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published fine art photographer in virginia

A Romantic St. Patrick's Day Wedding at Amber Grove in Virginia| Kelly &Austin | Sarah Duke Photography

March 17, 2019

Kelly & Austin's Wedding at Amber Grove | Sarah Duke Photography

First and foremost, I am honored to not only have been given the opportunity of capturing Kelly and Austin's joyous day, but I am beyond grateful to have gained incredible friendships too! From the very first inquiry I received, to all the many texts shared with Kelly - being able to partake in documenting this couple's big day was a blessing! What stands out to me the most about Kelly and Austin's wedding were the elements of faith and love that tied everything together.

Their love story began about four years ago when Kelly and Austin first met and soon became inseparable. Their first date is one to laugh about as Kelly explained that Austin took her to a BBQ restaurant, " little did he know... I was a vegetarian!" The couple laughs about it now and reflects how they have both grown as a couple who both avidly serve together at their church. Unbeknownst to Kelly, this avenue of their journey would prove to be one that would bring her a surprise ...the proposal! It happened on September 27, 2018, and was one she would undeniably never forget. Austin creatively planned a scavenger hunt at their church which included all of the children they mentor and teach during Sunday School.

There was no delay in wedding planning for this excited couple, who decided on Amber Grove the first time they visited the venue. They fell in love with its classic and timeless pavilion for their reception, and the barn loft for their ceremony which offered a rustic yet elegant touch. Along with the landscape and overall atmosphere of Amber Grove, both Kelly and Austin admired the historical aspects of the property and commended how much the owner John McBride loved his home and property. (We all also loved being accompanied by Klaus the sweet barn cat while taking photos!)

I was honored to be present capturing the special moments leading up to the ceremony: Kelly putting on her dress with her mom, sharing a first look with her friends and two brothers, and most unforgettable, when Kelly and Austin shared a prayer along with their hand written vows. These quiet moments and pauses during the wedding day are so special!

I hid Kelly on one side of the shed located at the back of the venue and lead Austin outside to her. Without taking a single peak, Austin reached out his hand to her and the excitement and anticipation glowed from their expressions. I crouched under a magnolia tree in an attempt to be as incognito as possible, and before I knew it, found myself lost in the moment. As I watched Kelly and Austin share their vows I saw before me two people whose faith and love to be inspiring. Seriously, what an incredible moment! The exchange of sharing their vows was the highlight of everything that meant most to Kelly and Austin - the true meaning of marriage and the foundation on which it stands. In fact, when I asked them what wedding planning advice they had to offer future couples it was to: "Focus on the meaning of marriage and not on the stress of the day (its only a day)."

The ceremony began in the totally transformed loft-barn where family and friends gathered beneath the romantic hanging lights. As Kelly made her way down the aisle to Austin, his eyes filled up with tears and an endearing smile spread across his face. I loved the incorporation of the scripture readings during their ceremony, one being from Proverbs 31 about the virtuous woman. Truly, a bride is defined beyond just the gorgeous gown and fancy shoes but by her heart of grace, her resilience in hardship, and preservation in love.

The celebration started at their reception and contnued all the way to the dazzling sparkler exit. With my whole heart I want to congratulate Mr. and Mrs. Highfill! From start to finish, your day was one I will never forget! <3

Copyright © 2015-2020 Sarah Duke Photography


Photographer | Sarah Duke Photography

Venue | Amber Grove

Catering | Amber Grove

Coordinator | John McBride

Wedding Gown | BHLDN The Monarch Gown

Florist | Something Borrowed Blooms, The Jane Collection

Invitations / Stationary | Minted, Vines of Green by Susan Moyal

Bridesmaids Dresses | Show Me Your MuMu, Hacienda Maxi Dress in Dusty Blush

Groom’s Attire | Generation Tux, Mystic Blue Peak Lapel Suit

Bridal Hair | Bridal Makeup Glam By Dana

Ceremony Musicians | Spenser Morgan

Cake | Publix


The Highfill Wedding was also published on Virginia Bride Magazine. Check out my feature here!



Chapter I. Kelly & Austin's Engagement Session at VMFA

Chapter II. Kelly's Bridal Portrait Session at Amber Grove

Chapter III. Highfill Wedding - at Amber Grove

Chapter IV. Published on VA Bride Magazine - View Feature


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