A rustic, autumn barn wedding only six miles from my home…
If you follow my blog, you know that I love to travel, and often photograph weddings in DC, NYC, etc. But there is something very special about photographing people I have known for many years in my own community and capturing the beauty of the land and spaces that we call home!
Dani shared, “As soon as I saw Dustin’s senior portraits, I knew I wanted Lisa to photograph my wedding. Every time she worked with another one of his family members, (she photographed his sister, brother, and entire family) that initial thought was confirmed over and over again. She truly has a creative eye and can photograph traditional things in such a unique and beautiful way.”
She continued, “It was so easy working with Lisa, and her husband, Kris, on our wedding day. They are both so friendly and relaxed, which made us feel comfortable and allowed us to be completely ourselves! They were open to hearing our ideas, but didn’t need them as they came so prepared that we didn’t need to think about a thing! Lisa was very helpful the day before the wedding too- she spent almost an hour of her time with me, walking me through the timeline and events of the day, which really calmed my nerves.”
The image above shows their first dance, in a traditional barn, captured in a unique way– the draperies at heritage restored are absolutely stunning! For the shot below, I balanced their wedding rings on a velvet pumpkin one, incorporating a bit of their decor into their ring shot– a little tradition a little creativity…
While I like getting up close and personal somethings, like with the ring shot haha, I also love to capture scenes play with spaces and angles and light. Here I showed Danielle’s wedding gown along with the rustic ladders, Edison bulbs, draperies, light coming through the slats of the barn, etc all peering through the rungs of a ladder…
Dani shared, “Having all of my bridesmaids pray over me before the ceremony was such a special moment! I love them all so much and felt so blessed to be surrounded by six caring, beautiful, strong Christian women.”
I love so many things about this moment! For me I like how the women are in shadow with these rich vibrant colors while Danielle appears to be illuminated by their prayers, I like the top down perspective too, as it makes for some interesting lines while also showing off Danielle’s gorgeous hair and lashes…
Dani explained, “I felt so blessed to have all 6 of my lovely bridesmaids with me on my special day! They perfectly demonstrate three different parts of my life- 2 family members, 2 college roommates, and 2 that I met through Dustin and our “couple” friends. I couldn’t have imagined my wedding day without them all by my side!”
I like capturing different scenic elements as I’m photographing different moments and traditions. In the image above I wanted to show the mature oak tree and string lights and in the image below I wanted to show the barn and bring in that maroon color.
Dani shared, “Over the past couple years, my Dad and I have formed a really special bond, so having a moment with him before the wedding was so sweet.”
She went on, “I’m his baby girl, so I know letting me go was difficult for him- he’s officially an empty-nester now!”
Dani smiled, “I am so fortunate to have such fantastic friends! They were amazing planning my Bridal shower and Bachelorette party, as well as helping me on the wedding day!”
I enjoy working with layers in a photograph, it can make something that is two dimensional feel more three dimensional. Here I have the string lights in the foreground, wood slats in the background and lovely ladies in the middle framed in the beautiful white fabric that really pops against the background…
Awww how sweet is their little nephew?
Dani shared, “Heritage Restored was the perfect place for our wedding– from the stunning draperies, to the string lights, the sunlight trickling in through the wood slats, and the breathtaking mountain views, we knew it was the perfect location for our ideal rustic wedding reception.”
One final “traditional” portrait…
Dani shared, “Dustin is the most caring, selfless, and kindest man that I have ever met. Falling for him was easy- he makes everything more fun and he always knows how to make me laugh. He is a great listener, my biggest supporter, and my forever best friend. I truly can’t imagine my life without him!”
Dustin explained, “All of my groomsmen have been an important part of my life. They come from my family, grade school, church, and college. I have so many memories with all of them.”
My second photographer and husband, Kris, really knocked this shot out of the park, I love the symmetry, lines and pop of color…
I was photographing Dani’s dress in the barn at this point, but couldn’t help myself from grabbing this quick shot of the guys that Kris was setting up but from a different perspective.
Lifting him up, literally!
Dani explained, “Dustin and I both agreed that we didn’t want to do a first look, but decided to do a letter exchange instead!”
She continued “I have kept every single letter, note, or card that Dustin has ever given me over the years, and I’m excited to add this letter to that collection. It is a keepsake that I know I will cherish for the rest of my life. It will be fun to look back on our wedding someday and be able to remember how we felt in that moment!”
Here I got at just the right angle to get Dani and Dustin both reading their letters, filling the frame with the vibrant red of the barn wall. I got low enough so that you can see Dustin’s inscription, “To: the bride” and some of his handwriting through the paper.
Dustin shared, “The wedding was at my home church- my family has been going there for longer than I’ve been alive. I have many memories at that church over the years of attending service, youth group, and a lot of church activities. I enjoy the archery league that is hosted in the gym there every winter.”
I like how you can see the full scene here– Dani with her father, Dustin waiting at the far end, all the guests watching the processional, the fixtures and stained glass of the church, her train and veil…
Dani smiled, “Before walking down the aisle, I was extremely nervous…and then all of those nerves went away as soon as the doors opened and I saw Dustin. It was a moment that I had dreamed about for a long time, and it was absolutely perfect.”
She continued, “He looked so handsome! When I got to the front of the church, I saw tears in Dustin’s eyes, which was a big deal to me because I had never seen him cry before. I can’t even describe how loved I felt in that moment!”
Dustin added, “We also wanted to include a family member in the service and my grandfather was a good fit because he’s a Pastor. It also made sense because we wanted him to read something that my uncle, his son, wrote.”
I liked the gold light streaming in through the window and how it somehow skimmed Dustin’s grandpa’s hand, illuminating his gold wedding band as he spoke.
Dani explained, “We knew we wanted to get married in Dustin’s church but also wanted to incorporate my home church, too. In order to do that, we had my Pastor from Enola marry us- I thought it was a cool way to combine both of our ‘Church of God’ backgrounds!”
Here Dani places the ring on Dustin’s finger as her home pastor speaks…
I move around a lot during a wedding day, usually walking at least five miles throughout the day! Part of this is due to my quest for capturing all of the elements that come together to really tell the story of the wedding day.
I was crouched down low in the center of the aisle towards the front of the church for the shot above, and for the shot below I climbed the stairs to the choir loft and was able to capture the full scene, including the lines of the rafters and lighting fixtures…
Dani shared, “When we left the church together as husband and wife, I was probably the happiest I have ever been in my whole life. It was what we had been waiting on for 4 and a half years, and it felt so good to FINALLY be married!”
Dani shared, “We went to Dustin’s family’s farm immediately following the ceremony. We met at summer camp, but fell in love on the farm. It was the location of so many dates and adventures. ”
She continued, “From playing basketball in the barn, fire pits in the driveway, kayaking down the creek, pumpkin carving on the porch, riding the four-wheeler around in the fields, snowball fights in the yard, homemade drive ins against the house, riding tractors, Dustin teaching me how to hunt, watching sunsets on the hill… the farm is where it all went down.”
You can see Dustin’s childhood home in the background…
Dani explained, “Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE cats! So of course I love the black cat that lives on the farmhouse porch! For years I was the only one that gave it any love and attention when I was at Dustin’s house. Sometimes when I would pull up in my car, the cat would run to my car door to greet me! So I loved that the kitty tried to get in our wedding pictures!”
Streeeeeetch… the black cat with its claws out and pumpkins in the background– such a sweet autumn scene…
Tire swing… this has been Incorporated into many a Labonte photo shoot, so I had to include it, haha…
Dustin recalled, “When I first saw Danielle walking down the aisle, I was just so excited and she looked so beautiful! I was pretty nervous before the ceremony, but having her up there with me definitely calmed me down. I’m so lucky to have a woman like her!”
Dani explained, “I think the saying “opposites attract” really describes us and how we work so well together. Dustin is an extrovert, I’m an introvert. He’s always looking at the big picture, I’m more of a detail person. And he can’t sit still, whereas I love a good movie marathon. We balance each other out.”
For me this photograph captures the balance in the idea of opposites attracting. Here fun-loving outgoing Dustin clicks his boots and Dani watches, hands in her pockets, smiling…
Dustin shared, “Danielle is the best, hands down. She is willing to do anything with me and is always a joy to be with. The wedding day was a blur, but what stood out to me was how gorgeous she looked. I am very fortunate to have found a great woman like her!”
Danielle shared, “I am simply looking forward to sharing my life with Dustin- the small moments, big moments, and everything in between. I can’t wait to build a family and a life together, wherever and whenever that may be. I am so excited to keep falling more and more in love with this incredible man every day!”
I love to play with vibrant complimentary colors and balance in my compositions. The yellow of the bridge and the blue of the sky reflected in the water gave me the perfect color palette, and having the couple in the top right of the frame and the water at the lower bottom really brought in the balance I was looking for.
Dustin laughed, “I still can’t believe we left you behind after the ceremony! We were so excited to be husband and wife and to get some time alone at the farm, that we started driving there without you!” (True story: I called them and was like, where are you? haha).
Something so moody and dramatic about this one! I water to catch the light playing on the leaves and the soft layers of Dani’s dress, the fact that Dustin is being a gentleman and helping her walk on the road, carrying her train and bouquet are all so sweet.
I also like that they are just starting out on this path and have a long winding road ahead of them.
Dustin explained, “Until now, we’ve dated long distance, now we’ve pretty much only seen each other on the weekends. I am looking forward to getting to do fun stuff together every day. I can’t wait to build our lives together.”
He continued, “Our wedding was perfect, it couldn’t have possibly gone any better. It was literally THE BEST day!!”
Swept off her feet…
Dani shared, “Because Dustin and I are such opposites we really help each other to learn and grow. He pushes me to try new things, and I challenge him to rest and relax!”
She continued, “We realize that sometimes we have to sacrifice for the other. We just work.”
Haaa the barn where they’d play basketball and the path they’d walk to watch sunset, I even recall photographing Dustin’s senior portraits at this barn door…
Dani explained, “We chose Heritage Restored for our reception because we have a family-friend connection with the owners, and it is absolutely gorgeous! We had been in that barn for Halloween parties in previous years, so it was really cool to see how the Williams family was able to transform it into a beautiful venue!”
While I love capturing candid moments as the wedding day unfolds, I made sure to get more traditional photos too, this one also showing the barn at Heritage Restored…
I’m pretty active with hiking, kayaking, biking, etc and so enjoy being in Cumberland Valley.
Shippensburg is nestled in the middle of the great Appalachian Valley (that extends from Maine to Mississippi). The Appalachian Trail is accessible almost anywhere nearby. We are between the Lebanon Valley and Shenandoah Valley and have access to waterfalls, forests, rivers, caves, streams, mountains, lakes. I love it here!
These mountains, right? Again, playing with layers, if it were a painting, the background could be three large brush strokes– 1/3 grass, 1/3 mountains, 1/3 sky…
Strike a pose– bringing out their inner super model:
Dani shared, “My favorite part of the decor for the reception was all of the pumpkins and fall leaves on the tables and around the barn. My family members generously contributed from their fall decoration collections so that I could have as many pumpkins as possible- they are my favorite thing about fall!”
She continued, “I was excited to see all of my work on the calligraphy come together- I hand wrote all of the name cards, the table numbers, the bar signs, and the entire seating chart.”
I have so many photos of their lovely decor, but thought this one captured a few different elements, Danielle’s beautiful calligraphy, the rustic table scene created using two barrels, a screen and a door:
Dustin shared, “My favorite part of the day was probably when Danielle and I sat down together at dinner, enjoyed the good food, and watched and mingled with all of our family and friends.”
He continued, “Mission BBQ was the only place we tested and we picked them right away. The food was great and their service was excellent. They offered a variety of options for the day so everyone could find something they enjoyed. We like that kind of food and it fit our theme really well!”
So the entire day was overcast, but just at the right time, as the sun was setting, the clouds began to open up and sunlight started beaming through. Vibrant blue storm clouds combined with yellow beams of sunlight are definitely my favorite!
By the time I grabbed Dani and Dustin it was even more purple!
Dani shared, “Lisa always showcases such amazing sunset photographs, but I honestly thought we weren’t going to get one because of how overcast our wedding day was… and then the clouds moved just right to catch the beautiful pink and purple of sunset! It was so beautiful!”
Dustin made this moment extra sweet…
Dustin shared, “My little brother, Dillon, has been a huge part of my life, so it was a no-brainer to pick him as my best man. He did great with the speech!!”
Cheers! I tried to quickly focus on the glasses as they clinked at just the right spot to get the “groom” lettering illuminated…
Over a thousand cookies!!!!
Dani shared, “Dustin and I love cookies and brownies, so we were really excited to have a cookie bar at our wedding! I was so thankful to have such amazing family members help me bake all of the cookies and brownies! Together we made over 1,000 cookies!”
Father daughter dance…
Mother and son…
While the photo I opened with of their first dance was really my favorite, I like this one too…
Dani explained, “The dress was definitely the perfect choice for me, as it allowed me to sit, hug, and dance freely!”
Hitting the dance floor…
Dani explained, “Having music and a dancefloor at our wedding was a MUST because I love to dance! I really wanted our guests to have fun dancing too, so I created a playlist for the evening! I included different decades and genres so everyone would hear something they liked! I had an absolute blast dancing with my family and friends!”
The illuminated barn at night– so pretty! I love how people gathered inside and out and that there was a space for everyone.
A moment alone…
Back to the party!
Dani and Dustin, thank you for entrusting me to capture such significant places, people and moments in your life! If you want to hear more of their story, visit their engagement blog post here, or visit other LaBonte family photos here.
- Venue: Heritage Restored Farm Weddings and Events
- Bridal Gown: Suzanne’s Bridal Gettysburg
- Bridesmaid Dresses: Azazie
- Live Flowers: Roots Cut Flower Farm
- Wedding Cake: Sunflower Sweets
- Catering: Mission BBQ
- Church: Newburg First Church of God