Enjoy Weddings | Josh + Samantha | Strong Mansion

“happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; 
it has no taste.” 
charlotte brontë
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Rain barged into Maryland last September.  Day in, day out, the rain sang on our rooftops and waltzed through our streets.  It was the wettest September I can recall.  September 17, however, was quite still.  Moody, but still.
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In an old house in Paris covered in vines, er, in Dickerson covered in moss, were twelve (or so) girls getting primped and glossed. (Well done?)
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The wedding festivities began at the front gate of Strong Mansion - lovely mossed initials of the bride and groom.

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Inside the stately chateau are the ever tasteful and clean rooms.  Room after room after room.  It doesn't matter how often I shoot at Strong Mansion, I never tire of the rooms.
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In a sparked minute, the stillness was gone as my sweet Samantha echoed from the doorway up to the third floor.  She is an animated, excitable, loud, dear little miss.
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As soon as she arrived their was a different feel to the muggy and quite grey day.  
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"AH! I have to write Josh's letter! Am I the worst bride in the world? Other people do this, right?" I laughed and nodded. "Ohhhhh-fshoooo! Hahaha! Ah! Okay! I need to focus!"  Samantha scribbled away.
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I can hear her saying that:
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After her letter was all finished and sealed with love, Pretty Miss eagerly donned her favorite dress. "I love my dress. It's my favorite dress.  Oh I can't wait to put it on!"
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As happy as Sam was to wear that gown, the next minutes only grew happier.  She read Joshua's letter for her.
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She high-fived and loved seeing her father.
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She fiddled and adorned, in all her animated goodness ;)
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Now, all that fun and happiness nearly overwhelmed Pretty Miss.  In a moment of a planner-girls heart sink, Samantha realized she forget to bring the video tutorial on tying her sash for the bridesmaids to follow.  Samantha is, again, very opposite of me in gifting (it's a trend.  I'm serious.) as she is extremely detailed-oriented, efficient, on the ball and planned.  After two or three attempts at tying the sash it wasn't working right, time was ticking down for the ceremony to start, "How could I forget to bring the video!", I stepped out of the room so that the constant clicking and extra body wouldn't raise the stress.  I peered back in to find Samantha taking deep breaths into the mirror repeating "It is oooookay! Alright! It is ooookay!" It made me laugh so much inside.  I love this big personality of a woman.  
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Within seconds she was back to her carefree, thrilled and riotous self. 
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With no time to spare we glided down the stunning wooden staircase and readied ourselves for the joyous ceremony.
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I've mentioned it time and again, but Strong Mansion's grounds will forever be my favorite.  Not only did I shoot my very first wedding here (which spoiled me!) but I also went on my first date with MisterMister here ;)  I don't think you are technically supposed to do that, but, hey, who isn't drawn to a man who sneaks you onto the grounds of your favorite mountainside mansion for a sunset picnic!  There is a whole funny story that goes along with that first date that includes Park Police and beef.  Maybe I'll tell it sometime ;) Also, my house-mates, Dre and Becca, had their wedding reception here!  It's just THE most special place!
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Samantha unshockingly had plans up her sleeve for the ceremony.  Strong Mansion does not have a center aisle because there is a beautiful lilly pond in the way ;)  Guests sit on either side of the pond.  Most brides I've seen have walked on the outskirts of the guests and made their way to the middle at the altar.  Wellllll, Samantha decided to have some wow-factor by coming behind the altar and emerging through the woods!  
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After some deep breaths and reassuring thoughts from her father, she was ready to become a wife.
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(Can you see up there ^ the ceremony site?  The groom and the pastor have their back to Samantha and her dad.  They are facing the lily pond and the mansion.  I hope you can visualize that haha!)
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When Samantha's musical que arrived, in typical wedding magic fashion, the sun burst out from the clouds.  Colorful guests rose, Joshua waited happily.
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Dad held his emotions together (just wait to see when he lost it, however.  Good luck not crying yourself!)
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Thanks to the beautiful lily pond I also can't shoot in the middle of an aisle like I'm used to.  It makes for a fun challenge - I hike through stone walls and mossy trees, and tip-toe along waterside, I pull out new lenses, it's great fun!
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Instead of having a unity candle or sand ceremony, Josh and Same had a tree-planting ceremony!  They poured dirt into a potted evergreen and the mothers watered it.  I love the originality!
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Mmmmmyea.
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After the ceremony (which, I know there weren't many pictures of BUT did you notice anything different about this post?  I decided to post only horizontal images! If I didn't shoot the image horizontal, I'm not posting it.  Sometimes you have to mix-it up with a wedding post!) the guests enjoyed a classy cocktail hour and reception.
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My favorite piece of advice:
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At every wedding the Strong Mansion staff sets up a table for the late Mr. and Mrs. Strong.  It's very honorable and ethereal at the same time and I love it.
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My favorite part of this photo? The little lady with her fairy wand and crown of flowers.  Adorable.
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It always seems appropriate to rave about the newlyweds during their portrait session.
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Joshua, in five words: Young at heart, sincere, loyal
Samantha in five words: Contagiously happy, goofy, organized, vivacious 
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They're constantly affirming each other: to each other's face, behind their backs, in their writing and e-mails and phone calls.  I use the word "constant" very carefully, but I do mean it.  In maybe 12-15 hours spent in person with them, and another dozens or so e-mails and phone calls, they literally don't go ten minutes without speaking highly of each other.  
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They are romantic.  Which, I need to pause here for a moment, and comment on.  "Romance" to every girl and guy is going to be different.  Some truly find an expensive dinner and roses deliciously romantic.  Others, however, would find that a complete waste and awfully cheesy.  Some would find a handmade card or gift dear and precious, while others might find it lame and half-hearted.  One thing I've learned is that outward, consistent, distracting (almost), blatant, and public displays of romance are met with strong opinions from those observing.  Folks either love it or HATE it.  "Ew. Get a room.  Are they seriously doing that here?" or "That is adorable, and true love.  How refreshing to see a couple unashamedly affectionate!"  Most people would expect and even desire to see affection and goofy touchiness and smirky giggles at a wedding.  We clink our glasses and jeer and want more! We just don't want it in normal life, please.  I'm proud to say of Samantha and Joshua: who they were on their wedding day, close, silly, smiley, "cheesy", alive, tender, attentive, together and smitten is who they are in real life.  And I love it. I love that they are unashamed of each other. 
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They make a scene wherever they go: they are truly a riot.  I saw a good ol' Pinterest pin that describes them well: "I'm probably going to fall in love with you if:
- you don't realize how good looking you are,
- you employ old fashioned terms of endearment,
- you do not bat an eye when I spontaneously launch into a different voice or accent in the middle of a sentence,
- you smell like something incredible from my childhood,
- you have enormous dreams,
- you distract me from my 'real' life,
- you know how to listen,
- you are self-deprecating but it comes across as funny, not uncomfortable,
- we can't stop laughing around each other
- and you fall in love with me a little."
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I love incredible them.  They are quite dreamy.
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We just flash-forwarded a bit, but remember how I warned about Dad "losing it"? Settle down with your pretzals and water bottle for this one (or am I the only one that has a "blog-reading" snack?)  It's toast time in the wonderful world of Josh and Sam's wedding day! Toasts are great, right? See? The bride and groom are happy and great.
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Samantha's dad take a minute to thank, honor and barely tease Josh.
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Everything is meaningful, everything is great.
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Dad teases a bit harder.
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Oh ha-ha-haa! Everything is silly, everything is great. 
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Josh and his new father-in-law give each other a masculine ol' slap on the back - they respect each other greatly.
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And now Dad has a few words to say about Samantha.  He starts to cry.  Ah! Quick! No! Don't cry! Daaaaaad! Samantha rushes to the rescue.
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Okay! Smiles! We're good.
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We're laughing.  We're not emotional! We're ready.
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Fantastic. Carry on!
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Oh wait, Dad. Don't lose it! Come back to us!
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Nevermind.
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Let it rain, let it pour. You're rolling in the deep.  And he hasn't even started sharing what he would like to.
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Hup-hup-hup-huuuup's, eye-dabbing guests, sniffles and sighs ensue.
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Maybe even some blubbering.
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Dad tried again.

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After fairly little progress (and some genuinely loving sentences) Dad and Samantha call it quits.
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Cheers!
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*clink* *clink* *clink* *clink*
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I adore this picture.
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To life, laughter and love...
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... cheers! Happy marriage, Josh and Samantha! I love you!

Comments

  1. Oh so lovely. They seem so happy together, and the grounds were gorgeous, as was her amazing dress, and you did just a lovely job of capturing emotion, especially with the dad's toast!

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  2. Thank youuuuu Anna! :D

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  3. Love this, love the story, and love the dad's FACE.

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  4. beautiful, heartfelt, authentic work, as always, Kristen! :)

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  5. see how I awkwardly wrote two comments? yep. ;)

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  6. You did an incredible job with this. The ceremony pictures are BEAUTIFULLY green!!! The reception pictures are my other favorites as well. Ahh!!! Just the cutest couple with a great photographer.

    Are you still using vsco film??

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  7. hahahaha i love you, hannah ;)

    and yes! i am rachel! looooove it.

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  8. Oh, I just ate this whole post up. Beautiful photos, as always, and a beautifully sweet story. It's so nice to see a couple who isn't afraid to show their love to each other in public :)

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  9. You are one stubborn bestie and I love you ;) Way to keep posting. Super happy wedding! Love the details shots so much.

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  10. I can't tell you how much I loved this! It's so beautiful and real and funny and beautiful. See how I said beautiful twice? (Three times, now?) That's cuz it is...superlatively lovely :)
    xoxo//simi

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  11. Anonymous9.5.12

    Samantha and Josh will always remain in my heart as one of the greatest couples to work with along with a very supportive family. We book many beautiful weddings here at Strong Mansion, my memories of the beauty within from this couple is very special and they glow!!
    Christie Kefauver
    Event Coordinator
    Strong Mansion

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