Gwen & Vernon | 50 Years of Marriage
Gwen & Vernon | 50 Years of Marriage

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Sometime last year I came up with the idea of photographing couples who have been married 50+ years. I always love anniversary dances at weddings and feel like those are the couples we should be celebrating. It’s like 300 people come to cheer you on when you get married, but for some reason, the longer you are married, the less people celebrate or cheer for it.

(PS: If you know of a couple who has been married for 50 or more years, get in touch, I’ll take their photos.)

I don’t know if I could have picked a better couple to kick off this little series.

Vernon and Gwen were married January 16, 1965. That’s about 50 years and 4 days ago. ;) They were so so sweet and kind. Their relationship has such a security to it. One is not trying to outdo the other. As they tell a story they take turns handing off parts of the conversation to each other like olympians passing a baton. One of the first things that came up was the topic of movies and this was their exchange.

Gwen: “I love Cary Grant. How can you be so funny and look so good?”

(3 second pause.)

Vernon: “There’s only a few of us.”

I was hooked.

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As I photographed them they told stories about their journey and what it means to share a life with someone. I felt my marriage getting stronger just by listening to them talk about theirs. I loved watching them flirt like a pair of newly-weds. I loved the little looks she gave him when he was about to cross a line. I loved that Vernon’s office has a photo of the Mona Lisa next to a photo of John Wayne.

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At first my plan was to just do a few photos of them, but after about 30 seconds of hanging out with them, I knew I had to film them answering a few questions about marriage and life.

It’s not a LOL Instagram cat.
It’s not a dog riding a skateboard on Youtube.
It’s not even a super funny 21 random facts you didn’t know BuzzFeed list.

It’s just 2 people who have been married 50 years telling you what it takes to make that happen.

They may also give opinions on wedding budgets and saying yes to the dress. ;)

So, if you have 5 minutes to spare, you should watch this video.

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My Favorite Part Of A Wedding Day: Family Photos
My Favorite Part Of A Wedding Day: Family Photos

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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. :)

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But, you’ll quickly realize there is so much more happening.

 

1st family photo where all the kids are married.

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That super tender moment you have with your dad.

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A mother who has raised 4 boys into grown men.

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Sometimes things get a bit more fun.
Example: A photo of what this family typically looks like. ;)

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Siblings are the best!

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Sometimes the photos are not even about you.
That moment when a grandkid spits up on your grandparents.

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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.

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How about one of your parents. Who NEVER get dressed up. Who NEVER get photographed. Here they are, looking good and in love.

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Or how about that picture with your grandparents who have been married 57 years and you have not even been married 57 minutes?

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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.

 

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Ashley & Blake | 365 Days of Marriage!!!
Ashley & Blake | 365 Days of Marriage!!!

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Weddings are great.  Sure.  I like them.  Let me tell you a secret though.  Even more than I like being there when a couple starts their life together…. I love creeping on them as they journey together those first few years.  That’s when it starts to get really good.  That’s when they start to realize that had no idea how much they could love each other.  They had no idea how fun it would be.  They had no idea how hard it would be.  Ashley & Blake were married a little over  year ago and they were kind enough to pull back the curtain and fill us in on what their first year together has been like.

What do you miss most about the single life?

The freedom to do whatever YOU want.

What was the the thing you stressed out most about in planning your wedding that now you look back on and laugh about?

We kind of put a lot of effort into figuring out which Bible verses we wanted read during the ceremony and who would read them, but then our pastor completely skipped that part.

Give us your best cheapo/fun married date idea.

Well, we LOVE ice cream. So to make us feel okay with it, we’ll go on a hike, grab some lunch, go check out the local succulent/gardening shops, and then discover one of the many amazing ice cream places of Los Angeles. And then spend 40 minutes trying to find the best free movie online. P.S. It’s LA, so cheap is relative.

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What have you liked most about your first year being married?

A: Being in the same city/apartment as Blake. (2.5 years long distance before)

B: Practical jokes are way easier to do when she lives with me and not 1,500 miles away.

What’s been the hardest part about being married?

A: Realizing how selfish we both are.

B: Samesies. Marriage isn’t about MY wants and needs. You have to be willing to serve your spouse on a daily basis.

What surprised you the most? (Either good or bad.)

A: Blake leaves used paper towels everywhere he goes. Bedroom, Bathroom, Living Room, Dining Room…. Literally everywhere.

B: Apparently women don’t poop rose petals. But seriously, you think you have figured her out and everything’s going great — then BLAMMO — back to the drawing board.

 

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What have you fought about most and why?

Trying to find time for guy-time/girl-time while still making quality time for each other – especially since Blake has really long work hours during the week.

Do you have any advice for couples about to take the plunge?

A: Marry someone you have complete trust in and can really open up to when you have something you want to talk about. It’s very difficult to make yourself vulnerable enough to speak your heart even when you do trust that person. Also, be honest and genuine, while still loving, when you talk about the hard things.

B: You HAVE to discuss the important issues in life before tying the knot: religion, family/kids, money, politics, moral issues, etc. It’s terrible to see married people get a divorce over issues that should have been discussed while dating or engaged. Also, remember that love is not just a feeling, it’s a daily decision.

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The McKellars Are Giving Stuff Away!!!
The McKellars Are Giving Stuff Away!!!

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I LOVE when couples get their wedding filmed! My favorite film makers The McKellars are doing a giveaway to celebrate 10 years in the world of weddings! This is great news for you. If you are getting married, you can enter to win a Love Story. (Super Super Cool.) If you are not getting married, you can enter to win all other type of great things. If you don’t win, it’s ok. I’m sure they will be happy to take your money if you want them at your wedding. It’s worth it. I promise. This contest ends tomorrow so jump on it!

Watch this trailer from a wedding we did together a little while back.

Now that you totally love them and need them at your wedding keep reading…

The McKellars have been filming weddings, events, and families for 10 years! To celebrate this milestone, we’re doing a fantastic giveaway worth $1200-$2500. If you’re engaged, a small business owner, or a parent, this is for you. If you’re not, you can give it to someone who is! Just share this image on your Facebook page, “like” our Facebook page if you haven’t already (www.facebook.com/TheMcKellars), and leave a comment on any of our blog posts (find the blog at www.TheMcKellars.com). The winner will be announced on our Facebook page on April 15th, so be sure to check back then.

Here are examples of the films:

Love Story

Family Film

Promo Film

The fine print: Must be redeemed within one year. Travel fees apply for shoots over 60 miles from Tyler, TX. Prize is transferable.

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10 Amazing Places to Get Married In East Texas
10 Amazing Places to Get Married In East Texas

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One of the best things about weddings here in the East Texas area is just how many great venues there are for brides to choose from.  Most of these places were build from the ground up with weddings in mind.  They have plenty of rooms to get ready in, multiple locations for you to have your ceremony and reception and some even offer a place for you to stay the night.  Many will offer catering and provide you with packages that include a few other wedding vendors as well.  A good wedding venue is totally worth the money once you factor in all these things.  Here are the 10 best East Texas wedding venues. (In alphabetical order.)

 

The Arbor
2215 Roy Rd.
Tyler, TX
903-534-4997
www.arborvenue.com

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The Belgium House
Longview, TX
903-720-6414
www.thebelgiumhouse.com

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Bella Sera Ranch
286 ACR 1400
Palestine, TX
903-723-0900
www.bellaseraranch.com

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Castle on the Lake
9110 US Hwy. 79 W.
Jacksonville, TX
903-721-3593
www.jacksonvillecastle.com

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Elmwood Gardens
680 ACR 446
Palestine, TX
903-549-2716
www.elmwoodgardens.com

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Lake Tyler Petroleum Club
15898 Eastside Dr.
Tyler, TX
903-566-4444
www.laketylerpetroleumclub.com

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The Legacy
Jacksonville, TX
903-571-9644
www.thelegacy-venue.com

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The Reserve
7725 Hwy. 259
Longview, TX
903-431-3496
www.bookthereserve.com

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Stone Oak Ranch
Murchison, TX
903-530-7947
www.stoneoakranch.com

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Villa di Felicitá
7891 Hwy. 110
Tyler, TX
903-597-0002
www.villadifelicita.com

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