Happy THURSDAY! It’s a happy day, indeed! Well now. Where do I even start?! If last weekend wasn’t just the very PERFECT way to begin the 2022 wedding season, well…well no…there would be no other perfect way to start the wedding season. Don’t argue with me. You’d be wrong! Because Mikala and Jordan tied the knot last weekend and they are THE most photographed couple in Hannah Barlow Photography history. If you’re new here, I’ll tell you all about why that is here in a minute so you’re caught up. To get started, please give Mr. & Mrs. West ALL your Hannah Barlow Photography love because their Winter Pittsburgh Wedding at The Chadwick in Wexford is on the blog right now! EEEKKKKK! I have all the words and squeals…I have ALL of it. Get ready and enjoy!
Alright. Before I hit the ground running, I’m going to remain calm and give anyone new here the history I have with this bride and groom. I met Mikala back in 2018 when I photographed her cousin’s wedding (if you remember the Beauty and the Beast wedding…that one). Jordan was there briefly but had to work so we didn’t meet. Then, this sweet couple hired me for their own wedding. After that, I photographed Mikala’s brother’s wedding (the beautiful, fall wedding with Kenzie and Tyler). Maybe the booking and wedding happened in reverse though…but you get the picture. That was time number two on my camera for Mikala (and Jordan’s first time). Then, they scheduled their winter, engagement session. Just getting there was a struggle because of all the snow…which was perfect…and beautiful…and amazing. We had some good laughs as the wet snow attacked us and the drive got sketchier and sketchier. They rocked it and the photos were perfection. So, that was Mikala and Jordan’s first official time on the blog as a couple and you can see it HERE. THEN, I got new cameras and had a full blown “Hannah doesn’t like change” meltdown. So, I called up some of my couples who love getting their pictures taken so I could practice…Mikala and Jordan were one of those couples. Those spring photos were to die for…and that sparked an idea in my crazy, Hannah brain. I now had the perfect winter session and the perfect spring session with these two…I needed ALL the seasons now and they agreed to help me with that goal. So, that led to me inviting them out for a summer session and fall session. They are the best and even came to me to make it even easier! WIN! So, that was time three, four, five, and six on my camera. THE PRESSURE for their wedding to be perfect could have been off the charts…but for whatever reason, I wasn’t stressed a bit. That’s very un-Hannah like. It’s also important to note that Mikala’s families are large and they are Catholic so the timelines for these weddings are historically hectic…honestly disastrous if ONE thing goes wrong. Still, I wasn’t stressed. I mean, Mikala’s brother’s wedding was so fast paced that Ashleigh accidentally shut my head in my SUV hatch door (no kidding). We just have to MOVE FAST to get things done and there’s never any time to waste. So, I was armed. I was prepared…and I was SO ready for this wedding. I knew it’d be perfect…simply becuase of the people. It didn’t matter what happened. Heck, I told Mikala if they got a flat tire (which would ruin the whole timeline for the day), we’d just pull off, find a safe spot and shoot on the side of the road. Yep. We were doing it! So, Lacey and I thouroughly prepared for this day and off we went. I first met Lacey at the church, took a few shots, and then we headed off the the winery where Mikala was getting ready!
This was my first time with an Apple Watch too so I took full advantage and had all the alarms and reminders set so I wouldn’t miss a thing! I finally caved and got one for weddings so people could get a hold of me when they needed me! It came in SO handy this day! There were so many familiar faces when I arrived so I raced in, greeted everyone…gave all the hugs…and just smiled. Because it was going to be a great day!! I KNEW IT deep down in my wedding photographer bones. Lacey got everything set for details and we raced to get those done. For those of you who read the past blogs with this family, you know I’m about to do some running! LOOK HOW PRETTY!
The videographer arrived about an hour before us so he was finishing up some things. Mikala was getting her makeup done now so we were chatting about this and that. She (yep, the bride) reminded me I needed to take the groom’s ring with me for details…because you know…she’s a Hannah Barlow Photography veteran at this point and knows the drill. It’s a good thing she reminded me too because I was about to take off without it! GAH!
So, off we went to find the guys. If you saw my IG story, you know what happened with the party bus. It was yet another Hannah Barlow Photography first…Oy. BUT…all was well. Everything was taken care of and I got to go in and meet Jodran’s parents…after I gave all the Hannah hugs to the groom and past groom, of course! Jordan was an absolute rockstar. He’d already done all the “getting ready” portion of the day with the videographer. So, he quick threw me his jacket and ring, I photographed that…then we “got him ready” again! HA! Also, that’s Jordan’s parents! Having never met me before, they embraced my craziness and rolled with it and I’m so grateful!
Alllll the groom photos for this guy!
RUNNNINNNGG back out the door AND ahead of schedule! Woooo!
Back to the ladies we went! And yes…could I have totally sent Lacey to do the men? YES! Was I being a selfish wedding photographer because I wanted to be the one to shoot Jordan and the guys?! Double YES! Mikala and I talked about it prior and I told her while I’d usually send my second for a crazy timeline like this…I just couldn’t. I wanted to do it all! So, run run run we did!
I’m not sure if it was me or Lacey who caught this one of Mikala and her momma but I just love it and hope my daughter’s wedding photographer will catch one like this too one day! Can you imagine me hiring a wedding photographer? It gives me hives just thinking about it! GAH!
Also, HUGE shoutout to Haylea, the hair/makeup stylist, who allowed me to steal Quinn, the flower girl, so we could get these photos done. It was CRUNCH time at this point and we had no time to waste! Also, what you can’t see is that righttttt to my left there were diapers being changed. When I say we were moving FAST, we were moving…FAST! I worked around everyone and appreciated ALL the help of this group. At a lot of weddings, this timeline could have caused a lot of stress. These ladies (many of whom have already been through this with me) just rolled with it and I appreciate it SO much!
It was time to get this beautiful bride ready with the help of her momma!
Lacey with the amazing shoe shot. We were rushing but I looked down and remember pausing and saying, “I know what you’re doing and I love it…so you just keep doing that”.
Then, we needed to do a first look with dad! I literally led him backwards like a crazy person and he just trusted me 100%. Heck, he didn’t even miss a beat when I said “Ok, we’re rushing and don’t have time to move her…you’re just going to have to trust me and let me lead you to her…NO peeking!” and he did! And it was an amazing moment!
So, I packed up and was running out the door when I heard Mikala reading…so I ran back!
Then, I got all the way to the car and Lacey said, “You didn’t get that mirror picture…did you?” It was a requested photo. IT WAS ON THE LIST! You all know how I feel about my lists. So, I ran BACK down the hill. At this point, my Apple Watch was warning me my heart rate was high. “Yes. I KNOW!” was literally what I yelled at my wrist. It’s going to take a while for me to get used to it…or for it to get used to me. BUT, we got these mirror photos which I love!
THEN, the bridesmaids were all dressed and coming out so I stayed a second to grab those too!
BUT…we REALLY needed to get to the church. Are you feeling the organized chaos at this point? My heart rate is high just typing it and reliving it! HA! AND we made it to the church…and Jordan seemed panicked. So, I asked him over and over and OVER again what I could do to help. The Priest (who was the sweetest) gave me the “go ahead” with my plan for shooting the ceremony and then wanted to get started. So, I did my Hannah thing and I walked to the back of the church and kindly (but loudly) asked anyone NOT a part of the bridal party to go take their seats. Then, I sent Lacey to the party bus to grab Mikala and the girls.
AND it was time to start now! Getting all the little ones down the aisle was the most perfect and cutest little circus! In the end, many adults had to assist and carry!
Dear Jesse the videographer…I’m sorry I violently grabbed your arm and forced you out of the way when the doors opened and Mikala started walking. In that moment, I NEEDED to see Jordan’s reaction and I’m SO glad I got it! AHHHHHHH! I mean…I MEAN! Allllll the wedding photographer feels on this one. I guess I’m not really sorry at all…HA!
I can just FEEL the music playing right now! When you know so many of the people and have such a special place in your heart for the couple, you feel like friends are getting married. Heck, friends ARE getting married. I just happened to be getting paid to photograph my friends getting married. Wow. Never thought of it that way but that’s super cool!
SHE EVEN STOPPED AND HUGGED HER MOM…I can’t.
Lacey and I had a grand plan too before things even started. I wanted her to get Jordan in focus with Mikala and her dad in the foreground! Did it! It’s also important to note that I do NOT like to change the way I do things…and I had to give up my FAVORITE lens for this shot. Granted, I don’t use it during this part of the wedding anyway. It just sits in my bag…but I use it later. So, we had a plan. Lacey would get this (below). And when I came to the back of the church later…she would give it back to me. I actually totally forgot that part. Oof. But she’s the best and walked up the aisle, tapped on my shoulder and handed it off! I wanted allll the shots of this ceremony but I was also stuck in the moment becsause these families make me want to jump up and down (I didn’t…don’t worry).
Also, side note. Again, if you’re new here (Jordan’s family, in particular). I’m sorry I’m all over the place. If you met me last weekend, you know now! Ok. So, the side note. Lacey and I were just chat chat chatting away on the ride home. And I said “Aren’t they all just so beautiful inside and out?!” And she agreed and then said, “And how the heck do they just KNOW how to look great on camera. Mikala was coming out the door and somehow she knew JUST where to look”…Exhibit A!
Ok. Back to the ceremony. It was your traditional Catholic mass. It was a full house too which was so nice to see!
The JOY these two have. MY HEART! Mr. & Mrs. West, everyone!
Time for family formals! DEEP DEEP DEEEEEPPPP BREATHS! And you know this family, their family formal lists are WILD. Another photographer friend commented on one of my IG stories. I told him, “I’d only ever allow a two page, 12 point font family list with this group”. And it’s true. The thing is…I’d take this family list over a small one where people don’t want to have their photo taken. This family takes an amazing photo. They all show up. They’re ready. There’s never any tracking anyone down. Heck, when Lacey saw it and gave me the bug eye emoji, I said, “Listen. It’s going to be insanity but this group is amazing. I could tell them to sit down and be quiet for sake of photos and they would.” I didn’t have to do that, of course…but you get the idea. AND EVERYONE…and I mean everyone…helped get these photos done. From keeping the kids happy to helping make them look and smile to making sure grandpa got to stand up in the photo, they were there. And I appreciated it SO much! I don’t normally share family formals but I think it’s worth showing the amount of photos we took…except there were so many my program that creates collages wouldn’t even let me. So, I’ll just show Mikala and Jordan’s immediate families!
…and the full bridal party!
I am working to make sure every couple gets a front of the church photo this year!
…and as we were leaving, we had to get a recreation photo for Mikala’s parents. It matched the wedding photo they had taken 30+ years ago!
Off to the Chadwick we go (we were in Burgettstown at their family’s church for the ceremony)! And this is where it gets even crazier. I had a solid timeline. And it HAD to work out just right to get all the photos we needed. Little did I know or realize, the sun was going to set a lot sooner than I had considered. Not ONE of us thought of it. It’s strange to me BECAUSE…I’ve never made this “mistake” before. I always time my photo time with sunset. Had I realized at the time? I would have been in a full blown Hannah panic and that would NOT have been good. I’m honestly convinced the wedding Gods said, “We’re just going to let the sunset issue slip her mind because it literally does not matter…” And it didn’t. SO, original plan was to get there and immediately photograph the reception hall before guests were let in at 5:00 PM. Well, we pulled up right behind the party bus and I saw this pretty light. You know the ONE thing that was missing from every single session with Mikala and Jordan? PRETTY…ooey gooey light. Her veil was B-E-A-Utiful and I wanted that glow. So, I drove right past the party bus and to a spot I thought I wanted to put them for “just a few” photos before I went and did the reception hall. Wellllll…I jumped back in the car and said, “Nope. I don’t love it.” At that point, Lacey pointed to a random spot lower down in the parking lot (yes…in the parking lot) and I immediately knew she was right. The light was pure perfection. So, imagine crazy Hannah yelling across the parking lot to Mikala and Jordan. Phoebe had arrived too (which I later found out she was named after Friends…the couple’s favorite show…which is also MY favorite show). Yep! Let’s do this!
We got all those done and its as time for “just a few” formal bride and groom photos (which ended up being ALL of them). I told Jordan earlier in the day, “I’m going to be all up in your business all day today with this jacket…” and I was. So, lint roll we must! I also ended up photoshopping a lot of hair later too! Velvet jackets are pure perfection…but hard to keep clean. We learned that quickly! I’m adding it to my Aisle Be Ready workshop notes too!
Now, let’s do some formal photo GREATNESS! AND…I’m not one to do huge sun flare but I swear…and I don’t like to swear…THIS is when the wedding Gods really showed up. Those clouds opened right up and they said “Here we are! Make wedding photo magic”. And it sounds all sappy and crazy…but I believe in things like that. This couple is very precious to me given all our time together and they deserved amazing wedding photos. Enter the wedding Gods shining RIGHT down on us.
And it just kept on happening! And becuase they’re pros at this point, they knew the Hannah Barlow Photography prompts. I mean…at one point I’m screaming…not even squealing…and everyone across the parking lot could hear me. So, to try and rationalize my excitement, I showed Mikala the back of my camera and SHE started squealing and screaming and it was just the perfect moment for me. I apologized to the videographer for the audio. HA! LOOK!
And even though that flare was amazing, I still wanted the traditional “Hannah Barlow” contrasty photos so Lacey took care of that for me. Lacey’s chill…and even she was squealing!
I just…it’s perfecccccttttt. GAH!
My “just a few”…just keeping going…and going…and going…and it was COLD.
AND…100% worth it in my opinion. I kept telling them, “Once you see them, you won’t remember being frozen!” And they kept assuring me they were just finnnnne. That was Mikala and I’s motto all week…”Everything will be fineeeee!” and it was!
Ok. So, now it was time for me to go photograph the reception. I had literally 15 minutes to spare before they were going to open those doors for guests to enter. Poor Lacey, I made her drag all my gear in while I rushed…and rushed to get this done! We did it!
Then, I went and got the bridal party and THIS was the moment I realized the error of my ways…and the lack of calculation in regards to sunset. I brought the guys out and struggled to get my exposure right. I kept thinking…and internally scratching my head. WHY was I not able to get my bright photos. OooO nO. OOOOO NOOOOOOO. The sun isn’t just setting…it’s basically set (while I was inside doing reception). Good grief. So, I had to move them out in the snow (they were originally under cover to keep their shoes dry). It’s moments like these I am so very grateful for these people. There are many couples…bridal parties…and even family members who would have pumped the breaks and said “Nope. They’re not going in that snow. Their feel will get wet and cold”. This group didn’t even hesitate. So, I’m giving ALL the men their moment on the blog. Some have traditional shots…because…well, they probably have fancy jobs and those personality shots can’t see the public World Wide Web! HA! If you know, you know!
Then, I dbrought the ladies out. Remember, they are in traditional, open toes high heels (most of them). I knew their feet would be cold (we had a ton of hand and feet warmers on standby) so I sent Lacey once again running…and she got my good, old, dollar store white table clothes for them to stand on. Even if they were cold, at least I could try and keep them dry! HUGE shoutout to these ladies. They didn’t even bring jackets and it was 30 degrees…for real! They were absolute rockstars and it was almost dark too. Later, Lacey said, “We’ve never moved that fast before” and she’s right. And it honestly had nothing to do with me, I was rushing and barking orders but this bridal party was one step ahead of me at all times. SO, thank you again! Aren’t they beautiful?!
Full bridal party (which actually happened between the men and women)…3..2..1..GO!
Then, Mikala requested one more photo before we went inside to get the reception started. I’m digitally hugging and patting EVERYONE on the back for an amazing job…well done…in cold and darkness and a hectic timeline. I know I’m a broken record here but this honestly would not have been possible at most weddings and I mean that. Maybe it’s helped that most of these groups have done weddings with me before? I don’t know. I honestly feel bad for the people who haven’t met me…they probably thought I was beyond bossy and had absolutely lost it. But all things had to come together and this gallery has MORE than I would have ever expected all because of the teamwork and cooperation of EVERYONE involved. Ok. I’m done! More photos!
Then, the bridal party and parents got to hang out in a separate room to warm up and get something to eat. I took some time to photograph anyone who wanted a photo and I definitely wanted a photo of Jordan’s parents together! We actually got lots and lots of parent photos this wedding!
Welcoming Mr. & Mrs. West into their reception!
Then, they went right into their first dance. I was editing these LATER…you know…after four “engagement” sessions and now their wedding and noticed Mikala had “J.M.” tattooed on her arm. I texted her. Yes…that’s a tattoo for Jordan. APPARENTLLLLY…he has one too of her initials. AND THEY NEVER TOLD ME. I’m done. That’s it. HOW could they not tell me?! That’s correct. Four sessions and one wedding…and this is literally the only picture I have of a tattoo. If you know me, you KNOW my feelings on this! HA!
But seriously…lack of tattoo photos aside, the day just kept getting better and better. After their first dance, they cut their cake. Then there were speeches. Then, the party got started and holy moly was it a party!
It didn’t even matter that we were there a short amount of party dance time…we got SO much.
…and there was NO way I was leaving without my selfie.
Then, something that warmed my wedding photographer heart RIGHT up happened before I left. My couples cornered me out in the hall. I had no idea what was happening. Heck, I’d sent Lacey to go pack the car so she wasn’t even there to take this picture they’d planned. So, we got a former HBP mom to take it for us and it was simply the BEST photo I’ve ever taken with my couples. Yep. I photographed ALL three of their weddings and they were all equally hectic…and amazing…and beautiful…and just PERFECT! Gosh, I love these people SO much! THIS is the wedding season I needed…before people…perfect start. It’s going to be AMAZING!
…and that’s that. I’m so sad over here…bittersweet….happy…and sad…all wrapped up in one. When I went over to say goodbye to Mikala and Jordan that night, even she said she was sad. This can’t be the end for all of us. NOPE. I refuse to believe it. I’ll always…ALWAYS…use this group as my “models” when I get new gear or need “help” or new sessions. They’re just so fun and easy to photograph…and let’s be honest. They’re all beautiful inside and out. Mikala and Jordan had a whole different experience because they were just so used to being in front of my camera. Leading up to this wedding, I didn’t have one eye roll moment with Mikala…HA! Nope. I say that lightly, of course…but there’s always usually a moment I’m thinking “this is never going to work”. Not at this wedding and not with this couple and their families. It’s true. I really feel like they’re my wedding family. I wouldn’t recommend their timelines or photo lists for ALL weddings, but they’re definitely a great example of embracing the chaos for sake of an amazing day, memories and photos. They’re weddings are weddings I often use as examples for couples and in my workshops too. There’s GOT to be more weddings with these groups…THERE HAS TO BE. They know the drill. I don’t even have to ask. They know I’m nuts…and they embrace it for sake of photos. I always get the warm fuzzies when I’m with them and it’s such a compliment they keep asking me to come back. Heck, I’d even allow them to add a third page to that family formal list and I’ll just bring my inhaler next time! I know we can get through it with this crew. I should have been supremely stressed going into this wedding…for all the reasons. They’d had such amazing sessions prior…the wedding had to match, in my opinion (and all the HBP fans’ opinions). The timeline was nuts…and would have been impossible with any “issues”. We had no issues. The sun was setting early becuase it’s winter…never even crossed my mind. We just made it happen and once again…this is how all of 2022 better be! Let’s do it again…and again…and againnnnnnnnnn.
Mikala and Jordan, thank you for trusting me to be your wedding photographer and embracing my insanity. Thank you for letting me squeal and scream in a parking lot and take all your wedding photos there. Thank you for literally lifting me up at the end of a very busy day and making me feel loved! Every wedding photographer should experience a wedding like this…it was GRAND!
If you actually made it this far (almost 5000 words), give Mr. & Mrs.West ALL your Hannah Barlow Photography love. I’m going to peel my sappy self off the floor of my office now. HAPPY THURSDAY!
Bride’s Gown – David’s Bridal
Bridesmaids’ Attire – Dear Cleo
Maid/Matron of Honor – Revelry
Men’s Attire – Tuxedo Junction
Jewelry/Rings – Zales
Hair/Makeup – Haylea Ellis
Florist – Gida’s Flowers
Videographer – Toast Wedding Films (Jesse)
Cake – Lincoln Bakery
DJ – Steven Vance Entertainment
Invitations – Ann’s Bridal Bargains