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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Oglebay Winter Wedding | WV Wedding Photography

THE FIRST 2019 Hannah Barlow Photography wedding is on the blog today! Who’s excited?!  I’m excited…but I’m always excited!  So, let’s do this!

Sara and Brandon are now Mr. & Mrs. Miller and I have so much goodness to share with you all!  Enjoy!

So, first things first…Kari, Lacey, and I met up on this chilly morning in Wheeling, WV at Oglebay preparing for the boat load of snow that was forecasted and walked into this warm and beautiful winter wonderland in Glessner Auditorium!! Oglebay knows how to do it right in Glessner…those trees though!  It was SO beautiful!  It’s hard for me to describe this wedding and you’ll see why in a bit.  It was simple…but it wasn’t simple.  Sara was a super easy and straightforward bride with no fuss…but the wedding was jaw-dropping gorgeous and she walked down the aisle with a fierce stride and wearing a dress like no other…quite like royalty!  Seriously, I’m at a loss for how to describe this all accurately…so, I’ll give it my best shot!  So, Casey, one of the amazing coordinators at Oglebay, told me Sara planned to have her wedding this time of year specifically for all the winter trees that are available this time of year in the reception all.  I believe it!  Sara once made a comment to me that she’d rather just let someone else do it all!  At one point, I hear she even considered not having centerpieces at all.  Crazy, right?!  Alas, her mom swooped in and made some for the tables but kept it simple…but somehow…it was still extraordinary!  Sara’s a magician when it comes to wedding planning, I tell ya!

So, after we drooled a bit and enjoyed the goodness that was that reception hall, we took a “tour” of Oglebay in search of the bride and her “ladies in waiting” <— her words…not mine! HA!  Anyone ever try to navigate Wilson Lodge?!  It’s not easy and our “tour” wasn’t intentional…but we eventually found them!

Again…her details were simple.  There were just a few.  They were easy to photograph too…but really, there was NOTHING plain about these.  Sara said over and over she wasn’t about to get stressed out over this wedding.  I remember her telling me at their engagement session (which you can see HERE) that she chose Oglebay specifically so they could just do everything for her.  So, when it came to her details, she chose a few…but chose ones that were so fabulous they were fit for a queen…or a celebrity!  You just wait and see!  Disclaimer:  This was Lacey’s last official wedding for “training” so I rented her a camera that matched the ones Kari and I use.  As a result, I really can’t tell you who took what (seriously…I had to write down serial numbers while editing just to keep it straight).  I kind of love that though…since starting this…it’s been my dream to create a team that was not only loved by clients…but good enough we could all take each other’s places if the time would ever arise.  It’s happening! EEEKKK!

As I mentioned in the sneak peek a few weeks ago, Sara decided to carry her grandmother’s bible down the aisle instead of a big, glorious, traditional bouquet.  Again, it’s something so simple…but so different…and makes it all the more wonderful!  Sara joked the florist said it’s the first time a bride’s bouquet was cheaper than the bridesmaids’ bouquets.  I kind of really love that…truly…and that’s saying a lot because I am a HUGE fan of a big, obnoxious, bridal bouquet!  Kari was digging these photos below and said she loved the “old vs. new” feel of the new rings on the old bible.  That’s Kari for ya…she thinks of those kinds of things.  Meanwhile, I was off taking photos of the pretty ladies!

Future brides, if you’re reading this…read it over and over and over again.  Tie up any loose ends BEFORE the morning of your wedding.  I know weddings can be stressful.  I KNOW IT…I understand it BUT…if you must stress at all, do it prior to the big day.  There is something to be said about the overall atmosphere of the getting ready portion of the day and the stress level of all involved in relation to how the rest of the day flows.  There were things going wrong this day (and we didn’t even know about it yet) but Sara was calm…cool…collected.  She’d made sure everything was done ahead of time and she had a coordinator doing most of the work for her the day of (it’s worth it…I promise).  Lots of brides are like this…lots of brides are not…to each their own.  I realize it simply depends on the person and personality but  I can promise you, you’ll have a much better experience and extra memories of the morning if you’re able to enjoy yourself…and that’s EXACTLY what Sara and these beautiful ladies did.  This was such an amazing wedding to start off the year!  The environment this morning was so calming and fun.  They had music playing on a speaker…and wedding type of music to top it all off.  It was AMAZING!  It set the scene (and mood) for the whole day (always does) and it almost felt like a movie set – everyone genuinely enjoying themselves, everyone having a great time, nothing else needed done…again…NO STRESS.  Another plus…it also affects us photographers and the photos.  If we’re not stressing…if we’re not having to put out fires…we’re able to really focus and give you lots and lots and lots of extra photos and unique photos and amazing memories.  It’s true!  So, starting off 2019…that’s my little tip and tangent! HA!  I can’t stress it enough…don’t save ANYTHING until the morning of the wedding if you can help it.  I want you to focus only on enjoying yourself.  And while I’m at it, I also have to shoutout to the hair/makeup people, as well.  They’re really the biggest part of the morning and these groups were on the ball!  Bonus!  So, here are the girls enjoying themselves and having a grand time before they all got dressed!

So, we then left Lacey to shoot some extra details and be “on call” just in case something came up while the ladies were getting ready.  Kari and I headed back down to the reception hall at Glessner to make sure nothing extra had popped up that we failed to photograph earlier in the day.  Funny story about this moment – we decided to eat lunch since we’d pretty much finished everything we needed to do.  Kari also needed to take a moment to do what nursing mommas away from their babies do and found a little partition to hide behind where they store extra stairs out of site.  No one was in the hall at that point.  So, there she is…hidden behind a wall and I had pulled up a chair on the other side of the partition and talked to her while she did her thing only to realize some staff had entered to set up the tables and were watching me.  It appeared to them I was talking to a wall…by myself…while eating lunch! HA!  They thought I was crazy…and I know this…because they said so once they realized Kari was there too! HA! We had a good laugh..and I did catch some extra photos while we were waiting to head back up.  Enjoy the pretend winter wonderland…because it sure did NOT snow like that said…BOOOO!

Then, it was time to get this epic dress on the beautiful bride!  I’m not one to choose favorites, it’s a lot like how you’re not supposed to choose your favorite child, right?!  I, of course, do have certain dresses that I’ve photographed over the years that are simply more my style and taste so those become somewhat of my favorites, as a result.  Well, I’m doing it now.  I’m picking.  This dress had EVERYTHING I could ever want in a dress.  It had lace.  It had beading.  It had glitz.  It fit Sara like a glove (she had it altered to do so)…it was classy while still having that little bit of “zing” and sultry vibe when you saw her wearing it.  It also had a special and surprise addition and you’ll see that later.  I have never…ever…photographed a dress like this.  It was unique in more ways than one and it stole my heart…and Kari’s heart…and Lacey’s heart…and everyone else who saw it.  I’m going to give you a little teaser now.

Because it fit Sara like a glove, we weren’t successful in protecting her hair when it went over her head.  There’s a first for everything, right?!  UGH!  That dress had to STRETCH over her head and despite all of us protecting the hair (or attempting)…a button snatched her hair and pulled it out.  I was FREAKED out inside and panicked…and just waited for the ball to drop.  I waited for tears to flow…heck, I wanted to cry myself.  Sara was calm about it though.  She didn’t care.  She knew a bobby pin could fix it (I wasn’t so sure…but who am I to bring the bride down).  I even asked her if she wanted me to stop photographing so we could fix her hair first…she told me to just keep on going!  And so we did…and you know what?!  I actually kind of like it.  It’s really moments…and she looks stunning even with hair in her face…I was super confused too because it still looked so good even though it wasn’t supposed to hang there.

So, her ladies quickly fixed her hair and I just could not stop taking photos!  Neither could Lacey or Kari!  I can imagine we were probably pretty overwhelming at this point! Sorry…not sorry!

The mom’s were feeling pretty overwhelmed in a great way too…I turned around to see lots of happy tears flowing!

So, it was at this point, I looked at the watch and knew we were ready for the first look.  We were also missing the groom.  His sister came over and whispered in my ear that Brandon had called…and his tux didn’t fit.  My response, “YOU MEAN HE DIDN’T TRY IT ON?!”  Gentleman…gentleman…I said it a lot last year.  We can NOT repeat last year…all those tux issues…OY!  Try those babies on AS SOON AS YOU GET THEM.  In my head at this time, I was trying to figure out how was going to get a new tux for him.  I knew, of course, I couldn’t possibly do this…but panicked Hannah was setting in…WE DIDN’T HAVE A DRESSED GROOM.  I tried to hide it from Sara.  I didn’t think she knew.  She was so calm and just waiting for me to take her to the first look location.  I quickly found out…she totally knew about it.  She didn’t care…heck, she didn’t even care if he had a jacket on! So, off we went.  I talked myself off that cliff real fast chanting in my head, “Hannah…if the bride is not panicked…you can’t be either.”

So, I dropped Sara off in a hiding spot and went to meet Brandon.  He was calm too…no big deal.  We decided he would wear one of the groomsman’s jackets and the groomsmen would wear their vests…no jackets!  Quick solution!  We headed off to do the first look! Sara told me it would be short and sweet and they did it simply because they wanted to get most of the photos done before the ceremony.  She wasn’t kidding!  I kind of love this hallway though for first looks!  I might have to keep using it…it’s pretty perfect!

Being the opportunist that I am, I took some formals real quick before we went back to snatch the bridal party up for the official formal photos!

The gentleman were no different than the ladies.  They were calm and ready to get the photos over with! HA!  Brandon had asked me at the engagement session if I had drank a red bull prior…because, you know, I’m so high strung.  I laughed it off and told him he better prepare his guys come the wedding day.  So, I asked the guys if they’d been warned…Brandon was too kind and had not said anything.  So, I warned them myself and they challenged me to get all the photos done in 8 minutes…it took me 20…but still!  We had a great time…lots of laughs…Exhibit A below.  I told them to give me their best GQ pose.  Two of them nailed it…the other two wanted no part of it and we ALL laughed hysterically!

Honestly, though…we flew through these pictures.  It was an enjoyable time…and they nailed it!  Easy Peasy!

Now, the ladies!  I thought it might be weird for Sara not to have something in her hands…but it wasn’t.  Meant to be!

I asked for the customary “group hug” picture from the bridal party…it’s always a fan favorite at weddings and one my couples usually have printed and added to their wedding album.  This is what I received the first try! HA!

So, we made some adjustments (separating the guys) and it was perfect.  I’m kidding, of course.  That’s not why we separated the guys but it made for a good comment in the blog! HA!

Did I mention it rained?!  UGHHHHHHH!  NOT AGAIN!  We had plenty of rain at weddings in 2018…I can’t (won’t) do it again.  Nonetheless, the weathermen failed us miserably.  We were supposed to have up to a foot of snow.  I even packed an overnight bag and had considered staying overnight.  I was excited about the snow.  I brought extra gear for snowy photos.  Sara prepared with fur wraps…and it RAINED!  GAH!  So, as a consolation, I put them in front of the snowy (rainy) window with their fur on (per Sara’s request) and took some more beauties!

Then, it was time for bride/groom formals! YAY!

This is an amazing combination of my photos, Kari’s photos, and Lacey’s photos!  We were photographing them from ALL angles and at the same time.  Kari and Lacey seriously have some stealthy maneuvers.  I don’t remember seeing or hearing them while I was doing all this!  I’m so thankful this room was empty or I have no idea what we would have done.  It was perfect!

We did some walking and snuggling before we finished up!  Some dipping too!  Their dip greatly improved from their engagement session!  HA!

Then, we did some walking and dancing under the chandeliers!  I mean…why not?!

AND THEN…drum roll, please!  It was time to add that “addition” to the dress I was talking about earlier.  It’s called a “float” and it was (is) the most amazing thing I’ve EVER seen to date when it comes to dresses.  The girls told me they loved Sara’s dress when she first picked it out…but it was just missing something when she tried it on.  They found this off to the side at the salon.  To be clear, it does NOT even officially go to this dress.  They added it.  The seamstress (who is amazing, by the way) added some lace AND millions (ok…I’m exaggerating) of buttons to the back to make it match the original dress.  OooOo my goodness me.  I could dance around my office all over again.  I mean…I’ve favorited A LOT of dresses.  Each one is special to me mostly because of the bride who wears it and the memories we make while photographing it…but this thing called to me.  Kari, Lacey, and I probably sounded like lunatics…OOooO…ahhhhh….OMG.  I squealed…a lot!  I mean…COME ON!

There are just no words.  NO WORDS.  It’s perfection!  After I posted that sneak peek…people were messaging me and commenting and couldn’t get enough…can you imagine being there?!  It was fabulous…and beautiful…and oOOo my goodness me…someone stop me.

Here is a little before and after…with and without…whatever you want to call it.  It’s magic!  Like I said, Sara was simple at a bride…in her own way.  How do I explain it?  She was one of my most laid back brides.  Did not seem to have a care in the world on her wedding day aside from just enjoying it all and soaking up all the love surrounding her and marrying her love.  Then, she goes and does things like this…and it’s not simple at all anymore!  It’s the opposite of simple.  It’s extravagant!  It’s over the top without being too much.  It’s just PERFECT!  Check out the transformation just by adding that float! AHHHHHHHHH!!!!  I’m jealous I didn’t think of this when I got married!

…and you know what?!  It didn’t stop there.  She ALSO had a custom veil. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

And on and on she goes…just kept keeping it simple without missing out on what matters!  A string trio!! AHHH!! You all know I love strings!  They played traditional wedding music which I love too!  It was such a great touch!

Then, it was time for the ceremony.  I took a screen shot this right out of her album (which she already revised and got back to me…within 24 hours of receiving it…she’s on it) so that’s why it’s a bit blurry and has lines/numbers on it.  She suggested a picture change to this album spread and you know what’s amazing about it…it made it so each photo was taken by each photographer.  One from me.  One from Kari…and that amazing one Lacey snipped right through the guests!  Lacey told me she practiced when the bridesmaids walked down the aisle (which is something I taught her to do…YAY) so she could be sure to get this one!  Who would have thought?!  She’s a photographer sniper now…hiding…shooting through things…getting the shot! Love it!

It was short and sweet (how many times I have said that word in this blog?!).  It happened in the amazing Fort Henry room and it was grand too!  It was simple.  It was grand.  I’m so confused on how to describe this amazing day!  Also, about 5 minutes after putting that veil on before the ceremony, Sara decided it was too much of a pain in the butt and was going to take it off.  OOooO no. No. No…NO!  The biggest issue for her was that it was grabbing the carpet and pulling her head/hair.  I talked her into keeping it on.  We practiced with her dad prior to make sure she could be escorted, hold that precious bible, AND hold on to the veil, and still look elegant.  I hope she’s as glad as I am that she decided to keep it on.  Look how stunning!! I just can’t imagine her without it now…it was too good…SO GOOD!  But, now that I’ve told you this, you can see below how we practiced her tucking it under her hands so it wouldn’t pull!  Tricks…we’ve got them up our sleeves!

Then, per her request (and my dreams come true), we took just a few more with the float and veil added to the dress!

Are you all as glad as I am that I talked her into keeping that thing on?!  AHHHH!! I love it all!

We also made sure to get a photo (during formal photo time) of grandma and Sara holding the bible.  Her grandmother carried this same bible down the aisle…61 years ago!  And they are still married!  More on that in a bit!

We flew through formal photos and were able to let the bride, groom, their family and the bridal party go enjoy cocktail hour!  Then, it was time to introduce and celebrate the new Mr. & Mrs. Miller!

They went straight into cake cutting!  No messing around at this wedding…AND we got to eat a piece.  Kari and I don’t make it a habit of eating the cake (there’s really no time and that’s not what we are there for).  We will admit to sneaking a cookie or two after guests have had their fill if there are any leftovers…but we never get cake.  We were served cake!  Kari looked right at me and then right at the cake and said, “Are we eating this?!”  and not because we usually don’t get the option but because we’re both trying to eat low carb and are exercising.  I’ll confess…we ate the darn cake because we NEVER get offered cake and they plopped it right down in front of us during dinner. UmmmMM yea…thank you, Sara and Brandon, for letting us have cake…and it was DELICIOUS SPICE CAKE!  I can still taste it! OooO the little things! HA!

Then, after dinner and before their first dance, Brandon stopped everyone to thank them for coming and to surprise his wife with a honeymoon in the Florida Keys!  He even called her employer to make sure she could have the time off.  OooO my!  What a guy!  I LOVE when the bride and groom get up to say a few words too!! It really says a lot about the couple and I love that so much!

Then, it was time for just a little first dance magic and love…lots of love!

Then, Sara’s grandparents won the anniversary dance with 61 years…as I mentioned earlier!  Life goals, I tell ya!

Brandon and all his friends then shared a drink with their late friend who was taken from this earth too soon.  Justin passed away in 2012 but his friends and mom weren’t about to let him be left out of this amazing day!  Cheers!

After all the traditional things were complete, it was then time to PARTY!  And OooO my OooO my it was a grand party…a crazy party.  I know I made a comment in the sneak peek how “laid back” this wedding was and Brian (top right photo below in the blue) commented that I was crazy (or something to that extent).  He didn’t think it was laid back at all!  Let me be clear then, from a photographer’s perspective…it was laid back.  We weren’t stressed.  There was really no difficulty to the day and even though it was a rowdy party…our jobs were easy and we were having a ball with everyone!

Even Grandpa got in on the dancing!

Now, I’m going to tell a little story.  There once was a Hannah Barlow Photography groom named Zac…who hated my camera SO MUCH he cussed me out under his breath during their engagement session (true story…Jane, his wife, told me!)…who now seems to love my camera!  Exhibit B…below! HA!  I was giggling so hard.  Apparently, 2+ years does a groom some good…he was actually posing…smiling…and making me laugh hysterically!  Check out his center of attention moment!  Loving this!  We had an amazing time catching up with past couples at this wedding!

He even did the worm for me…again!

…which was something he surprised me with at his own wedding! HA! OoOO memories!  What I love the most?  At his wedding, it was a total surprise when he did this.  At Sara and Brandon’s wedding, I asked him at the beginning of the night if he would do it again and when it was requested later…he came and got me so I could redo it all over again!

…and I don’t know this guy below…but he specifically came up to me after I took this and asked if he could see it.  Raved about it.  Asked if I’d blog it.  So, here it is man whose name I do not know! HA!  Your Hannah Barlow Photography blog debut! HA!

…and it just kept going.  I don’t remember at what other wedding this happened…but I remember it happening…and I remember photographing it.  Given the group of friends, it had to be Jane and Zac or Kassandra and Derek…I’m not sure.  All I know is that Zac (pictured above doing the worm) quite literally threw this guy over his shoulder and RAN to the middle of the dance floor.  The “victim” tried to escape.  His friends re-captured him, forced him onto a chair, and raised him up in the air!  This happened during an ACDC song and I guess there’s a relationship between his name and the lyrics in the song.  So, this has become “his song”…and they do this to him (against his wishes) at every wedding.  So, of course, I am blogging it.  He is always such a great sport about it though and you can see how much everyone is loving it!

Speaking of those past Hannah Barlow Photography couples, I made sure to photograph them again.  Jane and Zac even decided to practice their dip for me.  Not bad…a little rusty…but not bad at all!

…and the party just kept going!  AND GOING!

…and then something else happened that’s never happened before.  A past groom played photographer…with my camera.  Boy, 2019 is going to be fantastic…I can tell!  Derek, who ALSO hated my camera at one time, asked if he could take photos.  I mean…why not?!  I’m not one to say no…but MANY of his friends surrounding me told both him and me a firm “no”.  One person even asked, “Are you crazy?!”  Well, maybe I am…maybe not.  My stuff is insured though and it’s taken some hard falls at wedding…State Farm has me covered! HA!  So, I showed him the basics and off he went!  He even made sure to put the strap around his neck so I knew we’d be good.  Those cameras are made to be loved and used!  I immediately RAN to find Kari though so she could make sure this was documented heavily!  I felt very helpless without a camera in my hands!

His wife even tried to hide from him! HA!  That’s saying something!  So, he took a photo of Kari taking a photo of him instead!

Everyone…I’d like to introduce “Photos by Derek”…Oy.  He’s got a long way to go before he’ll be second shooting with me!

I can’t stop laughing though.  He even took one of me standing off to the side before he handed my camera back over.  I’ll be honest, when I first saw this photo while editing…I was appalled and could NOT figure out why I had a drink in my hand…why it looked like I was drinking…I mean…HOW UNPROFESSIONAL, right?!.  Then, I realized that when Derek took my camera…I took his empty glass and was holding it for him until he came back.  Although, I do like the idea of being photographed as a guest in the future…with a drink in my hand…*cough* you know who I’m talking to *cough*! HA!  Seriously though…I was blind after he took that photo so close to me with full power flash on board!

The party just kept going…and going..and going.  We topped off our day at 12 hours at 10:00 PM just when the couple decided to extend the reception another hour!  So, we left them to it…to party the night away!

Believe it or not, that was just a small summary of this crazy, amazing reception.  Kari and I were so busy trying to keep up with all the shenanigans..we didn’t take a selfie! WHATTTTT?!  BUT…we did happen to capture a selfie with the groom, per his request, earlier in the night so I’m just going to throw that one down right here!

And now, I’m going to end this one being REAL sappy.  There were three HBP couples at this wedding, two from the past and then Sara and Brandon.  As I mentioned, this day was so “laid back” while still having so much to photograph and we never sat down after the party got started.  Like I mentioned, there was so much going on we didn’t even remember to get a selfie just Kari and I but the groom, of all people, requested one and that’s just so amazing to me.  It’s amazing that many of our brides and grooms take time out of their HUGE day to document our presence and the fun we’re all having together.  It’s so amazing to me that when we run into “past” couples (I can’t call them old like I did in the live video…HA!) and they’re so happy to see us…we’re so happy to see them…and it feels like we’re catching up with friends…not clients.  Heck, we’ve even planned dinner with some of them!  I’m still not sure how this all happened.  How years ago, so quickly, we got invited to photograph weddings with little to no experience and now we’re so lucky to get to come back and see these amazing people over and over again…photographing their now engaged to be married friends and family.  I don’t expect clients to treat us special or anything other than a paid vendor who is expected to show up and do a job…but we’re so often, like this night, treated like one of the guests.  Kassandra had mentioned to me during conversation that they were talking about how Kari and I work almost every Saturday.  It’s true.  I wouldn’t change it though.  I mean…how many people get to spend the ENTIRE day with a couple getting to experience their love story…documenting it…and quite literally often feeling like they’re walking around a storybook.  Not many people…not many at all.  Giving up my Saturdays for people like Sara and Brandon and their family and friends is easy.  It’s worth it.  I even got invited to the after party and had it snowed…I would have been there.  Kari and I are VERY lucky though to have amazing husbands who wait up for us and we’re eager to get back to them too…so that’s what we usually do and what we did this night.  Life is pretty dang amazing.  I’m a lucky photographer!

Jeez.  That WAS really sappy…huh?!  I can’t help it.  I love this job!  How’d I get so lucky?!

So, that’s it!  That’s a wrap on the first Hannah Barlow Photography wedding of the year!! Don’t forget…go back over there to Facebook and give them lots and lots of love…like it…comment on it…and share it away!  It’s prime booking season and I’m booked for 2019…half booked for 2020…let’s get those 2021 couples moving!  I appreciate it so much!



Vendor Shout Outs!

Bridal Gown – Henri’s Cloud Nine

Bridesmaid Dresses – Henri’s Cloud Nine

Men’s Attire – Grey Michael Kors suits from Holly’s Dress Boutique

Bride’s Shoes – Badgley Mischka <– My second favorite bridal shoes aside from Betsey Johnson

Hair/Makeup – Cloud Nine Salon

Florist – Ferry Flowers and More

Cake – Oglebay

DJ – DJ Mr. Moe

Catering – Oglebay

Invitations – RSQP in Wheeling

Officiant – Pastor Jason Snyder

Photobooth – Smash Multimedia, LLC

Ceiling Lights – Scott Klinkoski

String Trio – Benjamin Podolski


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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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