Family Time in Tilghman Island

No one told us when we got engaged that we would get to have so many special moments before our wedding with our family and friends. I've heard time and time again how stressful the planning process can be (and witnessed that firsthand), and how our wedding day is going to be the happiest day of our lives. But, they all forgot to mention the time in between. They forgot to mention that throughout the weeks and months leading up to the wedding, there would be these other blissfully happy, "pinch me" moments. Our engagement party was one of the best nights of my entire life, with our closest friends and family dancing around us in the rain, with wine in hand and singing to each other at the top of our lungs like we were the only ones there.

We hosted our engagement party at a public, outdoor music event at a local vineyard. We had cheese and crackers on a blanket in the field and bought bottles of wine to share. It wasn't anything fancy or styled, and it ended up raining on us at the end of the night, but it was absolutely perfect. I remember crying real, happy tears (partially from the wine, I'm sure), and telling Sam how I wanted our wedding to feel exactly like that night. It was the first time that my family and Sam's family met in person, after 6 years of us dating, and I remember feeling so grateful that all of these people would come together to celebrate and surround us with this overwhelming love.   

After that night, our two families have grown closer, inviting each other to cook-out's, shopping trips, and holiday celebrations. It has been an amazing feeling seeing them bond and coming to the realization that this is our big, new family. As chaotic as it gets with 13 people and different personalities, we wouldn't have it any other way. 

One of our favorite places to get together is Tilghman Island because, although it's only a couple hours outside of the city, it has this relaxed feeling about it where you can't help but soak in the present moment. Every time we visit, I feel reminded of a slower pace of life where there is more than enough time to read a book, practice meditation, and play board games with family. 

A couple of weekends back, I scheduled a family photo shoot at the Wylder Hotel in Tilghman Island while everyone is in town. Because I know how much my family has cherished our photos from the Christmas shoot we did a while back, I wanted to organize the same for Sam's family. I also wanted to capture this time in our life as we bring both of our families together to celebrate our own marriage.

It's really no wonder why we wanted to shoot this session at the Wylder Hotel. The whimsical hotel is located on a 3-mile island on the Chesapeake Bay, and is a remake of a 1898 original boarding house where watermen ran the docks and crabs were piled high on picnic tables. It is truly an iconic property. Once I visited their website and saw the picturesque Chesapeake Bay view, their charming crab shack, and the wrap-around porch that just felt like home, I knew it would be the perfect fit. We spent the evening before dinner wandering around the property, talking about our upcoming wedding plans, and making awkward faces at each other in an attempt to look "natural"; consequently busting into real fits of laughter. 

After dinner, Sam and I hung out on the Notebook-worthy swing in their front lawn for some of my favorite photos of us, shared in my last blog post!

In my opinion, the Wylder Hotel at Tilghman Island is the perfect setting for a relaxed, yet elegant wedding, rehearsal dinner, or family reunion. The property is complete with a salt water pool, bocce court, and lawn games for guests to unwind and soak in the private waterfront view. The kind and gracious hotel staff truly describe it best when they say that it "pays tribute to the charm of a bayside bed & breakfast with the feel of a luxury hotel". Needless to say, I have a feeling that we will be seeing much more of the Wylder Hotel in our future! 

Jade Nikkole Photography: Website / Facebook / Instagram

Wylder Hotel: Website / Facebook / Instagram

White Maxi Dress by Heartloom / Pink Sandals by Chinese Laundry / Jewelry by Meritage Jewelers

How do you spend quality time with your family and loved ones? Comment on the last photo on my Instagram feed and tell me or tag me in your favorite family photo!

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xo Anna Elizabeth