National & State Park Wedding Inspiration

Categories Ceremony + Inspiration + Reception

Majestic trees. Exotic wildlife. Rushing rivers and pristine ponds. There’s just something magical—and quintessentially American—about our national and state parks.

National and State Park Wedding Inspiration

If you’re still deciding on a venue for your wedding—or even your engagement session—it might be worth checking out our national and state parks. From picturesque backdrops to rustic elegance, each park offers an array of unique perks for today’s brides and grooms.

And since it’s Independence Week, we’re also highlighting another wonderful engagement/wedding venue idea: our national monuments and landmarks.

Perk #1: Stunning Backdrops & Photo Ops

Stunning Backdrops - National and State Park Wedding Inspiration

Glowing sunsets over horizons, lush greenery and treescapes…there’s no denying the amazing backdrops that parks and historic sites can offer. And, depending on the season, you can choose from a variety of palettes—from wintry whites (oh-so-romantic), and autumn hues to earth-tone radiance of spring and summer.

Perk #2: Built-in Decor

Allaire State Park - John Defiora Photography

Tree slabs, acorn favors…sure, these are adorable to use, but nothing beats the real thing! If you love rustic, natural decor, then a national or state park is perfect for you. With such a wonderland of colors, textures, and beauty all around, you can keep decor (or props, for engagements) to a minimum. And with Mother Nature providing all the decorations, you’ll be able to save loads of money (and stress!).

Perk #3: Indoor and Outdoor Options

Indoor and Outdoor Options for a Park Wedding

Whether your’e worried about weather (or getting a friendly visit from a bear), many parks and monuments offer both indoor and outdoor options for the ceremony and reception. (The same holds true for engagement sessions.) Many parks have on-site lodges, complete with dining halls that can be dressed up, or dressed down, to fit your style and taste. If you’re heart is set on an outdoor wedding, you can check with the park to see if tents, canopies, or other coverings are allowed on-site.

For more inspiration:

  • Check out National and State Park Wedding Ideasover on our website
  • Browse some of our past blog couples who have celebrated their engagement and/or wedding at a park, monument, or landmark:

Jessica and Darian’s Engagement Session at Allaire State Park

Allaire State Park Engagement Session


Marsha and Andrew’s E-Session at Dismals Canyon (National Natural Landmark)

Dismals Canyon - Amanda House Photography


 John and Dianne’s E-Session at Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Memorial

Washington DC Engagement Session


Hannah and Dale’s Engagement Shoot at Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove Beach E-Session


Mallory and Cody’s E-Session at Fountainebleau State Park

Fountainbleau State Park E-Session


Hope everyone has a great Fourth of July!

Rachel for MagnetStreet Weddings

 Rachel for MagnetStreet Weddings

Image Source:

Yosemite Valley Chapel, Kenny Karst/DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.; Winter wedding at Sequoia National Park, Dez and Tam Photography; Ahwahnee Dining Room at Yosemite National Park, DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.

Post your comment

Military Engagement Session with Props

Categories Real Weddings + Wedding Planning

Today marks our third and final in a series of couples using props in their engagement photos. We’re fans! From story telling to hobby sharing, using props gives your session focus, offers a sweet respite from awkward posing and simply adds visual interest to the photo shoot. Here are 5 reasons in favor of using props.

Head over Heels in Love. Today’s military-themed engagement shoot was captured by Blue Mason Photography at The Factory of Franklin, in Franklin, TN. Amanda and Theo clearly had a blast shooting photos and using all kinds of props–military and otherwise. Adorable through and through–Amanda and Theo were also kind enough to share some of their love story with us too. Enjoy!

Military engagement photos + props by Blue Mason Photography

ON THEO from Amanda

“After months of hearing amazing things about Theodore during my junior year of college when I finally met him, let’s just say it was not love at first sight! For lots of reasons (especially because I had just gotten out of a serious relationship), he just didn’t seem like “my type.”

I have never been more wrong.

From the moment he asked me out for our first date, I was hooked. From his quirky sense of humor, never ending patience, and endless love, three years later I am still head over heels in love with my soon-to-be husband! We have overcome many obstacles and military life resulting in a long distance relationship, but we both agree these trials have strengthened our love more than we could have ever imagined! Counting down the days until I become Mrs. Spanoudis!”

Military engagement photos + props by Blue Mason Photography

Military-themed engagement photos by Blue Mason Photography

Military style engagement session with props: Blue Mason Photography

ON AMANDA from Theo

“When I first met Amanda, I was at a low point in my life.  I will not bore you with the details, but suffice it to say I had no clear direction–I was simply going through the motions. The night that she first came over to my house, I found her so intriguing.  She was unlike any girl I had ever met. She was genuine, opinionated, obviously fun loving, and most of all gorgeous. From that initial interaction with her, I knew I had to have her. The only problem was, unbeknownst to me at the time, she had none of the same feelings. My Spanoudis charm must have won over though because she agreed to a date with me. The more I learned about Amanda, the more inspired I became. She was so confident, goal oriented and responsible. I knew that if I was going to keep her in my life, I had to become so much more than I was. I had to become a man that was deserving of her. She became my motivation and my direction. She gave me goals again. I knew I needed to do something bigger than myself, something that challenged me, which led me on the path I am on today in pursuing my Green Beret. I fully believe that I would not be where I am today without the inspiration, love and support Amanda has provided me. I love Amanda for all that she is and I will happily and whole-heartedly, be giving every part of me for the rest of my life to repay what she has given to me.”

Military engagement photos

Military engagement photos + props by Blue Mason Photography

Military engagement photos + props by Blue Mason Photography

Military-themed engagement photos by Blue Mason Photography

Congratulations Amanda and Theo! Thanks so much for sharing your day, love story and of course, your service to the country!!

Photographer:  Blue Mason Photography
Submitted via Two Bright Lights

1 comment

Erin & Austin’s 10-Year Anniversary Sesh

Categories Photography + Real Weddings

We LOVE {to infinity} Erin and Austin’s 10 year anniversary session! Captured in their photos and in their words, it is obvious that they are still truly, madly, deeply in love with each other. Erin and Austin are also a military couple–with additional stresses that most of us can only imagine. That said, their humility is commendable and their love and respect for each other is a terrific testimony for a lasting marriage. Let’s all take note! Much thanks to Erin and Austin for sharing their story and to Amanda Hedgepeth Photography for sharing their story in pictures. Enjoy!

Meet Erin and Austin:


10 years and clearly, you’re still going strong! Care to share your secret?

{Erin} These past 10 years have not always been easy. We have been separated more than we have been together (Austin is in the Navy). When we got married, we promised to love each other through thick and thin, for better or for worse. Divorce has NEVER been an option, giving up has NEVER been an option either. We have always worked through every bad situation life has thrown at us–from being broke to being separated on and off for 4 years. We have never given up on us!

10 year anniversary session

Virginia Beach photos


So fun and clever, where did your idea for having an anniversary session come from?

{Erin} We did not have a professional photographer at our wedding 10 years ago. We have one “nice” photo of the two of us on our wedding day. We really wanted to do something special for us to celebrate, so we thought an anniversary session would be the best way to celebrate our 10 years!

Virginia Beach anniversary session

Can you tell us a little about why you chose Virginia Beach as the location?

{Erin} We chose VA Beach as the location because that is where we met. I asked Amanda if she would take a photo of us on the exact corner that we met each other on … 21st and Pacific is where it all started!

Erin and Austin's 10 year anniversary session

VA Beach photograpy

Austin, what is it that you still love most about Erin—after 10 years?

Well if I had to boil it down to one thing it would be her sense of humor and her ability to deal with mine. She is still able to laugh at my stupidity after this long and I appreciate that more than anything.

Erin, what is it that you still love most about Austin—after 10 years?

There are so many things that I love about Austin. He makes me happy. He can always make me laugh. He supports me on everything, he believes in me … he has never given up on me or lost faith in us. AND…he is an AMAZING daddy!!! There is nothing sexier than watching your hubby become an amazing father!! :) :) :) Hubba hubba!!

Virginia Beach photographer

What is your favorite thing to do together?

{Erin} Our favorite thing to do together is to snuggle on the couch and watch movies–even though I always fall asleep because I don’t like the movies Austin chooses!! haha

How has life changed for you—since you got married?

{Erin} KIDS!!! We have 3 amazing kids!! We were not even married for a year when we got pregnant with our first and only son. Kids have been the biggest but most exciting change so far.


Erin and Austin, dressed in their wedding attire …
Please share your favorite memory from your wedding day?

{Austin} My beautiful wife walking up the step in her dress.

{Erin} Austin pretended that he lost my ring. He didn’t lose it–he just gave it to one of his groomsmen who was standing beside him. He is ALWAYS joking around! Even during our ceremony!

Virginia Beach photography

Virginia Beach wedding photography- 10 year anniversary

Is there anything you would “do over” if you were to get married today?

{Austin} Nope. There is nothing that we would change. I could not imagine our wedding any other way.

Virginia Beach wedding photography- 10 year anniversary

Virginia Beach wedding photography

Looking back, what “words of wisdom” do you have for today’s brides and grooms?

{Erin} Plan YOUR MARRIAGE. Don’t try to plan the next best pinterest wedding. When we got married, social media was pretty much non-existent, so we didn’t have anything to compare our wedding to. I think that there is a lot of pressure on couples to plan this amazing, over the top event … like if your images don’t go viral, then you’ve failed at planning your wedding. It is sad to me… marriage is not just about the wedding, it is about your new life together. So my advice would be–not to get so caught up in the small details of one day, and to put more effort into planning your future together.

{Austin} This is a challenge and you can always work at it. It’s easy to get into a routine and be the same all the time. That is one thing we always want and try to work on. So always adapt to each other as you grow older.

Virginia Beach wedding photography- 10 year anniversary

By the way Erin, you STILL look fabulous in your wedding dress!! How do you do it?

OMG Thank you! I don’t really do anything special–I am kinda boring on that issue. My kids keep me on my toes 24 hours a day!!

*So fun* Thanks so much Erin and Austin–and Happy 10th Anniversary! And thanks again for sharing your testimony on how wonderful life can be–beyond the wedding day! Oh, and Austin–thank you for your service!!

Want more? Visit Amanda Hedgepeth’s photography blog to see all of this sweet session!


1 comment

Virginia Beach Engagement Photos

Categories Real Weddings

From the woods to the beach, Kenzie and Mike’s Virginia Beach engagement photos are full of textures, color and charm. While they plan to say their I Do’s in Maine, Mike is in the U.S. Navy and currently stationed in Norfolk, VA. That said, Kenzie came down for a chilly but sunny engagement session with the love of her life. The fun is obvious and the colors are gorgeous–from Kenzie’s coral dress and Mike’s seaman blues, to their other clothing changes and beautiful beach shots. Enjoy.

Engagement Session Location: Virginia Beach, VA
Photographer:  Amanda Hedgepeth Photography

And, thank you for your service Mike!

Kenzie and Mike's miilitary dress Virginia Beach Engagement Session

Virginia Beach Engagement Session {Hedgepeth Photography}

Love this! Reminds me of this famous military kiss photo from WWII.

Virginia Beach Engagement photos

Navy dress e-session in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach Engagement Session

beach engagement photo ideas

Virginia Beach Engagement Session

Virginia Beach Engagement Session

Virginia Beach Engagement photos

 Virginia Beach Engagement photos

Virginia Beach Engagement photography

Virginia Beach Engagement photos

Submitted via Two Bright Lights

Previous Next