Hilary + Alex – An Ocoee River Barn Wedding – Cleveland, TN Photographer


If you’ve never cruised Hwy64 to Ocoee Tennessee then you’re seriously missing out. The river is B.E.A.Utiful, the whitewater rafting cannot be beat, but there’s also a sweet little barn they’ve turned from a bar into the Ocoee River Barn. It’s a lovely spot for a Country Wedding…or as Hilary and Alex would have it…a small, intimate BEACH Wedding here in the hills of Southeast TN.

I didn’t get to meet them until the day of their wedding. They both live and work in California now, and he’s in the Navy, so Hilary’s sister-in-love, and long time friend of mine, Shemayah, hooked us up.

We communicated via e-mail and text. I’ve been blessed/cursed with a gift for gut feelings about people, and upon just entering the dressing room curtain I liked her. There was this warm, happy spirit about her. Meeting the Groom proved just as easy also…and he too has a penchant for making crazy faces. That’s always a bonus to me 😉

Capturing their First Look was beautiful. He had this “WOW! Just WOW!” Expression on his face. I cannot express my love for First Looks adequately. There’s nothing like that first hand grab, then that hug. It’s a monumental private moment I leave to the couple…and my telephoto lens 😉

I literally can FEEL any tension or anxiety melt away from both Bride and Groom after that first hug. After that it was as if the world went away, and nothing else mattered.

They decorated the barn with glorious beach themed accents from tiny shell balls, shell candies, sea horse salt and pepper shakers, even the Bridesmaid’s bouquets were arranged in large sea shells, and the fella’s bouts were made of tiny starfish! The reception rocked my world with the smell of an entire bowl of BACON, a tiered shell fountain, chilled shrimp, and the most DELICIOUS fruit dip I’ve ever dreamt of…everything made largely by the sister and sister-in-love of the Bride.

You know those cake toppers where the Bride is dragging the Groom, or he’s sporting a ball and chain? This cake topper smashed that one to pieces…the Groom was dragging the Bride away from the TV and her game of Call of Duty Black Ops complete with micro game console, controler, even a TV remote! The attention to detail was brilliant!

I was a *little* addicted to the Bride’s hair also done by her fantastic hair stylist sister, and was glad she was “on tap” just in case the constant rain that fell almost all day rendered her hair in need of a rescue! Ladies: If you can do it ask about paying your hair stylist and/or make-up artist to stay with you throughout portraits! It’s a MARVELOUS think if you can do it.

We were confined to the large tree in front of the barn for our outdoor portraits due to it being the best solid “umbrella” when the rain picked up, but everyone was in such great spirits the rain couldn’t dampen them.

The ceremony started on time, and was simply smashing under the various size twinkle lights with the burlap ceiling drape, and cute Apple Basket lights!

We’d arranged to do a day after shoot in a different location so they could get more varied scenes since the rain kept us pretty confined, so we headed to The Old Woolen Mill in downtown Cleveland, TN to make some new magic.

The weather was a drastic contrast to the day before with a GORGEOUS blue sky adorned with big white puffy clouds. The Bride loves Peonies, and our Peony garden was in full bloom so for a little change, and of course that immistakeable heavenly “Piney Rose” scent, I created an all Peony bouquet for the day.

You’ll also note the Groom’s “Lucky” Bout. in a few images…the Bride’s sister Chelsie is apparently a 4-leaf clover magent…collection over 20 something that day alone! Everywhere she looked there was another, but when Hilary, Alex, and even I tried we didn’t turn a single one! She’s just got a gift I do believe.

We ended their Day After session with images in front of my favorite Southern Tree, the Weeping Willow, and as usual a weeping willow doesn’t disappoint!

So, here’s the new West Family, Hilary and Alex! Thank you for allowing me to take part in your day!

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These Cufflinks were the Bride’s gift to her new hubby! How cool are they?
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 “Can you hear the Ocean?”
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 The funniest impromptu staring contest…and she won…he couldn’t help but crack under the pressure of “that stare” 😉
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These two had a blast with their cake 😉
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And the lovely Day After started off smashing, and ended smashing!
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Surrounded by Peonies…no place I’d rather be if I was a wedding band either
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The largest Four-Leaf Clover collection I’ve ever seen…and all in less than 5 minutes!
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They tried their “luck”, but Chelsie must’ve picked them all 😉
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