How long have you been a photographer?
I started way back in 1998, where I was originally a film photographer! It’s crazy to have seen all the changes and trends throughout the years but it also hits home the importance of not allowing them to influence your work too much. From day one, it’s always been about documentary wedding photography, shooting those real moments to guarantee your wedding story is timeless.
How would you describe your style of photography?
I call myself a wedding photo-journalist. I definitely shoot all the beautiful portraiture and details but I am also intent on telling your wedding day story in the most natural way possible and capture how it feels because in the long run when you look through your wedding day gallery, that’s what I want you to remember.
What details do you believe make the best photographs?
I love those in-between moments. I think those fleeting, honest snippets really tell the story of the day. Most of the time my most ecstatic reactions from clients are over these special, forgotten moments when they didn’t even know I was watching.
What is your favorite thing about working in the wedding industry?
You know, it’s all good. Being in it for 20 years, I’ve seen it grow from a tight knit group to this expansive crowd now. And though I may not know as many of the people in it, as it’s exploded, we’re still a pretty solid community overall and enjoy working together every weekend. There’s this easy camaraderie we all have with each other working towards making the day as perfect as possible. We’re a pretty lucky group to share in one of the happiest days of a family’s life.
What is the most difficult thing about photography and what is the most rewarding when it comes to weddings?
Hmmm, I don’t know about difficult but with pinterest and instagram there may be more managing of expectations. A lot of images that might be initially desired are actually created under super unique and controlled circumstances. But I swear, the couples I seem to click with are literally just the best and luckily we always seem completely in sync by the time the wedding day rolls around! With such a crowded field, I never lose sight of the fact that it’s an honor that they chose me – trusted me – to document their day, so I really take that seriously and feel rewarded by that.
What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give couples who are looking for a photographer?
Really research your photographer. Explore their portfolio to make sure it fits your vision. Is their style consistent and compelling? Dive deep, ask to see reception photos. Make sure you hire a professional that knows how to handle the rhythm and pace of a sometimes hectic and challenging day because experience matters. Schedule a phone call or in person meeting to make sure your personalities are compatible – you’re going to spend the majority of the day together so you’ll want to make sure the comfort level is perfect!
Julia and Jake kissed their way into forever at Lesner Inn on May 25, 2019 overlooking the Lynnhaven River. The day was perfected with light blues, cake to feed the guests as they danced the night away, and love that filled Lesner Hall to the brim. After their big day was over, we asked Julia and Jake to take a second a reminisce on their relationship and their wedding day – take a look at their love story below!
How, when, & where did you meet?
Jake and I met back in 2013 while both attending Longwood University.
Tell us your engagement story? When did it happen?
Jake had been stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina for the past two years, so Jake’s mom and I went down to visit him for the weekend in September 2018. The three of us met up for lunch in Fayetteville Downtown Historic District, which is a beautiful area with lots of cute boutiques and shops. After lunch, Jake and I were walking around downtown sightseeing, and Jake got down on one knee and popped the question. In a funny twist of events, Jake had the ring box in his back pocket during lunch so he had to pry it open with a pocket knife because it was bent…his execution wasn’t as smooth as he had hoped for but I still said yes.
What made you pick Lesner Inn as your wedding venue?
Jake and I were both immediately drawn to the Lesner Inn. Aside from how beautiful the venue is, my favorite aspect of the Lesner Inn is the Sunset Deck. I’ve always known that I wanted to get married by the water, but I loved that the Sunset Deck offered shade and protection from inclement weather, as well as phenomenal scenery to serve as the backdrop for us as we said our vows.
What additional vendors did you choose for your wedding day, and why?
We didn’t really exceed the standard choice of vendors most couples choose. For obvious reasons, we hired a florist, photographers, DJ, hair/makeup artists, and a bakery. (Fairfield Flowers, Blushwood Studio Photography, DJ Barry McKay, Darling & Dapper, and Plaza Bakery). These vendors were all chosen based off of online reviews and exceptional conversations/meetings with each respective vendor. One decision that we made during the planning process was hiring The Happy Hour Hostess to assist us with the “day of” coordinating—which turned out to be one of the best decisions we made.
What décor & other design aspects of your wedding were most important to you?
I was a pretty carefree bride so I didn’t dwell on decor as much as much as I probably should have. But it meant a lot that the majority of my decor/signs were made by both my mother-in-law and my maid-of-honor, who are two of the most creative souls I’ve ever known.
What was your vision for your wedding day?
I guess the words I’d use to describe my vision for the wedding day would be rustic, relaxed, and classic.
What unique details did you add to your wedding?
The only really unique detail we added was that the handkerchief in Jake’s pocket was a piece of his grandmother’s own bridal gown—which she had Jake’s names stitched into. As a side note, I had to put my dog (who had been the love of my life for 15 years) down days before our wedding, so it meant a lot to see that my mother-in-law had added his picture to the memorial table.
What were you most excited for your wedding day?
It’s hard to pinpoint just one aspect that I was excited for…it’s cliche but I think I was most excited to walk down the aisle with my father and to see Jake standing at the arch.
How did you handle the stress of wedding planning? Were there any major hiccups along the way?
There weren’t any major hiccups during the planning process, but again, our coordinators definitely helped ensure things ran smoothly for us. As far as handling the stress of planning, I self medicated with Cabernet Sauvignon and copious amounts of cardio to keep the stress at bay.
Do you have any advice for couples who are planning their weddings now?
My biggest recommendation to anyone planning a wedding is to utilize a coordinator—Krystinia and Carrie were a crutch for us in the weeks leading up to the wedding and of course the day of.
A wedding coordinator is something we suggest as well! They help take so much off your plate the weeks leading up to the wedding and the day of! We actually offer day-of coordination services as well, just ask us about it! And, of course, a huge thank you to Julia and Jake for sharing their reflection of their wedding day!
Day-of Coordinator: Happy Hour Hostess
Photographer: Blushwood Studios
Florist: Fairfield Flowers
DJ: Barry McKay
Hair/MUA: Darling and Dapper
Bakery: Plaza Bakery
Bridal Gown: BHLDN
From the beginning you were absolutely amazing. Through all of the changes I made you were so kind. I just want to thank you for making our day amazing.
What a beautiful venue! Our wedding at the Lesner Inn was absolutely perfect. Cayleen and Alexis are just amazing. True professionals with an eye for detail. Everything was taken care of beautifully. We couldn’t have asked for better people or better views on our special day.
I could NOT be happier with the service from Lesner Inn. Our coordinator Liz was SO helpful each time we met with her and had questions. The ceremony and receptions spaces were absolutely beautiful. If I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t change a thing and I would recommend this venue to anyone!
I don’t think I can truly describe how much my husband and I enjoyed having our wedding ceremony at the Lesner Inn. I looked at and researched several places, but after my first conversation with Elizabeth, I already knew the venue was going to be perfect for us. It began when they were able to work with me on very short notice. Elizabeth made me feel completely relaxed about the process, not even concerned that time was short. She fully explained all my options and was very patient, even when I made changes along the way. The amount of services Lesner Inn provided made planning this wedding almost stress free for me. The locations was beautiful and simple in a perfect way. It truly was the right location and size for my close family and friends. Even my husband has commented on it several times since then. He isn’t want to have an opinion on these things and yet he has expressed how much he liked it over and over. He absolutely loved the location and had so much fun. Knowing he truly loved it makes me even happier about my choice. Thank you Elizabeth, and the staff at Lesner Inn. It was an experience better than I ever could have hoped for!
The Lesner Inn was a phenomenal venue to have Kayla and I’s wedding. The customer service was top notch. Cayleen helped Kayla and I through the whole process. I remember the night of the wedding I asked Cayleen several times what I could do to help and she told me I should just relax and have fun because she was covering everything. She was correct. She handled every extremely professionally.
We used several of the vendors recommended by the Lesner Inn and they all performed very well. It was an excellent evening. I recommend the Lesner Inn and specifically Cayleen highly to couples looking for a gorgeous venue and an incredibly memorable evening.
I am speechless! Friday was truly amazing. You went above and beyond to make our day so special! We loved every second of the night. Thank you also for the champagne glasses and kitchen towel. You are so sweet! Everyone raved about the night. You and Lesner Inn are AMAZING!
Kyle & Elise Miller
Alexis & Cayleen,
Thank you so much for making March 24th the best day of our lives!! We truly can’t thank you enough. The cups you gave to us were so sweet and thoughtful! You both are wonderful at what you do and made us feel so special!