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Jessica & Tabel | A Rustic Summer Wedding


A Stoltzfus Homestead and Gardens Wedding | Lancaster, Pennsylvania


Jessica and Tabel’s love story is so beautiful and has so many facets to it that I’m almost afraid to share it, for fear that I won’t portray it as amazing as what it really is. I will try my best. Being a wedding photographer has a lot of perks, but probably the biggest one is the amazing people you meet. When those people become friends, it is an extra special blessing.  From the first time I talked with Jess and Tabel, I knew there was something special about them. They have a sincere love for people that radiates from their hearts and draws you in, making you feel like family.  Their story is exceptional, as was their wedding.

Jess and Tabel first met at a Salsa Dance Fundraiser and were both instantly attracted to each other.  A short while later, Tabel contacted Jess on social media and they set up their first date. They knew right away there was a future for them. A few years later, Tabel planned one of the most romantic proposals ever…in Iceland! On a sunrise tour at the famous Sun Voyager, Tabel got down on one knee and asked Jess to be his wife!. The Sun Voyager is a sculpture in Reykjavík, Iceland which symbolizes the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom. It was the perfect symbol for the journey they were about to embark on as husband and wife. Tabel had chosen sunrise to propose, as a representation of new beginnings. Jess said it was the most beautiful and intimate proposal she could have ever imagined. 

When I asked what they most loved about each other, they gave me a list of almost 100 things! (I’m not kidding.) Early in their dating relationship, they started keeping a list of reasons why they love each other. It’s really sweet, and such a great idea. Some are serious and some are hilarious! They’ll always have this list to look back on, in the hard times and the good times. A few reasons why Tabel loves Jess…she always makes sure he doesn’t have crumbs on his face; she saves him the last bite; she prays for him; she wants to look beautiful for him; she believes he’ll change the world someday; (feeling the goosebumps yet?) she makes him happy; sends him beautiful notes; lets him pick the movie; trusts him; and she’s given him her heart.  He has almost 40 more on his list and they are all so endearing.  Jess’s reasons for loving Tabel are just as precious and made me smile as I read each one. Tabel is a planner; he’s thoughtful; he always makes sure she walks on the inside of the sidewalk; he makes her feel beautiful; he loves her daughter; he rejoices in her small victories; he wants to change the world; he gives to his church; he loves Jesus; he’s the calm before the storm, and her rainbow when it’s over.  I wish I could list them all here…maybe they’ll write a book someday.

For Jess and Tabel, their wedding day was a dream come true. They had picked Stoltzfus Homestead and Gardens as their venue. Both being from New Jersey, they were used to big city, country club style weddings, and they wanted something different. Stoltzfus was perfect for them. They had use of the entire facility, including the Tobacco Barn, the Grand Barn and the Gardens.

It was truly one of the most beautiful and heartfelt weddings I’ve been a part of. The forecast called for rain, but instead, it ended up being one of the hottest and most humid days of July.  Looking at their beautiful photos, you’d think it was a perfect spring day. Everyone looked amazing! Tabel, known for his impeccable taste in clothing and fashion, chose the groomsmen’s outfits. Their blue suits blended well with the silver-sage dresses that Jess had chosen for her bridesmaids. Jess was stunning in her lacy white dress from RK Bridal of New York, and Tabel looked awesome in his white and blue combination suit from Joseph A Banks. The entire wedding party seemed as if they stepped right off the pages of a bridal magazine.

The ceremony was full of sentimental and special moments. One of the most touching parts of the ceremony was when Tabel said his vows to Jess…and then also to her daughter. It was a surprise to her, and such a precious testimony of his love for both of them. There were very few dry eyes in the place, including mine. Another special sentiment they added was a release of white doves.  To Jess and Tabel, the doves represented them as bride and groom beginning life’s journey together in purity, with no regrets from their past. Jess said, “A wedding ceremony begins a journey of two lives working together for life’s happiness. The actions of the doves demonstrated this beautifully. Once released, the doves fly higher and higher together as they seek their way home. While still separate, they work as a team until they can find their bearings. Once they discover the direction they need to travel, these beautiful white doves climb to greater and greater heights. Similarly, a bride and groom don’t know what the future holds for them. Their path may change many times along the way, but with faith and love they will find their way together. Just as our doves had the instinct to find their way home, Tabel ad I will always know where ‘home’ is…wherever we are together.” Beautifully said.

After the ceremony, we snuck away for some gorgeous photos, then met everyone back at the reception, where there was a delicious meal in the beautiful Grand Barn, and some extraordinary dancing! Remember, they met at a Salsa fundraiser? Jess and Tabel’s dancing skills did not disappoint! Their dance together is one of the most memorable I’ve ever witnessed. And, the rest of their family and friends were incredible dancers, too!  The whole evening was full of friends and family having a wonderful time celebrating the marriage of Jess and Tabel.

At the end of a wedding, it’s often a bittersweet experience for a photographer. You’re so happy for the couple and excited about getting their images to them to help them so they can continue the celebration. But, after spending time getting to know the couple, seeing their hearts poured out in their vows, and celebrating with them, you know you will rarely see them again. Jess and Tabel touched our hearts at John Malloy Photography in a such special way, and we are so thankful for the moments we shared with them! They became like family and we’re humbled and grateful for the friendship they so freely offered to us. Congratulations, Jess and Tabel! May God continue to bless you and your family for many years to come!

Photographer | John Malloy Photography

Venue | Stoltzfus Homestead and Gardens

Florals | Pearls and Petals Designs

Wedding Gown | RK Bridal of New York

Groomsmen Attire| Joseph A Banks

Hair Stylist | Darla’s Hair Care and Spa

Makeup | Jo Le Posh

DJ | Portable Soundz

Videographer | Vasaturo Still & Motion

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I am thankful to each and every couple who invites me to document their love story. Each precious moment of wedding happiness is important to me. 

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