Where should I begin.. Dogwood Canyon was a gorgeous venue, if you are ever looking for a nature park to explore, this is it! I spent my weekend in Branson since the venue was so close, and Mike and Nicole got ready there. Dogwood Canyon stretches across the Missouri-Arkansas border, when I say we explored this park, I mean we didn’t even see half of it! Now enough about the venue.. this is all about Mr. and Mrs. Shemanski!!
Nicole reached out to me the end of 2019, she was currently in Delaware and researching photographers for the big day. One thing I love about my job is meeting people from all over! She has family in Northwest Arkansas so that is how she came across me. I was thrilled! She was a pleasure to talk to. Unfortunately we did not get the opportunity to shoot and engagement session, but that made the wedding day that more exciting!!
Mike and Nicole actually met in a Silverado Facebook group, they both were big fans of trucks and each had one. Nicole reached out to let Mike know she liked his truck and it took off from there! Seeing these two interact with one another was amazing, you could feel the love and commitment!
I arrived at the condos in Branson and got to meet Nicole for the FIRST time!! I believe this was the first time I met the bride and groom at their wedding rather than before hand. I began shooting details and captured the moments of getting ready. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, which made my jobs easy and less stressful for the bride! Nicole was very relaxed, she had already been preparing for this day.
The guys got ready across the hall, Mike wrote out his vows for his soon-to-be wife, and as always, the guys had the most fun they could before heading to the venue.
We arrived at Dogwood Canyon and got a ride to The Hope Wilderness Chapel to finish up some final touches. Nicole arrived and planned a first look with her father– I love these, honestly!! Makes my heart so happy!! Oh and check out that sweet ride, it was a pretty big deal for Nicole and her father. It was extra special to get some portraits with it.
Now it’s time for the big moment!! The Ceremony!! Everyone took their seats and anxiously waited for the bride to begin walking down the aisle.
A seat had been saved for the mother of the groom, the bridal party arrive at the alter, and everyone stood as the doors opened for Nicole and her father. I could see Mike getting a little nervous, but seeing him smile as Nicole entered the chapel? Priceless!!
The ceremony began and the bride and groom exchanged vows, tears flooded the room with happiness. As I photographed the ceremony, I remember thinking ‘Wow, this guy really loves her’ and I mean this with all my heart. I could see so much emotion between these two, it was honestly meant to be!!
Ahh, it’s so hard not to tear up during this part!!
I love an Unplugged Ceremony sign, it’s so important to enjoy the moment and focus on the couple rather than trying to get the best shot!
Mike has two children who unfortunately couldn’t be there, so during the sand ceremony the maid of honor and best man poured the sand that was meant for them. They are officially a family!!
One great thing about The Hope Wilderness Chapel is that the reception starts right down stairs!! As guests socialized and enjoyed the wonderful weather, we enjoyed some portraits by the waterfall!
Andddd now everyones favorite part.. where we sneak off for some Bride and Groom portraits!! Remember when I said Dogwood Canyon stretched across the Missouri-Arkansas border? Well there is an actual spot where you can witness that, so naturally we took a picture there.
The number of waterfalls and bridges we seen was unreal!! It was closer to the evening so the sun was trying to go down, making it a little cooler and the lighting gorgeous! We passed people walking, on bikes, seen lots of dogs! It was a great experience, we had a little fun with the water as well, because why not?!
Oh! Did I forget to mention we got to see the horses? Heck yeah we did!!
When we returned to the chapel, we let the maid of honor and best man take over with the speeches. I love getting to know the story between the bride and groom and their bridal party. Most are childhood friends or close relatives, of course I love hearing all the embarrassing stories and the memories shared! The maid of honor has been friends with the Nicole since school and let me tell you, the best man has some jokes during his speech!
You know it’s going to be a great night when it starts off with laughter!!
The Bride and Groom shared their first dance shortly after, and Nicole shared a dance with her father. I have too many favorites when it comes to weddings, so I’ll say it again, this is always one of my favorite parts!! Depending on the song, I might tear up during dances. These two just have such a connection.
We ended the night with a bouquet toss and the garter of course, but what’s a reception without cake? Eating the cake or wearing it.. that’s to be determined..
I want to say a HUGE congratulations to Mike and Nicole, it was such a pleasure working with them. Not only these two but Dogwood Canyon as well. The venue was beautiful and the wedding was gorgeous!!
I wish you the best Mr. and Mrs. Shemanski!!