Faithbrooke Barn and Vineyards wedding in Luray, VA | Michelle + Alex | Virginia wedding photographers
There’s no agreement among wedding photographers on this… but personally, I LOVE photographing the weddings of friends and people I know. I think it’s because I got my start in photography snapping candids of friends at parties, and because the thing I love most about photography is connecting with people through my lens… all of that’s amplified when I’m photographing for people I already know! Of course, I get to know all my clients, but it’s nice to skip ahead and really dig deep with people I love.
So when Michelle + Alex, friends of mine through the DC bike community, started planning how they would get hitched, I was so excited because Michelle has a great sense of style, and has done event planning professionally so I knew everything would be stylish and wonderful. But just like wedding photographers are split on taking friends on as clients, so too, often are couple split about whether or not they want to hire friends to be vendors on their big day. There’s absolutely no blanket “right” answer… everyone is different, and your mileage may vary on any given arrangement! So needless to say, when our dear mutual friend and my associate photographer, Megan Graham, asked me to be her second shooter at Michelle + Alex’s wedding, it was a no-brainer for me to say YES! Megan and I have been working together a lot lately for my clients, so it was a genuine delight to be able to turn the tables and second-shoot under Megan’s brand this go-around! Megan, my best friend Alex (a bridesmaid), and Michelle all worked together in bike advocacy years ago, and Megan’s husband Nate DJed the wedding, so it truly felt like a friends-family setup in the best of ways. When else as a photographer do you get to sit at the head table with the wedding party?!
Megan has really blossomed over at Megan Graham Photography, and you should DEFINITELY check out her official take on the wedding day here. We started the weekend by getting ready with the whole wedding party staying at the Manor House at the Mimsyln Inn in downtown Luray, Virginia. Then we headed to the fabulous new Faithbrooke Barn and Vineyards a few minutes away for the ceremony and reception. This wedding day literally has it all: vineyards, a motorcycle, a wedding party with indie style for days, a to-die-for vintage southern summer vibe… and quite possibly one of the nicest summer solstice evenings (gorgeous sun, low humidity, reasonable temperatures) ever seen at a Luray, Virginia wedding. Plus there are so many special personal touches that I can’t wait to tell you about. Michelle + Alex really outdid themselves, and I wish them so much happiness!
We incorporated Michelle’s shoes, Alex’s boutonniere, and the couple’s rings and vow books (what a great idea!) into the stationery layflat; Megan also foraged a few extra pieces of greenery from around the Manor House that morning to accent things: Michelle is a huge lover of trees, so we wanted to incorporate as much greenery as we could! A fun tidbit: don’t you love Michelle’s mustard yellow shoes? The color was an accent throughout the day… and as we were getting ready, Michelle relayed that in her hunt for wedding shoes, she’d bought an expensive pair from Anthropologie, and also a pair from Target. When she tried them on with her dress, and tried walking in them, guess which ones she kept, and which ones she returned? Target shoes for the win!! You’d never guess on your own… Michelle has such great style, and not everything has to be expensive to look amazing!
I love Michelle’s non-traditional rings, but the story about Alex’s wedding band will melt your heart: Alex was super-close to his grandfather, who’s passed away. His wedding band was his grandfather’s, and it has both Alex + Michelle’s wedding date engraved inside (not pictured), but also the original dedication and date of his grandparents’ engraved there. Oh my heart!!
Maids of honor who handwrite their speeches on paper rather than bringing their phone up for their toast? Yes, Sarah, I love you so much for this!!
Because when you’re a bridesmaid, you’ve clearly joined a girl-gang: women you drink beers and toast amaro on the porch with!
Once we finished girl-gang photos, we made sure to snap a portrait of Michelle with Megan, who was an honorary bridesmaid, and definite member of the girl-gang!
Meanwhile, Alex was getting ready inside the main part of the Mimsyln Inn, with his groomsmen, and some of the other most important men in his life! (And mom to pin on his boutonniere!, of course)
Okay, I have to love on this venue for a minute. Faithbrooke Barn and Vineyards is AMAZING. Not only does everything look really great, and can you choose your own vendors, but… everything is SO photogenic at all points of the day and night! The natural wood barn interior gives everything inside this warm glow that I really love. The ceremony site overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains, and there are vineyards, gorgeous evergreen trees, views of rolling hills, and a vintage Ford F-100 pickup truck for photo backdrops! Add in a patio with cafe lights, and fire ring (can you say S’MORES) and I feel like this gorgeous place literally has everything. Plus — and you may not realize this unless you’re a professional wedding vendor, but this is SUCH a bonus that makes everything oodles easier — every single part of the property is steps from everything else… no walking a quarter mile or needing a golf cart to get between all the good stuff! This makes things so much easier on guests, so much easier on the wedding party, and really makes your timeline go more smoothly, because there’s no wasted time getting between point A and point B.
The couple opted to skip a first look, so walking down the aisle was the moment that Michelle + Alex first saw each other on their wedding day. Both Michelle’s parents walked her down the aisle — it was such a sweet moment!
The couple had two officiants, both uncles, and both named Rob! So there were lots of warm-hearts jokes all weekend about “the Uncles Rob”. And as first-time officiants, they did a great job!
Post-recessional, the couple escaped to the bar for a quick toast with their favorite beer, then escaped to the far side of the barn for a few minutes to themselves.
Did I mention how much Michelle loves trees? So the couple hopped on Alex’s motorcycle, and we headed just down the road for some gorgeous couple’s portraits with the greenery.
Then, back to the property for wedding party portrait fun!
So, I am not a car/truck person at all, but… future couples? I’m going to need some of you to arrange to have vintage vehicles at your weddings for photo ops. Kthxbye on that! :)
Meanwhile, back at cocktail hour… the parents of the bride were goaded by their friends into their own motorcycle portrait. Just married? Maybe not quite, but… I love it!
Inside the barn at Faithbrooke, it’s a lovely, warm space with tons of natural light thanks to one wall of almost entirely windows, a vaulted ceiling, and an upstairs loft!
To get the dance floor hopping, once speeches and dances were over, we gathered all of the guests for a group photo! I took this standing on a chair from behind the railing of the upstair loft. There was an audible GASP from people when I stepped up on the chair, and Megan and I laughed. I stand on SO MANY CHAIRS! Megan had the best reply to reassure people: “don’t worry, we’re insured for this!” 😂 I mean, it’s true, we are… and don’t worry, I’m a pro and was totally safe and had no intention of falling, because YOU COULDN’T KEEP ME AWAY FROM THESE SUNSET PHOTOS WITH A WHIP AND A CHAIR.
I loved Michelle + Alex’s exit so much. Let me count the reasons! 1. They prioritized taking in the moment with their guests over it being a perfect photo op (as couples should!) 2. No sparklers were placed into the hands of tipsy guests. Sparklers are fun, but I’ve seen so many guests get hurt by them over the years, and it’s hard to time things right so that everyone’s are lit at once. It tends to make things a rush. Ribbons look great, and are totally safe! 3. They rode off into the night sky on the motorcycle, and Michelle’s helmet was SPARKLY SILVER, you guys. What a great end to the night!
So much love and kudos to my dear friend Megan of Megan Graham Photography for having me there to second shoot! And kudos and gratitude as well to the whole terrific vendor team for bringing this day to life:
Photographer: Megan ( + me!) for Megan Graham Photography | . Venue: Faithbrooke Barn and Vineyards | Day-of coordination: Brandon Elizabeth Events . | Florals: Harmony Harvest Farm | Dress: Anomalie | Hair + makeup: I Do By Laura | . DJ: Nate Graham (Megan’s husband!) | Accommodations: The Manor House at the Mimslyn Inn