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Rachel and Eli's Joyful & Vibrant Wedding Day | Chattanooga Weddings

wedding couple nuzzle noses in Chattanooga landscape with gazebo on pond in background

Rachel and Eli met just over a year ago and they got along right away. Things moved slowly at first as they were living three hours away from each other! Rachel lived in Nashville while Eli was living in North Georgia. Nevertheless their magnetism was so strong they couldn't resist getting to know one another better. Long distance is never easy, but they both committed to finding the strengths in it, one thing Rachel noted was that from the start their dates were days long and this allowed them to learn one another in a beautiful, non-traditional way.

They both said they knew immediately that they had found their person. About six months into the relationship they took a beach trip together where Eli asked Rachel for forever.

Rachel's vision for their wedding day was simply for it to be happy and joyful. She genuinely wanted to come together with Eli and celebrate their love with their loved ones. Their approach was simple, but anything but basic. Choosing to host their wedding at Mountain Willow Manor was perfectly aligned with Rachel's inspiration; she loved the view and felt the atmosphere was perfect for their wedding. The space itself is absolutely stunning with a variety of rooms in the main house featuring unique Victorian-era wall paper. I love photographing at this venue, and continue to discover new details within the manor house. It is also stunning down by the pond which features a perfectly quaint gazebo.

Rachel chose a very vibrant color palate for their florals and dessert table; these pops of color were show stopping and simply happy. The rest of their color palate was classic, her bridesmaids wore baby blue dresses of various cuts. The groomsmen wore blue pants and bow ties with white shirts and brown shoes and suspenders; only Eli wore a jacket.

When Rachel went dress shopping she found a lovely column cut dress with an off the shoulder sleeve. But then, a few months later she stopped randomly into a thrift store, not even thinking about looking at attire, and a white dress caught her eye. It was a sleeveless soft mermaid dress with a beautiful lacy train. Naturally, she tried it on and it fit perfectly! She bought it on the spot and somehow managed to keep it a secret from almost everybody! Only her mom, her planner and myself were told that this was going to be a two dress day, so naturally we did a first look with the bridesmaids!

Rachel and Eli valued spending as much time together as possible on their day and chose to do a first look under the willow tree for which the property is named. Eli was so ready to see his bride and as soon as she tapped his shoulder he spun around and immediately embraced her and started crying. Rachel said later that this was her favorite part of the day! This is exactly why I love first looks; watching them come together before the ceremony, in private, where they can react fully and naturally is such a beautiful thing to share.

They took some time with each other before we moved into their couples session. Rain clouds started to move in as we were taking their photos, so we bounced between things a little bit, but were able to explore the grounds and get lots of photos of them being adorable together; for real though, these two couldn't keep their hands off each other.

The rain was on and off throughout the day, and the radar didn't look promising at their ceremony time. Rachel and Eli made the hard decision to move the ceremony into the carriage house. Their planner Blair was such a rockstar throughout the day and made it so easy to move the ceremony inside. It was also the right decision, it did rain pretty hard during the ceremony and both Rachel and Eli were pleased with how smoothly the transition went.

Though it wasn't exactly where they imagined saying their I dos, the tree line at the back of the building became the perfect backdrop for their heartfelt vows. They were also able to use the lovely green couch that sat at their sweetheart table for their foot washing ceremony. They both value acts of service and felt that the foot washing ceremony was an important way to begin their union.

After the ceremony the rain had let up and we were able to wrap up family photos with those not there before the ceremony and take photos with the wedding party outside in beautiful, soft light. I just want to note how perfectly her color palate came together and how AMAZING these cupcake look! Rachel splurged on their dessert table from Nellie's Sweet Treats. Not only were they a perfect match to the florals and mind blowing to look at, they tasted great! I've found that most of the time if a cake looks too pretty it doesn't taste great... That is not the case with these. Run don't walk to Nellie's if you envision a show-stopping dessert table at your vibrant wedding day.

As the guests found their seats Rachel and Eli then took a brief moment together before making their grand entrance, with the surprise reveal of the reception dress! The newlyweds went directly into their first dance before dinner. The catering was provided by Mission BBQ and was certainly a crowd pleaser.

After dinner, the bride and groom cut their cake (it must have been hard to cut such a pretty cake!) cried during a number of heartfelt speeches and then played the shoe game. Finally it was time to open the dance floor. Rachel mentioned to me that she and Eli loved to dance together and had even taken a few classes in Nashville, but I was not prepared for how great they were on the dance floor. Eli really showed off his moves; they looked so good out there!

All of their guests enjoyed the dance floor and it was packed all night. So much credit to Rachel and Eli for being out there themselves, this goes so far to keeping everyone engaged on the dance floor.

To close out the night the newlyweds had a sparkler exit where their guests cheered for them before watching them depart in their getaway car.

bride and groom embrace intimately and passionately in front of arbor with bistro lights during last dance

To Rachel and Eli- May you find comfort and joy with one another for the rest of your lives.

A huge shout-out to all the vendors who made their wonderful day come to life:

Photography: Lara Morgan

Catering: Mission BBQ

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