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Capitol Music Hall Wedding | Hannah Barlow Photography | WV Wedding Photography

Happy Friday, everyone!

Jeesh.  I sure do feel like a broken record but let me say it again…this is going to be a long one!  I just can’t help it!! I have SO MUCH to say about this wedding I shot last Saturday! WEEEEE!!  I also wanted to blog it before tomorrow’s wedding so all the details are nice and fresh in my head for each wedding!

Here it goes!  Let’s take a look at Erica and Doug’s BEAUTIFUL wedding in Wheeling, WV at the amazing and historic Capitol Music Hall!  I bet some of you didn’t know they did weddings, did you?!


This first photo credit goes to Jenna!  This was her first wedding shooting as the primary assistant/second shooter and the first wedding Kari didn’t attend!  This also may have been the first photo she took! Nailed it!  Kari, we missed you, but we rocked this wedding! You were always in our thoughts, of course! 🙂  We channeled our inner Kari A LOT this day!  Outloud!! AND proud!

So, it’s true.  I don’t necessarily always upload the photos in the order they were taken when I do these wedding blogs.  Sometimes I try to put them in an order that flows better and makes for a better story.  Well, I couldn’t do that for this one.  There was so much amazingness going on and so much uniqueness too!  I HAD to blog in the order they were taken so you could truly appreciate what an fantastic day this was!

Right off the bat, we were greeted by the sweetest and most helpful coordinator ever, Cindy.  She already had clients with her for the wedding that will be happening tomorrow but was so welcoming and allowed us to tag along to the reception hall since we didn’t know where we were going (first time at this venue for us).  Jenna and I ran into the “guest puzzle” table first and I fell in love.  I hadn’t even taken the extra five steps needed to get to the reception hall and I knew..just knew…this was going to make for an amazing wedding!  The couple asked people to sign puzzle pieces! SO COOL, right?!  Let’s not forget that Erica did much of the decor herself and did not miss a beat!! Check out the scattered gems everywhere too.  It added a little something extra and some color pop!  I loveeeeee color pop!

 Photo Credit: Jenna Keeling Photo Credit: Jenna Keeling

So we then headed down to where everyone was getting ready.  Before Cindy showed us exactly where to go, she said, “Those shoes are comfortable, right?”.  I thought it was an odd question. Of course my shoes are comfy!  I walk all day long at these weddings! Wellllllllll, I understood that question later.  It’s a LONG walk to get from the reception hall to where the dressing rooms are located.  So, let me map it out for you just for some visual aide.  You have to go out of the reception hall on the second floor and down a hall to the elevator.  When you get to the elevator, you go down to the first floor and then have to walk the halls to the lobby area at the front of the theatre.  Then, you walk through the hallways and down from the back of the theatre to the front of the theatre to get to the stage.  From the stage, you walk backstage and then down the stairs and then down another hall where you’ll finally find the dressing rooms.  I’m not kidding.  I also can’t even count the number of times we made that journey! HA!  Where’s a fit bit or apple watch when you need it?!

Anyway, this was a rare wedding where we actually got to photograph groom details which are always fun!  Doug is the best and so laid back.  He’s game for anything and handed all his details (including his full wallet) over to me!  I’m sure my fellow purple brides (Hi, Danielle and Allison) are just loving this wedding already!

No wedding essentials were missed when Erica and Doug took on wedding planning!  I love the gifts he had for the guys!  While editing these photos, I could NOT figure out why the steel looked blurry to me.  Then, I realized It’s because of the condensation! HA!  They were full…and chilled!

Even though things were happening fast, no one seemed stressed.  I took candid getting ready shots instead of my usual “stand over there and tie up the dress” shots!  Vicki, Erica’s sister, tied her gown up SO quickly and it was a legit corset (which we all know can be a pain in the butt).  The guys were really helping Doug in that photo too.  No pretending at this wedding!

…and while I was flying from room to room taking getting ready shots, Jenna and I were tag teaming the detail shots.  Kari, Jenna, and I have joked that I’m really good at throwing my assistants to the wolves (Kat said the same thing too last year) and just going “all in”…this was no different!  Jenna’s never shot details before by herself and she nailed it!  Her shoe photos were so much better than mine! YAY!  I am surrounded by talent!  I couldn’t ask for more!

 Bottom Photo Credit: Jenna Keeling Bottom Photo Credit: Jenna Keeling

I LOVE that they loved their engagement photos so much they included them on the invitation!  My heart was so full this day!  They had their engagement photos scattered around for people to see too!

Ok.  So let’s talk about this, shall we?!  They exchanged notes.  That’s pretty typical for each wedding but I love love loved the writing on the front.  I also love that Doug’s was crinkled like he was holding it in his pocket all day.  He also got her roses.  ROSES!  With all the flowers around, he still got his soon-to-be-wife roses.  I’m still swooning over here.  I’d also like to note that Doug’s ONLY thoughts prior to heading to the first look were regarding that note from his wife.  After he opened it (which you’ll see in a minute), he went back into the room just to make sure it was safe before we left.  GAH!  Is this real life?!

When you get married at the Capitol Music Hall, you get a little plaque for a chair!  I’m not sure how I got so lucky but I really do have amazing assistants.  I had actually told Erica that I forgot to photograph this plaque and was going to go back and do it.  She told me not to worry about it.  Sure enough, I got home and found this photo.  Jenna took it!! I’m not sure if she took it before or after I realized I forgot.  I’m not even sure she knew I had failed to take it or maybe overhead our conversation. Nonetheless, the only thing I thought that I neglected this day…wasn’t missed at all!! Thanks, Jenna!

Then, it was time for the finishing touches!  I swear…I felt like she was a princess getting ready in her tower.  The building and everything just made it all feel so complete!  I also don’t recall Jenna getting up on a chair but she took the top photo at the same time I was taking the bottom!  I really like the window incorporated!

Seriously, doesn’t it all feel so “old”?!  Old as in…princess…castle…royalty! I just love it!

Here’s a perfect example of what I was talking about earlier when explaining the distance between locations..  I would usually put this at the beginning of the blog with the detail shots but I took this while walking from Erica’s dressing room.  I told Doug I’d come back and get him after we tested out the first look spot.  So, I was walking.  I was shooting.  I was planning.  I was stressing (just a tad).  You photographers know…when things are separated…it can be stressful.  When you’re shooting at a place like this with that light…it can be stressful.  When you’re trying your best to make your couple’s photos unique and not like anyone else’s who got married here…you’re stressing a bit.  Jenna, at one point, said she was taking Kari’s role of “Positive Patty”.  It made me totally giggle.  Honestly, Erica and Doug are just so easy to work with.  They were the perfect couple for this venue because I knew, no matter what, these photos were going to be amazing!  So, we walked…from the dressing rooms, up the stairs, through the theatre, and to the front…and I was snap, snap, snapping photos like this!  Isn’t it grand?!

So, Jenna and I found our first look spot.  We set up all our settings and got ready and walked allllllll the way back to the dressing rooms.  But first – a little note about Cindy the coordinator.  She overheard us talking when we were discussing the first look.  I was giving Jenna the low down and mentioned, “We will move those trash cans when the time comes”.  Well, when we came back later…they were gone.  Cindy had moved them!  I can’t even tell you how much that means.  She did not have to do that.  Heck, she could have told us we weren’t allowed to move them but no…she took it upon herself to move them for us!  AND now that I’m thinking about it…I told her I’d put them back and I didn’t!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!! Cindy, I’m sorry!! Call me…I’ll put them back at the next wedding! HA!  Seriously, though…she was amazingly kind!

So, here we are back in the dressing rooms and Doug is opening his letter and I’m snapping photos!  Eeekkkk!

Then, it was time for the first look.  I did my best to incorporate everything about this building.  Since we were already doing things in the theatre for the ceremony and the reception in the ballroom, I figured this area with the amazing doors and lights would be fitting!  It was amazing too!  Top photos in the below shots are Jenna’s!  This was her first “first look”.

 Doug even teared up a bit which was so sweet!! I know many of my couples are on the fence about first looks.  It really does not matter to me what you choose to do as long as we have a good timeline after the ceremony for photos if you choose to forgo this option.  BUT…if your biggest concern is lack of emotion during a first look…you need to go back and look at most of mine!! I’d say 90% of the time someone tears up!  It’s a sweet, quiet, and intimate moment.  If only I could silence my camera completely!  (My Sony photographer friends will have something to say about that comment.  I can hear my friend, Denise, now).

Photos behind Erica are mine! The rest are Jenna’s!  Again, HUGE shoutout to Cindy for moving two huge trashcans out of this area!  It makes such a huge difference and saves us so much time!  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I then took the happy couple up to the reception hall for some formal photos.  Seems weird, right?  Well, everyone probably thought I was nuts but I saw this window at the beginning of the day and just had AMAZING visions of my couple in front of them!  I’m so glad they trusted me because these are some of my favorites.  I also did some Googling prior to their wedding.  I didn’t Google for ideas but to make sure I didn’t replicate other photos done here.  Sure enough, I hadn’t seen any in front of this window!  Exciting!  Photo credit (below) on the right goes to Jenna!

Color or black and white?!  I’m having a hard time deciding these days!

I think Jenna took this one below!! I can’t be sure because we were moving back and forth but I’m pretty sure she took it while I was at the side!

If you’re getting married at the Capitol Music Hall…you need a picture in front of the Capitol Music Hall, right?!  This was the last photo I took of the set.  Initially, I was on the sidewalk but I was getting this pesky light pole in my shot.  So, there I was…in the streets of Wheeling….again! HA! AS A PHOTOGRAPHER! <– Figured I’d say that before any of my friends (or husband) want to get funny!  I’ve been in the streets of Wheeling before in front of a bride and groom!  People always honk and hoot and it’s fun!  People LOVE seeing brides and grooms!

So, we started moseying our way around.  I always loved this tunnel even though it takes a lot of photoshopping to get rid of the no parking signs, pipes, and what not! TOTALLY worth it!  We even had to move some orange cones (which I later moved back).

It was bright and sunny but I wasn’t going to let that get me down or force us back inside.  I already had plans to do all the family formals inside.  The ceremony was inside too, of course!  So, I sent Jenna (poor Jenna) BACK around to get my flash equipment so I could shoot these outside and show the bridge and people I was photographing!  They had the best little flower girl and ring bearer.  They rocked the ceremony too!

Bridal party shots!  BEAUTIFUL bridal party shots!

Check out the girls!  They were so easy and had lots of ideas and smiles for me!  This must be the year of small bridal parties and I’m loving it!

I originally said the guys looked like the FBI.  Jenna say Blues Brothers.  She’s right!

Honestly, it was hot and it was sunny and no one was complaining.  The guys had to have been dying in those tuxes.  So, I made the decision to move them over here to the shade  I knew this was a more urban and industrial setting and Brooke (a bridesmaid) suggested these poses and she nailed it!! IT was SO perfect!  I didn’t want to just do the same old same old, ya know?  Perfection!  They nailed it!

So, we headed inside.  Jenna and I grabbed a really quick bite to eat backstage and that’s when I did my really quick live video!  I saw the guys swing around so I followed them like the little creeper I am!  I found them hanging with Matt and greeting guests as they arrived!  Matt (links below) officiates lots and lots of weddings every year.  He was SO KIND to us.  This was my first time meeting him too!  Seriously, Erica and Doug picked the best people and vendors!  I can’t even!  He basically told me “This is their day.  Whatever they want and you need to do…do it.”  Ummmmmmmmm…..YES! A THOUSAND TIMES YES!  So, if you need an offiiant…call him!

After I took photos of the guys, I walked BACK to the front of the theatre!  Can you picture me doing it yet?!  It makes me giggle.  At the time, I wasn’t even thinking about it but later my feet were hurting and I couldn’t figure out why.  I put a lot of miles on my shoes this day!

So then it was time for the ceremony.  Remember, this was Jenna’s first ceremony solo!  Boy did she get initiation!  The lighting at this location is theatre light…obviously!  It’s not photographer light.  It’s HARD to shoot from below the stage and then to the stage because the change in light and therefore camera settings is EXTREME.  As a result, I used both cameras (which I NEVER do) and had one set to the lower level and one set to the stage.  Jenna…wrote her settings on her arm.  Honestly, I would have done the same thing had I not had the second camera.  We can’t stop the ceremony to change so you gotta do what you gotta do!

So, we had a plan.  It was set.  We understood each other.  I even planned to do things a bit different.  USUALLY, I stand to the side and my assistant goes to the back with the bride for the processional.  As the bride gets to the front and stops, I swing to the center aisle.  Well, we’re on a stage here.  If I went to the center, I’d be literally…front and center…on stage and in front of everyone sitting down in the seats.  So, we decided to stay off to the sides and each shoot from a different side and photograph the person facing us.  There were even those handy curtains hanging we could hide behind.  You know, the ones the actors hide behind before they enter the stage.  Perfect plan, right?! I mean…I’ve never done a wedding where people actually couldn’t see me!! It was going to be super duper papparazzi style and I was excited!

Jenna’s first time shooting solo…she made the run to the top…and shot these!! You can’t see me because I’m hiding behind that curtain! YAY!  This was the toughest lighting scenario I have ever shot and she was able to get this one her first try!  YAY!  She also changed her settings on the run back down on her way to the stage!

So, here I am.  Happy photographer hiding…and Jenna signals (from the other side and after she made the dash from the top) that she can’t see Erica.  Shoot.  Double shoot.  You see, the way the guys made a semi circle blocked her.  So, we literally ran backstage and switched.  I thought maybe…just maybe…with my slightly longer lens I could get the shot I needed of Erica.

Nope.  Not really.  I can see her but I REALLY wanted to see her.  This is her day and it is always very important for me to get those beautiful photos of both the bride and the groom!

So, I zoomed in.  Jenna was doing the same thing on the other side.  I had to make a decision though.  I was going to have to walk across the front of the stage and get in the center…and squat down FAST! HA!  So, I did.  I walked ooOOo so quickly to the front…front and center.  Funnily enough, Brian Oliver, the DJ, was back with the lighting guys and said, “You really hated that, didn’t you!?”  HA!  It’s true.  I did hate it but not because I was in front but because I hate to risk blocking anyone’s view.  Something even funnier?  When I started creeping to the front, the floor starting creaking.  I said some choice words in my head!  I was at the point of no return though and just had to go for it!  BUT…I was finally able to get the shots I knew they’d appreciate!  Seriously though…picture it.  I’m ON STAGE…in the center…squatting down!  Oy!  It’s a good thing I wear shorts under my dress!

Then, they had to move to the side for the unity candle and I’m laughing just typing this because in my head at that time I’m thinking, “Great.  I gotta move again.  THEN, I’m going to have to move back.  Crap. Crap. Crap.”  Squeak. Squeak. Squeak the floor goes.  I can only hope I was the only one who could hear that and noticed.  Except Brian…he clearly noticed! HA!  I probably had my t-rex arms up too!! Jeesh.  Did ANYONE get it on video?!  I bet it was funny!

So, back to the center I go again!  Jenna, of course, got to remain off to the side!  Lucky girl!  She’s the one that’s usually on stage anyway at her other jobs!

In all seriousness, it was worth it.  I hope I didn’t block anyone’s view but I got some amazing photos of their ceremony and union.  I even got the first kiss! *high fiving myself*  I got it!! It would have been impossible from the side and too risky so I’m glad I made the excutive and quick decision to go center stage…literally. I can only hope that I’m overthinking all of this and no one was really paying any attention to me…except Brian.  Thanks, Brian!  It was later at the reception that he mentioned it! HA!  We had a good laugh.  I’m still laughing!

So, the happy couple headed back down the aisle for the processional and then lined up for the receiving line.  I always snap a few photos of that and then I helped Erica bustle her dress while she greeted guests.  Jenna ran back up to the reception hall to grab some safety pins out of my bag for Doug’s shirt.  The tux shirts had REALLY big holes on the sleeves where they button and I love a guy who is particular about the way he looks on his wedding day.  So, Jenna ran up but was gone for a bit.  Turns out she had to literally climb over other equipment and trunks from the decorators and DJ to get to our bags! HA! I’m just giving you all a visual of what she went through on her first solo wedding!  She was a trooper!  We were the first ones there in the morning so our stuff naturally got pushed to the back in the storage closet.  She got what we needed though!  She actually just grabbed the whole bag just in case (smart girl).  THEN, she noticed the cake had finally arrived and all the lights were on for the backdrop!  So, being the amazing photographer she is, she snapped all the cake photos we needed so we wouldn’t have to worry about them later!! WOOT WOOT!  All these photos are hers!  I’m so grateful I didn’t have to get them during the actual reception (which is not uncommon but can be tricky).

Hoping the sun had settled a bit (it had), I took them out for 10 more minutes (that’s what I promised) of bride and groom formals after the receiving line.  You know what’s amazing about Doug?  He couldn’t stop looking at Erica!!  He did it all day long and my heart wanted to explode.  We’d be taking photos and he’d look away from me just to gaze at her for a second.  Usually, I’d yell at the guys for leaving position but I couldn’t stand it!! I just kept snap, snap, snapping because the love he has for his new wife is very obvious in that look!

One last photo.  One last requested kiss in front of the camera!

Back to the reception hall we went! HA!  Erica’s cookie and candy table was fabulous!

I mean…but it’s all JUST SO PRETTY!  I could have taken hundreds and hundreds more photos.  I love when the water glasses are filled too because that means my part is pretty much over.  I get to hand off the timeline to the DJ and I’m just in cruise control for the rest of the night! YAY!

Announcements were made!

Mr. & Mrs. Conner were announced and the party was getting started!

 Bottom Photo Credit: Jenna Keeling Bottom Photo Credit: Jenna Keeling

It’s rare I share speech photos.  We hear a lot of speeches every year.  It’s relatively the same thing each wedding (I mean…how creative can you really get?) so I always make sure to catch these important moments and get copies to my couples but I really wanted to share these this time.  Matt and Vicki rocked their speeches.  They weren’t fancy.  They weren’t memorized or anything elaborate but they were sincere.  They were probably some of the most sincere speeches I’ve heard in a long time.  I found myself smiling and saying “Awwww” a few times and that’s when you know they’re good!  Good work, both of you!  I later talked to Matt about it and he said he was SO nervous!! I NEVER would have guessed!  Great job, you two!

KARI!  They played the shoe game!! Poor Kari.  She missed it.  She LOVES the shoe game!! It was totally fun though because Jenna didn’t know the shoe game so this was another first for her!! These two did an amazing job and actually answered most of the questions the same!  I also loved that I got to hear some of the guests commentary and that made me giggle!

Then, they did the traditional first dances.  Top two photos are Jenna’s!

Then, they did the anniversary dance and it’s my FAVORITE!  You all know it’s my life goal to win the anniversary dance one day!  These two deserved some spotlight!  They’ve been married 47 (soon to be 48) years.  And you know why they deserve the spotlight?  Because when it was announced that they won, they didn’t just stop dancing and smile like most couples.  Nope.  Not these two.  This gentleman (who is Doug’s grandpa) just kept dancing and REAL dancing.  Fancy footwork and all!  He just kept dancing his wife around and it made me swoon!  Yep…he was showing off and he totally deserved every moment of it!  Gosh.  John Barlow…I want to be like this couple when we’re old!  I told Jenna that night…”This is what is missing from our generation.  No one knows how to dance for real anymore.”  I want some fancy footwork in my life (but I have two left feet…whomp whomp).

So, they got a picture with the new happy couple!

Then, it was time to get this party STARTED!  Check out the uplighting from Smash Weddings!  I know it may seen like an unnecessary cost at the time when planning but couples, listen up.  I PROMISE you it is not just for the guests.  Your reception photos look SO MUCH better with uplighting!  You will NOT regret it!  The white lights are mine, of course!  They’ll be there no matter what but they just light the dance floor!  Uplighting makes a HUGE difference!

We nailed the bouquet and garter toss!  It’s not easy!  Jenna’s shot of the bouquet toss was epic! Funnily enough, Matt looks like he caught the garter but he didn’t.  Jack swooped in and grabbed it for the win! HA!

So, they got a picture with the couple too!

More dancing.  More partying!  DJ Brian Oliver rocked the house and his commentary made me giggle (always does)!  Smash Weddings also did the photo booth in addition to decor and uplighting and I even got pulled into the booth at one point.  That’s the great thing about knowing and having worked with vendors in the past.  We are all business friends and love seeing each other and it’s fun to do weddings together!  It makes for a better experience for the couples too because we know the drill!! We’ve got this!  Brian even texted me earlier in the day and asked what color the bridesmaid dresses were…not just what color…but what SHADE of purple! HA!  He matches his shirt!

I’m not even sorry!! I had to! HA!  It’s on Facebook AND my blog!  Got ya!

The party went on and I found out they were doing a sparkler exit!  So, I made sure to catch that at the end of the night!  This was actually their second pass through.  When they went through the first time andthe sparklers were still going.  In true Hannah fashion, I said “let’s do it again”!  Everyone hooted and hollered and we ran down the line once more!

A HUGE congrats to the new Mr. and Mrs. Doug Conner!

If I haven’t made it clear already, it was an amazing amazing amazing day!  I’ve never shot at this location before and I’m glad I can add it to the books!! Erica was probably one of my most organized brides EVER!  Her and Doug have been so easy to get along with from the very beginning.  I’m so happy for them!  I also want to give the Capitol Music Hall staff a HUGE shoutout.  Cindy, the coordinator, was amazing!  I know I’ve said that!  I ran into Casey (she was bartending) too who was a bridesmaid in a wedding I did last year.  Kyle the lighting guy was outstanding and even moved his taped down mics so I could do formal photos (thanks again for that).  There was another lighting guy (gosh…I’m so sad I can’t remember his name) who was amazing and worked the stage lights for me.  He was so awesome when he saw us setting up for exposure and white balance (photographer stuff) and walked ALL the way to the front of the stage to tell us he’d be turning on more lights and not to waste our time (to which he ran BACK and turned them on for a second so we could test).  You have NO IDEA how appreciative I am for that!  I did tell Jenna, “You know they’re probably going to blast us with lights after we do all this” and he came to our rescue and saved us!  Also, the door guards.  They were the sweetest!  One even mentioned he was a wedding photographer back in the day and carries extra equipment in his car just in case a photographer forgets.  I don’t know if that’s true or not but every time I came down the elevator he jokingly mentioned it (and one time I actually had come down the elevator from the reception because I had left a battery plugged in on the stage).  It is a little creepy walking through the dark theatre! HA!

Anyway, the happy couple is currently honeymooning in Myrtle Beach!! I’m so jealous!!  I hope they got amazing tans!  I can’t thank them enough for being so organized and laid back and fun and sweet and kind AND for hiring such an amazing vendor team!  From the venue to the DJ to the decor to the baker and the photographer (HA!) and more…you did good!

I DID remember some selfies this night!  I was on cloud nine all night!  For real!  I tried to sneak in and catch Brian off guard too but it didn’t work!  It’s almost like he was ready for me! HA!  Darn.  And then I blocked him with my big head the first time!! So, we had to redo! HA!  But THAT’S how you know we’re having a great time!

So, that’s a wrap on the SIXTH HBP wedding of the year!! How is it the middle of the year and I’ve only done 6?!  14 more to go!  Let’s do this!

Enjoy your weekends!

A former bride of mine (Hi, Jane) mentioned that the “dream team” was at this wedding and I couldn’t agree more!! MANY of the same vendors came together at her wedding last June, as well!! Here’s the usual shout out and links to all their info! <3

Bride’s Gown – David’s Bridal

Bridesmaids’ Gowns – David’s Bridal

Men’s Attire – Men’s Wearhouse

Shoes – David’s Bridal (not pictured)

Jewelry/Rings – Kays

Hair/Makeup – Studio East

Venue – The Capitol Music Hall

Wedding Planner/Coordinator – Cathy Johnson

Florist – Wheeling Flower Shop

Cake/Other Desserts – 3D Cakery

DJ/Band – DJ Brian Oliver

Catering – Mehlman’s

Save the Dates/Invitations/Programs – Shutterfly

Officiant – Weddings by Matthew – Matthew Anderson

Decor/Backdrops/Uplighting/Photo Booth – Smash Weddings

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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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