Alicia’s Bridal Session

Posted in Bridals, Personal, Weddings on September 1, 2009 by sharizellers

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I am so excited to show off this bridal session for my girl, Alicia!  All of our hard work and location scouting paid off!  The weather was perfect – not TOOO hot anyways, and all of the things we wanted to do went off without a hitch.

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A few weeks before her session, we headed over to the campus of her alma mater, Agnes Scott, to have a look around for some nice locations.  I’ve been to the campus before but not with permission to shoot just about any where we wanted.  So on this scouting trip, we were just finding so many great looks and locations – without going too far! We also went next door to downtown Decatur since Alicia also spent plenty of nostalgic times there and wanted to do something with the mural at Johnny’s Pizza.

Since she needed to get into her dress in Agnes Scott Hall, we decided to start right there in one of the rooms off the main hallway.  There was a terrific red couch and we used a little off camera flash to create a butterfly spot effect.  She looks so glamorous here, like a Hollywood starlet!

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There is also a great little gazebo and  this is one of my favorite close ups of the day.  Love her laughing here!  What was so funny?  I dunno but this is perfection to me…bensonbridal_0018

We headed over to Presser Hall next and used this amazing foyer with a gorgeous chandelier.  I had Alicia’s MOH, Lindsay, hold the off camera flash for some really dramatic lighting for this classic portrait.

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As we wandered towards the front lawn, the sun was peeking through the trees perfectly illuminating the branches.  We stopped for some landscape images with this ethereal light and this was the image Alicia chose for display at the reception.  Perfect for a “Midsummer Night’s Dream” theme!

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Now, for MY favorite shot of the day.  It’s amazing what little nooks and crannies you can find in the architecture.  This double staircase was sort of hidden behind the library.  I was immediately drawn to the marble and chrome as a backdrop for something vogue.  When we arrived that day, it was receiving some rather harsh sunlight but the effect didn’t bother me at all!  I LOVE this image.  It’s my absolute favorite of the entire session…and that’s saying a lot since I love so many!

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Leaving Agnes Scott behind, we headed over to Decatur for a quick change of scenery…and a quick change of attitude!  Alicia saved her purple crinoline for this part of the session and exchanged her veil for a fabulous feather fascinator.  Way to rock it, girlie!  Gotta give Gene some love here…Man!  Can you say purple perfection?!

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Last, but certainly not least is our John Lennon tribute.  Looking sorta pensive but loving the color infrared with Strawberry Fields.

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I am like a proud big sister of Alicia!  She really rocked this bridal session and we had so much fun!  Please be assured, this was BEFORE her wedding and no wedding dresses were harmed in this photo shoot.  You can really do a lot of fun things with planning and patience and never have to worry about your dress.  We’ll take care of you!

To see Alicia’s Bridal Session slideshow, click HERE!

TA DA!!!!!!!!!! Alicia & Al’s Wedding Day Spectacular!

Posted in Special Events, Weddings with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by sharizellers

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Oh, I am pleased as punch to FINALLY be able to bring you images from my assistant’s wedding – Alicia and Al!!!  Or AL2 (Al Squared) as we refer to it around here.  Let me start by saying that they had a beautiful wedding – I mean just fabulous and well planned.  Alicia and I met two years ago when she was just in the early stages of planning her wedding and to see it all come together was nothing short of magical and inspiring.  It was quite an experience for me being sorta “in” on the planning and then seeing the results that day.  I was blown away!  Working for a photographer and me being able to pretty much tell my client/employee what I wanted was a dream come true for both of us.  Needless to say, we created a very ambitious photo itinerary unlike nothing I’ve ever attempted before. ;o)

Look at how gorgeous she is, checkin’ out her hair in the mirror!  I love her expression here.

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Her crystal choker was cool – cool to the touch and uber cool to wear!

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Their festivities were headquartered at the Emory Conference Center & Hotel.  This is where the day began and would end with the reception later in the evening. I was helped by Angel Taylor to capture shots of the girls getting ready while Sam Napper covered the guys for me. I love this shot that Sam snapped of Al  waiting for his “first look” with Alicia.

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After Al presented Alicia with her beautiful silk bouquet (Al is allergic to most flowers so they used Georgia Griffin of A Wedding In Silk), we used the ECC courtyard for a few romantics and individual portraits of them.

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Alicia and I spent one evening scouting out locations to shoot and literally drawing a breadcrumb trail map of where to go the day of the wedding so we could get a lot done efficiently in a short time.  These Japanese maple trees were even more gorgeous the day of the wedding.  Their shade was quite welcome, too! Whew!  It was HOT.

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After running around with Al2, we brought out the wedding party and families for some fun shots.  Any Beatles fans?  This shot is totally unstaged -really.  Just looked up and saw the guys watching Al2 in the courtyard and SNAP!

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The girls on the other hand, were wonderful divas!

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Next, it was off to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and marry off these two love birds.  One of my favorite moments – in any Catholic service – the presentation to the Mother Mary.

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Al graduated from Georgia Tech so when they left the church, their friends were there to cheer them on with gold and white pom poms!!!!

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The ECC is perfect for their theme which was loosely based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream – a very organic, woodsy location, the ECC Silver Bell Pavilion is surrounded by trees and has an open feel as it’s surrounded on three sides by glass.  It was also perfect for the handfasting ceremony they held right outside in a ring of beautiful evergreen trees.  Alison Day performed the sacred rituals while their families gathered in the round.

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The couple was introduced (running through the pom poms again!) and performed their first dance.  It was beautiful and Angel helped me snag this shot with some off camera flash (we’re playing around with it a lot still) giving their dance a spot light effect!

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No GA Tech wedding would be complete without a Tech cake!  We’ve seen different versions but this is probably the best “Ramblin’ Wreck” cake I’ve ever seen!  Celso’s Cakes did a great job on the Alicia’s cake, too!

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I’ve told Al that this garter pull shot WILL be on the new web site debuting this fall.  This is my all-time favorite garter pull image ever. Don’t ask me how the bunny ears made it, but they do.  The Elvis snarl is classic.  This is Al.  I love this shot.

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Band of Gold really kept the crowd hopping all night. This was the first time I worked with them and they are fabulous!

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At the end of the night, they decided to have a last dance like many couples do.  However, they wanted to be completely alone.  So, while the guests were lining up outside for their departure, we captured one last spotlight image of their “last dance”.

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And now, one more piece of my influence.  We used these streamers (like a million years ago!) in 2002 for a big televised wedding here in Atlanta.  I loved them and always wanted to shoot another exit with them.  I convinced Alicia to order some and so here is the result.  I didn’t tell her how tangled up they would get!!!!! 😉  I love the effect – virtually trapping the bride and groom and making them fight their way out!  Love the expressions – they had no idea.  How can little tiny paper streamers be so strong?

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Congratulations guys – I love you both.  See Al2’s entire slideshow extravaganza HERE.

Garden of Eden: Tiffany & Jonathan

Posted in Engagements with tags , , on August 7, 2009 by sharizellers

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Tiffany and Jonathan actually got married last weekend – I’m a little late posting their engagment session!  They booked us pretty quick for their wedding, too and I met them AT their engagement session!  I was so amazed by the two of them that day.  AND amazed at my luck to get to photograph these lovebirds.

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They really made my job too easy:  first of all, we met at Vines in Lithonia.  Vines used to be one of my all-time favorite venues and shooting locations.  They’ve had some troubles over the years so unfortunately, I don’t get any weddings there anymore.  But this day was just for shooting an engagement session so the property is easy to access for just walking around.benedetti061509_0038

Every thing was in bloom and even though it was hot (I always bring a cooler filled with cold bottled water for me and my clients on days like this), it doesn’t show in the photos- just the beauty of the gardens and my subjects!  Tiffany and Jonathan are so sweet together – obviously in love and very tender in their gestures.  Perfect to me!

We wandered the grounds and eventually made our way to the Oriental Gardens.  This is my favorite shot of the day AND I knew it when I took it.  I was so excited about the red pergola bench and the light pouring in the trees behind them.  It gave me goosebumps it was so perfect.

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For me, the entire session was perfect.  From the location to the couple – ok, without the heat, but we are in the South!  I want my couples to have fun on their sessions and I think they did. ;o)benedetti061509_0166

To see more of their fun session, clicke HERE for the slideshow!

Sweet Home Alabama: Kristen & Randell

Posted in Weddings with tags , , on August 5, 2009 by sharizellers

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Back in mid May, we had the pleasure of traveling to Opelika and Auburn Alabama for Kristen & Randell’s wedding!  Now, I’m not sure why but almost all of my trips to Alabama involve sticky, hot weather. This weekend was noooooo exception!  Oh my goodness, a torential downpour when we pulled in Friday night and then again on Saturday as Kristen & Randell were getting ready.

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The bizarre stormy weather didn’t keep our spirits down.  Alicia and I had fun playing with off camera flash again.  Trying to get some cool effects as usual with my dress shot.  Here we spot lit Kristen’s dress in a darkened room for a dramatic look.

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Havin’ fun with her shoes, too!

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And just as Kristen finished getting dressed, magically the sun came out and well, didn’t quite dry up ALL the rain.  It was kinda steamy but we were able to get just a few shots outside later in the evening.  So, we stuck mostly to inside shots before the ceremony. The church was nice enough to give us access to this lovely parlor room that had been locked so we could take some beautiful traditional portraits of Kristen.

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This couple really liked taking photos and back when I did their engagement session, I got to tour their church and reception venue.  I knew I wanted to shoot with this stained glass window as a silhouette.  Then we headed over to the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel & Conference Center At Grand National and wandered behind the hotel grounds to this fountain.

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Just as we finished up, it threatened to rain again and these amazing clouds swept in over the hotel.102meadows051609_1132

On of my favorite features of the ballrooms were the large glowing bowl-chandeliers.132meadows051609_0842

Here is Kristen’s mighty bouquet toss.  This was like a sporting event for this crowd!  141meadows051609_0988

And da boys were no less eager.  I love this shot Alicia got – I’m reminded of a statue war memorial!  In the heat of battle, the men strove for the prize!

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Now the party really gets started and keeps on going.  Those Auburn folks can party.  I think they played “Sweet Home Alabama” three times.  REally! 😉

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Then when they absolutely had to stop, the Kristen and Randell were sent running through the petals!159meadows051609_1075

What a great day despite the kooky weather!  See their whole slideshow HERE.

Ponderings on the 40th Anniversary of the Moonwalk

Posted in News, Personal on July 22, 2009 by sharizellers
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Downloaded from FoxNews.com

The ORIGINAL Moonwalk, that is.  Yes, here is where I get to admit to being somewhat of a space geek, NASA junkie, and all things related to men in rockets going to the moon.  I was watching the anniversary special on Discovery channel and realized that I still get so nostalgic about an event that I wasn’t even alive to see!  So, I give you a peek into my affection with  that which I’ve always loved and been proud of – our American experience and love affair – triumphant, rocky, and tragic at times – with the space program.

Growing up, my grandparents lived a “stones throw away” from Cape Canaveral in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.  Before I came along, it’s been said that the astronauts even jaunted down to NSB to play and race cars (they liked their cars like they liked their rockets – fast as they could be).  My grandparents had a front row seat to all the goings on during the “Space Race”, the global rush to be the first to the moon.  This means they also got to see the painful sacrifices made, too.  Some folks thought we were crazy to do what we were doing and spend money on such a venture when there were people to protect during the cold war…hmmm.

Any way, I heard the stories, the newspaper clippings and we had the local souvenirs and paraphernalia that came with the craze that swept the nation but particularly the small, once sleepy beach side towns that were on the east coast of Florida – what soon became known as the “Space Coast”.  There were even special stamps issued to commemorate the different Apollo missions that my grandmother collected – I own them now that she has passed.  So, I got swept up, too even though the race had been won by the time I was born just two years later.

What started with the race to the moon soon culminated in another space-craze as I became an elementary school student.  This was the beginning of the Space Shuttle program.  A reusuable space vehicle that would be able to do so many experiments and even complete the dream of the International Space Station – a joint mission of several nations.  While I never really envisioned becoming an astronaut (some how I knew I was an artist, not a scientist or pilot-type), I was fascinated with this extension of the space program that I could now watch play out during my time.  When I first remember visiting the Kennedy Space Center in the bicentennial year of 1976, the Space Shuttle program was very close to launch – literally -only five years away.  The program was something out of science fiction at the time we heard about it!  And then on April 12, 1981, the first Shuttle launched.  Like many of America’s school children, it became an exciting ritual when another launch was announced and we got to pull TV’s into our classroom to watch each one – it was an event!  An event we eventually took for granted…

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Downloaded from Nasa.gov

As I moved onto high school, the Space Shuttle program moved on, too.  Now, they were auditioning and interviewing for non-astronauts to become part of the Shuttle crew.  A school teacher was to go up on a mission and thousand (or millions?) of teachers applied for the position.  At our high school in Chamblee, GA, we championed our beloved art teacher, Mr. Dave Smiley, to be chosen to go on the mission. While he didn’t make it, we were still proud of the certificate he received in recognition and he hung it in his office.  Little did we know that later, we would be so glad he was not chosen.  As a nation, we suffered a loss that had not been experienced in 25 years.  It was not right.  It was painful and felt like failure. And we plugged onwards.

Then, as an adult, I was introduced to someone that worked at NASA.  I drove to Titusville several times to watch launches – daytime and evening.  This was post-911 and security prevented me from shooting the kind of images that I grew up seeing.  I had the knowledge and the equipment but just not the proximity I yearned for.  This is the price of freedom we pay.  I still enjoyed the entire event and the amazing effects that the shuttle contrail would leave in the sky for hours after launch.

At some point after Steven and I met, he mentioned that he had never seen a shuttle launch (or any launch for that matter) in person.  I, of course, dug out my film images that had been scanned and shared them with him. That led to a planning session (where he discovered that I knew waaaaay too much for a girl about when the shuttle launches each year, etc… ;o) ) and we decided to make the quick jaunt to the coast to see one of the last eleven launches of what we now know as the Space Shuttle.

This was last March and we got to see a pre-dawn launch of STS-123 at about 2:30 am, March 11, 2008.  A cloud bank rolled in right before launch that didn’t hinder the rocket but left us with not much to see after about 10 seconds or so.  I still love the effect – we should have video taped it now that I think of it!  It was still pretty amazing the way it lit up the clouds and then the clouds served as a giant diffuser casting an eerie glow all across the Indian River.

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Only seven Shuttle Launches to go before this part of our history is gone.  That’s right – they’ve developed a safer, more cost effective way of launching the Shuttle Orbiter into orbit around the Earth so there will not be the glorious, although be it dangerous, rocket launches.  Manned launches may be just a part of our history that we will experience in video and photos much like I enjoy watching the historical moonwalk today.

I want to go see at least one more launch.  This time I will rent a bigger lens. ;o)

Fall/Winter 2009 Special Packages!

Posted in Bridals, Engagements, News, Special Events, Weddings on June 30, 2009 by sharizellers

That’s right folks!  If you’ve been lurking, now’s the time to book us for your wedding!  I’ve just created some AWESOME packages that are packed with goodies at a great price.  Have you been dreaming of having a photobooth at your wedding?  Well, now you can have it included for FREE with any package!  We’ve also got some deals on albums – save even more on parents’ albums if you buy two.

These specials can be booked from now until December 31st however, your wedding can be any date.

REMEMBER:  There is a  BRIDAL REGISTRY for any products we offer!  This means your family and guests can purchase credits towards the wedding album of your dreams!  Register for canvas and print packages, too.

Click HERE for a downloadable PDF file of these offers.

And hurry! We only shoot ONE wedding per day so don’t lose your date.

April Weddings!

Posted in Weddings with tags , , , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by sharizellers

Once again, I find myself behind on blogging so we’re just going to update by combining several posts into one!

A Work of ART:  Sonia & Jan

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Sonia & Jan,  my uber-cool couple of the year were referred to me by my uber-cool couple of last year, the rockin’ Debra & Tony!  Sonia was Deborah’s maid of honor and even caught the bouquet at her wedding!  So when this gorgeous twosome contacted me about their wedding photography, I was honored and excited.  Not only was this going to be a Hindu wedding ceremony but Jan is from Denmark so they were also planning to incorporate some of his native traditions, too.  I was going to have such a great time with this multi-cultural celebration!

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I honestly don’t know how to show you just a few of my favorites.  You see, I’m fascinated by Hindu weddings.  I love the culture and the beautification rituals that proceed the wedding day.  I even got a Mendhi tattoo on my hand at Sonia’s Mendhi party.

Here at Sonia’s Pithi Ceremony, she is smeared by her best friends Deborah & Dow during a beautification ritual.

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Sonia began her wedding day getting dressed and made up at the Four Seasons.  Not only does it take an expert to wrap her wedding day sari but to help her be adorned by all the jewelry.  Her sister helps her with the many bangle bracelets.

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It was my first time visiting the Mason Murer Art Gallery and of course, my first wedding there, too. The gallery a perfect location for the wedding of these two art lovers.  After all, our engagement session for them took place in the art gallery district of Castleberry Hill!  It was also a wonderful space with some truly beautiful modern art pieces.  I think Mandi, Marlene and I each had one we wanted to take home!

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After some romantics and family shots around the gallery, we gathered for the ceremony.  This was one of the most unique mandaps I’ve ever seen – filmy and magical.  I happen to be partial to turquoise blue – it’s my favorite! – and it was the primary color of Sonia & Jan’s theme.

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My favorite “cool” shot of the day is this angle where Sonia’s mother is performing a blessing ritual on the car they will drive away in after the Vidaai.  I saw that the car was very reflective and chose to compose the image almost entirely of pure reflection.

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Sonia and Jan chose to have cupcakes instead of a traditional wedding cake!

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For my first Danish wedding tradition, I was told that their first dance would start to a traditional Danish waltz, then the couple would be surrounded by friends and family until the circle got tighter and tighter. Suddenly, the groom’s friends lifted him into the air and cut off the toes of his socks!   I wanted to do some research on this bizarre tradition and found this quote from a blog called “The Moron’s Almanac”:

“There is some dispute about the origins of this tradition. Some say it has to do with checking to be sure the groom hasn’t been sneaking around at night—if his socks smell like rye, he’s a cad. Others say it’s intended to force the bride to prove her sewing skills. Both interpretations seem strained to me—after all, it’s a little late to find out whether the groom is a cheating dog or the bride is a lousy homemaker. Even if the experiment were undertaken with an eye toward annulment, you’d hardly need to take a physical sample of the groom’s sock—you could just smell his feet—and the bride could be handed an old napkin, a spool of thread, and a needle if her sewing skills were really in question. So I’m guessing people just like cutting the groom’s socks.”

Sounds good to me! 😉

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This was an amazing day and ended with the couple being applauded as the departed the gallery. Please be sure to watch their slideshow HERE.

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Saturday In The Park:  Katie & Matt

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We didn’t start Katie & Matt’s wedding day in the park but at the Marriott on 14th for every one to get ready for the big event.  The atmosphere was so festive and the girls and guys were having a great time!  I found a great location in Katie’s hotel room to shoot my dress photo.  I try to take time at every wedding to give the bride a dress shot that really is uniqe (not just the standard dress-in-the-window shot..).

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That kinda goes for the rings, too!  The hotel’s TV was on this super glossy black credenza so I just stacked the bling and got a great reflection.

Next we headed over to my favorite church to photograph in Atlanta, The Shrine!

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This church is always easy to work in, has great light and we just love Father Henry (and he loves us!).

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Beautiful bouquets by  Tamela of Southern Bouquets!

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Some of Katie’s “Vogue” bridals – always love the arches of this church’s doorways.

reid042509_0364reid042509_0403What I did not know about with their wedding is that Katie’s mom had arranged for a childrens’ choir, The Gwinnett Youth Singers, to perform during the ceremony.  I gotta say, that was a really wonderful moment. Their angelic voices gave me goosebumps!  It really made for a magical atmosphere and it felt like we were in a movie!

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Oh, my favorite shot during the ceremony.  The sweet little flower girl was not too sure about going down that long aisle by herself until she finally saw mommy and RAN.

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After the ceremony, we were off to Piedmont Park and Park Tavern for the reception.  I was on clooooouuud NINE when Katie & Matt agreed to spend so much time with us in the park! They seemed so content to just have as many photos taken as I wanted – what more could any photographer ask!  We are always telling couples to make time to do this -you will NOT regret this part of your wedding day years later.  Spending those extra 15-20 minutes is all I ever ask for my couples to give – and Katie & Matt were up for a bit more! Just look at the results – relaxed, genuine expressions.  Love them!

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Leah Bilz of The Whole Shebang did her usual “bang up job” on the reception details – right down to the blue signature drink.  An orange football helmet cake matched the orange flowers perfectly!

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We love a good dance party for the reception and Katie & Matt’s family and friends sure did oblige. These folks had so much fun, I was laughing the whole night!

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Finally a fun departure mixture of bubbles and flower petals sent Katie and Matt on their new adventure as husband and wife!

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See all the fun of their wedding day captured in their slideshow HERE.