City Engagement Session: Chicago

Chicago: known for its deep dish pizza, landmarks, baseball, and of course, amazing couples! Mariana and Stephen’s engagement session put the highlights of Chicago on display. Not only is the city skyline the perfect backdrop, but the Chicago river makes for some of the best captured moments, especially as the sun was setting. Mariana and Stephen were so fun to work with. We can’t wait to take another trip to Chi town soon!

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Thoughtfulness in the Details

Weddings are remembered for their personal touches, and the details were everywhere when it came to Walter and Tricia’s recent wedding. The couple wed at Glass Hill Venue, a newer establishment with scenic views of the Blue Ridge Parkway as well as a classic reception space, in Goode, VA. Walter and Tricia clearly have a knack for thinking of creative ways to execute traditions; in lieu of bouquets for their grand entrance into the reception space, the couple and their bridal party used light sabers. Tricia gave her new mother-in-law a handkerchief (pictured below) that reads “He is proud to be your son, I am blessed to be his wife. Love, Tricia”, taking a classic mother-in-law gift to a whole new level of creativity. The couple dedicated a table of photos to family members they have lost, including a plaque (also pictured below) to remember them by. We really couldn’t even name all the details if we tried - the thoughtfulness that went into the whole event is going to be remembered by the family and guests of Walter and Tricia for decades to come.

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Engagement Session: Moments on the Mall

Braden and Lauren chose to have their engagement shoot on the National Mall in D.C., which is one of our favorite places to capture couples’ memories. We moved from areas with trees and buildings lining the street all the way to the Lincoln Memorial, where we grabbed great shots of the couple with our National Monument behind them. Shooting in our nation’s capital will never get old for us.

Check out the couple’s session below!

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Wine-Inspired Classical Wedding in Northern Virginia

Ben and Rebecca’s wine-inspired wedding at Fleetwood Farm Winery showcased beauty in every detail. From the delicate florals to the use of the wine barrels and corks (check out the escort display!), Fleetwood Farm was the perfect venue to highlight the details of the occasion. One of our favorite moments was when Ben and Rebecca signed their ketubah (pictured below), or prenuptial agreement, which was an integral part of incorporating their Jewish background into their wedding day. Dancing and great food were also a must; there was joy and excitement resounding throughout the ceremony, reception, and every seemingly small detail.

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Meet the Team: Five Questions with Mitchell Bryant

Today’s team introduction is with Mitchell Bryant, a longtime member of SSP and friend of Sam. We did a quick interview with him to find out more about who he is - read his answers below!


1. Where are you from?

Lynchburg, Virginia

2. How did you begin working for SSP?

I first met Sam in 2012 at a wedding trade show. We were both there to meet with potential clients and book weddings. Funny thing is I didn’t book a single that day... but I did meet Sam. Not only did I hire Sam to photograph my own wedding, we formed a relationship and began working together almost immediately. Fast forward, it’s no exaggeration to say I’ve now shot hundreds of weddings with SSP, and consider Sam a close friend. 

3. What is your favorite part about shooting weddings and engagements?

I’ve been shooting weddings for 10 years now, and without a doubt the best part of it is the couple and how quickly you become a part of their lives. The weddings can have similar styles throughout the years, repeating venues, etc., but the couple is what makes each day/weekend unique and special. I don’t remember great weddings, I remember great couples. The amount of love I get to experience and be around every weekend is truly special. Witnessing that real, tangible love in such high concentration is a beautiful thing to be a part of. 

4. Where is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled?
Jackson, Wyoming (I’m a sucker for the mountains) 🏔 


5. What is your go-to fuel for long wedding/event days (if coffee, what do you specifically go for)?
First thing - a Chocolate Chip Clif Bar and a Red Bull.  Once it gets late, pour on that bottomless reception coffee. Single origin? Probably not. Single destination? My face.

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A Few Ways to Make Your Wedding Day More Personal

It’s no secret that your wedding day is about you, but it can be easy to get caught up in the routine of the big event. It’s always exciting to see a couple make their day more special by personalizing it, but it can sometimes be difficult to think of ways to accomplish this task. After witnessing hundreds of weddings over the years (and taking into account the trends of the season), here are some of our favorite ways we’ve seen couples make their day completely theirs.

Unity Symbols

A unity symbol can be anything a couple wants it to be. Some symbols are historic, such as the unity candle, which dates back forty years. Others are religious, like washing each other’s feet (a representation of John 13:1-17) or breaking glass in Jewish tradition. We’ve also seen sand poured into a vessel, red and white wine mixed together in a glass, and so much more. No matter what you choose to do during your ceremony, as long as you feel represented as a couple, you’re on the right track.

First Look

The past couple decades have popularized the “first look”, which is a private and beautiful moment pre-ceremony. So many customizations of the first look have been created since its beginning, such as a “first look no peek” where the couple holds hands and is able to talk with each other while still not looking at each other (make sure you have enough self control for this one before you commit to it!). Choosing to not do a first look doesn’t mean that your day is any less personal than if you do choose to do it - it’s up to you as the couple and how you desire to spend your time! There is something that can be cherished about seeing each other for the first time on your big day in a private setting, and for that reason we’ll always be a fan.

Letters

Writing each other a letter to be opened on your wedding day is one of our favorite ways to make your day more personal. Having an artifact from your fiancé that you can hold in your hands undoubtedly creates a closeness between the two of you, even if you’re not together throughout the entire day of the wedding. Having the letter from your wedding day for years to come is incredibly special as well.

No matter what you choose to do, as long as it’s personal to you and your new bride/groom, you won’t regret it. Make sure not to get too caught up in the pomp and circumstance of it all - make your wedding day yours.

Romance: Rain or Shine

A few weeks ago, we photographed Alex and Jenna’s wedding at Raspberry Plain Manor in Leesburg, Virginia, and it was nothing short of beautiful. The details for the wedding tied together perfectly, the hints of gold around the reception space creating new appreciation for the blush florals on each table. As the couple read their own written vows, the love they have for each other was put on display. The overcast sky made for a romantic hue in the day, and the rain that came later is to thank for a few of our favorite portraits.

Alex and Jenna are clearly a couple that bring fun wherever they go, and the dance floor at their reception is the perfect example of that. We’re excited to share some of our favorite photos from the day with you!

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Close to Home: Elegant Estate Wedding

With all the traveling our team does each year, we always appreciate a wedding close to our home base. Meredith and Jared’s classic spring wedding was just that - a ceremony and reception that took place at West Manor Estate, an elegant venue right down the road from us. The couple was full of life on their wedding day, mirroring the garden at the Estate. Is there anything better than the vibrant shades of green that spring displays as it blooms?

We love that West Manor provides a place for Estate-style photos as well as a garden for the nature lovers, and Meredith and Jared were so thoughtful and detailed with every aspect of their day (check out that cake topper, which represents the couple’s time spent in London!). See below for some of our favorite photos!

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Weddings & Engagements: Destinations We Love

Traveling to new destinations for weddings is one of the best parts about being a wedding photographer, and Sam Stroud Photography has had the pleasure of traveling near and far to meet couples that have become special to us instantaneously. Today, we wanted to share some of our favorite recent destinations we’ve traveled to, along with a few photos of each. We hope you enjoy looking through these photos – they’ll probably make you want to take a trip this summer!

 

David & Allison: Las Vegas, Nevada

Vegas – “The Entertainment Capital of the World”, “The City of Lights”, and for David and Allison, the perfect place to get married. It was a pleasure to shoot their ceremony at the Primrose Courtyard in The Wynn, which was complete with a stunning hanging floral backdrop and, of course, Elvis singing as the recessional occurred. The reception was just as exuberant, taking place at The Stratosphere (the tower on Las Vegas Blvd. that you’ve definitely seen before in person or in photos). This couple took the best parts of Vegas and created a beautiful day.

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Peter & Caroline: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Just three hours away from our home base, Virginia Beach is the closest oceanfront to our team. We loved this engagement shoot with Peter and Caroline because we were able to highlight the couple and their love for the beach. They were willing to jump in the water and have fun with it, resulting in photos they can look back on for years to come. This shoot was one to remember!

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Derrick & Taylor: Sedona, Arizona

Sedona’s beauty goes without saying. Photographing Derrick and Taylor’s engagement session with the city’s red rocks in the background was so exciting, and choosing just a few photos to highlight is difficult because there are so many. Trust us, you’ll want to spend some time in Sedona after seeing Derrick and Taylor – they make the mountains look even better!

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Mariana & Stephen: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is such a diverse city; you can stand facing the city and see its overwhelming splendor, and then you can turn around and see the glory of the Chicago River. This versatility made for a fun engagement shoot with Mariana and Stephen, who happen to look great at every angle the city has to offer.

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Lillie & Stan: Colorado Springs, Colorado

It was a perfect day for an engagement shoot in Colorado Springs, and Lillie and Stan were awesome to work with. Their love for each other was put on display in front of one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the U.S.A., and we felt grateful to be a part of it. Colorado Springs is definitely a favorite in our book.

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Landon & Meghan: Charlottesville, Virginia

Our team frequents Charlottesville often, making it easily one of our most beloved places to shoot. Landon and Meghan’s wedding was no exception – they brought together some of the best parts of the city. Their ceremony was at the historic University of Virginia “University Chapel”, complete with stained glass windows and gothic-style pews, and their reception took place at  Mount Ida Farm’s Event Barn (another favorite in our book). We love Charlottesville and are proud to call it one of the most prevalent places we travel to.

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So what do you think – where should we go next?

Five Questions with Sam

Today, our team wanted to share a feature on the man behind the camera himself, Sam Stroud. Sam is the founder of Sam Stroud Photography, and he travels near and far to make every couple’s dream day come to life through images. He inspires the SSP team to do their best work at every wedding and event they photograph. Get to know him a bit better by reading our interview below!


1. Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Northern Virginia! I moved from there to Lynchburg with my wife after our first two years of marriage.

2. When is the first time you remember picking up a camera?
I was roughly 18 or 19? I think... it seems forever ago.

3. What is your favorite part about shooting weddings and engagements?
Definitely trying to get the couple to feel comfortable. It always starts out stiff and I love watching them get more comfortable. 

4. If you could travel anywhere in the world for a month, where would you go?
One month... mmmmm, India.

5. What is your ideal day?
As cliche as this sounds, I live in a space in my life currently where I have the ideal day. I work on images of people I love to be around, and then I do whatever I want. If I want to go have a cigar I can. If I want to go take my kids and wife on vacation, I can! 

BONUS: Would you rather eat your favorite meal for every meal for the rest of your life or never be able to eat your favorite meal again? Also, what is your favorite meal?
My wife makes this noodle venison thing (I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s incredible). And I’m a simple man... I’d eat it forever if I could. 

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We’ll be interviewing more of the SSP team in the coming weeks - stay tuned!


Engagement Session: Sunrise in the City

The excitement of the long-awaited Washington D.C. spring can be summed up in just two words: cherry blossom. The cherry blossom may not be native to America (it's actually Japan’s national flower), but that fact doesn’t take away from the staple it is to our nation’s capital. Spring is now in full fruition in D.C., and I had a chance to take advantage of its beauty with Sam and Katharine just a few weeks ago.

 

Among the blooming cherry blossoms, Sam and Katharine were a vision in the D.C. sunrise. We made our way along the Potomac waterfront, enjoying the crisp air and sharing the quiet of the morning. Shooting for couples during moments like this is one of my favorite things to do, simply because I have the opportunity to share a part of everyday life with them. There is something really special about capturing the small moments that make up a relationship.

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Bridal in the Desert

What an incredible place to shoot! I am so so pumped to head back to Nevada for another wedding this year!

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Woodland Whimsy meets Country Club Chic

This wedding was an interesting meeting of formal and whimsical that included lots of natural elements and cool neutrals. We think the most striking detail of the evening was the joy on the bride’s face. Her smile is contagious!

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Vendors:

Florist - Floral Fantasies

Entertainment - EV Band

Cake - Pastry Garden

Catering - The Garrison

A Capitol Celebration

Being steps from some of the nation’s most iconic architecture never hurts for photo ops. We loved being able to capture Eric and Josephine’s day in DC against the backdrop of these buildings. We love how they went a step further and thoughtfully incorporated the city and its notable locations into much of their design.

A Geometric Dream Day

Leah and Blake created something truly magical and memorable at Shadow Creek Weddings and Events. Their geometric inspiration was repeated over and over again in the arbor, favors, table numbers, decorations, and even their custom monogram. We LOVE a fully thought through theme. See if you can spot all of the unique touches that branded their event as one of a kind.

Vendors:

Planner- Kim Newton

Venue- Shadow Creek

Caterer- Purple Onion

Florist- Wild Green Yonder

Entertainment- Shockzone Events

Hotel- Lansdowne Resort & Spa

A Plantation Party with ALL the Pretty Details

The dress, the flat lay, the super symmetrical cake decor…so many beautiful things happening here! I think that my favorite is that little blue guy in the bride’s bouquet.

Vendors:

Bryan George Music String Quartet

East Coast Entertainment -Jump Street

Main Event Caterers

Blush Away

Beaumont House Design

What little girls' wedding dreams are made of...

Pretty churches, pouffy dresses, and rainbows.

Venue: Boonsboro Country Club

Cake: Billie's Cakes

Church: Holy Cross Catholic Church

DJ: Official Entertainment

Dress: Gilded Thimble

Flowers: Perfect Arrangements

Hair: Whitney Rosser

Makeup: Jessica Reynolds

Transportation: Touch of Class Lynchburg

Music for Cocktail Hour: Ivy Creek Strings

A Garden Inspired Affair at Montalto

The mountain that Thomas Jefferson named Montalto is a part of the Carters Mountain range and overlooks the former President's home Monticello. It was also the location that Simone and Smith chose to celebrate their love and future life together.  Their garden inspired details and gorgeous classic looks match perfectly with the historic property to create a timeless event.  

Vendors:

Caterer- Harvest Moon

Entertainment- TD Layman

Planner - Kelsey Mayo for Donovan Groves Events

Florals- Floral Images Design Studio