Rachel & Johnathon's Tennessee Wedding in Golden Summer

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The Dress Theory Real Wedding Inspiration
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Artistic Outdoor Wedding Inspiration Southern Weddings
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Artistic Outdoor Wedding Inspiration Southern Weddings
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Artistic Outdoor Wedding Inspiration First Dance
Artistic Outdoor Wedding Inspiration Southern Weddings
Artistic Outdoor Wedding Inspiration First Dance
Artistic Outdoor Wedding Inspiration First Dance
Artistic Outdoor Wedding Inspiration First Dance
Artistic Outdoor Wedding Inspiration Southern Weddings
Artistic Outdoor Wedding Inspiration Southern Weddings
Artistic Outdoor Wedding Inspiration Southern Weddings
Artistic Outdoor Wedding Inspiration Southern Weddings
Artistic Outdoor Wedding Inspiration Southern Weddings

I was excited to photograph this outdoor wedding in Nashville as soon as I met with Rachel and Johnathon last winter at my office in Marathon Village. They were so excited but also so laid back, so ready to get married that everything else that didn't really matter seemed to melt away. Their wedding was full of moments and a lot of emotion - their friends and their family mean the world to them, and I think that's so clear just from looking through a few photos. Pair that with their beautifully minimalistic taste (and Rachel's Rue de Seine dress!) and an incredible wedding venue on the lake at Historic Rock Castle, and it's just a win win win situation. 

I've been trying more and more to photograph weddings how they feel - a beautifully lit and peaceful ceremony, intense candids, quiet yet joyful bride and groom portraits and finally, at the end of the night, the reception becomes this whirlwind of celebration and sweat and joy and I want my images to feel exactly that way. The way that it felt when you were there, or if you weren't there, you can almost feel like you were. 

Rachel and Johnathon, you felt like old friends by the end of the night. And that's the best thing I could ask for when photographing a wedding. Thank you for everything <3 

 

Shelby & Alex's Tennessee Engagement in Pouring Rain (From The Notebook)

It was pouring the day I met up with Shelby and Alex - rain coming down in sheets, and then droplets, and then sheets again. It had been raining like this for over two days and I was positive that they would want to reschedule their engagement session, especially since we were meeting on the shoreline of Percy Priest Lake. Just so much water. 

I texted Shelby that Sunday morning and she replied with, "We're up for shooting in the rain if you are!" And I knew I had found my people. YES. 

Our Nashville version of that rainy scene from The Notebook turned out better than I could have imagined. We were soaked to the bone and so dirty by the end - trees were halfway underwater, there was a layer of thick mud over everything - but it was so much fun. I only fell in the mud once and was beyond thankful for my Hunter rainboots (but also realized my raincoat seems to absorb water instead of repel it, so I'm now in the market for a new raincoat, any suggestions?) 

By the end, the light had faded and the rain had slowed and I knew we had made some magic despite how insane we probably seemed to all the fly fishermen who were gathered around the shorelines of the lake in their bright orange ponchos, watching us from the sidelines. 

Thanks for being up for absolutely anything, you guys. It was so worth it.

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The Best Wedding Venues in North Carolina

The first North Carolina wedding I ever photographed is still one of my favorite weddings to this day. It was at Allie and Nick's grandparents' estate in Flat Rock, NC and there were only thirty guests total - almost all family, so intimate and perfect, at her childhood home. Even though it wouldn't stop raining and the humidity kept rising, we danced late into the night and her family welcomed me in with open arms. It was the start of a beautiful thing. 

I've been back to the Asheville area since then for other NC weddings, and each time I get to come back, I love it. I decided to put together a list of a few of my favorite North Carolina wedding venues that will hopefully help you narrow down your search as you find the perfect place for your upcoming wedding in the mountains. With a state as beautiful as this one, you really can't go wrong.

Here we go! 

Lonesome Valley

Image via Lonesome Valley

Tucked away in the mountains of Cashiers, NC, Lonesome Valley really took my breath away. An hour and a half west of Asheville, NC, this beautiful North Carolina wedding venue is secluded enough to feel like you're in mountain wilderness, without making your family and friends travel too far. Perks include meals by incredible chef Adam Hayes inside beautiful Jennings Barn, contrasted by epic canyon views - this place is a hidden gem of a wedding venue. I can't get enough. 

 

Blackberry Farm 

I should start by saying that Blackberry Farm is actually in Tennessee - but it's so amazing that I had to include it in my list for both Tennessee and North Carolina as it's only about two hours east of Asheville. Up against the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, Blackberry Farm offers stunning views of the mountains while providing a luxury wedding experience and accommodations that are some of the best. Each wedding here is like crafting experience for the people you love most - I'm convinced it's one of the best. 

 

Overlook Barn

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Overlook Barn offers both sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains for ceremony locations as well as indoor receptions inside their beautiful stone barn that can seat up to 250 guests. The ceilings were the first thing I noticed as I walked inside - 30 feet high with exposed wood beams, and texturized stone walls with beautiful getting ready accommodations, right on site. Located in Banner Elk, North Carolina, this is an amazing wedding venue that should hit the top of your list. 

 

The Ridge 

Head west to Marshall, NC and you'll find  The Ridge, a wedding venue with sweeping 360 views of those North Carolina mountain ranges. If you're looking for sweet southern charm with wrap around porches and acres of rolling hills, this is the wedding venue for you. Fill the entire space with greenery, or leave it bare to rustic charm - bring what you want to into this place and it'll be beautiful, regardless of what you decide to do with it. 


One final disclaimer - even though I think all of the above wedding venues are incredible, many of my favorite celebrations happen in backyards or in more untraditional wedding venues. Whether it's an Airbnb with insane mountain views, a cabin, or a home of a friends of friend, your parents or even a distant family member -  I always think this is a great choice if you're willing to go a little off-road as you craft your own wedding experience. Just one more option to consider as you continue your search for the perfect wedding venue, one that is completely unique to you. 

I'm always here to chat or answer any questions you may have (or did I miss a favorite venue of yours?) Email me at nicola@nicolaharger.com - I'd love to hear from you. 

Signy & Patrick's Wednesday Virginia Wedding in the Mountains

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Signy and Patrick had such a clear vision for their Virginia wedding in the mountains - they wanted it to be dreamy, like a fairy tale, saying their vows in front of the people they loved the most, tucked away in the woods. Their closest friends and families all gathered in the cabins of  Shenandoah Woods in Virginia's gorgeous Shenandoah Valley in October at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains for their wedding one Wednesday afternoon. 

I'm all about doing things untraditionally when it comes to your wedding, and airing on the smaller side of a guest list is almost always a wonderful decision, in my experience. Signy and Patrick did just this, and small, intimate weddings like theirs are always some of my favorites. They were able to spend so much time with each of their guests and it didn't seem like they felt overwhelmed like they "had to make rounds to greet all the tables" during their reception. Everyone they invited was either a family member or close friend, and that speaks to who they are as a couple - they deeply value and intentionally prioritize their close friends and family. 

Weekday weddings are also some of the best, and I wish more couples would take the plunge and would say their vows on Wednesday like these two. Usually the biggest hindrance is that everyone I talk to about this is afraid their friends and family won't be able to get off of work in the middle of the week, which I completely understand. That being said, Signy and Patrick pulled off their Wednesday wedding beautifully, and they kept their guest list minimal to ensure that everyone they wanted there could make it to their Virginia wedding venue for their wedding on a Wednesday.

Finally, their vision for their wedding was so focused because with help from their families, they made all of their wedding decor and details by hand. This is really incredible given that their wedding had some of the most intricate details I've seen at an outdoor wedding. Whimsical, gold details with jeweled fairy tale-esque pieces made the entire day feel like we were in a storybook. Another testament of having a strong and clear wedding vision like theirs - you can make your wedding the way you want it to be without spending all the money on decor. 

If you can't tell, I love these two and being part of their wedding was such a privilege. Thank you both so much for letting me be part of your day - so many congrats to you two and so much love from Nashville.


For more wedding inspiration similar to Signy and Patrick's style, take a look at Christian and Teddy's intimate Iceland wedding that also looked like a fairytale!