Steven & Cassandra | Elopement in Waco | Waco, Texas

Groom in charcoal suit holds bride in gold sequin dress close to him in the front lawn of a private residence in China Spring, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography -

We received an email in our inbox in mid-December with the subject line- Elopement 12/30 (The 2 week bride). With such an intriguing subject line, we couldn’t wait to open it!  The email was from Cassandra, and she and her fiance, Steven, were eloping in Waco and wanted us to photograph their ceremony if we were free. We did happen to have December 30th free, so I (Melaina) hopped on a call with Cassandra to learn more about their plans. And what sweet plans they were!

Steven & Cassandra live in the Midwest, but his family is located throughout central and east Texas. No one actually lives in Waco, but it was a central spot for all the Texas family so it was the perfect wedding location. They rented a large AirBnB in China Spring, right outside of Waco, and invited Steven’s family to join them. Rather than a traditional church wedding or reserving an area wedding venue, Steven & Cassandra chose to have an intimate gathering with family to witness their vows to one another right in the front lawn of the home. Their elopement in Waco was the perfect wedding for them- intimate and meaningful, allowing them to focus on the love they have for one another.

We were only with these Sweethearts for a couple of hours that evening, but in that short amount of time so many meaningful moments occurred. When we arrived to the AirBnB, I made my way back to the master bedroom to find Cassandra. She gave me a big hug, and I admired her beautiful gold gown. The dress was a surprise for Steven, so it was so fun to watch his reaction when he turned around to see Cassandra for the first time in their first look. Throughout the evening they would smile at one another, or look deeply into one another’s eyes, or even wipe away each other’s tears during their vows. All these little moments between them really showed the deep connection and commitment they had for one another.

Their connection was even more amplified when they doted on their daughter. One of the sweetest moments was when Steven carried their daughter back up the aisle with Cassandra after they were married. After the ceremony, Steven held their daughter and looked on proudly while Cassandra did a reading to mark the celebration. And one of the final portraits we captured was their sleepy daughter snuggled against her parents in their wedding attire.

After the ceremony and the portraits, we said our goodbyes. Steven, Cassandra and their family were moving on to the reception portion of their wedding day - steaks cooked over the fire pit in the back yard. It was the perfect ending to the day, a time with family celebrating the new marriage that had begun.

Dear Steven & Cassandra,

We are so happy you sent us that email! It was an honor to be with you on such a monumental day in your love story. We hope the memories of your Texas wedding ceremony will remain with you all your days, and that the loving looks you have for one another only grow as you grow old together.

Love, J&M

Couple holds one another and smiles at camera after their elopement at a private residence in Waco, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography -

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Hayden & Samantha | Disney-Inspired Wedding at The Barn at 5 S Ranch | Central Texas

Bride & Groom hold each other as the sun sets behind them - Disney wedding at The Barn at 5 S Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography -

Hayden & Samantha’s Disney-inspired wedding was such a fun and beautiful day! From the beautiful weather (which isn’t always a guarantee for December weddings!), to the beautiful details, to all the beautiful moments, everything came together perfectly for this Disney princess and her Prince Charming (or Captain America!).

While it wasn’t over-the-top Disney, a person with a keen eye would notice all the subtle Disney nods these two Disney fans had on their wedding day. There were hidden Mickeys throughout the day, including Samantha’s nail art, socks and garter, the bride’s cake, and even a fun ring shot. There was Disney font on the bridesmaids’ hangers and the ring box. Every bridesmaid was given a specific Disney princess pin to adorn her bouquet, with Samantha having Rapunzel as her chosen princess on her bouquet. Even the fellas got in on the Disney action, with each groomsmen wearing a Marvel superhero pin on his lapel and a coordinating shirt under his tux. Hayden’s hero of choice was Captain America, not only for his lapel pin and undershirt but even his groom’s cake was Captain America’s shield.

But checking out hidden MIckeys wasn’t the only thing to notice at this beautiful wedding. Samantha’s mother has a knack for creating beautiful spaces, and every area from the cake table, to the Sweetheart table, to the vignettes outside the reception hall showed off her talents. And it was all brought together beautifully by the table decor, complete with lanterns, fresh flowers, and individual sprigs of fresh juniper for each place setting. The Barn at 5 S Ranch is already such a gorgeous space, with its vaulted ceilings with white, string lights and it’s large, sliding barn doors. But Hayden & Samantha, and Samantha’s mom’s team, really brought the venue to life with all their details!

It’s neat to see how each of our Sweetheart couples choose the details that make up their wedding day, and when we walk into each space we see how perfectly the details showcase the couple. But while we love seeing the details, it’s all the little moments of the day that we’re really excited to see and photograph. And Hayden & Samantha’s wedding was full of these little moments.

Samantha didn’t want to have a first look with Hayden, but she did want to have one with her dad. When the door slid open and her dad saw her in her gown for the first time, it was so touching to see his eyes well up with proud tears. In fact, seeing Samantha, her mom and her dad tear up together was such a sweet moment to witness, because we knew this was going to be the last time it was just them three.

Even though Hayden & Samantha didn’t have a first look, they still wanted to connect before their ceremony and opted to have a “first touch.” They held hands around the sliding door in the bridal suite, and talked about how excited they were to get married. During this moment, Hayden gave Samantha a journal full of letters he had been writing her during their relationship. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as she read through the precious gift.

And while there were so many other great moments throughout the day, the one we had been waiting for was Hayden’s reaction to seeing Samantha for the first time in her dress. We knew from our bridal portrait session with her how excited she was to see his reaction, and we couldn’t wait either. So when the curtains opened to reveal Samantha and her dad walking down the aisle, it was so touching to watch Hayden’s face as he saw his bride. He was a range of emotions, from smiles to tears to trying to hold it together. Seeing his reaction made all the hiding of Samantha in her dress worth it.

Sunny December wedding at The Barn at 5 S Ranch in Thrall, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography -
Bride and groom leave their reception with a wildflower toss - Disney-inspired wedding at The Barn at 5 S Ranch - Jason & Melaina Photography -

Dear Hayden & Samantha,

Your wedding day was magical, full of love and joy! We hope you remember how it felt, remember all the little moments that added up to a once-in-a-lifetime day for a once-in-a-lifetime love. And we can think of no better blessing for your marriage than to say, “…and they lived happily ever after.”

Love, J&M

Bride and groom laugh together in the sunset light of golden hour - Jason & Melaina Photography -

Venue | The Barn at 5 S Ranch

Decor | Darling Decor and More

Florals | Family members, flowers from Sams Club

Gown | JoAnn’s Bridal

Hair & Makeup | Lexie Hill

DJ | Robby Cavazos

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Charlie & Courtney | Classic Wedding at The Hippodrome | Waco, Texas

A groom kisses his bride in front of a vintage Rolls Royce after their downtown Waco, Texas wedding at The Hippodrome - Jason & Melaina Photography -

Charlie & Courtney’s love story is a beautiful tale of meant-to-be moments. Courtney was living in Seattle, WA, when she visited her sister in Austin. She fell in love with Austin, and decided she was going to move there one day. So she worked extra jobs for 2 years in order to make it happen. When she finally arrived in Austin, she got settled into her new place and found a job. A job that another young man named Charlie just happened to be starting at as well. These co-workers became friends, and then it turned into something more. And on December 1st, Charlie & Courtney vowed to spend their lives together…and it all happened because Courtney decided she needed to move to Texas!

These Sweethearts, along with the help of their sisters, planned one of the most gorgeous and classy weddings we’ve seen in Waco! Charlie & Courtney chose The Hippodrome as their wedding venue, and it was the perfect location for their classy and classic wedding. The stage with it’s proscenium arch was a breathtaking spot for their vows. And the modern candle-lit backdrop from Pendley Party only added to the dramatic view.

The dramatic and special details don’t stop there! Courtney’s dress was beautifully classic in the front, but the surprise detail bead work on the back led many of her friends to exclaim in delight when she turned around. Charlie looked dashing in his navy suit, and as a special touch, had their wedding date embroidered into his collar. He wasn’t the only one with special details added to his attire. The flower girls all had bedazzled converse shoes made especially for the occasion!

The details are always fun to plan, and we enjoy seeing how each of our Sweetheart couples make their wedding their own through the details. But our favorite part of the wedding day is seeing all the special and meaningful moments that unfold. And Charlie & Courtney had so many sweet moments!

Both of them wrote meaningful and heartfelt vows to one another. It was so special to hear them tell each other how they’ve changed one another’s lives for the better, and hear them express their feelings for one another.

Their wedding day was also Courtney’s birthday, and while getting her makeup done Courtney said how she always wanted an experience for her birthday rather than a present. So right before it was time to cut the cake, Charlie called Courtney to the middle of the reception and told everyone how he always tried to give her an experience on her birthday. He said he couldn’t think of a better experience than their wedding, and then presented her with a birthday cupcake and had the entire reception sing Happy Birthday to her.

But the surprises didn’t end with the birthday cupcake! Charlie & Courtney’s sisters surprised the couple with a Rolls Royce as their getaway car when leaving the reception. Their sisters had been a huge help in planning such a beautiful wedding for them, and this final surprise was the perfect ending to such a beautiful wedding day!

Dear Charlie & Courtney,

Your wedding was beautiful and so full of love. We loved seeing your faces when you looked at one another, so happy and full of love. We hope you remember those looks, and keep getting them for decades to come!

Love, J&M

Bride & Groom kiss in the back of their Rolls Royce getaway car after their wedding at The Hippodrome, Waco, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography -

Venue | The Hippodrome

Backdrop | Pendley Party Productions

Florals | Bloomingals Floral

Coordinator | JW Events

Rolls Royce | Bruce at Knoxville Ranch