As I mentioned in Kyla + Will's Engagement Blog, the list of vendors that came together to make our Spring 2021 Content Styled Shoot come to life were incredible.
I highlighted the Thistle Styling Suite at Hidden Springs Venue in Kyla + Will's blog, but you get to see it here also! We started off getting ready there, and the natural light and details were stunning. Can you imagine waking up from a small slumber party with your bridesmaids and getting ready right there?! What a dream!
While the bride was being prepped inside, the vision for the ceremony was taking shape outside. Wedding ceremony hoop from Loga Weddings, Rugs from Sittin' Pretty Rentals, Florals from Dunlap Flower Shop, and Floral Styling by Arika Culp of Wedd Assist. The beautiful chairs belong to Hidden Springs Venue.
The fun part about both hosting and participating in styled shoots is seeing how other photographers work and getting to be in on some of their creative process. We set up a few groups of photographers to work together and had them rotate through different sets.
When I came up on this set, the photographers working with Kenston and Mackenzie had posed them in one of the chairs that we had set up for the ceremony. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have thought of that, but I loved it and started snapping!
From that experience, I now also know some new seated poses to use in the future! The experience of styled shoots is ALWAYS worth the investment for me.
So let's talk about models... It is common practice when prepping a styled shoot to enlist models. I, however, don't do that. I like using REAL couples, because that's who my clients are! Mackenzie and Kenston, like countless other couples, planned their wedding for 2020 and had to endure several postponements. They decided forever just couldn't wait, so they eloped in an intimate ceremony and are preparing for a formal ceremony + reception in July 2021. So, count those up... These two have THREE weddings: their 2020 elopement, this styled shoot, and their upcoming PARTY!
Fun fact: They told us during shooting that the day of the styled shoot was their original wedding day that they wound up postponing.
Isn't it neat how things have a way of working out? :)
I love following Mackenzie @making_mackenzie and Kenston @koneal2013 on social media. It seems they're always adventuring taking weekend trips and having all sorts of mini adventures, but it's obvious that the thing they love the most is simply being together. And I totally dig that about them.
So, what's it like being a model for a styled shoot? I would imagine it's like an all day First Look. It's easy to focus in on one another with all the ambiance of a wedding day without any of the pressure.
I was going to take credit for prepping them for their actual wedding day portraits, but I'll be honest... They didn't need our help! When it comes down to it, my job is to capture the connection, and it's effortless between these two.
I think this is the part when Mackenzie said, "Should we be doing something?" "Umm... That. Just keep doing THAT." lol
One thing that really got to me while we were standing there was just the way that Kenston holds Mackenzie. Gentle yet firm. Protective yet delicate. And from seeing the two of them interact with one another, I can tell that his love for her could be described in much the same way.
They were so precious, that it was very much a "Just... don't... move..." situation. And I love that simply being there and enjoying a moment together made for such a beautiful picture.
It doesn't always take smoke and mirrors. The connection is the magic here.
They had fun practicing their walk down the aisle together. Even though they are already husband and wife, it's going to be so special when they get to share that moment with family and friends in just a couple months!
I love the extra time that we get during a styled shoot to do all the fun stuff. When everyone is there having a great time, the energy is so fun, and the images always turn out great! Genuine smiles always show through.
It's always fun to me to have a little mini photo shoot for both the bride and groom individually while the other stands with me at camera and hypes them up.
I think it worked. :)
Monica's Bridal holds a special place in my own heart as I am a Monica's bride myself, but their accessories are also out of this world. This incredible veil, hair comb and earrings were on loan from Monica's, and the accessories definitely deserved their own little moment.
Kenston is my kind of groom. While we were doing bridals, someone offered him a glass of champagne, and he grabbed TWO! lol
I made the executive decision to leave the champs in a few shots, because I love a man who loves champagne!
I LOVE this side by side of the two of them. They complement each other in every kind of way.
And let's please discuss how Mackenzie was working that dress from Monica's Bridal like it was her full-time job... But check it... This boss lady is a teacher AND a personal health and wellness coach AND killing the wifey game. SHE IS GOALS!
And since they were as pretty as a picture, we took some more by the water.
Hidden Springs Venue has the best of Southeast Tennessee. Woods, water, and natural landscapes make for the most beautiful backgrounds for ceremonies, portraits, and receptions. You would think it was in the middle of nowhere, but it's surprisingly convenient to Ooltewah, Apison, and Cleveland especially.
This veil from Monica's was a STUNNER. We had to get some more shots of it in action. Plus, I'm a sucker for a good veil shot.
Let's talk for a second about collaboration. First of all, collaboration is often necessary for a veil shot. Second shooters and assistants at weddings come in handy for this. If I don't have one, it's a good thing I'm an extrovert. I have been known to grab an officiant, a DJ, or the wedding planner to hold the veil a second. (Do it for the gram!) Second, a little story... Ashley Overby reached out to me about helping co-host with this shoot, because she knows styled shoots are my jam! In a prior one we did together, she took the most beautiful veil shot that looked, to me, like a watercolor portrait. I was obsessed with it immediately. During this styled shoot, she stood side by side to me and showed me how she did it and even held the veil to help me achieve the shot! Collaboration over competition. A rising tide lifts all ships.
Also. Check out this picture.
"Y'all just hug a second before we move on to our next location... Kenston, tell Mackenzie a dirty joke."
I have no idea what he actually told her, but it made her laugh. :)
So, naturally fitting, this champagne wall from Scenic City Picnics and Events was perfect for these two in lieu of cake! If you're going to serve champagne at an event, it might as well be functional AND fabulous! This is also a great self-serve option for toast time or cocktail hour.
Take one down and pass it around...
Alright, now it's about to get lit, because we're POPPIN BOTTLES!
One of the things I love the most about Mackenzie + Kenston is that even in this moment when it was a little more like a real wedding... a dozen photographers all staring at you with cameras pointed on them... they never lost sight of each other.
Not even for a moment.
It doesn't take much time spent around the two of them together to know they've got that staying power. I can't wait to see the photos from their July wedding when they tie the knot - third time's the charm, you guys! It's going to be so fun to tell your grandchildren one day how you were married three times. lol
Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. O'Neal on your elopement, your fake wedding, and your upcoming real wedding! Y'all are precious, and I am pumped we're all friends now so I can keep up with all the wonderful things you'll do together, because I know the best is yet to come for you two.
PHOTOGRAPHER | Ivey Photo, Paige Ivey Evatt
VENUE | Hidden Springs Venue
DRESSES, TUXES, + JEWELRY | Monica’s Bridal
MODELS | Mackenzie + Kenston O'Neal
HAIR | Alexis Holloway, The Big Tease Salon
MAKEUP | Glammed by Whitney Nicole, The Lashery
FLOWERS | Dunlap Flower Shop
FLORAL DESIGN | Arika Culp with Wedd Assist
CHAMPAGNE WALL | Scenic City Picnics
DÉCOR | Sittin Pretty Rentals
DÉCOR | Loga Weddings
DAY-OF COORDINATOR | Emily Dischler
CO-HOSTS | Ivey Photo + Ashley Overby Photography