Hey there bride who has already booked me for her wedding. You totally want to add this to your wedding coverage right? Call me and we’ll make it happen. :)
Amanda and Steve may be my most favorite couple ever. In the history of couples. Ever. Because I love them so much. With my heart. Seriously. My favorite part of their wedding was seeing just how deep and rich so many of their friendships are. So, so many people came to support them and it really was a full day. OK, enough of that… on to the images.
Let’s kick off the day by getting ready at the Hyatt Regency next to Reunion Tower. Yes, please.
Early on I realized socks would play a key role in this day.
Spoiler Alert: Steve is not an American.
These little peppers are a family tradition on Steve’s side. His mother and sister spent part of the morning getting them ready for the big day.
On to the Old Red Museum located right in the heart of downtown Dallas.
HUGE shout out to Lottie and her team at Grit + Gold who made the whole day look AMAZING. (You should book them.)
Very, very “formal” photos of the guys.
Sometimes my brides are excited to get married.
USA! USA! USA!
These two had such a perfect First Look. They spent about 15 minutes talking/laughing/tearing up and exchanging gifts.
Steve gave Amanda a cool framed photo of Texas. Amanda was happy, but curious about the gift…
Then he busted out a little card that contained ANOTHER gift!!!!
It’s a painting that she saw once and loved. So he purchased it for their home and had the artist sign it. (Major bonus points.)
More “formal” photos.
How great are these two?
Their ceremony was performed by a friend of Steve’s who had this perfect British accent. It made the whole thing feel like a Jane Austen novel. He also did a killer job on their vows. He referenced Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy, Lady & the Tramp, and Marge & Homer Simpson.
As I was shooting the image on the left, I realized that if I moved a bit to the right, I could turn Steve into a Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pet. Mission Accomplished!
Ceremony done. More picture goodness!
Before the reception Amanda surprised Steve with a video of recorded messages from friends and family “back home” that could not make it across the pond for the ceremony. (Major bonus points.)
What happened next may be the greatest speech I have ever experienced at a wedding. It’s impossible for me to describe, but I’ll see what I can do.
You remember that guy form A Knight’s Tale, who would go around introducing Heath Ledger before each joust? Yelling and screaming and holding the crowd in the palm of his hand?
Much dancing and merriment was had.
Right before their exit Amanda & Steve did one of my favorite wedding things. They cleared the room and had a last dance all alone. Those ALWAYS work. (You should try it.)
The Mug Machine was also there. (In full force.) I’ll be posting some of those in a few days.
The day you get married is really unlike any other day of your marriage. It’s packed full of moment after moment after moment of memories. There are huge swings of emotion and sometimes the most unexpected thing will end up being the highlight of your day. I’m often asked “What’s your favorite part of a wedding?” The reality is, I don’t have just one answer for that. It really depends from wedding to wedding. I can say, that having shot over 400 weddings, a few trends have emerged and I’ve seen some patterns bubble up that I always look forward to documenting and being present for. I’ll be writing about one of these per month and I thought I would kick it off with one you might not expect.
My favorite moment of a wedding day is…. Family Photos!
That’s right, baby. I LOVE family formals. (I even wrote about how to have great formals a few years ago.) These are your people. This is your tribe. These images are so full of history and depth it’s impossible to not love them. This is your chance to laugh and cry with those who have known you the longest. It’s the time all your people look their best and these photos are the ones that will be put in frames and looked at for years and years to come. These are the images that end up on the kitchen counter, in the hallway, and above the fireplace. The thing is, sometimes in all of our planning and prepping for the day, they get overlooked. They become an item in your 76-Things-To-Do-On-Your-Wedding-Day-Checklist.
[ ] 4:30 Bridesmaid Photos
[ ] 4:45 Family Photos
[ ] 5:00 Reception
Just realize that that little block of your wedding day is one that many couples are not present for. I mean, they are there. They show up. They smile, pose, and hug. But, really, they are looking towards the next moment. The reception, the ceremony, the alcohol at the reception. :) They are not fully present and aware of how special these moments can be.
Need proof? Take a look.
This is typically what you think of when you hear family photos. Bride with parents. Check. :)
But, you’ll quickly realize there is so much more happening.
1st family photo where all the kids are married.
That super tender moment you have with your dad.
A mother who has raised 4 boys into grown men.
Sometimes things get a bit more fun.
Example: A photo of what this family typically looks like. ;)
Siblings are the best!
Sometimes the photos are not even about you.
That moment when a grandkid spits up on your grandparents.
I LOVE to pull the bride or grooms brother/sister and their family aside. It typically takes about 30 seconds and BAM! They get a new photo to hang on their wall.
How about one of your parents. Who NEVER get dressed up. Who NEVER get photographed. Here they are, looking good and in love.
Or how about that picture with your grandparents who have been married 57 years and you have not even been married 57 minutes?
Let’s fast forward to 2020.
Six years from now when you go home for Christmas and you have a three your old little girl, she will be at PaPa & NaNa’s house looking at the tree. She will stare at all the gifts under it and then she’ll notice a photo hanging on the wall of her mom in a white dress. She will look at it for a while, then she will ask her NaNa about the photo. And then your mother will tell her all about how beautiful her mother was on her wedding and how wonderful the day was.
And THAT moment, in the future, will be magic. And it will all be possible because you took a few moments on your wedding day to be photographed with the people who love you the most.
I almost didn’t blog this wedding. It was beautiful. It was full of Pinteresty things. It was at one of my favorite places to shoot.
(Shout out to Stone Oak Ranch in Murchison, TX.)
So why not blog it? Simple.
Nicole is a super young bride. I’m not a huge fan of young people getting married. The odds are never in your favor.
Marriage is hard.
Nicole is 21. A child.
You know who was 20 when she became a wife?
My bride. That’s right. Danielle was 20. Even more of a child!
Seeing Nicole and Tyson interact throughout the day brought back so many memories. I watched them interact and saw their commitment to each other. I can see how Tyson respects Nicole. But it’s not just them. I saw their support system. I met their families. And when I saw their families… I knew these two will do great.
We’ll get to the good stuff later, for now though… how about some eye candy. Take a look.
These two met on twitter. Yeah, that’s right. Twitter. Welcome to the future.
They had a super sweet First Look.
Sometimes I let the moms creep during the First Look.
This is where this post starts to get good.
These are Nicole & Tyson’s parents. They have each been married 25 years.
The ring bearer was great, but when your Aunt gets to be your flower girl… it’s hard to top that.
Nicole’s grandfather married them. He opened by telling Tyson that he will stay committed to her or “the hunt might not be over.”
I love when couples write their own vows.
“I promise to be the best hunting and fishing partner you ever had. I can’t promise I won’t catch the bigger fish.” – Nicole
For so many brides this is the goal. The finish line.
When you kiss and are “husband & wife.” Nicole & Tyson are one of the few couples that realize this is the starting line. This is where the race begins.
Papa & Mimi 48 years of marriage.
Pa & Granny 50 years of marriage.
Papa & NeeNee 44 years of marriage.
Tataw & Nanaw 57 years of marriage.
I’m telling you right now. It’s up to Nicole & Tyson to stay married. Their grandparents’ and parents’ marriage will not keep them married. They will have to do the work. It’s on them.
But, I’m also telling you to stop and think about that legacy. These two have grown up in homes where healthy marriages have been modeled for 25 years. Their parents grew up in homes where marriage is something to be cherished and committed to. That is a HUGE head start for them.
Take a look at these photos….
They are standing next to 249 years worth of marriage.
Those people have 90,885 days of practice living with another human.
Nichole and Tyson have about 4 days worth of practice.
This is a challenge to them and to all of us.
Find people who have been married a long time.
Befriend them. Ask them for advice. Learn from them.
Then go and stay married a long time.
I know Nicole & Tyson plan to.
When you get married on the 4th of July and have a family full of service men, you know it’s going to be a great day. I was giddy that this next image was one of the first I fired off that day.
Sarah & Caleb said their vows at the fantastic Lake Tyler Petroleum Club. (A fantastic venue with lots of options for your wedding day.)
Family, history, legacy. These are all things that Sarah values. (It’s part of what attracted her to Caleb.) Much of her jewelry belonged to her grandparents and her friend even MADE her this frame. How incredible is that?
Basically every wedding has the same story. Boy & girl like each other. Boy & girl get married. It’s the easiest story to tell, see, and document.
The thing is, sometimes that’s not the most interesting story of the day.
I love getting to know my couples in a way that helps me figure out the part of their story that they value the most. What’s really important? Is it the flowers? Is it the dancing? Is it the vows?
From my first phone call with Sarah, I was able to pick up on her commitment to Caleb. But when she spoke of his daughter she spoke with a sense of respect and love that made it very clear: She is joining both of them in life. They are becoming a family. She is aware of the impossible yet very tangible dynamics of becoming a mother.
All throughout the day, I found little moments where Caleb & Sarah gave time, space, and respect for Savannah to soak in the moments. Not to force the day and union on her like two grown ups in charge. Instead they welcomed her into their day. They asked for her to be a part of it. At times they literally held her hand as she navigated this emotional day.
I love seeing a groom’s reaction to his bride. The next best thing though is seeing a father look at his baby girl.
Go team America.
Hey you know who La Tee Da is right? They kinda kick butt at making flowers look fantastic.
I caught Caleb having a little chat with Savannah right before the ceremony. My heart turned all mushy. I love it when dads “gets it.” When they realize that no matter how hectic and crazy a moment is, the main thing our kids need is us to connect with them and let them know we are with them.
Then Savannah came out and Caleb went to meet her and walked her down the aisle. (Because he wanted everyone to tear up a bit.)
Right when Sarah was about to walk out, it hit her. Sometimes this happens to brides. And I’ll be honest. Sometimes it leads to brides just crying all the way down the aisle. I love everything about these shots. I love that Sarah is completely overcome with emotion. She is fully aware of the moment and understands how amazing their story is and that this is happening.
Her father gets it.
Her father knows his daughter enough to know that right now she needs him to look at her and reassure her. That no matter how hectic and crazy the moment is, the main thing she needs is him to connect with her and let her know he is with her.
Caleb gets it.
He knows his bride so well. He knows that she is full of emotions and he never once took his eyes off her. He was locked in, he was steadfast, he was fully present.
When you marry a military man on the 4th of July at the lake, and a boat drives by during your vows with “I’m Proud to be an American” blasting front the speakers, all you do is smile and know you picked the right day.
Sarah’s brother was deployed 2 days before her wedding. It was a tough break for their families, but it’s also what they do. They serve. They answer the call. They go.
(They also Skype.)
The Fatt Apple makes yummie food. Need proof? Look at how happy these kids are.
The rest of the night was filled with people saying wonderful things, lots of dancing, and expositions in the sky.
Thank you two for letting me be a part of your day. I left with a full heart.