Bear with me. This is going to be a long one.
Because this was my best friend’s wedding.
Because each and every one of my fellow bridesmaids are among my dearest friends. Because this wedding was simply overflowing with love, between the bride and groom, between family and friends, between the couple and their Savior. So to simply say it was a beautiful day wouldn’t do it justice.
The morning began with all the girls in Agatha’s Cottage, getting pretty and watching some World Cup soccer.
Danielle, who shot with us that day, captured these next two. She was absolutely invaluable, and so many of her photographs were gems.
Amanda had specifically said she wanted a few moments alone with her mom to give her mom a card . . . but as it turned out, Gloria had forgotten her glasses and asked Amanda to read the card to her. I stayed in the room to capture the moment, and what happened next was so much better than if Gloria had read the card silently. It was like nothing I’d ever witnessed at a wedding before.
Once Amanda was nice and emotional, it was time to get her into her gown.
I was so thrilled to be able to have Danielle take over so I could jump into some of the pictures and be a part of the behind-the-scenes wedding prep.
This next series gets credited to Danielle, too — since I’m in them, I couldn’t shoot the bridesmaid portraits, and I love what Danielle did with them! Oh, and those flowers! After doing flowers for so many other weddings, Amanda’s mother put together a rainbow of florals that were exactly what Amanda had envisioned.
Once we wrapped up the bridesmaid portraits, I grabbed my camera and grabbed the bride for a few minutes. After being a bridesmaid (or maid of honor) six times, Amanda was ready to be an absolutely gorgeous bride.
We headed back inside for what has become one of my favorite parts of a wedding day: The father-daughter first look.
While all this was happening, Danny was over inside The Sunshine Express with Brad and the groomsmen.
Then it was time for the groom to see his bride. A first look — something we do at about half our weddings these days. But Amanda and Brad wanted to do things a little bit differently. Taking their cue from the parable in Matthew 25, they set up their first look the opposite of how most first looks unfold: Instead of the bride walking up to her groom, this time the groom walked up to his bride. Amanda sat outside on the porch at Agatha’s Cottage, taking a few moments to read her Bible and pray. And that was exactly how Brad found her.
Doesn’t it leave you smiling, and just a little breathless?
I love these next two.
After a bit, the whole bridal party joined in.
While Danny set up the traditional bridal party portrait, Danielle went for the unconventional angle.
Oh, peekaboo. Is there anything better than kids dressed up for a wedding?!
Amanda had one request before the ceremony: She wanted everyone to pray over her. I’ve been a part of this numerous times. As the photographer. I’ve never actually been a part of the prayer circle, and I’d never been asked to help lead the prayer. These are some of the most incredible people I know, all together, all celebrating. There was laughter. And there were tears.
And then there was a ceremony.
In the week leading up to the wedding, Amanda and her mom and several of the bridesmaid had hand painted and lettered the canvases that decorated the ceremony site.
Married! As everyone filed out from the ceremony, Danielle followed the newlyweds when they slipped off for a quiet moment.
After the family portraits, we went back by the pond for the picture Amanda had dreamed of. . .
. . . and to make the most of the glowy, romantic evening.
Inside the Tavern, there was a reception ready to get underway, complete with more gorgeous florals arranged by Amanda’s mother.
And that colorful cake — it turned out exactly as Amanda had planned it.
First dances go by in an absolute blur of emotion.
At the end of the party, the marriage begins.
Amanda and Brad, we say it every time we blog a wedding, but it’s true: We couldn’t be happier for the two of you. Marriage is going to be joyful and difficult and exciting; it’s going to be one of the greatest encouragements in your life and it will also be one of your greatest, most character-shaping challenges. And it will be the most incredible adventure! We’re just so glad that you two are going to be doing life side by side, hand in hand.
~ Laura + Danny
Venue: The Estate on the Halifax – Tavern & Chapel In the Garden
Wedding Gown: Alfred Angelo
Bridal Hairpiece: David’s Bridal
Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal
Hairstyling: Lakisha Rudnicki
Makeup: Tiffany Deegan
Flowers: Gloria Henson (mother of the bride)
Cakes: Betty’s Cakes
Catering: Aunt Catfish’s on the River
DJ: Mister DJ
Second Shooter: Danielle Magnuson of Danielle Nichol Photography
Photography: Laura Yang Photography
It has been a really long time since my last edition of “My Favorite Things . . . Right Now,” so I decided this morning seemed like a good time to remedy that, while, as the header suggests, simultaneously drinking a vanilla chai latte, listening to Pandora, and daydreaming.
Okay, let me just put this out there: If you prefer a standard espresso latte to a chai latte, I don’t understand quite how your brain is wired! I mean, I love my pumpkin spice, I love my gingerbread, and I’m a fan of cinnamon dolce lattes, too. But vanilla chai is off-the-charts amazing. It’s cozy and spicy and my favorite way to start a day. Or to have a break in the middle of the day. Or end the day. Pretty much whatever time it is, I think it’s a good time for a vanilla chai latte. And so I’m always shocked when my local baristas still ask me what I want to drink, since my order is the same nine times out of ten.
Speaking of nine times out of ten — that’s how often I turn to my go-to Pandora station when I want to listen to music these days. I virtually never listen to all the music stored on my computer and phone now. It’s just always the Erin McCarley station on Pandora and has been for months. Erin McCarley, John Mayer, Regina Spektor, Coldplay, Switchfoot, Mumford & sons, Mat Kearney, Ingrid Michaelson, One Republic, A Fine Frenzy — it’s good stuff, and the soundtrack of my life this year.
And that brings me to the other thing that has absorbed so much of my time, thoughts, and energy this year: Pursuing the things that used to only be daydreams. But as I wrote a little while back, there comes a time when you have to stop dreaming and start living. But that doesn’t mean the dreams go away. It just means they have to exist in your physical, literal day-to-day life instead of existing only in your imagination. Making these things happen in 2014 has been the best thing about this year for me — yes, even better than my beloved Starbucks and Pandora.
Somewhere along the way, we began celebrating our faults. At the outset, it sounds almost sweet, like we’re just embracing who we are. But it quickly turns into embracing negativity at the expense of pursuing progress, or in some cases, even goodness.
Think about it — we all know someone who has said, “I just have to tell it like it is” after making a string of unnecessarily biting comments to or about someone else. We all know someone who rationalizes, “I just don’t have any patience for _____” after lashing out at someone or something. We all know someone who can’t be bothered, won’t take the initiative, refuses to listen.
And more often than not, we find that that someone is us.
I struggle to celebrate faults — but I’m working hard to celebrate the struggle to overcome them. Because pushing ourselves to be better people — whether in our personal lives or in our careers, photography or otherwise — is not only far more admirable but also far harder than flipping our shortcomings on their heads and renaming them something inoffensive, like “unique character traits” or “personality quirks.”
We’re all entitled to unique character traits and personality quirks. But if these traits and quirks hold us back from living a fuller, richer life that benefits not only us but other people, I think we’re also obligated to lean our shoulders into the struggle. To pursue the path up and over the obstacle.
I’m not yet the person I think I should be — in my day-to-day interactions with friends and family, in the way I manage my business, in the way I manage my time. I’m working on it, though, one little struggle, one little celebration at a time.
On Saturday, we had the pleasure of watching one of my closest friends since childhood marry the man who absolutely swept her off her feet this past year. To say it was a beautiful day wouldn’t begin to describe it.
We love this new couple more than almost anyone else in the world. Amanda and Brad, whatever God has in store for you two, we are so excited to watch it unfold — and to experience it with you. Congratulations and much love.
~ Laura + Danny
They wanted to get married in Florida, where Carleen had been vacationing since she was a teenager — since even before Robby had come into her life as her high school sweetheart.
They wanted to get married where they’d been vacationing together — since they reconnected, long after life had taken them their separate ways as young adults.
And so they came back to Florida from their home in Ohio, with Carleen’s daughter and a few of their closest relatives, and on a sunny, humid day in June, exactly five years after they’d become a couple for the second time, Carleen and Robby got married, just the way they wanted.
Their first look and ceremony were at Ormond Memorial Gardens, with the sounds of the waterfall bubbling like Carleen’s laughter behind them.
One of the most beautiful moments of the day was watching Carleen watch her daughter walk down the aisle ahead of her.
After the ceremony, we had time for a few family portraits, and a few of the newlyweds!
We headed down to Inlet Harbor for their celebratory dinner, and then as the sea breeze blew the worst of the day’s heat away, we headed out onto the beach for some magic.
I love this next picture so much. Carleen’s expression says everything without her having to say a word.
Carleen’s rings were beautiful, but Robby’s was the one that really caught my attention, because I’d never seen a wedding band decorated with steel cable before — and I loved it. It was only fitting, too, since Robby’s jobs have always involved lots of steel cables and heavy machinery.
Can you tell, maybe just a little, that she was happy?
Just perfect, you two!
Let’s end off with another of my favorites from the day:
Carleen and Robby — and Carlee! — congratulations as you begin this new, wonderful phase of your life as a family!
~ Laura + Danny
Ceremony venue: Ormond Memorial Gardens
Restaurant: Inlet Harbor
Wedding gown: David’s Bridal
Flowers: Rachael Kasie Designs
Officiant: Glynn Ferguson with Sensational Ceremonies