Mackenzie and Evan's Gorgeous Asheville, NC Wedding

Asheville, NC is a beautiful little city nestled in the Smoky Mountains. It is where Mackenzie and Evan met (and dated) in high school. It was the perfect setting for their late September wedding! 

A little breakfast with the bride before it was time to get ready (with Honey Nut Cheerios, Mackenzie's thing since she was a toddler!)

Then off to L'eau de Vie Salon in downtown Asheville for hair (and more cheerios)

I snuck in a little selfie with the gorgeous bride, she is my baby cousin, after all!

A certain Evan Ross called on our way to the venue :o)

What a fabulous wedding to be a part of! The venue, Yesterday Spaces was rustic and peaceful. Most of the vendors were a friend or relative giving the wedding a very community feel. And almost all of the details were handmade (like the beautiful calligraphy by the bride and the flower arrangements by the mother of the groom).

Mackenzie designed the invitations herself!

Mackenzie designed the invitations herself!

All that gold calligraphy is her own work!

All that gold calligraphy is her own work!

The rings were custom-designed from the  jewelry shop  where Mackenzie works

The rings were custom-designed from the jewelry shop where Mackenzie works

Mackenzie wore her mother's dress. A seamstress, Brooke Priddy did amazing work giving it a modern style.

The handsome groom!

Evan's cousin Anna did an amazing job on Mackenzie's make-up!

Evan's cousin Anna did an amazing job on Mackenzie's make-up!

I got the Father of the Bride crying with a little first look for him and the bride before the bride and groom's first look.

And this first look...in a tree-lined path...*sigh*

Mackenzie and Evan are just beautiful inside and out. Photographing them was delightful and effortlessly romantic!

The guest got to walk up the tree-lined path to the ceremony site.

(When your kids are at a wedding you are photographing, you make sure to get a few of them ;o). These are my cuties!)

Time for the ceremony!

I loved this moment between the Mother of the Groom and her son just before walking down the aisle...

Probably the most amazing "aisle" I've seen a bride walk down to her wedding!

They were surrounded by so many family members as they made their vows to each other. 

And a sweet bridal party

And then there was the party afterwards. One word: epic!

The first dance...a little sweet...

...and a little spicy!

The mother of the bride and her sisters (my mom is the second from the right). I love these ladies!

They played the cutest version of the The Newlywed Game!

And kind words were shared about them.

The Mother-of-th-Bride made dozens of her famous Italian Wedding Cookies for the dessert table!

And finally...the dancing.

DJ Taylor Pittman, one of the bridesmaid's uncles, was one of the best I've seen!

Even Grandma hit the dance floor!

Yes, that's Uncle Joe doing some air guitar...on his knees...

Yes, that's Uncle Joe doing some air guitar...on his knees...

One last dance...

And a few final words...

And they were off...to enjoy the wonders of married life!

Two final shout outs - one to Candace Hightower who did a wonderful job coordinating the event and the other to my lovely second shooter, Carly Lewallen who came from Chattanooga to assist me for the day!

#newrossontheblock

Mackenzie & Evan - Destination Engagement Pictures in Chattanooga

When my sweet little cousin, Mackenzie, chose me to photograph her wedding, I was honored and thrilled! She and Evan are high school sweethearts and one of the cutest couples ever! Their wedding will be in North Carolina, but they chose to make a little weekend getaway out of their engagement session and came to visit us in Chattanooga. The night was perfect and Chattanooga pulled out all its charm to be the perfect setting for their pictures!

Renaissance Park Chattanooga Engagement Session

Renaissance Park in North Chattanooga is a great setting with gorgeous evening light but it takes two people totally in love to make pictures this cute and romantic!

Summer evening engagement pictures

The groom-to-be...

engagement pictures - groom

The bracelet Mackenzie is wearing was made from a sample of Evan's handwriting and a saying with personal meaning. And the ring...

custom jewelry

Isn't she a cutie? I remember when she used to toddle around and eat Honey Nut Cheerios!

bride to be portrait

Evan proposed last summer at the beach with this custom sign.

will you marry me calligraphy sign

He worked with the jewelry store Mackenzie works at (Schiffman's Jewelers) behind her back to design the ring using his mother's stone and yellow diamonds. He knocked it out of the park!

initial ring dish
engagement photography
our story begins here calligraphy sign

Before calling it a night, we walked down to the river, taking advantage of Chattanooga's artistic and architectural offerings.

engagement pictures with sculpture backdrop
lift kiss under the bridge

And a little bit of nature too...

Tennessee River Engagement Session

We are all counting down to September!

Mr and Mrs Hill - Lindsay Street Hall Wedding

Easter weekend was a great weekend to wed. On March 26th, two truly lovely people, inside and out, began their life together! Here is a story of Mario and Alyson's day in pictures. It was my privilege to document the day for them.

The day began with everyone gathering at The Read House Hotel to get ready. 

Wedding dress
Getting ready
Groom getting dressed
Groomsmen before the wedding
Bridal Prep

From the beading on her gown sleeves to the tips of her rhinestone-studded heels, Alyson exuded glamour and grace on her wedding day. The bridesmaids wore navy blue floor-length dresses and the grooms were in gray tuxedos, with Mario wearing navy blue. 

Bridal Portraits at Read House

Mario and Alyson snuck a private moment together before heading out to the ceremony site, but still there was no peaking. This groom was going to first see his bride on their wedding day walking down the aisle!

A private moment before getting married

The groom and groomsmen arrived first at Lindsay Street Hall. Mario was so calm, so ready to marry the love of his life!

Groom Portraits

The groom and his men were daper...

Groomsmen Formal

and goofy! 

Groomsmen Informal

Since the guys were at Lindsay St Hall, the girls hung out at Miller Park since it was a beautiful spring day!

Bride and Bridesmaids

Alyson has 5 sisters, all of whom were in her wedding. Mark, her father, is one blessed Dad!

Bride and Sisters
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Spring is a lovely season for a wedding! And Alyson an even lovelier bride!

Spring Bride

Lindsay St. Hall is a great location in downtown Chattanooga for a wedding. The stained glass windows are spectacular!

Ceremony Details

Here comes the bride! And not an eye was dry.

Here Comes the Bride
Ceremony 2

Now that, is a romantic kiss!

The Kiss

Finally Mr and Mrs Hill!

Mr & Mrs

Next came some time to capture the families with their newest members!

Family Pictures
Bridal Party at Lindsay St Hall

And then bride and groom snuck off for a few portraits of their own.

Dip Kiss
Bride & Groom
Newlyweds
Film Wedding Photography

Mario and Alyson are so clearly in love and treat each other with such kindness. It was just beautiful to witness it while working with them.

Bride & Groom Cakes

If you remember from their engagement pictures, Mario is a big time Braves fan and got his own themed cake! The wedding cake was gorgeous!

The reception kicked off with the first dance...

First Dance

And fun father-daughter, mother-son dances.

Father-Daughter Dance
Mother-Son Dance

Mario's little performance getting the garter from Alyson was absolutely hilarious - the most fun one I've seen! Can you see Alyson blushing :o)

"All the single ladies" went for the bouquet!

And then the party took off. Almost everyone hit the dance floor!

Dancing

It's lovely to see the parents of the couple still in love! What a great legacy to share with their children.

Parents of the Bride Dancing

Before we knew it, it was time to bid farewell to Mr & Mrs Hill.

Departure

Congratulations, once again, Mario and Alyson! May your marriage be full of love and joy!

The Lost Art of Letter-Writing

I've been writing about "lost arts" lately (The Lost Art of Journaling and The Lost Art of Tea Parties) and Valentine's Day is the perfect time to write about another one of my favorite "lost arts:" letter-writing. 

Words are powerful. They communicate great thoughts and ideas and deep feelings. We learn from words, we believe words and we live by the words we hear spoken back to us in our minds. Words can tear us down. And words can build us up.

Most people hold some words very closely in their hearts. Maybe it was something life-giving a parent, grandparent, or teacher said about you as a child that you cling to, hoping it's true. Maybe its the affirming words written to you by a friend in a card on an important day like a birthday or graduation or your wedding. Maybe it's the heartfelt passion scrolled out in a love letter from your spouse or significant other.

When written words touch us deeply, we usually hold onto them. Do you have a box or drawer where you keep special cards and letters?

Box of Handwritten Letters and Cards

This is our box of letters. It contains particularly meaningful birthday cards, encouraging postcards from loved ones abroad, homemade cards by our children and even a few love letters. Inside, there are even the letters we wrote each other to read the morning of our wedding day. It is a treasure chest of priceless value.

Have you ever thought about how amazing it is that forensic scientists can identify someone by their handwriting? Handwriting is personal and unique. Because of this, it connects us to the writer in a deep way. Haven't you ever found something written by an ancestor or deceased loved one and felt like they were almost there with you?

We share a lot of words online these days. Emails fly back and forth. We have entire conversations with friends over text messaging. And then there's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I want to argue for the value of words that can be touched. (Because how many of us can even find that email or quote we saw online that meant so much to us? Maybe we tell ourselves we will print it off but we rarely do.)

This week, would you consider slowing down when writing your Valentines? Maybe even take the time you would spend hunting for the "right" card at the grocery store to just sit down with a blank sheet of paper. It's the words from your heart that matter more than the pithy saying in the card. Make it tangible. Something the recipient can hold and save. And forget your insecurities over your handwriting and write it out. 

Happy Valentine's Day! 

The Lost Art of Tea Parties

Last month, we celebrated our eldest's sixth birthday. It was a whole week of special occasions and little treats culminating in a fancy tea party for her and some friends.

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I love having tea parties! Sometimes we invite a friend or two over in the afternoon for tea on a quiet weekday and make an activity of setting up a little spread. Sometimes we just have our own tea party. But regardless of whether it is a formal event or just an impromptu quiet time together, we always use fancy cups and saucers.

Tea Party Details

I love pretty things. They bring a smile to my face. And my girls definitely picked up that trait from me! Tea is also somewhat of a genetic trait in my family. I grew up on tea parties with my mother and still remember my sixth birthday when my father took me and my grandmother (whose birthday I share) to "high tea" at a fancy hotel in Singapore and I ate my weight in chocolate covered strawberries! 

Our tea parties tie us to our past. The white tea set was a bridal shower gift from my mother and grandmother. The blue tea set is part of my husband's grandmother's china set as are the silver spoons. When important people are far away or have passed away, it's sweet to have mementos of them - that's why I believe those fancy family heirlooms need to be brought out and used!

little princess tea party

These little hands and lips thoroughly enjoyed their fancy tea, and even remembered their fancy manners.

fancy tea party for little girls
fancy tea party for little girls

And of course, the littlest princess made her appearance...

dressed up baby girl

I am thankful to be these lovely little girls' mama. I probably had as much fun as they did with the whole thing. As a friend of mine says, don't wait to celebrate!

me ad my girls

In case you are wanting to plan a tea party, here are my favorite recipes for teatime treats:

Sugar cookies (we just happen to have a teapot cookie cutter)

Scones (the not-so-secret secret ingredient is BUTTER!)

Devonshire Cream (yes, you can eat the leftovers with bagels and English muffins)