It's hard enough finding your soul mate. It's even harder to blend two families together, no matter how perfect your relationship may be. This is a short love story about Michelle and Sam, who touched our hearts with their visit to Honeysuckle Hills for a couples only wedding.
Yes... I said couples "only," even though Michelle and Sam brought along their four children (plus a boyfriend.) We always allow the children to come for the couples only wedding packages, because we feel that by including them it strengthens the marriage bond. The children need to feel important, and by giving them simple duties in the wedding ceremony, they feel as if they are part of this sacred covenant.
I think one major mistake couples make prior to marriage is not allowing their children to get to know each other long enough. Introducing them to a potential spouse too soon can also be detrimental to the child and the relationship. I was most impressed to hear that Sam and Michelle waited an entire year before letting the kids meet each other. (I am not saying everyone should wait that long, but this speaks volumes about this couple's maturity level and the fact they placed the children's needs before their own.) Three years later, "Mr. Sam" brought Michelle some flowers, and Ben decided that he was his mother's boyfriend. When asked how he felt about that, he quickly replied, "Oh I think it's great!"
Seven years later, that's where the Honeysuckle Hills wedding venue in Pigeon Forge came in. We're the ones responsible for the official bonding of all present... Sam, Michelle, Ben, Katie, Tori, and Sarah. Leslie had to keep a hanky close by at all times, because I teared up more than once. It started right after the wedding ceremony outside in our pavilion by the creek during their first dance. Sam and Michelle wanted a first dance even though they weren't having a larger wedding with reception, so we arranged it to occur right after they were pronounced husband and wife. The chemistry between this couple was noted immediately!
It's important to mention at this point that when you come to Honeysuckle Hills, how long you reserve your wedding is pretty important. First, we have a lot of outdoor wedding backgrounds, scenes, and props spread over 25 acres. The photograph at the top of this blog was taken with one of our props, a simple picture frame (quite popular on Pinterest at the moment.) The second thing requiring a little more time is the way we go about our photography. Believe it or not, two different lights were used in that top family photograph, and a little overlay added later during the artwork process.
Tori is most definitely, assuredly a "Daddy's girl." How do we know this? Because she asked for only one wedding picture. She asked her Daddy to make sure we photographed him pushing her in our swing hanging from the sycamore tree. Tori found the swing during their visit the day before the wedding. We always schedule a tour so everyone knows where to go, and our couples can choose their wedding ceremony location on our farm. When children are involved, this helps breaks the ice and makes them feel more comfortable on the actually wedding day, too.
Four little monkeys sittin on a bed... one fell off and .... I guess you know how the rest of the song goes. We took a brief detour on the walk down to our old 1950 Ford truck for a little hop on the hay in our 1900 antique bed prop.
We photographed more family photographs during Michelle and Sam's wedding than we usually do. This is always different... some couples prefer more of the two of them alone, and some want to make sure the children are photographed as much as possible. This is why it's so very important for us to get to know our families or wedding couples as much as possible before wedding day. We were pretty lucky... Michelle sent TONS of written information to us by email. Most of our couples are from out of town, so email and text is one of our best tools to get to know our brides.
Just because Sam and Michelle had more family photographs than a lot of our other wedding guests, this doesn't mean we didn't send the kids to play in the creek for a while so that we could get those steamy, "I love you to the moon and back" wedding photographs. The horse field in between our barn and the old truck had gorgeous fall flowers growing. Early October is one of the best times for a destination wedding in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg. The weather is usually pleasantly warm, and even though the leaves haven't turned much yet, there's still fall beauty provided by golden rods, asters, and tall grasses.
On this particular October day, we missed a good rain shower during the entire length of their wedding reservation. Cloudy days are always coveted by photographers, because the lighting is easier and the colors are more saturated, too. But Leslie and I love those beautiful rays of the setting sun in the evening, too. What to do? We add a little light here and there to give more depth and emotion.
Leslie always reminds me when we get a little "lopsided" on how many wedding photographs are done of one thing over another. It's a good thing, too! I'd like to say I wouldn't have forgotten to photograph Michelle with her own children by themselves just like I did Sam and Tori, but what if I had? That's why I wouldn't take a million dollars for Leslie... It would be so much harder without her! (And ever so much more boring, too!)
Blended family or not, grab all your children this very second and squeeze them even harder than what you see Michelle's clan doing in this heart-warming wedding family photograph. Life is short, and children grow faster than the weeds in our flower beds at our wedding venue! Don't take a single second for granted...
Every now and then we get a bride who says, "I only need something basic," or "I only want one or two wedding pictures, nothing fancy." To us, that's kind of like asking a race car driver to "only go about 35mph" because "I don't need to be thrilled off the edge of my seat." It's also like telling a hunting guide, "I don't need the trophy buck; any old deer will do." How crazy is that? You can no more tell a race car driver not to give it all he's got in the car he's invested so much time and money in than you can tell the hunting guide to leave out the emergency gear or forget everything all the old-timer's taught him about how to track game. It's the same way with us. We're in it WIN it, and we're in it for your trophy buck... We just don't have the ability to do it any other way.
I hope we get to see your own smiling face at Honeysuckle Hills soon. Whether it's a couples only wedding like this one, or if you have 100 of your closest family and friends for a huge wedding celebration and reception... you're welcome here.