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Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN

Monday, May 11, 2009

Erin and Ellis tied the knot in an intimate ceremony on Saturday, and I have to admit that I am in love with their venue. Blackberry Farm in Walland is an amazing little hotel hidden away in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. It blends country charm and beauty with modern luxuries to create a relaxing retreat, the perfect backdrop for a romantic wedding celebration.

Blackberry has been called a Ritz-Carlton in the woods, and their service and hospitality live up to the reputation. If you really love the beauty of the mountains but prefer not to shiver all night in a tent while swatting bugs and eating out of cans, you'll love this place. Blackberry Farm is about as far from "roughing it" as you can get. With their award-winning food and wines, exquisite rooms and cottages, and four thousand acres of maintained fields and forest, this is the sort of place to go if you enjoy being pampered. For those who can afford the very best, this is it - the very best place to stay or get married in the Smoky Mountains. Can you tell that I am impressed?

As we all know, last week was WET in East Tennessee, and the bride wasn't the only one worried about having a rained-out wedding. Erin and Ellis live in Kentucky so we hadn't met, but I email with my brides quite a bit before the wedding. Erin is just so sweet and easy-going. I really wanted her to have an amazing wedding day so I was checking the weather daily and crossing my fingers for a dry Saturday. Luckily, the rain let up for a few hours in the afternoon and evening, and the couple had a touching ceremony against a beautifully pastoral backdrop.

When a beautiful venue and a great couple come together with their family and friends to create an amazing wedding, I am so honored to be there to witness and document the day. Those are just the best days to be a wedding photographer.

Eusner/Sullivan Wedding May 9

Eusner/Sullivan Wedding May 9

Wedding days can be really stressful and hectic, but it's great when couples actually have some "down time" to just relax and be in the moment. This wedding was about as stress-free as any I've seen. While the guests were transported to the ceremony site, I had a few free moments to photograph Erin in her cottage. She's such a gorgeous bride.

Eusner/Sullivan Wedding May 9

Eusner/Sullivan Wedding May 9

Eusner/Sullivan Wedding May 9

Eusner/Sullivan Wedding May 9

Eusner/Sullivan Wedding May 9

Eusner/Sullivan Wedding May 9

Eusner/Sullivan Wedding May 9

Eusner/Sullivan Wedding May 9

Eusner/Sullivan Wedding May 9

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Home, Knoxville, TN

Thursday, May 7, 2009
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A professional coordinator will make sure that all the details are under control and can go a long way in relieving the stress on your wedding day. However, if you can’t afford to hire a pro, do ask a trustworthy friend or family member to put together a survival kit. If you’re prepared then you’re less likely to have anything go wrong, right? Most importantly, make sure that they remember to bring it on the wedding day!


Also, make a list before the wedding day of items to take to the venue and go over it before leaving home. Things can be so hectic. I’ve seen a groom forget the wedding bands and a bride forget her gown, but more likely you'll forget something like the garter, jewelry, or cuff links. The further you are traveling from home, the more important a survival kit and wedding checklist can be.


I am not saying that you need to spend a lot of time or money putting this together, but here are some things that you may want to include in your kit depending on season and venue:

Clear nail polish (for runs in your hose)
Individually wrapped nail polish remover pads, nail file, polish for touch-ups


Safety pins, straight pins, corsage pins 
Travel sewing kit
 (including thread to match the dress)



Brush, comb, bobby pins, hairspray 

Super Glue (broken heels, jewelry, etc.) 

Sanitary products 

Gum, Mints, breath spray 

Shout wipes - removes stains/dirt from tuxes and dresses 

PeptoBismol Tablets, Tums, Imodium 

Duct tape, Scotch tape, double-sided tape 

Lighter or matches

Bactine, clear bandaids 

Mosquito repellent 

Club soda (if serving red wine) 


Bottled Water and light snack

Rice/blotting paper and powder for shiny skin 


Wrinkle releaser 

Jumper cables 


Black socks for the men 

Lint remover 

Compact mirror 

Lip gloss or lipstick for touch-ups

Toothbrush and paste 


Fix-a-flat aerosol can 

Wooden or padded hanger for the dress

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Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, Knoxville, TN

Friday, April 24, 2009
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Kendra was a bridesmaid in one of my favorite weddings last year, and I was very excited when she and Matt decided to have me photograph their June 2009 wedding. For their recent engagement session, we started at their wedding venue, the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, and ended in downtown Knoxville. It was a beautiful spring day, and the four of us (Marcus was with me) had fun hanging out and getting to know each other better. Here are a few of my favorite photographs.

Kendra & Matthew's Engagement Session

Kendra & Matthew's Engagement Session

Kendra & Matthew's Engagement Session

Kendra & Matthew's Engagement Session

Kendra & Matthew's Engagement Session
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Home, Knoxville, TN

Friday, April 17, 2009

I promised to give everyone an update on what's been keeping me so busy the last few months, and here it is. We're having a baby!

Due to a previous miscarriage, I wanted to wait before making any announcements, but I'm now about halfway through the pregnancy so it seemed like about time to let everyone in on the good news. We had the big ultrasound this week, and everything checked out and seems to be fine.

Like weddings, pregnancies are one of those huge, life-changing moments in life, and I just wanted to let everyone share in this with us. I even edited down the ultrasound to about 3 minutes of my favorite parts. For those who have trouble making heads or tails out of ultrasounds, I will tell you that this clip starts with the tail and answers the big question. It also shows the profile (including a glimpse of the umbilical cord floating above the baby) as well as punching hands and kicking feet which I've been feeling for the past week. Marcus is responsible for the clip's title, and the momentary pauses were for the tech to print photos or double check the gender assessment.

update for anyone unlucky enough to be blocked from viewing the amazing ultrasound clip: It's a boy.

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French Riviera, France

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I know that my blog has been quiet for a while now, and many people have been wondering what I'm up to. Well, the wait is almost over. I promise that I will be posting again in the next few weeks and catching everyone up. Right now I just have a lot of albums to work on, but here's a small photo fix for everyone that has been asking to see photos from our holiday trip to Cote d'Azur, the French Riviera.

We were there to spend Christmas with Marcus's family who recently purchased a vacation home near Antibes, but we did manage to fit in a bit of sightseeing. Unfortunately, the weather was cold and rainy much of the time, but I'm looking forward to returning in warmer weather.

Saint-Tropez is a maze of little, winding streets with designer boutiques and tourist shops. After some indecisive shopping, we were late returning to the car but made a quick stop to snap this photograph of the yachts in the harbor.


The rooms in this hotel must have the most amazing views!


From the hotel, this is the view looking East.


and this is the view to Monaco in the West. Wouldn't these terraces in the foreground make the most amazing spot for a destination wedding at sunset?


I love warm, French crepes, but this bowl of hot chocolate with fresh whipped cream was pretty amazing too.


The Smugglers' Path is a very scenic walk along the rocky Mediterranean coast on the Cap d'Antibes. It is a beautiful walk, but it was longer than I expected. Do stop for a bathroom break first, carry along some water, and watch your step on the walkway as it can be sharp and steep. Here's Marcus enjoying his day at the sea.


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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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