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I'm Ali Rae and I love building brands.
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Mariana and Ryan were such troopers throughout their wedding planning process. They contacted me back in January and told me they wanted to get married in June, but were worried that wouldn’t be enough time to plan the wedding. I assured them that Caleb and I did it in almost exactly that same timeframe, and I was confident they would be able to do the same! And guess what…not only did they do that, they planned around COVID-19 and were still able to host the most beautiful, heartfelt summer wedding this past weekend. Pushing their wedding date just three weeks from June 20th to July 11th, they are now MARRIED and have an anniversary!!
Their Catholic faith was intertwined throughout the entire day—from their full mass ceremony in the most beautiful church, St. Leo’s in Fairfax, to Mariana’s many brothers and sisters being part of the day, to the bottle of wedding wine that her father brought back for his daughter and future son-in-law from Cana. This bottle of wine was the same one her mother and father received on their wedding day and plan to open on their 50th wedding anniversary. According to her father, they only have 15 more years to go! What a beautiful tradition.
Mariana and Ryan hosted their guests at the Briar Patch Inn in Leesburg, Virginia. Although the forecast called for rain on their wedding day (at one point it got up to a 70% chance!), when I checked the forecast the day of, it had complete changed and was down to a 7% chance! Lo and behold, not a drop of rain was seen on their special day. The clouds came and went, but we remained dry. Thankfully, the clouds parted just as sunset was happening and we were able to sneak away from their reception to take some beautiful sunset portraits. This is one of my favorite parts of the day because it’s just me, the bride, and the groom. We get to check in, recap the day, and celebrate in the fact that they are officially married!
When Mariana’s father welcomed all the guests to the reception, he made a toast about a letter that Mariana had written about her perfect man. She described her perfect man as “a gentleman, who is pure and kind-hearted; who wants to have a big family; who is mature, but still has a sense of humor.” Looking back, everyone in the room realized that the letter perfectly described Ryan and it was clear why the Lord brought them together. What a sweet tribute to their relationship and connection.
I shot Mariana and Ryan’s wedding at seven months pregnant with our second child. We have always said that we wanted four children…everyone told us that would change after we had the first, but it hasn’t. After seeing the love and joy shared by all the members of both Mariana and Ryan’s families, I don’t think that will change. Their large families (Mariana is one of nine; Ryan is one of three) brought so much joy to their days that I could tell the big family dynamic is a special one. They even welcomed Caleb and I into the family just like one of their own!
To Mariana, Ryan, and both of your families, THANK YOU! Thank you all for including us in your wedding day and making us feel like a member of your families. Thank you for trusting us with capturing your wedding day memories. And thank you for always asking me if I was feeling okay and offering me food and water throughout the day. Your care for me on a day centered around you all was truly remarkable! Blessings upon you both, your families, and your future family together!
Ceremony | St. Leo’s Catholic Church – Fairfax, Virginia
Reception Venue | Briar Patch Inn – Leesburg, Virginia
Bridal Gown | L’Amour Calla Blanche
Caterer | Smokin’ Willy
Invitation Suite | Shine Invitations
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