Hi friends! I’m so excited to share our 2018 East Coast road trip with you this week! We travelled 2600+ miles through 11 states to have some fun and do some sessions! From Florida to Roanoke, New Jersey back down to Richmond, we saw it all.
Jack took the first leg of the tour with me as we travelled through Roanoke. We left at six in the morning on Monday! Jack’s family is from the Roanoke area, so it was amazing to see his side of everything! His family owns and lives on an apple orchard in Boone’s Mill. They also have a GORGEOUS wedding venue on property! Exploring this land was a dream (except for an encounter with Charlie the Snake). I was finally able to meet some of his family and we had a wonderful dinner together. Food is a recurring theme throughout this trip. We also visited the Roanoke Star, thanks to a suggestion from longtime friend and former co-worker, Skyler! We hiked the Star Trail and drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hailing from New Jersey, I was familiar with the mountainous areas, but my goodness was this breathtaking.
After a wonderful but brief 2 nights in Roanoke, we set out to my homeland of New Jersey on Wednesday. Our first stop was to visit my former neighbors and my brother’s god-family! Tony and Sarah are the biggest photographers in the Sparta area and have taught me most of what I know today (thanks, guys!!). They graciously agreed to photograph Jack and I for our three-year anniversary. Check out Anthony Ziccardi Studios! We went out to my aunt and uncle’s 50 acres of farm and had an amazing session. I finally got to meet their sweet kids and we all had a delicious meal from my aunt. I had not seen Sarah since I was nine years old and hadn’t seen my aunt or uncle for eight years, so it was great to catch up and see everyone. Jack had to fly back to Orlando on Thursday morning for work, but I was able to spend the day with Sarah learning more about her business and even got to bring some new stuff back for us!
Later that day, I met our dear family friend, Nancy, at Friendly’s for lunch. It is a guilty pleasure of ours! Nancy has known me since I was born, working in the church office with my mom. She has always been close to our hearts and it was great to bond with her as an adult. Grey’s Anatomy was a huge turning point in our conversation at lunch! After lunch, we set out to her daughter Lisa’s house. Lisa’s daughter, Ella, was turning one in May and we kicked off the back to back session weekend with a cake smash! Ella was so adorable and loved the balloons and cake. Check out her blog here!
On Friday morning, I set out to the Appalachian Trail to meet with my cousin, Steven, and his fiancé, Annmarie. They became engaged on Christmas and we set up a time to do their engagement photos while I was up there! They had such gorgeous lighting and a beautiful sunrise session. We caught up over breakfast afterwards. It was a quick but wonderful visit with the two of them!
I started my driving journey alone on Friday afternoon, heading to Phillipsburg to see my own god-family. The last time I was at the family Christmas tree farm was in 2015 during my Virginia Repertory Theatre internship. Jack and I drove up for Fourth of July festivities. As soon as I walked in to the house, it was like no time had passed and felt like home. My godmother, Justine, was cooking my favorite meal for dinner (ravioli!) and the smell of the sauce hit me when I entered the kitchen. I was super excited for my session with my godsister, Laura, but I was also really excited to devour that meal. Laura and I set out on an adventure into Pennsylvania for her session. She was so confident and gorgeous! The little town we were in was so cute was well. She killed it! We also explored Phillipsburg briefly and Laura was a rockstar in her heels. You’ll have to wait for her blog to see why!
We got back to the house and sat down for dinner. Stories were shared and the laughter was immense. I hadn’t been so happy in a long time! I also may have learned too much about my mom, as her and Justine are best friends! Laura said they had a special dessert and turned the lights off. I didn’t really know what was happening, but soon realized that we were in fact in the month of May, my birth month. Laura made me a special peanut butter and banana pie for my birthday! I was in shock and so thankful for them. I also could not blow out four candles, which is super embarrassing. Hey, it was a long week. When the festivities were over and hugs were given, I headed out with so much joy in my heart and started the journey to the real reason I was on the trip: Washington, DC.
I originally planned this trip as an anniversary trip for Jack and I. Directly after starting the plans, I was contacted by a former bride and groom’s sister about her wedding in September. Nicole was getting married to Mike and loved the work from her brother’s wedding. She booked me for her wedding in Virginia and we scheduled her complimentary engagement session for Washington DC as they live in the area and love the monuments.
I drove from Phillipsburg to Washington DC by myself on Friday night and woke up at 4AM to have a sunrise session with them at the National Mall. I’m not going to go into too much detail as it is being saved for their blog, but what looked like a rainy adventure turned into a gorgeous day with no one in sight. They are such a fun and loving couple and I am so excited to photograph their wedding in September with Jack!
When the engagement session ended, I headed to one of my favorite cities in the country, Richmond, Virginia. As I mentioned earlier, I was an electrics intern there back in 2015. I also made my closest friends to date when living there. It was definitely a stop I needed to make. When I arrived in Richmond, I stopped to see my former boss, BJ, and do a quick mini session with his family! I only got to see them for a few minutes (so there is no picture of the 5 of us), but it was a wonderful visit to say the least! His kids are so cute and fun!
The last stop, and my sleeping place for the night, was to see Skyler and Rachel. I was in Richmond last year for their wedding, but this time we were able to hang out one on one, right before their first wedding anniversary. Skyler was the electrics apprentice when I was doing my internship and the two of us became close friends. More like a brother-sister relationship I would say! I visited their new house while I was up there and it was the most relaxing part of my trip. From grocery store trips to nachos and drinks for Cinco de Mayo, to watching comedy shows and tv aquariums, the fun never stopped. We went to dinner in Cary town and had Sweet Frog to end the night (cash back on Rachel’s card is always an appropriate excuse for Sweet Frog). We had so much fun and laughter that we also forgot to take a picture. But here are two from their wedding last May!
Overall, this trip was an amazing experience. I had some great sessions, got to catch up with awesome friends and family, and had about 36 hours of sleep total. I cannot thank everyone enough for their generosity and love on my adventure. Until next time, friends.