Anna Marie and Ryan: Maternity Session


It's crazy to think how the Lord brings people into our lives seemingly at random, that become so important to us. We have no idea how He may use an acquaintance today to shape our lives in the years to come! Anna and Ryan have been those friends for us. Jill and Anna met through our mutual best friend and wedding photographer Katelyn, and over the years the Akins have become some of our dearest friends! Anna and Ryan are probably the most servant hearted people on planet earth, add to that their creativity, boldness, and wisdom, there's a word for that now-a-days- POWER COUPLE! 

We were so honored to have the chance to shoot maternity portraits for Anna and Ryan on a rare, snowy day this winter! Jill has loved shooting more farm sessions at Big Spring recently! We are SO excited for baby Akins, and continue to pray for health and faith over this growing family!



Featured: Grey Likes Wedding

Ya'll, we've been lookin forward to sharing this gorgeous wedding with you for some time! What an honor it is to have been featured by Grey Likes Weddings! It was truly a magnificent day for a wonderful couple! Enjoy!


Photography: Kathryn Ivy Photography | |Wedding Gown:  Hayley Paige purchased at Annalise Bridal | Shoes: Anne Klein | Hair & Makeup:  BooBoo Shears and Beauty Sense | Florist: University Florist | Printed Ribbon: The Lonely Heart | Wedding Planning: A Little Party Events | DJ: Music of the Times | Bar: Cozy Caravan Club | Donuts: Blue Ridge Bagels | Catering: Allman’s BBQ | Invitations: Carlson Craf | Second Shooter:  Alex C. Tenser Photography

Planning with Ease: Four tips to lower wedding planning stress

Hi Ya'll, It's Mary Margaret, director of Client Care and Marketing, here again and I'm so glad you're back! We've got another helpful post for you today!

If you read our last post, A letter to the new Fiancée, then you might have had a blissful week of engagement! You celebrated with your fiancé and put the wedding planning book aside. But now it's a new week and you can't put the planning off forever, or maybe you're anxious to get back at it!  So, now you're thinking, "all those tips you mentioned were great, but I've got to plan a wedding eventually. How do I do this and not have an anxiety attack?" 

Well, I can't promise no anxiety, but I can give you some guidance on keeping planning low stress.  Let's first acknowledge, that not everyone is coming from the same situation. Each bride that comes across this post has a one-of-kind, unique story that comes with it's own individual complications and relationships. I don't know all the stories and I don't know all the details that may make planning your wedding hard, but I think a little perspective shift might just do the trick, or at least help. 

So I have a question for you. What is most important to you about your wedding day? Is it the food? The dancing? The company? Or is it something entirely different? My guess is something comes to mind when I ask you that question. And for many of us, the answer isn't, " to get married and celebrate our new life together."

Ladies, that just might be part of the problem.

What is the true goal of a wedding? To get married right? I think a lot us, I was right there too, get so lost in creating out "dream" wedding, that we stress ourselves out! We make everything a big deal, because in our culture, it is a big deal. Don't get me wrong, getting married is a huge deal, but does planning it have to be? I think too many of us get distracted by all the little details, or the latest trends, or what other people are telling us we should do. 

Y'all, I confess, this totally happened for me. I really wanted to have the most beautiful wedding. I wanted it to be magazine perfect and secretly hoped that my wedding would be featured in one. That kind of thinking applies pressure and it takes your eye off the ball,  creating a wedding that celebrates you and your fiancé, your personalities, your relationship, your story. My husband and I did have a beautiful wedding, though you won't see it in any magazine. In the end, it was perfect, for us. 

So, how do you plan a wedding that tells your story without getting distracted by all the things?

First, keep your eye on the prize. Forgive me for the cliché, but it's true. Focus, focus, focus, on what really matters, you're getting married!! What a wonderful, exciting event!! Things will likely go wrong, something will likely not be exactly as you imagined, but if, at the end of the day, you are married, then, my friend, it was a joyful, joyful day! In your mind, set your goal to get married and celebrate! That's it! Repeat this in you head when you start heading for the distracted places. Tell your maid of honor, your mother, your planner, whoever is helping you, so that they can remind you when things get more complicated. You won't regret it!

Figure out what matters to you. It's just too much to try to make it all perfect. Pick two or three things to really invest in emotionally or financially. What three things do you care about the most?  For me it was flowers, venue, and our legacy table. These were the things I invested my time, energy, and heart into. Then, with everything else, just make the best decision you can with what you have. For some, food is a hill for them to die on, while others care about the music or photographer.

Figure out what matters to your fiancé and let him be in charge of it! If he really wants a certain type of music or a particular suit, let him take charge. A lot of men do want to be involved, they just don't always know how. Plus, it gives you another area to take off your plate. My husband is a music guy, so I let him research the playlists, make a lists of songs, and choose the DJ! It was the best. I still had input, but he was coming to me with ideas first! It was great!

Let go of the trends. Does anyone else get tired trying to keep up with the latest styles? They seem to change so much! Four years ago blush was all the rage and now there is a surge of lavenders and dusty blues. Whether you like to keep up with the trends, or actively fight them, try not to let them influence you! If you love red, then goodness, let your bridesmaids wear red! Don't force yourself into a color palette, style, or taste that isn't you. You'll be so much happier if you make decisions that fit you, rather than trying to follow (or fight) the mainstream style. 

At the end of the day friends, you have one goal, to marry your best friend and celebrate!  Our hope is that is exactly what you get to do! No matter the size, style, or feel of your wedding, we want you to have fun, to celebrate with your people, and to be married.  Remember this.  We can't promise that all the stress will melt away, but we truly believe focusing on what matters can relieve it. 

With love and joy, 

Mary Margaret

A letter to the new Fianceé

Dear Newly Crowned Fiancé,

Congratulations! You have entered into a uniquely beautiful season of life and it feels like there is so much to do! You may still be on cloud nine, simply enjoying the bliss of engagement. You likely still pause every few hours to glance down and admire the sparkling ring that graces your finger. Or, you may have already kicked it into high, wedding planning gear with the notebook, Pinterest page, and Knot timeline. Or maybe—you're so overwhelmed you haven't even thought about where to begin. Instead, you just drink your wine and browse the internet for new workouts, recipes, or book recommendations.

Wherever you are in your wedding planning, take a deep breath and hang with me a few minutes. You won’t regret it.

Here's what I want you to know: you are standing in a beautiful moment in time. A crossroads. Ahead of you lies an adventure. Yes, an adventure. Our culture tells us that marriage is "settling down," “boring,” "uneventful,” that "gone are the days of fun and freedom". BUT, that is a LIE. Marriage is a life-long journey of becoming one with your spouse, of sacrificing, discovering, growing, and changing. Really, it’s a beginning, not an end.

So, instead of jumping right in to planning mode, or running in the other direction because you're overwhelmed—here are some tangible things to enjoy your engagement, rather than stressing the to-do list.

  1. Give yourself time. You don't have to start right away. It's really, truly okay to wait a week or two before you start figuring out the "big" wedding decisions. Start simple. Set a time frame: maybe it needs to a be a week or a weekend, but make a concrete decision about when you will "start" the wedding planning. Then,  put down the notebook. You heard me. Put it down. Delete the Pinterest app and get off Instagram. Take that time to celebrate your engagement and enjoy your FIANCÉ!

  2. Write down your engagement story. I have a historical soul, so anything that marks history, especially mine, makes my heart leap. Take 30 minutes or so to write down the full story of how he proposed. This is a great way to slow down your heart and mind and celebrate the news, rather than jumping to the next step. Plus, future you will be so glad you have a fresh, clear account of one of the best days of your life!

  3. Go on a date. Yes, remember those? I'm not sure when exactly it happens, but it happens to all of us. One day, your dating life feels less about dates and more about what you're going to watch on Netflix tonight. So, instead of re-watching another episode of the Office (#tbt: this is my husband and me every night) and scrolling on your phone, go out and be together. Go to dinner and talk about the proposal. Ask him all the juicy details, when did he start planning? Who helped him plan? Did he ask your Dad? How did that go? What is he most most excited about? What are you most excited about? What makes you both nervous or apprehensive?

  4. Go get a manicure. You may have already done this one, you know, the day you got engaged. But, if it's been a while, there is no harm in getting another one! People won't be asking to see your hand forever, so you might as well give yourself some extra pampering! This will give you yet another moment to relax and enjoy. Plus, it's a great excuse to stare at that beautiful ring again!

  5. Celebrate with friends. The best way to cherish a moment, at least to this extrovert, is to gather the people you love and share the joy and excitement together! There's no recipe here! Half-priced margarita night with your group of people, or wine and chocolate at home with the girls! Both will do the trick.

  6. Lastly, and this might be my favorite, listen to other people's stories. Call up your Grandma and ask her how your grandpa proposed. Let your colleagues at work tell you their stories over lunch.  Ask your mom, your neighbor, your mentor, your girlfriends. Whoever you care about, ask to hear their stories and actually listen. The danger of engagement is that we can become solely focused on our own life and forget about the ones we hold dear. Listening to their stories will help you cherish your own, while also loving them well. Not to mention, it's just plain fun!

Friend, look at where you sit: you're at the crossroads of now and the rest of your life. This time of excitement and anticipation is something you don't get back. So enjoy it. Take some time to just be and look lovingly at you're fiancé and rest in the joy that you get each other, for the rest of your lives.

Ferris Bueller said it well,

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”


With love and joy,

A woman who's been where you are

Rachel and Kevin: A Californian Style Farm Wedding

We have another gorgeous wedding to share with you today! Rachel and Kevin got married back in September and it was the most beautiful day! Their wedding was the perfect blend of their Virginia roots with their California style! With a stunningly, simply, modern dress, from Lena Medoyeff Bridal, Kevin's handsome, classic navy suit, and perfectly modern details their images are sure to not disappoint! We loved Rachel's East coast meets West coast bouquet, by Bloom Floral Design, and not to mention the dramatic black and white color scheme that filled the barn. There is not a detail that went overlooked! Many thanks to the wonderful Ashley Cox for sharing her images with us and to Lauren at For the Love of Love for making sure the day ran flawlessly!  


Planner: For Love of Love | Caterer: The Local | Photographer: Ashley P. Cox Photography | Florist: Bloom Floral Design | Hair Stylist and Makeup: Daphne Latham | Rentals: MS Rentals | Cake: Sweet Treats Bakery

Jen and Drew: A Black Tie Wedding

We still can't believe our 2017 wedding season has come to a close! What a great season it was! Today, we're sharing one of our favorites from this summer! Jen and Drew's day was just perfect! The weather was beautiful and Jen and her planne , Brooke, of AMAVI Events planned the most beautiful details. We loved the sparkly bridesmaids' dresses, full tuxedos, and of course Jen's stunning gown! You'll love this sophisticated, black tie wedding! Stacey Windsor Photography, thank you so much for capturing the day and sharing your talent with us all!


Planner: AMAVI Wedding Events & Coordination |Caterer: CHEFS Catering |Photographer: Stacey Windsor Photography | Videographer: T. Miller Films | Florist: Weavers Flowers |DJ: King Studios | Hair Stylist: Laura Ianiero | Make- up: Miranda Paige Beauty | Rentals: Festive Fare Rentals | Cake: Sweet Treats Bakery

Cozy Fall Engagement: Justine and RJ

It's finally starting to feel like fall around here and we're all over the moon about it! The mornings are crisp and prompt us to bring out our boots, beanies, and vests! Then, by the afternoon the sun is out and it's a perfect 70 degrees! There is nothing quite like fall in the mountains and we're embracing it with all we've got! So, to celebrate the arrival of cool temperatures and crunchy leaves, we're sharing one of our favorite fall sessions! 

Jill, of Jillian Michelle Photography, photographed Justine and RJ's engagements at the farm back in 2015! With some help from Michelle Amarillo, it was the perfect cozy session! You're going to love the fall colors, warm light, and the flannel! And if you missed it,  their beautiful Summer Wedding, is on the blog! 


Corrin and MJ

We have such a beautiful wedding to share with you today! Corrin and MJ are the sweetest couple and their day was full of so much love, joy, and not mention fun! Corrin is a wedding photographer and you can bet she thought of every detail. From breathtaking florals to the elegant invitations, and special touches, like the sign that read, " I will walk 500 miles and I will walk 500 more," everything was perfect. We are so grateful to provide the backdrop for Corrin and MJ's day! You're going to love these images from Natalie Jayne Photography! Enjoy! 

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Wedding Planner: One Sweet Day in May | Caterer: CHEFS Catering | Photography: Natalie Jayne Photography | Florist: One Sweet Day in May | DJ/Band: DJ Squirrel | Hair Stylist: Hello Darling Beauty | Event Rentals: MS Events

Ryan and Morgan

We have another beautiful wedding for you today! Morgan and Ryan's day was stunning, with so much soft beauty and sweet moments, like when Morgan paused to give her dad an extra hug, or when Morgan and Ryan shared a no peek first look. There was no doubt that love was all around for Ryan and Morgan. We are so honored to have been a part of it! Enjoy!


John and Kaylee

Happy Friday! Today's blog is so exciting for us because we are sharing my younger brother John and his wife Kaylee's wedding day at the farm! So many of our dear friends in the industry came together to make this day seriously, unforgettable! Annamarie Akins AND  Katelyn James  captured the day on photo, the Herrintons made an AMAZING highlight video of the day, and one of our favorite people and most phenomenal caterers, John Stallard from CHEFS Catering provided the perfect menu. Each vendor gave their time and talents and for that we are so grateful! 
I also had the honor of being John's best man. He was mine on my wedding day, and so now 6 years later, it was surreal to be standing next to John as Kaylee came down the aisle. Jill and I will always be here for you two, to love and support and grow together! What a fun celebration we had back in July, and it is only the beginning of a lifetime of adventure! 

So without further ado, here are a few of our favorite moments from the day. 


Cheers to John and Kaylee!

Buddy- Owner Big Spring Event Co.


Wedding Props: Farm Tables

We love farm tables! I mean who doesn't? There are so many different ways you can utilize this beautiful prop for your wedding day! We have a total of four farm tables available to our couples at Big Spring. Today, we're going to share about our three farm tables that come with an extra dose of character. Two of these tables have a dark wood top, with blue legs. These are some of our favorites because they add so much interest to the space. Our other table is a light wood stain top, with classic white legs, which is another favorite. 

We love how couples use these tables to best fit their needs and personality! We've had farm tables display family legacy photos, desserts, and gifts. Couples have chosen to use a farm table as their sweetheart table, or pushed them together to form a head table for their bridal party! Indoor or outdoor, seating or display, these props are a home run for sure!

 Kathryn Ivy Photography

Kathryn Ivy Photography

Big Spring's Backyard: Haywood's Piano Bar

It's been a while since we've posted about one of our favorite local places here in Lexington, VA! We love this little town so much we just want to share all the charming, hospitable goodness with you! It can be so hard to pick what to share with you, but this week we're giving you a run down of one of our favorite date night worthy restaurants, Haywood's Piano Bar!

If the mention of Piano Bar didn't win you over, the menu certainly will! Haywood's offers a variety of elegant American fare with great appetizers as well as main courses. Start your evening with a Brand New Classic Cocktails, which offers modern twists on classic drinks you love. You can't go wrong with Braised Short Rib and Mac and Cheese for the table, or the Autumn Olive Pork Belly! As for the main course, the options make decision making oh so difficult. Iron skillet fried chicken, Maple glazed grilled Salmon, Pan-Seared Shrimp and Grits, and a classic house cut Filet Mignon are some of our very favorites! 

As if the menu wasn't enough, the atmosphere at Haywood's cannot be matched! You'll love the modern design in the historic corner building on main street, where you can admire Lexington from your table while enjoying the talents of various local musicians. Most nights you can here professors enjoying a glass of wine as they debate critical topics in their expertise, admire a couple celebrating a special anniversary (or a night with out the kids!). And not to mention, benefit from the contagious laughter of patrons who wander in to enjoy a drink and music with some sweet friends! 

Nick and Chloe

Guys, I'm so excited to share this wedding with you! Nick and Chloe got marred at the farm back in May and it was absolutely beautiful! I loved the soft, romantic style that graced the entire event. From the bridesmaids dresses, to the flowers, to the rolling hills, it was all stunning. Brett and Jessica Photography captured every moment so beautifully it was difficult to only share a few! 

Planner: Tina Lane Events | Caterer: CaterThis! | Photographer: Brett and Jessica Photography | Videographer: The Family Films | Florist: Petal Flower Company | DJ: DJ Harvell | Hair Stylist: Carolina Lamb | Make-up: Taylor Willard | Rentals: Festive Fare



Jennifer and Mikey

It's been a big year for family Weddings. If you saw last weeks blog post you know, my little brother just got married at the farm, and earlier this year we had two more family weddings!! Today I want to share a little bit from my cousin Mikey's wedding!

Mikey and Jennifer grew up in the same town, went to the same schools, but it wasn't until Jen went off to college that Mikey and Jenny became a thing. After moving together from New Jersey, to Alabama, and finally to the great commonwealth of Virginia, the two tied the knot here at the farm. People often ask about what rainy day weddings look like at the farm, well this one was rainy, and it's one of our absolute favorites of all our weddings!! The smell of lavender was in the air, and the barn has never looked better with farm tables, and gorgeous florals from Amanda Veronee. Here's a peak into this gorgeous day!! Congratulations Mikey and Jennifer!! 

John and Kaylee

I can't believe the big weekend is finally here!! My younger brother John and his beautiful fiance Kaylee will be tying the knot tomorrow at Big Spring. It's such a surreal and great honor that they chose to spend such a special day here at the farm, and we could not be happier for them!! Blessings on you two as you begin the adventure of marriage together! The Lord will do more than you could ask or imagine through each of you and the covenantal relationship that you are entering into, so enjoy and hold on tight!!!

Love always,
Buddy, Jill, and Knox

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Big Spring's Backyard: Devil's Backbone Outpost

One of the things that is great about this area is all the wineries and breweries that are based in the Blue Ridge Mountains! When my husband and I first moved here, I remember it was one of the first things that Buddy shared with us! He was so excited to tell us about all the great places in the area to get a cold brew or a nice glass of wine! We quickly fell in love with that aspect of our town too! One of our favorite breweries is located right here in Rockbridge county only four short miles from town. 

Devil's Backbone Outpost is the  bottling location for the Devil's Backbone brand. Most people are familiar with Devil's Backbone Base camp, located in Nelson County,  but few know of the brewery location that lies 60 miles west. Devil's Backbone is home to more than 15 draft beers, with brewery tours, flights, and growlers, it's the perfect place to share a drink with your buddies. They have everything from food truckts o trivia, to live music on their agenda. It truly is the place to be on any given night. You can find locals hanging out after work, or getting together for a meeting in the taproom. 

We feel like one rule of thumb when it comes to trying new places, is that you can't go wrong when you head out to where the locals go! And that's definitely true for the taproom! Devil's Backbone is the perfect place for a groom and his men to spend the day before their wedding! You can start your afternoon with lunch in town, or check out the schedule for food truck times at the brewery. Then, head on in for a tour and a flight! For earlier weddings, head on out before the rehearsal the day before for the same great experience! Check out some photos from our latest visit and don't forget to drop by on your next day in town!

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Will and Leah

Last September, Will and Leah tied that knot at the farm and it was an unforgettable day! Will and Leah are such a fun and joyful couple! Everywhere you looked there was lots of laughter and big smiles. You could tell that everyone was excited for this sweet couple and couldn't help but celebrate the day with them. Not only was the day fun, but it truly was beautiful! I mean, there was even a perfect rainbow right before sunset! It doesn't get much better than that! Check out these images by Jillian Michelle Photoggraphy , we think you'll love them!

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Big Spring's Backyard: Natural Bridge

Big Spring in located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Most of you know that the property is surrounded by mountain views and green pastures. But what you may not have heard about is how great Lexington and Rockbridge County truly are. We found a gem when we moved here. We love it so much that we're regularly trying to convince all our friends to move here too! And we've gotten pretty close so far!

Today is the first of many show casing our favorite small town in a new blog series called, Big Spring's Backyard. There is so much to offer here, great food, beautiful views, local beer, historical sites and more! We'll be sharing some of our favorite things about Lexington and Rockbridge County that will make you never want to leave!

First, we want to start with our county's namesake, Natural Bridge. Only 20 minutes from main street Lexington, the state park is located in Natural Bridge, Virginia. Tourists travel from far and wide to see this natural wonder that's located right in our back yard! 

The history of the bridge is fascinating. The legend of the Monocan Indians claims that the bridge appeared just as they needed it to escape from their enemy, calling it a miracle. It is believed that George Washington surveyed the land for Lord Fairfax in the 1750s. If you look closely, you can even see the initials GW carved on rock under the bridge. Furthermore, the bridge was owned by Thomas Jefferson until his heirs sold it in the 1800s!

This park makes a great morning trip. Once you arrive, the bridge is only a short declining walk down to the river bed that flows under the huge stone arch. The park also includes Cedar Creek trail, a short 1 mile walk through the bridge. Stop and learn about Native American life at the Monocan Village, admire the creek, caves, and finish at Lace Falls. End the morning with lunch and you have yourself a beautiful day trip. Natural Bridge is the perfect activity for out of town guests, or to experience together as a newly married couple following your big day!

You've got to check out this Wonder of the World for yourself!! In the meantime, enjoy some of our pictures from our latest visit!