Jonathan + Peyton [wedding] | Staunton, VA. Photographer

This is a very special blog post, and one I have been waiting and waiting to share. This is the story of my best friend from middle school’s wedding to the perfect guy for her.

I met Peyton when we both entered 6th grade at Stuart Hall Middle School here in Staunton. We formed a fast and deep friendship, complete with best friend necklaces, notes passed in the hallways, a healthy obsession with N*Sync, and endless sleepovers. We dreamed and talked and dreamed and talked about our perfect guys, and provided shoulders for the other to cry on when, over the course of middle and high school, we dealt with the heartbreak of breakups and letdowns. Well I’m happy to report that now, 15 years later, we’re both married to those guys we dreamed about.

I had never met Jonathan before the wedding day. I’d only seen pictures on Facebook, and read Peyton’s deliriously happy descriptions of him as we planned her wedding photography. I don’t know if I was more excited to document this day, or just meet this guy who she was clearly head over heals in love with. Not only did I love Jonathan immediately, but their wedding was honestly one of the most fun days I’ve ever had the pleasure of photographing. I think you can see from his reaction of watching her walk down the aisle, Peyton’s signature crinkle-nosed smile during the vows, and the adorable little hand kiss shot as they’re leaving the ceremony, that these two are perfect for each other. They are easy to photograph because the love is there, plain as day for all to see. And not only are these two the sweetest, but their families are amazing as well. Peyton’s mom, Liz, and her planner, Karen, worked tirelessly with some incredible vendors to put this day together. Jonathan’s family was a joy to speak with as they described how happy they were to have this unison between two families.

One particularly special detail of this day was the location, Gaie Lea. Gaie Lee is Peyton’s late grandmother’s estate, and the word stunning doesn’t even begin to do it justice. I have fond memories of lounging by the pool with Peyton over the summer in high school, not a care in the world. To see it turned into this gorgeous venue, and Peyton’s wedding be the very first one at the venue was really something. If you’re looking for a venue, wedding or party or what have you, in Staunton, please look at Gaie Lea. You won’t be disappointed.

Liz actually wrote up a lovely description of the day that I think sums every last detail up perfectly. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you enjoy these very special pictures as much as I enjoyed being a part of their day.

A Rainy Day is a Perfect Day for a Wedding….. Really. (description by Liz Schreiber)

My perfect day began in September with a glorious sunrise on the winding country road that was home to our daughter’s chosen wedding venue. Gaie Lea is a country estate in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, just minutes from historic downtown Staunton. The home sleeps 15 people, so on this beautiful day, the wedding party and my daughter, the bride, were snoozing peacefully in their comfy beds as I took an early morning walk. Midmorning, the group began to rise to fresh coffee and joyful recapping of the night before of dining, partying and reunions with friends and family. Everyone took in the warm breeze and thanked Mother Nature for what looked like the perfect day ahead. As the morning progressed, more of my daughter’s friends arrived clad in their bathing suits heading out to the pool located in a secluded part of the backyard of the estate.

Meanwhile, Skyline Tent Company arrived to put the finishing touches on the tent and dance floor that had been assembled the day before in the front yard. A garden site in the yard wouldhost the ceremony, with poolside cocktails after. The tent would later host dinner and dancing for the 200 guests. Karen Cline, our Planner arrived looking as fresh as a daisy with her usual calm, collected demeanor. As the mother of the bride, I had been very apprehensive as to if my daughter and I could do this wedding with me in Virginia and her in Colorado, so we hired the best vendors we could find to help us. After months of planning for this day, our job now was to relax and have fun while the experts took over. And take over they did! Cathy Coyle from Willow Branch Flowers, arrived with flowers and arrangements that took my breath away. Using flowers that were in season, she created artful masterpieces for the yard and tent. As she and Karen fluttered around the house, and yard, arranging and decorating, more bridesmaids, groomsmen, and various young friends arrived for the gathering and swimming at the pool. A little after noon, drinks and lunch arrived poolside and the festivities were well underway.

Midafternoon sent everyone scurrying to their various locations to get dressed. The groom’s family stayed less than a mile down the road at the beautiful Inn at Old Virginia. The Inn can hold over twenty people so those that stayed with the groom’s family enjoyed their own little reunion and house party all weekend! The bride and her friends gathered at Gaie Lea where one could hear the sound of blow dryers and the happy chatter of women as they painted nails and curled hair. The layout of Gaie Lea gave us tons of room. I rushed to get ready so I wouldn’t miss a minute of that fun girl time. Even our dog joined in the preparations as he was fitted with a floral collar and leash to coordinate with the bridesmaid attire. As the ring bearer, he needed to look his best too! Later, looking very debonair, the groomsmen gathered in the playroom at Gaie Lea and toasted the groom and his parents before starting the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Eric Stamer and his crew arrived at Gaie Lea to begin outside preparations for the delicious dinner that would be served after the cocktails. As a pro at these sorts of things, Eric knew that the aroma of steak cooking on the grill as the guests arrived would add an additional sensory thrill to the festive occasion. And boy, did it ever! Guests were overwhelmed with the meal Eric had prepared of fresh farm to table fare.

But we are not there yet because, out of nowhere, the clouds opened up and the rain started to pour! The army of people who had so carefully helped us arrange and decorate, regrouped and switched gears by moving the chairs, tables, flowers, and food inside the tent. As the bridal party primped, everything was rearranged. But thankfully not for the worse because we had a plan B and we used it. The ceremony was held inside the tent and it was beautiful. Far from being disappointed, the guests gushed at the beauty of the rain as the drops trickled down the sides of the clear tent. Through the tent, they watched the clouds move off as the bride and groom completed their vows and headed outside to celebrate what looked like a fresh new day. And it was.

Yes, the only day it rained in September was on my daughter’s wedding day but it was still perfect. From our venue, Gaie Lea, our planner, Karen Cline, our caterer, Eric Stamer and his excellent crew, our amazing photographer, Lindsey Walters, Cathy Coyle with the lovely flowers, all was perfect. Everyone including our DJ, Nathan King and our Musicians, Ethan Hawkins and his group set up a beautiful wedding not once but twice, before and during the rain. As family and friends applaud the fun and beauty of my daughter’s wedding, I feel like my daughter and I are accepting credit for something we could have never done on our own. The reward is the happy faces of the bride and groom and their guests and the memories we will have for years to come. The method we used was hiring the best vendors we could find, all professionals. Then we stayed out of their way while they created the setting for our perfect day. And when it rained, it was beautiful. When the rain was over, it signified a new beginning for the happy couple.

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