I had the opportunity to photograph my first wedding at The Blessed Barn venue in Aynor, SC, which is a 40-minute drive inland from Myrtle Beach. This elegant farm venue has two spacious reception halls separated by a concrete patio used as the dance floor area. It also has two separate dressing rooms for the bride and groom to get ready with their family. I always like it when I can tell a venue has been designed specifically for weddings.
Upon arriving, I met with Melissa, the wedding coordinator at the Blessed Barn, who was kind enough to show me around and suggest some great photo spots, including the old truck by the woods and the large door at the front of the barn. When I’m at a new venue, I always scout the area to find some good spots for pictures later that day.
First look with the bride and groom
Tanner and Amanda, the bride and groom, decided to do a “first look” with each other before the ceremony. With the early sunset time, we knew we would have limited time for pictures after the ceremony, so we decided to take most of the photos before the ceremony. The area near the woods and the vintage truck offered a beautiful setting, with plenty of shade from the afternoon sun and beautiful highlights in the background from the light filtering through the trees.
After the first look, Tanner and Amanda exchanged letters they had written for each other earlier that day. Amanda had a few ideas for poses she had seen online, and I’m always happy to incorporate any ideas a couple wants. For this wedding, I was assisted by my wife as a second photographer. We split up at this point, and she took the groomsmen for pictures while I took some with the bridesmaids and other families. One of my favorite shots from the day was the wedding party cheering and clapping as the bride and groom shared a kiss by the old truck.
Unity tree planting during the ceremony
The ceremony at The Blessed Barn was held on the back lawn under the shade of an old oak tree. It was a touching and emotional ceremony, with Amanda’s father becoming tearful as he gave her away and plenty of laughter and joy throughout. The bride and groom did some unique things I don’t usually see in a wedding ceremony. Instead of doing a candle lighting or sand ceremony, they planted a small tree in a pot together, symbolizing their future growth as a couple. I thought it was a great idea. They also went back and walked their parents down the aisle after the ceremony.
After the ceremony, before everyone entered the reception barn, I took some beautiful photos with Amanda’s dress laid out behind her and the light spilling in the front doorway. We next went back out near the wooded area for some more romantic pictures with just the two of them. My wife also came out and helped with some veil shots. I always like to fluff the veil up for a few pictures so it looks like it’s blowing in the wind or pull it around in front of the couple. If I’m shooting alone, I will get one of the bridesmaids or family members to come and help.
Wedding reception at The Blessed Barn
After some entertaining wedding introductions, Tanner and Amanda went into their first dance. I loved the way all the family circled them while they danced. Because I had plenty of space on the large dance floor, I could use my 85mm lens instead of my usual 35mm. This gave the dance shots a stunning look, with the bride and groom in sharp focus and the rest of the family fading into the background. It really isolated the subjects and captured the feeling that it was just the two of them in that moment.
Amanda and her father also had an emotional first dance with lots of hugs and tears. After having a quick meal, I pulled the two of them back out for a few sunset pictures. We captured some beautiful bokeh from the light filtering through the trees and a lovely shot under the ceremony oak tree, with the lights wrapped around it in the background.
They were not having me stay for the entire reception that evening, but I got about an hour of dancing, which provided plenty of opportunity for some fun shots. Amanda really wanted to do a few sparkler pictures with the wedding party, so we found a dark area a little ways away from the reception to make it work. I hope you enjoy the images. Let me know if you are planning a wedding at The Blessed Barn. I would love to give you my thoughts on the venue and answer any questions you may have.