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Rachel & Wes {Franklin, TN} 4.21.12

They welcomed us with huge smiles as we pulled into the gravel driveway of their engagement session location.

I’m usually a solo shooter when it comes to e-sessions, but I needed an extra set of hands so BD tagged along on this Sunday afternoon to help.

I think BD’s ears were sitting in my lap by the time we got there, though. I might as well just talked them right off his head with how excited I was about this shoot.

Vintage, vintage, vintage. Rachel & Wes were both big about involving this theme in their engagement photos. Floating in photo heaven? I was.

I had met with Rachel, Wes, and Lauren in Nashville a few months before, so we had already created a great friendship. Lauren is Rachel’s cousin, but she is also co-owner of Lark Events with Krista Cook. Wedding planner AND family member?!?! Yes, talk an awesome combo.

The three of us chatted over coffee, and we discussed the plans for the engagement. I mentioned bringing BD along. Their smiles beamed and were followed with a Yes! Definitely! We’d love to meet him.

They were as open as they seemed in their first impressions when we introduced ourselves upon arriving to the coffee shop. I felt like we clicked, and that always makes me so happy.

Wes was all about meeting a fellow player of the strings, so I knew BD and him would get along just fine.  Little did I know, they would get along so well. Rachel and I laugh about their insta-bromace. They were two peas in a pod, and the five us (Lauren came along, too!) had an absolute blast setting up and shooting their session. These two added just another reason to my list of why engagements rock.

I felt like I got to know Rachel and Wes so well during their photo op. They were playful and complimented each other in such a way that you couldn’t help but wanna give them both this giant bear hug for being so cute. Wes’ outgoing excitement balanced out Rachel’s sweet subtlety.

She grinned while she watched Wes tell a story to us, obviously her love shining through her simple smile. She looked at him in such a content way, like she’d found it and she knew just how lucky she was. He finished what he was saying, and  looked back at her in the same way.

I sighed. My heart is just way to big for this occupation. Couples get to me.

I turned and gave BD a big hug when they went inside to change into their second outfit. I was glad he was there, and even more happy about him being at the wedding. We were going to have fun, and I could not wait!

Driving to CJ’s Off the Square in Franklin, TN,  we chatted about our excitement. Over the months since their engagement session, Rachel and Wes had become great homies of ours. We loved them immediately, and felt like we were going to the wedding of friends if anything.

I told him all about the venue, as if I already hadn’t told him a million times before. I elaborated with animated hand movements.

Babe, he reminded me. I love you and I love your stories…. but, you gotta watch the road.

I laughed. I was more excited than I thought. This was gonna rock.

Sure enough, when we pulled up to CJ’s my heart jumped out of my chest, over the partially rolled down window, across the street, up the stairs, into the house, and slammed the door behind it.


I loved this place immediately. I had stalked online a little before I came. You can never be too prepared.

I knew the vintage aesthetic inside was insane.

I knew I would be overwhelmed with the awesomeness of it all.

I never knew I would fall in love with a place so quickly before walking in, though.

It was the historic feel of the outside with the promise of eye candy inside that had my heart rushing before my body could follow.

I sat in the car for a few minutes and took a deep breath.

This is the kind of venue I see on wedding blogs and dream about shooting in.

Nervous, I mumbled as I stared at my hands in my lap, my seat belt still buckled.  I saw BD turn to me out of the corner of my eye.

You’re always nervous, he laughed sweetly. (think he’s kidding? read my last post and you’ll see).  You know you’ll do great. Give me a hug.

We turned awkwardly in our bucket seats and wrapped our arms around one another. We just sat there with twisted backs and the gearshift stabbing us in the sides.

This is good for us, I whispered in his ear. I saw on “The Today Show” that hugging your significant other for at least 30 seconds instantly enhances your mood and relieves stress.”

He chuckled but kept on hugging me.

I sighed and let that anxious feeling roll of my back.

I think we broke the world’s record for the longest hug.

We gathered our things and headed indoors. After getting everything prepped, we toured this amazing place together. It was more beautiful than I had anticipated. The wood floors and antique knick-knacks created such a mood about the place. I fell for its appeal and could see why Rachel had as well.

The bridal party arrived shortly thereafter and we went to work.  It was our first wedding together, and it couldn’t be going better.

I overheard the guys laughing with BD while I photographed details. I smiled.

I began photographing the ladies while Rachel got ready to put on her gown. She stood in the middle of a teal room with her veil attached. She held her hands in a relaxed way in front of her and smiled at me. Her petite figure in her little spandex workout pants and a jacket paired with her galmorized hair and makeup made for a cute combo. I commented on it and told her she looked adorable.

You should just wear that, I laughed.

She giggled, looked in the mirror and said,  I know, right??

She dressed and prepared for her first look. These are some of my favorites.

They are always so sweet, and it’s such an intimate moment to get to photograph. I think it may be one of my very favorite parts of the whole wedding day.

Wes stood waiting with he little paper sign. It had Today! written across the center with adorable little clip art wedding bells beneath. His smile covered his face as he explained why he had printed it. On the days leading up to the wedding, he had given Rachel notes with countdown days on them, most assuredly it was amping up her excitement.

He looked at the sign, I thought she would like it,  he said with a shrug.

He stared down at the sign obviously thinking about the lady he would soon wed. I think it’s adorable! I exclaimed, slightly frightening him in his reflective thoughts. He face shot up and he glowed a bit. Nodding at me, appreciating the approval.

Yes, I said to myself. Go, Wes. I love when grooms go the extra mile to add that emotional and romantic passion to their wedding day. It makes for such beautiful photos and it add such a personal characteristic, as well.  Note just to Mr. Suitt himself: Brownie Point! Cha-ching!

You ready? I asked him. Let’s do this. I’mmmmmmm exciiiiiiiiiiiiiited! I sang as I bopped up the stairs to get Rachel.

I looked down at BD as I topped the first flight. Oh buddy, I thought. You don’t know what you’re in for, B. Deezy. I was so excited for him to get to see one of these with me. He had never seen one before. The thing about first looks is that it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, these things will get ya- like cupid’s arrow sorta thing. You just realize how special it is and what you’re watching is something these two people will never forget. Love it!

I hurried back down to photograph Rachel as she descended the stairs. She looked so happy that I thought she might just go floating up in the air.

As Wes turned, her face lit up. As beautiful and as bright as a room filled with candlesticks, her love for him and her excitement for the moment took my breath away.  It was silent.

Wordless. Unspoken.

I photographed them in their moment, and watched as Wes guided her down the stairs and into the open foyer where she could twirl and laugh as she showed him her dress– just as she always dreamed she would as a little girl.

He let her have her moment. She looked so beautiful in it, and he wrapped his arms around her with the softness of a lover and whispered to her as they stood in their own world without distraction.

I captured it, and glanced over at BD as he watched, camera lowered, face still, eyebrows perched up a bit- like the momentous meaning of it finally sunk in. It’s like knowing something is important than seeing that important something happen. See what I mean? I loved him a little more in that moment because he got a glimspe of why I love my job so so much… of why I love my couples even more.

The rest of their day was just as whimsical, and the evening something out of a movie- everyone dancing and having a blast.

A day too wonderful for words, but a perfect fit for lots of photos.

Rachel & Wes- You guys are so much fun, and I can’t wait to hang out with you both more this summer! June will be here before you know it, and BD and I are ready for a little QT with you two. Hope you love all your pictures, and congratulations on your new lives together! What a wonderful journey you have ahead and what amazing memories you will make.


Destiny - May 5, 2012 - 2:29 am

Rachel and Wes, your day looks like it was absolutely beautiful!! Jess, you did a fantastic job capturing their special moments, as always!! Congratulations to all!

Jessie - May 9, 2012 - 9:18 pm

Thanks Destiny! So great to hear from you, girl!

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