Andrea & Eric’s Wedding at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA

Andrea and Eric had the most beautiful wedding at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. It is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been and this was absolutely one of the most incredible and emotion filled weddings I’ve ever captured. Though they were thrown many loops, like finding out the day before the wedding that the reception venue they’d booked was unavailable due to construction (I can’t even imagine how stressful that was) and having to relocate everything to a new venue that they hadn’t planned for that was a completely different size, shape, look, and had completely different types of tables. Somehow they still managed to pull everything together so perfectly and beautifully that I don’t think anyone would have known unless they were told.

Andrea and Eric got ready in separate cabins. The guys in a more rustic cabin with pistols and rifles, the girls in a more dainty cabin with flowers, pearls, and lace. Every tiny little detail of this wedding was well thought out and meaningful. The guys who love to hunt and fish were adorned with handmade fishing lure boutineers and the buttons and cuff links on Eric’s vest and shirt were made from shell casings. Inside Andrea’s dress was her grandmothers cross, sewn in with her “something blue” thread.

Andrea did something that, in many, many years of photographing over 600 weddings, I’ve never seen anyone do. Her mother and soon-to-be-mother-in-law helped her in to her dress and she did a first look with her bridesmaids. Their reactions were priceless! Tears, joy, happiness… It was beautiful!

Once Andrea was dressed and ready we headed to the Ida Carson Callaway Memorial Chapel at Callaway Gardens for the ceremony. But, before Andrea went to walk down the aisle she did a first look with her Dad. It was a moment so sweet and so emotional that I probably had as many tears in my eyes as her father did. He actually wiped one last tear from his cheek before walking her down the aisle. And Eric, oh, the look on his face when he saw his beautiful bride was one of love, pride, and pure joy. You could actually feel his happiness by looking at his face. Many happy tears were shed during their ceremony in that beautiful chapel in the woods adorned with stained glass representing every season.

On editing the chapel every guest received a goodie bag, another first for me, that was stamped with their wedding logo and filled with water in the most amazing vintage style glass bottles, directions the reception, snacks, and a note that guests were invited to enjoy Callaway Gardens in between the ceremony and reception while we photographed the gorgeous couple with their families, their wedding party, and just the two of them together.

While walking around the chapel (and hiking up some rocks) I noticed a tree where many, many couples had carved their initials. Eric added his and Andrea’s to the tree, a lovely memory etched there forever. We had such incredible fun photographing the wedding party and all of the details included in the wedding from their matching pink shoes to the perfectly arranged flowers from Grafe Studio (who traveled all the way from Chattanooga to create floral masterpieces for Eric & Andrea’s wedding. In the time I spent photographing Eric and Andrea alone I really got to know them and who they are. They are just a beautiful couple who are so clearly deeply in love with each other. I feel privileged and honored to have been able to capture their love, you can see how they feel about each other… you can SEE it because it’s so strong and so beautiful.

Arriving at the reception I was simply blown away by all of the thought and detail they put in to their reception. They chose to have their wedding early in the day and a lunchtime reception and since the reception was at FDR State Park in Pine Mountain, GA and most guests had a long way to drive home no alcohol was served. Instead of a cocktail hour they had Milk with flavored milk straws in containers that you’d find at an old soda shop counter. Milk was served in little glass milk bottles which were situated in little milk crates and snacks were served.

On top of that? They had a caricature artist there to draw a caricature for each and every guest to take home with them. The best wedding favor ever? Yes. I think so. Definitely the most fun and memorable! Caricatures were displayed around the pavilion where friends and family gathered to await Andrea & Eric’s grand entrance and first dance. The way they looked at each other during their first dance? You’ll just have to see it for yourself. So much love… so much love. The look on Andrea’s fathers face as he’s dancing with her and looks at the wedding band on her hand may have taken my breath away a little. And the dance that Eric did with his mother was so incredibly much fun!

Following the first dance guests were escorted in to the dining hall where even the smallest details weren’t overlooked. Andrea, her mother, and her mother in law had clearly spent many, many hours finding the perfect fabrics, china (the place settings were each a little different), serving dishes, little doilies printed with menu options, old wedding photos, a paper flower wall, and Grafe Studios simply outdid themselves with the floral design. Everything was beautifully perfect.

And what did Andrea and Eric serve their guests? Waffles. Every kind of waffles you can imagine. Knowing this in advance I’d packed myself some fruit and a power bar as I can’t consume gluten. What else did they have? GLUTEN FREE WAFFLES! To be honest, I was newly gluten free on doctors orders and I remember my first thought when knowing I would never be able to have gluten again was that I could give up bread, easy… I could even give up pizza and pasta… but Waffles? How can a human being give up waffles? I was so incredibly happy not only knowing I could eat waffles that day but when Eric’s father gave me the recipe AND the leftover gluten free batter to take home? I was thrilled! As you can see the topping options were endless!

After lunch, toasts, and a fun cake cutting guests went back to the pavilion for dancing, more caricatures, and a beautiful sendoff with ribbons and bells. Despite the fact that Eric’s brother attempted to disable the getaway car the happy couple did manage to get away and head off to their honeymoon. It was truly a perfect wedding day. And Eric’s wedding gifts? Well, they might have been the best gifts ever 😉

Andrea & Eric – you are wonderful, sweet, kind, and beautiful people. I am thrilled that you found each other and an amazing love that will last you a lifetime. Your friends and family are wonderful and we so enjoyed spending your most special day with you. I wish you a long and love-filled life!

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Wedding Reception at FDR State Park Pine Mountain GA

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Eva & Scott’s Circus Wedding at The Chattanoogan and OLPH

When Eva and Scott walked in the door to my studio to talk to me about their wedding ceremony at OLPH and their reception at The Chattanoogan they had me at “We met when we were in the Circus together… our wedding will have a circus theme…”

We met in the CIRCUS? Come on, that doesn’t happen in real life. The circus? I’ve seen Big Fish at least 27 times. THEY met at the circus. Real, beautiful people meeting at the circus? And a circus themed wedding? And a stunningly gorgeous couple? Well, that could be the most amazing wedding of all time.

I assure you it turned out to be one of the best weddings of all time, for sure. Neither Scott or Eva or any of their family are from Chattanooga or live in Chattanooga so how they pulled off this grand, incredible circus themed wedding in a city nowhere near their home state of Florida, where they are students at FSU, is absolutely beyond me, but they did.

All of the friends and family stayed at the Chattanoogan where Scott & Eva also got ready for their gorgeous Catholic Wedding at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. OLPH is simply gorgeous on its own and the Chattanoogan is always stunning – now add circus decor? Yes please. The ceremony was beautiful and filled with laughter, tears, and emotion. I love that they took the time to take a photo with all of their guests since their guests traveled from all over the place to share their wedding day with them. The reception at The Chattanoogan was elegant and fun all at the same time with lots of juggling, lots of dancing, and a moderate amount of acrobatics.

And a sparkler exit with people juggling over their heads? Well, that doesn’t happen every day.

Thank you, Scott & Eva, for sharing your most incredibly unique wedding with us. We loved every minute of it!

 

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Lindsay & Ben’s Fillauer Lake House Wedding in Cleveland, TN

“Once upon a time…” would probably be the most appropriate way to begin this story because the story that ends with Lindsay & Ben getting married at Fillauer Lake House is a lot like a fairytale.

I met Lindsay in 2010 when she booked me to photograph her April 2011 wedding. Sometime in February of 2011 Lindsay called me and I could tell she was upset as she began to tell me that they’d decided to call off the wedding. She was sure it wasn’t right and wanted to let me know as soon as possible. She also wanted to pay her balance.

Typically when someone calls me because they’ve called off, postponed, or moved their wedding date (which is rare, but happens) the first thing they ask is if they can get money back. Never has anyone followed that with “I need to pay my balance,” except for Lindsay. I remember telling her she didn’t have to pay her balance, she didn’t owe it, she’d canceled in time to not owe it. Lindsay said, “I will get married one day, when it’s right. I do want you to photograph my wedding and you have a family to support. I want to pay my balance and I want you to photograph my wedding when I do get married.” The confidence she had that the right man would come along one day was incredible, especially at a time when most people wouldn’t have any. She paid her balance.

As the end of March rolled around I was asked to be Living Art in the Youth Gallery for Palate 2 Palettea huge local charity event that benefits the Craniofacial Foundation. Oddly enough, I had the date open because it was the date that Lindsay had booked for her wedding. The theme that year was Alice in Wonderland. I was to play the part of Alice and also volunteered to cast the rest of the characters as the Living Art was a last minute addition to the gallery. Lindsay was my first thought. I didn’t want her to spend the day she was supposed to get married alone, I didn’t want her to be sad or even have a moment to think about it. She was my first call and was excited to take the part of the White Rabbit. I filled the rest of the cast with friends I knew would be uplifting and fun and we spent that day laughing and having a wonderful time.

(These are iPhone photos from that evening)

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Fast forward to 2014. Lindsay and I kept in touch and checked in on each other periodically. When she called me in early 2014 she sounded different… happier, more bubbly, and I knew she’d met the one. As she proceeded to tell me about Ben I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would get to photograph her wedding, and it wasn’t long at all before she called to see what dates I had open for July.

On July 13, 2014 Lindsay married her perfect match in the barn at Fillhauer Lake House, the man she’d waited for, prayed for, and knew would come in to her life. Their story is hilarious and beautiful, she definitely made Ben work for what he wanted – and he did. When they exchanged their vows a tear slid down my cheek, a happy tear, a tear that symbolized the belief that sometimes you have to let something else go in order for something amazing to happen and that I was watching it happen at that very moment.

I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story – but, if you look, you’ll find something in the details that I photographed which symbolizes a friendship, our friendship, and two days where Lindsay was exactly where she should have been. Let me know when you find it 🙂

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And, I have no doubt,  these two will live happily ever after <3

lindsay - I love you. That is all.

Melody Hood - I love you back <3

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Derek Yates – Congrats on Becoming Ellen’s New Gardener!

I met Derek Yates several years ago when I was hired to direct a Hip/Hop music video and we quickly became friends. Having each tragically lost a sibling we formed a bond that’s deeper and different from most. He’s become a lot like a brother to me. Over the years I’ve worked with him on a variety of projects from acting to modeling for print and on the runway. Derek is an amazing guy, one of those who is always there for his friends and especially for his family. He’s great to work with, has an incredible sense of humor, and is genuinely just a great guy. Any time I’ve needed an actor for television commercials or a model for commercial billboards, ads, or magazine spreads he’s been there with his A-game ready to go. One of the things Derek and I have in common is the desire and drive to succeed in the professions we’ve chosen. His is modeling and acting, mine is photography – that means we get to work together quite a bit. Derek is one of the most driven people I know and has worked so very hard to make his dreams come true. Saturday evening Derek called to tell me he was flying to Los Angeles and was a finalist for the contest to be Ellen’s new Gardener! Today – he IS Ellen’s new gardener!  I look forward to watching him on the Ellen DeGeneres Show –  I couldn’t be more proud of you, Derek Yates!

You can check out Derek’s filmography here:  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4946463/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Derek also co-founded a non-profit organization to try to stop drunk driving with his beautiful mother, you can read more about that here: http://www.iam1n3.org

You can also view more images of Derek from a recent shoot with BeCouture Group at http://becouturegroup.com/

The current issue of Chattanooga Magazine features an article that I photographed and Derek modeled for (some of the images from that shoot are below).
Hard work pays off, and I don’t know anyone who works harder than you, Derek Yates, to achieve your dreams!
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Eva - Amazing photos of Derek…Beautifully done..

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Chattanooga Birthday Party Photographer – Pumpkins & Chevron First Birthday

I don’t often step outside my role as a newborn photographer.  When I do, it’s usually for the families of “my” babies.  This time, I got to be a Chattanooga birthday party photographer – and it was so much fun!  Easton’s amazing mom put together a stunning party with an orange and aqua theme tied together with pumpkins and her signature print, chevrons.  It’s an absolute Pinterest dream!  It was so special to be there – I  had photographed Easton’s birth the year before, his newborn photos, and every three months up to his first birthday.

Chattanooga Party Photographer

In case you’re wondering, credit for the absolutely delicious and adorable cake goes to Sifted Bakery in Cleveland, Tennessee and the precious cake pops are the work of CoCo’s Sweet Boutique.  (A word of caution: they are ADDICTING.)

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I also have to mention the pumpkin dip.  I am hooked on the pumpkin dip.  I prefer it with the graham crackers, but wafers are delicious too… as, for that matter, are spoons… *ahem*  If you’re planning ahead for your fall get-together, you can find that recipe here!

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Yes, the big sister and her friends are wearing coordinating outfits.  Of course they are!  Whitney and her amazing friends have such amazing attention to detail!

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Sometimes, a boy just needs a break.  Easton’s making a run for it!  I think he was too kissed-out and needed a minute to himself!

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Big sister and her amazing smile and another one of “my” babies snoozing peacefully during the party!

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Happy Birthday, little buddy!  I can’t get over what a handsome, sweet little toddler you’ve grown into!  I’m so thankful to have been a part of your first year and I am so grateful to your mama for asking me to capture your special day, a year later!

Love,
Melissa

Your Chattanooga Birthday Party Photographer (*wink*)

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Chattanooga Newborn Photographer – Sweet Baby Carolina

I may be a Chattanooga newborn photographer, but sometimes my clients come from further away.  Miss Carolina traveled from Dunlap to visit me!  I am so, so grateful that she did, too!  She was just such a precious baby girl.  Actually, their whole family is just fantastic!  Her big brother might be one of the sweetest little guys in the universe and mom and dad’s professions are both in service to the community (thank you both for all you do!) and they just put a smile on my face!  I love taking photos: truth.  I love babies: truth.  But one of the parts of my job that just warms my heart is getting to know people like Carolina’s family.  My path probably would never have crossed theirs if not for their newborn session.  I can absolutely assure you that my life is a bit brighter for the brief time I spent with them.  And that?  That is awesome.

 

Chattanooga Newborn Photographer

Baby kisses!  Oh my goodness – daddies and their little girls together make for a precious photo, but when you are able to get a little miss kissing on her daddy, it’s about more than I can handle!

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Can you see the adoration in this photo?  I was changing lenses and had given big brother no instruction at all – I just looked up and saw him gazing lovingly at his little sister.  Look out, boys, this big brother isn’t going to let a single one of you break her heart!

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Goodness, she is just too perfect.  Let’s talk about that head of hair.  My three-year-old doesn’t have a mane like that!  I wonder where she gets it…?

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Oh.  Nevermind.  Her momma could be a model.  Makes sense when you see them together, doesn’t it?  Actually, a lot of things make sense when you see them together.  My daughters saw this image and said, “Mommy, I like her hair better than Ariel’s hair.”  (Talk about a compliment!)  And then they said, “She really loves her little baby, doesn’t she?”  Yes, kiddos, she absolutely does.

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Thanks for coming down to Chattanooga to see me, Miss Carolina!  I think you’re a doll and I just love your family! Please come see me again soon!

Love,

Melissa

Your Chattanooga Newborn Photographer

(Slash, Dunlap Newborn Photographer!)

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Man Photography – Portraits of Men in all Their Manliness

Man photography. Lately I’ve been intrigued with portraits of men. Something about the way they act like they don’t want their picture made, but you know they really do. They’ve made a life to be proud of and they have these hopes and ideas down inside them that they never really get to explore because they’re too busy with life. I guess you could say it’s kind of like when little girls dress up as princesses. Deep down, she knows she is a princess, and she finally gets to show the world. Well… here it’s a little different with beards, tattoos, and lots of other manly things. Back down to their roots of survival, gruff, “no pain, no gain”, dirty finger nails, hard labor, ingenuity, perseverance and taking pride in what they do. These two guys are your normal, hardworking, strong, awesome family-men. They’ve got some personality for sure and I had the pleasure of capturing it!  We get to see men being loving husbands and playful daddies all the time. It’s fun to see a different side sometimes.

 

This fella’s tattoo artist wanted a couple shots of his artwork… I ran with it!

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Does life get any better than smoking a pipe in the back of a dusty old Mercedes in a pair of suspenders?

 

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Looks like he’s on lunch break to me. Got to love a hardworking man!

 

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While the first guy was on lunch break from his back-breaking job, the one below is out killing our dinner!

 

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How about them handlebars?!

 

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Why, yes, now that you ask, I am a little chilly. No, I sure wouldn’t mind if you went and chopped some wood for me.  I like your beard (face sweater). The blustery cold snow is no match.

 

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This one ^ is my husband. *Smiles*

Thanks, fellas, for giving us something fun to look at. I hope I can continue capturing the things we ladies can appreciate in men. Man photography. Stuff that’s just manly. Which makes me think maybe my next post needs to involve diapers and dishes… hmmm…

 

Thanks for stopping by!
Amanda Lovelace

Your Chattanooga Photographer

 

 

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What to expect during your newborn session – Chattanooga newborn photography

Newborn photography is a special discipline within portraiture that not every photographer can do well – it is about so much more than a technical knowledge of photography and lighting and having the right equipment.  It requires patience and confidence.  It requires an intimate understanding of a newborn’s world – and the world they’ve spent the previous 40 weeks growing within.  It’s about a CONSTANT regard for the infant’s safety and comfort ahead of the desire for a particular shot.  And it’s about being sensitive to the uncertainty and misgivings new, proud parents have about handing their fresh-from-the-womb child to, in many cases, a complete stranger. We want your Chattanooga Newborn Photography Session to be perfect, painless, and comfortable.

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My job begins long before mom ever delivers her babe; I talk on the phone at length with my mommies and dads about their session and make sure to answer all of their questions in addition to educating them about how we conduct our sessions.  I’d love to give you a little idea of what I tell my clients – and to prepare you for what you can expect from a studio newborn session with me.

I generally schedule our session for 5 days after the expected due date.  That gives us plenty of room to catch that ideal window of 5-10 days for the perfect newborn session – after the baby has gotten the hang of eating and before she hits that first growth spurt.  During that time, she’s still sleepy and happy to curl into the adorable womb-like poses that set newborn portraiture apart from other baby photographs.   However, because babies dictate everything about a newborn session, including scheduling, that date is a soft date until he arrives and we adjust accordingly if we need to.

Parents are encouraged to make sure their little peanut’s belly is nice and full and that he has been awake for a good amount of time prior to the session.  Just in case little one falls asleep in his car seat on the way to our studio, I ask momma to select a snap- or zipper-down outfit so I don’t have to pull anything over his head and risk waking him up.

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When a family arrives in our studio, I take the baby and start working immediately if he’s asleep, and work on putting him to sleep if he isn’t.  Parents are welcome to either sit in our comfy lounge area or watch me work with baby.  Often, moms take this time to apply makeup and enjoy a cup of coffee and relax for a little while.

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The studio is generally around 84 degrees during the session, with the temperature even higher thanks to space heaters in the area I use for shooting.  Because babes that new often don’t regulate their body temperatures as well as adults and because they’re naked, they are safer and more comfortable in an environment that is closer to body temperature.  Some of the items I keep within arms reach  during the course of the session include blankets for covering a baby, hand sanitizer (I use it every time I touch your baby – especially after touching my face or hair or working with the baby’s bottom!), extra wipes to clean up stray messes, space heaters, white noise machines, and all the hats and headbands I plan on using.  I keep everything close at hand because I do not leave your baby unattended – EVER.  Even a days-old infant can move more than people expect!

Many poses and the use of props like baskets and bowls will require extra hands for that reason.  Some poses are composites, which means I use two or more images and an extra set of hands to stabilize a baby’s head safely and comfortably and use Photoshop to compile the images into one seamless image.  When I work with the baby in a basket or other prop, I make sure that a parent or assistant can hold the prop steady so that a baby cannot tip over.  Often, these props are also weighted on the bottom, but that doesn’t replace the need for a spotter.   When I am manipulating a tiny human into a pose, he may whimper as I disturb his slumber, but if he makes a face or begins to cry, I abandon the pose and work with his cues as to what is comfortable for him.  Not all poses work for all babies, so I let them tell me what feels good to them!   Some shots require that I shoot from above your baby; every time I do, I ensure that my camera strap is securely around my neck.  The importance of safety in the studio cannot be over-emphasized or under-estimated!

 

After I work with little bit on both my beanbag and in some props, I move into family shots.  Most of these are very minimalist and I use a simple backdrop and encourage mom and dad and any siblings to wear simple clothing – white, black, cream, etc. without distracting prints.  Often a camisole for mom and a white t-shirt or bare chest for dad is perfect.  The goal of these images is to convey the love within the family – anything else distracts from that very profound connection.

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At the end of our session – about 2 to 3 hours – I’ll help you get your baby dressed and give you time to feed her if you’d like and help you get her into her car seat so you can head out and look forward to seeing your beautiful images a few days later!

Many times, beside the pediatrician, I am the first visit a new baby makes; that is an enormous honor and I am humbled by the trust parents place in me.  I find deep joy in seeing these perfect little people and the overwhelming love their mommies and daddies and siblings have for them.  Each session leaves me feeling as if I have been witness to something larger than myself and I am taken aback by how much I find myself caring for these families as if they are close friends.  To say “thank you” to these parents doesn’t seem to convey enough of my gratitude for that.

Questions? I’d love to answer them!  Even more than that, I’d love to see you and your blessing in our studio!

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Engaged to be Married this June! – Chattanooga Engagement Photos

Brandon and Whitney are an amazing photography team so I was thrilled and, I won’t lie, a bit nervous when they asked me to be their wedding photographer! I’ll tell you what, this couple really lives out true love and I’m so happy to get to see it play out. It’s always an inspiration to see two people love each other with a God influenced and centered love. You can see and feel the love in their engagement photos.

From the moment I first met them, they became dear friends to me. We can thank Rock Bridge Community Church for that! That’s where they met, and it’s also where I met them!

I am getting more and more excited for their beautiful country Summer wedding next month! They picked a gorgeous, outdoor location in Rock Spring, GA called Five Dollar Farm.  I’m in love with all the details and their style is right up my alley. We had so much fun doing their engagement photos, I can’t even imagine what the wedding will be like. They make my job easy.

 

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With all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. Ephesians 4:2-3

I can not wait for this awesome wedding! God has truly blessed this couple and I am truly blessed to get to be a part of it.

Amanda Lovelace

Your Chattanooga Wedding Photographer

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expecting . chattanooga maternity photographer

Ashley and her family are definitely regulars to the Innamorata website and blog. I love that I was able to photograph her while she was pregnant with her second baby boy. Ashley is one of those beautiful women who are just absolutely stunning pregnant. I could have definitely photographed her during her maternity session all day!

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