Back in November, Jeffery and Lauren came to Blacksburg from Louisville, Kentucky for their engagement photos. It was FREEZING cold with an extra frigid relentless breeze whipping around everywhere. It is Blacksburg after all. We turned blue and purple and still made it look good. Don’t they look warm? It is from the love.
Come back soon to see photos from their wedding at Mountain Lake Lodge this spring!
Lauren and Eli are alumni of Virginia Tech who are now living in Colorado. They met when they were students, both working at Virginia Tech Union. Eli oversaw smaller, indie concerts and Lauren was his assistant [though they didn’t really connect until a couple of years later]. After graduation, Eli moved to Nashville and Lauren headed up to Chicago to attend graduate school. They reconnected and made a long-distance relationship before Lauren decided to move to Tennessee and live together. He flew up to Chicago to drive Lauren and her two screaming cats back to Nashville.
Four years later, they went to Chicago for a music festival. Eli insisted that they stop at Millennium Park for photos. He proposed to her there at the exact same spot she took him to show him the city and explain why it is so special four years earlier. He had made a note on his phone that night saying it would be “the” spot for a proposal one day.
I’m so happy that they made time for an engagement shoot with me while they were visiting Virginia for the holidays. We met up at Virginia Tech campus which we had almost completely to ourselves and wandered around in the cold and empty alleyways of Blacksburg dodging the occasional drizzle. Finally, they indulged my weird desire to take engagement photos in a parking garage in front of car headlights. They will be getting married on their 5 year anniversary in New Orleans and returning to Blacksburg for a reception at Bottom of the Stairs that I am super excited to be attending!
This was my first chance to take Virginia Tech graduation photos for one of the members of the Hokie cheerleading squad! We started out at Amber’s favorite bar, Big Al’s, made our way around campus from the iconic Virginia Tech sign on Main Street to Burruss Hall. Amber is very outdoorsy, so we found a more rural feel out at Heritage Park with fields of grain and an old barn. We went back to campus to meet up with Amber’s cheer partner for some stunts then wrapped it all up on the Pylons in front of Torgersen Bridge.
I am eternally grateful to Stephanie of Diamond Events for connecting me with Russell and Emily. We hit it off immediately from our initial phone call to our in-person meeting, I just love this couple so much! They told me the story of how they met when they were students at Virginia Tech where Emily tutored Russell at math. One of my favorite parts of the reception was when the maid of honor retold this story complete with flip charts and in story form inspired by Dr. Seuss. Russell proposed to Emily by having her best friend and maid of honor dress up Emily’s favorite horse in the barn at Virginia Tech where he asked her to be his wife.
When I arrived at the German Club Manor at Virginia Tech on the day of their wedding, the weather for the day was starting to look a little ominous. Sure enough, by the time Emily was putting on her Allure Bridals wedding dress, Blacksburg was hit with a downpour complete with a flash flood watch. We didn’t let the cloudburst ruin our fun, the first look we had planned for Duck Pond was scooted over to the porch of Solitude. It was here that we first got a look at Russell’s hot pink chicken and waffles socks and his Virginia Tech suspenders. In a real-life Cinderella moment, Russell helped Emily into a pair of hiking boots, so she wouldn’t ruin her custom “something blue” wedding shoes while walking through the mud. We caught a break between showers and did end up being able to take some photos by the Duck Pond before we headed back to the Manor for the wedding ceremony and reception.
Diamond Events put together a beautiful ceremony space with a large wooden altar draped in white flowing fabric and the aisle lined in a garland of white, pink, and maroon flowers which they magically flipped during the cocktail hour to double as the reception location. Kanta Bosniak officiated their wedding ceremony and did a lovely job of telling Russell and Emily’s love story and was kind enough to share her words with me for this blog post:
They met in the fall of 2012 when Emily was his math tutor at the student success center. He chose her because her name was the only one on the list he could pronounce. They saw each other every week and became friends. In a move that may have been part education and part attraction related, he persistently convinced her to tutor him for Calc 2. They began hanging out in the spring of 2013 and by the late winter, their friendship had deepened. They had their first kiss in February 2014 and in March, on the first day of spring break, they decided to call it “dating.”
As synchronicity would have it, they both went on spring break on the same island in South Carolina. She was meeting a friend there and he was on a Habitat for Humanity service trip. It was during this trip that they both realized they had met their special person. Russell developed a plan and implemented it with the help of family and friends. First, he asked Emily’s Dad and Mom for their blessing in January 2017. In the spring, he initiated phase 2. In May, he asked their friend Andrea to help coordinate and set the stage at the Equestrian Center at Virginia Tech.
On Mother’s Day Weekend, she invited Emily to come to meet her at the barn on the way to Mother’s Day dinner at the Palisades. All their family was to be present at the dinner and both were aware of what was about to happen. When Emily arrived, Andrea left… and there was Russell with candles lit and roses. He led her to a photo-collage of pictures of them over the years, dropped down on one knee, and they made each other a promise that is fulfilled today.
Following their ceremony, we were lucky enough to get another break in the rain to take photos which I was so thrilled about – sorry not sorry for the 4 million bride and groom photos in this blog post.
Kidd Carter of Blue Ridge Entertainment and K92 provided the entertainment for the night. Who gets starstruck by a local radio DJ? This girl. Russell and Emily’s friends and family members are so much fun, as soon as the first special dances were over, EVERYONE hit the dance floor. This provided the perfect opportunity for me to run directly over to the buffet stations from Hazelbea Catering including a mac and cheese station, Mexican food, and Asian lettuce wraps. Speaking of the first dance, Russell and Emily rocked it big time and had obviously been practicing because I was able to get tons of stunning spinning dress photos! Once everyone had danced to the Hokie Pokey, played air guitar, and completely danced their butts off, it was time to send off the happy couple with a sparkler send-off complete with a dip and a kiss. Congratulations to Emily and Russell, thank you for letting me document your special day!
Blacksburg Wedding Vendors
Blacksburg, Virginia Wedding Photographer: Holly Cromer
Wedding Planner and Florist: Diamond Events
Wedding Officiant: Kanta Bosniak
Hair and Makeup: Elite Style Salon
Cake Baker: Casey’s Cake
Caterer: Hazelbea Catering
Wedding Bands: Brilliant Earth
DJ: Kidd Carter, Blue Ridge Entertainment
Wedding Dress: Allure Bridals from The Bride’s House
Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Jos A Banks
Videographer: SJ Video
Wedding Venue: German Club Manor, Virginia Tech