Two Families Unite in Love Two Families Unite in Love
The ceremony would be held right by the river, with a stunning mountain backdrop. I went down with Ali to assess whether the arbor... Two Families Unite in Love

The ceremony would be held right by the river, with a stunning mountain backdrop. I went down with Ali to assess whether the arbor was still in place. Unfortunately, the arbor had fallen partially in the river, and after quite the struggle, and to no lack of effort on Ali’s part, we decided to do away with the arbor. Luckily, nature’s backdrop that day was gorgeous enough as is.

Melissa’s Sons stood by Ali as Brooke walked Melissa down the path to the ceremony site. There, in the middle of the valley, by the rushing river, and the mountains in the background, Melissa and Ali stood hand in hand. The couple chose to recite their vows to each other and I will never forget them. Ali recounted to Melissa about all the teams she has been on in her life- some of them have failed, but that she knew that this is the most important team she would be a part of. Melissa stated that she knew they would be there for each other through all of life’s ups and downs, and that she was so excited to be on this adventure with Ali. And as if my heart couldn’t have swelled any more, Ali gave each of Melissa’s children a gift to remind them that all though they are family by marriage, that they are “loved by choice.”

I cannot describe what an honor it was to capture Ali and Melissa’s wedding day. As much as I love a huge celebration, the intimate moments I got to witness this day were so special and I am so humbled to be a part of such an important day in this family’s life.

Ali is a Police Officer and Melissa was working in the Sheriff’s office when they met. Melissa told me that they quickly became friends, and that friendship turned into love. Not only did Melissa fall in love with Ali, but Melissa’s three children absolutely adore her.

When Melissa asked me to photograph their Elopement in the Shenandoah Valley, I knew how special this ceremony was going to be, but it did not prepare me for just how amazing this day would be.

The forecast called for rain and clouds all week, but as I drove up and down the mountain to the Foggy River Lodge cabin Ali and Melissa rented for the weekend, the sun suddenly came out of the clouds, and somehow, on that March day, the temperature reached almost 80 degrees.

When I arrived, Melissa was getting ready for the ceremony and Ali was attempting to put up their wedding arbor by the river. When Ali got back to the cabin, she expressed her frustration with trying to set up the arbor in the mountain wind and was unsure if it would stay up. I could tell that her frustrations stemmed from trying to make this ceremony as special as she could for Melissa.

In the Bridal Suite, Melissa got ready with her Daughter, Brooke. I love how special their bond is, and this was made even more evident when watching them prep together. While they finished getting ready, I made my way to the cabin’s wrap around porch to capture one of my favorite parts of any wedding day- the details, and this day was full of special touches. Melissa gave Ali a beautifully engraved pocket watch, and Ali surprised Melissa with a wedding band she had fused to her engagement ring. Melissa and Ali also added charms of their recently passed dogs on Melissa’s bouquet and Ali’s boutonni√®re. Being a dog lover myself, this detail definitely tugged on my heart strings.

Back in the suite, Melissa and Brooke were almost done getting ceremony ready, and Melissa helped Brooke put on a necklace and bracelet that Ali’s Mom had given them- Again, another thoughtful touch. And my favorite part of the “getting ready moments”? Brooke helping her mom tie on her wedding gown. Such a beautiful moment.

The ceremony would be held right by the river, with a stunning mountain backdrop. I went down with Ali to assess whether the arbor was still in place. Unfortunately, the arbor had fallen partially in the river, and after quite the struggle, and to no lack of effort on Ali’s part, we decided to do away with the arbor. Luckily, nature’s backdrop that day was gorgeous enough as is.

Melissa’s Sons stood by Ali as Brooke walked Melissa down the path to the ceremony site. There, in the middle of the valley, by the rushing river, and the mountains in the background, Melissa and Ali stood hand in hand. The couple chose to recite their vows to each other and I will never forget them. Ali recounted to Melissa about all the teams she has been on in her life- some of them have failed, but that she knew that this is the most important team she would be a part of. Melissa stated that she knew they would be there for each other through all of life’s ups and downs, and that she was so excited to be on this adventure with Ali. And as if my heart couldn’t have swelled any more, Ali gave each of Melissa’s children a gift to remind them that all though they are family by marriage, that they are “loved by choice.”

I cannot describe what an honor it was to capture Ali and Melissa’s wedding day. As much as I love a huge celebration, the intimate moments I got to witness this day were so special and I am so humbled to be a part of such an important day in this family’s life.¬†


Venue: Private Residence
Photographer: Morgan Lee Photography