Rachael & Nelson's Quintessentially Coastal Wedding Day at The Hermitage Museum & Gardens

It’s been a while since I first met Rachael at Press 626 in Norfolk to talk about what was most important to her and her fiancé Nelson for their wedding photography. She stressed that what she was after were “The Moments”. I seem to hear this a lot from the people who hire me as their photographer. It makes my heart soar each time. It’s the reason I love wedding photography— The Moments! I talk about them often, and to know that couples and families connect with that passion of mine is beyond exciting.

The day did not disappoint.

I loved so much about Rachael & Nelson’s wedding day. I loved that Rachael got ready at her parent’s home in Norfolk, right across the river from The Hermitage. The atmosphere at a place where you are comfortable is naturally more relaxed. I think it would be especially beneficial for brides who may deal with anxiety regularly— it’s just less pressure. Bonus— if you have a special relative that has come in from out of town, like a grandmother or close cousin, it’s more likely they’ll be at the house rather than a hotel room where you are getting ready. This provides the opportunity for genuine moments with those closest to you to happen naturally.

Virginia Makeup Artist Kim Porter

I think the idea of the perfectly styled, clean space to get ready in has been pushed onto brides. However, I believe that there is something so endearing, emotionally charged, and telling about the photos created in a place such as a bride’s childhood home. It’s my favorite.

Kim Porter Wedding Makeup Artist Virginia Beach

Kim Porter did Rachael’s makeup. Kim is my absolute favorite makeup artist in the Hampton Roads area. I love her positive attitude, strength, fire, and ambition. She also happens to do absolutely gorgeous bridal makeup, leaving brides and the bridal party looking flawless.

Bella Belle Wedding Day Shoe Inspiration
Documentary Wedding Photography in Norfolk Virginia

I love this photo so much because it happened organically. I don’t set up shots of bridesmaids helping the bride with her dress—that’s just not how I approach wedding days—so when these things happen all on their own it’s pure magic.

Kenneth Winston Bridal Gown

Last minute alterations.

Classic Bridal Style in Lace Dress
Classic Bride with Bow Wedding Dress
Modern + Genuine Wedding Day Storytelling

Rachael commissioned a headpiece to be attached to her veil from her friend, Jamie Slye, which used a piece of her mother’s wedding dress. When she showed her mom, it was especially touching. I think everyone in the room was a little teary at this point.

Father Daughter First Look Emotions
Modern Wedding Family Photos

Rachael is super close with her dad. In the months leading up to the wedding I got to know Rachael more. One thing I learned from all of our chats is that her father, John, LOVES Metallica’s Enter Sandman. Like, LOVES it. I know a party animal when I see one. I couldn’t wait to see him in action at the wedding.

Another thing I love? Getting to know—really know— these subtle nuances about the couples I work with. Had I not talked with Rachael throughout our time together, I would never have known that her dad loves to have fun and that they have an amazing relationship. Their first look was out on their family’s dock in the backyard, and it was lovely.

Classic Groomsmen in Suiting w/Floral Ties
Vintage Rentals by Jollity & Mad Hatter for Cigar Bar

Usually while I am with the bride, Logan hangs with the groomsmen for a bit. When Logan met up with the guys at the Hermitage, they were ready. It was like there was someone off camera yelling, “ACTION!” Logan went with it, and it worked. It was the guys’ real personalities which is always so much better than anything Logan or I could come up with. Two of Nelson’s groomsmen were Rachael’s brothers, Taylor and Owen, who are total performers.

Bride at The Hermitage Museum & Gardens

Right before the first look, I took a few moments to photograph Rachael. I love that you can see a little bit of tension in Rachael’s hand gestures in the above and below photographs which give way to a very obvious relief on both Nelson and Rachael’s faces in the following photo. A lot of couples say that they chose to do a first look to relax them, and I do think it helps. It also gives you a chance to have a few private moments in a what is otherwise a very busy day.

First Looks are Good for Brides W/Anxiety
Kenneth Winston Wedding Dress
Emotional First Look
Bride and Groom at The Hermitage Museum & Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia

The Hermitage is my absolute FAVORITE Hampton Roads venue. It’s one of my favorite places without needing it for a wedding. It’s a wonderful treasure nestled in a Norfolk neighborhood.

Cornflower Blue & Burgundy Color Palette for Fall Wedding
Brides Wedding Ring
Anenome Floral Bridal Bouquet Inspiration

Kelly Gish KILLED it with the florals. I am a sucker for anenomes, which were perfect with the cornflower blue and burgandy color palette.

Flower Girl Dress Inspiration
Groom's Portrait in The Black Tux
Catholic Wedding Ceremony Photographs

Generally, church weddings have a lot of rules. At this particular church, we were asked not to move. So, I took up one position at the ride side of the church, Logan was at the back, and our assistant Pawel was on the left. Also: Count on your church not allowing flash photography.

Virginia Wedding Photographers at Norfolk Catholic Church
Groom's Reaction to Bride Photography
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After the ceremony guests made their way to the Hermitage for cocktail hour and the reception. The Art of Burning Man exhibit was still up, and guests hung out, enjoyed the sunset, fresh seafood, and the Mosaic Steel Drum Orchestra! (Such a cool touch!)

Mosaic Steel Orchestra in Norfolk & Virginia Beach

I was all about the coastal elegance that was the theme. Rachael and Jill of Sunkissed Events came up with a gorgeous setting. The combination of the cobalt blue touches, fluffy white hydrangeas, and golden glow from the candles is an all-time favorite of my mine.

The Art of Burning Man at Hermitage Museum Wedding
Oyster Shell Escort Cards Calligraphy
Sunkissed Events Plan Wedding on the River in Norfolk
Blue and White Wedding Inspiration
Oyster Shell Table Runner
Early Fall Wedding Floral Centerpiece Inspiration
East Coast Wedding Inspiration Coastal Living
White Hydrangeas Wedding Table Settings Inspiration
Boston MA Wedding Inspiration
Family Formals Photographs at Weddings Can be Fun
Virginia Wedding Photographers Lindsay Collette
Cobalt Blue White + Silver Wedding Palette Inspiration Planning
Boston + San Diego Wedding Day Inspiration
Watercolor Table Numbers

Yet another talented friend of Rachael’s did a great job on all of the signage. I

Tasteful Beach Wedding Inspiration

I thought this oyster shell table runner was SO. GOOD.

Real Wedding Moments Photographers

Right before being announced Rachael had this sweet, sweet moment with her flower girl.

First Dance Under Lanterns
Photojournalism Wedding Photography
Simple Wedding Cake with Flowers
Fun Wedding Cake Photography
Inside Out Band Weddings
Wedding Bands in Hampton Roads

The Inside Out Band were FANTASTIC! They got everyone grooving… literally! There was almost no one sitting down all night.

Live Bands for Wedding Receptions in Virginia

There he is!

Bride and Groom on the Dance Floor

One of my favorite reception images EVER! And Logan snapped it!

Customized Beer Koozies for Fall Weddings
East Coast Entertainment Bride
Bride with Trumpet at Reception Real Moments

At the very end of the night, Rachael got up and took over on trumpet, resulting in one of the best wedding moments EVER.

Rachael and Nelson’s wedding had every element for a perfect day, ALL THE MOMENTS, and I loved being a small part of it. The vendor team was out of this world, and came together to put on a one of a kind day. Thanks to everyone involved!

If you want to see their wedding film, check it out here!

Photography: Lindsay Collette, Logan Collette & assistant Pawel Malyszko

Planning: Sunkissed Events

Florals: Kelly Gish

Hair: Christina Crespo

Makeup: Kim Porter

Church: Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church

Venue: Hermitage Museum & Gardens

Dress: Kenneth Winston

Groom & Groomsmen’s Attire: The Black Tux

Caterer: Sweetwater Cuisine

Rentals: Distinctive Event Rentals

Band: Inside Out Band

Lighting: Blue Steel

Videographers: Gardenia

Signage: Sara Rhyne Design