My East Coast Trip & Wedding with Katelyn James


I’m so excited to be sharing this amazing weekend I had on the east coast with you today. Before I even get into all of the fun of my trip to Virginia, I need to back up about a year and a half to my first experience at the annual wedding and portrait photographer conference WPPI in 2014.

This was not only my very first time attending, but it was also Katelyn James‘s first time speaking there. Before I made the trip out to Las Vegas for this conference that thousands of other amazing photographers were attending, I knew that I wanted to do more than just simply take photos at weddings. I was deeply enjoying building relationships with my clients, and I didn’t personally know anyone else who worked that way yet. I was seeking out ways I could use this career for so much more.

It was sitting in that conference room Katelyn packed out that brought me to realize other people were doing exactly what I was tying to figure out how to make possible. Katelyn spoke of surrounding a brand with community and building authentic relationships with her clients that helped her serve them so much better than she could if she had simply collected payment and showed up on the wedding day. She talked about her life, her husband, and her core values, which resonated with me so much with that I stayed late to introduce myself to her and Michael!

Fast forward a year later to the next WPPI conference, and I was driving out of California with my friend Emi bright and early on Sunday morning, just to make it in time for Katelyn’s talk. This time she was in a much larger room, still packed out, and she was hosting a giveaway. After her talk that morning, she pulled a business card out of a bowl and called my name. And here I am today, writing about how much fun I had when she flew me out to Virginia to shoot a wedding with her!

When Katelyn, Michael and I were emailing about which weekend to fly out, they intentionally chose this wedding for me to join them on, since it was such a tight-knit group of friends from Katelyn’s college days. Her college roommate’s little sister was getting married, and they just knew it would be a really fun experience for me to be there when they were in an extra comfortable environment. I had such a blast with everyone, who kindly welcomed me and genuinely made a point to get to know me. They were all so sweet!


Michael dropped Katelyn and I off with the girls, and he went off to meet the groom for getting-ready photos. We walked into the bride’s apartment and it was perfect for photos! I adored her place, and it made me want to move to Richmond! I really didn’t shoot too much, because I was having fun helping Katelyn do her thing and just hanging out with everyone. Katelyn didn’t need any photos from me, and I was simply invited to shadow her, but she graciously let me shoot when I wanted to and allowed me to share the images, which was so sweet of her!


The bride’s name was also Caitlin, with a “C”! She was so stunning, and look at how beautiful her dress was!




And her ring!


After all the ladies were ready, we walked with Caitlin and her MOH down the street to the first look spot. I love this downtown area so much!!



Anyone who knows me, knows I have a special place in my heart for white chapels and steeples. I melted when we stopped here!


Katelyn and Michael shot the first look, and I stepped out of the way and just watched! They are such an amazing team.




We did some portraits here and then drove down the street to the wedding venue. It was a super cute brick building (we don’t get a lot of that in So Cal!), and to the left was as stunning little garden area for the ceremony with a magnificent tree. We did some more portraits with the wedding party and then snuck off with the bride and groom for some more photos before the wedding got started!



Such a fun group!



I had to get some #BTS (behind the scenes) shots for these two, because I know they probably don’t have much of them shooting together. They are so smooth and have such a system down, that it’s like they know what each other is thinking before they speak. I was so inspired by their teamwork!


And, oh, these blossoms and trees… how adorable were the bride and groom?!






That tree!! Isn’t it amazing?




After the ceremony, we breezed right through family portraits and snapped some more “just married” photos of Caitlin and Andrew. The trees in Virginia are so beautiful!



I had such a great time with Katelyn and Michael shooting Caitlin and Andrew’s wedding! During the reception, Katelyn was shooting away while Michael was backing up cards and helping her with lighting. The dance party was the best and the newlyweds left the party with an awesome sparkler tunnel! I took away so much from this experience, and I loved hearing all Katelyn had to share about her systems throughout the day that enhance their client’s experience and quality. From her Posing Evolution to her post-wedding workflow starting as soon as the dinner at the reception, it was such an eye opening experience that really enhanced the way I do things in my business. I’m so thankful for Katelyn and Michael! If you’re looking for any ways to improve your marketing, your workflow, or your service to your clients, you definitely need to subscribe to her blog and attend a workshop with her!


Click here to see the full wedding, photographed by Katelyn herself!

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And without further ado, here is a fun little snippet of my entire week on the east coast, in #iPhone version!

I left bright and early on Friday morning from San Diego airport to head to Virginia on a plane. Oh, how I love sunrise above the clouds!

Katelyn and Michael picked me up from the airport and gave me a grand tour of downtown Richmond! The architecture made me swoon, and there is so much history in this city! I wished Justin could have come along, because I know he would have loved it!


We went out for dinner at their local mall in Short Pump, VA. It was super cute, and there was even some live music going on! We walked around while we waited for seats at dinner.


We ate at the cutest restaurant called Boathouse, which was a new location that they just opened. How beautiful is the interior design and vibe here? I have to say, the service and food was just amazing. I give it all tens. If I’m ever back in VA, this is the first place I’ll go for a meal!


The next morning was wedding day! We had a nice brunch at Panera and chatted about business, then we went early to scout the area for some portrait opportunities. There was such a cute chapel across the street from the wedding venue, and their bells chimed every hour. I loved it!


Katelyn and Michael shot the wedding, and I hung out all day, snapping a few photos here and there. Here is one from my phone!


The next day, I picked up a rental car and road tripped just a few hours to Maryland where my brother and sister-in-law live! It was a nice drive. I stopped by downtown Richmond one last time to take a couple of photos, and drove by some of the cutest houses!


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I left VA and took the scenic route through the trees and open fields. Thanks to a local who gave me a tip on avoiding what my GPS told me, I missed out on the ugly freeway packed full of cars. Love the kind people I encountered on my trip!

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I arrived at my sister-in-law’s house in Maryland where I was greeted by her super friendly cat and crazy (but adorable) german shepherd. Unfortunately, my brother got a last minute deployment, so I missed him, but Chardonnay and I had some fun girl time, and I worked while she was off teaching at school!


I discovered my sister-in-law’s taste in music may be similar to my husband’s. When I texted him this photo, his respect level for Chardonnay drastically increased. (Insert laughing face emoji here!)


We took a nice trip out to the cutest little city, walked around and ended the night with sushi and cocktails! My cocktail was far too strong for my liking. I asked for extra juice twice, and left feeling much more loopy than I’d like to admit. Though, it was fun!


Kitty kept me company while I blogged in the early mornings. She is quite needy, but I liked it.


Apparently there is such a thing as cotton candy grapes?! The irony in all of this, is that I am discovering them for the first time in Maryland, and they were imported from somewhere in California! Mind-blown. I tried bringing home a bag for Justin, but they did not survive the plane ride, not to my surprise.


#BoscowTheMonster and I chased each other through the house. He is easily twice my size and was only about 6 months at the time.


On the west coast, the garages are in the front of the house with the front door. Out in Maryland, they have some neighborhoods with smaller roads and all of the garage doors on the backside of the house. Pretty interesting! It definitely keeps the neighborhood looking cleaner. It also confuses me when I’m walking out the door, because I forget which one to walk through!


I woke up once again before the sun and hopped on a plane back home. Oh, these clouds.


San Diego welcomed me with some pretty blue water and sunny skies!


Thanks for the memories, East Coast! Until next time…


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  • […] While sitting in her WPPI course this year, I won a trip to shoot a wedding with Katelyn James, one of my favorite wedding photographers who has become a sweet friend. I loved visiting her and Michael for the weekend in Virginia and wish Justin could have come with me! You have to read about my whole trip here! […]ReplyCancel