The Best Campground Wedding... EVER

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I need to preface this wedding blog with how I came to know Hayley and Jason. You see, our becoming friends actually began before I even met them.

As a wedding photographer with a servant’s heart, I had been striving and applying to be a member of the Wish Upon A Wedding Foundation, and similar organizations, with no luck. Radio silence from these organizations had been going on for nearly a year at this point.

I digress.

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One day, the Lord put it on my heart and I felt He was saying to me, “Why do you have to go through an organization? Just do it yourself.” I followed my heart, His will, and my desire to give the gift of wedding photography to a couple.. and that’s how I met Hayley and Jason.

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This is Jason + Hayley’s story, paraphrased from their wedding giveaway entry. She wrote me:

“I am a medical resident and my fiancée is just starting out on his career too so our budget isn’t likely big enough for professional photography, but it would mean the world to us if we could have memories of our wedding. 

Growing up, I was a free spirit. My interest in global health and helping others combined with journalism training led me all over the world: living in Malawi treating malnourished children, working at the World Health Organization in New Delhi visiting leper colonies and writing articles about my experiences, traveling to Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon with NBC News. 

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“But I never thought that my biggest adventure would be love until, while at journalism school, I met a quiet, tall, handsome man from San Francisco. To say he gave (and still gives) me butterflies is an understatement. He takes my breath away. He is the other part to my whole and the one who pushes me to achieve more, to remain calm and to always, always, always stay out late dancing.”

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“However, due to medical school, we had to live on opposite coasts for 2.5 years conducting our relationship in a series of wildly fun trips, red eye flights and late night Skype sessions. I remember being on call and instead of sleeping, I would video chat with Jason who would soothe my tears when I had a patient die or dealt with a difficult family member. “

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“And now, the greatest adventure of all - living together in California since 2016. And no matter how hard it is to be a woman physician in training, Jason is always there for me despite his own successful career.”

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“When I wanted to go to Lebanon to work with the refugees, Jason was pretty much the only one telling me it was a good idea and his strength gave me the strength to help others. 

He is a better person than I will ever be and his heart is more adventurous than I can even conceive. I am the luckiest person in the world to have found the one who makes me more of myself, and pushes me further than I ever thought I could go. “

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“We got engaged in Sequoia National park on a long, gorgeous hike complete with a foray into a freezing river and a dip into natural hot springs. We love to hike, read, sing badly to music in the car and hang out with our friends and family. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with him.”

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“Our wedding is going be at a summer camp in Asheville, North Carolina. And we are getting married at the camp where they filmed Heavyweights (that ridiculous Ben Stiller movie from the 90s)!!!"

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We are renting out the whole place complete with a lake, kayaks, inflatable water slide, volleyball, zipline etc. It promises to be gorgeous, absolutely wild (several groomsman have promised to jump into the lake in full regalia at some point) and a ton of fun. Campfires, s’mores, capture the flag and my dad tearing up are all 100% on the camp itinerary.”

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The craziest thing about this story of my idea to give away free wedding photography to one couple is that it moved the hearts of other wedding vendors to get involved. Not only did I meet these two amazing, in-love souls, but a vendor - who I now call a best friend (nearly two years later) - asked to be a part of it.

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The best and kindest wedding planner (and friend) that ever lived.

The best and kindest wedding planner (and friend) that ever lived.

Lauren Barnhart of Patina and Lace Co. came alongside of me “without knowing me from Adam,” and asked if she could go in with me on this giveaway and offer her wedding planning services - totally free of charge. We met over coffee to put names with faces and hearts with ideas behind this big dream. Nearly two years passed, and May 11, 2019 came. And went. It felt like a dream.

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If nothing else came from following this spirit prompting - and even if the wedding had been a total disaster (far from it) - I would STILL have been grateful that I found a lifelong sister/friend in Lauren. Seriously. She came into my life in such a timely, divine way. Fate. I have Jason + Hayley to thank for that. Okay, I’m done being sappy.. for now.

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I’ll admit that it was between Jason and Hayley and another couple for me to select as the winners, but it was Lauren’s prayerful thoughtfulness that led us in the collective decision to pick Hayley and Jason.

We. Have. No. Regrets.

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I didn’t meet Jason and Hayley until the day of their wedding. That’s not uncommon but perhaps not preferable for my out-of-state couples.

There is a great deal of more detail to this entire wedding day and couple. So many family members and vendors came together to tie off every little detail for Hayley and Jason.

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Most photographers would blog about all of the little details and where everything was purchased from. I do know there is a place for that with most of my weddings. However, this wedding deserves more than that. 

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The details were insanely memorable and downright amazing… but that was nowhere near as important to anyone there as the way that every guest and family member loved… HARD.

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There were moments that felt like I was in a movie. Not because there was anything glamorous going on, but because it all felt so surreal. I felt like I had known these people, their stories and inside jokes for as long as they had.

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Their crew LOVES SO HARD that it infected my heart and simply affirmed that I am in the right profession and industry. It confirmed my heart’s desires and God-given dreams and talents. I was supposed to be there. I was supposed to witness this covenant and I was supposed to meet Hayley and Jason.

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Last but not least, a few comments from my perspective of Hayley. This is Hayley. She wears grace like skin. She is poised but does not take herself (or anything) too terribly serious. Her laughter, heart and spirit - I think - are tangible. You can feel all of them when you are in her presence.

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When I grow up, I just want to love like she does. She has a lot to say about the way that Jason loves - which I felt, too - but the world is so much better and brighter with her in it. She is the real deal. The kind of soul that’s made of gold.

She’s also one of my all-time favorite brides because she mailed me watermelon Chacos. Nuff’ said.

Now, this blog will stop here but the story does not. I hope to visit them in California someday and to be friends across the States with them for a very, very long time. #FLOMBAE

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VENDORS:

Venue + Catering:  Camp Pinnacle 

https://www.camppinnacle.com

Wedding Planning + Coordination: Lauren Barnhart, Patina and Lace Co.

https://www.facebook.com/patinaandlaceco

Cheese: Lillooet Sheep and Cheesery.

http://www.lillooetcheesery.com

Ceremony Music/DJ: Carolina DJ Professionals 

http://www.carolinadjprofessionals.com

Bartenders: Golden Girls Staffing 

http://goldengirlseventsstaffing.squarespace.com

Photographer: Jordan Tribble of TribbleShoot Photography

https://www.tribbleshoot.com

Videographer or Cinematographer: The Family Films/Anna McClure

http://thefamilyfilms.com

Florist: Never Ending Flower Farm/Loretta Ball 

http://www.theneverendingflowerfarm.com/

Décor and/or lighting company: Classic Event Rental by Lauren West 

lauren.w@classiceventrental.com

Cake and Desserts: 

Liz Inglese, https://instagram.com/ellleinglese

Makeup artist: Pop of Color Asheville

https://www.popofcolorasheville.com

Placecards: Nicety design studio 

https://www.nicetystudio.com