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Brian & Jessi- a sunrise anniversary session in Lexington, Virginia

High school sweethearts have some of the best love stories. Why? Because their’s is always one of victory. Against all odds, they made the difficult transition from high school to college, and from college to engaged to married life. Growing up along the way, likely enduring speculations from those on the outside that they wouldn’t survive the changes. But they did, and they’re even more in love than they were when they were 16. See? Victory.

So in honor of their third wedding anniversary, and of ten years together as a couple, we went back to the campus of Washington & Lee in Lexington where Brian headed after high school. Meandering around campus in the dewey morning light, listening at they recalled thoughts from earlier days. It was just plain lovely, I tell you.

Brian & Jessi, thank you! Thank you for the opportunity to photograph your love, it was such a gift to spend this time with you two! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for round 2 at JMU :). 

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Jessi - June 18, 2014 - 10:13 am

These are so beautiful Abby! :) Thanks so much for everything!! We love them <3

Mary - June 18, 2014 - 7:51 am

Ohhhhh that sunlight is to die for!!!! Such a gorgeous session, Abby!! I constantly fall in love with your style and talent at capturing the love between couples…in their own way!!! xo

Urška Majer - June 17, 2014 - 1:35 pm

This is so stunning :)

Grandma & Grandpa Taylor - June 17, 2014 - 11:55 am

My lovely grandchildren, and sweet!!!
We love you very much.
God bless you always. Grandma Taylor

Toni Warren - June 17, 2014 - 10:57 am

My daughter and son-in-law are beautiful on the inside and out and these pictures have captured that. Thank you!

Tiffany Heidenthal - June 17, 2014 - 10:34 am

Ah! I know these guys! Sweet couple. These are beautiful!

Monday Mash-Up

Have you ever woken up in the middle of a dream, completely disoriented, and SURE that whatever you were just dreaming was real? That happened this morning- I woke up at 6 am and told Matt to make sure he was up in time for the folks from the Scotch distillery, since we had a 6:15 am Scotch tasting scheduled. What?!

I’m embarking on week #3 of Paleo eating, and I’m ashamed to admit that I caved on Saturday. The cupcakes at Billy & Jenny’s wedding looked inCREDIBLE, and as we were packing up to head home with a nearly two-hour drive in front of us, I broke down and licked the frosting off the top of a red velvet cupcake. It wasn’t a proud moment, but dang. Refined sugar tastes SO. GOOD. I did find THIS blog last week though, and after making THIS recipe, I don’t think I’ll be caving again any time soon :). Those cookies were SO dang good, and were really easy to make!

As always, lessons learned/events that transpired over the past week:

  • A good second shooter is worth his or her weight in gold. I’m SO thankful to have my three AGP interns, and this weekend was a huge reminder of how lucky I am to have them! Kaitlyn & I spent the drive back from Saturday’s wedding belting out the Frozen soundtrack, along with a myriad of other broadway tunes. And it was awesome.
  • I tried making cucumber salad for the first time yesterday and I think I used too much vinegar and dill- the whole thing ended up tasting like pickles. But you know what? I didn’t hate it.
  • If you haven’t seen THIS rendition of Remix To Ignition, go watch it right. freaking. now.
  • Singing in the shower makes me feel like I could totally perform on Broadway. God bless ceramic tiles and their beautiful acoustics.
  • Our friends Lukas & Suzy (remember their anniversary session?) came and stayed with us this past weekend, and Suzy and myself totally resurrected the late night Ben & Jerry’s run in your pajamas. I’m aware that this sort of thing usually happens when you’re in college, but whatever. It was 10pm the night before a wedding and we wanted ice cream! (I got sorbet, which is kinda sorta Paleo, right?)

One last preview of Billy & Jenny’s wedding. Oh my GOSH, you guys! This one was a complete stunner! Gorgeous light, coral charm peonies everywhere, and this beautiful couple. I’m having to sit on my hands from sharing any more until their blog post!

Chesapeake Bay Beach Club wedding photo- Abby Grace

P.S. If you’re a blog follower but aren’t following my over on Instagram, go ahead and check me out: @abbygracephoto! I share way more previews over on IG than I do here on the blog :).

Terri Baskin - June 18, 2014 - 1:49 pm

I love these posts!!! And the Remix to Ignition is hilarious!!!! I knew there was a reason why I enjoyed your personality so much!

Rachel McCloud - June 17, 2014 - 8:22 am

just beautiful. as a 4 foot 11 girl who married a 6 foot 2 guy I love seeing couples like these two :)

Carrie - June 16, 2014 - 7:19 pm

STUNNING! Can’t wait to see the rest!

Mary - June 16, 2014 - 11:47 am

Your Monday mash-ups always make me laugh!! :) As for refined sugar…all that kept me going for back-to-back weddings this weekend was a bag of Swedish fish. No shame. Ha! xoxo

leah - June 16, 2014 - 10:12 am

You should check out “Against All Grain” paleo cook book. I’ve loved every recipe I’ve made from there.

Jean - June 16, 2014 - 8:57 am

Those cookies look delicious, but who has those ingredients on their shelves? Love the photo. Gorgeous bouquet!

Kait - June 16, 2014 - 8:48 am

Love the personality in this post. Your monday mash-ups crack me up! And stunning image as always!

6 Myths that Brides + Grooms need to forget when it comes to your photography

There are a lot of things that go into planning a wedding, and when you have your bride- or groom-blinders on, it can sometimes be hard to see things without your wedding-tinted glasses making you freak out about seemingly insignificant details. I know, I did the same thing when we were planning our wedding! I got really worked up about the cake flavor, like somehow choosing Chocolate Mousse Bliss for the middle layer instead of Strawberry Delight was going to mean our wedding was a colossal failure. There are some things worth stressing out over when it comes to your wedding, these next 6 bullet points just aren’t one of them. Read on!

Myth #1: More = better. This can be broken down into a hundred different facets, but we’ll narrow it down for the sake of brevity. Americans have been conditioned to believe that receiving MORE of something means they’re receiving a better product, a better deal. And I get it- everyone wants to relive their wedding day through the images, so having a photo from every second of the day is good, right?

Nope. In my experience, the higher the number of images delivered over a certain threshold, the less likely my clients are to print their wedding pictures. Why? Because they are, plain and simple, overwhelmed. Who wants to sit in front of their computer and go through 1500+ images to choose which 15-30 to print for their parents? It’s a daunting task, and you’ll end up putting it off for weeks, then months, then years. And then you’ll find yourself with kids of your own, asking where YOUR wedding photos are!

Instead, I as the photographer take it as my responsibility to cull down your wedding images into a selection of the BEST- images that show the events of the day and the tender moments in between, but also the images that are exposed properly, the ones that are in focus, photographs that are corrected for white balance, and images where everyone’s looking at the camera. So the final batch of images you’re receiving from me is one that’s been carefully curated to show your wedding in the best possible light, while still allowing you to experience it without feeling overwhelmed by the sheer mass of JPGs in your PASS gallery.

6 Photography Myths about weddings- Abby Grace

Myth #2: You NEED a second shooter. Do I almost always shoot with a second? Yep! Do I always NEED that second shooter? Nope! Sometimes, if the wedding is a small enough affair, the photography package withOUT a second shooter is your best bet. Don’t let The Knot make you feel anxious if you’re going with your favorite photographer and decided not to add on an additional photographer for the sake of your budget.

As a caveat to that, DO consider a second shooter if your wedding is going to have more than 100ish guests, or if there will be activities/ceremonial traditions occurring in rapid fire sequence throughout the evening. Your photographer is a person too, and while we do our best to capture everything that goes on at a wedding, if you know it’s going to be unusually busy, consider booking that second shooter to make sure your photographer’s not totally swamped.

Myth #3: It is essential to have the photographer answer every question on that list from The Knot. Yeah, I sort of have beef with TK. They’re an incredible resource, but they’re also really good at inducing paranoia in brides when there’s often no need for anxiety. The List, and I’m pretty sure you know which one I’m talk about, has been circulating around the interwebs for a few years now. It has 15+ questions for the photographer about everything from the equipment that they shoot with to the clothes they’ll be wearing on the wedding day. Questions that, if we’re being honest, the bride probably doesn’t really care about the answer to- she’s usually just asking because she thinks she’s supposed to do so.

It’s not that averse to answering those questions, it’s that I’d rather spend that time asking YOU about your love story, learning what the first thing was that you noticed about your fiancé. If you’ve hired a true professional for the wedding, don’t sweat about what they and their second will wear on your big day- they’ll be just fine.

6 Photography Myths about weddings- Abby Grace

Myth #4: If you don’t purchase “[fill in the blank with some sort of add-on to any vendor's services]” your wedding will pretty much be a failure. Wedding vendors are business people, and we just happen to be in the business of the biggest emotional day of our clients’ lives thus far. And I think there’s a tendency to overdo it with the scare tactics sometimes: if you don’t hire a Photo Booth, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life. If you don’t purchase a wedding album, your kids will never see your photos and your marriage might fall apart. Yada yada.

Do vendors have good reasons for wanting to sell you their products? Of course! I genuinely want my couples to have wedding albums because I know THEY will want one, but if they don’t order one, that’s ok too. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that a decision about whether or not to hire a food truck is going to have a lasting impact on your marriage.

Myth #5: You HAVE to do “(fill in the blank with some standard wedding tradition that means absolutely nothing to you).” If the thought of having your new husband remove an undergarment from beneath your dress and throw it into a crowd of single men makes your skin crawl, skip the garter toss. If neither of you like being the center of attention, cut your cake quietly in the corner without having the DJ announce it. If you don’t give a rat’s patootie about something old, new, borrowed or blue, do your thing and SKIP IT.

Myth #6: This is the only time I’m going to have all of the people I love together in one place, so I need to get as MANY photos with everyone in attendance as possible. There’s some wisdom to that sentiment, but here’s the thing: as your photographer, I want to capture your wedding day, and as someone who loves you, I want to capture you ENJOYING your wedding day. I don’t want you to spend your entire reception hunting down your Great Aunt Bertha, + Uncle Albert, + all 47 cousins so that you can get an individual shot with each of them, thus missing out on dancing to that awesome band you hired.

Your wedding is not a photo shoot- get out on that dance floor and enjoy yourself! Please, please don’t get so caught up in capturing images for later that you forget to make memories for yourself right here and now. You’ll be glad for it, your family members will be grateful, and when you look back on that image of you crumping with Great Aunt Bertha, you’re going to love it so much more than a photo of the two of you looking at the camera.

Pastel Charlottesville wedding at the University of Virginia- Abby Grace Photography

Kristi Ellis - August 14, 2014 - 8:35 am

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and these awesome tips!

Sydni Jackson - June 16, 2014 - 7:25 pm

Thank you!! I have regretted that I completely FORGOT to do the ol’ “something borrowed, blue, old, new” shazam. Thank you for relieving me of my guilt!! Also, we didn’t have dancing at our wedding because neither of us like dancing at other people’s weddings! Why would we want to feel pressured and obligated at our own wedding? No thank you!

Lauren (Jolly) Thomas - June 13, 2014 - 10:25 pm

What a great post! I love every bit of this!! Thanks for putting this out there :)

Emilia Jane - June 13, 2014 - 10:12 pm

PREACH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lindsay - June 13, 2014 - 11:07 am

Yes!!! I could not agree with this more!!

Regan Carter - June 13, 2014 - 10:52 am

This is amazing. LOVE everything you shared!! Amen aaaand amen.

Alex Hinders - June 13, 2014 - 10:06 am

LOVE THIS SO MUCH! Spot on :)

Zack & Ashleigh- a sweet summer wedding at Williamsburg Winery

The word that comes to mind when I think of these two is “joy.” Sheer, blissful, all-encompassing joy. It’s evident on their faces, in their movements, in the manner they speak to one another. Just bliss.

There’s a happy little sigh that escapes her every time he kisses her- a “there’s-nowhere-I’d-rather-be-than-here-with-you” sort of thing. And the way his entire face lights up when she nears him, it’s like he’s won the lottery. Every time he looks at her. Their joy in inescapable, and I am in love with these two.

Zack & Ashleigh, where to begin? Your wedding was just the first day of what I know will be years and years of happy sighs and eye-crinkling smiles. It was truly an honor to have been the one chosen to document your love, and I’m so grateful to know you both!! Lots of love to you!

Williamsburg Winery wedding- Abby Grace Photography

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ASHLEIGH - June 18, 2014 - 10:15 pm

Ahhhhhh, you are so fantastic Abby! It’s impossible to choose a favorite! Thank you for such BEAUTIFUL wedding photographs!

sheila smith - June 17, 2014 - 10:23 pm

Wonderful in every way, the bride was a perfect picture with a very handsome groom. The wedding was really most beautiful, I shall treasure the photos. Thank you for sending them to us.Sheila

Mary - June 13, 2014 - 7:50 pm

Gahhhhh! The sunlight in the vineyard!!! (Though every bit of this is lovely!!) Gorgeous work, pretty lady!! xo

Kathryn Grace - June 12, 2014 - 4:45 pm

So lovely!

Lindsay - June 12, 2014 - 3:15 pm

So elegant and joyful! I love this Abby!

Jean - June 12, 2014 - 1:21 pm

Oh my goodness! What a gorgeous wedding and you did a wonderful job of documenting it. My favorite is the one with the gate, but all are beautiful.

Monday Mash-Up

Monday. We meet again.

Normally, I LOVE Mondays. But I’m still currently trying to recover from this past weekend’s wedding hangover, and all I really want to do is watch Harry Potter movies and nurse a cup of English Breakfast. But this week is a doozy, so it’s back to work I go!

This past weekend’s wedding brought me to New Haven, CT for Dan & Liz’s gorgeous Yale affair. It was absolutely STUNNING, I can’t wait to share it with y’all! Coral charm peonies, Vera Wang, Yale’s castle-like campus, it was beautiful from start to finish. Totally worth the 15+ hours I ended up in my car in transit to and from.

As always, lessons learned/things that transpired over the past week:

  • Matt asked if he could practice driving my car last week in a Reston Town Center parking garage (it’s stick shift, and his is an automatic). Good idea in theory, but then we ended up stalling out three times in front of a group of teenagers, who then proceeded to ask if we needed help. We laughed and explained the situation, and as we were leaving, one of the kids gave us some sage advice: “Stay pure!”
  • There’s nothing more freeing than driving on the highway with the windows down and sunroof open, admiring the gorgeous blue skies and warm sun on your skin. Each different season has its own merit, and to me? This is what makes summer special.
  • I started eating Paleo about a week and a half ago, and so far, so good! I don’t typically weigh myself so I have no idea if I’ve actually shed any pounds, but I FEEL good and my clothes definitely fit better! And now I’ve got Matt hooked, too :). We’ll keep you posted!
  • I’ve recently become hooked on watching videos of baby goats. And I don’t know why.
  • Also recently: I kind of want to move out to the country and buy a farm. But I have a feeling that’s a result of visiting Big Spring Farm last week. I dare you to see Buddy & Jill’s home and not want the same thing!
  • I’m so fancy. < That song’s been stuck in my head for days! And I don’t hate it.

So, I don’t usually pull out the 24mm for anything other than dancing shots, but Yale’s campus demands anything but the ordinary. So beautiful!

New England wedding at Yale University- Abby Grace Photography

Sydni Jackson - June 16, 2014 - 7:29 pm

So it’s not just me then?? I felt THE SAME WAY after going to Emily & Joe’s wedding at Big Spring a few weekends ago. To make it worse, my brother-in-law got married at Veritas Winery in Afton a few weeks prior. Maaaan I wanna live in southwest VA!!

Evangeline Graham - June 12, 2014 - 10:42 pm

Hi Abby
I was a guest at Liz and dan’s wedding and in between dancing and meeting with everyone, you were everywhere!You were up on chairs, snooping in corners, and even up front and center just to get the right shots! Well done! I cant wait to see more pics from the Liz and Dan wedding!
Thank you.
Mrs Graham

Lorin - June 12, 2014 - 2:07 pm

Hilarious driving story! My hubby is teaching me to drive his stick shift right now & we’re definitely made a few kids/parents who happened to be in almost-empty school parking lot a little nervous with all the circles I drove.

Speaking of baby goats, this video is too adorable! A dear friend of mine from church is crazy in love with them & we watched this a couple weeks ago:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/22/frostie-baby-goat-wheelchair-photos-video_n_5368083.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000023

Sarah Bradshaw - June 9, 2014 - 1:33 pm

STUNNING.

Jean - June 9, 2014 - 10:17 am

Beautiful photos! I think you would love living in the country! Have a great week!