Michelle and Andy's Fairy Tale Wedding, 9/13/2010 - An introduction

Discussion in 'Completed trip reports and planning journals' started by EllieBride, Oct 18, 2010.

  1. EllieBride

    EllieBride Mouseketeer

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    With only a 6-month engagement (and ultimately, only four months dedicated to the planning process), I didn’t have time to complete a Planning Journal. However, I spent many hours reading through other PJs and TRs and they were enormously beneficial. THANK YOU to all of the other users on this board for sharing your plans, creativity, experiences, reviews, and lessons learned, and especially for sharing such a personal part of your lives. It’s really appreciated!

    My plan for this post-wedding report is to share some vendor reviews and some of our favorite things about having a DFTW. I hope you enjoy hearing about our magical day (because I know I will enjoy writing about it). If there is anything you would like more information about, please feel free to send me a message.

    Overview:
    Welcome Dinner: ‘Ohana, Polynesian Resort
    Ceremony: The Wedding Pavilion
    Reception: Whitehall Patio and Room, Grand Floridian Resort
    Total Guests: 40

    Background:
    I’ve loved WDW since I was little and have been even more enthusiastic in my adult life. I drag my best friend there with me for annual vacations and cry each time we leave. Yet even with a love for Disney so deep, it was never my fantasy to get married at WDW.

    Fast forward to early 2010… Andy and I started having some preliminary discussions about marriage… We’re in our mid-30s, and neither of us had ever been married before. As our talks grew more serious, so did the urgency to set a date. It is our hope to have a family and given our age, we didn’t feel it was in our best interest to have a long engagement… Our conversation of marriage continued over the coming weeks, including talk of what the wedding would look like. I pictured an intimate affair, held in our local church where we had recently started attending. But then Andy informed me that his guest list alone would be between 100-200 people!

    Whoa! So much for my intimate wedding… this was not at all what I had in mind! I tried to reason with him – and he even admitted that he would prefer a small wedding – but he simply refused to risk offending any of his friends or co-workers by omitting them from the invitation list (and lest I forget, there was the list of his parents’ high school friends!). It was easy to see that if he wasn’t going to show any restraint with his list, then mine would likely grow, as well. So this was a problem… I couldn’t see myself getting excited about a 200+ person wedding! I also knew that I didn’t have the money to host a wedding of this size (and not have it be anything close to what I wanted…). So now what…?

    At this time, we started playing around with the idea of a destination wedding… Again, this wasn’t what I had pictured, but we quickly determined that a destination wedding was the only way he could possibly limit his guest list. So we started brainstorming ideas… his first idea: Las Vegas. My first idea: Walt Disney World. When he said OK to my suggestion, I couldn’t believe it!

    We still weren’t officially engaged at this point (i.e. no ring), but Andy encouraged me to contact DFTW for information about pricing and availability. This all happened pretty quickly over the course of a couple of weeks as we learned more about the available venues and packages. We placed a temporary reservation for our preferred date and venue, but then we were on hold while I waited – impatiently – for a proposal and ring. I didn’t feel comfortable booking a destination wedding without running the idea and date by our families. And I couldn’t do that until we were actually engaged. To this day, I still don’t think Andy appreciates how awkward it was for me to tell the DFTW sales consultant that we couldn’t proceed with the LOA because we weren’t actually engaged…

    So this is our story of how we ended up planning a DFTW… and to skip to the outcome, we LOVED having our wedding there. Our guests continue to proclaim that it was the best wedding they have ever attended and I think they truly mean it. I look forward to sharing some highlights with you throughout the rest of this TR. Stay tuned...
     
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  3. bambi0921

    bambi0921 Livin' La Vida Disney

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    Yay, a new trip report! Can't wait to hear more! I'm sure your wedding was wonderful! :goodvibes
     
  4. April Elizabeth

    April Elizabeth Mouseketeer

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    Joining in here. I love your story!:lovestruc
    I can't wait to read more.popcorn::
     
  5. Sccrmnky2005

    Sccrmnky2005 Already Earned My Ears ;)

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    Oh yeah!!!!! Michelle I'm so glad you are doing a Trip report!! I can't wait to hear about everything:goodvibes Because I LOVE :love: your pictures
     
  6. EllieBride

    EllieBride Mouseketeer

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    I loved reading all of the posts about Dessert Parties and really hoped we could have one where we could enjoy Wishes fireworks. But as I researched pricing, it started to seem out of my budget. Instead, we looked into having a group welcome dinner at ‘Ohana. Because we had such a large group, I was referred to contact the restaurant directly. I didn’t know at this point how many guests would end up making the trip, but my early prediction was ~30. To be safe, I made the reservation for 35 (they split it into two reservations of 20 and 15). The manager was very careful to explain that they could not accommodate a group of this size at one table and they also couldn’t guarantee that the tables would be located near each other or not…

    We were both surprised and touched that nearly all of our friends and families were on board with travelling to WDW for our wedding and our final guest count was more than we had originally expected. Mid-summer, I called ‘Ohana and requested to increase our reservation from 35 to 40. They said they would, but they also said it that it would be OK if we just showed up with the extra 5 guests in tow that night…

    A few days before the wedding, I started organizing my travel and dining confirmations and was surprised that when I pulled up our dining reservations online, it was still set for 35 guests (by this time, our expected count had grown to 42). I called ‘Ohana back to confirm… After leaving multiple phone messages for them, I was starting to get a little stressed out… The manager finally returned my call and explained to me that once a large reservation is made in their computer system, they are very hesitant to change it. They would have to delete the original reservation, then attempt to re-book it for the new number of guests. With the huge volume of dining reservations they are receiving at any given moment, they don’t want to risk you losing the original number of spaces you had.

    This logic made sense, but the manager had other news which was a little worrisome… she was shocked that someone at ‘Ohana had agreed to make a dinner reservation for a group of this size for this late in the evening (8:25 p.m.). She went on to tell me that they NEVER book large groups, except for when the restaurant first opens, because it takes too long to clear that many tables. I reminded her that we booked it for that time because we wanted to see Wishes. That threw her into another tailspin, as she explained that most of the tables do not have a view of Wishes.

    I was really discouraged at this point… I’d been having some other bad experiences with my wedding planner (more on that later), and this felt like the final straw. Even though what she was telling me made sense, I couldn’t believe that none of this had come up when I made the original reservation OR when I called mid-summer to increase the guest count. But with the wedding only a couple days away, and everyone already invited, what could I do but proceed?

    Fortunately, all’s well, that ends well…
    I give the manager at ‘Ohana a ton of credit for making a less-than-ideal situation work for us… She suggested we arrive early and cautioned us to prepare for a wait while the tables cleared. We spread the word, asking our guests to arrive at 8:00 p.m. and cautioning them that there would be a wait before we were seated. Our guests all arrived on time, bought themselves drinks at the bar, and had a great time visiting with each other in the Polynesian waiting area. My sisters showed up with bride and groom mouse ears, so we spent a good amount of time posing for pictures while we waited (embarrassing for us, but our guests LOVED it!).

    [​IMG]


    It was ~9:00 p.m. before we were seated, and in hindsight, I think this is a little late to be hosting a dinner, but our guests LOVED it. Granted, we didn’t have any kids in our party, so bedtime wasn’t an issue. Also, most of our guests are new to Disney, so the whole experience was new and exciting for them. They were truly blown away by the quality of the food and entertainment. (If you’ve never had dinner at ‘Ohana, you must try it. The food is so delicious!!!!! Even our picky eaters loved it.)

    Wishes was delayed that night until 10pm due to weather, which worked out perfectly since it gave us time to EAT! A few of our guests turned their chairs to watch the fireworks, but a lot of them didn’t pay any attention at all. I think they had more fun participating with the restaurant entertainer – shaking their maracas, parading around the restaurant, etc.

    All in all, this ended up being a really memorable experience for us… our guests were cool about the long wait for the tables and they used this time to get to know each others’ families. But that said, I don’t think that I would recommend ‘Ohana for a group of this size… (unless you book it for earlier in the evening). The staff really went out of their way to accommodate us, setting up two long banquet tables that were right next to each other, but we were very fortunate that it worked out this way.

    The other downside was that Andy and I spent most of the night mingling with our guests and not enough time eating… I keep asking him when can we go back to WDW because I didn’t get enough to eat that night :yay:

    [​IMG]
     
  7. PrincessFendi

    PrincessFendi Mouseketeer

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    Congratulations on your wedding! I look forward to reading all about it!
     
  8. EllieBride

    EllieBride Mouseketeer

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    Patricia LeJeune:
    I am very, very happy with how my hair and makeup turned out and I am very happy to recommend Patricia! She arrived right on time and was wonderful to work with!

    But there are a few things that I learned along the way that might help you with your planning… I did all of my advance communication via e-mail (which Patricia's husband, Randy, manages) and sometimes it was a little lacking – on both of our parts. A few months before the wedding, I sent a photo of my “inspiration hairstyle” along with a current picture of my hair (pretty short, as you’ll see in the picture). Randy said that they could accomplish the same look as the inspiration pic, even with my short hair.

    Tell me what you think... here is the inspiration picture (which Randy later told me was a trial originally done by Patricia!):
    [​IMG]

    And here is what my hair looked like at the time:
    [​IMG]

    I consulted with my regular stylist for a second opinion and she said it was impossible since I barely had enough hair to pull into a pony tail. So we proceeded with hair extensions, which I had put in three weeks prior to the wedding. I should have let Patricia know this ahead of time! My fault… She nearly freaked out when she arrived on wedding day and discovered the extensions! She made a few comments in frustration which bummed me out a little, but then she moved on and got to work. I definitely take my share of responsibility on this… I should have asked to talk to Patricia ahead of time to discuss the pros and cons of getting extensions (or to discuss how they could accomplish the hairstyle with my current hair length). However, part of me wishes that Randy had done a better job of explaining how they could possibly create this intricate hairstyle with my short hair, rather than just saying “yeah, she can do it.” We had some other email communications that didn’t include complete answers to my questions and sometimes I had to ask a second (or third) time. In hindsight, I should have just contacted them by telephone. This is not a complaint, but rather a lesson learned…

    The other advice I would give is that it is a really good idea to have a trial run… I tried to schedule one for while we were there for our planning session and engagement pictures, but Patricia wasn’t available. I feel very fortunate that everything worked out as well as it did for me, and to reiterate – I LOVED my hair and makeup and will recommend Patricia 100%!!!!

    Check out the final result:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Patricia also did my hair and makeup for our Magic Kingdom bridal portrait (two days after the wedding), arriving at our room at 3:30 a.m. We were staying at the Grand Floridian and there was only one elevator that went to our floor and it was out of service that night/morning (unbelieveable, right?). My husband couldn’t get to the lobby to greet her as we promised, and she couldn’t get upstairs. From the 4th floor, he ended up calling out to her in the atrium on the main floor (if you were staying at the GF on 9/14 and we woke you up, I apologize!). It took forever, but they finally located the fire escape and then hauled all of her gear up the stairs to the 4th floor. Even after all of that, plus it being 3:30 a.m., she was still in good spirits, chatting away with us while we got ready for our pictures. I think this says a lot about Patricia!
     
  9. Sccrmnky2005

    Sccrmnky2005 Already Earned My Ears ;)

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    Yay another update!!! :goodvibes

    I love your hair!! I'm really not sure who I will use as of yet for mine... I'm still up in the air but really need to narrow it down soon so I can book them and such.

    I can't wait to hear about everything, this is so fun:banana:
     
  10. Sccrmnky2005

    Sccrmnky2005 Already Earned My Ears ;)

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    Oh and if I haven't already told you on FB I LOVE LOVE LOVE your dress!! I'm going to have the same hanger issue as you had because my dress is just as big and heavy as yours:headache:
     
  11. April Elizabeth

    April Elizabeth Mouseketeer

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    I love your hair. It makes sense about e-mails vs. phone calls.:thumbsup2
    Thank you for sharing.:goodvibes
     
  12. EllieBride

    EllieBride Mouseketeer

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    Thanks, Amanda! I can't wait to see the pics from your wedding! I wish it would hurry up and get here :) Everything you've done so far is beautiful...
     
  13. EllieBride

    EllieBride Mouseketeer

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    Rev. Kevin Knox:
    Admitedly, we didn’t do a lot of research on ministers… I spoke to Rev. Jack Day and decided that he didn’t quite fit our style… and my fiancé spoke to Rev. Kevin Knox and liked him. And that’s the story of how we picked our minister…

    Rev. Kev sent us a “ceremony planning kit” which we found to be really helpful. We spent a couple of hours reading through all of the different options, picking the elements and verses that we liked the best. We cut and pasted them into a final ceremony script (or as my husband calls it, the “screenplay”) and sent it back to Rev. Kev for a final review. We felt like the final version was the perfect blend of religious elements, while also including more contemporary language for some of the portions.

    We had hoped to meet Rev. Kev when we were there for our planning session in June. He was very agreeable to meeting, but unfortunately, we ran out of time and we didn’t end up getting to meet him in person until our rehearsal. He arrived promptly for our 9am rehearsal at the Wedding Pavilion and took his time getting to know us and our families. Our Best Man was running late due to WDW transportation problems and Rev. Kev was very understanding. After being delayed ~15 minutes, I felt bad and said we could get started without him, but Rev. Kev was totally cool and insisted it was fine to wait for him. I thought this was really nice of him!

    As for our wedding day… Rev. Kev was exactly as described by others on the DISboards… He was delightful and friendly, checking in with me in the Bride’s Vestibule to see how I was doing. During this time, he also had my Maid of Honor sign the marriage license. She laughed and said ‘But they aren’t even married yet!” Apparently, he likes to get the paperwork done ahead of time (this was also true of collecting payment and getting the Best Man’s signature…).

    As soon as the ceremony ended, he was GONE! I’d heard that this is what typically happens, having read it on the DISboards, so it didn’t really bother me. But I probably would have been a little put off about the abrupt departure if I hadn’t been prepared for it. As it was, though, I didn’t have a problem with it. There is so much else to do once the ceremony ends (i.e. picture taking!), that I really can’t blame him for getting his payment and signatures ahead of time.

    Had he not vanished so quickly, I would have liked to ask him about the process for getting our marriage license back. But by the time we returned home from our honeymoon, it was already waiting for us at our house.

    Selecting a minister/officiant is one of those things that is such a personal choice… we were very happy with Rev. Kevin, but that doesn’t mean he will be the right pick for you. My advice is to make a phone call to your potential officiants, or if possible, try to meet him/her in person. This will help you determine if their style is a fit for you (or not).

    One last note… the older women in our group (including my mother), LOVED Rev. Kevin…
     
  14. *Pixiedust1438*

    *Pixiedust1438* DIS Veteran

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    Joining in! Sounds like you had a wonderful day! Congratulations, I am looking forward to seeing pictures!
     
  15. pixie921

    pixie921 DIS Veteran

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    I'm joining in, too! We hope to have our VR reception at Whitehall next year, so I'm always on the lookout to see what different brides do with the space! :goodvibes
     
  16. EllieBride

    EllieBride Mouseketeer

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    David and Vicki Arndt Photography:
    This is the review that I will enjoy writing the most!!!

    Hands down, photography was the most important decision we would make during our wedding planning (to me, this was even more important than finding the right dress!). I LOVE pictures and albums and knew that picking the right photographer was critical. Once again, my thanks to all of the DISboard members who posted photos. Reading reviews and browsing through Trip Reports was so helpful as we selected a photographer. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    David and Vicki Arndt were our favorite from the beginning, although we did contact one other photographer for a quote. The difference in price was substantial, making it an obvious choice to pick David and Vicki. We also liked that we would have both of them shooting, providing two different styles of photos.

    Vicki was very quick to reply to email inquiries and we soon had our reservation in place. We also scheduled our engagement photos with D&V, to coincide with our planning session. (In case you don’t know, D&V offer a complimentary engagement session with their wedding packages, as well as a nice discount that is special for Disney brides!)

    Fast forward to our engagement session in June… I didn’t have any expectations for this, as we didn’t have any specific intended use for the photos. My mom asked me several times, “but what are you going to do with the pictures?” Each time, I would respond: “I don’t know… I just want the opportunity to meet them and hopefully, get both of us used to being in front of the camera.” This, along with the fact that we didn’t have to pay anything, seemed like a good enough reason to me!

    D&V picked us up at the Caribbean Beach, where we were staying, and zipped us over to Fort Wilderness campground, telling us “we’ve always wanted to take pictures there… are you game?” Of course we were! After that, we headed over to the Grand Floridian, then wrapped up at the Polynesian.

    Even after reading so many positive reviews, nothing could have prepared us for how much FUN we would have. David and Vicki are two very special people who really, really love their job and know how to make you feel at ease. Our photo shoot flew by so fast and was one of the best memories of the entire trip. I honestly didn’t want to say goodbye. How often do you feel that way about someone you’ve only known for a couple of hours? I’ve certainly never had that experience before… As for the pictures… in my opinion, they speak for themselves. We absolutely love them!!!!!

    Our slideshow of the e-pics is located here: http://video214.com/play/jGxxnsyZvpx0vF2ArL2aCA/s/dark

    Vicki and I stayed in touch the rest of the summer over e-mail. I’ve come to realize just how much our communication during this time meant to me… No matter how many other weddings and events they had going on, she was always enthusiastic about ours. If I would see a picture I liked or get a crazy idea, I would send it off to her and she would be all over it. To me, it was this unexpected personal touch that completely set them apart from being just another vendor. If you ever look at their Facebook page, you will see that I am not alone in viewing both of them as friends.

    Here is the link to the sneak peeks from our wedding: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=221767&id=111170876189&ref=mf

    We love our pictures so much… and we love David and Vicki!!! I’ve said numerous times that I can’t imagine our wedding day without them…
     
  17. kirstyc822

    kirstyc822 Mouseketeer

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    Oh this is wonderful! I am at the beginning of my plans so this really helps!

    Cant wait for your updates

    :yay:
     
  18. EllieBride

    EllieBride Mouseketeer

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    Disney Photography / Magic Kingdom Photo Shoot:
    I decided early in the planning stages that I really wanted to do a photo session in the Magic Kingdom. Now that it’s done, I have mixed reviews… And since I want to get this posted before the proofs are removed from the WDW website, I’m just going to put it all out there, so forgive me if my thoughts aren’t totally organized…

    Photographer: Regina (with on site assistance from Ty)
    We booked the 6am time slot (photos from 6:15-7:15 a.m.) and I still question if the 5am slot would have been better. My “wish list” of shots was entirely comprised of pictures taken in total darkness. Sunrise was technically at 7:10 a.m., but twilight began at 6:46 a.m. So basically, half our time was in the dark, half in the light. We had a 3am wakeup call in order to be ready for the 6am session, so moving it up by another hour sounded too painful for us… (and trust me, it was painful enough!).

    I think the 6am slot would have worked out all right, had there not been so much construction going on in front of the castle. From reading other reviews, I was prepared for there to be lots of activity on Main Street and in front of the castle, but I wasn’t prepared for just how much. There were workers EVERYWHERE, including multiple trucks and a couple of cranes parked in front of the castle, as well as plywood covering along the castle ramps/stage area. Regina was extremely accommodating to the construction workers, always deferring to let them finish their work while we waited (even when the workers offered to let us go ahead with taking the picture). I appreciate that they all have to work together to accomplish their work when the park isn’t open to guests, but this was frustrating. We spent so much time waiting around…

    Once we would finally get in position for a shot, we would hold our position forever while Regina set up her equipment (first the camera, then the lighting, then focusing the camera, etc.). She would eventually snap the picture, but half of the time we weren’t ready for it. I wish she would have given us a cue when it was time to smile/kiss/whatever. I’m surprised the pictures came out as good as they did (but you’ll definitely notice the ones where we aren’t ready!). It was great when Ty joined in midway through the shoot because he was really helpful in carrying her equipment and helping with my dress and bouquet. This speeded things up a little bit. He has a good eye for setting up interesting shots, too!

    Which reminds me of another little situation… I ordered a duplicate boutonniere for Andy. It looked nearly the same as the original, but something wasn’t right with it and we could NOT get it pinned on straight. It kept falling over and we wasted so much time trying to fix it. I was ready to throw it away because it wasn’t worth it (thankfully, Ty to the rescue again… he was able to pin it on and get it to stay). We later learned that the original boutonniere was in the van. I saw it and it still looked fine! We should have used it again instead of buying a new one.

    But back to the pictures… getting the castle shots in the dark was challenging, but I think there are enough good ones in my set of proofs to make the experience (and expense) worthwhile. We also took several pictures on the carousel, which I am happy with.

    I had read in other reviews that the MK photo shoot is a memorable experience – quality time alone with just your husband and worth every penny! Well, we didn’t really feel that way. We were both tired, and probably a little irritated about all of the waiting around. Remember, it had been a frustrating morning… broken elevator in the Grand Floridian meant that we had to walk down the hot, humid, fire stairs to the lobby (the utility stairs are rough and snagged my dress beyond belief). Then, we were ready and waiting in the GF lobby 15 minutes ahead of schedule (we’d been warned not to be late because they wouldn’t make up the time). We told the valet that we were there and asked him to let Regina know once she arrived. Well apparently, Regina came into the lobby and didn’t see us (we were sitting right there, just inside the door), then left and went back to wait in the van. Luckily, she finally came back to check and was then surprised to see us sitting there, where we’d been the entire time. More time lost…

    Bottom line… I don’t regret having the MK photo shoot. The pictures with the castle are so uniquely Disney. And I think I always would have regretted it if we hadn’t had them taken. I am planning to order a few enlargements, but not the DVD since there really aren’t that many pictures on it.

    Enjoy the pictures and let me know what you think!

    Please visit: http://www.collages.net/disneyweddings
    Username: Pate / French Bridal Portrait
    Password: 1971
     
  19. neener3

    neener3 Mouseketeer

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    I think they're gorgeous! I understand what you mean about the dvd though. We actually don't plan on getting it at all - although I could change my mind later on!

    You looked beautiful!
     
  20. Sccrmnky2005

    Sccrmnky2005 Already Earned My Ears ;)

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    I think they are really nice! :goodvibes There are a few pictures where I can see what your talking about, and a few that have maintence workers in the back ground which would bother me...:scared1: I can't believe in an hour that's all you got. If it were me I would have told the photographer since we keep waiting on the workers, etc. Can we not count this towards our time, because I know your time is so limited and these bridal potraits are alot, and brides pay alot for them:mad:

    But overall there are really nice ones I think your happy with... But I would be a little ticked that there aren't very many:hug:
     
  21. April Elizabeth

    April Elizabeth Mouseketeer

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    I love your Wedding Day pictures and your MK photos are very nice too. You looked so pretty!


    I can see where you would be a little disappointed in the number of photos from the MK shoot. I think I would have been mad about the white van in my pictures. (teacup photos) I'm having a MK BP and I would think with as much money as you spend for this, they would photoshop out the white van or maybe the photographer should have asked someone to move the van for a few minutes. Even with all that said, you were gorgeous and so are your pictures.
     

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