Oh man I’m beginning this blog post already giddy that I get to look up wedding dresses for research!  Choosing your gown is one of the most fun parts of getting married because you’re allowed to look forever and spend way too much money on the perfect one.  The right dress can add a lot to your wedding day by enhancing the style that you are going for and telling the story of who you are.

I have styled many photoshoots over the past 10 years of photographing and I’ve gained a lot of knowledge what most flatters all kinds of people.  Choosing your dress is all about you, but there are a couple of variables to keep in mind.

Choosing My Own Wedding Dress

So first things first, I already got married and I loved my own wedding dress!  I chose my dress based on multiple factors, which I will list now.

Rae Marshall Wedding Day Dress

       1. My body type

I have a thin frame and I’m also very short, so I wanted a dress that wouldn’t swallow me up and still look elaborate.  I decided I wanted a dress with a strong cinch in the middle to accentuate where my middle is and for the bottom to have some volume, but not enough to overwhelm me.  The details on a dress still come across flattering as this cinch was a good way to add that fuller train and not feel too bulky.

     2. My personality

When I was a little girl I told my parents that I was going to get married in a rainbow dress, because I’ve always liked the idea of being a little different from the crowd.  15 years later I decided that probably wasn’t necessary, but I did love the idea of doing a blush dress to give myself that color pop I’ve always loved.

Rae Marshall Wedding Day

      3. What my husband was wearing

Don’t forget your partner and making sure you two look great together on the big day!  I married a Marine, so his outfit was a deep navy top and white pants with red accents.  This is a very harsh color scheme so I wanted to offset that with what I wore.  The blush dress worked well to really soften those colors and add a much more fitting color palette that worked with the rest of the day.

      4. My wedding day style

I decided to go with a more vintage look, getting married in front of an older white home outdoors in gorgeous greenery.  The delicate lace sleeves give the dress some great detail and turn it a little less modern and more vintage.  I thought the lace on my dress added a more classic feel that I thought worked so well with a military outfit.


My Top 5 Favorite Wedding Dresses

I wish my husband would agree to having a new celebration every 5 years because I could have easily designed many more wedding days and worn any one of these wedding dresses!  These picks will give you a look into the wedding styles I am drawn toward as well!

      1. The Lillian Gown – Free People

Favorite Wedding Dress - Lillian Gown

This wedding dress is so beautiful I can barely stand it.  I would love to do a wedding day in a more free spirited boho style, and absolutely love photographing this kind of look for other people.  The long sleeves are so gorgeous and add more chance for the lace to shine, but because the top is sheer it keeps her from looking like she’s too covered.  The ribbon in the back is such a romantic touch.

Lillian Gown- link here

      2. The Ramona Gown – BHLDN

Favorite Wedding Dress - Ramona Gown

All tulle and I’m in heaven with this timeless gown.  This look is a popular style for high end fine art photography and it should be easy to see why.  This tulle is so delicate and ethereal, a perfect style for a fairytale wedding day.  I also like that it’s not bright white as well with a more neutral tone that reminds me of more vintage pieces.  It’s admittedly a trend for me to be drawn toward gowns that aren’t bright white.

Ramona Gown- link here

      3. Andraea by Maggie Sottero

Favorite Wedding Dress - Andraea by Maggie Sottero

I did want to pick a more traditional wedding dress style, so I went with this lovely Maggie Sottero gown.  Spaghetti straps on a gown are such a fun way to show off a more petite form and the open back is an elegant and flattering touch.  The fairly long train with some tulle added is still present like some of my other choices but in a more classic form.  I think ornate details can really make a dress look high fashion, so the beads on this are quite nice.

Andraea Dress- link here

      4. Primavery Souffle or Mousse Du Fleur by Chotronette

Favorite Wedding Dress -Chatronette

So I know this style is not for everyone (or most people) but I’m honestly devastated that I didn’t know about this shop before I got married!  I truly may have been married in one of the dresses by Chotronette.  As an artist I absolutely love the bridal feel while giving colorful details in these vibrant flower additions.  If I ever have a big anniversary session or some other big photoshoot I may be wearing one of these in the future, so forget I showed you this.

Chotronette- link here

      5. Athena Dress by Lace and Liberty

Favorite Wedding Dress - Athena Dress

I do tend to find myself drawn toward more elaborate dresses, but when I saw this one I was blown away with how much I liked its more simple charm.  I think the front sleeves are really delicate and flattering where they hit almost off the shoulder.  This well placed slit shows a peak of leg and elongates the body while adding an appropriate amount of sexy.  The back has some added detail as well to give it more personality and I think this is an amazing choice for someone who liked a more minimalist look.

Athena Dress – link here


Look out for my Top 5 Favorite Bridesmaid Looks coming soon!


For more reading, check out these other blog posts:

Professional photographers have a lot of opportunity to be apart of communities where we can connect with and support each other no matter where you are.  It has become one of my favorite things about being a photographer over the past 11 years to be able to relate to other creative entrepreneurs and self employed artists.

One of the photographers in Nashville I highly recommend is Seth Farmer, and I recommend Hannah Farmer for your makeup/hair needs.  They are incredible people and artists and it’s been a joy to work with them on many jobs in the area.  Wedding photographers often work with a second photographer for a full wedding day and I’ve tried to use Seth whenever he is available because he is so talented.

It is so important to be able to rely on the people you work with to ensure that the job you are doing is done well.  My latest wedding in Nashville was with both Seth and Hannah and they always make sure to be professional and fun to be around.

I also recommend these two to make your photos look super hip and fashionable.  So check out their work and websites and how good they look together below!





I was suddenly totally upstaged by a better photographer for a moment who had to step in


I will miss you Nashville, but I’ll be taking a few weddings a year to keep coming back for more!

“But you can set sail to the west if you want to
And pass the horizon, ’til I can’t even see you
Far from here
Where the beaches are wide
Just leave me your wake to remember you by”


I got to meet up with Angelina at the beach this past week for a boho beach styled session.  I absolutely loved this Free People dress by the ocean that gives the images such a romantic feel.  Angelina is a cake designer so we had to show off her talent and add some sweets to the session as well!  Topsail beach has such a gorgeous feature of giving off reflections on the ground and it’s one of my favorite things about these beaches.

Moving to Hawaii - Photographer

photo by Ashley Simmons

It’s been a few months since our announcement that my husband and I will be moving to the island of Oahu in Hawaii!  Since then I’ve had a lot of friends ask me if I’ve moved yet because no one knows where I currently am.  Trust me, the moment I step foot on Hawaii (for the first time ever!) EVERYONE will know IMMEDIATELY because I will explode my social media with excitement.  Never fear.

In the mean time I’ve been splitting my time between Jacksonville,NC for my husband’s helicopter training and Nashville.

Our Arrival Date

We still don’t have a final move date because military, however it’s looking like we will be there around June 1st!  It’s been a waiting game for the date to arrive, but we’ve kept busy with some special challenges with moving onto an island.  I’m not even going to mention housing here, because it’s all military specific for us.

arrow diver

Shipping Our Cars

So… we can’t drive our cars to our new home obviously, bummer.  We will be shipping our cars over from a shipping point, and then it usually takes a few weeks to arrive.  Actually we may only be shipping one car and may sell the other. Then we’ll have to buy another one when we get there since my car isn’t that great anyway.  It costs $1000-2000 to ship a second car, the military will pay for one to be shipped over.  We’ve never sold a car before and I still need to get to out of town weddings right before our move!  So this starts the complexities!

The Hawaii Pet Quarantine


“I’ll never let go Jack, I mean Dragon”

Hawaii is rabies free!  Yay Hawaii!  However now it’s a big pain to get your pets there, but my cats are worth it.  If your pet arrives to the island without the proper tests and paperwork, they will be quarantined (in a kennel) for 120 days.  This is completely unacceptable as a cat mom so I have been vigilant about getting my kitties ready!

Bloodwork is required to be taken 4 months before arrival and sent to a lab, as well as 2 rabies vaccinations within a certain time frame and a certificate of health 10 days before arriving on the island.  Then you have to arrive at the Hawaii airport by 3:30pm otherwise the office will close and your pets have to stay in the kennel overnight!  Also the only airline that will let you take pets in the cabin and fly into Hawaii (as I understand) is Alaska airlines, but we aren’t sure if we can request this yet.



Restarting a Business

This is the most daunting task of all for me.  I’ve grown my business in Nashville and the South for years, and now I’m starting my client base completely over. Hawaii is a destination wedding location with a need for experienced wedding photographers, so I couldn’t be more thrilled!  I’m looking forward to getting started fast and creating beautiful images of Hawaii to share with new followers, as well as working hard behind the scenes to advertise and network.

There are complex and unique business/insurance rules for being self employed on Hawaii, as well as many locations requiring permits so I have my work cut out for me in this area too.  However at this point in my career I have a good idea where to start and I’m READY to take stunning island photos!  So I’ll have it all taken care of in no time!

Rae Marshall - Hawaii Wedding Photographer

photo by Seth Farmer

Learning how to live on the Island

There is a still a lot to learn, but I do know one thing: Hawaii is expensive. Moving to Oahu can sound like a dream, but in reality it would be a hard place to live if we weren’t being brought there by the military.

We are already learning which stores to shop at, how many bugs there are going to be (NO), and that I probably need to get a mermaid tail as a photography accessory!  *heart eyes*

I am honestly in awe that my life is about to change so dramatically.  I want to learn as much as I can about Hawaii to respect and honor the culture and enrich my time there.  I know that when I look back this will be one of the most memorable times in my life, so I want to absorb everything I can.  We will be here for an estimated 4 years (omg!) and I hope to look back on this blog post remembering how little I knew when I was heading out.

See you in Hawaii in June!


Oahu wedding and portrait photographer


Graystone Quarry is one of the most talked about new venues, and it was easy to see why at Max & Morgan’s stunning wedding day in Nashville!  Both the bridal and groomsmen suites are gorgeous, the ceremony and reception space classy and spacious and the rocks! The stone walls behind the venue are such a unique and fun look for photography and you can immediately tell where they were taken.  Morgan looked incredible in her lace wedding gown complimented by her bridesmaids in blush dresses.  Even though Max had a bit of an accident a few days before, these two made sure to focus on celebrating their union and everything seems to turn out just the way it was supposed to.  Check out the highlights from their wedding day below!



Hair/Makeup- Hannah Farmer

Band- Emerald Empire

Videography- Little Josh Productions

Second Photographer – Seth Farmer

Venue- Graystone Quarry

I got to stop in Huntsville and meet up with Alaina right before I head out to Hawaii at the end of May to get her Senior Portraits done.  This girl is so stunning and I loved the looks she brought with her to her session.  I loved the subtle purple streak in her hair that was not overpowering but showed a bit of extra personality!  If you are a dancer there is no question, I have to take some in your element and we ended the shoot in one of her gorgeous dance outfits.  Take a look at the highlights below!


It was an absolute treat to meet with Sharde in this gorgeous studio space in Nashville for her maternity session.  I had the privilege of photographing her wedding and later on portraits to celebrate her birthday, and she always such fun to be around!  I watched her gender reveal video and was so excited to find out the gender!

She and Donte are raising two adorable and energetic boys already, and are ecstatic to find out they are now expecting a baby GIRL *heart eyes*.  We tried out a variety of fun and unique looks for her session and I love how they turned out!  Please enjoy these highlights from her session!


It is always so much fun to see which images place in the annual photography Shoot & Share Contest!

This year there were 225,000 images submitted and 32,622,327 VOTES!

One of my favorite things about this competition is that most of the photographers I know enter, and the whole community is excited to see where they rank and get super addicting to voting for all the incredible photos people have taken around the world.

There are different categories including “the wedding couple” “details” “family” “personal work” and many more.  I had many images place in the top 30% all the way up to being a finalist!  See a selection of some of my top ranked images below 🙂


Last year one of my images placed 1st out of hundreds of thousands of images entered, see which one HERE:  First Place in the Shoot & Share Contest 2016 

“Just The Bride”




“People Portraits”


“Bridal Party”




“Personal Work”


“People Portraits”


“The Wedding Couple”


“Senior Portraits”


“Styled Shoot”


“People Portraits”


“Engagement and Couples”


“Bridal Party”


“Personal Work”



Last year one of my images placed FIRST OVERALL out of hundreds of thousands of images entered, see which one HERE:  First Place in the Shoot & Share Contest 2016 

I love that whenever I pop into Nashville there’s something going on, and for this quick visit I was able to stop by The Mitchell House in Lebanon for this incredible classic styled wedding inspiration shoot!  There were so many fantastic vendors taking part and I love this timeless set up with pops of modern inspiration, like the geometric bouquet vases and some incredible cake designs!

There were two different styles of dresses, one with a fuller look and off white, and a more boho off the shoulder style.  I couldn’t tell you which one I liked more!

Enjoy the highlights below!


Belles Fleurs http://www.bellesfleursdesigns.comhttps://www.facebook.com/BellesFleursDesigns/https://www.instagram.com/bellesfleursdesigns/
round bouquet with pinks
center pieces in the parlor

Bliss Hair Salon http://blisssalonandblowoutbar.com/oc/profile?g=1799250https://www.facebook.com/kissedbybliss

Fanciful Ink http://www.fancifulinkdesign.comhttps://www.facebook.com/fancifulink/https://www.instagram.com/fancifulink/

Green Finch Floral http://www.greenfinchfloral.comhttps://www.facebook.com/GreenFinchfloraldesign/?pnref=lhchttps://www.instagram.com/greenfinch1/
bride bouquet in vase
bouquets that were put in the geometric gold and glass holders
florals on the huge head table in the darker room

Market Basket http://marketbasketliquors.comhttps://www.facebook.com/Market-Basket-Wine-and-Liquors-11…/https://www.instagram.com/marketbaskettn/

Oh Crumbs Bakery https://www.facebook.com/ohcrumbsbakerytn/https://www.instagram.com/…/1419146161679…/oh-crumbs-bakery/

Party Providers http://www.partyproviders.comhttps://www.facebook.com/Party-Providers-Inc-1037190096809…/https://www.instagram.com/partyproviders/

Street Tuxedo https://streettuxedo.comhttps://www.facebook.com/streettux/https://www.instagram.com/streettuxedo/

Two Monkeys Vintage http://www.twomonkeysvintage.comhttps://www.facebook.com/twomonkeysvintage/https://www.instagram.com/twomonkeysvintage/

Karen Hendrix Couture http://www.karenhendrixcouture.comhttps://www.facebook.com/karenhendrixKHC/?pnref=lhchttps://www.instagram.com/karenhendrixcouture/

Mitchell House Events http://www.mitchellhouse.orghttps://www.facebook.com/MitchellHouseTN/?fref=tshttps://www.instagram.com/mitchellhousetn/

Events by Aly

Ariem Treasures ariemtreasures.comhttps://www.facebook.com/AriemTreasures/https://www.instagram.com/ariemtreasures/

Posh Bridal Couture Nashville