Happy Wednesday, everyone! Grab your tissues! You’re about to cry all the tears…happy and sad and everything in between! I have a beautiful couple for you to meet and a unique wedding story to tell. Everyone, please give Emily and Kyle all your Hannah Barlow Photography love! Their Oglebay West Spa Patio and Glessner wedding is on the blog right now and it’s a tear jerker. You may want to make sure no one can see you. This one is going to pull at all your heart strings! Enjoy!
If you saw and read my sneak peek, you know a little of the story. Kyle’s in the military – Air Force to be exact. He’s right next door to my husband actually! So, when Ashley (wedding specialist from Oglebay) reached out to me and said she had a very sweet, military couple who were planning a wedding on the fast track (less than four weeks) because he was going to training, I looked at my schedule and made some changes to make myself available for these two. If you tell me there’s a military couple who needs to get married before the groom leaves for training? Yea. I’m there. This hits so close to home! So, I knew I was going to do everything I could to make this happen for them! So, Leslie, Emily’s sister, first reached out to me. Then, I got to Zoom on multiple occasions with these three. I got to know a lot about them from those meetings. I also knew that Emily and Leslie’s mom had tragically passed just this past May. She hadn’t been ill long either. So, add that to the fact they were also planning a full blown wedding, it was my goal to make it special. And not just mine either, all us vendors were on board! I talked to Ashley a good bit and Jonathan (the DJ) and Matthew VanFossen (officiant) and Brad and Rodney (florists and bakers) and we ALL agreed we were going to make this day extra special for everyone, if possible!
So, off we went last Friday! I first stopped in Glessner at Oglebay to check everything out and then headed right for Emily’s room where all the ladies were getting ready! Emily’s hair was a work of art, I tell ya! Also, I absolutely loved her dedication to photos. I had mentioned in one of our Zoom meetings that it was super windy on the West Spa Patio and that wearing hair down may be a mistake. She then later told me a funny story about her going to get her dress after her hair trial and the little pieces in her face blowing everywhere. She said she immediately knew she was going to make a change and have it all up! AHHHHHH!! She won me over and sealed the deal right then and there…and I mean…look at it!! I love classy hair like this! RIGHT down my alley! AND I never had to photoshop any crazy flying hair!! WIN WIN!
You all know I’m a classy and timeless kind of gal. While I do love some good color, I also love wedding details that feel just…wedding. Emily’s details did not disappoint.
Emily had told me how excited her mom was for her wedding. She even had a dress ready to go. Seriously, grab your tissues. Since she wasn’t able to be with us, they took that dress she had picked out and had some pieces of it wrapped around Emily’s bouquet. Brad and Rodney had actually told me this detail the week before and we got all choked up standing outside the lodge talking about it. That’s also her mom’s handwriting on that charm.
That didn’t stop these gals from smiling though! That’s Leslie (bottom right) helping her sister get ready. Getting to know these two and the rest of their families, I know their mom would have wanted them smiling ear to ear just like this!
Before we moved on to the next part of the day, Emily got to have a moment with her dad to do a little first look and exchange gifts.
We were running a bit behind at this point (I had told them it happens at every wedding and we’d handle it) so I knew I’d have to make up for lost time so I flew out to go find Kyle. He changed rooms so we’d have lots of space and THAT is when he won me over! HA! We had a lot of people in this room so it was a great idea to get more space for everyone! The word “family” hit hard at this wedding! There was love and laughter and smiles everywhere!
I promised the gals I’d be back between 3:00-3:15 to get them for the first look. So, Lacey took off with Kyle to get him over there and ready and I headed back to get the girls BUT not before I made a very quick pit stop at the West Spa Patio to get a photo of it before guests arrived!! I knew by the time we got back from formal photos people would be in their seats and it was JUST so pretty!! It’s always so pretty up there. Definitely one of my favorite ceremony spots!
And off to the first look we go! Emily loves “greenery” so I moved Kyle to this spot. I had left Emily and Leslie in my car. When I said, “Ok, I’m off to get your bride!” the look on Kyle’s face made me squeal with delight. He was like a kid in a candy story, I tell ya, and it was the biggest smile on his face I’d seen all day! Also, Emily kind of reminded me of Cinderella when she walked down the stairs. I also want to give her SO much credit. Dresses and veils notoriously stick to the concrete and she glided right down those stairs like it was nothing!
We stood WAY back (you can’t tell here but I zoomed in with my big lens). They had their moment and then we went RIGHT into photos!
You all know me! I like to take full advantage of all the time! I knew we’d be cutting it close so I went right into formal photos! These are a combo of my photos and Lacey’s photos! Also, HUGE shoutout to Sam 2.0 (that’s what we call her so we don’t get her confused with the other Sam) for being our third set of hands this day and holding my flash so it doesn’t topple over.
Right before the first look, Emily told me she preferred greenery but knew Kyle would prefer the flowers so I vowed in my head to give them the best of both worlds!! I told them to walk ahead of me while we went to our next spot and Id just keep taking photos! Multitasking for the win! I was shooting from behind and Lacey took the side angle! OooO these two! They make me smile so big! When they look at each other, they LOOK at each other. Do you see what I mean?! I mean, I do have a super soft spot for these two too! They’re sweet, dedicated…and I mean…military couple!! I’m have a bias…yes!
We just kept on walking and shooting lots and lots of photos! When I got home and imported these, I could NOT believe the amount we took!
Ooooo Emily. You are SO beautiful! I can NOT believe you all pulled this off in less than 4 weeks!
Meet all the beautiful ladies! Small bridal parties for the win and I LOVE it!
Kyle was a true champ! He let me do whatever I needed. I’m also loving the grey tuxes I’ve seen lately!
Full bridal party shots so the girls could take their shoes off!
Then, meet the guys! All three are Air Force…I felt right at home! HA! Also, that little guy nailed it with photos!! He was one of the best all year, I tell ya!
At this point, it was 4:10 and we were back on schedule! We’d planned to be back at 4:30 for the 5:00 ceremony! Walking and snuggling! They NAILED IT! Remember, they hadn’t done an engagement session with me so they were going into my posing blind. They did NOT miss a beat! Nope!
Lacey’s always nailing those side angles! We really couldn’t go wrong with these two though!
Then, we started heading back to the car and I stopped them in one of my very favorite stone spots at Oglebay! Here I was channeling Emily’s love of greenery! OooO my goodness ME! As a color pop kind of girl, I was loving…sooooooo loving…the neutral tones here. It’s so classy, right?! But again, we could NOT go wrong with these two! Sometimes the struggle can be real if you’ve not worked with a couple before…but it felt like I’d known and photographed these two before! When that veil flew like that (bottom right below), they got to experience the real Hannah squeal and excitement!
Keeping with the “let’s use ALL the time we have for photos”, I told them to walk ahead of us while I snapped these!
Emily looked like a QUEEN!
I’m telling ya…there was just something about these two when they were together. Can you see it? Can you feel the love?!
Then, Emily stole my heart and she didn’t’ even know it. She didn’t know the “dip” was my big thing years and years ago. We had talked about it briefly but I’m not sure she knew exactly how excited I get about it…and they NAILED IT. First try, and it was perfect!
Then, Kyle opened the door and us girls made ridiculous remarks about him being SUCH a gentleman. It’s like we were in a fairy tale!
AND just like that…it was time for the ceremony! There’s Matt VanFossen! I know I raved about him before in a blog but he combines sheer professional with fun and wit in the most amazing way. If you need an officiant, call him. You will not be disappointed and everyone will remember your wedding ceremony! I promise! He also cares about his couples dearly. He and I chatted leading up to this wedding and he told me how important it was to him to make this very special for the couple.
…and it most certainly was special and beautiful and amazing!
There was a butterfly charm on the bouquet. And there were butterfly cookies at the reception and they also did a live butterfly release at the ceremony and everyone was smiling and getting teary all at the same time! They also kept flying toward Emily and over Emily and while I can be a cynic about things, there’s no way anyone could deny that Emily’s mom was surrounding her with all her love in this moment.
Mr. & Mrs. McCormick, everyone! Kyle’s dad grabbed him when they walked back down the aisle and it was a total “Awwww” moment for me!! You can’t make these moments up! Look at that BIG smile on Emily’s face too and a HUGE shoutout to Lacey for finding the ONE angle she could capture this! She’s always been so good at finding gaps so she can catch these moments!
While guests enjoyed cocktail hour, the bride and groom enjoyed some champagne for the first time as man and wife!
Then, we went back out for formal photos. Now, this was about 15-20 minutes later and one butterfly hung out AND landed right on Emily’s bouquet…and stayed there. Everyone kept telling me how much her mother would have wanted to be there and we ALL felt her in this moment. We even invited Emily’s dad, brother, and sister over for a photo!
…and it kept hanging out with us so we took ALL the photos. Look at that big smile on Emily’s face!
We did lots and lots of family formals and then they requested a “must have” photo holding the bride and I have SO many photos of this moment. I was cracking up laughing and the effort and dedication these ladies put into lifting Emily (and not dropping her) had everyone cracking up!
Then, we were off to the reception. It was very important to the couple that they see the reception hall before anyone else. Ashley and I coordinated times to make it happen. Jonathan and I communicated too and he made sure to go light it up for photos and for them to see it! Glessner auditorium is always so beautiful!
I told Leslie I apologize in advance for all the photos I took of this hand sanitizer AND all the planes they had lying around! We had a good chuckle but I seriously loved these little details SO MUCH! The nurse and military wife in me was jumping up and down!! “Spread love…not germs”…it’s PERFECT! #2020
Leslie had a cookie table surprise for the couple!
All hands on deck! Ashley helped Leslie get the bride’s dress bustled while Jonathan confirmed all the details! I’ll say it again…the Oglebay ladies are THE BEST!
Then, it was time for introductions and Jonathan introduced the couple for the second time and they led themselves in with a kiss!
As if he wasn’t gentleman enough, THIS is when I knew for sure how genuine Kyle is and how much he loves Emily! He didn’t sit until Emily sat down AND he pulled out her chair. I later noticed he stood back up every time Emily got up and re-pulled out her seat. Ughhhhhh. You two are KILLING me! AHHHH!! As someone who watches a lot of period films and shows and loves the “old fashioned stuff”….this made me SO happy to see it’s still happening in 2020! Keep it going, everyone! Gentleman still do exist!
Emily’s dad made the most touching welcome speech. He mentioned just about everyone. He thanked all the military personnel for their service (to which Kyle’s sweet mom gave them all a standing ovation). He gave Leslie all the credit she deserves for being the driving force to making most of this wedding a success! He really thanked just about everyone and then he talked a lot about his late wife and how much she would have LOVED to be there. Before she passed, she did get to see Emily’s ring. The story was so sweet. It was so heartfelt and I caught myself holding back all the waterworks.
Then, after that we went into dinner. Emily had mentioned a sunset would be on her wish list, if possible!! Ask and you shall receive. I knew ahead of time the sun would set in the wrong direction in relation to the Oglebay lodge BUT I also know from my experience with sunsets that the sky can always turn color in the opposite direction, contrary to popular belief. So, I went out to move my car, drove around the building, and scouted. I saw the sky starting to turn so I headed inside. I passed Leslie on the way and told her about my plan and she was all for it because she knew this photo was important if it was possible! So, I grabbed the couple. It was at this point they probably though I had lost my mind. It was still daylight (nothing like what you’re seeing below). There was barely any color in that sky to our naked eye but I knew it was there!! I could tell it wasn’t going to get super orange and red like a traditional sunset because from the time I went inside to get them and the time I brought them back out the little bit of color we did have was already disappearing. So, we scrambled. This is RIGHT on the edge of the parking lot. I joked for them not to fall down the hill…and then Kyle almost did! HA! We had a good laugh and then I had them do the “creepy kiss” for a silhouette shot! That’s when you smile going in for the kiss and smile back out! Then, I wanted to give them a bit more variety so I put myself under some parked cars…for real…and careful not to touch them for fear I’d trigger an alarm system. Then, I was able to get photos with them lit, as well!! It’s ALL about the camera settings and lighting. We can’t see it with our eyes…but color is there!! None of those colors are photoshopped! WOOO!! We did it, you two!
Back inside we went to finish dinner! Gotta give credit where credit is due!! These ladies and some other family and friends (including dad who made the peanut butter blossoms) contributed to this table!
Butterflies for mom. Planes for Kyle. WAAAHHHH!! All the emotions right now!
Emily’s sister gave a great speech and then the best man did his part and then it was time to cut the cake!
Alright. I don’t know why…but this is when I finally lost it and got super emotional. I THINK I hid it well. HA! No one said anything but I had tears rolling. I couldn’t hold all my emotions in anymore! I think it’s because of the way these two danced so close…and hung on to each other. I’m a military wife. I have been doing this for 18+ years now actually! There is just something about the camaraderie of military couples. We know the feelings. We know the struggles. We definitely cling to each other. Kyle’s leaving for training next month and that’ll change everything but here they were making a full blown successful wedding happen surrounded by their family and friends and I don’t know…I just got ALL emotional. And I mean, the photos were turning out so beautiful right and left!! Jonathan’s lighting is some of the best, I tell ya!
…cue more tears. Emily and her dad danced with a single yellow rose for her mom.
…cue even MORE tears. You know, every time I see a mother and son dance I think, “Ugh. That’s going to be me and Jack one day”. Jack is my son. Then, Kyle and his mom got all emotional and you could tell there’s a true mother-son bond there…right down to when she grabbed him and kissed his head. I was sure to show this to my son who currently thinks he’s a hot five year old kindergartener and doesn’t need kisses from mommy anymore. I told him I’d ALWAYS kiss him…just like this!! He currently doesn’t know what to think but I’m so thankful to see bonds like this continue into adulthood!
Alright! I wiped all my tears and started moving because it was time to PARTY NOW! And that’s how we left them…partying the night away! Per the usual, Jonathan rocked it with another smaller wedding! This group did not disappoint!
…and before we left, I asked Emily if we could get a military wife photo! Welcome to the club, girl! We’re happy to have you!
And that’s it! OooO my goodness that happened SO FAST! I’ve been texting Emily since this day and she’s simply the sweetest!! I was so honored to have been chosen not just for photography but because of my military roots. This whole wedding was an experience I’ll never forget. I told Emily we’re here for her any time she wants to vent about the military wife life! HA! I also told her I wouldn’t change it for the world. This wedding was a HUGE success and put together so quickly. Emily’s sister Leslie was a huge part of it so she deserves another mention in this blog! I captured so many hugs and tears and smiles and laughter this day. Nothing felt forced when it came to the emotions that were flowing…and love was most certainly the center point and surrounding us everywhere! And one last mention of Emily’s mom, Catherine. When Emily’s dad sent final payment, the return address label had her name on it. It’s been sitting here by my computer even since because I just can’t throw it away. She was a huge part of this day and even though she wasn’t there in person, we ALL felt her presence all day long! Even as I type this, I keep looking down at her name. Catherine, we missed you BUT thank you for all you contributed to this day! It was perfect!
They did it! I know how thankful they are to every person who was a part of this including the people who couldn’t make it! But just because…here is the “thank you” photo we had taken! Congrats to the McCormicks!!
Bride’s Gown – Anne Gregory Couture
Bridesmaids’ Gowns – David’s Bridal
Men’s Attire – Men’s Wearhouse
Hair/Makeup – Luxe Salon
Wedding Planner/Coordinator – Ashley (Oglebay), Leslie (Sister)
Florist – Masterpieces
Videographer – Nate Sherer
Cake – Masterpieces
DJ/Band – Finest Events
Catering – Oglebay
Save the Dates/Invitations/Programs – Nota Bene
Ceremony Venue – Oglebay West Spa Pation
Officiant – Matthew VanFossen
Reception Venue – Oglebay Glessner