I'm a storyteller who believes life is made up of the little moments and that the best photographs look for the in-between
If I had a do-over on my wedding, this micro wedding comes close to my dream wedding (plus a big dance party to Bollywood music because THAT part of my wedding was super fun).
Rebekah and Tommy did their first look at sunrise in Shenandoah National Park, held an intimate late afternoon ceremony with family at a vineyard, and ended the day with a very chill Airbnb “reception” dinner filled with some of their favorite foods.
Like many people in 2020, having a micro wedding wasn’t Plan A for Rebekah and Tommy. Originally, they planned on a much bigger celebration (that fingers crossed will happen this year) at Grace Estate Winery in Crozet.
But a couple months before their October wedding, they decided to downsize A LOT to just immediate family and a handful of friends and reschedule their big celebration to 2021.
Making that change meant some really cool things could happen instead.
One: They booked a couple of big Airbnbs for everyone to stay at together (something I highly recommend for intimate weddings). Booking a single accommodation or two allows you to spend lots of quality time with the people who are your nearest and dearest. And it means even if you don’t get to talk in depth to everyone ON your wedding day, you’ll see and hang out with them over the course of the weekend (or week).
Even if you have a big wedding, you can also do something like this with your family or bridal party! Especially if there are people coming into town for your wedding who you really want to see, this gives you the gift of time with them amid an otherwise busy weekend.
Two: Rebekah and Tommy got to experience a first look in Shenandoah National Park at sunrise and then do the full ceremony with their family and friends that evening at Grace Estate.
I took them to one of my favorite spots in Shenandoah on probably the most beautiful morning up there I have ever seen. This summit gives 270 degree views of the valley below. That morning a storm was rolling in far in the distance, which meant there were dramatic cloudy skies, a rainbow, high winds and sunlight streaking between the storms. As we were leaving, fat raindrops began to fall and we were able to get into our cars before the skies opened briefly.
One of the things about Shenandoah National Park is there is literally no way to predict what the weather is going to do. It’s always different and always a roll of the dice until you get up there and see what’s going on! Also, this summit can get crowded, especially in the fall. But, I know a secret spot and the setting, even with all its weather variances, can’t be beat for its beauty. After their sunrise first look, we all went back to Charlottesville for naps (me home and them to their Airbnbs).
Late afternoon, I re-joined them to photograph the end of getting ready, detail shots and some candids before we went to Grace Estate Winery for their ceremony.
Rebekah’s dad officiated and then someone brought out a portable speaker. They drank wine, did first dances and hung out on the deck of the main house at Grace Estate before heading back to the Airbnbs for a casual “reception” of empanadas, beer and conversation.
After their wedding day, Rebekah posted:
“Thank you to Kara Leigh Creative for helping us pivot our wedding plans and for capturing the most magical day. Her [my] number one piece of advice when we called about changing our wedding plans was to treat this like an adventure; we leaned into her advice and had the most us wedding day we could have imagined.”
“If you have the option, hike your wedding dress up a mountain, change in the woods, wear leggings and hiking boots, and throw a fuzzy sweatshirt on over your dress in between shots. You won’t regret it.”
In my opinion, carving out time on the day of your wedding for just the two of you is SO important. Even if you are having a traditional wedding, consider doing a sunrise first look. That may be the only space all day you truly have to hang out with each other. And then, in the evening, focus on your family and friends and enjoy the community you have built together.