The West Virginia Fairytale


Maggie was one of my closest friends in college.

We homeworked.

We cried.

We took way too many selfies.

We laid on eachother's dorm floors and said we would quit college.

We prayed together.

We ate too much chocolate.

We played the music too loud in the car.

We went to Walmart too many times.

We planned Maggie's entire wedding out on Pinterest.

So when Nolan came into the picture, naturally there was still a "we" with just one more.

You see, Nolan was our third wheel.

...At least that's how I like to see it.

When Maggie & Nolan became "a thing", I took their first awkward photos as a couple,

When their "thing" lasted a year, we took photos that were less awkward,

When they became "an engaged thing", I made them register for their wedding and take engagement photos all in the same day.

They're so blessed to have me.

So naturally, when it was time to plan a wedding, why wouldn't I photograph their moments, just like I had always done?

....Except, I was the Maid of Honor.

So I did what any good Millennial would do....I took to Google and read blogs on how to be in a wedding while photographing a wedding.

Like, essentially, how hard could this be?

If you're going to photograph and be in a wedding here are five key tips for your crazy self:

1. Find a second photographer you trust

Seriously, if I didn't have my pal Val, life wouldn't have been a piece of cake.

2. Create a Wedding Timeline

You need a gameplan. Life just needs gameplans. Make sure you, the bride, and the second all know this gameplan. Screenshot it, print it, tie it around your wedding bouquet, whatever you gotta do to achieve this gameplan. Know what photos you are capable of taking and which photos you need to be in. Know when, where, and how this will all happen. Know ahead or you won't know at all.

3. Start Early

One perk of being in and photographing a wedding is the fact you get exclusive access. Think of it as your VIP Pass and make use of the time beforehand. Shoot the details at the rehearsal dinner, save your bouquet to snap later on, or round up all the little details and decide where to take photos the night prior. The morning of the wedding, I woke up early and snapped some shots of Maggie's dress as the dawn warmed the windowpanes.

4. Take the Shots You Know They'll Love

You've been given this special opportunity to capture photos you know the couple will love....because who knows the couple like you do? Maggie isn't a fan of one side of her profile so did we take profile shots? We did. But normally you would be sensitive to their preferences. So keep that in mind and don't do as I do.

5. Remember to Enjoy the Moments

While photography is important, remember to make your friends priority. You're here for them, and that's what they'll remember most: how you made them feel. Because when you look back on photos, you're not only remembering a place in time, you're remembering the emotions. Don't let the stress get in the way of the celebration.

Was I the best wedding photographer/maid of honor this world has ever seen? Ummm, no.

But was it fun and did I die? Ab-sa-lutley and almost!

Anyways, you came here for the photos which may or may not include commentary....

TO THE PICTURES! (And the commentary)

Starting off the morning with some simple details

Taking advantage of her morning status, because what other time can you tell a barista your name is "bride"?

The photo on the left is not only an attractive photo of myself trying to act casual in front of camera, it's a photograph of the talented Heather in action. Heather styled our hairs and is the reason we looked even half presentable all day. I'm photographing her engagement photos soon and I bubble up with joy each time I think of it!

I was laughing at the guys for their lack of flower-pinning knowledge

They were laughing at me for laughing at their futile attempts.

All the moments, all the emotions

This is me trying to remember to walk slowly. Then noticing everyone staring at me. And then failing the slow goal. Sry.

This is when we all lost it.

This is Margaree and Nolan enjoying being married

This is every man in every wedding's favoritest part of the celebration. They love it. Promise. Okay. Not really.

This is us celebrating that Maggie didn't make us wear frumpy dresses

This is Val and I praising God that the sun went behind a cloud for 2.5 seconds and we could get a shot and not be blinded

This is Nolan realizing he got the girl

This is Hailey not relinquishing Maggie entirely

There's a lot you can say in a Maid of Honor speech. And who's to stop you?

David on the other hand kept it real and encouraging. One of us had to, you know?

They're pretty much pros at this whole couple posing thing thanks to years of practice.

And that's the story of the West Virginia Fairytale. I never thought I would put those three words together, but there you have it.

So if you ever find yourself in the position of both photographer and bridal partier, Google some blogs and then own it in way only you can do.

I believe in you!

Hailey Rae

Church: Mt Tabor Baptist

Venue: Lake Stephens

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© 2019 Hailey Rae Photography