Prologue <— Never done this before…but much needed!
OoOO man. I swear I’m still sitting here with heart eyes and emojis swirling around my head. I wrote the beginning of this blog quite a few times and I’m still not sure where to even start. Never in a millions years did I think this wedding at The Market at Ebbert Farms would turn out exactly like I wanted…and even better than I could have ever imagined. It just didn’t seem possible after Marissa and Chris’ amazing engagement session (HERE) and I’ll explain more in a bit. I’ve done a lot of weddings with Jay Morris so he knows me. To give you an idea of how high I’d set the bar for my photos, I’ll tell you what he said this day. He said my energy level this day was on a whole other scale. Seriously, the energy from this wedding flowed right into Sunday morning and he even messaged me saying he wanted QUOTED in the blog. So, here it goes. He said and I QUOTE, “Hannah Barlow is usually a 10 on a wedding psyched up scale. Saturday, she was a 12!” HA! I’m laughing. It’s true. I was so pumped up for this wedding both over excitement AND because my stress level was off the charts. I NEEDED these wedding photos to be even greater and better than their engagement photos (if you looked at them…you know what I’m talking about). Then, he went on to say, “Her effervescence was in such effect that it scared a major thunderstorm away until after her bride-groom photo shoot!” More on that later too! HA! Jay, you are ridiculous BUT there is your quote!
So, yea…I had truly psyched myself up for this wedding AND stressed myself out all at the same time. I mean, let’s just look at these babies one more time, shall we?! These kinds of photos have less to do with the photographer and more to do with all the perfect elements coming together at once. Yes, we all know it takes light and a subject and a good, technical knowledge of photography to make a great photo…but it takes GREAT light, amazing weather, subjects who are comfortable in front of the camera and so much more to make these kinds of photos! That’s EXACTLY why many photographers do styled shoots too because it’s so hard to make all those things come together on a real wedding day and it’s much easier to plan a mock wedding on a perfect weather day and at the perfect time of day. Also, wedding photos are almost always better than the engagement photos, right?! Let’s be real here…they are ALWAYS better because you’re adding in even more of a love story and a big white dress and a tux or suit…it’s just pretty on the eyes! AHHHH! You all feel where I was this day?! HA! I’m already rambling and I haven’t even gotten to the actual blog yet! Oops! Here we go!
So, now…let’s get down to it! Let’s do this! Fair warning (and Jay called it)…this is going to be a VERY LONG wedding blog but 100% worth it, I promise! It’s not just the photos either and it’s not just about the love story or the photos of getting here. It’s also about the events of the day – love and laughter and so much joy AND fun! There wasn’t just one or two parts of the wedding I want to highlight because it’s impossible not to cover it all. You’re getting it all!! Every important detail I can fit into this baby! So, if you don’t have time to read this now, save it for later. If you have kids, wait until bedtime! If you’re at work, wait until break time. Whatever you do, sit back…relax…play some love songs and grab a glass of wine. Marissa and Chris are now the new Mr. & Mrs. Stephens and it was INCREDIBLE getting to this point! Enjoy!
So yea…I broke my own rule. I checked the weather a few times during the week and saw thunderstorms. I didn’t panic, of course. I, of all people, know the weather changes every hour until that day (and even sometimes throughout the day). Well, I woke up Saturday morning…and it called for thunderstorms. It called for thunderstorms RIGHT during the block of hours we were supposed to be doing photos. Cue a little Hannah panic. So, I proceeded to check the weather about every 30 minutes. I texted Marissa a few times too. So, off we went! Kari and I stopped at Ebbert Farms Market first to photograph the reception. HUGE shoutout to Marissa and Chris’ friend Jeremy for not only letting us in BUT for also coming back to let us BACK IN when we realized we’d left the flash bag inside. Oy. The irony . Even more ironic was that we didn’t even need him to come back because one of the owners happened to be across the way at the market and let us back in before Jeremy even came back!!! Man, that guy needs a gold star or something! The hall was BEAUTIFUL though! Shout out to Kari…we tag teamed these!
So, we then headed to St. Vincent de Paul Catholic church in Wheeling and met up with the ladies who were getting all dolled up. I met both the moms and all the bridesmaids who are sisters, sister in laws, and best friends!! I got that immediate “family” feel in the air and was very excited to be spending the day with these ladies. So, Kari and I tag teamed the getting ready portion of the day AND the details! Marissa gets at A++ for snatching some of this greenery from the Market! It’s exactly what I needed to make these photos feel classy and elegant and fit her theme. See? Those Wedding Workshops pay off!
I took way too many photos of these shoes!! These shoes had a nice chunky heel which worked to our advantage when we took this couple tromping through a field. She even wore them the whole day which never happens!
I was running back and forth in the church all morning. Before I headed back to get photos of the bride getting ready, I snapped a few mock getting ready photos of the groom while Jay videoed it!
Then, it was time to get this beautiful bride ready!
I was taking these photos and I heard some major giggling from the bridesmaids and moms who were behind me! I asked them what was so funny and they pointed to Kari.
…who was under the table (talk about dedication ) getting some shoe shots. This room was super squished so that was REALLY good thinking on her part!
She even made Catherine’s Instagram! HA!
…and it was so worth it!! I love these photos more than mine!! Digital high fives for everyone!
She legit needed help with those earrings and bracelet. No mirror and long nails make it difficult!
Then, Marissa surprised her mom with a gift. She’s probably going to kill me for these next photos but it was the most sincere and heart warming reaction we’ve seen in a long time!
…and right after this (below) she told me to stop taking photos because she just couldn’t hold it together!
Then, Marissa gave her dad a gift!! Huge shoutout to the gal I shooed away right when this moment was happening! I couldn’t stop it the moment and didn’t think she’d want to be on the other side of that window!
She did have an important delivery though and from the groom to the bride! Marissa’s mom was cracking me up! She said, “Ooo great. Those are beautiful but I bet Chris expects us to get them home somehow now”. I was totally giggling and he did! They were BEAUTIFUL (and heavy).
Then, Chris got some help from his dad checking out his new watch from his new wife!
These two are apparently never done being sweet to one another. He had some more notes AND a card for her. Can we just talk about the paper he used? AND his great handwriting…is this real life?! Stoppppp!
So, then is was time for the ceremony and Chris did his best to keep it together. The moment could not have been sweeter!
It was a very beautiful and very traditional Catholic ceremony! I took my photos from the middle and Kari shot from the side per the usual!
We nailed another Catholic first kiss (which is always announced quietly). Chris took it all the way though! He threw his new wife into a dip! I had to giggle!
Mr. & Mrs. Stephens, everyone!
I was channeling all of my love of PBS period pieces because this whole wedding ceremony reminded me of the ones I watch right down to the traditional processional!
Hey, look! It’s the new Bachelor, Peter!! It’s not really! HA! BUT I was finishing up the latest in Bachelor in Paradise (where are my die hard watchers at?!). I didn’t notice this at the time. I actually didn’t even take this photo…Kari took it. I was editing and saw it and thought…”He totally resembles him and could be his brother!” I come to find out this is Emily’s brother (from Emily and Michael who are getting married next August). Poor guy. He’s innocent in all this and just won himself a bunch of photos next year!! Someone on my Instagram feed (HERE) thought it actually WAS him! HA!
Then, we moved on to family formals and these two NAILED the bride and flower girl shot!
…not to be outdone, this little ring bearer plopped right down JUST like this so Chris followed suit! I was squealing during family formals!
Can you imagine?!
…and I don’t normally share family formals but these four parents deserve a serious shout out. The day was stress free…it was FUN…we laughed…we laughed until some of us cried. They talked to Kari and me like we were family and positively had a huge part in making the day such a success! So, here they are! Everyone give them a hand!
So then we traveled back to The Market at Ebberts Farm to photograph these formal wedding photos. It’s important to note Chris’ mom, Ann, “warned” me earlier in the day “about those boys”. I assured her I was a military wife and wedding photographer and had dealt with A LOT of rowdy men. I figured I could handle anything. I also reminded her I’d met Chris at the engagement session and he was nothing short of an upstanding gentleman. She added that Chris had a twin brother…who was fraternal…who was the complete opposite. So, meet Alex. He’s going to be getting some spotlight in the rest of this blog and I bet you’ll be dying laughing at some of this. Alex…everyone! Here he is giving Jay a HILARIOUS monologue of the day. Check out everyone’s reactions. I’m telling you…laughter all day long! I was thinking Ann may be right too! I was going to have to work for this. Alex even tried to get out of photos…I won’t tell you how…but he did! I didn’t let him!
…but before we get started on that…let’s take a look at the finished reception!! See? I told you this was going to be long! I loved this sign because EVERYONE did dance at this reception ! You just wait and see!
Look at this presentation by In the Mix Bakery, LLC!
Ok. So, back to these photos. So, Alex really wanted NOTHING to do with picture time. Alright, I’ll tell you how he tried to get out of it. He used every excuse in the book to try and get out of these (I’m not kidding…). He even claimed he had to go to the bathroom REAL BAD. But I made him wait. Totally digitally high fiving him from afar because we managed to have so much fun even the ladies were cracking up laughing from the side! I’m telling you. This is what wedding photographer dreams are made of…right here. Even the people who weren’t keen on having their photo taken were having a great time. We laughed…a lot! There was so much shenanigans with this bridal party I couldn’t even tell you them all…but I’m going to show you a lot! I hope by the end of this you all feel like you were there and I hope Jay Morris pounds out this video real fast because I can’t wait to see it in motion again! I also need to shoutout to Marissa and Chris for their timeline. Everyone listen! All of this would simply would not have been possible without all the time they gave us…almost 2 hours total and in a row. Without that amount of time, we would have been rushing and doing the basics. Not this day. We had enough time to not only play around and take lots of photos but we took our time. Everyone had ideas and we executed them all. We were able to take a few second and just laugh…hysterically . Jay and I had time to split up and then work as a team. It was simply amazing. This environment was nothing like I’d ever experienced….and can we just talk about this house?! Perfection…all of it! You all are wedding rockstars in my book! So, let’s start with the guys! It didn’t start so well!! Party foul! HA!
It was at this point I realized I was going to have to have a code word to get Alex to FOCUS!
WHISKEY! That was my code word. Don’t they take an amazing formal photo?!
…we could not quit laughing! The ladies were just chilling…and laughing!
Ok. So there were a lot of shenanigans but we also got a boatload of amazing formal photos! Then, Jerry Ebbert (co-owner pf Ebbert Farms Market) warmed by heart to the tenth power. He came over and cut this weed out!! I could have hugged him for being so caring. I was definitely trying to avoid it but he ran right over and cut it out! Amazing vendors make the experience all the more better, I tell ya!
It’s a good thing because when I cut the guys loose for their personality shots…they took it to the extreme! There was SO much planning for this shot. I kept telling them, “JUST DO IT ALREADY!”
More shenanigans with the other guys!
For someone who doesn’t like photos, Alex sure did take a lot of time “planning things”. Here he had everyone locating their place and practicing.
Nailed it. Kind of. I guess I wasn’t clear on whether they should jump on three or be in the air on three! HA! I’m still cracking up over here!
Alright, we were pretty much done with the guys except for groom photos and bridal party photos! It’s no secret. Most men don’t love having their photo taken. Some will do it with a smile anyway. Some men DO like their photo taken. Chris has always been MORE than willing to let me take photos of him and Marissa. This was the first time he was by himself in front of my camera and while I usually shoo the other guys away…they hung around. AND THEY CHEERED HIM ON. There wasn’t any roasting…nope. They literally cheered him on and we took a TON of photos. Goodness gracious. I felt like an elite photog at this point! HA!! I barely had to say a word and all these magazine worthy wedding photos just kept showing up on my camera! AHHHHH!!!
BUT I need everyone to clear something up for me. At one point, someone yelled “Look at him. Clark Kent!” And I thought “Oo yea. He does look like him!” Then, he got down in spider man position and now I’m ALL kinds of confused. I’m not big on my Marvel characters…but wasn’t Clark Kent Superman? Someone help me out!! Nonetheless, we were still having the absolute time of our lives.
So, it was at this point I looked over and saw thunderstorm clouds. It’s like…my worst nightmare. Rain we can do…thunder and lighting we absolutely can NOT! We’d been having a grand time, yes…but we hadn’t taken any bride and groom photos yet! AHHHHHHHH!!! Cue internal panic. I know I looked at those clouds and checked my watch a ton at this point! So, we moved on with the bridal party ! OoOO my goodness. THOSE COLORS and Kari and I couldn’t get over it…they all look like models! ACK!
They gave me all their swag and fabulousness!
…and were having an absolutely blast with Jay’s drone footage!
Now, the ladies. OoOo my goodness me! I don’t think it could get more perfect than this!! AND Kroger Floral rocks it AGAIN with their bouquets! Who would have thought?!
The ladies took their personality shots more seriously! The girls always do!
I LOVE this photo of Marissa peaking back at me! LOVE IT!
Bridal formals for the win!! Marissa and Chris basically pose themselves and I squealed like a crazy person the whole time!
Kari and I tag teamed it like no other!! The storm was coming!! AHHHH!
So, I sent the bridal party inside and took some more traditional photos before we went off to play!
Kari took all these (below) while I was changing batteries or cards out. I really can’t remember what I was doing because I was on cloud 9 at this point!
More fun with the drone!!! Can’t you just FEEL the happiness and excitement and love?! And they were so darn relaxed..which made me relaxed!
Alright. WHEWW! We took all those in about 45 minutes! NOW, the clouds were coming so let’s get down to this, shall we?! THE BRIDE AND GROOM WEDDING PHOTOS! OoOo man. I saw this light…and those thunderstorm clouds…and this field and had VISIONS of what was about to happen. Now, I just had to execute it. Again, I really couldn’t have controlled any of this…obviously. Here’s the thing (just so you all understand how it all perfectly came together). When you have bright sunlight, it usually overpowers the sky and the clouds don’t show up in photos. If those clouds hadn’t been dark, angry, thunderstorm clouds…the sky would have NEVER shown up. Alas, they were dark and angry but add that bright sun into it all…MAGIC HAPPENS! So, I really have no words for these photos. Let’s all just sit back and relax and drool all over these beauties. And again…HUGE shoutout to The Market at Ebbert Farms and the amazing owners for allowing us to tromp around on their property (and for taking care of that tree). This is what it literally looked like as we made our way through the field. Yikes! Kari took this epic test shot!! I would have never thought to use that tree! AHHHH! Doesn’t it look like something out of a movie?!
I have no words…and that’s saying something because this blog already has over 4000 words!! Just sit back and enjoy this greatness!
We were JUST getting started too!
I kept asking these two if they were ok with the storm coming and the dress (which was becoming infested with bugs). They assured me they would do WHATEVER I needed them to do to get these photos! OooOo ok then…let’s do this!
Our veil game was a strong one this day!! AHHHH!!! SQUEALING WITH DELIGHT OVER HERE! I was holding it. Kari was snapping photos!
Then, I could NOT miss out so somehow I managed to take these while still holding the veil! I did have to photoshop my pink fingernail out of one of these! HA!
The bugs were getting to the creepy point and I could not believe they weren’t freaking out!! SO CALM! I’ll show you later what I’m talking about! I photoshopped them all out for these!
Then, I figured…what the heck?! We’re going to have to pick bugs out anyway!! Let’s get in there REAL far!
Then, we decided to switch it up a bit and move down the hill for some variety!
Chris’s ring is actually his grandfather’s ring. It had the date engraved and they got married on 9/27/58! I made sure to get some close up shots of that and these!
Do you all remember at their engagement session I had them do “the baywatch”?! We did it again! It’s STILL so good!!! This is also ironic they were running because meteorologist Erica had called Jay and told him we needed to come in because there was a thunderstorm warning and one was coming right at us. She even hiked out in the field to drag us back in because the first “warning” she gave us didn’t get us moving!!! I can’t say it enough…amazing venue owners like all these amazing humans make a huge difference in your overall experience too!
Ok…so she’s not ACTUALLY a meteorologist but was kind enough to not just call but hike out and tell jus to get our butts inside!
So yea…we did the Baywatch as we were literally running back to The Market for cover! Picture it. I’ve squealed like a mad woman practically all day long as this point. Jay’s laughed at me the entire time (I deserved it and we were having a fabulous time). I KNEW these photos are phenomenal just from the back of my camera. We are now being chased by a thunderstorm…but the bride and groom are having the time of their lives. We’re laughing. We’re having a BLAST! I didn’t even feel like I was working and we had the whole reception to go! WEEEEEE! *cue me spinning around in a circle sound of music style*. Jay wasn’t about to miss one more drone shot either ! You can see Jerry’s wife going for cover too!
TO THE RECEPTION! This was ALL my feelings at this point! Kari’s lighting test! HA!
OOo wait…but first…we had to pick the bugs, as promised, out of her dress. I was NOT KIDDING! They were even in her veil!
All hands on deck! I kept saying, “Go layer by layer!!” Marissa was still calm as can be!
Ok…NOW, it’s time for the reception! The NEW Mr. & Mrs. Stephens were announced and they did an epic dance for us all…complete with a dip!
Even the speeches were AMAZING! Marissa’s sister gave the most heartfelt and sincere speech we’ve heard in a long time. You could tell even Marissa was surprised and so touched by her kind words.
Then, it was Alex’s turn. Remember…his own mother had told me her twins were two VERY different people. I turned and looked and asked her if she was nervous…and she confirmed she was nervous. I couldn’t wait…and you know what?! He nailed it!!!! NAILED IT! It’s definitely in my top 5 favorite best man speeches ever! I mean…he started it out explaining to people who didn’t know him that when he first met Chris…they were both naked. OoO my goodness…right out of the gates…we had good wittiness! Remember…they are twins! HA! He proceeded to say some of the sweetest things about his brother while still making it funny. There was even mention of how he always wished he could run as fast as Chris and how being able to run that fast may have won his some sports awards…and gotten him out of some mugshots. I looked over…and Dad was like this….
He nailed it though! Even at the reception I was dying laughing!! It was amazing! Both speeches …WELL DONE!
I can’t even stop laughing . STILL! He ended it reminding everyone that he was the first person to meet Chris and nine months before their dear mother even got to meet him. I’m telling you…it was a sweet and sincere and hilarious! WELL DONE, ALEX! WELL DONE! Then, we went into first dances and the dance floor fog came out and I was squealing behind the camera again. I don’t typically squeal at the reception…but I sure did at this one!! Here’s some first dance magic! They danced to “I’ll Be” which is a song from A Cinderella Story Marissa and her sister LOVED growing up!
THEN, he spun her around and all my wedding photographer dreams came true! IT WAS PERRRRRFEECT! AHHHH!! The guests behind me were probably dying laughing! I know I couldn’t contain my excitement!
Then, the father daughter dances happened. Then, the mother son dance. So, Alex mentioned in his speech that Chris was good at a lot of things. He even joked that Chris got more of his parents’ affection…and then this happened and I could NOT stop laughing!
…what got me laughing even more was Kari’s EPIC shot!! I’m not sure how she even managed this but she was laughing so hard she came over to me DURING the dance to show me! Ooo my goodness! I told ya…this wedding was amazingly fun and hilarious from start to finish! Go ahead…zoom in if you must!
Cake was cut too and the couple mingled with family and friends…and then the party got started!! I call these kind of receptions “camera strap around the hand” receptions! That’s because you have to make sure your camera is secure at all times because there is so little room and so much going on that you don’t want to risk someone inadvertently knocking it out of your hand! They are THE BEST kind of receptions!
Then, I saw these four chatting and took a photo!
Then, Chris’s dad INSISTED I be in the photo too (I hadn’t even met these folks yet) and then Alex told me to frown. I have no idea what’s happening here but his dad gets at A+ for getting the photo in focus! HA!
I even told Andy, co-owner of The Market at Ebbert’s Farm wedding venue AND DJ, “I don’t think there is any way you could mess this up. I’m pretty sure you could play anything and they’d still dance”. He totally agreed! I’ve also never seen a father of the groom get down to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off quite like Ron Stephens!! It was all so amazing!!! AMMMAAAZING!
PACKED DANCE FLOOR!
Then, the anniversary dance happened and Marissa’s mom now had me cracking up. The fun wouldn’t stop! She carried around the honeymoon fund and was pounding on this tin yelling, “Come and get it!! One time only!”
The bouquet was tossed!
…and Andy switched up their song choice to an Indiana Jones song (one of Chris’ favorites). Their cat is even named “Indie”! Marissa was cracking up when she heard the song change!
There was a “riot” on the dance floor for the garter. I assure you it was all in good fun and you can tell by everyone’s reactions that this is totally normal! Everyone is acting like nothing was happening! HA!
Then, this guy grabbed the polaroid from the photo booth and went around taking photos. He didn’t cut ANYONE any slack and even Kari and I ended up in a lot of photos!
Obligatory photos with the venue co-owners – Andy and Erica! I couldn’t find Kari! HA!
Ooo here she is! He put her in charge of making sure they got developed!
…and what I thought was true!! I ended up in so many. Some I knew about…some I wasn’t ready for! HA!! Marissa sent me this!
…and while I was saying goodbye…I took a selfie with the four of us! I HAD TO! This wedding was EVERYTHING!
Wheww! That’s it. That’s a wrap on another Hannah Barlow Photography wedding and a good one. I knew this blog would challenge Sam and Joe’s blog from last year. Sam even said, “It’s totally ok!” HA! This day was much the same. There was love and laughter and happiness and EVERYTHING I could have wanted in a wedding I photograph. We felt very much a part of the whole day too! From the couple to family to their friends…it was a grand experience and I’m a lucky gal for getting to photograph it! So, now that the blog is complete and the photos are completely edited and uploading to the gallery, I’ll tell ya a secret. This wedding tested our technical skills AND teamwork and Kari even said we’d passed. I had not one set… BUT TWO memory cards go wonky on me. It does happen so I wasn’t too worried about it. THIS is why I have two cards in my camera at all times…that way if one goes bad…I have the other! So, I just took them out and added new!! No worries! If anyone who was at this wedding saw me run to the back of the church during the ceremony though, my camera gave me an “error” message which is NOT something I’ve ever had happen and the whole time I’m thinking, “ACK! I had a card go bad…how is this happening now?!” Kari saw me go back and practically threw her camera at me. We do have back up cameras and she reached for the bag. All was well!! Nothing was lost!! AND WE DID IT! WOOOOOO!! So yea…even that little bit of “stress” in the day didn’t get me down!! Nope!! NO WAY, JOSE! I WISH WE COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN!!!! AHHHHHHH! I’m glad I’m a crazy person about cards and cameras! See?! All that neurotic worrying has paid off! It was amazing from start to finish and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it! Thank you Marissa and Chris for being amazing humans and for trusting us to capture the biggest days of your lives yet!
CONGRATS TO THE STEPHENS! THEY DESERVE ALL THE LOVE IN THE WORLD! From thunderstorms to bugs…we did it!
I do love a vendor DREAM TEAM! Digital hive fives and hugs for EVERYONE!
Bride’s Gown – Sorelle Bridal <— Some of the BEST!
Bridesmaids’ Gowns – Sorelle for the WIN again!
Men’s Attire – Men’s Wearhouse
Shoes – Betsey Johnson
Jewelry/Rings – Leva’s Jewelry (Brides Ring) , Sorelle Bridal (Bride’s Other Jewelry), Groom’s Wedding Band in an Heirloom (See Blog)
Hair/Makeup – Heather Fedorke and Sarah Smith (Hair) and Samantha Harris Makeup (Samantha Harris Makeup)
Florist – Kroger Floral
Videographer – Jay Morris Video Productions
Cake/Other Desserts – In the Mix Bakery
DJ/Band – Andy Barricklow
Catering – Generations Restaurant & Pub
Transportation/Limo – Red Carpet Limousine
Ceremony Venue – St. Vincent de Paul
Officiant – Fr. Cyprian Osuegbu
Reception Venue – The Market at Ebbert Farms
Favors/Gifts – Colby Ridge Popcorn