A Midsummer Dream: Jillian + Ross' Timeless Tale

BRIDE + GROOM: JILLIAN + ROSS UPDEGRAFF

July 22, 2017, Patten Chapel + The Peyton

Jillian and Ross met at a birthday party when Jillian was 19 and Ross was 24. She quickly fell in love with his easy spirit, quiet wit and willingness to stay up all hours of the night watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns. After dating for five years, Ross popped the question at one of Jillian’s favorite running spots, the overlook at Greenway Farms. We asked Jillian a few questions about the planning of their big day.

When choosing a photographer, what was important to you?

“When we were looking for a photographer, our biggest deciding factor was choosing a company that was able to capture the emotion of us and our guests and the ambiance of the space. I love candid shots and feel those are always the photos I want to display. It was also important to have a company that was willing to take creative control. I love photography and in my opinion it’s the most important decision of your wedding because it creates the memories you are going to pass down and look at for years to come.”

How did you choose your venue?

“Choosing a venue was shockingly easy. I fell in love with Patten Chapel. It created a timeless atmosphere with the brick and iron pendant lights. I wanted our ceremony site to speak for itself so we were the main focal point. For the reception venue we chose The Peyton. We both love the industrial look and the fact it was an old warehouse is just cool. Honestly the best part to me was it allowed you to create whatever look you wanted. It was really a blank canvas with good bones.”

What was your wedding style inspiration?

“For style inspiration I really gravitated toward a classic, timeless feel. I wanted to make sure when I looked back on our wedding day I would love everything in 50 years. I feel like when you are decorating a wedding the flowers are the biggest part. Especially when you have such a large, blank space. We did a combination of large greenery arrangements with low centerpieces. Hydrangeas have been one of my favorite flowers since I was a kid so it was important to have them as a focal point. We then combined the glass terrariums throughout. I was extremely blessed to have the floral team we did. Walter Dundervill, Dorothy Pfeiffer, and Dan Dahl really worked magic in that space.”

We think Jillian and Ross's wedding day was a smashing hit. We can't wait to see where their story takes them. 

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Simply Irresistible: Riley + RJ’s Classic Southern Wedding

Bride + Groom: Riley and RJ Sitton

November 17, 2016, The Homestead at Cloudland Station

Riley and RJ are low-key, super organized individuals, who knew what they wanted from the get-go. Riley requested authentic photographs with ample light and a touch of antiquated class. It wasn’t hard to catch them looking stunning in their day-of duds. From Riley’s custom-made blush & ivory wedding gown and RJ’s million-dollar grin, to the incredible barn, complete with twinkling lights, we loved everything about their big day.

Don’t miss out: Not only is Riley stylish and sophisticated, she’s also a blogger extraordinaire. Read more about the details of Riley and RJ's wedding at YesPleaseDaily.com.

Mentionable Details:

  • Outdoor-rustic rehearsal dinner: Although the rehearsal dinner was onsite, it felt like another scene all together. Riley did a great job of readying the space with magnolia leaves and crisp white candles. The candlelit fireplace provided an old-world charm, which warmed the heart and vibe of the evening. We especially adored photographing Riley and RJ as they looked on at their guests, enjoying themselves and spreading cheer.

  • Food trucks: Riley and RJ opted out of a full service meal, and decided instead to offer their guests the best food trucks in town. Rolling J’s, Lupis' and Taqueria Jalisco (which happens to be our mexican joint in town... definitely worth a visit!).

  • THE DOGS: Riley and RJ have two dogs, whom they love like children (much like we love our two fur babies). We adored how much they incorporated the dogs into the pre and post ceremony details. Much to the amusment of the entire wedding party, the two broke out of the house and rushed out to join Riley and RJ just in time for thier vows.

  • Riley’s custom dress: It was special to photograph Riley in both pieces of her dress. Not to mention, we’re still dreaming about those magical moments when we caught Riley looking absolutely serene underneath her windblown veil.

Weekend On the Georgia Coast: Savannah/Tybee

Big Idea:

Jera recently began begging for us to go to the beach. Her mind was filled with dreams of sandcastles and waves, and she made sure we didn’t hear the end of it. We were sitting on a patio outside after a cold snap during our wedding weekend, enjoying our brunch when it dawned on us that the weather was much too perfect to not take advantage. On a whim, we hurried home and started packing up for a spur of the moment mini-trip to Savannah, GA. What We Packed: Only planning to be gone for a day and a half, we just grabbed the basics. We were sure to pack swimsuits (just in case), but also included a plenty of winter wear, just in case it was chilly. Luckily, we already had a nice selection of fruits and veggies to pack in a cooler. Finally, we hit the road with two dogs and the little one.

Day 1:

Duration of Car Travel: 6 hours Accommodations: Hotel Indigo Savannah Historic District 201 W Bay Street, Savannah, GA 31401 We were originally planning to camp, however the thought of setting up a tent, in the dark with two dogs and a toddler seemed quite unappealing. Thus, we quickly used Hotel Tonight to find an online deal. This app offers last minute deals for booking rooms the day of. It’s a handy little money saver for the traveler on the go. We chose Hotel Indigo because of it’s convenient downtown location and their pet friendly policy. Their service staff were warm and friendly, and the building and lobby were beautiful (great high ceilings), but the noise in and around the hotel made our stay a little less comfortable than it could have been otherwise. We probably wouldn’t stay there if we ever planned another trip (50 points to Airbnb!) Food: We just snacked in the car on the way down so by the time we arrived, food was not our priority after driving 6 hours. Favorite Stops: Once we arrived downtown, we realized we were in the heart of the historic district and walked around a bit to explore the area. It was 8pm on a Friday and the city was rowdy. So we realized immediately that this wasn’t the most toddler friendly, so we headed back to our hotel to call it a night.

Day 2:

We woke up bright and early (thanks to the sidewalk traffic/neighbors), and packed up our things. Jera was eager to get to the beach, so we drove straight to Tybee Island. The drive was serene and peaceful, full of fog and water cranes. Food: Upon arriving on Tybee Island with extremely low blood sugar, the hangry search for food and coffee began. One piece we didn’t account for was that it was winter on the island and all the shops and restaurants were closed (whoops!). The place was nearly deserted. Graham was observant enough to spot a little café called the Sunrise Restaurant. It was a perfectly casual/classic American café, serving the island locals their breakfast and lunch. The hash browns were everything we could have wished for and Jera enjoyed her giant blueberry pancake. After our food and about 5 cups of coffee, we were ready to hit the beach. Favorite Stops:

Tybee Beach: There’s a big main pavilion and beach access near the café where we ate, so we took the easy route and posted up there. Jera splashed and played in the freezing water, while the dogs chased and nipped the heels of every peaceful passerby. We later found out that there is a $500.00 fine for having pets on the beach (if you get caught). After a couple hours we decided to pack it up, put on some dry clothes, and hit the road. Bonaventure Cemetery: Absolutely our favorite stop of the trip. Established in 1846, it sits atop a scenic bluff on the Wilmington River. This place alone is what has always drawn us to Savannah. We love the history and grandeur of the city itself, however nothing compares to the haunting beauty of moss-draped trees, paired with intricately carved headstones of some of Savannah’s most noted historical figures. We walked and walked, observing the old souls and admiring the elegance of the place. Everywhere we turned, was a photographic opportunity.
Wormsloe Historic Site: This spot was formally known as Wormsloe Plantation and has been kept in the family of Nobel Jones (1700-1775) for over 250 years. Situated on the Isle of Hope, the site wowed us with it’s antebellum history and 2 mile long, oak avenue (over 400 oak trees… incredible!). We even enjoyed the walk through the grounds itself, as it boasted a wide variety of wildlife and unique botanicals. The afternoon sun was waning, and thus, this was our last stop of the day. We decided to make the drive back to Chattanooga.

Final Thoughts:

We were all exhausted for work/school on Tuesday, however, it was worth it to step out of Chattanooga (if only for a day). The historical, old-south culture of Savannah proved to be delightfully restorative. If we were to go back, our next adventure would be to camp on Cumberland and visit with the marshes, mudflats, and wild horses (this requires reservations and a little more planning time, as it can only be accessed via boat.)

Journey the 101, 5 Day Road Trip: Northern Ca to OR

Big Idea:

Winter in the South is always a bit dreary. Tennessee is especially mild, and the scenery becomes painfully unremarkable. Thus, upon realizing we had a five-day block of travel, we rather impulsively decided upon a quick trip to Northern California. To begin our journey, we flew into San Francisco, CA. Below, you’ll find an itinery of how we spent our five days exploring northern California and southern Oregon.

What we packed:

We attempted to pack light for this trip, including only one bag each in addition to our camera equipment. Each of us were sure to include practical wear, including at least 3 pairs of “weatherproof” pants, boots, wool socks, beanies, a rain jacket, a few sweaters, waterproof layers for underneath, as well as a warm jacket. The PNW is very damp and misty, thus it’s best to prepare for multiple layers and nonstop rain.

Day 1 (San Francisco, CA)

Accommodations: The Urban Hotel. Located across from the gates of Chinatown, this clean and economic spot is great for single travelers or couples on the go. The only downsides are the community bathrooms and the night noise of the city. Estimated Cost: $120

Food: In and Out Burger, Ten Ren’s Tea Shop (Be sure to buy yourself a box of the Dragon Well Green Tea- Sapphire Grade).

Favorite Stops: Fisherman’s Wharf (don’t miss the obese Sea Lions!) Alcatraz Island (not worth the boat tour, but see it from shore) Lombard Street (stand at the base and look up) Chinatown (Our personal favorite. Jam-packed with tiny shops and tons of culture)

Day 2 (San Francisco, CA to Bayside, CA)

Duration of car travel: 6-7 hours

Accommodations: Fiddlehead Yurt- Arcata. This was our favorite Airbnb that we stayed in during this trip. Nestled in a eucalyptus grove, it was completely cozy and came well-equipped with everything we could have wished for. We especially enjoyed the comfortable bed, shower house and wood burning stove. Estimated Cost $175

Food: Union Square (San Fran) for breakfast (Juice Shop). On our way out of town, we stopped by a Whole Foods to load up on goods for the next few days. Produce and fresh options are limited the farther north you drive along the 101. We made sure to purchase a wide variety of trail mixes, fruit (mangos are incredible in northern Cali), veggies, and a plenty of Sake. Once we were closer to Bayside, we stumbled upon an adorable diner called the Chimney Tree Grill. The grilled cheese, fries and a milkshake were just what we needed to keep going.

Favorite Stops: Golden Gate Bridge (Most of the tourists stop at the overlook right after crossing the bridge. However, if you drive to the exit past the overlook, and take the Sausalito exit and turn right, you’ll take another right on Moore Rd. This will lead you around to a US Coast Guard Base which is encompassed by Horseshoe Bay. After parking and walking a little ways to the water, we found this to be the coolest spot for photos of the bridge and surrounding area. Navarro River Redwoods State Park (Instead of continuing up the 101 to Bayside, we took exit 522 for CA-128 W toward Fort Bragg/Mendocino. This leg of the trip was one of the more fascinating, as you start in a more arrid climate and gradually see the scenery shift into the beautiful Redwood rainforest.) Mendocino (The first dreamy, sea-stack laden beach. Be wary of high-tide. The rocks can be quite slippery.) Chandelier Tree (classic drive-through giant Redwood)

Day 3 (Bayside, CA to Crescent City, CA)

Duration of car travel: 2-3 hours

Accommodations: 1970s Airstream Airbnb. We’ve always been interested in purchasing an Airstream trailer. Thus, upon realizing we could stay in one through Airbnb, we were all about it. To add to our excitement, we later discovered it was settled right in the middle of an ancient Redwood Grove. Fallen redwoods further decorated the lush scene. The bed was surprisingly comfortable, and we enjoyed utilizing the tiny kitchen. Estimated cost: $120

Food: French press of coffee for breakfast, followed by the best mangos ever. On this day, we mostly ate the food we packed for the drive. There weren’t very many options in the area.

Favorite Stops: Trinadad, CA (Caught our eye because of the unusual amount of Elk roaming freely. Naturally, we pulled off on a dirt road and hopped the fence into a field to get to know a pair of the regal giants. Come to find out, they can be quite territorial, so proceed with caution). The beaches in Trinadad were also among our favorite on the trip. Patrick’s Point is an absolute must see. Pebble Beach, Crescent City, CA

Day 4 (Crescent City, CA to Eureka, CA)

Duration of car travel: 4-5 hours

Accommodations: Mom & Pop Motel in Eureka. It was our goal to drive into Oregon, explore the beaches all day, and then drive south to get ourselves closer to San Francisco. We ended up running out of steam in Eureka, CA. The drive from Crescent City to Eureka is only about 1.5 hours, however, after exploring and driving around, we ended up with about 5 hours of travel time. Estimated cost: $150

Food: More snacking in the car. For dinner, we had a special occasion to celebrate, so we were entirely thrilled to find an indian restaurant (Tandoori Bites) in Eureka. The indian feast was probably the best meal we had while we were on the west coast. Something about it just hit the spot after days of wandering in our car, hiking and exploring.

Favorite Stops: Prairie Creek Redwoods. All along the coastal highway, there are majestic sights to be seen. There are tons of national forests with great hiking and amazing views, so don't hesitate to stop and get out of the car!

Day 5 (Eureka, CA to San Francisco, Ca)

Duration of car travel: 4-5 hours

Accommodations: VW Van in San Francisco (This was an airbnb find, which sounded awesome when we booked it. However, it was by far our worst Airbnb experience to date. The van was advertised as being parked in the bay area, although, to our surprise it was actually located in a sketch neighborhood, on a steep hill. Not our best decision) Estimated cost: $100

Food: We’re big fans of Asian cuisine and decided to try a place in San Francisco. We found a cool little art district, and enjoyed a last meal of edamame, soup and noodles.

Favorite Stops: Fern Canyon (This was the perfect last stop on our way back to San Francisco. The Canyon can be reached by a moderate drive through a redwood rainforest, and a quarter of a mile easy hike into the creek bed. Be sure to check the weather report before going, as there is often flooding and hazardous road conditions. We spent a lot of time hiking up the ravine of Fern Canyon. Wear some kind of waterproof shoe, rainboot, etc. or prepare to get soaking wet. We were absolutely drenched by the time we left, but it was definitely worth it. This is a special place to us, because it’s actually where Graham popped the question. He got down on one knee on a 3,000 year-old fallen redwood. We also can’t forget to mention the amazing Elk sightings. An entire family was resting in the reeds right after we got engaged. It was quite the majestic sight.)

Final Thoughts

Overall, we felt like this trip was an absolute dream. We went to California/Oregon with the goal of capturing some of the country’s most beautiful scenery in photographs. We could not have dreamed of the magnificent grandeur we would witness on the coast lines and in the forests. The people were diverse, the weather was unique and we are so grateful were able to share in such an experience.