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Elkmont, The Great Smoky Mountains

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
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Marcus and I spent the weekend in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a great couple. On Saturday Crystal & Matt were married beside a mountain stream in Elkmont. Crystal's daughter Billie dropped petals along the forest path that led Crystal to her waiting groom.

It's rare to find a groom that is as excited and interested in the wedding as the bride, but Matt wanted their wedding day to be perfect. From the way he had decorated their hotel suite and picked out the perfect gifts for Crystal, it was obvious that he had put a lot of time and love into the details and preparation.

On Sunday morning, we woke up early and drove to Cades Cove for a sunrise photo shoot. It was a beautiful morning, and even with very little sleep Crystal was just as gorgeous as the day before. With such a wonderful couple in such a perfect setting, I have a lot of favorite photos from the weekend. I'll try to post more from the actual wedding once I start processing the photos, but for now here are some of my favorite portraits.


Williams/Rosecrance Wedding August 11

Williams/Rosecrance Wedding August 11

Williams/Rosecrance Wedding August 11
Williams/Rosecrance Wedding August 11

Williams/Rosecrance Wedding August 11
Williams/Rosecrance Wedding August 11
Williams/Rosecrance Wedding August 11

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Church Street United Methodist, Knoxville, TN

Monday, August 13, 2007
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Last year Allison Isbell and Kevin Gaddis were married at Church Street United Methodist Church in downtown Knoxville. The church and weather were beautiful, and we got some great photos of the bride and couple in the courtyard and around the church. After the ceremony, the wedding party rode a trolley to the reception at Southern Graces Bistro where everyone let loose and enjoyed the evening with dancing, drinking, and laughing. The DJ was provided by Special Notes who I recommend for wedding music.

Allison's sapphire engagement ring was beautiful (sapphire is my birthstone, and I have a couple on my e-ring as well).

Isbell/Gaddis Wedding Anniversary August 12
Isbell/Gaddis Wedding Anniversary August 12

Isbell/Gaddis Wedding Anniversary August 12

Isbell/Gaddis Wedding Anniversary August 12
Isbell/Gaddis Wedding Anniversary August 12

At many weddings, the guys are reluctant to catch the garter, but these guys were practically fighting for it. Unfortunately, the chandelier caught it before they could.

Isbell/Gaddis Wedding Anniversary August 12
Isbell/Gaddis Wedding Anniversary August 12

I'm photographing the wedding of Allison's sister Sarah in October and can't wait to see everyone again.
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The Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, TN

Friday, August 10, 2007
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On a sunny August day in 2005, Alicia Sawatsky married Brent Altum on top of a mountain near Gatlinburg. The bridal preparations took place in a nearby cabin that was included in the venue's wedding package. Alicia's family traveled in from as far away as Canada to share in the special day. After the outdoor ceremony, the couple released doves and then retreated into the enclosed pavilion for dinner, toasts, a bit of dancing, and of course cake.

Sawatsky/Altum Wedding Anniversary August 10
Sawatsky/Altum Wedding Anniversary August 10
Sawatsky/Altum Wedding Anniversary August 10

Sawatsky/Altum Wedding Anniversary August 10

Sawatsky/Altum Wedding Anniversary August 10

Sawatsky/Altum Wedding Anniversary August 10

A tip on destination weddings in Gatlinburg:

There are many small venues in Gatlinburg that specialize in destination weddings. These places can be an excellent choice for couples who want a small wedding, and they often have various packages to fit different budgets. However, these venues usually do perform many, many more weddings than venues in other cities, and couples often have less say in how their day will play out. The main problem that I have seen is that venue employees will agree to special requests by phone or email and then the people there on the wedding day know nothing about it and can't allow the changes.

If you are planning such a wedding, absolutely get everything in writing, and take it with you to the wedding. Learn who will be there on your wedding day and only deal directly with them. The day before (or at least as early on the wedding day as possible), get together with the person to go over your plans for the day and reiterate any special requests that you have made. Alicia and Brent did have a problem with their venue early on their wedding day, but they were able to speak with the owner and straighten things out because they were well prepared.

Many of the venues will not allow outside photographers, and many will not even allow guests to take photographs. They will even separate the guests from the wedding party and couple during the photographs. I once witnessed an employee yell at the groom's mother for trying to take photographs. She then stood in front of everyone to keep them away from the couple and to block photos.

However, you may be able to work out a deal with the venue in which you either pay an additional fee or pay for their photography service and then just don't use it. This is an example of a special request that you would want to have in writing.

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Laurel Church of Christ, Knoxville, TN

Monday, August 6, 2007
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Hannah Wright and Jeremy Vest were married in 2005 at Laurel Church of Christ on Kingston Pike. The couple chose to meet before their ceremony so that they could spend some private moments together and then complete the formal photos. We also drove down Cherokee Drive to get more relaxed couple photos at Sequoyah Hills park before returning to the church for the ceremony. 

The couple met and live in Alabama, but they're from Knoxville. Hannah's father was one of my favorite teachers in High School, and I remember him talking about his little girls Hannah & Hailey. In a way, I felt like I knew them. I was honored to be there on Hannah's wedding day and to watch him proudly walk her down the aisle to Jeremy.

These two are just genuinely good people, and it's always a pleasure to see such deserving people find happiness together.

Before the wedding day, I did a bridal session with Hannah in the Knoxville Museum of Art courtyard.

Wright/Vest Wedding Anniversary August 6

Wright/Vest Wedding Anniversary August 6

Hannah was a beautiful bride who radiated happiness.

Wright/Vest Wedding Anniversary August 6

The ceremony was a mixture of laughter, sincerity, and love. On the way up the aisle, Hannah stopped off to give her father a kiss.

Wright/Vest Wedding Anniversary August 6

Wright/Vest Wedding Anniversary August 6


The bon-bons at the reception were AMAZING.

Wright/Vest Wedding Anniversary August 6

After a reception at the church, the couple exited to their limo through a shower of rose petals.

Wright/Vest Wedding Anniversary August 6
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Rothchild Conference Center, Knoxville, TN

Monday, July 30, 2007
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In 2005 I photographed an intimate wedding at Basswood Church in Knoxville. Dressed in her native wedding attire, Mimi was a beautiful bride as she walked up the aisle hand-in-hand with Ian. After being married by a close friend, they shared dinner and cake with friends and family at Rothchild's Conference Center.

Jung/Watkins Wedding Anniversary July 30
Jung/Watkins Wedding Anniversary July 30

Jung/Watkins Wedding Anniversary July 30

Jung/Watkins Wedding Anniversary July 30

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Welcome to the Nancy Hellsten Photography blog! This is the place to be if you’re looking for wedding ideas and photography promotions or if you just want to view some great photos and see what I’ve been up to. If you or someone you know are getting married, having a baby, or just want some relaxed portraits with the family, please visit my website or contact me for more information. I would love to hear from you. Thanks for visiting and check back often to see what’s new.
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