Flag Football & Flirting
Flag Football & Flirting

I first met Cassi on a mission trip to Haiti back in 2013.  It was her first trip and she jumped right into doing the hard work as well as playing with the kids.  One of my favorite things about her was how welcoming she was to anyone she met.  My oldest son Joseph was also making his first trip overseas.  Over the course of the week, they developed a bit of a friendship and she gave him the nickname J-Money; partly due to his skill on the basketball court, and partly because nicknames are cool.

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The next year, a trip to Belize brought more hanging out with J-Money as well as more basketball.

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Last year, she met Sara and right away began investing and pouring into her life throughout the week.

(Even though they only see her about 7 days a year, our kids think Cassi is the best.)

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A few weeks before our trip last year, I noticed a LOT of a certain boy showing up on Cassi’s Instagram feed.  I checked in with her mom about the lad, and she assured me he was legit and might stick around.  I knew Cassi would not be able to go a WHOLE week without seeing him, so I brought along a little cardboard cutout of Justin-the mystery boy.  Much fun was had.

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Fast forward about 8 months and guess who is engaged and getting married?!?!  That’s right.

Cassi & Justin!

We started out by hitting their favorite date spot.

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Cassi is a basketball coach way far away in Nazareth and her schedule is pretty tight.  That left us only with a Sunday to shoot on.

Well, Chick-fil-A is all like… “We are closed on Sunday.”

Did that stop us?  Nope.

Justin, being the winner that he is, went and bought food 2 days before and kept it nice and fresh for our session.

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We then went on a little tour of San Angelo where these two met and went to school.

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This was by far one of my favorite engagement session moments ever.  While shooting, Justin reached into his pockets and found this piece of paper.

It was a note Cassi had left him from when she did his laundry a few weeks back.

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And now we are getting to the good stuff.  This is actually where these two met.  They were on the same intramural flag football team.  As Cassi tells it, this is a great team.  To be on the team you either have to “know someone” or “be really good”.

Cassi said she knew someone, that’s how she joined the team.
Justin is just really good.

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Look at that catch.  I told you he was really good.

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His second week on the team, they had an out of town trip and she made sure she ended up sitting at his table.  Her excuse was that she didn’t want to have her “back to the door”, but hindsight being 20/20, we all now realize it’s just that she wanted to have her face facing his.

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These two love to compete at everything.  (Cassi is a killer basketball player having played for SanAngelo and now coaching at Nazareth.)

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Cassi with the quick first step.  Justin with the foul.

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I think my favorite thing about these two is how comfortable they are with each other.  Justin’s love for her is super obvious, but his respect for her is what really stands out.  He values her input and treats her as his equal.  Cassi is one of the most confident women I’ve ever met, but I also see the trust she has in him and the security she finds in him.  I love seeing how their story, which began on separate but similar paths, has now joined up.  Last year when Cassi was in Belize, Justin was on a mission trip to Africa.  This year after the wedding, they are heading back to Africa together.  As great as these two are as individuals, I can already tell they are going to be even better as teammates.

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Flowers, First Looks, & Flower Girls
Flowers, First Looks, & Flower Girls

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Today’s post will be a bit different.  I just wanted to focus on 3 aspects of Amanda & Bob super fun Castle on the Lake wedding: the flowers, the First Look, and the flower girls.

First up, the flowers.  Anytime I pull up to a wedding and see the La Tee Da mobile, I know I don’t have to worry.  The pretty will be there for sure, but even more importantly, there will be no added pressure or stress on the bride.  Barbara and her team show up on time, with no issues, and always make the place more amazing than even the bride could imagine.

Here is what Amanda had to say about the florals: “I was so excited to see the flowers that I kept peeking out the window while we were getting ready because I knew they were going to be absolutely gorgeous!”

You hear that?  A bride was so excited about her flowers that she put off getting ready for her wedding so she could look at the flowers for her wedding.  Way to go La Tee Da!

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I also LOVE being there when a bride gets to see her bouquet for the first time.
La Tee Da even has a section on their site devoted to this moment at every wedding.  So fun.

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You know I always enjoy a First Look.

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Amanda & Bob spent their’s laughing and tearing up over the day.  Such a great moment of calm and reconnecting before the chaos that can be a wedding day.

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Bob was super nervous up until this point.  So seeing and getting to talk to Amanda, really helped settle him down a bit. And, little did he realize it, after a few minutes he started to sooth her spirits and was so, so tender with her.

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I told you La Tee Da was good at their job.

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You were promised flower girls, and flower girls you shall have!

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Yes, please!

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Every lady has a nice handbag.

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Seriously.  This is a real live human tiny girl who looks just timeless.

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Thank you guys for such a chill and wonderful wedding day.  I promise I took more than just photos of your flowers, you two, and your flower girls. ;)

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How to Stay Married 5,000 Days
How to Stay Married 5,000 Days

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I’m sure we have all done the thing where we view our photo list in a big giant grid of thumbnails. It’s kinda fun to look back and see the blur that was the past few months or years. But we know that the never ending view of tiny thumbnails are not the important moments or photos. Those have their own album. Their own special gallery. That’s where we keep the BIG moments.

It’s ironic how we so often look for big moments to mark our progress in life and in marriage. Anniversaries are how we count our commitment to a relationship. It’s like they become this giant event that must be declared.

ATTENTION EVERYONE TODAY IS OUR ANNIVERSARY. WE ARE STILL MARRIED AND IN LOVE.

But, at the same time, the longer you are married, the more we realize that you don’t suddenly go from year 1 to year 2 to year 3. There are millions of tiny moments that fill up between those years.

Today Danielle and I have been married 5,000 days.

That’s kinda great. But honestly, I doubt TODAY will actually be any more special than yesterday or tomorrow. The thing is, we don’t really know when the “special” days will come. But, looking back, it’s easy for me to remember moments that did stand out. Days that bubble up to the surface when viewed with a little bit of perspective and history behind them.

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Day 1: Kinda obvious.

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Day 264: This was taken when our firstborn Joseph was less than a week old.  Little did I realize then just how much time Danielle would spend holding and loving on babies over the next 4,800 days.

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Day 653: We spent about 1 week in the hospital with Joseph.  I think it was the first truly hard thing we went through in our marriage.  Learning to trust, learning to stay calm and not let the moment overwhelm you, and learning to lean on each other even more when a season of life become hard.

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Day 1,103: I love this photo.  I’m not sure how many seagulls have carried off and eaten a human but Danielle was convinced that they were a very real threat.  Even so, she braved the birds and the beach and lived to tell of it.

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Day 1,273: I kept getting frustrated because Sara would not look at the camera.  To say we got into a fight over it might be a stretch… but it also might not. :)   Danielle assured me that it would be fine regardless of what Sara was doing.  I disagreed.  I eventually just photoshopped another shot of her looking towards the camera to make a “good” family photo.  Years later as I look back on that shoot, this is my favorite image.

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Day 1,457: Remember that time my office flooded and we ripped up carpet and soaked up water and were so broke we tried to put back down the wet carpet and hoped that it didn’t smell, but it did?
Those were good times.

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Day 1,833:  Little by little Danielle has come to understand my love for technology and things that go blinky blink.  So, even though she didn’t camp out with me for that first iPhone… She did let me do it.
(Even though that meant she was at home with two kids and 8 months pregnant with our third.)

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Day 2,229: Danielle and I always look back on Luke as being when we really started to get the hang of parenting.  Maybe it’s because “third time’s the charm” or something, but by the time this kiddo got here we had learned how to not sweat the small stuff and Danielle had learned how to make a killer birthday cake.

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Day 2,500:  It’s funny how things work out.  Just out of curiosity I decided to check back and see what the half way point of our little journey was.  When I did the math, day 2,500 was the day I photographed Danielle’s college roommate’s wedding.  It’s one of like 3 weddings I’ve shot that Danielle and the kids have attended and having Sara & Yan be a part of our timeline is extra fun.

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Day 2,629:  We had just started homeschooling the kids and I still remember how scary that idea was at times.  I’ve seen her reading and helping these kids learn to read countless times over the years and looking back on this moment fills me with so much pride in what she has taught our kids.  The little guy who was learning to read a Curious George book right there just wrote a 34 page short story of his own last month. (Just for fun.)

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Day 2,864:  As great as she is at teaching our kids, she’s even better at playing and connecting with them.  This is one of my all time favorites.

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Day 2,968:  Somewhere someone decided that minivans are not cool.  I disagree.  They have doors that open when you push a button, kids can get in and out without help, and they hold a whole basketball team.  Anyway, the day we sold this van was bittersweet.  She had served us well, but her time was done.  Before we sold her, we took one last family photo.

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Day 3,144: Our last kiddo had just turned 1 a few days before this photo.  Danielle held Eli every chance she had.  We knew were were entering a new season of life but leaving this one was also hard.

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Day 3,225: I’m always amazed at what Danielle will let the kids do to her.

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Day 3,261: We had wanted a fence for a while and finally saved up enough cash to build one…. but not enough to pay someone to build it.  :)

So, board by board, Danielle walked them over to where I was nailing them up.  AND, since she knows I’m a words of affirmation guy, she even wrote me little encouraging notes on some of them.

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Day 3,654: On our 10 year anniversary we went back out to Elmwood Gardens and had some cookies and told the kids about the time their Mom and Dad were married.  We talked about how marriage is hard, but even when it’s hard, we are committed to it and to each other.  They kinda looked at us like what are you talking about and asked if they could have another cookie.

(Fun Fact: Every year on our anniversary we dress back up in our wedding close and have a vow renewal ceremony at home.)

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Day 3,892:  This is the day that we learned that if your daughter falls on her two front teeth, they might break off.
This is the day we learned that staying calm helps.
Even if you are freaking out on the inside.

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Day 3,963: Remember how we homeschool?  Well, when we started I think we had like 1 kid…. Today Danielle is teaching 7th, 5th, 3rd, and 1st grade.

THAT’S INSANE!!!

This little photo was after her first year teaching all 4 of the kiddos.  (Looking back on it I realize maybe I should have printed out an award for her.)

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Day 4,507: We decided that it was time to move.  We had outgrown our house and were ready for something a bit bigger.
We packed it all up, and put our house on the market.

Thought this process we realized something, we didn’t need a bigger house.  We didn’t want another house.  We needed to find contentment where we were.

Little by little we did that.  Together.

And then… we moved back into our house. :)

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Day 4,632: Every now and then you get one of those perfect days.  Days where school gets canceled and it snows in Texas, days filled with uncles and friends and laughter and kids on sleds.  You soak up those days, you remember those days, because you never know how many you have.

1 week after this day, Danielle’s brother and his friend were in a car wreck.  Her brother survived but our sweet friend Pasha did not.  This hit us hard and our family went through a dark season.  A season of mourning and sadness, a season of questions unanswered.  But little by little we came through it.  Together.  And we came out on the other side stronger.  Again, we realized that when the hard times comes.  Lean into each other.

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Day 4,842:  Remember that time that Mickey Mouse said “I would like you to be the family of the day and help me open the Magic Kingdom”?  Because you should.  Because it was one of the best days ever.

The best thing about these days is that they were not planed for back when we were married.

They are little markers along the way that remind us that marriage is about growth.

Marriage is about changing and continuing to love each other.

Marriage is not just about those big epic moments.

Your love story is not only written when you are dancing together in the rain, it’s written every day.

Little by little, one snapshot at a time.

The reality is there is no trick to staying married 5,000 days.  You choose to stay married one day at a time.

One diaper at a time.

One lightsaber

snow cone

basketball practice

house repair

spilled goldfish

fight on the way to church

at a time.

It’s in the common, the mundane, the beautiful holiness that is the everyday.

And, as much as I’ve loved these 5,000 days, I can’t wait of the next ones.

I’m already looking forward to November 7, 2029.  When I can look into my brides eyes and say I’ve loved being married to you ten thousand days.

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1 Million Friends
1 Million Friends

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I’ve been shooting weddings for 10 years now. One of the things that you quickly realize is that the day flies by. Most couples are bounced from person to person and moment to moment without even realizing it. That was not the case with Brooke & Justin. These two were so present on their day. It seemed like every time I turned around they were having a genuine conversation with someone new. I LOVED seeing their support group celebrate their day with them and I loved even more how much Justin and Brooke soaked up every second of it.

True story: I NEVER get tired of photographing weddings at the Villa di Felicita. This place is amazing. They make my job easier and your day so much more amazing.

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CS Cutting Company out of Longview did some magic on hair & make up.
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A bit of First Look goodness.
(I also love when couples exchange little gifts during this time.)

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La Bella Blooms crushed it with the flowers. Ashley and her team are super nice. You should totally get in touch with them if you want pretty pretty at your wedding.
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These fools had a bridal party of 30 people. I’m not sure what is more amazing, that I was able to get a photo of all of them at once before the kids melted down, or that Brooke & Justin had meaningful interactions with each of them. ;)

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By the time we got back around to the guys, this little man was done. He wanted no part of the photos, but I was able to snag one of him as he bolted for an exit.

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Designs by D’Anne. Keeping brides happy and wedding photographers chubby for many many years. Yummy.

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(Also, if you like words on walls, floors, and other places, Tyler Uplights and CMB DJs are you jam.)

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Hey remember that little dude. Guess what? Once he got a sucker, he was good to go.

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Justin and Brooke both work for the SMU football program. He coaches and she recruits, so of course they had the film crew for the team film their wedding.

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You know what else is fun at weddings? The Mug Machine!

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Thank you for trusting me with your wedding. You two were such a joy to be around and anytime you want to get all of your friends together and dressed up again give me a call, I’ll be there.

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Dallas Love
Dallas Love

Erin & Aaron are the most Dallasy couple I’ve had in a while. They are all about the city, the fun, and the Dallasness of Dallas.

Of course Klyde Warren Park is their jam.

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The cool thing about photography is that you can make people look good at ping pong… even if they are not.

(Not that I’m saying that about these two.  Not at all.)

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These two met while working at the same job. Early on, they noticed each other, but it took Aaron about 3 months to actually call her up because he was nervous about dating someone from work. (Apparently he’s moved on from that fear.)

One of my favorite moments from their dating story was when Aaron moved into an apartment in Erin’s complex.  She helped him move in and while he was returning the truck, she totally set up his place. Furniture, cleaning supplies, organization, etc. He came back to a totally prepped home. (Major girlfriend points scored.)

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I TOLD you these people are Dallas. While shooting their session a car starts yelling at Erin. Of course it’s some person they know, randomly driving by. Why wouldn’t it be? There are only 1,281,047 people who live there.

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So about a year after she had helped him move into his apartment, Erin had asked him to help her rearrange some furniture, but he told her he could not make it. (Major boyfriend points lost.)

Little did she know he was meeting with her parents to ask for her hand in marriage. (Like you do.) Erin got a bit huffy, but eventually got over not having a moving buddy that day.

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The day AFTER he didn’t help her rearrange his apartment, he called Erin and said he needed some help moving stuff at his place. (True story.) When she got there, she found this.

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That’s right.  The boy had fired up his old iPhone, printed out all their past text messages, and basically presented her with a novel proclaiming his love. (Major fiancé points scored.)

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I had the best time with these two. Not just because of their perfect humor and personalities, but because it’s so evident how they compliment each other. Aaron talked about how much compassion Erin has for others and her willingness to do things for them without being asked. Erin went on and on about how tenderhearted he is and that his servant’s heart is what drew her to him.

I love these two and as excited I am for their July wedding, I’m more excited to see and follow their little love story over the next decade.

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