Colleen and Josh, Romantic Southern Wedding in Aiken, SC

Last Friday, my husband and I loaded up the car and transferred a sleepy toddler from crib to carseat. It was 4AM but our pajama clad girl was excited, “I go airplane!”

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After the most entertaining airport trip ever, we landed in South Carolina and drove to the picturesque town of Aiken for a beautiful traditional southern wedding. Magnolia trees and everything.

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Rachel Jackman + David Link, Rustic Poor House Farm Wedding, Martinsburg, WV

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Some time ago, David Link fell in love with a sweet and sassy woman named Rachel. The feeling was mutual, but unexpectedly, Rachel fell head over heels for his daughter Kaylee too. These sweet relationships grew and budded into a little family over the past year and with that love, a man asked a woman to share the rest of their lives together.

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Rachel’s wore a lace embellished, and crystal beaded ball gown with a cathedral length veil. She carried a peony and garden rose bouquet with silvery green eucalyptus leaves with other greenery designed by Bells and Bows florist.

The bridal party got ready at a friends house- the ladies upstairs, and the gents downstairs around a pool table.

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Rachel and Dave held their wedding at Poor House Farm in Martinsburg, WV. The venue is a gorgeous stone barn around a small lake and forested area. Rain moved the ceremony inside, but the cozy venue was so full of love that nobody minded.

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Dave, is a pretty stoic guy- doesn’t seem to get too shaken up over things. But when saying his vows, he got a little choked up when recounting Rachel’s skill at becoming Kaylee’s step mom. Rachel not only said her vows to Dave, which were beautifully penned, but also made vows to Kaylee. Not a dry eye in the house, you guys. Seriously, I was praying my shots were in focus and holding my breath because I was trying not to have an embarrassing moment in the aisle. haha!

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But beyond all the sweet tender moments of the ceremony, this wedding was most definitely a celebration. Rachel’s closest friends were beautiful hilarious women who rocked their roles as bridesmaids and got the party started! Dave’s groomsmen were handsome, helpful, and a hoot. I had such a great time celebrating Rachel and Dave’s union with their families and friends.

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Fortunately the rain cleared out and we had an opportunity to sneak away for some bride and groom time! Give me a girl in a cathedral veil, and I’ll always be happy!

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Are they not just the cutest!

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Thank you so much Rachel and Dave for allowing me to memorialize your wedding day. I wish you a long life full of love, laughter, and only happy tears! Cheers!

Focusing on relationships and real moments, Claire Watson specializes in photography that captures true beauty and feels genuine and authentic. Claire Watson is a West Virginia Wedding Photographer based in Martinsburg, WV. She joyfully serves clients in West Virginia, Northern Virginia, and Maryland.

In-home family lifestyle session, Martinsburg, WV

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Earlier this week I did a real-deal lifestyle session in my subject’s home- and It. Was. Awesome.

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Usually, my portrait sessions are outdoors at golden hour where I find the most flattering light, complimentary backgrounds, and pose my subjects a bit. I always aim to keep the look natural, but want my clients to feel confident and beautiful. My gentle directive posing seeks to accomplish that.

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But Tuesday was a different approach entirely. I’m certainly not abandoning my typical style- I still love the images it renders and the experience it gives my clients, but I am so happy this straight-up-adorable family was onboard for a truly lifestyle portrait session. Enter the Legos, roughhousing, and digging in the dirt! Wrap it up with pajamas, tooth brushing, and story time and you’ve got one photographer who is in LOVE with this session!

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I hope Kate and Aaron love these images too- I just LOVE those little everyday moments. Moments make a life! These images aren’t perfect, but they are real and I am in love with the authenticity of this shoot. I just know that someday, when their little ones are all grown up and have families of their own, they’ll dig out this album and see these moments. They’ll see their childhood home where their parents raised them with so much love and laughter.  They’ll see how lucky they were to grow up with a brother so close in age. They’ll see how big and genuine the hugs were they shared.

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Thank you to Kate and Aaron and their sweet sons for inviting me into your home and lives! I had a blast playing with you all and hope these images become part of your family’s legacy! Lots of love!

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Focusing on relationships and real moments, Claire Watson specializes in photography that captures true beauty and feels genuine and authentic. Claire Watson is a West Virginia Wedding Photographer based in Martinsburg, WV. She joyfully serves clients in West Virginia, Northern Virginia, and Maryland.

Thank you notes made easy

A big thank you to guest writer Sarah Ann of Sarahanndesign.co ! Once you’ve read her helpful advice, be sure to check out some of her beautiful designs. I’m particularly smitten with her envelope calligraphy! Gold hand lettering on an emerald green envelope?! Yes please!

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photo// Angela Sostarich Photography

Of all the wedding to-do’s, one in particular is always guaranteed to be fun: stocking your wedding registry! You pick out amazing items for your new home together; people buy them for you… what could be better?!

You’ll definitely want to thank all your loved ones for contributing these items to your celebration. However, some couples find the idea of writing 100+ thank you notes to be a bit daunting; it’s easy to understand why. But thank you notes are non-negotiable! Though modern technology has allowed some formal etiquette traditions to fade, handwritten thank you notes are still an absolute must.

Here are a few tips to make thank you notes so much easier from the very beginning:

  • Buy stationery you love. Maybe it’s just me, but I think writing thank you notes is so much easier when I get to look at pretty stationery while I get them done. For a really polished aesthetic, consider ordering thank you notes designed to complement your DFW wedding stationery suite. I often recommend purchasing customized notes with the monogram or crest from your invitation design. Custom notecards that are not specific to “thank you” ensure versatile and timeless correspondence for years to come.
  • Start a consistent list. Track gifts in one (and only one!) particular place. Whether you have a bridal notebook, or a dedicated list on your phone, find something that works for you. As soon as you receive a wedding present, write the name of the object (or type it, if you’re a digital gal) along with the name of the generous giver on your list.
  • Bring the list to showers. Let your maid of honor add to the list at any bridal showers or celebratory brunches. This will be much easier than trying to remember gifts later on!
  • Write notes as you receive gifts. Don’t let your thank you’s pile up too high. You won’t want to come home from a relaxing honeymoon to a massive list of thank you notes that still need to be written. Do as much as you can before the wedding; after the knot has been tied, you’ll be glad you did!
  • Make it fun! When you return from the wedding, wrap up any remaining thank you’s alongside your new spouse. Why not make it something fun to enjoy together? Order a pizza, put on some tunes, and knock out any remaining notes together in one sitting. Many hands make light work!SALUTATION Dear Uncle John and Aunt Rachel,GIFT REFERENCE The fine china is a beautiful addition to our new home. THANKS AGAIN We sincerely appreciate your prayer and support leading up to our wedding day; thank you for being a part of this treasured celebration.Voila! Thank you notes made easy. Even if they seem like a pesky item on your to-do list, don’t skimp on this imperative etiquette requirement. Your loved ones have been generous enough to gift you an entire registry; it’s well worth your time to drop a note in the mail to express your gratitude.Best of luck!
  • Hopefully, with these tips in mind, thank you notes will be a bit simpler. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll have them done in no time! Feel free to reach out if you’re seeking custom thank you notes to complement your DFW wedding stationery suite; I love crafting those special details for my couples.
  • SIGNED Love, Robert and Samantha Peterson  (isn’t it exciting to use your new last name?!)
  • MAKE IT PERSONAL We have no doubt it will serve us well for years to come, and it will always be a reminder of your love!
  • INTRODUCTORY THANKS Thank you so much for celebrating this special milestone with us, and for sending such a generous wedding gift.
  • So, now that you have a game plan… what do you write? I’ll make it easy for you with a basic formula guaranteed to work for almost every note: