks of everything, one of the servers delivered hors d‘oeuvres just before photographing their portraits, giving the newlyweds a second to catch their breath and take it all in! During a moment of downtime between a glass of wine and a quick snack Liz and Brandon expressed how appreciative they were for our presence and that we were able to step in given the circumstances. Can I tell you guys a secret? All Kala and I could think of was how we have the best job in the world, and there’s no place we’d rather be. We were almost giddy photographing their day.
After a quick bustle the bride, groom, bridal party, and family were ready to be announced in. All in attendance applaud as the bridal party danced in to Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling.’ Reminding Kala and I of our own announcement, same song almost three years to the day.
Following the introductions and standing in front of their family and friends Liz and Brandon shared their first dance as husband and wife to Jason Aldean’s romantic ‘You Make it Easy.’ The next dance would be Liz with her dad, Bill. The father and daughter holding each other to The Heartlands ‘I Loved her First.’ I’m pretty sure every eye was being dabbed during this beautiful display of affection. Brandon and his mother Deborah were up next. Every mother in the room picturing herself standing there with her little boy, while Brandon and Deborah circled the dance floor.
To welcome everyone there, Valerie spoke a few minutes. Thanking each one for making the trip, giving motherly advice by reminding her daughter and new son in law of where they have been, and where they are going. How moving down the alphabet from letter G to P with Liz’s new last name has both pros and cons . Valerie also gave them words to remember, the last and most important word being love. Ms. Valerie also wanted to let the guest know about a Pittsburg tradition, Brandon’s family were sure to incorporate. A cookie table. I’m talking a huge, wide variety, wonderfully flavorful, homemade every type of cookie and cookies you didn’t know they could make were on this table. As an avid cookie connoisseur, I am qualified to give an honest accurate testimonial to the quality of the cookies provided which is: Heaven’s streets are lined with cookie filled with tables like this.
Following Valerie’s welcome speech was Bill. I’m not sure anyone in the building was ready for such a heartfelt sentiment because tissues should have been passed out as you walked in the door; the sentiment wasn’t exactly to his daughter, but more of a testament to his new son in law. Bill spoke on how if he could have prepared someone to marry his daughter, this person would have all the features that Brandon has, how no one else could have been a better match for his daughter, and how happy he was that they were now family. Wipe tears now.
After a fantastic dinner it was time for toasts. Devin and Paige the best man and maid of honor, who also happen to be married gave a unique joint toast. Recalling the time they met Brandon, how when asked what Devin thought of Brandon his very detailed response was, “I don’t know.” Then they elaborated together on the top qualities of Brandon and Liz. How great they are together. How great they are as individuals. How great of a puppy aunt and uncle they are. Liz’s love for the Backstreet Boys and Brandon’s unconditional friendship. It was a very special moment to be a part of.
After the cake cutting, Dr. DJ Scotty opened the dance floor and y’all the floor was bouncing! This group knows how to party! Hip hop, line dancing, and even breaking out the dirty dancing lift move! I mean it took a couple of Brandon’s groomsmen and a guest or two, but they were able to keep Brandon up, Patrick Swayze would have been proud. The bride and groom were always in the middle of the party enjoying their time with their closest friends and family. When Backstreet was back you should have seen the dancing coming from the bride and her bridesmaids! Liz, Paige, Kasey, Jercia, Colby, and Gina were all but synchronized dancing! Brandon was sure to point out to me that all boy bands are not created equal; the bride’s party exited the dance floor when NSYNC followed! LOL! DJ Scotty on slowed it down for two songs the entire night. This party never even hit a lull!
To close out their day Brandon and Liz had a glow stick send off. Not the green glow sticks you played with as a kid. Huge, multicolored, bright, beautiful glow sticks. All the guests grabbed two on their way out, to light the way as the newly weds had their final celebration of the night! Stopping in the middle for a quick kiss Brandon and Liz made their way to their get away vehicle, White Horse Transportation provided. After they pulled away their guest were treated one last time. A nod to Liz’s Chicago roots, the couple planned for a Chicago style hot dog vendor to pass out dogs to any guest that wanted one! Y’all I still believe the South has the best food, but there is no comparison to a Chicago hotdog!
We are so in love with Liz and Brandon’s photos. We cannot say enough great things about this couple. Kala and I are so thankful that we were a part of their day and now their photographers. Be sure to congratulate the couple!