Hi there, I'm Manali! A wedding & portrait photographer serving DC, VA & Worldwide. Click through for all my favorites from recent sessions, adventures and travels, as well as tips & tricks for clients! Grab a cup of coffee, relax, and feel free to connect with me elsewhere as well! Cheers to you!

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Oatlands Historic House & Garden Wedding

August 27, 2019



This week’s venue highlight goes out to Oatlands Historic House & Garden which is a great local venue in the Leesburg area to get married at! Getting to explore a new location on wedding days is  one of my FAVORITE parts! This might be weird or counterintuitive or even strange for some photographers to hear, but I generally never scout out a venue that I haven’t been to BEFORE the wedding day! Now hear me out!! I do STALK venues from other photographers’ blog posts, on Google Maps, make sure I have an understanding of the layout of a venue if there are a lot of different spots, but I PREFER to scout out locations at the venue for pictures ON the day of the wedding! Here’s a couple of different reasons why:

  1. I find that this lends to my creativity the best! It forces me to get more creative on the day which pushes me to be more creative with my shots as well!
  2. The lighting always changes from day to day!! What a certain spot looks like at 12 pm vs what it looks like at 5 pm is COMPLETELY different!!!
  3. I do get to the venue super early before my coverage officially starts to see what the place looks like on the particular day! I use this time to figure out where to hang the dress, where to have the first look, where to do bridal party pictures and family formal pictures and bride and groom portraits!
  4. For me, TIME, is the biggest motivator for me in my business! In general, all the venues that I shoot at are easily 1 hour away from my base location so to go beforehand and scout takes me AT LEAST 2 hours, only to probably end up with a different lighting scenario on the actual day of the wedding itself! Just isn’t the most practical use of my time!!
  5. Part of my job is to be able to make the BEST of ANY lighting situation that I could possibly run into on the wedding day! And honestly, I love the challenge! It keeps me on my toes hahaha 🙂

That being said, I DO have favorite spots at particular venues and I wanted to highlight some of my favorite spots at Oatlands today!

1 Getting Ready Space

There’s the CUTEST little cottage for the girls to get ready in!!


2 Best Spot for a First Look

Absolutely LOVED the beautiful light that comes into this area during the early afternoon! It made for a super private and beautiful location for their first look!


3 In Front of the House

OK, I did make the entire bridal party walk up like two flights of stairs to get them to here and felt terrible because, yes, it was August, and YES, it was a hot day. And yes, I know the struggle of walking up stairs in heels!! BUT!!!! I’m so glad we did make it up here and actually a super shout out to Caity confirming that we totally should because I always try to keep things AS comfortable as possible for the bridal party and family members on the wedding day in terms of locations.

That being said, I do realize that I am hired to be able to scout out the BEST possible spots that are going to MAKE your pictures as beautiful as you can possibly imagine them. And so I will be the rallying force to get your bridal party to a particular spot if I believe it’s going to be WORTH IT!!! I will also be the first to run and grab people water afterwards haha!

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4 Mountain Views!

Right on the other side of the house, you get some GORGEOUS views of the mountain in the background! We had so much buffer room in the timeline that we got to snag some extra portraits which turned out to be some of my favorites from the day!

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5 Dancing the Night Away!

The perfect place to dance the night away after the perfect day! I love that Oatlands has a huge tented area for your reception to continue the celebration well into the night! Highly recommend having all your guests around your dance floor, having a table for your cake and either a sweetheart table or a head table for your closest friends!


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