There’s this photographer whose work I’ve always drooled over and admired. Her name is Elizabeth Messina. Her work is nothing short of dreamy, and captures the essence of all that is beautiful. This past February, I finally had the honor of meeting Elizabeth, and shortly after I gave her a huge hug and thanked her for how she inspires me, I sat in the front row of her presentation, eager to hear what she was going to share. The lights dimmed, not a word was said, and Alicia Keys’ “No One” began to play and the most beautiful wedding photos my eyes had ever seen danced across two giant screens in the room to these words-

“People keep talking

They can say what they like

But all I know is

Everything’s gonna be alright”…


The photos were beautiful. And inspiring. And peaceful. And so, so full of love. They were the wedding photos from Elizabeth’s dear friends (also very well-known photographers), Jose Villa & Joel Serrato. There was not a dry eye in the room. With her photographs, Elizabeth was able to tell the story of two men, deeply in love with each other- and in those moments, we all believed. All pretenses and judgments- religious and political,  were dropped. And we celebrated love. And it was beautiful. Elizabeth took the stage with a long, dramatic moment of silence (other than when I interrupted several times with my sniffling mess of a self), and she spoke these words:

“Love is love

is love, is love

is love, is love


So, I ask all of you to, just for a moment, drop your political and religious agendas. Drop your Democrat. Drop your Republican. Drop your judgment. Drop your hatred. Drop your signs of all things “anti”. And embrace that love is love (is love, is love, is love, is love, is LOVE)

Hayley and Jess were undoubtedly made to love each other. They’re best friends. They’re complete opposites, but exactly alike. They have nicknames, and inside jokes galore, and a completely infectious love for life and each other. When I first met with Hayley & Jess I was nothing but completely honored and completely honest. I let them know I had never photographed a same-sex couple before, and it would be a completely new learning experience for me. We all joked about how things could get really awkward. Jess said “Hayley’s style is more girly than mine, I don’t even really like wearing makeup, but, I’m not a guy, so, I don’t want to stand behind her and have you ask me to pick her up or something”. I died laughing. Hysterically laughing, in fact. It was then that the two of them continued to refer to everything as en”gay”gement. They have an incredible sense of humor towards all of it, in fact, they laugh about everything (and I’m pretty sure it’s why everyone loves them both so dearly).

This has to be the most detail-oriented wedding I’ve ever laid eyes on. With 3 photographers capturing a wedding day, usually most details can be covered in a matter of minutes; but, when we arrived to Camp Sky Ranch in Blowing Rock, NC and saw what these ladies had done with the place, we spent at least an hour photographing their Anthropologie-esque details. I’m pretty sure I was drooling the whole day (gross, I know, but I can’t help it. I’m a sucker for details!). Hayley & Jess even incorporated part of their story together into their bridal party gifts. They got engaged while on a picnic under the stars in Boone, NC, and so they gave all the people in their wedding party an adorable little picnic blanket, a mini bottle of champagne, and the coolest bottle opener, EVER (looks like an old key! What, the what?!)

They traded vows they wrote themselves. And cried. And laughed. And danced. And laughed.

And all their closest loved ones showered them with hugs, and kisses, and warm, sweet, supportive words. Hayley and Jess taught us all a lesson in love that day. And it was beautiful.

And so now, here are some of our favorites from their wedding. Enjoy.

WEDDING PLANNER: Beautiful Day Weddings

DRESS: Nitsa’s Bridal

FLOWERS: Arranged by Kristen of EverBloom Designs,  Flowers from Shady Grove Gardens

CAKE: Hallmark Cakes

Transportation: Azalea Carriage Tours

Veil: Noelle Dudek of Feathered And Worn

LOVED THESE “Hangover Remedies” they had for guests to take home. Nothing like Gatorade and Tylenol to cure a bad case of the morning-after’s!

Comments (1)

  1. Megan Howard: January 27, 2013

    These are the most beautiful pictures! Without a doubt one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever seen!

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