Lessons Learned
Lessons Learned

Way back in May of 2007, Katy decided to marry a boy named Jonathan. When I was taking photos of Jonathan and his groomsmen, I had them all posed and ready, and then I heard a rumbling. It sounded cool, and I figured if I waited and timed it right, magic might happen. Sure enough… Click.

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Dude on motorcycle rolled by and I got a shot that I love to this day. I was just starting to really gain confidence as a wedding photographer, and that shot opened my eyes to something. That no matter how much you plan and prep for a wedding, sometimes those little unexpected, unplanned moments can be pretty awesome as well.

Fast forward two years to June 2009. Katy’s younger brother, Jacob, is getting married. I know them to be a fun group and I have 2 more years of mojo under my belt. So I snap a few photos of them looking all casual. Then we get brave. We talk about it a bit and decide that it would be fun if the guys jumped over the girls. Megan (the bride) agrees to it, but she does not quite trust her groom to make the leap so she has her brother jump over her. Either way…. BOOM!

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How amazing is that? A couple of years ago it even became a bit of a Pinterest sensation. In fact some people on wedding sites and boards would claim the photo was fake and the girls involved in the photo would track them down, comment, and vouch for the authenticity of the image.
(Simmer down ladies. Really. It’s ok.)

Anyway. That’s when I realized something else: every wedding is different. Couples may get married at the same places, but their relationships, their friends, their personalities all get mixed in to make that wedding day unique. The more willing and able I was to just let the day happen, the better my chances would be of capturing something unique.

So when Katy & Jacob’s sister was getting married last week, I knew I could not “plan” a specific shot.

I knew it would need to be unique to them.

I could not expect a dude on a bike or a group of guys jumping that looked photoshopped.

Or could I?

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Best. Stone Oak Ranch Wedding. Ever.
Best. Stone Oak Ranch Wedding. Ever.

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I don’t even know where to start when it comes to Kayla and Trent. I can honestly say I have never had a couple that was as full of life as these two. Constant laughter, constant energy, constant joy.

Before we get started… there is one detail you should know about Kayla: her mother owns a wedding venue. Not one of those “we have a big house, so we let people have weddings here at times” wedding venues. But, a straight up, legit, killer wedding venue. It’s called Stone Oak Ranch and it’s amazing. I love shooting there and I will link to it like 10 times in this post in hopes of giving them a little extra SEO goodness. Also, when your mom owns a venue and your coordinate weddings out there, you probably have seen and worked with over a thousand photographers. It was a HUGE honor when they asked me to shoot their wedding. Thanks for making me feel good about myself.

On to the day.
Step One: Party Animals.

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Look at all the shiny, shiny-pretty, pretty at Stone Oak Ranch.

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Check out their custom made, super fun invitations made by the Rifle paper Co.

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2 weeks ago I shot a wedding with a tattoo station.  I demanded more brides do this.  BOOM!  I show up and Kayan and Trent have this.  Well played.

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Someone stopped bride-ing and started coordinating as she put her topper on her yummy Chez Bazan cake.

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Hello, my name is Kaylan, and Von Criswell did a killer job with my makeup.

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You know a wedding is good when they have a First Look….

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and they loved it so much they decided to do ANOTHER FIRST LOOK!!!!
(they blew my mind.)

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That super sweet, tender moment, every outdoor bride shares with her groom as he picks bugs out from her dress.

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Wait what….?  This seems out of place…. Why would anyone have a random carnival cut out at their wedding???

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A Touch of Nature did a fantastic job with all the flowers.
(I just love the shot of Kaylan blowing her bang back into place.)

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These two are not only super full of life, but their siblings are as well.  Trent’s sister kept pretending it was her big day, while Kaylan’s brothers made the most of their “formal” photos with her.

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Licking your finger and wiping things off.  Such a baller move from Trent’s Grandmother.

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Is it ok if I think this is my most favorite photo ever?
This is how you Flower Girl. Maximum extension. Petals high. Feet off the ground. Clear eyes. Full heart. Can’t lose.

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Their ceremony at Stone Oak Ranch was full of laugher, stories, and joy.  As every ceremony should be.

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Of course they exited to “Come and Get Your Love” and had an impromptu dance party.

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I adore moments like this one.
No one around them.
No one posing them.
No one coordinating them.

Just two people who have been married 15 minutes.

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That carnival cut out makes a whole lot more sense when you realize that they had A FULL BLOWN CARNIVAL for their cocktail hour.  (Like you do.)

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Everyone does the mamba for their first dance, right?

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I don’t even know where to start for this reception. It was perfect.

Let’s do this… Let’s start with Otis and the Metro Band. They sang, played, and kept everyone dancing at Stone Oak Ranch for 4 hours.

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Everyone loves tattoos.  Buff brides, couples, super cool Grandparents.

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What’s left…. Oh yeah… a clown.  Give it up for Kornpop and his perfect balloon animals, hats, and mistletoe.

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You know a reception is great when the flower girl grabs on to a post and holds on tight as she is being carried out.

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There are no words.

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Who doesn’t love a face full of lavender?

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Thank you guys for a perfect evening at a perfect venue.  Let’s give it up one last time for Stone Oak Ranch and for Kaylan and Trent.

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Hilary Loves Kirk
Hilary Loves Kirk

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Such a perfect day.  I love when I leave a wedding and feel, “it would be impossible for them to have had a better day.”  That’s exactly the feeling I had at the end of Hilary and Kirk’s wedding.

It kicked off at the Magnolia Hotel in Dallas.

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This is Hilary and her sweet mother. Everything I have ever achieved or will achieve is due to the connections and opportunities this lady has given me.  Thank you. ;)

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Last year, I photographed Hilary’s brother’s wedding and took the image on the left.  Fast forward to this wedding… As a bridesmaid was handing Hilary a bite of food, it’s like I was suddenly in the Matrix.  I could not believe it was happening again and that I was given the perfect photographic bookend.

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On to the venue.  The Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas, TX.

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Kirk was on the phone, when someone came in to pin on his boutonniere.  He asked me if he needed to put his phone down.  I said no, then he proceeded to big shot all of us and started yelling “BUY BUY BUY!  SELL SELL SELL!”

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Of course they had a First Look.

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It’s always great when a bride chooses me to document their day.  It’s even greater when families have me back for another wedding.  Thank you so much Loyd’s for having two awesome kids, and letting me take photos of you and them, the day you handed them over to another.  That is an honor and a privilege.  Your kids ROCK and that means that you guys are pretty swell parents. ;)

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Here comes the bride.

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Hilary and her father took dance lessons and came up with a choreographed father daughter dance.  I know I was supposed to be watching and shooting them, but I kept being drawn to her grandparents who just kept cheering and clapping during the whole dance. :)

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I don’t even know why Bridesmaid # 1 is poking Bridesmaid # 2 in the mouth while #2 spills her drink as Groomsman #1 creeps in the background but I felt it was worth documenting.

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Couples take note.  THIS is how you stand next to your wedding cakes.

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Rings are fun.  Mother’s dancing is more fun.  Pouty flower girls  are fun to make fun of.  Half eaten wedding cake is the most fun.

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To Hilary & Kirk:  Thanks for rocking my socks off.  You guys were amazing.

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Jennifer Really Loves The Parador (and Ryan)
Jennifer Really Loves The Parador (and Ryan)

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Having gratuated with a major in architecture from Texas ATM, you knew Jennifer would look for a super cool place to get married.

When she came across the Parador in Houston, she knew she had found her spot.

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Also, because Jennifer spent most of her engagement session and bridal session telling me about the architecture of the locations we were in, I figured I better get a ton of photos without people for her. ;)

Enjoy.

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This next one is my favorite…. So timeless.  Notice the lines.  The architect was really working on a whole other level at this point…

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I noticed that Jennifer and every one of her bridesmaids were iPhone users.  As a fellow blue bubble person… it warmed my heart.

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I love a giddy bride on the way to the First Look.

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I really enjoy taking those formal family shots.  So much history and depth there.  Think of the hundreds, maybe thousands of times, that these sisters have been photographed together.  But NEVER like this.

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Time for a break before the ceremony.

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Ryan had a killer cake done by Cakes by Gina.

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Whoop!

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Pro Tip: Brides and Grooms usually don’t get to eat a lot.

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By FAR, my favorite part of Jennifer and Ryan’s wedding day was the anniversary dance.  (All the married people dance and the ones who have been married the longest win.)

Ryan’s grandparents crushed the competition and after winning took a bow.

Overpriced wedding photographers, fancy venues, and killer cakes are nice, but staying married for over half a decade requires none of them.

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Thank you two for such a fun day.  It was an honor to be there.  Look me up in 2065 around your 50th and we’ll do a vow renewal. ;)

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It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s like rain on your wedding day

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The best part of my job is the people. I have the greatest couples, and documenting their story is the best because it’s unfolding along the way. Parts of it are already there, but much of it happens “live” and in the moment. This is especially true of wedding days. And, as far as wedding days are concerned, JoDee & Mike had an amazing one.
You may remember them from their super great cooking themed engagement session. (Mike is the Sous chef at Lucia. If you are in the Dallas area, you should go eat his food.)

 

These two decided to get married at the Inn at BK Ranch just outside of Palestine, TX. It’s a gorgeous location and perfect for a weekend of wedding fun and goodness.

 

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Check out all the wedding pretty.  Doesn’t it all just look amazing?  Every detail has been thought through and planned out.
Enjoy it while you can…. SPOILER ALERT: Not for long.

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When I first encountered JoDee on her big day, she was doing what every sensible bride does on a Sunday: picking the winner of NFL games.
(Her mother and sister were also making their picks with input from JoDee’s Grandmother.)

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Speaking of her Grandmother: JoDee wore her earrings because she is super sweet like that.  And TOMS because she is super sensible like that.

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I adore the faces brides make when they are getting their dress synched up in the back.  Always the best.

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Some First Look magic.

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Wait… what… no bouquet?

Why no flowers JoDee?

“No particular reason besides I just find them silly. Like really. Stop and think about it. Why would anyone hold flowers… I don’t even own a purse; let’s just say I’m not a fan of carrying things about. So I opted for the flower crown.”

Works for me. :)

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So it started to drizzle at this point. So I said to JoDee, “Do we want to head inside or go ahead and knock out the wedding party photos?”
JoDee looked at me like I was a crazy person and said, “It’s just a little rain, we’ll be fine.”

629 Cool Bride Points earned.

Hey look everyone. Beautiful people, in a beautiful place, wearing beautiful clothing.

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JoDee’s dog decided picture time was over.

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About an hour before the ceremony time, it became clear that the rain was not going to pass over. I’ve seen this scenario unfold dozens of times: the will it rain/it won’t rain/please don’t rain/oh crap it’s raining dance that everyone does around the bride. As people tiptoe around the subject ,they try to ask her what to do or what she wants done on her most special day in the history of days.

This was no different. People went to JoDee to find out what she wanted to do and she started thinking through options and opinions. I found Mike and asked him if he wanted to go talk with JoDee and come up with a plan and he said, “Just do whatever she says.”

The thing is, it was not like a typical dude, just deferring to “whatever she wants; it’s her day.”

It was more like:
She is capable.
She knows what to do.
I trust her.
Well the more people asked, the more it became an issue JoDee did NOT want to deal with. So, she passed the decision back to Mike.

Then, as soon as it was in Mike’s court, he took it and ran with it. We are moving it inside. The rain is coming, so let’s get ready.

And just like that, without even realizing it, they did it.

They did one of the hardest things in marriage.

They faced a problem, tossed it around a bit, and then solved it by leaning on and trusting each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Mike COULD have made the decision all along. Yet he was wise enough to respect and love JoDee enough to let the decision be her’s. When JoDee felt the burden of it become too much, she handed it off to Mike, trusting in him to work it out.

Talking through, juggling, and working out difficult decisions are what make marriages stick. These two put on a clinic on how to do it 30 minutes before they were married.

Well, eventually the rains came. In fact, it started to pour. All their friends jumped right in and started moving tables and place settings inside and up stairs. The rain had come and it was here to stay. The outdoor wedding had become an indoor event. A soggy indoor event. But no one seemed to mind. We were all making the best of it and they were still going to get married.

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Then something interesting happened. The clouds parted. (Well, more like it stopped raining.) For a moment, we were golden. We all ran outside and decided to try and do this thing as planned.

Here comes the bride.

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Mike’s father performed the ceremony. And being a basketball official back in the day, he even surprised them with a little wardrobe change.

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Then it started raining. Again. Right in the middle of their ceremony.

Someone tried to give JoDee and umbrella, but she refused it. I later asked her why and she said, “If the guests were willing to get wet, so was I.”
821 Cool Bride points earned.

Turns out, rainy wedding days are a bit of a tradition in Mike’s family. Both Mike’s siblings had rain at their wedding. A massive storm blew through the morning of his brother’s wedding and Hurricane Ike caused a ruckus for his sister’s big day.

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Eventually the party moved inside. (Sans table linens.)
The rest of the afternoon was spent full of laughter, memories, and toasts from family. Toasts that included a signed photo from Tony Romo. (Although the signature did resemble Mike’s brother’s handwriting.)

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Also, who doesn’t love the Mug Machine?

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Fun Fact: Dude in the jacket in the lower left, split his pants bending over for the photo.

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One million thank you’s to you two for letting me share in your day.

Thanks for trusting me with it.
Thanks for braving the rain.
Thanks for showing me how marriage is supposed to work.

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