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Author Archives: Stephanie Messick

Born and raised on a family owned dairy farm in Fauquier County, along with two siblings, Amanda and Eric. Graduated Liberty High School and went to James Madison University, where I participated in Kappa Pi Honors Fraternity as well as the Marching Royal Dukes! GO DUKES! Graduated in May of 2012 with my B.F.A. in Graphic Design. I worked as a graphic designer in the D.C. area for almost a year after graduating college and then resided in Warrenton, VA to work for the Piedmont Press & Graphics as one of four graphic designers :) Currently, I am managing to balance my full time graphic design job along with my photography business! It's a hectic lifestyle, but I enjoy it!!! About my photography business: I have learned in the world of photography that it is not just about pretty photos, it is all about the EXPERIENCE the photographer gives to the client. And that is what I am out here to do! Give YOU the best experience that you will not forget! From the moment we schedule the session... to the laughs/smiles we share the day of the shoot... to the moment I hand over the package of your images... I make sure that every step of the way leaves my client smiling :)

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This post goes out to the girl or guy who wants that. That? You know, what you see on social media everyday … including on my very own blog. LOVE. We all see photos of two lovers crazy for one other … Who doesn’t want that? To love and be loved in return. Sometimes that’s what life seems like it is all about. We consume ourselves in finding “the one”. It’s so easy to beat ourselves up if we don’t find that love we long and desire for. How is that fair? You want to be married, start a family and WANT to be loved in return. You have everything going for you but something isn’t connecting. The years are passing by faster than we can keep up with and it seems lonely.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” – PROVERBS 3:5-6

It’s tough. It’s hard.

Absolutely. No one said that life is a Nicholas Sparks Book.

I have been there. I am there.

It’s especially hard when your friends have what you are looking for but yet, something just hasn’t clicked yet. You have so much to give. So much of yourself to love.

There is HOPE and happiness waiting in the future. It doesn’t end here.

I encourage you to stay strong. Follow your heart and the path that was set in front of you. Something better is out for you in the future. It’s hard to see now, but life wasn’t intended for us to know the future. We have to fight hard and learn. God will push us in the right direction.

Keep yourself from falling short. You deserve the best. Take care and love yourself. You are beautiful. You are enough. You deserve to be happy! Never forget that.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – PROVERBS 4:23

YOU DESERVE to be loved.

YOU ARE loved by many.

xoxo

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James & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement Photographer

A couple months ago, Kim from Kim Newton Weddings kindly introduced me to James and Natalie. Well, it was over the phone but we still hit it off. :) Natalie and I connected so well because she is her own #bosslady. Not just that, but she is a wedding and portrait photographer based in California. I am EXTREMELY honored to document these precious memories of her engagement as well as her upcoming spring wedding at the gorgeous Oatlands Plantation. It must be hard planning a wedding from across the country, but they are proving that it can be done. So when it was time for their engagement session last Friday, it was my first official time meeting James and Natalie in person. I have to say that I don’t remember the last time I laughed that hard during a session! They shine their personalities through anything I put them through. What I love to do is photograph a couple as they are together whether they are more soft spoken or comical or joyful or a mixture of all of the above. James and Natalie have so much character together and I was thrilled to capture that during our time! Not to mention, what an unique proposal story!!! You’ll just have to read below because they made it on BuzzFeed! You know it must be good. ;)

James & Natalie’s Love Story
from Natalie’s perspective

How We Met
While working at OKCupid, James wrote an artificial intelligence program that scanned peoples’ dating profiles and attempted to match them up.  A friendly OKCupid robot would message you and say something along the lines of, “I’ve found someone great for you! You’re a 85% match, and you have this in common!” What you have to understand for our story is that the program had a really tough time understanding sarcasm and negation. This is a really hard problem to solve, even for native speakers of English, so getting a computer to understand is even harder!  The company also had a rule: if you’re single and working at OKCupid, you have to actually test out the website when given the opportunity.  So he said, what the heck!  This girl is over a 90% match with me, and she loves anime, she loves video games, and she loves sushi! Sounds perfect!  To his credit, the algorithm got 2 out of 3, I love anime, I love video games, and…well, I can’t stand any kind of seafood.  It was a rocky start, but I agreed to meet him for drinks anyway, and here we are today, making kissy faces at each other.

The Proposal
In case it wasn’t clear, James and I are pretty nerdy.  A cornerstone of our relationship is playing video games, and James’ favorite video game is the original Legend of Zelda.  Back in June, we set aside a Saturday and re-played through the whole game. There are lots of dramatic details, but when we beat Ganon at the end of the game, I noticed something looked a little off.  I turned to James and said, “I don’t think that Princess Zelda looks like that normally!” and immediately started googling on my phone to find a photo of her sprite, while James desperately gestured at the television screen trying to get me to watch that instead of my phone.  When I looked back up, the words, “NATALIE, WILL YOU MARRY ME?” were printing across the screen!  He reprogrammed the entire end sequence of the game to propose to me!

^^^
This is the short version, but if you want to see more in detail what James put together, check out their Legend of Zelda engagement proposal HERE!

Thank you James and Natalie for making time for these photos together! It was a time I will never forget. :) Cannot wait for your wedding next spring!!!

 James & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerOh yeah, that moment I asked for them to run at each other for a big hug … well, you see the results. ;) LOLOL! I am still laughing at this moment!
James & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement PhotographerJames & Natalie | Virginia State Park Engagement Photographer

Weekend Recap

It was a great weekend spent with friends and an EPIC wedding (as the vendors and I have been saying leading up to Matt & Brianna’s wedding day). Since Matt and Brianna had a Sunday wedding, I was able to take Saturday off and enjoy some time with friends. One of my best friends and I were at Phillip Carter Winery catching up and didn’t realize that after four hours of chatting constantly, it is safe to say that you always pick up where you left off. :) Even though I dislike living away from my couples, since most come from the city area, I have to give it to the local wineries that this is why I choose to live in Northern Fauquier County!

I have been counting down to Sunday for a long time because I knew that Matt and Brianna were going to have nothing less of perfect on their wedding day. Their day was truly a fairytale with the beautiful dresses, FLOWERS, details, ceremony and reception space. I cannot wait to share more!!! For now, here is a little sneak peek from yesterday! They looked incredible!

Weekend Recap

And let’s just talk about FLOWERS. A LOT of flowers! Amanda Veronee does an impeccable job every time!
Weekend Recap

Friday evening was spent with this lovely couple, James and Natalie! I’ll be sharing more of their session on the blog soon. :)

Weekend Recap

Hope everyone had an incredible weekend! Looking forward to sharing more soon. :)

  • August 31, 2015 - 3:01 pm

    Amanda Veronee - this is just magical! … and that veil shot is perfection!!

Chad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement Photographer

It’s always an honor when I have a wedding planner refer my name to their brides, but when it is the wedding planner’s own brother then it is beyond flattering. :) Courtney from A Sweet Soiree contacted me months ago seeing if I was available to document this exciting time of Chad’s life. Well, of COURSE! We counted down the weeks until their engagement session and ended up with one of the most gorgeous summer days! Can I please have this weather every session/wedding? We met at the beautiful Sky Meadows Park which was a great contrast to where they currently live towards the city. After all, they are getting married in Napa Valley next year! Who wouldn’t want beautiful greenery and views? After running around the park for the first half of the session, we finished up at Barrel Oak Winery down the road. As we were walking around, a random cat seriously followed us just waiting for the perfect moment to photo bomb their photos. The cat did manage to sneak into a photo, haha! Just see it yourself below! Overall, I am in love with Chad and Sabrina’s willingness to open up in front of the camera. They were incredibly sweet, joyful and not to mention, photogenic. :)

Thank you Chad and Sabrina for a great time last Friday! You both are so sweet … not to mention, gorgeous … together!! Congrats on your engagement and enjoy some of my personal favorites! xoxo!

Chad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement Photographer

Chad & Sabrina’s Love Story

How we met

We met about 3 years ago through work. At the time, Sabrina was living in Chicago and Chad was living in the D.C. area. We were management consultants for the same company and were staffed on the same project in Southern California. We were working on different workstreams, but definitely had an eye for each other…

Sabrina: On my first day on the project, the team introduced themselves to me. When Chad introduced himself I remember thinking ‘Wow, this guy is very good looking, friendly and smart. This is the kind of man I want to marry one day.’ I did not actually think about pursuing Chad since I was new to the project and wanted to focus on work. I also assumed he was already taken.

Chad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement Photographer

 

Chad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement PhotographerChad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement Photographer

Chad: I had been on the project for a few months before Sabrina joined. I remember this first day she walked into the team room. She took my breath away. I introduced myself trying not to trip over my own words. For the first few months we weren’t working directly together and I was so incredibly shy to try to initiate conversation.

We started spending more time together outside the office, sharing meals and drinks and learning about each other on a personal level. A connection started to develop but we were both hesitant as coworkers. After a few months of being on the project, Sabrina went to visit her sister, Natasha, who also lived D.C. Chad came and met us out one night with one of his good friends, John. We started out with a drink on a rooftop patio and were having a really good time. Natasha’s boyfriend also joined and we all decided to go dancing. We ended up dancing for hours.

Chad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement Photographer

 

Chad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement PhotographerChad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement Photographer

Sabrina: It was the first time I was meeting Natasha’s boyfriend, Jeff. Being the protective older sister, I watched the two of them like a hawk. I was having a great time dancing with Chad but he could tell that I was also worrying about my sister. I remember him asking me and I said I was a little distracted. He leaned in close and said “let me give you a better distraction” and kissed me for the first time!

Chad: When Sabrina texted me and said she was in DC I immediately called John and told him he had to come out with me that night. I said I’d been looking for a chance to move past the co-worker phase and needed a wingman. John didn’t even hesitate. I remember being so incredibly excited to be dancing with Sabrina. It felt like we were the only ones on the dance floor as I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I knew that she was special when she didn’t run away or laugh hysterically at my terrible dance moves. As we continued to dance I got increasingly nervous because I wanted to kiss her. I didn’t know how she would receive it. Being co-workers I thought, ‘could I get fired?!’ I saw an opening and made my move anyway. The rest is history.

Chad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement Photographer

 

Chad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement PhotographerChad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement PhotographerChad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement Photographer

Chad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement Photographer

The proposal

We planned a vacation to Bali, Indonesia in May 2015. We both love to travel, and Bali had always been a destination on our bucket list. We hadn’t been on a big vacation for a while so we were both looking forward to it. We had talked about marriage and I knew that he would propose soon, but I definitely did NOT think he would propose on this trip. I didn’t expect that he would travel across the world with a ring.

Chad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement PhotographerChad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement Photographer

We landed in Bali and got to our hotel around dinner time. Chad suggested we eat dinner at one of the restaurants in the hotel since we were tired from the 2 days of travel to get to Bali. We got ready and walked down to the hotel restaurant. The hostess walked us past all of the tables and out to the beach. Chad had organized a private gazebo overlooking the ocean for dinner with our own private server standing beside it. Rose petals and candles framed a walkway path up to the gazebo. The sun was setting in the distance behind the beach and ocean. It was the most breathtaking and stunning thing I have ever seen. At this point I still did not think Chad was about to propose. He is very romantic, and I thought maybe he just planned a special dinner for us on our first night to start the vacation. He had rose petals that spelled I <3 U in the walkway to the gazebo and rose petals in the shape of a heart on the beach.

Chad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement PhotographerChad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement PhotographerChad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement Photographer

We walked up to the gazebo and asked the hostess to take photos of us with this beautiful ocean view at sunset. As the hostess is taking photos Chad turns to me, grabs my hands and starts shaking. He NEVER gets nervous so I knew now that he was going to propose! That moment on was a huge blur as I blacked out from excitement and happiness. All I know is he got down on one knee, asked me to marry him and I said yes. After, we celebrated with a delicious private dinner while listening to a country love song playlist Chad made for this special occasion. It was all out of a fairytale and I thought how could you top this kind of proposal? But there was more. While we were enjoying dinner, Chad had the hotel staff decorate our hotel room with more rose petals and ordered a bottle of dom on ice. It was the greatest way to start our vacation and we celebrated our engagement during the rest of our 2 weeks in Bali :)

Chad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement PhotographerChad & Sabrina | Warrenton, Virginia Engagement PhotographerCONGRATS!!!

Matt & Taylor | Old House Vineyards, Culpeper, Virginia Wedding Photographer

I knew coming into Saturday that it was going to be one big celebration. Once nighttime came, oh my friends, it was definitely one big celebration! I wanted to join in on that dance floor so bad! That’s how much fun it was! Old House Vineyards in Culpeper, Virginia was the perfect backdrop for their special day. The features the venue offers on property made their wedding day unique. The vineyard has of course the beautiful green vines and a mountain view, but what makes this super unique is the island where Matt and Taylor said their I Dos. On the island, you have a great view of the sunset, mountains, vines and some other great features. One feature in particular reminds me of Paris because they have a little dock on the island that is filled with locks. During the ceremony Matt and Taylor made their way over to the dock to lock their own personalized lock and throw the keys in the water. As soon as it was time for Matt to kiss his wife, the fountain in the lake turned on making the ceremony end on a high note for sure! :) There was another unique event that happened during the reception, but it was a tradition in the family. It’s a one of a kind goblet that cannot sit up by itself. The goblet has beer on the top and wine on the bottom. The trick is for the bride and groom to drink it both at the same time. You’ll have to check it out to see that it is a little more complicated than it sounds! What a fun tradition! A little side note, you mightttttt notice that Matt has an obsession with tigers. It’s no joke. Just check out his groomsmen socks and the outfit he wore towards the end of the night. I almost want to sing the Hangover tiger song. ;) Hahaha! Overall, it was a beautiful summer day with a beautiful couple, great details, colors, features and one heck of a party! CONGRATS!!!

Thank you Matt and Taylor for giving me the privilege of capturing these precious moments for you! You looked phenomenal! I hope you have the BEST time in St. Lucia! XOXO!
Matt & Taylor | Old House Vineyards, Culpeper, Virginia Wedding PhotographerMatt & Taylor | Old House Vineyards, Culpeper, Virginia Wedding PhotographerMatt & Taylor | Old House Vineyards, Culpeper, Virginia Wedding Photographer
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Thank you to all of the vendors involved!
Venue: Old House Vineyard, Culpeper, Virginia
Hair/Makeup: Shear Artistry
Caterer: Luigi’s Italian Restaurant
Florist: Forget Me Not Flowers
Baker: Knackal’s Bakery
DJ: CJ-tha-DJ
Dress Designer: Mikaella
Transportation: Lightfoot Transportation
Bridesmaid Jewelry: Kelly Lauren Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement Photographer

30 minutes until the engagement session and it was POURING cats and dogs where I live. I’m only just down the road from the session location so at this point I was getting nervous if we had made the wrong decision to move forward and take the chance. Kelsa reassured me that it was fine where she was so I hopped in my car and drove cautiously through the flooding roads. <= YES. Once I arrived at Kelsa’s gorgeous house, it was clear! I mean, the clouds were hugging the mountains but it was just fine enough to make this session happen! I was so excited to see Sean’s fancy teal Chevrolet truck all set and ready to go for photos. To say the least, I’m glad the weather held up enough for us to do these cute photos!!!

We left Kelsa’s house and drove next door to a place that was built inspired by Williamsburg. I really felt like I was in a mini town of Williamsburg with the manicured landscaping, brick, white columns, dome roofing and the pea gravel driveway. We just started photographing at this beautiful location when rain started to come down. We went to a nearby tree for shelter and before we knew it, 15 minutes later we had a rainbow … or I guess it was just a sundog from what the photos show. It was a pretty epic engagement session between the teal truck, rainbow, architecture and this in love couple. :)

Sean & Kelsa’s Love Story
from Kelsa’s Perspective

How They Met
Sean and I both grew up in Rappahannock, 10 miles away from each other, so we always kind of knew each other! We were at a mutual friend’s party 3 years ago, and he came up and started talking to me and we reconnected. I remember telling my mom about the party that night and saying “Do you know who has gotten SO cute?! Sean Knick!!” Little did I know he was my future husband :) He found me on facebook, then we started going on dates, and now here we are!
How He Proposed
Sean proposed right in the middle of all the holiday craziness. On December 30, his parents were having their annual holiday party, so a lot of both of our families would be together that night. My sister, Kendra, asked if Sean and I would let her take a few pictures before the party so she could practice with her camera. We agreed to do the pictures around 4:00at a nearby pond (where we happened to go fishing on our second date :) ) Sean gave me some sass because he was planning on “going hunting,” which he had been doing ALL WEEK (but not really, he was at the jewelers) so I was a little annoyed!! So we got to the pond and Kendra arranged our pose. She had me stand in front of Sean a few feet while he stood back and looked at me (“This pose is so weird” I thought.) Then she told us to switch places, and when I turned around he was on one knee! I don’t remember all the details about what happened in that moment, but I do remember that it was the happiest moment of my life!! Then we returned to his house to celebrate with all of our family and close friends at this “holiday party” they had so sneakily planned :) His plan showed how thoughtful he is because he knew I would want something intimate, but I also would want to share it with the family that is so dear to us!

Thank you Sean and Kelsa for braving through the threat of rain to make this session work last week! You both looked so happy together and I cannot wait for your wedding day next spring! XOXO!

Sean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement PhotographerSean & Kelsa | Rappahannock, Virginia Engagement Photographer

  • August 25, 2015 - 3:32 pm

    Lauren R Swann - These are so sweet, Stephanie!! I love the images by the truck!