The magazine-worthy vibes are hot and heavy in today’s feature! Former American Idol contestant Janell Wheeler and her beau Adam hit up local wedding photographer Mikaela Rose Photography for a rooftop and Pedestrian Bridge Nashville engagement session. While not the backdrop they always envisioned for these photos, the more they thought about their story, the more they saw how meaningful the city skyline was to their relationship. The sleek architecture was accompanied by graceful movements by the couple with Janell donning an Olia Zavozina gown and hat and Adam in a sleek suit. The trendy vibes fused with the laid back feel were a match made in heaven and are no doubt going to inspire!
How did you get engaged? Tell us about your proposal.
Janell: I ignored ALL of the signs. My fiance Adam had his 30th birthday coming up so we decided to take a big trip to Grand Cayman. I did not think for a second to bring something beautiful or fashionable, and threw a clubbing dress in my luggage as a “fancy Birthday dinner” outfit. His birthday fell on the last day of our trip so I spent all day telling anyone who would listen “It’s his 30th Birthday!” and making every meal include a birthday song. We had planned a nice dinner that evening, but as we relaxed on the beach and the sun started to set I kept trying to convince him to bail on dinner and just keep snorkeling and drinking pina coladas. He finally convinced me to go get ready, I didn’t even leave time to do my hair. We jumped into our car and on our way he decided that we should take a stroll along the ocean. Adam had strategically found a secluded beach for us to steal a few minutes alone before dinner. As we walked along the shore I picked on him for driving like such a spaz on the way there (having no idea he was having a minor nervous breakdown) and we took a few selfies with a palm tree that loved smacking us in the face (those pre proposal pics are amazing, btw). Then, out of nowhere Adam was down on one knee, ring in hand. “HOLY SH*T” I exclaimed and pulled him in for a kiss. Adam was holding on to the ring for dear life as the waves washed up and soaked both of us. It was messy, and exciting, and filled with emotion. After I finally let him place the ring on my finger a sweet couple from Brazil ran up to us and gave us each a Corona to celebrate (little did we know how much we would hate that word just a few months later) and Adam’s hired photographer who caught the whole proposal took some awesome posed photos of us. We couldn’t stop laughing and smiling and it shows in the photos.
How many guests are you expecting?
Janell: We are expecting 100 -125 guests. There have been A LOT of “make up” weddings this year though, so we know that we need to be flexible and understanding as people have been forced to make choices on which family and friends’ weddings to attend.
What’s your wedding budget?
Janell: Our budget has been pretty fluid. We never set one, but as we draw closer to the event we have calculated around $35k. I am very much a DIY-er and have saved quite a bit by having a photoshop pro as a partner. I think our biggest “no compromise” moment in budgeting has been the venue. It was the very first photo I saved on IG after getting engaged. I did not care how long I had to wait, or how much over budget it was, it was too perfect for us to skip. It was about $3k over my budget, however I am saving with my DIYs including making my own flower arrangements with Nashville Flower Market, and using the plants at our greenhouse venue to decorate with, which they encourage! I chose this venue knowing that even if there is a rain backup plan I will be surrounded by greenery and nature. I feel really at peace because of this.
Who have you hired for your wedding team so far?
Janell: I have hired almost all of our vendors as we are nearing the wedding in the next two months. I was pretty quick to get my vendors hired because we are having record amounts of weddings taking place and I could sense the urgency to lock in with any vendor I felt strongly about. I started with Venue, Videography, Photography, DJ, and Catering. I then took a little more time with detail vendors like flowers, bartending services, transportation. I am in the phase of meeting with my bartending company to construct my signature cocktails, deciding on cocktail hour musician’s setlist, and settling on my diner menu. This is the fun part!
What’s your wedding style?
Janell: Let me start by saying my planning style is laid back, go with the flow. My bridal style is bold and glamorous. Our wedding style is modern, clean, black + white. I say all three styles because I want people to know that it is ok to be a minimalist lover of all things zen with a desire to bring the flashy fancy. A bride can be all things! I am even incorporating my love of comic books and super heroes into our entrance and photo booth. Thank God my fiancé is understanding of how quirky his bride to be is. Our venue is so naturally beautiful on its own that we are letting it speak for itself and just adding small, clean details to make it pop.
What’s your most fun purchase/hire to date?
Janell: Our videographer, Christian of Wild Fern Weddings had a bonus engagement session with us at our home. From slow dancing to records, to playing with our dog, and even a round of Mario Kart, this was such a fun experience. He created a short and sweet video that we have on our wedding website. This was such a great idea not only for the fun of it, but also a “get to know you” experience with our videographer much like an engagement photoshoot with photographer. We also just selected our specialty cocktails with Beatrice of Simply Southern Bar Services which was a blast. She made us quite a few drink options so we left with a great buzz and another detail checked off our to do list!
What aspect of being engaged has surprised you the most?
Janell: Adam and I can both answer this one the same way: we don’t like calling each other “fiance” anymore. Don’t get me wrong, it was so exciting at first, but because of the nearly 3 year delay we both have grown tired of it. We are ready to level up to husband and wife status.
What have you most enjoyed about being engaged?
Janell: Shortly after the engagement we were hit with the Nashville tornado and displaced from our apartment, only to return and be locked in due to COVID. Our 500 sqft studio apartment was not the easiest to navigate with both of us having to work from home, me nights, and him taking meetings in the bathroom for privacy. During this time we chose to work together to change what we could and instead of planning a wedding during the unknown we bought our first home together. We also added our puppy to the family and started making memories we didn’t think we would be making until after we were married. It has been such a trying time, but also special for us; bittersweet. We really went into this with the mindset that we are a team and I never felt that more in my life than during our engagement.
Tell us about your engagement session. Where did it take place?
Janell: We were lucky enough to have access to the amenity deck of a downtown high rise. We really wanted to feature downtown Nashville because Adam is a commercial high rise architect. We also wanted to showcase the skyline because our wedding venue features more of the natural beauty of surrounding Nashville areas and less of the typical downtown experience.
What’s the significance of the location?
Janell: I never intended to lean into the downtown Nashville skyline shoot on the pedestrian bridge until I really thought about my story with Adam. We met downtown at a friend’s dinner at MakeReady, and ran all over Broadway that night. Now we have these gorgeous photos of a skyline that will inevitably change with time, but the Nashville that we fell in love in is documented in our photoshoot.
What was it like working with your photographer?
Janell: Mikaela is so easy going, and encouraging. She was dealing with one person that has done a lot of photoshoots and one that had never. She knew how to balance that dynamic beautifully. Most of all she kept gushing over the photos we were taking, showing us previews on her camera, and building our confidence and comfort level.
What did you like most about the session?
Janell: I loved how “us” it was. I was able to wear a style of gown I always wanted to wear (thanks to my dress designer Olia Zavozina letting me model for her), rock a hat because I’m known to wear lots of hats, we brought a few our favorite brews from Bearded Iris, and we posed in front of beautiful high rises as a nod to Adam’s profession as an architect.
Would you recommend the photographer and why?
Janell: I can not sing enough praises for my photographer. Mikaela of Mikaela Rose Photography has been my biggest cheerleader throughout this very long wait leading up to the wedding. As a COVID bride, I feel like my excitement going into a 2 year delayed engagement shoot was waning. She hyped me up, reminded me of how in love I am with my partner, and gave me confidence to get in front of a camera. Something that really stands out for me is her love for what she is doing. When you are working with someone who loves what they do you can feel it, and it results in magic!
We can’t wait for the wedding! Special thanks to Janell and Adam for sharing their rooftop and Pedestrian Bridge Nashville engagement session with us!