shaun & hollie {wedding}

My brother, Shaun,  is a romantic. In high school, when he was trying to woo Hollie (yet again), he visited her house on Valentine's Day and placed little Hershey's Kisses on her doorstep in the shape of a heart. He also left a note for her which read, "Now that I have kissed the ground that you walk on, will you be my Valentine?" She turned him down. (It wasn't the first time.)

But Shaun never really gave up trying to win her over. They remained friends, and every once in a while Shaun would try once more. And get shot down. But he never gave up hoping that someday, Hollie would see him as more than a friend. And Shaun's persistence paid off. They'd parted ways after high school, but found each other through the magic of Facebook.  And enough time had passed so that each of them had gotten to a better place in life... they'd both found their own way, matured, and were both actually ready for a real relationship. And that's where their love story truly begins.

Hollie and Shaun were married on December 10th. I wasn't able to be their official photographer since I was in the wedding as a bridesmaid... but that didn't stop me from taking all the pictures I could get away with! And, thankfully my husband was there to hand the camera off to during the ceremony and most of the reception. We tag-teamed the night so that I could get some memories to take home with me. And not wanting to bog either of us down for the day, the images we captured were shot with one camera, two different lenses, and no flash. We were there to play, not work.

Hollie had always wanted to be married at Christmastime... which was perfect, because it is Shaun's favorite time of the year, as well. The details were beautiful. The bridesmaids' bouquets included pinecones, poinsettias and berries. On the pews of the church were wreaths of pine, pinecones and roses. And the stage held four beautifully decorated Christmas trees.

preparations... (and me playing peek-a-boo in the mirror, apparently).

just chillin'...

Shaun trying to fix his boutineer that just broke. While most of his guys spend some quality time with their phones.

Shaun & Hollie opted to see each other before the ceremony (I LOVE this!) and get their pictures taken ahead of time. I managed to snap a few pictures of the two of them while they were hanging out in the lobby for a few minutes.

Here is where I was forced to hand over my camera to my husband, Tony. Anyone who knows me realizes how difficult it was for me to let go. Thankfully, Tony has a fantastic eye and caught some fabulous photos that I couldn't be more proud of. I am so incredibly grateful that he stepped up to get these for me on this day... it was a strange sensation for me to be without my camera for the day, especially in a situation like this. So I'm eternally grateful that he was able to capture these memories for me. Our vision & styles are very similar in this respect, so I knew I wouldn't have to worry about him catching the moments as they came.

I am soooooo glad Tony captured THIS picture. The one on the left. This is one of my favorite images from the day. You can see the tears in Shaun's eyes, as he looks at his bride standing before him.

Shaun and Hollie read the traditional vows, and then had a few moments to whisper their own words to one another. They weren't mic'd, so the audience had no idea what was being said. But being so close, I, along with the rest of the wedding party, were able to overhear a few words. So we desperately tried to stifle our laughter as we overheard Shaun whispering to Hollie that he would love her till the end of time... even if a zombie apocalypse should occur!

The ceremony itself was fantastic... serious where it needed to be, to honor the commitment they were making to one another, but sprinkled with enough personal touches to make the event truly their own. Including the entrance and exit... Shaun & Hollie decided that they wanted to celebrate more than be somber... and so they had us all DANCE down the aisle (to a song from GLEE) instead of traditionally walking slowly down the aisle. The room was filled with joy.

Introducing... Mr. & Mrs. SIMMONS! Now... let's get this party STARTED!

Proof that I was, indeed, there. A strange sensation to be in FRONT of the camera. But I'm always ready with a funny face. And the second picture is a dance with my dad... awww, so sweet.

Time for the newlyweds' first dance. (I took the camera back so I could capture these.)

Shaun sang to Hollie as they twirled, and then Hollie joined in... making it a perfect duet.

father/daughter dance...

... and mother/son dance. My mom looked beautiful that day.

Shaun, simply having a good time... and the girls dancing circles around him during the money dance.

The cake was sooooooo good. Each layer was a different flavor... though there seemed to be a pile-up of people waiting for the red velvet.

And finally... the bouquet & garter toss.

To my little brother and my new sister... I am so very happy for you both! It couldn't have been a more perfect day for you both... the perfect start of something wonderful.