It’s true. Hosting weddings remains, bar none, one of the most personally satisfying aspects of being the innkeeper at the Inn at Warner Hall. To have a couple choose us, choose Warner Hall, and choose our plantation grounds, to start the next chapter of the rest of their lives together is humbling, to say the least. And the very least we can do is make every detail, every second, the most memorable it can be. Ask our talented Warner Hall team, and they’ll tell you, I truly say before each event, “remember…this is the most important day of their lives. Let’s make it memorable.”
But for us, and the families who unite in each ceremony, the day goes far beyond the date itself. Each ceremony, every celebration, is memorialized by talented, hard-working photographers.
The wedding ceremony may be the first moment that publicly affirms a couple’s future together, but the wedding photographs are the most enduring.
We’ve enjoyed hosting many incredibly skilled photographers during the hundreds of weddings we have held, and many of the photographers return again and again.
That includes the talented Michael and Carina Bethea of Michael and Carina Photography.
Based right across the York River from Gloucester in Yorktown, Va., their work is captivating and has been featured in some of the top wedding and bridal publications, including: Southern Weddings; Bride Magazine; The Knot; Style Me Pretty; Wedding Sparrow; Magnolia Rouge; Belle Lumiere; Elizabeth Anne Designs; Once Wed; Hochzeitswahn; Hochzeitsguide; and others.
Michael and Carina have their own unique story of how they met, fell in love and chased their dreams together. They became pen pals via an international pen pal service in 2003 — Michael lived in Germany and Carina lived in America — when they were in their teens. They met after Michael’s mother allowed him to travel to America to see Carina in real life for the first time. It was a trip that would become a trip of a lifetime, one that he told me it took him a year to save for.
They had a long-distance relationship for five years, visiting every six to eight months, before eloping and moving to Europe. They lived in Europe for four years before moving back to the U.S. in 2012.
And then they started their professional lives together, documenting others’ love stories.
Their absolute favorite thing about wedding photography they say is creating beautiful images that tell stories.
“The emotional significance and legacy of what we create is what drives us to do what we do,” they said.
Their travels led to a love of photography as they documented their trips from Egypt to England.
“However, what really drew us to wedding photography is this beautiful mixture of romance, history and beauty that is associated with weddings. Behind each wedding is a unique story waiting to be translated into the celebration that is the wedding itself. Creating photographs, heirlooms really, for our couples with our own signature style that documents all of that — it’s such a thrilling challenge.”
Their work is the pursuit of light.
“I love the line from the Leonard Cohen song, `Anthem,’” Carina told me. “`There’s a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.’ We love finding that `perfect light’ and creating something within that space to capture on medium format film.”
Their goal, they said, is overcoming the challenge of zoning out all of the `noise’ of life — the competition of social media and other distractions to focus on photographing something for themselves and creating something beautiful.
“When we do, we create something that feels unique and new to us that’s special,” they told me. “We feel making this a regular practice helps us be the best for our clients and our clients deserve only the best.”
There’s one more thing they told me that I love. I asked them what it’s like to work together.
Here’s what they said: “Every day is absolutely beautiful. I can’t say enough how wonderful it is.”