"If it's you and me, I won't stop dancing"
The day started at the Embassy Suites. I was so excited about Mariah and Spencer's wedding because it was going to be near the area Alex and I lived for 4 years. We walked through the main doors of the Embassy Suites. The hotel is completely open so that you can see each and every floor up to the very top. Mariah was on the 7th floor so we hopped in the glass elevator and watched the fountains and tables become smaller and smaller as we gained in elevation. In the getting ready room, Mariah was getting her hair done. The hair stylist had her hair all up in curls to eventually be pulled out for this gorgeous wavy wedding day hairstyle. My goal was to take pictures of her details first. She had the rings (which came in a beautiful blue box), her shoes, earrings, garter, vow books, invitation, and bracelet. For this wedding, we didn't necessarily get to the groom stuff, as Spencer had all of his items and was already dressed. (sometimes that happens 😉)
We wrapped up the details and headed to the lobby where Spencer and the groomsmen were waiting. Mariah requested photos outside, but that was already my plan all along! Although I did feel bad dragging them out in the heat. lol We wandered around the building until we found a spot with a solid colored wall with perfect light!! As we were shooting, a side door opened and an employee walked out. I think she might have been having a bad day. 🤣 As she commented “there is nothing beautiful about this place, it's the employee entrance.” I told her I could make it look magical! She responded “there’s nothing magical about this place” and walked away!! While it may have put a slight damper on the mood, I’m glad I went with my gut!!! These grooms photos look so high end and I LOVE them 😍. Employee entrance for the win!!! Since I knew these groomsmen where being shuffled from the parking lot to the lobby, I knew we had to do one fun photo walking in the parking lot!! Ending with a photo of lifting Spencer into the air 😁 So fun!!
Mariah requested one pajama photo before we headed to the venue so we made our way back upstairs. As we were getting into the elevator, a bridesmaid caught us. We had forgotten to give Spencer his gift from Mariah! Unfortunately, I already lost him coming back into the hotel, but I made a mental note to get those photos on my way out. Back in Mariah’s getting ready room, we gathered the girls and took one final photo of them in their pajamas. The next plan was to head to the venue to take dress shots. By a miracle, we ran into Spencer right as we were leaving and I was able to capture his reaction opening his gift from Mariah. For the purposes of this blog, the contents of the gift are a secret 😉
The owners of the Brim believe “that marriage matters” and wanted a way “to invest in the lives of those in [their] community.” We got to meet the owner while we were there and hear the full story of how the Brim came to life! It truly is a beautiful place and I was so excited to be a part of this day! The Brim sits on 15 acres of land with an adjoining vineyard. If I didn’t know better, we could have been in Italy!! Right now, the venue consists of the chapel only. With future plans to build a reception space as well as a wine tasting room. I told him he needed to build one in Springfield too! 😍
Mariah planned to get ready in the chapel. The ceremony and reception were to be held outdoors. As Alex and I photographed the gowns, Mariah and her bridesmaids arrived at the chapel. They made their way inside and Alex delivered the dress. Outside the chapel, her mom was busy at work. Melinda, you were amazing!!! Melinda decorated the arbor with tulle and flowers as well as the reception space tables. All while the temperatures were in the upper 90s! She was drenched in sweat, but made sure everything looked perfect. And my gosh, it looked fantastic!!
Once Mariah was in her dress, I headed into the chapel. At this point, her mom was supposed to help her button up the back, 😂 but since she was busy decorating, we made some slight adjustments to the day. We planned to get those photos once her mom was fully ready and instead go straight to first look with her dad and then bridesmaids photos. Her dad Darin was just the sweetest!!! I pulled him into the chapel with his eyes closed. Mariah was hidden in the corner. She walked up to him and he turned around. Darin's eyes welled with tears as they embraced for a hug. Next, fate had different plans. Guests started to arrive. The groomsmen did not have their boutonnieres on. Mariah’s sister Brooke was getting her 10 month old twins dressed (one twin had a grip on her necklace and was pulling her down while the other was trying to roll away). The flower girl had officially arrived. Things became so crazy, we were never able to get the photos of the bridesmaids. The crazier things got, we tabled those plans for later and prepped for the ceremony.
As the ceremony quickly approached, guests found their seats. The sun was shining high overhead. A very warm summer day. Even though it was hot, excitement was in the air. The ceremony was about to start. Looking across to the chapel, grandparents had lined up and the wedding party was behind. The music began. Grandparents, parents, and the wedding party found their spots at the ceremony. The ring bearers and flower girl made their entrance in the wagon. The flower girl took her job very seriously as she held onto the wagon side while walking up the aisle. Next was the event everyone was waiting for. The music changed. Mariah and her dad emerged from the chapel. I turned my attention not towards the bride, but to the groom. Spencer's eyes welled with tears and he reached his hand to wipe them away. He turned his face back towards his bride. As she arrived at the altar smiles broke on their faces. Mariah's dad gave her one big final hug as he went to sit next to her mother. Mariah and Spencer turned towards the officiant and the ceremony began. They chose to do a cord of three strands ceremony. If you're unfamiliar with this tradition, the bride and groom twist 3 cords together to create a cross. This becomes a special item in their home and a reminder of the vows they made to each other on their wedding day. Following the cord of three strands ceremony, they signed their marriage license. I thought this was absolutely brilliant as sometimes the marriage license, even though it's the most important part of the wedding day, or one of the most important parts, sometimes becomes forgotten. But incorporating it into your ceremony ensures that your guests get to watch the special moment and that it is not forgotten. Soon after, they exchanged their rings and the officiant presented them as husband and wife. Something I got to do that, but does not always happen at ceremonies, is I got to get behind the bride and groom to photograph them and their first kiss. The reason this is so special is because not only do I capture them kissing but I capture the reaction of some of the most important people in their lives. 😍 Mariah and Spencer's parents were seated on the front row and their smiles say 1000 words. Their families were beyond happy. After the kiss, I ran around the audience to capture their walk back down the aisle as husband and wife. Something the Brim does for their brides and grooms after a ceremony is that they get to ring the bell. Standing in the entrance to the chapel, Mariah and Spencer pulled the rope and the bell rang throughout the grounds.
Everyone made their way to the reception tent to say a blessing over Mariah and Spencer's first meal together. While the guests began their meal, Mariah and Spencer had other plans. The goal was to do portraits of family, wedding party, and the two of them while their guests ate. Shout out to Mariah's sister Brooke, who helped me announce who was needed for family portraits over the loudspeaker. You are amazing, thank you so much Brooke! After family portraits and wedding party portraits, Mariah appeared torn on wanting to do portraits of her and Spencer. It was getting late and the reception had been in progress for some time. Spencer reminded her that she would probably regret not doing portraits and so I came up with an idea. I turned to Alex and told him to set a timer for 5 minutes and we would take as many photos as we could in that amount of time. He set the timer and I ran through as many poses as I possibly could. Not only did we stick to the 5 minute time limit (we may have gone a minute over 😉) the portraits turned out absolutely stunning and I'm so glad we worked this in.
Mariah and Spencer made their way back to the reception to do their first dance, father daughter dance, and cake cutting. I was so excited about the cookies that they were going to have at their wedding that I didn't even realize they also had a cake! After the traditional reception events, the music started and the dance floor was open. At this point, Mariah wanted some sunset photos and I could not have been more excited. The sky started to turn bright orange and pink. It was quickly setting. I heard one of the family members turn to Mariah and say, "if you want sunset photos you might have to do them now, the sun is almost gone." The owner of the Brim offered to open up the vineyard to do some photos in there. We quickly took a few and headed to the back field to do pictures before the sun officially went down beyond the horizon. It went so much faster than we thought so we went back to the vineyard as the owner had also offered to have them try some of the grapes that they will eventually be using for their signature wine. The owner walked Mariah and Spencer up the vineyard, explaining which grapes were ripe, and allowing them to try a few. Spencer didn't seem to mind the taste, but I think Mariah found them a little bitter LOL. Alex even got to try one and said that he liked it! I, unfortunately, did not. I'm not that brave LOL. The sky started to become darker and darker as they headed back to the reception and the goodbyes began.
Since some guests started to leave we decided to do the sparkler exit. Spencer made me laugh when he got on the microphone and told guess that they were planning to do sparkler exit but they are not planning to leave. The party was still going to go on. Guests lined up along the sidewalk. Once Mariah and Spencer were in position the sparklers were lit. They started their walk down the center, but I think some of the guests were holding the sparklers a bit low as Mariah seemed fearful that her hair might catch on fire. That would not have been a good way to end a wedding day 🙈. After the sparklers, Mariah and Spencer said goodbye to many of their guests. Their closest friends and family remaining. Time started to fly by as darkness rolled in. I noticed the sky was clear and that there was hardly any moon. The thought crossed my mind that we should try to get a night sky shot. In order to capture a night sky shot with stars it has to be a new moon and it has to be very dark. While I knew there was a lot of light from the reception tent, I thought we should try to make it happen! I had Alex run to get my tripod and we stumbled around in the dark trying to set up for this shot. I did a couple test runs, feeling confident that it might work, went to Mariah. I asked if she would be interested in doing a final night shot but I wasn't sure if it would turn out, she said sure and I put them in position. The only requirement for Spencer and Mariah was to stand frozen for a couple seconds. You know what?? It turned out pretty good! This picture is unique to their wedding day and not something that I get to do very often. I was super excited! Mariah and Spencer, I hope you like it too! ❤️
Mariah and Spencer, your wedding day was absolutely beautiful. I wish we had double the time because I would shoot it again and again. I hope that someday I get to go back to the Brim. If I do, I will always think about your wedding day. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness. I hope you had fun in Nashville. Congratulations on your marriage.
Venue: The Brim
Tux/Suit: Men's Wearhouse
Wedding Gown: Stephanie's Bridal Boutique
Hair: Hello Lovely KC
Ring: Drenon Jewelry
Photographer: Christina Zapata Photography
Cake: Mad Batters
Mariah + Spencer