Let's start back to the beginning - I first met AJ while planning Chandler and Jason's wedding. I went to the Bridal session and got to meet this "totally awesome photographer." AJ was the only vendor Chandler had already picked out when she met us - and she was completely right. AJ is a totally awesome photographer. She was pregnant, super cute, and we clicked right away. About a year later, Becca ends up doing a styled shoot and AJ was the photographer! It affirmed how much I adored this girl! We had a blast, a killer vendor team, and we all ended up staying and chatting and just had the best time.
Around this time, AJ contacted me about her special new project - The Darling Wedding Workshop. She launched into her story, how she got the idea, and what she wanted to get out of it. I just remember nodding my head and thinking the whole time- YES! For us, it wasn't about the exposure, or the notoriety of it, but we absolutely loved the whole concept. For those of you that are not in the wedding industry - it is brutal, cut throat, and filled to the gills with gossip and back stabbing. We stay far, far, away from all of that. I mean, I have toddlers - I deal with enough drama over lunches, hair brushing, and the fact that "I control my 5 year old's life." I'm good. I don't need it in my professional life. So, when she was telling us about Darling, I was hooked. I see the need, I love the transparency, and I love this girl's heart for people. There was no question that I wanted to be a part of it. I took it to the team and it was unanimous - Not only would we be more than happy to host at The Bradford, but we would love to stylize it.
So began the planning process. We brought a team of vendors who just rocked every inch of it. We wanted to make the room feel welcoming, so Greenhouse Picker Sisters donated couches, chairs, end tables, and various other pieces for the attendees. It was the cutest little set-up! AJ spoiled these girls. Each attendee got an awesome swag bag filled with goodies. Every morning, coffee and light breakfast was served. After the first day of shooting, The ladies at Greenhouse and ourselves stylized a yummy, intimate dinner from Cafe Luna on our front drive complete with market lights from Get Lit. Seriously SOMEONE put market lights there again - it was gorgeous! The Dinner was featured on Trendy Bride - and I know those ladies got some awesome pictures for their portfolio.
The second day was the big shoot. The workshop was held in July. It was hot. It was blistering hot. sunscreen was passed around all day, and the sweltering heat was almost unbearable. We started at 6 am that morning traipsing through the woods to find branches and leaves for the pergola.
Fun story: We pulled up a poisonous plants guide to make sure we were not covering it in poison oak or sumac. We were worried the entire day because all leaves look the same on the internet! It wasn't until our florist got there and said oh no - this is just Birch Tree leaves. Shew. We were in the clear and now we know what grows in our woods.
We started adding the leaves and it was just gorgeous. As the day went on, it got hotter and hotter and the leaves started to curl!! My spastic self was going around trying to spray it with water without getting the chandeliers wet. It wasn't helping, so we kept adding more and more branches hoping the pictures wouldn't show how dried and hot the leaves actually were! They didn't, thankfully.
Our models were past clients of ours who I saw at their wedding and said- I am going to call you one day to be models! A few months later, I did just that! They are just the sweetest people who genuinely love each other and it also helps that they are also a gorgeous couple! The ladies of The Stockroom/All Saints/Glass Box were our bridesmaids. They were great to work with - all of them. We had the ballroom AC going full blast and had the models come out in spurts because it was so hot, but not a single complaint was uttered from either of them. We laughed, caught up, and just had a great (sweaty) time!
I can not even begin to tell you how happy I was with this shoot. It was exactly what I wanted and AJ just knocked it out of the park with these images! Here are a few of our favorites!
It was published on Elizabeth Anne Designs - which is such an honor and is so hard to get in to! We were so thrilled to hear the news!
The attendees left with awesome photos for their portfolio, a mentor, and friends to call and lean on when the wedding industry tries to knock them down. Registration for the next workshop just opened on Sunday, and if you are a photographer who is trying to break into this world. Sign-up. It is the BEST investment you will make. This "totally awesome photographer" has so much to offer and so much to give. If you are a vendor - jump in! It is such a fun few days that will leave you with a sense of pride, accomplishment, and stunning photos of your work. Our advertising this year is amazing because of this workshop. Do it - you will not regret it!
The full vendor list :
Photography – A.J. Dunlap | Venue – The Bradford | Event Design and Decor – C & D Events | Pergola and Lighting – Get Lit Special Event Lighting | Furniture Rental – Greenhouse Picker Sisters | Floral – Artfully Arranged | Linens and China – CE Rental | Stationery – Jess Creates | Calligraphy – The Littlest Paperie | Desserts & Cake – Sugar Euphoria | Hair and Makeup – Makeup For Your Day | Gown – Watters fromThe Lily Rose | Jewelry – Erica Koesler | Suit – Jos. A. Bank | Bridesmaids Dresses – Jenny Yoo and Adrianna Papell from Bella Bridesmaids | Workshop – Darling Wedding Workshop