How To End Your Wedding Day At The Chicken
How To End Your Wedding Day At The Chicken

Emily & Lucas has a killer Aggie wedding day.  She got ready at the MSC, they were married under the Century Tree, then they headed to Christopher’s World Grille for the reception.
(See all the photos here.)

There was only one logical way for the day to end.  At the Dixie Chicken.

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These two carved their initials here a few years back.  Of course we took photos by them.

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My favorite moment of the night was when Emily was drinking, Lucas wanted a sip and Emily would not allow it.  Welcome to your new life Lucas. :)

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So in the previous post we learned how to get married under the Century Tree.  This one is a bit easier.  You don’t have to make plans or call.  You just walk in to the Chicken.  And… bonus points to you because people will probably buy you a pitcher. :)

Congrats to you guys.  You had an amazing day.  Thanks so much for letting me share in all of it. WHOOP!

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How To Get Married Under The Century Tree
How To Get Married Under The Century Tree

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Lucas & Emily had an incredible first day as husband & wife.  They were surrounded by family and their closest friends and it happened right where their story began.  A little university in College Station called Texas A&M.  (You may have heard of it.)

The thread of family was so, so evident in their wedding.  From the very beginning it was easy to see how valuable it was to them.  Emily & her sisters must have spent thousands of mornings like this; laughing, music blaring, and getting ready together.  Well… minus the champagne.

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Shout out to Emily’s mother who made this.  Out of string.  All of it.

Game.  Set.  Match.

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Lucas did what many guys do.  He wrote Emily a letter for her to read on their wedding day.  Then he trumped all men everywhere by also giving her a letter he wrote to his future wife when he was 16.

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A little spot on campus called The Century Tree.

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Basically everyone was crying when Emily came out.

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Well, everyone but this guy.  He was all like: “Why are all you humans up in my tree?”
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I love veil mishaps during ceremonies.  They are the best.

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Emily’s sisters responded by cheering like wild banshees.  Her brother responded by tearing up and hugging her for about 30 seconds.
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The flower girls giggled and snuck a peak at all the kissing and hugging.

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This image is becoming harder and harder to get at weddings.

A groom, his bride, and their parents.

It always fills my heart with joy when I get to capture one.  I know life happens, times are hard.  Sometimes tragedy strikes.  But there is something incredibly Holy and sacred about seeing 2 couples with over 25+ years of marriage joining their children in that covenant.  It always gives me that much more hope for the bride and groom.

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You HAVE to take one “normal” photo of siblings.  But after that one is knocked out…  We get to the good stuff.

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Speaking of “the good stuff”…

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After the ceremony we all headed over to Christopher’s World Grille.  They spent the evening  Whooping, cheering, and saying wonderful things about each other.

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The older I get… the more I love these moments.

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Speaking of moments I love.  I LOVE when brides pull off a photo bomb.

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Normally the getaway is where the night ends.  These two had other plans in mind.  If you are an Aggie, you’ll recognize the location.  If you are not an Aggie, you’ll have to wait till Monday to know where we went. :)

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Oh… and for all you Aggies out there who are dying to know how they pulled off a ceremony under the Century Tree…

You can’t “reserve it”, but you can “show up”.  Other things may even be going on at your “time”.  Who knows.  Your best bet is to contact the University Events Coordinator.  Best of luck.  (WHOOP!)

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Amanda & Dale
Amanda & Dale

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Amanda & Dale had the perfect wedding day at The Vineyards at Chappel Lodge.  But it didn’t just happen.  They had to fight for it.

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Coby Neal and The Flower Studio in Austin CRUSHED it.  So so nice to look at.
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This next photo is one of my favorites.  These two had planned to be married last year but some date conflicts and a medical emergency caused them to postpone the date.  They were able to find a date early this year that worked and even then they had the threat of rain all day long.  They stuck with it though and had a fantastic day.  They were willing to keep pushing forward to get what they wanted.  Just like this image.  Amanda wanted photos in a field of bluebonnets.  They were far away.  She made the hike and never once complained.

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The rest of the night was filled with laughter and stories told by the fire.  It ended like every wedding should.

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What We’ve Been Up To
What We’ve Been Up To

Hey hey hey!!!  Long time no personal updates.  Sorry.  I know you all have been dying to know what’s going on with my little herd of people.  Well, here is the rundown since the beginning of 2014.  (Many of these have been pulled from Instagram.  You should follow me there.)

The boys all enjoyed playing a bit of basketball.  Jo was given the nickname J-Money and Luke & Eli loved being teammates.

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That one time it almost snowed the kids tried to make snow angles.

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2014 is really shaping up to be Eli’s year.  He turned 5 and finally was able to sign Eli Maldonado and thus was granted his very first library card.

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One of our favorite parts about homeschooling is all the random field trips.  Our kids love museums and zoos, so we visit them often. :)

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Eli thinks he could take on anything.

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Jo turned 11 which means birthday parties have transitioned from cake and silly games to going and getting pizza while dad sits at another table.  (This is me crying on the inside.)

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Other cool things that happened were Sara’s first dance and Jo getting his baptism on.

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Basketball is our favorite sport.  We like the way they dribble up and down the court.  Jo & I made our annual trip to the Texas high school state tournament as well as a Rockets game with young Luke.

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Eli is now building Lego sets and trying to sell them to other people.
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When the school year came to an end, everyone received their diploma.  Boring diplomas are for public school. ;)

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On to some of our Summer Adventures.  1st up was Box Day.  The kids had a blast with this one.  The massive box fort actually stayed up about 5-6 days, too.  Crawling through and in there, totally made me feel like a little kid again.

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Danielle left for 2 days and I managed to chip Luke’s tooth and get a new high score on Flappy Bird.  All in all, a good weekend.

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We were lucky enough to spend a couple of days out at Lake Tyler Petroleum Club.  It’s super fun out there.  You can also get married out there. (Give them a call ladies.)

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May the Fourth.  Big day at our place.

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Danielle and I surprised Jo with this double feature.  She took him to see Captain America. Then when they pulled in, I got in and took him to see Spider-man.  By far the hardest part about having this many kids is making sure we carve out time for each of them on their own.  Our kids love hanging out as a family, but when we give them one on one time, it’s like this other side of them shows up and it’s great to just soak it all in.

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Sara turned 9 and busted out this new t-shirt.  “My brother has the best sister. (Me!)”  She then made all of them take a photo with her.  Because you know… she’s totally in charge.

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Another Summer Adventure.  Beach!!!!

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We took this first photo back when Jo was 2; right after Sara had been born.  Anytime we are in Galveston, we try and recreate it. (Photo credit: Sara)  I hope that one day he can wheel Danielle & I up there and sit between our chairs.

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I am so proud of Sara.  For just about a year now, she has been saving and earning as much money as she can.  She wants to go on a cruise and has a chart she has been filling in along the way.  Every other month, we have “spending day”  where the kids can spend their salary on what they have been saving for.  Every other month, Sara watches them all come home with new toys/books/games, and she sticks her money in a jar, colors in some squares and inches that much closer to her 5 day dream vacation.

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Eli lost his first tooth just last week.  It was kinda of a HUGE deal.

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This shot is one of my favorites.  It’s Eli being a little bit sad because it hurt when he pulled his tooth, but it’s Danielle being a lot of bit sad when she realized we’ll never have another kid lose their first tooth.

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This is where this post gets kinda creepy but good.  So get ready. :)

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When your kid loses their first tooth, you keep it.  Because that’s what you are supposed to do.  Because…. it’s what you do.  Then they lose another one and you keep it to.  Why not.  We have a little baggie.  Just toss it in.  Then one day you look up and you’ve had 4 kids and 3 of them have been losing teeth and you have 3 bags full of teeth.  So Danielle and I looked at each other and thought.  This is strange.  Why would they ever want these?  We should chunk them.  But then in a stroke of creepy brilliance, I decided to wait ’til Eli lost his first tooth.  I had this image in my mind of Eli’s tooth next to all the others he’s had to endure.

You see, Eli has been around to see all these other teeth pop out.  And, as the youngest, he’s always wanted to lose a tooth.  Not for the dollar under the pillow, but more for the status symbol.  I, too, am one of you guys.  I can lose a tooth.  I’m just as big as you.

So month after month, year after year, teeth would come out and Eli would continue to long for his day.  His day when he would also be a “big boy”.

Well, last week, that day finally came.  He ripped that bad boy out just as he’d seen his brothers and sister do 42 other times.

He was now just like them.  He could lose a tooth.

He was excited.  Jo, Sara, and Luke were excited.  Danielle and I were excited.

But then it started to set in.

He’s growing up.

As parents we are always aware of it.  But every now and then moments happen where you can’t avoid seeing it.

That first time they don’t laugh at your dumb joke.

The first time they don’t want to hold your hand when walking into the store.

The first time they are not interested in your fashion advice.

The first time they lose a tooth.

As much as it’s tempting to feel your heart sink just a little, this is when we most need to take heart.

This is our job.

This is what we have been called to do.

Raising these tiny humans is our greatest challenge and doing that job well, means little milestones along the way.

Our family loves to play together.  We are around each other so much, and Danielle and I can’t imagine any other life.  At the same time, part of this life is growing and teaching these kids.

Teaching Jo to understand that being the biggest does not mean he can’t also be the most tender.

Teaching Sara that boys who don’t open doors are not worth opening your heart for.

Teaching Luke that being a good listener is more valuable than being a good dribbler.

Teaching Eli that patience is important.

That there is a time and season for everything.  Even losing your first tooth.

 

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Justine & Karl
Justine & Karl

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This is the story of how I met Justine & Karl.  He lived in Dallas and she lived in North Carolina, and when she was in town visiting, they were trying to also get some engagement photos done.  She found me online and contacted me about the engagement session.  They were still not sure who they were going to get for the wedding since it would be back in North Carolina, but I knew 5 minutes into their session I needed to be there.  I was thrilled when they invited me to come out there for the weekend of their wedding. It really was an honor to be there.

These two are amazing.  (You should read their story here.)

In brief though… everything you need to know about them can be found in this photo.  When I asked for her jewelry, Justine went on and on about how her bracelet contained a ring Karl’s grandmother had given her.

She was beaming.

Not in an “I’m getting married and these are the fancy new shoes I just bought” kinda way.  It was more of an “I’m joining this man and family and we can’t wait to do life together for a long, long time” kinda way.  It was the reason I fell in love with them during their engagement session and that approach burst through the whole day.

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The more excited your friends are when you are getting ready… the more likely they are to tear up when you ARE ready. :)

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Nephews make the best ring bearers.

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Nieces make the best flower girls.

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Every bit of training that Karl underwent in the Army and medical school applied here.  The man was completely focused and aware during every detail throughout the day.  Especially this moment. :)

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I LOVE when kids sit by their great grand parents.  I also love it when couples trade little comments during their ceremony.

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The Raleigh Little Theater was the perfect setting for their day.

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Here is what I know.  Wedding trends come and go.  Dresses don’t have pockets, then they do, then they don’t.  Mason jars are tacky, then they are trendy, then they are tacky.  If Pinterest is around in 5 years, wedding boards will look very different.

But THESE images never get old.

Images of parents with their daughter are forever.

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Photos of your family.  Your tribe.  Your people.  They are the ones you frame.  They are the ones you look back on in 15 years.

These are the photos we pull out and say….

“I can’t believe she was 2 years old.”
“Mom was so beautiful.”
“Oh that’s right, she had just been born.”

These photos never go out of style.

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I was so disappointed in this runner guy.  I saw him in the distance and could not wait for him to jog by.  He came down the hill, and once he spotted us turned around to not be in the photo.  I wanted him closer.  I wanted him bigger.  He didn’t want to ruin the photo.  Little did he know, the photo was about him.

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Of course Justine’s cake had an X-wing, Millennium Falcon, and the Death Star on it.  Why wouldn’t it?

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I love these next shots.  Great speech by their friend, which led to hugs, which led to Karl spilling drink.

(So much for my theory about Karl being an on-point, hyper aware army doctor.)

I love Karl’s expression after he spilled the drink on the table.

I also love Justine reacting before either of them could and placing the glass upright again.

Because that’s what marriage is.  Marriage is cleaning up the mess your spouse just made. :)

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Karl’s best man was out of the country and could not make it, but he still delivered a killer speech that had everyone laughing.

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Justine and Karl met at Harvard.  They wanted a photo of all their college friends.

Most Expensive. Photo. Ever.

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The reception was full of dancing, and other random things.

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I loved seeing them all gathered around the table.  Sharing new stories and remembering old ones.

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Eventually everyone got tired and we all went home.

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It was a full day.  Thank you two so much for trusting me and sharing your day with me.

 

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