CHARLESTON, W.Va. - More than crabapple trees and daffodils are blooming at the statehouse on weekends this spring.
Couples decked out in all colors of the rainbow are showing up with photographers in tow before they head to their proms.
With a golden dome glistening and tulips blooming across the lawn, the Capitol Complex is the perfect natural backdrop.
"When it comes to the Capitol grounds, it's obvious because of the beautiful setting we have, that we have people coming for wedding pictures, prom pictures," said Diane Holley-Brown, spokeswoman for the state Department of Administration.
"Some even have their weddings here because of the beauty of the Capitol, especially at this time of year."
The Capitol is a public place, so no permission is required to take photos on the grounds.
The building is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Visitors also are welcome to take photos inside.
"It's encouraged because it's beautiful. We get compliments all the time from visitors out of state and from our citizens," Holley-Brown said.
Mary Ann Long, who has worked as a tour guide for the Capitol building and the Governor's Mansion for eight years, has watched visitors snap photos from various vantage points - the top of the steps and balconies, the rotunda area and the fountains.
"Their favorite is the ground rotunda, with the white circle," Long said. "They flow their gowns out, and the photographer can go up on the second floor and take a photo looking down."
Many brides choose to visit in the fall, when red, yellow and orange leaves are falling or in the springtime when trees and flowers are blooming.
"Hundreds and hundreds of folks come in to take photos around the complex," she said.
"Graduation photos are taken around the lawn. And proms are astronomical - we have buses coming from around the area. They come in by the busload."
On fair-weather Saturdays - the busiest day for photo taking - visitors can be seen on both the north and south sides of the Cass Gilbert-designed building.
Many take advantage of the flowerbeds and trees around the grounds.
"We always tell them to go to the deck of the Culture Center. On the left-hand side, there's a fabulous picture of the dome.
"Folks from all over the world come here. They see our dome on the Internet, and they're just in awe of the Capitol."
Sometimes Long is asked to snap the shutter as the visitors pose.