Chelsie emailed us this summer only a few days after Josh had popped the question, while their families vacationed together in the Keys, and we couldn’t have been more excited for them. We not only had previously met both Chelsie and Josh, thanks to Taylor and Jerry, but had photographed them both in 2012, before they were a couple: Chelsie was one of Taylor’s bridesmaids, and Josh is Jerry’s brother, and Chelsie credits Taylor with setting her up with her husband-to-be. We were so excited and honored when Chelsie and Josh asked us to photograph their wedding, too.
And that wedding, next October, sounds like it is going to be one incredible, beautiful celebration! We got in a practice round last week — Chelsie and Josh’s engagement session, also at her parents’ beautiful farm . . . which is also where they’ll be getting married.
Like I said, it’s going to be incredible!
Riley and Doc, Chelsie and Josh’s horses, had a sleepover the night before the shoot so Doc could be there for their first set of family pictures. Once Chelsie and Josh get married, the horses are going to be stablemates in the barn Josh is building for Chelsie on his property. Ladies . . . does this guy know how to sweep a horse-crazy girl off her feet or what?!
Aahhh, Chelsie and Josh, you two are wonderful together.
I have a serious soft spot for bucksins like Doc.
Really. This happened!
Chelsie, you are beautiful!
Let’s talk about Chelsie’s ring for a minute here, because it deserves to be talked about! She said she’s never wanted a wedding band — she wanted an engagement ring that would double as her wedding ring, and she wanted something that looked slightly antique and unique. This rose gold ring that Josh picked out for her is perfect. Really, really perfect!
What had been a lovely afternoon deepened into a vibrant sunset as we wrapped up their portraits.
Chelsie and Josh, we had such a great time with you both (and the horses!), and we know your wedding next October is going to be something special! Thank you so much for having us along for the fun!
After an early birthday dinner at my parents’ house on Sunday, my brother told me there was something I needed to see. So we all trooped into the family room, where he turned on a VHS he’d found — an old home movie, first of his seventh birthday (highlight: as he listened to the musical candle on his cake play the birthday song in an endless loop, he quipped, “This will end when I’m eight”), then of my tenth (highlight: my overly-earnest, very video-camera-conscious reactions to each gift I opened).
As I watched the video, I thought about how much more important birthdays feel when you’re a kid, and they’re filled with celebrations and surprises and presents and sugar. Lots of sugar. When you’re a kid, birthdays are proof positive that you’re getting bigger and growing older, which is hugely significant to children and surprisingly less thrilling for adults. Less-thrilling-enough that for the past several years, I’ve pretty much forgotten my birthday was coming up even though it’s always been on the same date every year. I’ve just kind of started mentally skipping myself ahead to the next age a few months before it actually happens.
But birthdays don’t need to be big or celebrated with parties to still be special. Watching that video with my family was a good reminder for me that even when my birthday doesn’t feel like a big deal since I’m not a kid anymore, it’s still meaningful. It’s the best of opportunities to really pause, reflect on where you’ve been and what you’ve been through, and most important, who’s been through it all with you.
Today is the last birthday of my twenties, so it does feel a little more significant than usual.
Nine years ago, Danny and I had our first date on the first birthday of my twenties.
It kind of feels like I’ve somehow come full circle, although I know the circle is nowhere near complete. There’s still so much to live through, and so many people to live through it all with.
It’s been almost five years since Danny and I celebrated our wedding. Almost five years since the butterflies and the beautiful flowers, the couldn’t-have-been-better weather and my too-tight corset.
Heading into our wedding, I knew that not everything would turn out perfect (although I definitely didn’t anticipate getting locked out of the house and ending up late to my own ceremony as a result!), but I had pretty reasonable expectations. I wanted to savor the start of this marriage journey. I wanted to be able to be present with my family and friends, and especially with my bridesmaids and Danny, since I knew I would be spending most of the day with them. I wanted to create memories that were as beautiful as any bit of the decor.
It’s a good idea for couples to go into their weddings with those kinds of goals. We always ask our couples what they most want to remember about their wedding day, and almost all of them respond that they want to remember how much fun they had with their friends and family, no matter whether something goes wrong. With that kind of attitude, it’s hard to fail.
So what should a couple do to set can’t-fail expectations about their wedding photography?
First, find a photographer whose style and vision aligns with yours. I’ve covered this topic before, but it bears repeating: You need to hire a photographer you love, because the way he or she captures your wedding day will be the way you remember it for the rest of your life.
Second, listen to your photographer’s advice. Your photographer will know how much time you need to allot to capture the portraits you want, and the time of day and locations required to produce photographs similar to the ones you fell in love with in his/her portfolio. Share your ideas ahead of time so the photographer will be prepared to create any specific images you would like.
Third, remember that your wedding day is yours. It is unique. It is a compilation of your creative ideas and your personality and the presences of your friends and family and the vision of the vendors you put together to build your wedding team. The overall look and feel of your venue, the quality and quantity of lighting and decor, and the weather on your wedding day will all affect the look of your wedding photographs. Remember that your wedding photographs will reflect your day — not someone else’s. Don’t get caught up in trying to recreate Pinterest pictures or staging elaborate scenes or driving far out of your way to shoot portraits at a location that doesn’t have any pertinence to your wedding day. Embrace your wedding’s uniqueness; embrace capturing your wedding as it really is.
Go into your wedding day excited — and prepared. Then create memories — and photographs — you’ll treasure.
About a month before it took place, Adam began planning an elaborate proposal. It involved location scouting, a few white lies (as far as Mary knew, I was a friend of Adam’s from school and just wanted a couple to pose for my camera), love notes tucked inside seashells — which Mary collects — and the perfect piece of sparkle. Most of all, it involved making Mary feel like she was the most important person in the world, especially as far as Adam is concerned.
And perhaps the very best part of it all? How adorably oblivious Mary was that Adam was about to drop down on one knee. She knew just how much he loved her. She knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. She was just too sweetly unassuming to think that he’d put together such a beautiful proposal – and planned to have it all captured on camera!
I sent Adam off with Danny for a few “individual portraits.” Really, Adam just needed a chance to slip the ring inside one of the shells! But it gave me a chance to photograph Mary alone, just moments before Adam proposed — and Mary, you were already radiant.
And then — wait, what’s this little table doing here in the middle of the mangroves . . . ?
So. Much. Happiness.
And I was crying behind my camera. That kind of joy overflows to everyone who is lucky enough to witness it.
With the big surprise unveiled, we gave Mary and Adam a few minutes alone to soak in the excitement . . . and maybe make a few phone calls. Then we headed out into the delicious golden hour for their instant engagement session!
Could we have asked for a more beautiful fall evening in Florida? It was the perfect day to get engaged!
The cushion cut diamond Adam found for Mary suited her perfectly – and it was exactly what she’d wanted.
I asked Adam to tell Mary exactly why he was so excited to marry her, and there were more tears.
Brides don’t only glow on their wedding day. They definitely glow on their engagement day, too!
And one of my all-time favorite photo pairings to end with:
Mary and Adam, we are so happy and excited for you! Being a part of your proposal was a huge honor and our pleasure, and we know that what comes next for you two will be just as incredible!