I am honestly still floored.
When I first found out I was nominated for Best Wedding Photographer for the Best of Baldwin awards back in September, I was absolutely surprised and so incredibly grateful - just to be nominated! For someone, anyone, to consider me the "Best Wedding Photographer" in Baldwin County is an absolute dream. Then, a month later I found out I made it to the Top 5 which was such an honor in and of itself. I was proud and grateful to make it that far.
BUT THEN THIS. I actually won. For the girl whose only gold medal was in a gymnastics meet when she was 10 years old and only got that gold medal because she was the only girl in her level, this was a big frickin deal. And not only that, but to be pursuing my dream job, doing something I love, and actually being honored for it? It's an absolute dream come true and I sincerely cannot thank you all enough for your support.
On Thursday, Gulf Coast Media put on a Red Carpet Event at the Orange Beach Event Center to announce and celebrate the winners. I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't beyond excited to go to this event. Since most days you'll find me on the couch in sweatpants in front of my computer (i.e. right now), I love any excuse to dress up. I perused Poshmark for weeks to find the perfect outfit, and hired my good friend Meg at Makeup by Meg to come and do my makeup (who, I gotta say, knocked it out the park - I felt beautiful.)
I was also extra excited because I was going to be able to share it with some very special people in my life, people who have made this journey so much sweeter. My mommy - a.k.a. my rock and unconditional source of love, nurturing, support, and lady boss go-get-em attitude - was coming down from Ft. Payne for the event. My best friend Brittany also joined us, looking like a total queen. She has helped me in countless ways supporting my business, from second shooting weddings for basically free, to recommending me to anyone she heard about looking for a wedding photographer. And of course that tall glass of man love I call a boyfriend came along, Jonathan, who despises dressing up but did not complain once about wearing shoes that were not Chacos 😂🥰
I also have to give a shoutout to a few other winners I saw there that I am incredibly proud of. Robin and Sue with The Copper Kettle Tea Bar won for Best Local Business, which is incredibly cool and they are so deserving. I've known them for about 20 years now - they've been great family friends since around 2003 when my parents owned a local coffee shop (The Olive Tree). They actually served me my 21st Birthday Tea over at Two Sisters before The Copper Kettle had come to be. Since then they have worked so hard to create a community of friends who can come together over a pot of tea and simply enjoy each other's company. They are everything this county needs and more.
We also got to share a table with our good friend Rick Sharpe who won for Best Realtor. With nearly 3000 agents in the area, I think that's really saying something. I know this was an incredible honor for him, and definitely well deserved. Also gotta give a shoutout to Patrick Danaher with Gulf Coast Sounds who won for Best Event Services. I've worked with Patrick several times now at weddings, and he's as good as they come as far as Wedding DJ's go. And finally, a huge congratulations to Dr. Dyken and Dr. Bilbo at Island Orthodontics for winning best Best Orthodontist! Dr. Dyken actually gave me my braces back in 2000 and helped out this smile OH so very much 😅 and Dr. Bilbo and I went to Auburn together and became very good friends (I mean have you met her? It's hard not to love her.)
Check out the Best of Baldwin website to see all the winners! In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite wedding photos from throughout the years (going from oldest to newest, so you can see where I started and also see a fun change in my editing style 😅). Thank you all again for keeping me on this journey, for supporting me, and loving me through this roller coaster of a dream. I am so grateful to each and every one of you. ❤️
If you are looking for someone to document your special day, please give me a shout, I'd love to hear from you! www.casaraphoto.com
(c) Jessi Casara Photography
Jessi is a lifestyle documentary photographer based in southern Alabama, serving the Gulf Coast from Mobile, AL to Pensacola, FL, along with the Nashville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta areas. She specializes in couple, wedding, maternity, newborn and family photography, and also enjoys commercial and creative portraiture. Available for travel worldwide. Find out more at www.casaraphoto.com