Meet Elliot and Chelsea. Or you could call them Mr. and Mrs. Elliot Butay.
I met Elliot when I was in high school.
We both worked as high school journalists for the Tulsa World. He was a writer, I was a photographer.
Satellite, the section of the paper for high school students, was a defining part of my life. It's the reason I came to Mizzou to study photojournalism (thanks to many people, including Adam Wisneski for the Mizzou j-school peptalk when I was just a wee high schooler), and I got to meet so many great people because of the Tulsa World.
Elliot and I worked on stories together throughout the year, and we also collaborated on Battle of the Bands (huge deal back then, y'all).
Elliot was (still is) a rockstar, and like all of the friends I had made through the World, I was sad to say goodbye when it came time to move away to college in Missouri.
It was not until a few months ago that I heard from Elliot again. He was getting married! Of course I wanted to document it. I could reconnect with Tulsa friends, meet new ones, and travel to Birmingham, Alabama to do it all!
Bonus: I shoot weddings with my boyfriend and best friend, Parker Miles Blohm, so we made a road trip out of it. We stopped in Nashville to visit with my lovely Grandmother, did some sightseeing in Nashville — including a trip to Third Man Records, Jack White's record label and store — and then we were off to Alabama.
Meet Chelsea. If you're reading this, you may know her — but maybe you don't.
We met her 24 hours before the wedding, but we feel like we've known her much longer after spending the wedding day by her side.
Chelsea is kind. She's beautiful. Generous. Elegant. Selfless.
She carries those things with her in her walk, in her smile, in her conversations with both the people she loves and the people she just met.
The wedding was as full of hugs as it was of tears. Happy tears, that is. Behind the viewfinder, I had tears, too.
Parker and I still talk about how unbelievably smooth and flawless the whole day was.
No one was stressed out.
No one was upset.
Everyone was there for Elliot and for Chelsea, and the energy and vibe of the day was so calm, happy, peaceful and pretty.
He's compassionate, softspoken, easy-going and studly.
He's a musician. A writer. A knockout when you combine the two.
With some people, you can tell a lot about them by their hands. I think Elliot's got that. You can just tell he's going to be a good, kindhearted guy.
So, Chelsea and Elliot are pretty great. We've established that fact.
They also come with great support. Their friends and family are so tightly connected to their lives. It was evident in so many ways. Meeting their friends and family sealed the deal for us. We feel so lucky to have met so many strong and kind people.
Chelsea's mother was one of my favorite people to photograph that day. Seeing her look at Chelsea for the first time in her wedding dress was so beautiful. She said she wouldn't cry. But it was hard not to.
Hugs from her bridesmaids before the wedding.
"What the heck," Chelsea said before she walked out. She couldn't believe this was actually happening.
I kept an eye on Elliot when she walked up the aisle. They didn't do a "first look," so this was his first time to see her.
A lot of photographers encourage the bride and groom to do a first look, but I can honestly say I much preferred the first look to be genuine in the church — at least with Elliot and Chelsea. It was perfect.
Chelsea's brother, Jacob, walked her up the aisle. The look on her mom and stepdad's face when she was being given away to Elliot still give me goosebumps.
Let's talk about the church.
I really don't have to describe it, because I'm showing it to you. It speaks for itself.
The First United Methodist Church is located outside of Birmingham in a town called Jasper.
The church was absolutely gorgeous. The huge stained glass ceiling was just the icing on the cake to a beautiful venue with absolutely beautiful light.
A full house!
Chelsea hugs her brother after the ceremony.
Check them out!
Another reason why Elliot and Chelsea deserve a gold medal: Jasper, Alabama was 108 degrees on their wedding day — and that's without the heat index. If you know some secret to looking absolutely stunning in a wedding dress during an outdoor reception when it's in the triple digits, please call me up and tell me.
The reception was hosted at a beautiful and picturesque ranch in the Alabama countryside. Narrow Gate Ranch was the perfect place to sit back, have a nice Southern meal, and have a donut. (You'll see why coming up.)
We loved shooting portraits at the ranch. The fence and siding of the cabin were warm, rich browns, so it really glowed. And the reception was during the golden hour! If you're a photographer, you know why this is absolutely ideal.
The groom's cake was absolutely perfect. Donuts for everyone!
The dance floor was far beyond my expectations. Set in the woods at the ranch, a small and intimate dance floor was set with greenery and a hanging chandelier.
I love this.
Haden, one of the groomsmen, was the party. It was contagious.
Megan and her fiancé Joshua will be married in December!
At the end of the night, the guests lit sparklers to lead the way to Elliot and Chelsea's getaway. Needless to say, it was absolutely beautiful. Appropriate for the heat, the sparklers were red and pink and lit up the woods.
I know I'm not alone when I say that I wish we could relive this day all over again.
So, we mailed off a whole 401 pictures to Elliot and Chelsea just a few days ago. They are married now. They're also New York City's newest residents. Chelsea will be attending New York University this fall to complete her Master of Social Work.
Her relatives and friends will miss them dearly, but they're doing great things in this big, bad world. And hey, now I have more reason to go visit NYC! Do I see a post-marriage NYC photoshoot in the future? I do.
Thank you, Elliot and Chelsea. Thank you for inviting us to be there with you. We hope these pictures serve as beautiful preservation to what was a beautiful day in your lives together. We hope you'll flip back to these pictures when you're feeling overwhelmed or homesick or just want a good feeling.
Thank you to the Butays, Deans and Farris'. You were so hospitable and so generous. We hope this isn't the last time we see you.
Thank you to all of the guests, the friends, the family, the coordinators, florists, cake decorators, chandelier hangers, food servers, and cleanerupers. Every little bit made this day perfect.
Rachel and Parker
P.S.: Share these pictures. Share this post with your friends and your family. Send it to your long lost pre-school buddies and show it to your cat. Pictures are meant to be seen :)
And connect with me on my Facebook Photo Page! You can interact and comment on these weddings pictures there, too! :)
All buckled up and ready for the roadtrip to Alabama!
For photographers, or techy people who are curious:
Several people have asked us what gear we used on the wedding day.
Here's some specs.
We shot the whole wedding almost exclusively with two prime lenses: 35mm 1.4 & 50mm 1.2.
But those lenses can't do everything, so here's our gear list:
5D Mark ii
5D Mark iii
Lots of CF cards. Lots.
42" gold/silver reflector
72" gold/silver reflector