Claxton Farm has been on my bucket list since I started shooting weddings 5 years ago. I can't imagine a more perfect couple for one of the prettiest venues around! I'll be really honest...when Josh told me the venue they'd chosen, I MIGHT have squealed a little bit. JUST a little bit.
But then Ashley and Josh dropped a bomb on me (in the best sort of way). They asked if I would be IN the wedding as well. Um...yes? I wouldn't miss out for the world. But wait...that means I'll be a bridesmaid AND their photographer. I can do this, right? To see the photos leading up to their epic wedding day click here for their engagement session or here for Ashley's bridal session.
For those of you that don't know, THE Josh Michael is kind of a big deal. Ask him...he'll tell you! (Kidding..sort of). You might have heard him on the Asheville radio station, Star 104.3, or maybe even seen him on TV. Ashley and Josh's little brother, Aaron, went to WCU together. They shared a lot of classes and Aaron encouraged Ashley to apply as an intern to his brother's radio station. Josh ended up interviewing Ashley for the internship, and she got the job! Josh will readily admit that even then, he thought Ashley was absolutely gorgeous!
Since I've had the privilege of being friends with both Ashley and Josh for years, I got to see both sides of the proposal story! Ashley and I talked tons of times about how she wanted her big day to be...and how she wanted him to ask. What was super fun for me was seeing the behind the scenes of Josh planning to propose. He toyed with several ideas, but nothing ever seemed just right. After almost 6 years together, he decided the time was right! He had her boss take her out for a girls' night after work and in the meantime, he had their family and closest friends come over and hide behind their house, waiting for her to come home. When she walked in the front door, he had roses every where..and of course, a gorgeous ring! He dropped to one knee, she couldn't speak...and one very emotional photographer barely kept it together. After she said yes, she got another surprise when all of her favorite people were already there to celebrate with!
When I asked Ashley to tell me about her first date with Josh, she giggled. "The first one or the REAL first one?" Well, both! Ashley and her mom had seen Josh out and about several times, and Ashley had mentioned that she thought he was pretty cute. They went out with a group of people several times before they actually went out together alone. The first "date" was at a local brewery, but Ashley was so nervous that she brought a friend. Their first real date wasn't until later at a concert (imagine that...a radio guy at a concert!)
Josh and Ashley were both a little nervous for wedding day, but they were both all smiles. Their visible excitement for a day that they had waited so long for was contagious.
The girls met at a bridesmaid's house to get ready. Hair and makeup all around! The boys gathered just around the corner at Josh and Ashley's house for their man-bonding (I was told that's what they were doing)...and of course, a showing of Top Gun. I left for Claxton a bit earlier than the other bridesmaids so I could get the detail shots that were so important to the bride. When the rest of the wedding party joined me at Claxton, wedding prep was in full swing! There were vendors running around making the spectacular venue into the fairytale that Josh and Ashley had been planning for months. Josh and Ashley didn't want to see each other before the ceremony, but they did want to have a moment together (how sweet is that?) Ashley did a first look with her daddy and her papaw instead, and it was SO worth it! After their sweet moment together, we stashed Ashley away from the arriving guests and Josh headed off to get ready for his big entrance. Josh's dad and officiant, John, is also a helicopter pilot. So as a surprise, Josh acquired a helicopter to bring him and his dad, along with Aaron (the best man) into the ceremony! Yes, you read that right. A HELICOPTER. But as cool as the helicopter was, it wasn't anything next to Ashley coming down that aisle. She was absolutely GORGEOUS. Their intimate ceremony included hand washing to celebrate their unity. After the exchange of vows and rings, Josh FINALLY got to kiss his bride! We got some of the coolest photos with the helicopter and one AMAZING wedding party, and then it was off to the party. Their first dance as Mr. and Mrs. was one of the sweetest things I've ever seen. Some sweet toasts, some cake cutting, and one HECK of a party wrapped up one of the most fun wedding days that there has ever been. Ashley and Josh, you guys sure know how to throw a party!
Ashley and Josh - THANK YOU for letting me be a part of your special day. The love you have for each other is so easy to see...you both just light up when the other enters the room. Your wedding was absolutely perfect in so many ways. THANK YOU for allowing me to be your friend for all of these years. I look SO forward to many more years of friendship with you both.
CEREMONY and RECEPTION VENUE: Claxton Farm, Weaverville NC | PHOTOGRAPHER: Jen Burrell Photography | Second Shooters: Ashley Gillett and Mike Burrell | FLORIST: Gudger's Flowers | CAKE ARTIST: Ingles | BAND/DJ: Sound Extreme, Justin Alexander | MAKE-UP ARTIST: Vamp, Shi Middleton | HAIR ARTIST: Emily Sikorski, Parlour 232, Hendersonville NC | BRIDESMAIDS DRESS: Merle Norman of Asheville | TUXES: Mitchell's Tuxedos, Asheville NC | OFFICIANT: John D'Innocenzi, Father of the Groom | BRIDAL GOWN: Merle Norman of Asheville | HELICOPTER: Jacob Cline, Asheville Helicopters | JEWELRY: Spicer Greene Jewelers, Asheville NC