Hi, we're Hunter and Sarah, a husband-and-wife, luxury wedding photography team. We’re also educators, helping other photographers build profitable and sustainable photography businesses.
In the wedding photography world, there’s a notion that finding the “perfect” wedding client couple is roughly as likely as capturing a wild unicorn or discovering the lost city of Atlantis.
However, from the very beginning, Zack and Erin were just that – very nearly the perfect wedding photography couple.
Having overlapped by a few years during our time at UVA, Erin and Zack and I knew of each other, but hadn’t interacted before, save the one-hour photoshoot we did with Zack and his 7 housemates before they graduated.
It all began when Erin first reached out to us back in September of last year, not even sure if we shot weddings. However, she HSP photos of many of her friends and, after hearing Zack’s positive review of his portrait experience with us, they shot us an email anyway.
Within a week or so, Sarah and I were sitting down at a coffee shop with Zack and Erin, talking about their story from dating to engagement, and what their vision was for their wedding day. This is where we had our first indication that they would be awesome clients: although they had decided not to hire a day-of coordinator and do things themselves, they were incredibly organized, and already had many ideas and visions for the big day.
The only thing they didn’t have was a tentative schedule for the big day and, in yet another indication of client perfection, they were happy to build the day around our professional advice, so they would get the best photos at the best time. By the end of the meeting, not only had the four of us gotten to know each other much better, but they walked away with a tentative schedule of their wedding day – as well as a signed contract for two wedding photographers!
Before we knew it, a month had passed, the foliage of the Blue Ridge Mountains was in full-bloom, and it was time for Zack and Erin’s engagement shoot. We met at Pen Park, a local park that boasts some breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, and plenty of bright orange and yellow trees.
Although we were a bit skeptical at first when Zack arrived wearing a t-shirt for their engagement session, I soon realized that this wasn’t just a lack of planning or a flippancy for the importance of the engagement photos. Erin and Zack had told me from the very beginning that they wanted the wedding to really be about them – not about what they wanted others to think of them. They wanted to be honest and true to who they were; from the very first meeting to the delivery of the final photos they wanted to be themselves. So Zack’s turquoise t-shirt was just that – him being himself!
We had a blast as we shot around Pen Park that afternoon, jumping the occasional fence and giggling at my awkward attempts to make the two of them laugh with some of my terrible jokes. As for the photos – full of their compassion for each other and spiked with bright yellows and oranges – you can check them out for yourself!
Barely a week after graduating with their master’s degrees from UVA (Go Hoos), we all met one final time to go over the last-minute details of the wedding. When they arrived, they brought with them a down-to-the-minute schedule of exactly what they day was going to look like, and what responsibilities each person had and when. It was the most meticulous schedule we had ever seen from a client-planned wedding!
But they didn’t just come with a great schedule, they came with a great attitude. We could tell that even though they had planned each minute, they wouldn’t be the couple that stressed all day about their schedule and getting to the next thing. They would abide by the schedule as much as possible, but also knew the importance of flexibility during the big day. We talked shop, finalized all the last-minute details, and parted for one last time until their wedding day.
However, when Sarah and I arrived at First Baptist Church, we were worried about the state we would find the couple. A text at 4:12 am told me that Erin hadn’t slept much the night before, and having spent one last night with all of his housemates from his time as an undergrad, we expected to find Zack as exhausted as we expected to find Erin. However, proving true to their client-perfection, I discovered Zack in a great mood and as alert as I’d ever seen him. Later that day, Sarah marveled to me that she found Erin in a similar state while she photographed her and the bridesmaids getting ready.
Throughout the day, Erin and Zack remained as calm and collected as any bride and groom Sarah and I have ever worked with. Despite the worry about rain, the few families members that we had been warned about in advance, and the ever-present anxiety that one’s wedding day can bring upon a couple, Zack and Erin seemed to be genuinely enjoying their day, and showed little worry for their schedule, naturally flowing from getting-ready into family portraits before the ceremony began.
The ceremony itself was beautiful, and it became evident that Zack and Erin’s mellow mood could only be partly attributed to their laid-back personalities; much of their inward peace had to be credited to their deep and abiding faith in God. Their ceremony made it abundantly clear that all their worries and anxieties – about the wedding day and the lifelong marriage to follow – were laid down at Jesus’ cross for Him to help them bear.
The portrait hour followed, partially at First Baptist, and partially at Dover Foxcroft Farm, where the reception would be held. Again, despite the heat, Zack and Erin stayed calm and joyful, constantly stealing looks of astonishment and adoration to each other, whether we had the lens pointed at them or not.
As far as the reception goes, it was without a doubt one of the most vibrant celebrations that Sarah and I had ever attended, as guests or photographers! Erin and Zack’s joyous and care-free personalities were clearly shared by the majority of the guests, as impromptu and hilarious performances were followed by vibrant and enthusiastic dances.
When the rain inevitably did come – about 30 minutes before the bride and groom made their exit – Zack and Erin didn’t despair. In fact, they did the exact opposite! They darted from the tent, followed by a multitude of guests, and danced in the rain! As Erin bounded around with her sisters and Zack jumped around with his friends, what would have spoiled the mood of many brides and grooms turned into the highlight of the evening, as they danced together with all their friends.
Looking back on the entire wedding process, we were so glad that Erin had reached out to us to inquire about our services. Although we hardly knew each other as undergrads, Sarah and I are now proud to call Zack and Erin friends, having bonded through meetings, photoshoots, and finally on their big day. Also, the fact that Sarah and I were married exactly seven days after them certainly created a bond between us as couples that we won’t soon forget 😉
Judging by the demeaner and actions of Zack and Erin throughout their engagement and wedding day, we imagine if they could give other engaged couples advice about the wedding planning, and specifically the photographic process, it would be something along the lines of “Always be cool and always be yourself”.
From the get-go, Erin and Zack were great clients – prepared, timely in their communication, and full of vision and drive for their wedding day. But more importantly than that, they stayed calm under the considerable pressure of planning their own wedding while studying for masters degrees, and they knew who they were, individually and as a couple. In the end, they knew the biggest secret of wedding planning: all that truly matters is that at the end of the day, two walk away as one. The rest is just a bonus.