Katie Stoops Photography

A tropical Cartagena wedding

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If there was one word to describe Phi & Eric’s wedding in Cartagena, it’d be “fun”. They invited over 90 of their closest friends & family to join them in the place they fell in love years ago. The colors of the walled city are a direct reflection of their vibrant love of life and for one another.  The wedding day began at Casa Pombo (built in 1533!) and ended at the fabulous Bastion Luxury Hotel as people danced+danced+danced. At the very end of this post, you’ll see the full version of their wedding film from NazFilms…it’s a little long but it’s pretty much amazing.

As you enter Casa Pombo, your jaw & the temperature drops. Originally, built by the aristocracy on the most valued piece of land, it serves  as an oasis from the heat & noise. It truly is a sanctuary. The center is a luxurious water courtyard that joins the various wings of the building.

As a tribute to her Vietnamese heritage, Phi & Eric had a tea ceremony with immediate family prior to the main one shortly after. One of the things I absolutely loved about Phi was how contagious her laugh was…she made you feel happy just to be around her.

The bracelet that Eric is holding was given to him by Phi’s grandmother long before they were engaged. She “knew” they would be married! He wore it that day in memory of her.

Look at that bead work! Gorgeous.

Every bridesmaid was asked to choose their own dress within the light pink palette Phi had chosen. I love how the detailing breaks up the color from being too monochromatic.

Pops of reds, oranges, and pinks were everywhere thanks to the bougainvillea. I wanted to take some home with us!

After the ceremony, Phi was planning on changing into this short sassy dress so she could really dance.

This was probably the most beautiful location I’ve photographed for a first look. The light in Casa Pombo was something you see in Renaissance paintings.

Tears in Eric’s eyes…it was perfect.

Phi made all of the dream catchers that hung throughout the courtyard and on the chuppah. It helped to add a sense of her bohemian style to the day.

Colombian dancers greeted guests with fans & programs as the entered.

The ceremony definitely wasn’t lacking emotions…tears were flowing.

Afterwards, we walked along the streets for a few more portraits…how could you not want to take advantage of the lights!?!

Below is one of my favorite shots.

Annnd here comes the party train! As guests left Casa Pombo, a drum band and dancers walked everyone to the reception. This was one of my all time favorite wedding memories…tough to photograph because I was carrying 50 pounds of equipment and shooting at the same time BUT I’d do it all again. So much fun!

During their killer first dance, fireworks went off! Full of surprises.

 


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Four blocks away from Notre Dame in Paris, this was the view from our windows. I love the shades of blues, greys, & pops of orange from the chimney caps. Every day, we heard the chiming of the cathedral and on Sundays, the bells toll for ages. Paris is really a magical city and I can’t wait to return!


A Summer Charlottesville Farm Wedding

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Anna-Catherine & her Teddy’s wedding was the perfect Virginia wedding on a June day. The day started out at an old farmhouse that they had rented for the bridal party to spend the weekend in. The air was filled with excitement but it was relaxed at the same time. With willow trees blowing in the wind outside the windows, how could you be stressed!? Guests were greeted with Crozet Rose (Anna-Catherine’s favorite wine) as they arrived and invited to sit in front of the lovely farm house. Usually, it’s a little bit risky to have both your ceremony and reception outside…without a tent but there wasn’t a rain drop in sight. Having it all outside made for the most beautiful photographs. I love it when couples include their dogs into their weddings. As a huge (understatement) dog lover, it’s a lot of fun to photograph, and see them treated as a family member and not a pet.  AC & Teddy made sure their beagle Jackson was not forgotten. The Southern Summer day was warm with golden light that covered the fields at Fat Cat Farm with a cool breeze as the sun set. Since they both are self proclaimed foodies, everyone was treated to the best local food & wine and danced into the night.

Ladies, if you ever need a gift for a girlfriend, you should check out Pretty Plum Sugar. I have a few of their robes & tunics and they only get softer the more you wash them. Must take a look!

Don’t you love that illusion neckline with the buttons up the back? The lite skirt was a great option for the Southern heat and it moved so beautifully.

Anna-Catherine had her initials embroidered on a piece of her mother’s dress which wrapped her bouquet.

All of the Bridesmaids were blessed with the opportunity to wear their own dresses. This makes a big difference because each person is more comfortable and chooses a flattering cut while staying within a color range. I really loved the mix of textures these ladies had.

Shawn Cossette of Beehive Events (who is simply incredible to work with) created the bouquets with fresh lavender and other herbs. They were elegant, not stuffy, and they smelled so good!

Grooms…get your suit fitted to your body! Don’t you dare rent a suit or borrow one. Unless you have one made or altered to fit you properly, you aren’t going to look the best you can.

What a stunning couple!

Look at Jackson…what a handsome guy. That floral collar puts him into another category of cuteness.

Teddy’s smile couldn’t have been any bigger as Anna-Catherine came down the aisle.

There’s Jackson in all of his glory. Ha!

While we did portraits, guests enjoyed cocktail hour in/around the fabulous old barn with custom signature drinks & summery h’orderves.

Now, right behind the cocktail hour barn was the dinner location…how amazing is this!? Nestled in between several gardens that smelled divine, were these beautiful tables. Dinner was family style served by Harvest Moon.

There were cozy seating areas set up around the property for guests to split off and relax in.

Next to the “cake” was a table of vintage family wedding photographs. I love seeing how each generation celebrated & what they wore.

The happiest first dance!

AC & Teddy decided they didn’t want a traditional cake so they opted for a fun cheese wheel cake! It was served with all sorts of honey, chutneys, & fruits.

Who doesn’t love a sparkler exit? If you’re planning on purchasing them for your own wedding, make sure you find the long sparklers so they don’t burn out halfway through your exit.

What a great exit car! Classic cars are always the best way to leave your reception.

Anna-Catherine says:

“My favorite part of the day was our enjoying our favorite cocktails and appetizers on the farmhouse porch. I felt so happy and loved having time for the two of us right after our ceremony.
The advice I received and have given since to fellow Type A brides is the day of step back and enjoy the party, be your own guest, and stay focused on the excitement of being married. Little things will not be perfect or may go completely wrong but a wedding is one day and focusing on your life together gives perspective. “

Venue: Fat Cat Farm, Scottsville, VA/ Bridal Gown: Watters from Lovely Bridal/ Bridesmaid Dresses: own/ Invitations & Paper Products: Haute Papier, Minted, & Wedding Paper Divas/ Bridal Shoes: J. Crew/ Makeup: Sanja Kahric of Bobbi Brown/ Hair: Erica Haskins-Crutchfield of Top Knot Studio/ Groom’s Suit: Alton Lane/ Floral Design: Beehive Events/ Catering & Cheese Cake: Harvest Moon / Ceremony & Cocktail hour music: Dennis Elliot/Reception Band: The Castaways/ Bridesmaids’ Robes: Pretty Plum Sugar


Our trip to Iceland

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One of the things that Naz & I hear the most from friends is “You always seem like you’re on vacation!” because we’re constantly on a plane going to a new place for work. However, that’s what it is…it’s work. We are typically only in a new location for 3 days max and then we go onto the next shoot. The chance to truly explore isn’t a luxury we usually have. Back in October, I decided that we needed an adventure of our own so we booked flights to Iceland! Despite checking the weather, looking for places to go, putting away expectations…you can not prepare for Iceland. It is the most awe inspiring location I’ve ever been to…an unforgiving landscape & schizophrenic weather patterns made for a place where you close your eyes and you’re taken back to. Not knowing how the weather would treat my big film camera, I decided to experiment by bringing a bunch of disposable cameras…yes, the ones you find at Walmart/Target for $5. I sent them off to my guys at Goodman Filmlab who did the best job! The images below are a mix of those plus a few digital shots.

We only stayed in Reykjavik for 1.5 days…we grabbed a bunch of groceries and headed out south east. There isn’t a lot to do in Reykjavik but if you’ve been out on the road without anything but necessities then it’s an oasis. It’s a great middle ground if you wanted to stay there and explore the Ring Road during the day. We stayed at the Residence Hotel and would definitely stay there again! The staff was incredible and you have to pay the $40 (best purchase!) for the breakfast basket because there’s enough food for two people for breakfast+lunch. In Iceland, that’s the cheapest meal you’ll find.

On our way to see the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. It’s crazy to see such massive waterfalls simply on the side of the road. The best part about this one was the ability to walk behind the falls. Photographing in Iceland was tough because without people being in the photo, there’s nothing to show perspective and how unbelievably large scale things were.

The Icelandic Horses are some of the kindest creatures you’ll find on the planet. They are simply there because people love horses so they’ve become curious, relaxed, and lovey. These fellas walked a ways to come see us after we pulled over for photos.

 

For the most part (minus one time out of a 20+), we have had great luck with staying at Airbnbs on our trips and this was no exception. While the cabin we rented was in the middle of nowhere (actually in the middle of nowhere), it was warm, cozy, and looked onto the volcano. We made every meal in the cutest kitchen since food in Iceland is both expensive and not the best tasting. To get to the cabin, we had to make sure we were back before dark because there wasn’t a road to it…just a gate a mile from the house to indicate that we had to turn left. Then we crossed our fingers as we drove through sand and a river in the tiniest of cars. The wind at night caused every nail + board to creak but I wouldn’t have traded that experience for the world.

This was our backyard!

We went for a hike to find the oldest geothermal swimming hole, Seljavallalaug, which was built in 1923 and set into the mountains. The rain & wind felt like razors on your face and it just knocked you on the ground…a bit scary when you’re the only ones for who knows how far BUT also exciting to know that you’re on an adventure to find this place. Once you get there, you strip down in these unheated rooms (our clothes were already completely soaked) and jump in the pool. It was much hotter on one end where the mountain was feeding the pool directly. The trick was getting out and not feeling as though you were dying from the cold air AND then putting on wet clothes.  It was one of my all time favorite life moments.

On our hike back to the car, the sun came out and it was indescribable how it transformed the landscape…everything became a painting in the warmest light..turning greys into greens, rock into sharp prehistoric ridges, and clouds were touched by Rembrandt.

We drove to the little town Vik which is known for the dramatic coastline and black sand beaches. Yes, the sand is really really black.

On our last day, we went to the Blue Lagoon (40 mins outside of Reykjavik, 20 mins from the airport). I would go back to Iceland just for the Blue Lagoon! It exceeded every expectation I had. The facilities are beautiful & modern. The water is hot…not lukewarm but hot. The entire left side has buckets of fresh silica that everyone covers themselves in and I have to say, it really does heal your skin. I bought some to take back with us and it never disappoints.

The next time we go back will be during the Summer months simply due to the amount of sunlight. We only had about 6 hours of sun each day so that’s tough to explore places when they’re far away. If you’re considering going…just go!