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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

Melody Hood

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