My priority to be more and do more and create an experience they will never forget Capturing their memories in a fun and memorable way is just as important as their beautiful images

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Annapolis Waterfront Hotel Wedding | Hannah Barlow Photography | Maryland Wedding Photographer

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Are you ready?!  It’s been a while since I’ve posted a wedding and this one is particularly special and may even be longer than normal (I know…I know…how is that even possible, right?!).  

Wait for it.

So, get set! Because one week ago, I was in Annapolis, Maryland getting ready to shoot this nautical themed wedding and I can’t wait to show you the results!

Who got married this time?!  Well, I’ll tell you but you probably already know from my endless posts the last couple of months!! One of my very best friends and someone who is so special to me tied the knot! Remember Hayley?! Whether you’re a friend or a client, you probably do!  Hayley married Todd last weekend and they are officially Capt. and Mrs. Shaffer!  You can see their fall engagement session in Windber, PA here if you need a refresher!

Hayley hasn’t changed a bit in the decade I’ve known her.  She’s always smiling and she’s always giggling.  That’s something my husband always says about her – “Hayley’s so giggly”.  It’s one of her many great qualities.  She’s so full of life and I’m not sure she has an unkind bone in her body.  We’ve gotten along from the moment we first met and I love her dearly.  

Hayley and Todd have been together for a LONG time.  Ironically, I only met him for the first time when I did their engagement session last fall….crazy, right?  Well, for a while, he was traveling for work….A LOT!  He’d be gone for months and it was those times we took advantage and had some girl time!  That’s also a testament of our friendship.  Even with the physical distance between us and the fact that we don’t get to see each other but once or twice a year, our bond remains strong and we always pick up right where we left off!  I’m a very lucky girl to have Hayley in my life!  

When I first met Todd, I was blown away.  He’s quieter than I expected (considering Hayley and I can talk for HOURS) and he doesn’t like to be the center of attention (bad luck for him too…they picked me to be their photographer…HA!).  The best way to describe him?  He’s a traditional, southern gentleman living in the north (although, his friends described him as a “preppy redneck”…Bahahahaha!).  From insisting to pay for everything to pulling out chairs, helping with coats, and generally treating Hayley like a princess…he doesn’t miss a beat.  He’s an amazing person, hard worker, and faithful friend/son/brother/uncle….I could go on and on!!  He also played a pivotal role in this wedding (aside from being the groom, of course).  He has his captain’s license and is currently the Chief Mate of the Ellis Island ship for Great Lakes Dredge and Dock (Hayley texted me that.  Let’s be honest..I don’t even know my own husband’s “official” job title…HA!).  So, not only is Annapolis a favorite spot of theirs…”nautical” is in their day to day lives.  You’ll see!!  I’m so happy he’s the one Hayley will spend her life with!  These two compliment each other in ways that remind me much of my husband and I! 

So, enough rambling and back to the wedding!

The forecast for the week had looked grim.  REALLY grim!  They called for 80% chance of thunderstorms on Saturday…  I tried to remain calm.  I actually wouldn’t have even known had my second shooter (Hi, Kat!) not texted me on Tuesday to let me know the forecast was looking pretty bad (Thanks a lot, Kat! HA!).  This is pretty typical and has happened to me before.  I don’t usually start to panic until Friday night, about 12 hours before the big day!  I know it was on everyone’s minds though.  Hayley had texted me on Friday…I assured her it would be fine…AND it was! YAY!  Somehow, all those thunderstorms on the radar just disappeared! POOF!  It was clear (almost too clear) ALL DAY LONG!

Let’s go back one day…Friday.  That’s the day I arrived at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel – Autograph Edition where we would be staying and where the wedding was to be held.  This was an interesting and unique experience for me because I brought my husband along.  He was a guest.  I was a guest/friend/photographer.  I’d never had him with me while working so it was neat!  We checked in and were given these amazing welcome bags.  I immediately busted out my camera, of course!  My husband thought I was nuts (and I yelled at him for eating the chips…I had to stuff that bag with tissue to create the illusion he had NOT eaten them yet).  Seriously, the details at this wedding did not miss a beat.  Hayley thought of EVERYTHING…right down to nautical themed welcome bags including crab flavored potato chips, sea salt caramels, Swedish fish, and life savers, of course! Clever, right?!

So, the morning of the wedding rolled around.  I met Hayley and some of the girls and we walked around Annapolis and sipped coffee.  We scouted out photo locations.  I had good ideas and visions!  Those ideas crashed and burned later on in the day though…I’ll explain later!  Whomp. Whomp.

For now, let’s check out these amazing nautical themed details!  The ring stand was a nice touch and compliments of Hayley’s now sister-in-law, Sarah!  Ironically, some of my upcoming brides have texted me about these shots!  Bring a ring stand…I will photograph it!

Her shoes were fabulous!  I knew about them though because Hayley had worn them during her boudoir session last month!  She gave the photos to Todd as a gift before the wedding!  That reminds me too! I’m doing boudoir now! Ooo how my brain works!! I need to post that! Details coming soon, I promise!

Back to the wedding.  These shoes!  That stand!  Kat and I “stole” the stand from the lobby!  I saw it and knew I had to have it!! It took me quite a while to decide where I was going to shoot these details…third time was a charm!  There were people EVERYWHERE at this place.  I had to giggle when I decided to shoot in the getting ready room (after having tried the lobby and the hallway and not loving the results)…Kat immediately grabbed this stand and said “OOo..yea…we’re taking this with us”…HA!  We promptly returned it.  I don’t think anyone missed it either!

Hayley had plopped down a huge bag…full of all her details!! I took advantage.  I was loving the perfume that complimented everything she had going on!  I think I photographed almost everything except a comb!

Seriously, amazing details!  Check out the stand!  It’s a compass! Nautical theme….compass stand…it was meant to be!

I LOVE when brides give out itinerarys! Seriously, LOVE IT!  Makes for good organization and a good photo op!

It was time to get ready!  Of course, the getting ready was happening while we were shooting details…I do believe I was the entertainment while everyone was getting all dolled up!  You’ll have that and I don’t mind!  It IS neat to see how it all comes together!

When I say no detail was missed, I wasn’t kidding!  Check out her ADORABLE shirt!  Many of Hayley’s details and decor came from Etsy, if you’re interested in anything…let me know and I’ll reach out and get the shop’s name!

After I had what I needed and while the girls were downstairs finishing getting ready, Kat and I headed up to the reception hall to catch the reception details and decor!  Check out that sailboat!  The guests signed the sails instead of a guest book!  SO clever!

Old Bay chocolate crabs were the favors!  The place cards had photos (anchor, boat wheel, etc.) depicting what we had chosen to eat!  The head table had “Capt. & Mrs.”.  The table numbers had ropes!  The theme was everywhere without going overboard!  Perfection!

Check out their cake!! Even the board it sat on was personalized and themed! EEKK!

 Now, it was beginning to be crunch time and time to head back downstairs and see what the girls were doing!  I love “window getting ready” shots especially when they are black and white!

This top photo below is compliments of my second shooter, Kat!  I loved the genuine smile and moment she caught! THIS is Hayley…all the time! Smiling and giggling….so so so happy!

…because every one of my brides gets black and white bridal portraits!  I may have stuffed her in a corner that had good light to get these, but it was worth it!

OoOoo the first look.  I mentioned earlier all my “ideas” had crashed and burned.  Well, this one WAS planned and stuck! Wheww! This location was right at the entrance and it gave us a little bit of privacy.  It is nearly impossible to find a hidden spot at this place!! It sure is pretty but boy…it’s HARD to find places to photograph without a ton of people gawking.  It was also an interesting experience because strangers were stopping and photographing all this too despite my best efforts not to draw attention! I typically hide for this reason but there was no escaping this day!

All of these photos were taken by Kat!  She hid in the bushes (her idea)…and I may owe her a new dress.  I’m glad she did though because her angle was so much better than mine!  In true Hayley fashion, as we were walking out she said, “I’m going to grab his butt because that’s our thing”….and she giggled…..and then she did…grab his butt! HA! She’s going to kill me for this! (Love you!)  I had also told her we would stand back and let them have their moment until they turned and told me they were done.  Her version?  “Ok, I think we’ve hit the point of awkward”…Bahahahahaha!  I have that captured too!! You’ll see it in the end of year outtakes post!

So, here is the part where all my photo ideas crashed and burned.  I didn’t take into account when I scouted in the morning that many people were still asleep at the time.  Once it came time for photos, there were people….EVERYWHERE.  Cars had parked in spots I had planned.  HUNDREDS of people had lined up on the docks to board boats for tours.  The restaurants had opened and there were people …EVERYWHERE.  So, in a moment, I had to change plans.  I can’t thank the hotel enough for letting me invade their lobby. Yep….I invaded their lobby and I kept putting the boys in a corner so guests could still check in (Thanks, guys, for being so understanding and cooperative…seriously).  I saw this rug and the walls which complimented their wedding perfectly…..AND there was this sail boat on the ledge of the window.  Do you see it?  Do you recognize it?  It’s the SAME boat they used for their guests to sign BUT not the exact one.  This was a second one the hotel just happened to use as decor.  It was meant to be!! Check out these photos!!  I included the one of Hayley on the right because when I think of her, I think of her like this!

The florist put together these beautiful hydrangeas for the girls.  If you know anything about flowers, you know these beautiful things are not forgiving.  They do not like to be out of water.  They most certainly do not love the heat!  So, I knew even if I found a good place outside, these bouquets were not going to hold up in the hot sun without water for a couple of hours and we did still have the ceremony to get through!! I’m so thankful for the interior designer.  Whoever you are…THANK YOU for choosing navy paint and thank you for putting that boat there! It just worked! 

Check out these pretty sisters (and Delaney, Hayley’s neice).

At this point, we had put the flowers on water, just in case!  Check out how pretty all these girls are though!  I love this photo!  Such a kind, classy group of ladies and SO easy to work with! 

…andddddddd then you have these guys!! If comparing these two photos (above and below) doesn’t tell you the story of the day, I don’t know what will! HA! In all seriousness though, I couldn’t have asked for a more kind group of ladies and gentleman.  There wasn’t one complaint.  Everyone was smiling and laughing and having a great time and I can’t thank every single one of you enough for being so wonderful!  This was a stress free day!  These guys requested this photo below!  I always get so excited when men WANT to have their photo taken!  This one is fitting!  I think almost all of them work on some kind of boat!

…and now, it’s time for my favorite part!! The bride and groom formals!  When you have a nautical themed wedding and there’s a giant anchor out front, you take photos with it! You do! You have to, right?! 

Top photo below by Kat! I loved how Hayley’s veil was catching in the wind!  The other photos were taken quickly and we had no choice! There were people walking…people driving…people bicycling (photo of that in outtakes later on this year).  I literally had to snap, snap, snap……wait…….snap, snap snap……wait….BUT we got them! That’s all that matters! 

We walked and walked trying to find spots for photos without people in them!  This bench is right beside the anchor.  I tried to get creative so I could give them lots of variety in a location that was NOT giving us a lot of options at the time! I particularly love these!

I needed photos on the water.  NEEDED THEM!  I mean, we were ON THE WATER.  It was a nautical them.  I needed them!  There were, however, people everywhere, as I’ve mentioned…and we just couldn’t get on the docks.  We had to walk through this empty room (below) and I just pictured amazing “museum like photos” in black and white!  This room makes me giggle.  We took these photos while it was empty.  Later that night is was a sweaty, stinky room filled with people dancing the night away and the floor was covered in…..well, you can use your imagination!  THEN, the next morning we had a very formal breakfast here, compliments of Todd’s parents!  This room is used for a lot of things and the transformation it goes through is nothing short of amazing!  The Annapolis Waterfront Hotel staff know what they are doing…that’s for sure!

But FINALLY….FINALLY….we made it onto the docks! Thanks to Kat and her persistence, we got down there. Bless her…she kept running back and checking to see if the line of people (hundreds of people) had boarded the boat..and they had!  We ran down there and I had to ask these two kind gentlemen (more like begged) if they could move so I could place Hayley and Todd here for a few quick photos.  They were kind enough to allow these photos to happen! 

Photo credit (below) to Kat!  Funny story about this one…I don’t love water.  I’m not the best swimmer either.  All day I had talked about how worried I was about getting in the moment and stepping right off the dock….it was definitely possible.  If you’ve ever had me photograph you, you know I jump around and get excited.  Well, wouldn’t you know it…KAT almost stepped off!! She was taking these beauties and looked down….to find her foot about 1/2 inch (maybe less) from stepping right off the edge! 

I’m happy to report no one ended up in the water! 

Now, it’s time for the ceremony!

Check out this view!  Kat shot this right before the ceremony started!

Kat actually shot all my outside details!

…and here we go!  Check out the cuteness!! These kids rocked it!

Here comes the bride!

So, this was a new one and I loved it!  They put the rings in a bag and tied it tight (that’s an important detail of the story…you’ll see why in a minute).  The bag was then passed around so every single guest could see and hold the rings! Eventually, they ended back up front to be placed on Hayley and Todd’s fingers…after a little blooper!

I love this top left shot of Leslie, Todd’s mom – such a sweet grandma moment!  You’ll also see the rings being passed around and Parker delivering them safely to his dad!

…and here is where tying that bag up tight comes into play.  The best man couldn’t get the bag untied.  In a true boy scout moment (seriously, he didn’t miss a beat), he whipped out a knife and cut the bag open.  Always be prepared, I guess?!  Even at a wedding! HA! Check out Hayley’s reaction.  I was giggling right along with her!

And now they were man and wife!! I didn’t just get one “first kiss”…I got a first and a second!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!! Bonus!

Here’s the new Capt. and Mrs. Shaffer!  I need to change their Christmas card title and address now while I’m thinking about it!

I LOVE the look she’s giving him!! It’s the “We did it!” look.

It’s reception time!! They entered and went straight into their first dance!  I LOVED the timeline of this reception.  It was very unique but got the “must do” things out of the way while guests were enjoying their drinks and salads!  Becasue of this, the dance floor was open much of the night for lots of moves, laughs, and memories!

I don’t care what Hayley and Todd’s expressions tell you…he had the BEST speech EVER!  Seriously, I laughed the whole time and had to remind myself to focus and capture these moments.  As my husband said, “He took a risk with a long speech but he really nailed it!”.  Seriously, I couldn’t stop laughing.  Guests were laughing and standing to applaud…it was amazing! Well done, sir….well done!

Time to PARTY!  Look her hair was even in a knot….the details!!! GAH!

The clouds opened in a serious way later in the night BUT it was alright! Everything important was over…we had a beautiful day and we still had cover outside!! The guests didn’t miss a beat and just kept the party going! Check it out! It POURED rain for a while! POURED!  

Hayley and Todd had provided cupcakes…grilled cheese sandwiches and good music too after dinner (music compliments of C.J…his information is at the end).  Rain or not…I could tell the party wasn’t going to stop!

Hayley had asked me many times if I was going to work all night.  I told her there always comes a point at every reception where the photos start to “fall apart”…HA!  I showed her the tie around the neck shot (top left) and she said “Ok, that’s enough now”….Bahahahahaha!  I snapped a few more anyway before quitting!

AND right as I was getting ready to pack up and enter “guest status”, this happened.  If you know Hayley, you know she doesn’t love being the center of attention.  The couple didn’t do the typical bouquet and garter toss but the guys decided to improvise on a whim.  It started out with the best man preparing for a lap dance….Hayley quickly nipped that in the bud by peeking…so Todd jumped in and provided a much needed dance and entertainment! HA!  Sooooooo glad I didn’t miss this! 

Becuase I can never seem to stop, Kat and I caught a few more before we officially ended the night!  Check out how much fun everyone is having!

AND…because everyone needs an “end of night photo” (even when it’s really just the beginning)…I put these two on the elevator for one more kiss!!

Funny story:  We did two “takes” of this shot below.  When the doors shut the second time, I heard it ping and they disappeared.  It turns out someone on the floor below them called the elevator down.  So, Hayley and Todd made new friends and returned with them!!  Imagine…you’re just trying to get on  the elevator…then you’re greeted by a bride and groom and then the doors open back up and a photographer is standing there with her camera. HA!  We all had a good laugh! It was a fun way to end the night!…although, we didn’t REALLY end it, as I mentioned.  I went and changed, Kat headed home, and we partied the rest of the night away!  Everyone seemed thrilled to see the photographer sans my camera and ready to bust a move (don’t get any ideas, couples…that won’t be happening again anytime soon!).  We did NOT, however, document the rest of the night…no one needs to see that.  Those will remain secret memories forever!

Ooo one more!  Thanks to Kat…we got this shot!! I get “in photographer mode”…and I almost forgot to get a photo of us together!! Hayley has been a part of my life for a decade….A DECADE.  She helped me on my big day and I couldn’t have been happier to be a part of hers!! She’s so special to me and I’m thankful every day she’s a part of my life.  I couldn’t be more happy she found Todd!  

Todd, thanks for taking such good care of my friend and for making her so happy!  I can’t explain the joy I feel when I think of the genuine guy she’s found to be by her side through this crazy life!  I can’t wait to make many more memories with the both of you and can’t thank you enough for giving me the ultimate compliment when you asked me to photograph the memories of your big day!

I love you both!!

Congrats to The Shaffers!

Just for fun, here’s a throw back to when I was the bride…a very long time ago!  Smart phones didn’t exist and this was taken with a DISPOSABLE point and shoot camera…tiara (which are on the way back, by the way), blown highlights, red eye and all! HA!  We’re just babies!

OoOooo memories!! Let’s make more! <3 


This beautiful destination wedding was made possible by the combination of wonderful services provided by these vendors!  Use the links below for more information!

Venue – Annapolis Waterfront Hotel

Bride’s Gown – Casablanca –  In White – Lancaster, PA 

Bridesmaid’s Dresses – Lauren James

Men’s Attire – Black Tux

Bride’s Shoes – Jessica Simpson (Available at various retailers)

Jewelry/Rings – A. Jaffe and Simon G. Mountz Jewelers

Wedding Planner/Coordinator – Melanie Mapp (Annapolis Waterfront Hotel)

Florist – Mark Hayward

Cake – Graul’s Market

Chocolate Crabs – The Honey Hive – Cakes by Rachel

DJ – Crow Entertainment

Catering – Annapolis Waterfront Hotel (See Links Above)

Transportation – Towne Transport

Save the Dates – Shutterfly

Invitations – Invitations by Dawn

Programs – Holly Culbertson

Personalized Cake Plate/Ring Bearer Signs – Simply Sulli – Devan Sullivan

Officiant – Pastor Ruth Jensen


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My priority to be more and do more and create an experience they will never forget Capturing their memories in a fun and memorable way is just as important as their beautiful images





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