Perfect memories

Wedding shoot showcases local talents
The nieces of Heather Merchant, of Love Flowers Shenandoah, Natali Merchant, left, and Naomi Merchant, volunteered to be flower girls for the mock wedding. In the background are, from left, bridesmaid Valerie Hutzell, maid of honor Stephanie Campbell, groom Nick Merchant, best man Brad Custer, bridesmaid Kaitlyn Stockton and ringbearer Eli Beachler. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design.
Attendees of the "wedding" received flowers in vintage bud vases as favors. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design.
Pam Hutzell, of Fabulous Wedding Cakes, created this china archway as a central piece for the mock wedding photo shoot, including heirloom plates from her grandmother. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design.
Pamela Hutzell, of Fabulous Wedding Cakes, Stephanie Timmerman, of Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design, and Heather Merchant, of Love Flowers Shenandoah, said they felt that The Museum of the Shenadoah Valley's Pink Pavilion meshed perfectly with their heirloom-themed wedding creations. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design.
Pamela Hutzell, of Fabulous Wedding Cakes, provided the shoot's cake along with her heirloom decorative pieces. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design.

WINCHESTER — Local wedding vendors took it upon themselves to go above and beyond burlap and lace to create a fresh, over-the-top spin on vintage for their “Intimate Heirloom Wedding” photo shoot recently.

At the height of spring wedding season, nine vendors came together to showcase their imaginative talents through unique and lavish displays full of sentiment – all coordinating with marsala, Pantone’s 2015 color of the year.

Pamela Hutzell, of Fabulous Wedding Cakes, spearheaded the project, collaborating with Stephanie Timmerman, of Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design, and Heather Merchant, of Love Flowers Shenandoah. The team handpicked six other vendors and Hutzell had her eye set on The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley’s Pink Pavilion for the venue.

“I had this vision for something really grand, really special. The ideal place was the Pink Pavilion. It’s such a unique and intimate, amazing setting … There’s never been, to my knowledge, a styled photo shoot at that location,” Hutzell said.

The mock wedding party was composed of volunteer models who were friends and family members of the vendors.

The concept started with embodying the going trend of vintage weddings with antique and heirloom china owned by Hutzell. She incorporated some of those plates into the shoot with a customized archway.

Other heirloom pieces contributed included a rocking chair, quilts, family photographs, vases, flatware, reupholstered chairs, and peonies from an heirloom garden.

Timmerman said she volunteered to do the family photos because she’s the photographer and “it’s kind of close to my heart.”

“You walked into this garden that was next to the pavilion, and we had the antique rocking chair, an heirloom quilt, and then this wall of photos. And it was just a nice area to go sit,” she said.

Hutzell wanted the creations in the shoot to hold plenty of heart: her own contributions held memories made with her grandmother, mother and daughter.

“We had old pieces and new pieces, it was very rich in meaning,” she said.

During one of the busiest times of their year, the team was at the Pink Pavilion from early morning till evening – not including the extra time devoted to planning and preparations. Hutzell began planning before February and Merchant had to prepare for three weddings on the previous weekend and three weddings on the following weekend.

Timmerman said they were aware the shoot came in the middle of a busy period.

“We all were aware of that when we started planning this, but we were OK knowing that the final product was going to be worth all of our extra time and effort,” she said. “My weddings that I have bookcased around this shoot by no means suffer from the extra work we’re doing. I think it actually enhances everyone by doing something extra, something more creative than just our normal day-to-day.”

The shoot was an exercise in imagination and inspiration for the vendors as well as a rare opportunity for them to work directly with each other. Hutzell, Merchant and Timmerman all said they rarely interact with other vendors or get the chance to network during the course of a real wedding.

“To actually work with people so closely and build those relationships … that wasn’t the initial goal but I think it really was a nice added bonus,” Timmerman said.

Merchant said she wants brides-to-be from all over to get fresh new ideas from the shoot for their own weddings.

“Hopefully it helps to inspire brides … and what they can do with the different aspects, but also to really inspire them about the Shenandoah Valley and how awesome it is,” she said.

“We really wanted to show what imagination could do and show the talent of the area,” Hutzell said. “It’s a labor of love.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or

At A Glance

Local contributors to the “Intimate Heirloom Wedding” included:

  • Fabulous Wedding Cakes
  • Stephanie Leigh Photography & Design
  • Love Flowers Shenandoah
  • Sweet Tea “Unique Finds and Redesigns”
  • Everything Linen
  • Lavish Hair Salon & Boutique
  • Six Star Events
  • The Valley Bride
  • Classic Tuxedos & Suits
  • The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

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