Happy Thursday, everyone! It’s HERE! A “normal” wedding is here!…Ok..Ok..Ok. It wasn’t exactly “normal” in the sense that weddings may never be like we were used to pre-COVID BUT what I mean is…this was a wedding for me where we did ALL the parts of the day – from the beginning at the salon to getting ready photos and then through the reception. That’s right! Right now, I won’t go into all the masks and hand sanitizer I photographed this day. HA! It was a lot…trust me! I haven’t had a wedding since January where we were able to do the full day so I was jut SO excited. Lacey was super excited too! She hadn’t done a wedding since last November before she went on maternity leave. So, masks and social distancing aside, it felt very “normal” to me! WOOOO HOOOO!! AND I’m so excited for you to see it! It was classic and beautiful and filled with love and it made my wedding photographer heart SO happy! Buckle up! This blog is going to be a long one! Rachel and Jim are the Ferrells!
Let’s start from the VERY beginning! From the moment Rachel booked me, she’s been one of those brides who has kept in contact. From all the details of the wedding to planning their engagement session (HERE), she kept me in a loop! She attended one of my wedding workshops in person while she was in town (with her beautiful Momma, Melissa) and then attended almost (if not all) of my workshops virtually when COVID started. Jim was even there too! I think I’ve talked to Rachel every week since COVID started. There were times we were SURE her wedding would happen normally as planned because COVID would certainly be over by June (boy were we wrong). There were times when she was planning to reschedule and we had tentative dates picked out. Then, things started to open up and she decided to go for it with the help of the Doubletree in Greentree, Pennsylvania! If you follow me on IG (you can do that HERE), I posted some of our text conversations in my stories a few weeks back. The bottom line of all those texts was that she just wanted to be married to Jim…PERIOD. So, the guest list was cut due to the occupancy restrictions, masks were made, hand sanitizer was purchased with color coordinating dispensers and they made this 1920’s classic, Greentree Pennsylvania wedding happen! AND IT WAS JUST BEAUTIFUL! Enjoy!
The morning started out cloudy and with a dreaded forecast (story of my life…for real). So, to get a head start, I started about 30 minutes earlier than I’d told Rachel with the plan to get my bearings straight, everything organized and ready to go, and then meet Lacey before I headed to the salon. I was surprised when I texted Rachel and she was still at the house so I actually got to see her, tour the home, meet her dad and other family and friends (and bridal party), and get all set up. It all worked out! I got all the details set and left Lacey to do her thing!! She took 95% of the detail shots for me because I was off to the salon with the girls! Talk about classic and timeless…right?!
It was fun when I sorted through all of these after the wedding. I hadn’t seen what Lacey had taken yet for bridal details and the more I got through them the more and more she started to put in a photo. It makes sense…when you put all the wedding details together, it just screams classic GLAM! Right?! Also, please note the bride’s COVID face mask!
While Lacey was doing that at Rachel’s parents’ home, I was at the salon spending time with Rachel, her mom, and the bridal party of beautiful ladies! Goodness, this was one of those weddings you felt like you were with your own friends and family. Easy conversation…lots of laughs…you name it! Also, Rachel looked like Cousin It and I couldn’t NOT take the photo…
But we got the real ones too and what you can see here was that we all had to wear masks per WV’s requirements for salons. Her hair SO reminded me of mine when I was a bride 12 years ago. It gave me ALL the nostalgia! I’ll give you a teaser here but I won’t show you the finished result quite yet!
Then, I headed back to the house to snap some last minute getting ready photos and a few detail shots myself (I couldn’t help it..they were SO pretty). I’m obsessed with wedding ring shots so I took a few before we moved on to the next phase of the day!
And while I did get the normal invitation suite layout photos…I HAD to add a mask and hand sanitizer because their invites came with a COVID related note.
As I was doing that, I caught Rachel coming into the house. Look at the joy on her face!! It’s happening!! WEEEE!
Since she had to wear a mask at the salon, we did a little makeup touch up thanks to Dink Cosmetics!
Then, we took the ladies out to get a photo of them in their robes before everyone got in their dresses!
Both sets of parents at this wedding made me feel SO welcome and comfortable. Rachel’s parents were giving me ALL the mother of the bride feels!
Then, I caught Jim’s mom and sister having a genuine moment before Rachel came down!
This wasn’t meant to be any kind of first look. Aaron (videographer from Off Center Productions) had all the ladies lined up for a shoe moment when Rachel and her mom started coming down the stairs. It was a perfect opportunity for a photo op and her dad was even peeking around the side of the wall. He was supposed to wait but he just couldn’t and it was the most special and sweet moment I’ve seen with a father of the groom in a long time!
Then, after all of that (which happened so quickly I feel like), we got the bride ready. Rachel’s mom was amazing and let us rearrange her dining room for sake of photos and these black and white ones I just LOVE!! As I mentioned above, Aaron and Ashleigh from Off Center Production were there and I just love them!! We always have such a great time. We discussed ahead of time how we were going to safely social distance and wear masks so sharing space with them was a breeze! AHHHH!! Isn’t she beautiful?! I particularly love the one Lacey took from the back with the old wedding photo next to Rachel (bottom right)! These are a mix of Lacey’s photos and mine!
Then, we did some quick formal photos at the house and headed off to the church. We were running a wee bit behind so I changed up the schedule in my head. AND I’m so glad I did…I was able to get these “getting ready” photos of Jim by the window and it’s SO worth it! I felt like he needed to rival the ones I had just took of Rachel! Am I right or am I right?! AHHH! Jim was SUCH a great sport too. I’d say, “pretend you are putting on your watch” and instead of pretending, he took it off and put it back on!! AHHHHH!! I love a groom who puts up with me!
While I was doing that, Lacey was busting her butt to get all the little detail shots we needed! These are a mix of hers and what I took later!
I did one last check on Rachel on the limo before I headed back into the church to take my spot for the ceremony!
Then, it was time for the ceremony. I got to meet another Priest I had never met before! If I can say one thing about this year, I’ve met a lot of new officiants which is nice! He was kind and allowed me to move around during the ceremony as long as I didn’t go up front (good plan for me…that’s what I’m used to doing anyway). We live in historical but odd times. Everyone in the church was required to wear masks and remain six feet apart if not a part of a family unit for the safety of everyone. So, the bridal party had color coordinating masks (which you all know I LOVE). Here are a few last minute shots I took. Shoutout to Mary, one of the florists, who got the rings all set up for me to take these shots!
…and Jim gave me one of the BEST groom reactions when he saw his bride!
After Rachel made her way down the aisle and met up with Jim, they lit their unity candle. Us photographers and videographers aren’t allowed up on the alter at this point, so I could see that something was happening…but I couldn’t SEE that something was happening. I hope that makes sense! Turns out, Rachel had picked up the candle and it fell out of the holder, hit her dress, and caught a small spot on fire!! I KID YOU NOT! Jim reached down and patted it out. He’s already getting all the husband points! HA! It was most certainly a Hannah Barlow Photography first! Yikes!! And this wasn’t when the fire department was called. Nope. That was later! Again, I kid you not! So, here is Jim helping his beautiful bride out! Look REAL closely! HA!
It was a truly beautiful ceremony! They were live streaming it so anyone who wasn’t able or comfortable attending could still be a part of it. There was a hilarious moment when someone called that phone that was filming the live feed and it started to ring. A few guests turned around and looked at me and the videographers assuming it was our camera. I shrugged my shoulders with the “That’s not mine…WHAT DO WE DO?!” face. I was afraid to do anything with it for fear it would mess the live feed up! HA! So, we kind of all just froze. There was a kind lady right next to me who then laughed (under her mask which is funny because you can still tell someone’s emotions by their eyes). She reached up and declined the call and then restarted the live feed. While it’s super unfortunate we’re at this point in weddings with masks, six feet distances, and live feeds, I also kind of love the stories and memories we’re going too have from this year. I’m not sure and hope we’ll ever do it again…but you never know!
Mr. & Mrs. Ferrell, everyone!
So, at this point it was pouring rain and thunder storming. We knew this was going to happen and I knew I was going to have to make it work at the reception area. Before we took off from the church, I snapped just a few of the couple on our way out!
I kind of love this black and white one below!!! AHH!
At this point, the bridal party jumped on the bus and Lacey and I loaded the car in the pouring rain. I wanted all of Rachel’s photos to match for sake of a wedding album so I decided I was just going to re-do the girls’ and bridesmaid photos from earlier and then the groomsmen photos would match! So, after some quick family photos we headed up to the reception in Greentree, Pennsylvania. When I pulled up and saw the overhang at the hotel, I literally said out loud, “This is the prettiest overhang I’ve ever seen in my life”. You see, it was raining too hard for us to actually do photos under an umbrella. The rain was blowing sideways. So, I grabbed my lights, took a deep breath, and vowed I was going to make this happen. Rachel really wanted outside photos, so yes… I was going to make it happen!! I WAS! It took us a few minutes to figure out the best spot and then Jim went first!
Ooo my goodness ME! Isn’t she beautiful?! This bride and groom rival each other in the “who can take a better photo” department! Did I mention how much I LOVE that tiara?!
HUGE shoutout to Lacey. At one point, I told her…”Don’t worry about taking photos…I need your help more!” And this is the point I wish a lot of couples could see. One of the #1 questions I get asked at consultations is…”Do you have a second shooter?” Well, yes…of course I do BUT I often tell couples there are times I need my second shooters to assist me more than I need them to take photos and in those moments they are so much more useful and helpful than if they are JUST taking photos. Without Lacey’s help, I would NOT have been able to make these photos happen! If you look closely, it was pouring. She held the umbrella over my head so I could go out and get these. She was also super essential to helping keep Rachel’s dress dry.
So much had gone wrong for this couple leading up to this wedding (COVID being the biggest issue). It must have been true in those texts about these two just wanting to be married because these smiles don’t lie!
Color…black and white…it’s all good!
Speaking of keeping her dress dry…she had a huge part in that too. Goodness, for everything that went wrong, she had a smile on her face like this! We laughed through it all. And now that I’m thinking about that day, Jim was calm as a cucumber the whole time!
And then…we went into the reception to see this magic. We ran into Johnathan Mihellis (of Finest Events) and his buddy/assistant, Ted. I love working with these two!! They’re so easy to be around and just great at giving me what I need for fabulous photos!! I also got to meet one of the florists, Jesse. I made a new friend!! AHHHHHH!! I need drum roll, please. Holllllyyyyyy moly. Get ready for some reception overload!! It was absolutely fantastically 1920’s classic GLAM! May I present to you, Lacey and I’s photos…we were drooling over this one!
This cake though. OooO my goodness ME! I have those white flowers in my studio too (I can’t remember their name) and I love them so much!! This just may go in my folder of “favorite cakes”! Rachel sent me her inspiration photo and this bakery absolutely NAILED IT. I literally thought it was the same cake!
Cookies tables weren’t allowed but they still had cookies in safe containers! A Pittsburgh wedding can’t NOT have cookies, right?!
Lacey was outside taking some entry table shots! I slipped a few of mine in there too! Please note the hand sanitizer dispenser that matched the wedding perfectly!! I love those details! Also, YES…that’s one of my albums that Rachel an I turned into a guest book and I’m hoping it becomes a thing!! EEEEEKKKK!
We can’t move on until we add Lacey’s signature shot, right?! She was running around like a mad woman trying to get it JUST right! I’d say she nailed it! One day, I want to line them all up! She always gets this and I always love it so much!
Then, Jonathan opened it up and introduced the couple!! Mr. & Mrs. Ferrell again, everyone!!! I am dancing in my chair right now while typing this because if you’ve been to a Jonathan Mihellis wedding, you know he pumps the crowd UP!
Rachel’s dad welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming. It was a significantly smaller group than they had originally planned due to the current COVID guidelines so we were all just so happy to be there. Then, the maid of honor and best man made speeches. THEN, Jonathan had a surprise for the couple for their first dance. When Rachel and Jim went out on the dance floor, I made it VERY clear they needed to stay centered. I mean…I ALWAYS say this and everyone knows I’m pretty neurotic when it comes to my couples being centered in photos BUT they didn’t know exactly why I was so particular this time. I had my reasons. That’s right! He surprised them with an amazing flashy display of “smoke” and sparklers!! WEEEEEEE!!!
It’s hilarious being behind the scenes. There I was…crotched down in front of the videographers’ cameras. We had discussed ahead of time where we would all stand so we stayed out of everyone’s shots (which is why I love working with them). So, I’m down on the ground and here comes the smoke and within seconds it was over my head and I was blind…HA! This is the photo I took when I realized I literally couldn’t see. I’m sure it looked hilarious for anyone who was watching!
So, I quickly stood up and got out of the way and looked over and saw Lacey. We all joke that “it’s the Elkins in her”. If you’ve been to Elkins, WV…you know what I’m talking about. Those girls are TOUGH! So, there I was running from smoke and there she was in the middle of it and I just had to laugh.
We took some first dance magic though! Look at their faces!!! AHHHH!! I’m so happy for them!
Then, it was time for the mother/son and father/daughter dances! AND then (yep…the stories and memories just keep coming)…Rachel’s mom had an amazing, fun little surprise!! It was an ice cream truck!! Pretty cool, right?! Jonathan even played ice cream truck music! I listened to everyone talking about it as they filed outside and it seemed like a huge hit!
Then, I kid you not, we weren’t back inside 15 minutes and this LOUD alarm starting going off. I looked around. Guests were looking at the DJ wondering what he was doing because it appeared to be coming from his direction…I did too, honestly. He threw his hands in the air with the “it’s not me” look and then I saw it…….a fire alarm flashing behind him. That’s right. The fire alarm was going off. Goodness. I immediately looked for Rachel and she was smiling and shrugging her shoulders. She was saying “Alright, everyone!! It’s another surprise. Everyone outside!” She held her head high and handled it with so much grace. Most brides (myself included) would have been melting down. I was looking for her because I really expected this to just break her down. It was one thing after another for this wedding. So yea…she may have caught her dress on fire earlier in the day BUT the fire department was also called…AND it was completely unrelated to the dress fire. Oy! AND SHE JUST KEPT SMILING. After we evacuated the building, we had to wait for the police and fire department to give the all clear. Yes…that’s the police car and all the hotel guests (not from the wedding) outside.
THEN, we were finally given the all clear and went back inside. At this point, it was close to being my finish time but with everything the had gone wrong, I wanted to stay longer so I hung around for some extra time! I sent Lacey on her way and grabbed my camera. I really wanted to get some extra footage for the couple since we spent a lot of the time outside…practically evicted. So, I snap, snap, snapped my little heart out and completed the gallery. And before I left, I made sure to grab one more shot of the guest book…because I love it so much!
That’s right!! That’s a wrap on this 1920’s Classic Greentree Pennsylvania Wedding! I’m almost afraid this will be our first and last wedding back since COVID and the lockdown. The reopenings seem to be halting all the way around. Rachel and Jim squeaked by…by literally one day. Allegheny county made the announcement the NEXT day they were shutting down alcohol at restaurants…which carries over to wedding receptions. Masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing aside…I think it was all meant to be though. Rachel and Jim were a couple I really got to know well. I even got to see their faces on a regular basis thanks to the internet. I wanted this for them SO badly. I just can’t explain it. From their friends and family welcoming us and worrying about our health and safety to making us feel completely welcome and then to Kristen (wedding coordinator at the Doubletree in Greentree, PA) getting a hold of me along with all the other wedding vendors, this wedding came together just perfectly, in my opinion. Rachel and Jim are now Mr. and Mrs. Ferrell. I’m not sure you can come up with a more memorable day with any more stories than this one!! Everyone give them all your love. They deserve it. THEY DID IT! With all the odds and conundrums stacked against them, they still became man and wife! If you ask me, it was more memorable than we could have ever imagined and a story they’ll be telling to their grandchildren one day! You made history, you two! CONGRATS!
Thanks for reading, everyone!
Vendor Dream Team Shoutout
Bride’s Gown – Bridal Beginning
Bridesmaids’ Gowns – Bridal Beginning
Men’s Attire – Men’s Wearhouse
Shoes – Badgley Mischka
Jewelry/Rings – Bridal Beginning (Swarovski Tiara & Earrings), Wedding Rings from McCormick’s Jewelers
Hair – Salon Bellissima
Makeup – Dink Cosmetics
Wedding Planner/Coordinator – Kristen, Doubletree Greentree, PA
Florist – McCauslen Any Occasion (Bouquets/Church Decor), 2 Buds Floral Design (Reception)
Videographer – Off Center Production
Cake- Bethel Bakery
Boxed Cookies – Katie’s Cookie Jar
DJ/Band – Finest Events, Jonathan Mihellis
Catering – Doubletree Greentree
Transportation/Limo – Red Carpet Limo
Invitations – Steve Schwartz Printing
Programs – Carrie Oliver-Shultz
Ceremony Venue – St. Paul Catholic Church Weirton, WV
Officiant – Rev. Babu Joseph Elamturuthil
Reception Venue – Doubletree Greentree, PA
Other – Ice Cream Truck from Betsy’s, Personalized Guest Masks from Steve Schwartz Printing, Bridal Party/Family Masks from Catherine’s Cookie Art