Why This Inspiring Wedding Photo Shoot Is Going Viral

Photographed by Sarah Houston.
A gorgeous bride, a loving groom, a picture-perfect day — in many ways, the images featured in a wedding photo shoot that's making the rounds on the internet today aren’t that different from the images we’re used to seeing on Pinterest and Facebook. But there is one other distinct quality: The model, Madeline Stuart, happens to have Down syndrome.

The idea for the shoot came from Isadora Martin-Dye, the owner of Rixey Manor, a bed and breakfast and event space in Northern Virginia. Martin-Dye had been thinking about doing a promotional shoot for the B & B that was different from the typical bridal images you see everywhere.

“People think about their wedding their whole lives. When you actually get engaged, all you see are pictures of these perfect serene, skinny, women. And while it helps build a brand, it also just builds that wedding myth," she told Refinery29 in an email.

After reading about Stuart walking in her second New York Fashion Week, Martin-Dye was struck with inspiration. In a post on Rixey Manor’s Facebook page, she wrote, “I looked up her contact information, and though[t], Why not? Just see if maybe she wants to come here and do a bridal shoot. Amazingly, I got a reply saying yes!”

Click through to see more images from the shoot.
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Photographed by Sarah Houston.
In many ways, the photo shoot itself was the perfect match: As a professional model with Down syndrome, Stuart has long been an advocate for greater inclusivity in the modeling world.

Her website says
that she is “changing society’s perfection of beauty — one photo shoot at a time,” a mission that matches perfectly with Martin-Dye’s own hopes for the concept.
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Photographed by Sarah Houston.
The gorgeous shoot was the first that Martin-Dye had put together. After finding out Stuart was up for participating, she contacted her favorite local artists and vendors to help out.
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Photographed by Sarah Houston.
Photographer Sarah Houston shot the images, which included several bridal looks.
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Photographed by Sarah Houston.
The flowers were provided by Good Earth Flowers and the dresses were courtesy of Ava Laurénne Bride.
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Photographed by Sarah Houston.
The shoot also included different grooms for the different looks. As Stuart posted on Facebook, "Why have one lovely groom when a girl can borrow three?"
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Photographed by Sarah Houston.
Since Stuart shared the images on her Facebook and Instagram, praise for the shoot has been pouring in.

"You will make a very gorgeous bride," one commenter gushed, adding, "you're an inspiration to us all."
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