WOW WEDDING: MICHELLE & DEREK

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New parents Michelle and Derek Keijner were given a chance to walk through a dream wedding when they posed for a styled shoot at Copper & Kings Distillery.

When Michelle and Derek Keijner were married in November 2010, they planned a relaxed downtown wedding where the primary focus was on the food and drink. “We had our wedding at Old 502 Winery and people really enjoyed the fact that we did something a little different,” says Michelle. “We didn’t pay a lot of attention to decorations or flowers, but we had great drinks and food and our guests definitely enjoyed themselves.” So, it seemed a touch ironic when, five years later, her friend Haley Austin Nail, a wedding photographer, asked her if she and her husband, Derek would be willing to model for a wedding shoot at Copper & Kings Distillery. “The shoot was going to have a very similar vibe to our real wedding,” says Michelle. “I had never heard of a styled wedding, but I was intrigued!”

Styled weddings are staged by wedding photographers so they can shoot photos for their portfolios, web sites or publications. In this case, Haley and her friend and fellow photographer Susan Jordan  (of Love Hunters Photography) planned to use the photos for their business web sites and for possible submission to a wedding site. “Haley and I had just attended a Creative Mornings. Talk at Copper & Kings about collaboration, “ says Susan. “After meandering around the venue for the first time, we instantly knew we were meant to create something beautiful together in this amazing industrial and modern space.” They chose Michelle and Derek because their look fit the cool venue and their laid-back personalities meant they’d make great models. “To me, the most important element of choosing a couple is that they are genuinely in love,” says Susan. “That’s the reason why I never hire actual models. My photography style is based on capturing raw, real emotion between my couples and if the love isn’t there, the shoot won’t feel genuine.”

Not only is the love captured in the photos genuine, but in this case, at least, so was the excitement. “I found out I would get my hair, makeup and nails done and basically spend a day with my husband getting our photos taken,” says Michelle. “I had recently had my second baby, so it sounded like a vacation to me.” Derek also jumped at the opportunity to spend a day getting great photos in the cool downtown venue with his beautiful wife. “Once we said yes, there was very little we had to do except show up,” she says. “Derek went for one fitting, but that was it. We just needed to find a sitter and that was it.”

On the day of the shoot, the couple relaxed and enjoyed the time together. “It was nice to have a day to be with each other,” says Michelle.

“The best part was probably when the sun was going down and we were up on the roof. It was the very end and we were still having a good time. The light was amazing and it felt really nice to be doing something intimate. We forgot other people were there!”

Not only did the two have a great mini vacation during the shoot, but they walked away with amazing photos which they do display around their home. “We joke that we have our real wedding and our fake wedding,” says Michelle. “We loved them both.”

As for what Michelle learned from the second time around? “We had a great photographer for our real wedding but, I wish we had kept her longer. I just realize we didn’t fully capture everything. Even those little details like the tables and invitation shots. We didn’t get them and that’s something I would have done differently. Other than that, I guess I wish I had focused a little more on beautiful tables and flowers. I paid attention to food and drink, but I now realize that walking in and seeing those beautiful tables can make your guests feel really special.”

Meanwhile, Susan has a unique perspective on shooting and planning weddings after staging and shooting so many of them. “I always tell couples that if they can, they should create an overall mood board that represents the look and feel they want for their wedding day,” she says. “The vision will mold and change over the course of the planning process and things will naturally fall into place. Don’t be hesitant to ask vendors like your florist to expand your vision! Creatives in the wedding industry love nothing more than to help you put a unique twist on your wedding day plans.” 


Photography and planning: Love Hunters & Haley Austin Nail Photography 

Venue: Copper & Kings

Invites: Marcardin Calligraphy

Flowers: The Flower Shoppe of New Albany

Cake: Sweets by Millie

Make-up Artist: Ashley Meadows

Hair: Neatbeat

Rentals and styling: The Southern Soiree 

Dress: Lakum



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