Carli & Rafy’s Wedding Day

Carli & Rafy’s Wedding Day

When I first met Carli and Rafy, Carli made one thing very clear: their wedding day was to be one of true authenticity. No “recreating” special moments, no “candid but posed” shots, just true, organic, unaltered moments capturing the first day of the rest of their lives. And I’d never been more okay with a bride’s request.

Yes, I love capturing the details. They do, after all, help to tell the story of your day. And they often offer subtle glimpses into a couples’ world. But more than that, the genuine emotions and connections shared by you and your loved ones on your wedding day truly explain without any words or pomp and circumstance who you are and how you feel and share your love for one another. And so for that reason, I thought Carli’s request was superb.

Carli and Rafy’s wedding day was nothing short of perfect. Between the gorgeous weather (when it was supposed to rain!), the intimate and personalized ceremony at Saint Michael’s Church in Glen Allen, the dessert reception (complete with the world’s largest donut 😜), the couples’ perfectly choreographed first dance, and the cultural traditions sprinkled throughout, their whole wedding day was one imbued with meaning, loved ones, and cherished moments.

The Ceremony

Carli and Rafy’s church and shared Roman Catholic faith is incredibly important to them. The two of them are quite involved at Saint Michaels. Rafy plays the drums in the band and many of the band and choir members performed for the ceremony in their honor. Displaying the ever-present community spirit of their church, after their ceremony, everyone was invited to a dessert reception (YES before dinner because as Carli says, “why wait?!”) Once the guests began making their way to the reception, Carli, Rafy, and I snagged a few minutes for portraits of the two of them on the grounds of Saint Michael’s before they hopped in their sweet ride heading for their reception!

The Reception

Carli and Rafy’s wedding day reception took place at Lulu’s in downtown Richmond. Located in Shockhoe Bottom, Lulu’s offers a fabulous, eclectic cuisine in the heart of the city! An intimate space for private events, it was the perfect location for Carli and Rafy! And, adding to the uniqueness of their event, the happy couple hired a caricaturist who drew portraits of each of the guests for their guest book!

Did I mention that Carli and Rafy attend dance classes together? Their first dance was a spectacularly choreographed number that was just teeming with *them*. After their first dance, all of the guests were up and on the dance floor to dance the traditional yalekhtas dance, led by Rafy’s brother, Rony. Which was immediately followed by #allofthedancing!

Carli and Rafy, I LOVED photographing your traditional and intimate wedding day and capturing your authentic and pure love for one another. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know you over the past year and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. Thank you for allowing me to be a small part of your wedding day ❤.

Ceremony Location: Saint Michael’s Church
Reception: Lulu’s
Favors: Caricatures by Drawn Together Ink
Bridal Shop: BHLDN
Dress Designer: Badgley Mishka
Shoes: Steve Madden
Suit Shop: Nordstrom
Suit Designer: Bonobos
Jewelry: Necklace – Amy G. Bridal, Engagement Ring – family heirloom from Carly’s Grandmother
Yalekhtas (dancing scarves): Made with love by Rafy’s Aunt
Check out Carli & Rafy’s Engagement Session here!

A Tuckahoe Plantation Elopement

Tuckahoe Plantation

I love finding a photography location as sweet and beautiful as the couple I’m photographing there! Located just a short 20 minute drive from the Museum District in Richmond, Virginia, Tuckahoe Plantation is a world all its own. When you turn down Tuckahoe Plantation’s gorgeous tree-lined entrance, a mile’s drive will find you at the front door of Thomas Jefferson’s childhood home! Tuckahoe Planatation, now a National Historical Landmark, was built in the 1730’s and is in continued use today as a private residence. And believe me, between its lush gardens, its expansive acreage overlooking the James River, its adorable picket fences, and the gorgeous estate, there truly is no better place to enjoy a little slice of nature away from the city than Tuckahoe Plantation!

Halle & Andrew

A few weeks ago I received a call from Andrew inquiring about an engagement session. I was so excited to speak with him about his relationship with his fiancé, Halle, and find out more about their engagement and plans for their big day! When I asked Andrew if they had started planning their wedding he said:

“Yes, it’s going to be in May.”

To which I responded, “Oh how perfect – you have a year to plan!”

To which he said, “Actually this May. Next week. On the day you photograph us!”

Needless to say, we were 10 minutes into our conversation and I was floored! An elopement! At Tuckahoe Plantation! How ROMANTIC!! And such a perfect place for these lovebirds to begin their happily ever after together <3.

Halle and Andrew, the two of you are so incredibly sweet together. I was SO honored to capture your first day of forever as Mr. and Mrs. and am thrilled that you have found one another! Congratulations you two!

A York River State Park Portrait Session

York River State Park

I am ALWAYS up for exploring new photography locations. So when Nina told me she wanted to venture to York River State Park, a place neither of us had ever been, I excitedly jumped at the possibility to scout a new location! York River State Park is located in Williamsburg, Virginia. The park is over 2,500 acres and encompasses a large estuary (where salt and fresh water meet – who knew!) York River State Park also hosts a visitor’s center, picnic shelters, playgrounds, and boat and fishing equipment rentals. BUT! To me, the most exciting aspect of York River State Park is its amazing, naturally preserved beaches. With white sands, tall marshes, fallen trees, lush forests, and beautiful views – it really can’t be beat!

Nina & Athony

Most phone calls I receive from potential clients are newly engaged couples looking for an engagement and wedding photographer (which I love!) But I ALSO love when I get phone calls like Nina’s. A call from a “veteran couple” who have been married for years, looking for photographs to showcase the love they *still* share…after 7 years of marriage! And those phone calls are SUPER special to me.

  1. Because it THRILLS me to capture couple’s love after so much time has passed.
  2. Because it reminds me of my own hubby and our years of togetherness. It’s such a special privilege for me to photograph couples celebrating the next phase of their love <3.

Nina, Anthony, and I met at the visitor’s center for their session before exploring just a small sliver of what York River State Park has to offer. And the open fields, forests, beaches, and fishing pond did not disappoint. I only wish we’d had more time to explore (and maybe a few less bugs :-p).

Nina and Anthony, it was such a privilege to be able to provide you with “engagement photos” so many years into your beautiful marriage! Wishing you so many more years of happiness and love together!

A Belle Isle Engagement Session

Sarah & Erik

Just a quick walk over the Belvedere Street pedestrian bridge, you’ll find yourself in Belle Isle, and in a completely different world than the downtown Richmond you left! Belle Isle may be just a 20 minute walk over the bridge but with its beautiful tree lined paths, open fields, and gorgeous river views, you may forget you’re so close to the city. Not only does Belle Isle have a little something for everyone (biking? hiking? climbing? check!) but if you’re looking for access to the James River, Belle Isle has tons of river-flattened rocks to climb on, jump in from, or just lay on to soak up the sun :).

Sarah, Erik, and I met at the Tredegar Parking lot (located at the base of the bridge) to meander over to Belle Isle together. The beautiful spring weather did NOT disappoint. Because let’s be honest. It’s only spring for about 4 days a year in RVA :-p.

Can I just say how fun are these two??? I mean, honestly. First of all, they could not stop giggling around each other. They were legit giddy the whole session! Like when Erik would kiss the top of Sarah’s head and she’d get buried in his beard. Or when they were dancing and Sarah spun Erik. Or when they would just look at each other and bust out laughing! Every little thing they did – every head tilt and glance, every kiss and embrace – led to huge grins, giant laughs, and a little glimpse into this sweet couple’s love for one another.

Sarah and Erik, the two of you fit so perfectly together and I adored capturing a small piece of your love story. I absolutely cannot wait for your big day at the Poe Museum next month!!

A Japanese Gardens Engagement Session

Monica & Roland

This week I had the pleasure of photographing Monica and Roland in Maymont Park’s Japanese Gardens. Both aficionados of Japanese culture, this sweet couple was excited to find themselves amongst the Japanese Gardens’ gorgeous maples and its Azalea bushes, bamboo stalks, hosta plants, and cedar and dogwood trees. AND the Japanese Gardens at Maymont feature a stunning waterfall which flows from the Italian Gardens above down underneath a gorgeous wooden bridge (one of its many highlights!) Next to the bridge, you’ll find a Zen rock garden and just a few short stone steps away you can skip across a large pond filled with giant koi fish! If you’re looking for a taste of Japan right here in Richmond, Virginia, the Japanese Gardens at Maymont Park truly feature everything you could ever want and more :).

From the very beginning of their session, I could tell that my time with Monica and Roland was going to be a beautiful showcase of the love these two share. The two of them are simply perfection in front of the camera (as I think you’ll see below)! They made my job beyond easy as they held each other close, clasped their hands together, whispered sweet nothings back and forth, and shared intimate, quiet moments together…in between the giggles :-D.

I loved being a fly on the wall to observe as Roland would sweep Monica‘s hair behind her ear, or the way she threw her arms around his neck to pull him in close. The two of you are so incredibly sweet and caring with one another. If you continue to show as much affection to one another throughout your lives, you are truly in for a blessed marriage. Here’s wishing you a lifetime of infectious smiles and never ending laughter and love ❤.

A Gravelly Point Engagement

Audrey & Sam

When I asked Audrey and Sam about their perfect location for their engagement session, one particular spot came to mind – Gravelly Point Park. Gravelly Point is a beautiful park overlooking the Washington Monument just south of the river in Washington, DC. Gravelly Point is also a super unique place since it’s located right at the end of the runway of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and affords an *amazing* opportunity to stand underneath the planes as they fly overhead. (SO FUN – seriously – check out some of the shots below! (And yes, I was lying on my back to grab those ;-).) Gravelly Point also happens to be oozing with special meaning for Audrey and Sam! Located just a few short minutes from their apartment, for these two, Gravelly Point has been the site of many bike rides, runs, and dog walks throughout their relationship, and the place where Sam proposed back in July! Was there really any better location to capture the love these two share?? I think not!

Sam is one of my husband’s closest friends from college. In fact, they were roommates during their undergrad and Masters programs at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Not only that, but when I graduated from undergrad and moved in with my now-husband, Sam became my roommate, too! And honestly, how much fun is it to get to photograph a friend who you’ve known so well over the years?!

Sam brought Audrey into our lives a few years ago and we couldn’t have been more thrilled for our wonderful friend to have found the one who brings him so much joy <3.

Sam and Audrey, I’m so glad I was able to see you both this weekend, catch up, and get behind the lens to capture your love. I can’t wait to photograph your gorgeous fall wedding at the Carnegie Institute of Science this November!!


A Belle Isle Engagement Session

Emily & Freddy

Waaaayyyy back in November when my brand new website launched (hooray!), I ran a contest for a *free* engagement session for one lucky couple…. tons of super sweet couples entered for the chance to win…and I’m thrilled to say that Emily and Freddy were the lucky two who were selected! YAY Engagement session!

These two could not have been more adorable (although I may be biased since they reminded me a whole lot of me and my darling hubby, Jonathan!) High school sweethearts, Emily and Freddy met during their school’s musical production of “Fiddler on the Roof” (ok…maybe not so like me and Jonathan :-p) and have been together long distance since beginning college. And they continue to be long distance while planning their wedding, with Emily recently moving to Charlotte for a new job while Freddy completes his degree at Virginia Tech.

Their Engagement Session

While it may have been below freezing during their engagement session on Belle Isle, these two certainly knew how to keep warm!! From long embraces to fabulous dance twists and turns, and a few acrobatic  moves mixed in there, they kept each other (and me) on our toes and moving :).

If you haven’t been, Belle Isle is a GORGEOUS photography spot in the heart of Richmond on the James River. Located just a short (ok semi-long?) walk across the James, it features a fantastic assortment of backdrops – plenty of bridge/river/rock areas, a large open field, a few metal buildings/structures, overhead bridges, and wooded areas – not to mention a gorgeous, sweeping view of the Richmond city skyline if you’re brave enough to venture onto the river rocks (don’t worry, images below!) It’s definitely a perfect session location for those looking for a little bit of everything right in the heart of downtown Richmond!

Emily and Freddy, the two of you were such a joy to photograph. Your love for one another is so beautiful and pure, and I am so grateful to have been able to share this beautiful (albeit cold!) day with you <3. Here’s hoping to see you in Richmond again very soon!

Baby C is on the Way!

Jonathan and I have got some GREAT BIG NEWS to share!


After 14 incredible years together, 5 blissful years of marriage, and 2 adorable fur baby kitty cats, we’re adding a little bundle of joy to our lives!

We’ve decided that finding out we are pregnant just wasn’t ENOUGH of a surprise…so on top of that, we’re going Team Green and waiting until our little one’s arrival to find out if Baby is a he or a she! “Peanut” – as we have affectionately dubbed Baby Cap – should be making his/her debut some time in mid-March 2018 and we couldn’t be more excited!

And of course, what better way to celebrate the growth of our family than through our OWN professional photography session?! There’s nothing like being a professional photographer yourself and realizing the most recent images you have with the person you love most in the world are your wedding photos from over 5 years ago. I was thrilled when Arika Shelest of Arika Jordan Photography agreed to drive all the way from North Carolina to capture our excitement at our little one’s arrival :). Thank you for being so phenomenal and making the trek, Arika!!

To my amazing clients – I am so so so excited to capture all of your joyous moments and occasions in 2018! Assuming our little guy or gal sticks close to his/her expected arrival, I will be taking some time off in March and April, but I will be back up and running in May :).

We are BEYOND grateful to our family and friends who have already shown us such unbelievable love, generosity, guidance, and support during this beautiful time in our lives. Jonathan and I are the luckiest people in the world to have each and every one of you by our sides and we are so excited for Peanut to meet you all!




Angela & Spencer || A Maymont Park Couple’s Session

Sometimes the most last minute sessions prove to be the most fun :).

Angela contacted me a few weeks ago to inquire about my availability just a few short days later. She and her longtime boyfriend, Spencer, both originally from California, were coming to Richmond for the Marine Corps Ball at the Richmond Convention Center. SO FUN!

Spencer had recently joined the military and so this was going to be their very FIRST Marine Corps Ball together. Not only that, but these lovebirds have been dating for quite a while and had never had their photographs taken together professional! Ergo – they wanted to make sure to do the whole experience juuuuust right :). Completely decked out in GORGEOUS makeup by Avenue 42 and an absolutely stunning red dress, Angela looked BEYOND amazing! Not to be outdone, her fabulous beau wowed in his Marine dress attire looking quite sharp :).

I had a fabulous time hanging out with these two in the Italian gardens at Maymont Park – one of my favorite places to photograph in all of Richmond. Between the gorgeous architecture and columns, the blooming roses, the wrought iron gazebos that LITERALLY look like they belong in a fairy tale – what more could you ask for in a location?? I was thrilled when the adorable couple decided there was no better place for them to capture such a momentous occasion!

Angela and Spencer, I’m so grateful that the stars aligned for me to be able to photograph you during your super short stay in Richmond. While the East Coast may be a little bit colder than what you had been anticipating, I hope my beautiful city treated you well while you were here and that you have a lifetime of memories from your first Marine Corps Ball to take with you <3.

I hope to see you both back in Richmond for another fabulous Marine Corps Ball next fall!


Carli & Rafy || A Downtown Richmond Engagement Session

Simply put, Carli and Rafy are perfect for each other.

As they told me in their own words: “From date #1 it was a whirlwind romance spent learning about each other and bonding over a shared love of humor and making people laugh.” And I can truly say their love is like a blanket that surrounds and wraps the two of them together. And as for making people laugh? Well, keep reading :-p.

Not only that, but these two are serious romantics at heart. For his proposal, the two went out salsa dancing one night (I know, right??) and came home to an apartment FILLED with roses. (Again, I KNOW, RIGHT???) And even though Rafy forgot his line :)… Carli said yes anyway!

Words can’t describe the beautiful, playful aura that surrounds these two when they are together. They were seriously giddy like school children during their entire engagement session. Although, to be fair, I think that’s just how excited and cutesy they are with one another at all times :-p. I’m honestly not even sure what kept us in stitches, but throughout our entire session the three of us sent out continuous peels of laughter into Libby Hill Park and the surrounding Church Hill neighborhood. It’s honestly hard to keep from smiling just being around their love <3.

Carli and Rafy, I am so so so happy that I got the opportunity to photograph your engagement session and ECSTATIC to photograph your May wedding in 2018! Bring on the food, friends, and fun 🙂

Welcome to the FOJ Blog

Jess Capozzola is a Richmond-based photographer specializing in wedding, newborn, and portrait photography. When she isn’t capturing the in-between moments behind the lens of her Nikon camera, she can be found snuggling with her husband and two kitties and avoiding dairy. Just kidding, she always avoids dairy; stupid lactose :-p

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