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Mountaineer Racetrack & Casino Wedding | WV Wedding Photography

Real Weddings

Hello, Hello!  Happy Monday, everyone!

This is a first for me and SO fun and exciting!  I’m about to introduce a BRAND NEW couple to you AND with their wedding photos!  I know many of you already “met” Sara and Kevin when I posted the sneak peek a few weeks ago but this is the very first time they’ll appear on my blog!  So, be sure to give them the usual big, warm, HBP welcome and put some love alllllll over this wedding that occurred in Weirton and New Cumberland, WV a few weeks ago!

Sara and Kevin are now Mr. & Mrs. Sanders!  ENJOY!

At the time when Sara first booked me, they were living out of town so they had to make other arrangements for their engagement photos.  I was a sad panda, of course, because I love to get to know all my couples on a deeper level.  Sara worked HARD as a nurse to make this glorious day her dreams come true so I couldn’t wait to see it all come together!  I was a nervous nelly not meeting them ahead of time because I’m very aware I’m a weeee bit high strung and don’t necessarily approach posing and what not the “normal” or “traditional” way.  I mean, “What if they REALLY think I’m crazy?!  What if Kevin wants to hide under a table from me?!”…those were the thoughts going through my head.  Jeesh.  I didn’t want ANY surprises on their end and I’ll tell you what…the wait was so worth it!!  You just wait and see!  Less than two weeks before this big day, we FINALLY got to meet up over coffee and talk about everything that would be the Sanders wedding.  I also got to meet her mom, Brenda.  I did NOT get to meet, Kevin, however.  I knew I’d have to play it cool come the wedding day! HA!  So, at that meeting, Sara got a good feel for me and I felt like we were going to get along well!  I knew it was going to be fantastic! <— I’ve learned from watching my recent live videos I use that word WAY too much! HA!  But seriously…this wedding was fantastic!

So, let’s get started!  October 27th forecasted to be VERY rainy…and it wasn’t one of those days I can say the forecast surprised us.  Mountaineer Racetrack and Casino was our first stop where the gals were getting ready.  I was SO thankful Sara had chosen this venue because I knew it would give us a lot more options for indoor photos than most venues.  Jenna beat me there and found the way to the hotel (I’d only ever been on the casino side and it was years ago).  We were then directed to room 507 and Jenna snapped this fun, “introductory” shot!

True to the “Hannah way”, I immediately told everyone to be on high alert and to smile because the “photographers have arrived”.  I snapped some of the usual getting ready shots and then grabbed the details and prepped to take those photos.  OooOo my goodness.  My brides are KILLING IT with their shoes this fall.  I thought some others were my favorite…and then I laid my eyes on these beauties.  I was so excited about them.  I grabbed these babies right up and ran BACK into the other room where Sara was getting her makeup done just so I could thank her for making my photographer heart so happy right off the bat.  Per the usual when I’m trying to hold back the drool on shoes, I took A LOT of shots.  Check these babies out!

The beautiful details continued to pop right out of the box!  I channeled my inner Kari here for the veil.  The veil was also Sara’s “something borrowed” which I thought was SO amazing and sweet!

Sara told me she hinted to Kevin she wanted a ring that would say “she is married and taken” when she walked into the room.  Kevin NAILED IT.  For real.  You can NOT miss this thing! BLING BLING!  And yes…it’s just as big in person as it looks in this image, I assure you.  I actually got to wear it on my pinky finger for a while (Sara has tiny fingers…or maybe mine are just that big).  It took up more than half my pinkie finger! For real!

Seriously, though…these details!  Kevin’s ring was also one of the most unique male rings I’ve ever had my hands on.  It was gold with diamonds and it had a texture to it!  So, BOTH their rings are “one of a kind”!

Before the ladies got dolled up the rest of the way in their gowns (which were so stunning and unique to each lady), we had to take a group photo!  I did, however, promise the girls I wouldn’t blog it because makeup hadn’t been finished yet!  Even though I thought they looked fine, I get it.  I wouldn’t want it on the internet either! HA!  So, we’re moving on to the moment we put Sara in her beautiful dress!  She’s the cutest.  When she put it on she said, “Does it still look as beautiful as it did before, mom?!”  OooO my goodness!! We all confirmed it was still SO STUNNING!! Sara also had the front altered so to make it custom!  I loved the front!! It was bold without being “too much” and it was perfect!  Sara’s mom, Brenda, was also too funny.  We wouldn’t let her have the light on (mixed light makes me crazy) and she didn’t want her glasses on AND Sara didn’t want the crochet hook in the photos.  It pretty much made it impossible for her to button that dress!  We were giggling because she gave it all her effort! Most people pretend but not her…she went for it!! After a few buttons, we did turn the light back on, give her her glasses, and let her use the hook! HA!

We had to get that “something borrowed” on too before we let the rest of the ladies feast their eyes on this beautiful bride!

Before the first look, Sara had this idea to do the cutest little peek around the corner!

So then we went to do a first look with her dad.  She loved the elevator idea I did earlier in the spring so we ran around the hotel trying to find the perfect spot! The staff at Mountaineer were SO accommodating! I also dropped an important piece of flash equipment.  We went back looking for it and couldn’t find it.  The staff had already scooped it up and had it ready and waiting for me at the front desk!! Sara and Kevin also had nothing but great things to say about the staff there!  It was the first time I’d photographed a wedding there and I hope to go back!! OOooOoo and I saw this hallway and Sarah walking down it and had to have her stop for a sec!  People passing by in the hallway could not stop staring and throwing out compliments.  I don’t blame them!

So, we found a good floor (the 4th floor) with few people and I left Sara and Jenna to wait for me and dad.  I ran as fast as I could to get him but they told me later it was like gambling…they didn’t know what elevator door would open and what one we’d be on! HA!  I could tell from a few of Jenna’s test shots that that was the case!  For example, we were NOT coming out of the elevator on their far right! HA!  High five to Jenna though for being prepared!

So, Sara’s Dad and I were on the elevator (with Mom too) getting ready for this sweet moment.  I love this shot (below) so much.  I could tell he was really anticipating this moment…especially as he watched the numbers count down to the floor we’d be stopping on!  Also, can we talk about his pocket square?!  That was a first for me and I had to get lots of photos of it!

So then the doors opened…Jenna was on it from the front and I flew out behind Dad!  Sara was so eager to hug her dad she moved from her original position but we made it work and these moments were genuine perfection!

If you can’t feel the love in these photos, let me just tell you…you could feel it when you were there.  I know this father/daughter bond.  I’ve lived it and have it.  Sara and her Dad couldn’t stop hugging and smiling and looking at each other.

THEN, it was time to head to the limo and leave for the ceremony!  There was A LOT of talk about this limo during the day and I didn’t quite get it until I saw it.  We couldn’t even find Sara’s Dad a few times during the morning as a result of this limo and her Mom kept saying, “He’s just so excited about it.”  So, HERE IT IS!! Check it out!  Have you EVER seen a limo like this?!  I sure haven’t!  And yes…just like her ring…it’s as big in real life as it looks in the photos!

…so big it took three people to get Sara up in it! HA!  It’s custom made by a friend of the family and it added to the wedding like nothing I’ve ever seen!  Jenna caught this moment!

After about a 30 minute drive from Mountaineer Racetrack and Casino in New Cumberland, WV to Sacred Heart Church in Weirton, WV, I got to see this beautiful Catholic church in person!!!   I’d already done some Googling and knew how pretty is was!  It’s unlike any Catholic church I’ve EVER photographed in!  Look at all those colors!! To top it all off, the decor complimented all of Sara’s wedding colors to a tee.  I have no idea if Sara planned it that way but it was amazing and eye candy like I’ve never seen at a ceremony!! Just look for yourself!

We had already met up with Kevin as soon as we got in the door.  He was greeting guests with some of his buddies and groomsmen.  Remember…I hadn’t met Kevin up until this point.  I had no idea who I was shaking hands with but I instantly got good vibes from him.  He even admitted he was a weeeee bit nervous…which I told him was totally natural.  Also, he’s a true gentleman…you’ll see more later.  I mean…the guys are always supposed to great guests and say “hello” to the vendors but his “welcome’ and “nice to meet yours” felt so sincere.  I don’t know how to explain it but I knew at that point…we were going to be just fine come picture time!

Then, I found Sara back in the “holding room” as I like to call them…the rooms where the bride hides and waits for her grand march.  I don’t usually share photos like this but this room was VERY special.  This is the same room Sara went to school in when she was a young girl and you all know how I LOVE when things come full circle like that!  You’re also getting a preview of how fabulous these ladies looked.  Their dresses were all stunning in their own ways!

Then, Jenna snapped this sweet moment between father and daughter right before the ceremony began.  One day…ONE DAY…I’m going to stay in the back and snap all these while someone else hangs at the front! HA!

FINALLY, it was time for the ceremony!! I couldn’t wait to see this all come together.  I didn’t know if Kevin was an emotional guy.  It turns out…when it comes to Sara…he definitely is emotional!  I was ready ready ready!

All the bridesmaids and maids of honor made their way down the short aisle and then we waited for the bride.  I’m sharing this photo because I want you all to check out Sara’s cousin back there.  Doesn’t he look like secret service?!  I love love love his “role” and I didn’t even know what it was at this point.  He was literally the “guard” and he double knocked ever so discretely on that door when it was time for Sara to make her way down the aisle!  It all happened to flawlessly too!  Seriously though…doesn’t he look like secret service/security/body guard back there?!

I knew Kevin was nervous…he told me himself.  Check out his reaction though when he got to lay his eyes on his VERY soon-to-be wife!

Back to back weddings, I managed to capture this sweet moment between father and daughter!

There is nothing sweeter than these moments and images, I tell ya!

I mean…check out this church!  It’s so beautiful and colorful!

I love love love this sweet moment.  I purposely zoomed in with my paparazzi lens so you could all “feel” the love between these two without even having to see their whole bodies!

As serious as this ceremony was at times, there was also lots of smiling and lots and lots and lots of laughter!  It turns out…according to the Priest…the weekend Sara and Kevin got engaged, Sara dug through Kevin’s bags looking for that ring! HA!  Kevin, knowing his girl SO WELL, had given the ring to his boss so she’d NEVER know!! I love that so much!  I do believe this was the moment (below) Father told that story and we all had a good laugh!

…and just like that…they were allowed to kiss for the first time as man and wife!  This photo is compliments of Jenna!!  I liked it more because there were things in the center that were preventing me from centering them well!

Not being centered couldn’t stop me from this photo though!! Check out how they look at each other!  That’s genuine love and adoration right there!

…and GUESS WHAT?!  Sara’s parents were the VERY first couple to be married in this church years ago!  That fun fact called for a couple’s photo at the front before we got started on formal photos!  Aren’t they the cutest?!

Check out THIS bridal party!  My goodness…I’ve seen this color palette done a time or two but Sara took it to a WHOLE other level!

I mean really…on top of this bridal party rocking…the colors of the church made it look magazine worthy!  Sara…TELL US!  Did you plan it this way?!

I learned very quickly that this was just “Sara and Kevin”.  Once I finally got to see them together (again…remember…I hadn’t seen them together at an engagement session or leading up to the ceremony), they’re just so lovey!  This was happening during my lighting test shots and I just couldn’t resist sharing it with you all!

Seriously, many of these photos were taken as “test shots”….they’re just doing their married thing!

Goodness…I could have taken photos for HOURS in this church!  I’m VERY thankful for what we got though.  There was a miscommunication with the Priest.  Like every Catholic wedding, I go find him at the very beginning so he knows who I am and so I can get the “all clear” for photos afterward.  He told me he had mass at 4:00 PM so we’d have to be out by 3:30 PM….and the ceremony started at 2:30….Oy.  I was SWEATING and panicking a bit.  Then, later…he decided we could stay since his 4:00 PM mass was at a different church and the nicest lady (who also played the organ and sang) stayed behind so we could get these beauties!! YAY!

Sara told me she wanted dark and dramatic!  I think this qualifies! EEEKKK!  I googled this church prior to this day and KNEW it would NOT disappoint!

Ooo my goodness.  The back of that dress.  The hairpiece.  The church.  The flowers.  Happy photographer RIGHT HERE! *raises hand*

Seriously, could she be more gorgeous?!  I kept telling her ALL DAY…she was probably getting sick of it!  AND THOSE FLOWERS!  Now, you’ll get a real good look at them.  That bouquet was ALL REAL (and heavy)!  It was so breathtaking!  It was done so well and it was perfect!  I know…I’m rambling…but really…just look at it!  It matched and complimented everything that was this wedding so well!

We then headed back to Mountaineer Racetrack and Casino to get this party started!!  Kevin was the first one out of the limo when they arrived and the smile on his face said it all!! That limo did NOT disappoint!

HUGE shoutout to Abigail the coordinator at Mountaineer and all the other staff for letting us take over and do photos where we needed to do them.  I only mentioned it briefly…but it rained so hard this day there was no way we could be outside.  You know me…I’m one to push the limit when it comes to rain but this day prevented us from even doing that.  Sara was so optimistic though and full of wedding bliss and she was so excited about this area.  I fed off her energy and we captured these amazing photos.  Enjoy!

Here’s a mixture of Jenna and my photos.  Doesn’t it feel so regal?!  Sara wanted “dramatic”…I didn’t even have to try!! They did all the work for me!

 

Again with the test shots and the kissing.  I couldn’t resist sharing this one Jenna caught!  These two make me smile!! I’d also love to give a shout out to Kevin!  All the other guys headed to a cocktail room and he had to stay behind, of course.  He was game!  He didn’t moan and groan like some (you know who you are…HA!).  Again…total gentleman!  Sara’s a lucky gal!

Sara and Kevin opened my eyes to new possibilities for Hannah Barlow Photography wedding couples.  You know me…I’m all about “four hands must be touching and look in love at all times”.  Well, somehow these two managed to go against the “rules” and still look in love and connected!  OOoo man Ooo man.  I’m going to keep trying this in the future!  Just check them out!! Sara said this felt very “Great Gatsby”…I could NOT agree more!  I’m going to name some of these poses after them!

Another one of Jenna’s shots!

I saw these stairs and knew I was going to have to play with those leading lines!! HUGE shoutout to Jenna who I realized at this wedding is my lighting genius as she held the light way up above them on that second staircase!  Jenna enjoys artistic flash shots just like me!

Then, we headed up top for some more amazing and unique portraits!! You’re never going to see portraits like this again!  I just don’t think they could be replicated!

More “test shots” which ended up being “keepers”!  That NEVER happens!

I love this one so much!!  I know..I know..it was in the sneak peek but look at them!! They’re not even touching or what I call “connected” BUT THEY ARE SO CONNECTED!  HOW?!  They’re just awesome!! Check out the front of her dress too!! It’s perfect!

Just a few more and then a “finale” photo which…again…was not posed!  Jenna and I flew behind them…Jenna instinctively grabbed my light and pointed it right at them!! This photo was a complete “accident” while also being “planned”…if that makes ANY sense!  I really didn’t think it would come out.  If it hadn’t been for Jenna grabbing my light…I’m afraid they would have been too dark.  *high five*

Then, we headed to the reception BUT before we go into that…check it out BEFORE we left for the ceremony.  All of these were taken earlier in the day!

Beautiful, right?!  Ok…so now…let’s introduce Mr. & Mrs. Sanders who entered the reception with style AND busted some moves to the beat!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE when couples do this!  It gets the crowd going!

Then, they went into their first dance.  I kept thinking in my head…”Sara wants dramatic”…so I took a few safe shots.

Then, I started to play.  Jenna and I flipped around and switched sides.  She continued to shoot “safe” while I started playing around!  Wowza!

Then, Sara and her Dad had more sweet moments and her mom just couldn’t resist smiling BIG the entire time!

Remember how I said Kevin was a gentleman?  Well, he’s one of my grooms who just couldn’t let his mom come out to the dance floor by herself.  Nope.  He went out in the crowd and got her himself.  I’m such a sucker for old traditional ways!

They had a memorable dance with lots of smiles!

Then, it was time to cut the cake!  OOo man.  I’m not supposed to have favorites but this may be one of my favorite cakes YET!  Let’s get a little preview, shall we?!  These, of course, were taken earlier in the day!

…and it still looked just as good when they cut it and tasted it!! It was RED! EEEEEKKKKKK!!! Again…it was all planned so well!  Whether that was their favorite or not, I loved how the red matched the theme of the wedding!

Then, it was time for speeches.  They were epic.  Two maids of honors went and two best men…BUT…the last one was a doozie.  I wish I could have recorded it.  Check out everyone’s reactions.  Kevin got to laughing so hard…I got to laughing so hard.  He could NOT gain control and it was epic-ly hilarious!  I kow “epic-ly” isn’t a word but there’s just no other proper word for what was happening.

Seriously, he was laughing hysterically!  His brother did NOT cut him any slack and I’m sure Kevin was thinking, “OooO no. OOO no.  What’s next?!”

For real…I’ve never seen a groom lose control and laugh this hard!! It was amazing!

I’m still laughing!  I wish I could remember ALL the details of this and tell it word for word but I’ll spare Kevin! HA!

THAT speech deserved a HUGE toast!

Then, Jenna went around the reception and did her Jenna thing and captured some of the smaller details that still matter so much!

While she was doing that, I walked around and caught some candid shots of everyone.  This wedding had a great combination of mingling and dancing.  You could tell people genuinely wanted to get to know each other or just catch up.  There were smiles and hugs going around while others were busting a move on the dance floor to DJ Chelsea’s beats!! This was finally the wedding I got to meet her and her husband!! They were just as sweet as I expected!

Someone even brought a selfie stick!!! Some people might think that’s nuts but I love it!! I’m also the photographer with the eagle eyes.  I try and catch people grouping together to take their own photos and then I sneak in and give them a professional shot too!

So, here’s a first!  Sara and Kevin opted to have DJ Chelsea do the anniversary dance.  You know…that’s the dance where everyone dances until the last couple standing is the couple who has been married the longest.  WELLLLLLLLLL…these two couples BOTH won!  They were both married 40 years ago and on the same day!! GET OUT OF TOWN!  What are the chances?!  I thought that was so amazing and it put a HUGE smile on my face…that’s for sure!

…and because no wedding is complete without a wedding dance floor selfie…here is Jenna and I!  Jenna took this photo and I kind of love that I don’t have that crazy, stretched, neck muscle! HA!

Well, that’s a wrap on this wedding!  I can’t believe the 16th wedding of 2018 is complete.  How did that happens?!  I can’t even figure out how it’s possible I’ve photographed and edited 16 weddings this year! WHOA!  I’d love to thank both Sara and Kevin for being so welcoming.  They hardly knew me (Kevin didn’t know me at all) and they hadn’t met Jenna yet!  There was no awkwardness…just lots of warm smiles and giggles.  We had a great time and it opened my eyes to new poses and new ways of doing things (I’m still mad it rained though).  Sara even said the sweetest things after the wedding and it made my heart swell.  She even went so far to compliment how we dressed! HA!  On top of it all, they honeymooned in Barbados and friended me on Facebook so I could follow along with them!! It was stunning and I think they had a blast!  I hope they have even more fun sifting through over 1000 photos! 🙂  EEEEEEKKKKKKKK!!!  Congrats to the Sanders! OOoOoo and they had the very best wedding food we’ve EVER had – a pasta bar AND fajita bar! YUM!  I just had to throw that out there!

_____________

HUGE shoutout to these vendors!  Use the links for more info. when provided!  If you have additional information and links, feel free to reach out to me at info@hannahbarlowphoto.com!  It’s MUCH appreciated!

Bridal Gown Designer & Salon – Randy Fenoli at Bridal Beginnings

Bridesmaids’ Dresses (They were FABULOUS!) – Bridal Beginnings

Men’s Attire – Phil-Mor Tuxedo Outlet

Jewelry/Rings – LS Jewelers

Hair – Brianna Fernandez & Grace Boyd

Makeup – Brianne Pietro

Wedding Planner/Coordinator – Abigail Sayre (Mountaineer Racetrack & Casino Weddings)

Florist (Holy BEAUTIFUL flowers) – Michelle’s Florist

Cake – Simply Sweet Cakes <— I should have known!  Ashley is fabulous!

DJ – DJ Chelsea Householder

Limo – Family Friend

Invitations/Programs – Etsy

Church – Sacred Heart of Mary – Weirton, WV

Reception Venue – Mountaineer Racetrack & Casino

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i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling)

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true) and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a s n will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

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