engagement

Elijah + Savannah | Oklahoma Engagement Photography

"I promise to sing to you
When all the music dies."

Train | Marry Me

They've lived a few miles from each other their whole lives -- and in a small town, especially, that's noteable. They weren't each other's first crushes, or high school sweetheart, or even long time best friend who is "just like a sibling." They never actually crossed paths until they were in their twenties. But even then, it was merely a crossing. She worked at the coffee shop he stopped into nearly every day. They went with a group from Guthrie on a Caribbean cruise, but hardly talked to each other all trip. There was no unrequited love or secret flicker one of them was harboring for years (though, admittedly, they both thought the other was a cutie). There was just nothing... until there was something. And all of a sudden "here you are, standing here, loving me."

A friendly hello at the gym (one of dozens throughout the years) turned into nice chit-chat and then into a few texts. Those texts turned into hanging out a couple of times which turned into... forever. They started dating in June and were engaged in October. We (the family) love to think about the fact that Elijah was completely single at Daniel and Erin's wedding last May and this coming May he'll already have been married a month. Lightning strikes fast, hard, and strong. 

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It's awfully fun to watch each other be each other's answered prayers. This relationship is redemption, sweetness and joy come to life. And since they've both always lived in Guthrie, met in Guthrie, fell in love in Guthrie, got engaged in Guthrie, will marry in Guthrie, and share their first house in Guthrie... It was only fitting we do their engagement session on the orange-gold, historic, cobbled streets of Guthrie. 

Happy love, you two! We're so happy for you and can't wait to officially welcome another "Morris" to the gang! Hurry up, April!

Daniel + Erin | Engagement Photography

"there's no music, no confetti
crowds don't cheer, and bells don't ring.
but you'll know it, i can guarantee,
when the right one comes along."
claire bowen with sam palladio
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As a human behavior phycologist at heart, I find great satisfaction in learning about people.  My husband at the top of the list.  The fascination cherry on top of getting to know my husband has been the fact that he has a twin.  Of course I didn't think they had the same personality and souls, but I've always been extremely curious as to how they are different.  In basic conversation before I knew either of them well, I heard word-for-word same answers to questions.  They played matching instruments, worked matching construction jobs, were building ICF houses side-by-side.  Same hair-cuts, same North Face jackets, same computer passwords, same exclamations when they were embarrassed or disgusted. 

But four years later not only do I know them better, they know them better.  Caleb and Daniel shared extreme twin-telepathy and connection.  They play music with very little verbal communication, and it's been described to me that sometimes they each forget which instrument or part they are playing, because they know exactly what the other is going to do -- in their brains two different pieces are one in the same.  They were both eager to get married and have kids, but Caleb went off without Daniel for the first time.  While we were annoyingly busy falling in love and laying the rebar for our impending life.  We got engaged, were married, announced pregnancy, had our firstborn, and became pregnant again a second time while Daniel was quite single.  

Those years were an intense transition for their relationship.  Through them were severe depression, mania, overseas trips, moves to new states, career changes, out-of-the-blue large bills, soul-searching and wandering.  It broke our hearts, but it was a needed process.  Last fall he really seemed to be finding a place of clarity and peace.  He was the most "himself" we had ever seen, with focus on his dreams.  He declared himself "wild and free!" (which he was, er, is.) but he was growing up, and becoming so confident in the man God made him to be.

We were seeing the eccentric, busy, man made of music, whose heart beats on chords and harmonies, express himself.  He was actually pretty weird and far less "tame" than he perhaps once tried to be.  He's a feeler and a go-er and thinks in sounds and experiences and lights.  He's a zebra in a field of horses, and a brilliant colorful mind full of possibilities.  

So when someone tagged Erin on instagram, suggesting that she might be a good match for Daniel, it took us all a grand total of two minutes to know he was going to marry her.  His mom had that "mama hunch" immediately, and when she showed Caleb and I on her iPhone we agreed completely.  She is his matching mitten, his reflection in the water, his tail on a kite.  They are one of the most "Made For Each Other" couples I've ever known.  It's a little scary, actually.  His weirdness is only beat by hers, their sense of humor is cheesy and 'only them,' they wear their hearts on their sleeves, want an untraditional family lifestyle (not tied down by usual constraints), their skin and hair is the same color, they are full of spirit and energy, ready for adventure and change and discovery.  We couldn't be more thrilled that they have fallen so deeply in love, and that they are promising their love forever.  Welcome to the family, Erin!  You're an answer to many prayers, and have a way with our brother that no one else in the world does.  
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We did this shoot at a local shopping-center tourist-area (called "The Rio").  It was so fitting because Daniel has spent the last two years playing his violin on the street corners to make a living.  He spent night after night after night after night, week after week after week, month after month after month, out there alone.  At the end of the night he'd collect his cash, deposit it in the bank, chip away at his debts, and go back at it again.  It was a slow, exhausting process.  But he did it.  He not only paid off every penny he owed, he supported himself independently through those years.  Seeing him walk around in a suit, with a beautiful woman in a gown, snapping engagement pictures, gave me a catch in my throat.  The lessons of life have only just begun, but what a sweet thing it is to watch you both learn together.  Go knock 'em dead, you two.  We'll be cheering in the crowd while you're on stage someday.  
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"Bad times make the good times better,
 Look in her eyes and you're gone forever."
Frankie Ballard

Ica + Tim | Sterling, VA Engagement Shoot

it's time to begin, 
isn't it?
imagine dragons - it's time
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I'll never forget the first time Ica whipped her mini-self into my world.   It was my first summer of having "internships" and I was still teen-age. Nineteen.   I was a little frazzled, my room was a little a mess, and Ica was a little a late.  The other girls, dressed adorably, sat quietly and properly on wooden kitchen chairs in my bedroom-slash-office.  We were all waiting on Ica.  And she arrived with flair.  "WAAAAAH! KRISTEN LEEEEEIGH!" [*jumping jumping jumping*] She had wild highlights in her hair, jewelry was her side-kick and she couldn't stand still.  She was the best-dressed of us all, surprisingly not the shortest, and very, very loud.   She came bearing gifts (head-bands she knit herself) and a heart full of love.  She's a bottle rocket with fire in her eyes and cupcakes in her hugs.  She was the heart-beat of the group and a never-ending source of positive affirmation, praise and compliments.  I envied (in a "good" way) her way of confidently, quickly and easily showing love and making strangers feel like you're her dearest friend.

Over a deck-lunch of my mom's taco salad, us four girls chatted about those things brand-new girl-acquaintances talk about: future plans and boys.  Ica was the oldest of the crew, and also the only one with a boyfriend.  "Yeeees. His name is Tiiim. Tim Remo. Supremo Remo! Hahaha! He's fun."  I had already looked through all of her vibrant and carefree profile pictures.  And I knew that there was a "he" in her world.  A "he" who would look take her to art galleries and write sweet things in comments about her.  I think we all knew she'd marry that Tim-kid someday.

Over the last four years, I've watched from the cheap-seats while Ica and Tim grew up, stepped up and became inseparable.  I love when I get to know couples who are able to maintain giddy-infatuation after they have walked through serious testing.  I don't mind tooth-ache-sweet couples when they've proven themselves.  Ica and Tim have stood the test of time.  In fact, I remember talking with a friend at one point and even saying "If those two don't make it, I don't know if I believe in true love anymore!" ;)  Thank you Jesus for making a goofy, determined, happy, kid-loving, large-hearted, gifted Tim to team up with the darling, fiery, dedicated, creative Ica-lady. 

Sweet friend, your wedding day will be a day of great rejoicing.  Long-awaited, much-anticipated and like a giant hand-made gift wrapped in velvet bows - a gift, a celebration and a party! 
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I couldn't shut-up about their facial expressions. SO MUCH MOVEMENT.    Both of them.  Always.  Constantly making new faces. 
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Their energy is maddening.  And stunning.
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Aw, so stoic, Tim.
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With all my heart,
Kristen-the-messy-and-so-happy-to-have-met-you

Enjoy Engagements | Chet + Devon | Lakeside

hold on, to me as we go
because i'm going to make this place
your home
philip phillips
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It's not an exaggeration to say that I was a bizarre mid-school-er.  At the risk of worrying you, I awkwardly admit that I had an imaginary world I played in (yes. In middle school. I know. I knooow. Yes! I know!).  I played sports year-round, but when a friend would come over I'd either force them to do a dance with my for my neighborhood or trap them in my bedroom with all my wedding books (probably while listening to Adventures in Odyssey).  

This was the, um, era?, Devon met me.  I was 11 years old and kooky.  She was 12 (almost 13!) and really, really cool.  She's was and is the kind of (unfair) cool where you don't try.  You just are.  Devon is just cool.  She isn't awkward, she isn't stuffy, she isn't blatant, she isn't showy.  She's just Devon.  We had the "I dye my hair blonde and wear eye-liner" cool in our class, and we had, well, kids like me.  But Devon stood out.  Even as a sixth grader she was sharp, witty, intelligent, sneaky, fun, happy and adorable.  And for some reason she liked me.

I'll never, ever forget one Friday during art class when she gave up a seat at the cool blonde table (which was next to the cool boys table!) to seat with me.  She wanted to play a game.  She made a list of five questions I had to answer about myself and then she would answer about herself.  As our art teacher, Connie, taught we quietly wrote our responses and traded with each other.  That was a fun game! Devon is so fun!

The following Monday I had a lunch bag waiting for me in my locker.  Question #4: What is your favorite lunch to have at school?  My answer?  Chicken Cup-O-Noodles, big pretzels, mandarin oranges, fruit-by-the-foot, Cooler Ranch Doritos and crackers with peanut butter.  I opened the lunch bag and every single item was there.  She concocted a whole plan to figure out my favorite lunch, took time to do it, and spent her Sunday afternoon at the grocery store buying me my favorite lunch so she could surprise me on Monday.  And every single thing I listed was in the bag.  I could have cried right there in class.  I think that was the kindest thing anyone outside of family had ever done for me.  

That's just who Devon is.  As highschool, life and work have taken us our different ways over the years, I've always thought of her like I did the moment I sorted through my surprise lunch in Miss Gallagher's homeroom in 2000.  
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A number of years ago I saw a big-smiled dude popping up on Devon's Facebook.  Chet.  Very nice, Devon, very nice!  
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I later heard the story of how they met.  Devon was a secretary for a year at a local hospital.  EMT's and other employees dropped by daily as part of their job.  One particular EMT, named Damien, was really cute.  When he'd stop by to fill out paperwork, Damien and Devon enjoyed playful flirting.  But all of Devon's co-workers were trying to set her up with another guy, Chet.
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"Well, you can tell this 'Chet' that I'm not interested! And I don't even know who he is!"  Her co-workers pressed.  "But he definitely has a thing for you... give him a chance!"  Devon wasn't buying it. Especially since she had her eye on Damien.  Damien Chester Ripley, also known as "Chet."
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Though his first name is Damien (and his work papers and uniform tag all use his official first name), he never corrected Devon and told her what he goes by.  Apparently Devon had a little spazz moment when all the pieces fell into place.  They quickly become friends - "talking" and getting to know each other, mostly at work.  By fall they were dating, and by winter they were inseparable.  
devon + chet canoodling
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Being the Facebook lover that I am, I started noticing some difference in Devon.  She was running?! And fishing?! And she looked radiant... even in silly little camera phone pictures.  As much as you can read into a Facebook picture, I could tell she was really, really happy.
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After finally meeting Chet last night, I can fully confirm her joy: they are crazy about each other.  Whipped? Smitten? On Cloud Nine?  They've been together almost four years and they shine.
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In two hours I saw so much.  I saw that Chet is a man's man.  Dude to the core.  He teases Devon nearly constantly.  My favorite was when he'd call her a "dunce."  She would fake smack him and he'd shield himself with his shoulder and "run away."  He's affirming of her.  In just a small window of time,  he spoke easily and unprompted to me about Devon and to Devon about herself in a very kind manner. He's romantic.  He's playful.  He's well-spoken.  He's cool without trying.  He laughs at Devon and with Devon.  
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Now that I'm in a relationship, I realize how "empty" words that go with an engagement shoot can be.  "He's so sweet to her!" "She lights up when she's with him!" "They're the cutest couple I've ever seen!"  Blah blah blah.  So that leaves me stuck when I really do want to communicate about a man who acts like his girl is his treasure, and does so in a happy-go-lucky way.  It is sweet.  He is sweet with her.  Dunce.  I'm also left in a debacle when I want to explain that Devon's cheeks and eyes didn't use to look like that.  She sparkles and flits - but that isn't to say that she's an airhead.  She's the same devoted friend, considerate giver and creative companion as she was a decade ago.  
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I don't know.  It's just not coming out right.  They're real, guys.  They're successful, talkative, easy-going, real people.  And they love each other enormously.  
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During the shoot I said a nearly-rude statement: "Devon, who would have thought that you'd be getting married before me?"  As soon as I said it I wanted to be carried away by ticks.  It didn't come out right. But I actually meant it in such a good way.  I was always the crazy-getting-married-at-17-having-20-kids-weird-homeschool-wedding-notebook-girl.  And Devon insisted she would never marry until she was at least 30.  At least. She was full of ideas and freedom.
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And now her ideas, freedom and happiness are linked unswervingly to being with Damien Chester.
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As much as she's "grown up" (and hallelujah, I think I have a little bit too!) she's still Devon.  Two other "cheesy/cliche' romance lines" that came to mind are: "He makes me the best version of myself" and "I can't imagine my life without him."
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As much as I wish I could come up with something more unique or insightful, I cannot imagine Devon without Chet.  I almost feel like he's been a part of her for as long as I've known her.  And I can't picture what a happier Devon would look like.
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They are very much a family, a love and a home.
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β€œAre you learning me by heart, little Sara."
"No, I know you by heart."
Frances Hodgson Burnett - A Little Princess

James + Julie {Bethany Beach Proposal}

    there is nothing for me but to love you, 
and the way you look tonight.
frank sinatra 


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May 9, 2009
jewely: are you still up?
me: sure am :D
jewely: so i had to work till 3:30 
then james came over and was the sweetest everrrr
me: aww!!!!! tell me about it!jewely: we hung out and studied together then i had a soccer game
and just about 5 mins ago he put on "the way you look tonight" and we danced to it in my family room. 
while he sang it to me :)
yeah...me: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!that actually gave me tears in my eyeswhy am i so lame? wow THAT is adorable.jewely: awwww :)no you are not lame at all!!!!
 me: hahah that is so so sweet julie



jewely: it was so so cute. 
we were sitting across from each other doing homework 
and he just kept looking at me and was like will you dance with me?
i was like heck yeah i will!  me: ohhhh my word so so sooo fun
 jewely: :) :)
 me: :) :) you have a good boyfriend, lady
 jewely: oh my gosh do i everr!me: um yeeeaa
 jewely: i'm a big fan of his :)
--
One of my best friends, and favorite people on this whole earth,Julie,accepted a marriage proposal (and RingPop...and diamond ring) from her boyfriend and best friend, James. 
I got to be there to take pictures and celebrate with her.I'm pretty sure it was a highlight of my life.


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Because, you see, before there was "James and Julie" in my life,
there was "Julie."
A loud, athletic, funny, laugh-y, junk-food-lovin', talkative, happy, joyful, brave Julie.
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And one summer, in 2006, her life headed down a road -
one she didn't really know she was on -
that would change her life forever.
With our church youth-group on a Missions Trip to Mexico,
Julie started crushing on James.
(Bee tee dubs, we pretty much built that little wooden thing right there.
with 12 other people.
And we didn't finish it.
But it was fun pretending like we were really helping.)
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I noticed James chilling around my girl at the beginning of the trip
(gotta love group trips wearing matching shirts! ow ow!)
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And then I noticed Julie cozying up to James by the end of the trip.
Hmm.
They look great together.
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And pretty much from that summer in 2006... "the rest was history."
Obviously there is more to the story then that.
Their wedding won't be until six years later...
you can bet your bottom dollar there is more to the story ;)
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But in good time there will be an engagement and wedding blog-post to tell that story.
For now, there is the story of how they got engaged.
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The little Team Proposal Crew started to set up James' adorably perfect "love boxes."
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On the most perfect night of life, no less.
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James had various boxes filled with things Julie loves.
Sour Patch Kids, cause she loves candy.
Soccer ball, cause she loves soccer (duh.)
A blue cross, cause she loves Jesus AND the color blue.
These little love boxes (that actually started earlier in the evening...
he gave her a few on his own, before they got to the beach) were laid out in a path on the beach.
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The last box was at the end of the sand "path,"
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Let me say real quick:
James nailed it.
Man does he know that girl.
This is SO a Julie-proposal.
The beach, the "craft-ness," the game/hunt-for-a-box element, sunset.
It was perfect,
right down to the somewhat elementary but COMPletely adorable love boxes,
where stickers, colored pencils and sticky rhinestones decorated each box.
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Once everything was in perfect place, our sneaky group had to wait and wait.
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And wait.
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And waaaaAAaaait.
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And then the tide was rising too fast, so we had to move everything back,
make a new "path"
and cover up the old "path" with sand.
It was rather epic and incredibly adrenaline-rush-y.
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We nestled down to wait some more...
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...and then some more.
I was getting nervous.
"This is gonna happen in the dark! James WOULD be late to his own proposal!"
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And FINALLY we had a siting.
(turns out they were right on time.
But hey, time moves slow when you are waiting for your bff's engagement to happen.
Sue me.)
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I was hoping Julie wouldn't "take her time" at each box,
but that was NOT a problem ;)
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She'd hop right up, run to the next one, and show off her mad sprint-skills.
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(I liked this moment.  I couldn't hear anything they were saying,
but I heard her say "It's BLUE!"
Apparently James said "Yeah, your favorite color!"
Lovelovelovelovelovelasjakakaj)
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However, this was no time to slow down because of a color.
And just like *that* she was off again.
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Completely, fully and excitedly ready to get to this last box.
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After she squealed in delight over her RingPop,
James asked a very simple
"Julie, will you marry me?"
and presented her with a stunning diamond ring.
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Julie yelled "YEAAAH-ES!"
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Followed very closely by a giant collapse into his arms ;)
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The waves turned,
and a few beach-anchored onlookers cheered,
but other then that there was silence under the pink moon.
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Just some lovin'...
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...and some bling checkin'-out-in'.
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Happily, Julie didn't see us hiding (she was never the most observant girl ;)
but how could she?
She was totally in the moment.
So was James.
It was flawless, beautiful and breath-taking.
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A few minutes later it was pitch-black.
We snuck away to let them enjoy each other.
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Julie and James, I'll never forget the way you both looked that night.
Not to creep on your romance or try to insert myself in a special song,
but seriously...
I have never seen the two of you happier.
"God has done this.  We are glad."

Bring on the weeeeeedding!
  

Sam + Emily {Lakeside Engagement Shoot}

in the misty morning fog with
our hearts a thumpin' and you
my brown eyed girl
van morrison | brown eyed girl
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Sam and Emily.
Oh Sam and Emily.
Can I just say how FUN it is that my friends are falling in love and getting married?
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It's the best.
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Sam and I have been loooooong time friends.
Our mothers met when they were pregnant with us,
and in summer 1989 we were both born.
He was my first "friend" and he's been more like a local cousin to me.
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When we finished highschool,
Sam headed up north to further his education in a cold, "middle of nowhere" Michigan college called Hillsdale.
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All of us teased him:
"You KNOW you are going to go up there and meet a girl.
Probably a stupid blonde.
Hahahahah!"
We all knew that was funny, because Sam is very smart.
Very hard-working.
Very quality.
And definitely not shallow ;)
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By summer 2009, Sam had indeed gone up there and met a girl.
A girl named Emily.
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On his summer break he brought her by for a quick trip in Maryland.
We all loved her.
And her homemade Strawberry Shortcake.
And her sweet yet witty, gentle but firm personality.
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And Sam was clearly taken with her ;)
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They spent the summer writing letters,
missing each other,
and waiting for school to start again in the fall.
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That whole year passed and their friendship grew,
but you know how it goes...
Sometimes guys need to take that big step from "boy" to "man"
and sometimes that means hard decisions.
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God had good plans for Sam and Emily,
and part of that plan was a summer 2010 break-up.
That was was filled with no letter writing,
missing each other,
waiting for school to start again in the fall,
AND growing up.
For both of them.
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And God took care of the rest.
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Shortly after returning to school,
these two were inseparable.
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Praise the Lord.
Cause if Sam had let Emily go,
I would have kicked him in the shins.
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Emily, I'm so amazed at how perfectly hand-picked you are for Sam.
He needs you - not in a fluffy, dumb way.
But he really does.
He needs your help, your character and your love.
You're so wonderful for him.
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 And Sam,
you have been a true friend for so long.
You are trustworthy, kind and ambitious.
I know Emily will be loved deeply for the rest of her life.
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I'm so happy for you both.
Beside myself kind of happy.
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Their engagement shoot happened at Sam's childhood vacation lake up in the mountains.
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His father proposed to his mother on the banks of the exact same lake years ago.
His grandparents own a darling blue home right off the lake,
where Sam has gone his whole life.
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'It's one of those towns that has stood still.
Everybody knows everybody.
There aren't house numbers, just house names.
There is no cell-phone service.
It's perfect.
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And out on the water,
in this old beautiful boat,
Sam asked Emily to marry him.
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Gotta hand it to you, mister, you did good ;)
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And the best is yet to come.
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Congratulations Sam + Emily!

John + Whitney {Washington DC Engagement Photography}

"I've got halo's made of summer,
Rhythms made of spring

I got crowns of words a woven 
Each one a song to sing."
brooke fraser | something in the water


--

I had only e-mailed Whitney a few times,
and she was a girl who knew what she wanted.
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A sunrise engagement, 
with the pretty light, 
at the Tidal Basin,
with the cherry blossoms.
That was that.
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So early Sunday morning (my alarm clock definitely went off at 4:30 am),
we met at the break of dawn.
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The kind of dawn that is muted, 
and a tad chilly.
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The kind of dawn that is still grey,
and rubbing it's eyelashes while it wakes up.
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And this bombshell,
with her sweet, architecture-major fiancee' 
hit the day running, 
with smiles, light and joy.
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Whitney and John started dating last January,
and got engaged a few weeks ago.
And it was adorable

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While we waited for our sparkly yellow light,
Whitney + Jon told me their engagement story.
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"I wanted to ask her before dinner,
so that I would be able to enjoy dinner and not have that on my mind.
But it ended up not working out.
So it was on my mind all dinner."
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Whitney piped in "And I figured if he was going to ask,
it would be at dinner!  
So when it didn't happen,
I convinced myself that it wasn't happening tonight."
Typical ;)
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After a few mis-haps,
John ended up taking her to a special place in the city,
with all the stunning DC lights illuminating the night.
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"He was kissing me - which is very typical -
and he pulled away and...
asked me a question! I said yes yes yes!"
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You're not getting the full effect of how sweet it was,
because you aren't hearing Whitney describe it.
Or watching John watch her describe it.
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She's a firework.
A brilliant, excitable, contagious woman.
He's a fire stone.
Solid, warm, strong.
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They literally danced and sung and laughed their way through DC.
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There were actually a handful of other couples,
getting their engagement pictures done at the same time.
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As we passed them,
and I saw the awkward body-language,
heard the awkward silence,
felt the unease,
I was so stinkin' grateful I was shooting these two ;)
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They are birds of a feather.
They fell in love together.
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"Give me long days in the sun, 
Preludes to the nights to come...
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 ...Previews of the mornings laying in all laaaazy ...
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...Give me something fun to do,
 like a life of loving you...
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...Kiss me quick!
 Now baby I'm still crazy over you..."
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That's how I would describe them:
crazy about each other.
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People say that a fair amount in my line of work,
and I'm sure they mean it when they do!Photobucket
But I just felt it with them especially.
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She is ca-RAZY about him.
He is caaaaaarazy over her.
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And they love hugging and kissing.
And being together.
That was that.

:D

Congratulations you two!

Michael + Nas BW {Washington DC Engagement Photography}

Can we pretend, that from now on, 
There is no yesterday?
Paint a portrait of tomorrow
With no colors from today?

bill whithers | pretend


Michael + Nas' "real" post is going to be tomorrow.
The usual, sweet, lovey-dovey, "here's the whole girly version of the story", colorful post will be tomorrow.
But these few in black+white real grabbed me.

It feels like a completely different shoot.
So they get their own post :D
Ballers!


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"There's a light that shines
In your face sometimes,
That takes my feelings 
Wraps them around your need.

But there's shadow hiding
 In your heart sometimes
That makes my feelings 
Turn back in on me"

Can we pretend
The pain is gone?
And go our merry way?
Paint a portrait of tomorrow
With the colors?"

Yes, tomorrow we will paint in colors.
And it'll be as bright and cheery as the shoot (and this couple) really is.
But I had to get out some inner "mood."
;)

Aren't Micahel + Nas beautiful, by the way?
So beautiful.

Be back tomorrow with colorsssss!



Teaser {Engagement}

She turned her "cant's" into "can's"
And her dreams into plans
kobi yomata

I've been dreaming about this shoot since I was 17.
American City Diner, on Connecticut  Avenue,
right in the nations capital.
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I had it all planned in my head.
And I've been saving this location for just the right couple.

Mr. Michael + Ms. Nas came along.
They got engaged,
under the Eiffel Tower,
past midnight,
after getting lost in Paris.
(Say "Paris" like this:
'Pare-ee!'
It's more fun that way.)

And they wanted a 50's-themed engagement shoot,
for their 50's rockabilly themed wedding.

And my dreams came true!

Full shoot coming.

:D

Ron + Lauren {Frederick Engagement Photography}

"I miss you a little, I guess you could say 
A little too much
A little too often
A little more every day "
john michael montgomery
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"I didn't really want to go... I didn't know anybody," Ron explained.

"And I didn't want to go.  
I just wanted to stay home." 
Lauren also explained.
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But somehow they ended up at a mutual friends wine tasting dinner,
just two seats from each other.
And that night they talked for... a while.
This talking included sparks.
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And we all know what sparks mean:
Oh.boy.
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After their sparkly conversation,
Ron drove straight to his good friend, Paul's, house.
"You need to make good on all your promises!
Set something up where I can hang out with Lauren!"
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You see,
Paul and Ron were best buds.
Paul's wife Lauren and Single-wine-tasting Lauren were best buds.
And the married folk thought these two single folk would be GREAT together,
and it had been hinting at it for a while.
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But nothing had come of it,
until Ron surprisingly met the wonderful little blonde at a dinner he didn't want to attend.
And there were sparks...
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...Which led to "making things official" a few weeks later.Photobucket
He barely knew Lauren,
but he was sure of this:
He wanted to get to know her.
Cause dang'it he liked the girl!
And she liked him too.
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For six months they dated,
which to them was "becoming friends."
"Usually we got something to eat,
then would go to Borders and talk and talk and talk."
"In the Children's Section!  Cause all the kids are asleep,
so that area is empty."
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Lauren's dad asked that they just spend a good amount of time having fun, talking and, well, being friends! before things got "serious."
So that's what they did.
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But somewhere around the six-month mark,
Lauren went away.
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But don't worry,
it was just a vacation to Italy.
She didn't leave him :D
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However, those 11 (or 12, depending on who you ask... "It was 12.  I count the day she left as a day without her.") days were HARD for these two dating-friends.
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"I was in the most beautiful place in the world,
with my two best girl friends,
and all I wanted to do was go home and be with Ron.
I couldn't stop thinking about him.
I never wanted to be apart from him again.
He wrote me a letter for each day I was gone,
and the last one made me cry and cry."
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While she was gone, everything "confirmed" for Ron too:
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He wanted this girl,
and he didn't want to let her go. Photobucket
At this point, it was the summer and they both "knew" they wanted to get married.
But they also knew they had a lot of work to do to be ready for that.
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Lauren looks adorable next to her big man.) Photobucket
I respect them for not just running away with their feelings,
but being careful and wise.
Waiting for the right time to get engaged.Photobucket
But, you know how it is, at some point in your life you are apart...
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... and the only thing that even comes close to making sense,
is being together.
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So at the right time,
Ron took out Lauren's parents for dinner,
to ask for their daughters hand. Photobucket
"I love your daughter with all my heart,
and I can't imagine my life without her,
and I want to marry her.
Do I have your blessing?" Photobucket
Lauren's mom was so cute.  The first thing she said back was: 
"Can you just say that again?"
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But the parents said "yes!"
And there was just one person left to ask. Photobucket
In a very sweet, private, "them" moment,
Ron invited Lauren over to help him decorate his Christmas tree.
They pulled out the last box of "ornaments"...Photobucket
... but inside was a ring.
And he asked if they could be together forever.
And always decorate their tree together.
And vacation together.
And eat meals together.
And go to wine-tastings together,
or stay home together.
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She said no.
;)
She said YES! And they are getting maaaaaarried.
"Hey Ron, can you look at Lauren."
"Yes. Yes, I can.
And for the next 50 years?
Yes, I can."
Lauren giggled and said, "What about seventy-FIVE years?!"
"Yes, I could do that too."
What about a HUNDRED years?"
"Mmhhmm. We'd be old." Photobucket
Congratulations Ron + Lauren!
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ps.  Ron wasn't... thrilled?... about pictures,
but he was such a good sport.
"Just an excuse to be close to my girl."
Amen, brutha.
But he did get high-fives when he was done ;) Photobucket
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And some more hugs.
Cause they still have those dang' sparks
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Whitney and Nick {Baltimore Engagement}

"with these hands i'm gonna build our home
a dog in the yard for the times you ever feel alone
so if you need anything pretty lady,
go ahead and say it"
dave barnes - since you said i do

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Have you ever seen "Walking on the Moon" from comedian Brian Regan?
If not, short re-cap.
He's talking about dinner parties. 
He talks about the "me-monsters" who only talk about themselves.
He talks about how people have to always "up" another persons story.
So Brian wishes that he were one of the men who walked on the moon.
That'd always beat every story at a dinner party.
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Nick has that kind of ammo when it comes to "what I did for my girl."
"Yeah, I bought her 24 roses and had them delivered to her office."
"WELL, IIiiii made her dinner and took her on a carriage ride."
"Psh, I bought her a diamond necklace that I designed."
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Cue Nick:
"I built her a house - a log cabin in the woods. 
Where we will grow old together and raise our children. 
I also proposed to her there,
fireside,
as it snow fell softly in the moonlit sky.
We hand laid the tiles together."
Can't compete with that kind of story.
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I love Nick and Whitney
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I love how she looks at him. And how he looks at her.
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I love that for two professional, hard-working, fast-paced, disciplined adults, they act more "cute-sy" and giddy then most teenagers.
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Whitney, as a little girl, always believed in the fairy tale story.
And then she started dating.
HA.
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NEVERMIND.
She realized it was all fluff and stuff made for movies.
She was "over" this guy thing and focused on work, school and her very bright future.
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Untiiiillll she became bff's with her boss.
And her boss just so happened to have a single brother.
Who just so happened to find Whitney the Firecracker ridiculously cute.
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After a BBQ at the boss-turned-friend-turned-match-maker's house, Whitney knew instantly that Nick was different. She thought he was a perfect gentleman.  She thought it was so meaningful that he would drive 30 minutes each way to do laundry with her, just so he could see her.  She thought fairy tales weren't real. But here she was falling for quite a prince.
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"I seriously fall in love with him more and more every time he tells a joke and makes me laugh.
I know it sounds cliche' but he really knows me better then I know myself.
And he doesn't take me for granted."
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"I can't wait to be his wife and I have never dreamed about my future so much."
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Don't worry.  Nick had a whole lot to say about Whit. His little soccer blonde bombshell.
"She truly is the BEST thing that has ever happened to me.  I never understood those words until I met her."
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"This may sound corny, but I honestly love everything about her.  Even when she's really mad! I just love that girl - all of her!"
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Whitney fell hook-line-and-sinker for this sweet, proper country boy.
And he fell fast and furious for this Energizer Bunny who laughs, falls, cries and really just lives out loud. 

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You two are going to have an amazing life together - from the details you put into this shoot (like planning it around the leaf-change calendar!!!) to the details you put into your house (which is just absolutely gorgeous) to the details you put into your love.  You guys truly focus on the other person.

And together you have built an incredible life.  I'm so excited for you!

Shannon + Cindy {Glen Echo + Capital Engagement Shoot}

"you don't have to be alone,
take the road that leads you home
and i'll be waiting there for you"
peter bradley adams - for you

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"She was dipping her french fries into her frosty --"
 --"It's so good that way! I'm telling you! Shannon laughed and continued, "But yes, that's when I knew 'Dang, I love this girl.'"
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It all started with friends.
Friends are the best, aren't they?
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Cindy had a nurse friend who was married.  That gal's husband had a guy friend who was single.
Thanks to a bold facebook friend request on Cindy's part, some entertaining chit-chat and many, many texts Shannon and Cindy started to really click.
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Like, seriously.
"How can you be into someone you've never even met before?! I don't know.  But all I knew was that I was totally falling for this guy."
BUT, as all good love stories should have, there is a twist. 
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(Quick side note made at the risk of sounding completely unprofessional:  They are really, really good kissers.  Just sayin.'  It's kind of magical.)
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Ok.  The twist.
This wasn't a regular glazed donut kind of twist.
It was raspberry glazed, coconut-topped, cookie-crumb filled, chocolate donut sort of twist.
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Shannon was moving. 
Not around the corner, at that.
These love-teased North Carolinian's were about to be split by a couple states.
They had only met once (randomly at 2 am, mind you) and had texted like teenagers for weeks.
Was this completely dumb?  How the snap could this work?
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Well, he pretty much was irresistible.
As was she.
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And they basically just couldn't stop talking to each other.
Or sending video-messages of themselves singing to each other.
After a particularly lovely Jason Mraz video Shannon sent to Cindy (where his video camera cord didn't work, so he had to hook it up to the TV and then video-tape the TV playing it with his cell-phone to send to her.  Adorb.) he came into town.  Not to see her... but, yeah... he came back to North Carolina for a visit ;)
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They met up late one night at a Hess gas station (very Jim + Pam, yes?).  She was in her long, goofy pajama's and he kissed her for the first time.
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They endured the long drives every weekend to see each other and quickly fell in love.
Like, ridiculous, smitten, I-adore-you, gah, ohmyGOSH, falling in love.
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And then Shannon moved to Iraq.
Well, his job moved him to Iraq.  Since the summer he has been overseas and has been able to come home for R&R once. 
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"When you left there was, like, weeks before I got to see your face! It was awful!"
"No, it wasn't that long...?"
"
Yes!!! I remember! I couldn't Skype you for weeks!  Oh man, I remember having that thought 'If something happened to him, I don't know what I would do.  I canNOT imagine my life without him.'  I guess that's how you are supposed to feel, huh?"
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We did this lovely engagement shoot the day after Shannon proposed (which I was able to photograph.  Proposal pictures coming later.)  But this was the second time Cindy had been able to see him in months.  And is the last time she'll see him for another many more months.
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They just ate these seconds together.
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Like Cindy ate her ice cream dipped potato strings.
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And they touched.
And they held.
And they dreamed about the future.
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"I'm sad he won't be here for Christmas.  But if I have to spend one Christmas without him to be able to spend the rest with him, I can do that."
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We had to do some light-chasing.  These days the light runs away pretty fast - once it goes, it's GONE.
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So we literally chased it across the mall lawn.
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This looks way more strange that it looked in real life hahah
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Sorry Cindy, had to do it ;)  I just love this one!
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(More running to light.  But they were running together, holding hands, in the same state.  So it was good.)
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A little wanna-be maternity shoot slash too-bad-I-didn't-get-my-braces-off-before-prom.  But I still like it :D
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Shannon and Cindy, I respect your patience as you wait to start your forever together.  It'll be so worth it.  I'll be praying that those days will move quickly so you can be together again sooner.





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(I lub dis long tim.)

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Congratulations you twooooo!
(ps! Check out Cindy's wonderful photography!  And go hire her cause she rocks!)
(pps.  Thank you to Cheyenne for the referral!)


George + Melissa {Engagament Shoot - Alexandria, VA}

"I just want it to be love
Oooh. oh."
matt white - love
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Just so y'all know: This is Melissa. And she is THE greatest snuggler in the whole world.
So says George.
Oh, and this is George, too.  He is he has a special "I love you" look that makes Melissa cry. Every.Single.Time.
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Even though she hates it, George thinks Melissa is absolutely irresistible when she is angry.
Melissa thinks it is super attractive that George "doesn't try to be anything he is not. He's just himself."
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They both quite love to touch each other.
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When they lived in Texas, George loved to drive an hour each way to watch Melissa's indoor soccer games every week.  And as soon as he left, he had to call her and let her know he missed her.
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Melissa loves that George will wear "seersucker suits, pink, Crokies, Ray Bans, yellow bands, and bowties. His wardrobe is straight out of Southern Proper, as well are his manners." Melissa loves how George takes care of her.  She loves his chivalrous, specific and gentlemanly affection.
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George loves making jokes.
And Melissa loves laughing at them.
Melissa loves to be funny.
And George loves to laugh with her.
It's even better when his hand is in her hair and they are laughing.
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The best is when they are laughing together while their IDIOT photographer has them laying in the street at forgets to check for cars and they almost get run over ;)
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But really, they are wonderful.  We chatted up a storm, us three.
And while we were walking from location to location they bought candy from a little girl trying to raise money for new school uniforms at an underprivileged school.  Her eyes lit up, she thanked them profusely and we continued our shoot. 

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It would have been so easy to walk right past her, especially in the middle of your ENGAGEMENT SHOOT.  But these two love people.  Melissa raves about how George would do anything for the people he loves, and George is amazed at Melissa's skill in becoming friends with anyone.  They care about other people.  I can't wait to see how much more they can do that as a married couple.
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"Can you take a picture of her feet? Melissa loves feet."
"NO! I don't love FEET. I love your feet. Or when you touch my feet."
"I don't know where I found this one."
Smiles, foot-touching and snuggling followed.
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In a world of speed and chaos, I'm so impressed by Melissa and George's easy, careful thoughtfulness.  Their contract pages answering my questions were four pages long - and filled with details.  Details about each other and their love.  They care to note those things and care to remind each other of those things.  So beautiful.
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So, you two little lovebirds.  Keep being best of friends, keep planning that wedding (that WILL make it onto Style Me Pretty) and keep partying through life, doing like you do.
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I had a blast with you! And I'll see you at your wedding (and hopefully sooner!)

Brittany + Justin {I'm Kristen Engagement}

close your brown eyes
and lay down next to me
close your eyes
there goes your fear again - doves
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"Ok, this is the not romantic part.  Don't blog this.  We met online. AND DON'T JUDGE ME! I know what you are thinking.  I thought it to.  Of myself.  But, I'm getting married. So. And I love him."
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Brittany is... well... a firecracker.
A talkative, energetic, loud, spicy, emotional, hysterical little fiesta of a girl.  She loves to bake (and has a wonderfully entertaining blog you should check out), she loves to eat, she loves to chill, she loves to write, and she loves to be in love with Justin.
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Eeeeeven though they met online.
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When I first met Brittany + her mom, I got to hear Brittany tell me about her relationship.
Her Mr. Stud Police Officer fiance' "is her rock" Brittany's mom explained.  "He calms her down.  But doesn't make her dull."  I heard about their first date, their proposal and their plans for the future - all through Brittany's laughs, shrieks, hand motions, tangents, sighs and smiles.
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After meetings like that, it's hard to wait for engagement sessions where I can see them both together.
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But it was worth the wait.
These two are just what every couple should be.
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I LOVE when couples are clearly "into" each other (duh.) but also not sooOOoo mushy-gushy that you feel like it's just infatuation.  I don't know if that makes sense, but it does in my head.
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I just love when couples are very affectionate, but also very comfortable and normal.
I loved how they were clearly best friends.  Easy friends.  But completely in love friends.
(By the way, cute moment.  I asked "So, tell me about your first kiss." Brittany announced "Oh, it was hot."  Justin smiled at her and then nodded at me in approval.  I heart them!)
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Justin definitely is that calming, manly, strong presence Brittany and her mom told me about, and he definitely does not dull her.  He refines her.  And they just have the most and best kinds of fun together :D
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Oh, hey now.  Hold on. Don't be TOO attractive, alright? Easy now.
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Somewhere around this time they started using their "voices."  I love couples "voices."
Some movie character, some made-up character, some person they came across... The voices come from all around, but any quite cute couple has voices.
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BOOM. 
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I love their first date story.  It was ten hours long, and Justin thought it just went WONDERfully.  He was thrilled.
Brittany thought he was too nice.  "Alright, you can cut it out now.  Stop being so nice."
Justin wasn't really sure what to say.
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As we walked through the town, and Brittany held her diamond-crowned hand in his and told me "Kristen, he's really that nice.  I can't believe it."  God gave this girl the most solid, dependable, sweet man to be her husband.  It's just the dearest thing ever.
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You both made my day, and I'm in love with you as a couple.  I canNOT wait for your wedding.  
I'm glad online dating sites exist.  Because I'm glad you two get to be together forever. 
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And thank you for lunch.
And the banana-bread.
And the hyster.ic.al. stories.

I love you guys!

Alex + Jessica {Baltimore Engagement Shoot}

Can you feel all the love,
Like it was made for you?

one republic

They waited for me in Subway, and I saw them silhouetted in the window, side by side and as cuddly as two can be in a sandwich shop.

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As soon as I came in, they straightened up and got their "we're about to interview a photographer" faces on.  Jessica smiled and greeted me in her cotton purple dress, dark bangs and fun, bright lipstick.  Alex sweetly said hello like all men who were raised in Wilmington, North Carolina were taught to.
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We got our "meeting" started, and they told me how they met.  Ready for this?
At the gym.
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I promise you, I will never meet my husband at the gym.  Unless there is a man on the treadmill blind-folded.
Then again, if a guy is working out blind-folded he is probably really weird and I wouldn't want to talk to him.
Anywho, I'm a gross little mess at the gym and avoid eye-contact with everyone.
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But, apparently, this beauty named Jessica (who is also a make-up artist and wonderful nurse in DC!) looks hot at the gym.  Because she instantly caught Alex's eye.  And while he worked out his arms, he also worked up the courage to ask Lovely Gym Girl out.
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"Ok, so, did you like her right away?" I asked.
Alex kind of rolled his eyes, cocked his head, looked at his fiancee' and stuck out his neck as he said "Ummm, YEAH!"  It was kind of a "Psh, look at her! Of course I did!" moment.
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Over the next years, Alex fell harder and harder for his beautiful girlfriend - as she wasn't only physically attractive, but also a woman with an attractive heart.  Jess, as you can probably see, is SO smiley it's contagious.  And her heart is twice the size of her smile.
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She loves her man and she loves him hard.  I really, really love how she doesn't talk poorly about it.  In all our interactions and e-mails and her facebook status's, she doesn't ever mock or jokingly put Alex down.  I really respect that.
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She stands by her man.
And she dearly loves him.
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Ps.  Jess was very excited about their outfits.  She texted me and said "Just wait till you see our cute little matchy-match formal outfit :) :)"  I love getting texts like those - it shows me my couples are so excited do these shoots!
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It's hard to properly photograph how SMILEY they were!  Seriously people, be happy like them.  Seriously, me, smile more.  Ok, done.
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And, psh, what's an engagement shoot without an outfit change? 
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Or some sunset cuddles?
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Ooooo this was def a favorite of mine.  Stop being so gorgeous!  You are making the world jealous!
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Siiiiiigh.  I love you guys.  I'm so happy you are getting married.  And I'm so happy I get to be a part of it. 
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Congratulations!

Alex and Lauren {Annapolis Engagement}

"girl i swear
you got me acting crazy
half the time
i don't know what my name is"
alan jackson - never loved before
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Well, I'm awfully behind on weddings, so I'm going to blog an engagement session!  That makes sense, right? Right.




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This is Lauren.  And she is quite engaged.
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This spunky, colorful, excited little lady is marrying her "Russian MAN" next week.  And they are thrilled. 
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Which is weird.
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Why weird?  Well, for many a year, Lauren was not into Alex at aaaaaalllll. "Like, no chance buddy. Sorry, no way. Uh uh, not happening."  Poor Alex.  He's liked her for about 9 years and she just was NOT havin' it.
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Lauren was a goody-two-shoes-church-girl.
Alex was a "bad-kid" who went to public school.
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Homeschooled kids and public school kids just don't mix.
Right?
(ps. In a great ironic twist, Lauren is a public school teacher now. LOVE it haha)
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God had "great things on His mind" for those two little kids.
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As we walked and talked through Annapolis, and I heard their story, I thought it was so cool how God really was at work the whole time.  9 years. That's a lot for Alex!  But, if Lauren had liked him right away, who knows what would have happened?  They echoed time after time how God has so changed both of their hearts.  Lauren, to be a gracious, selfless woman.  Alex to be an honorable, solid man.  They both had a lot to learn.
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And God was preparing them for each other.
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Though Lauren knew she would NEVER like Alex, they were good friends.  They liked music, snowboarding and other such things, so over the years their friendship grew.  On a trip to NYC last year, Lauren realized she really liked Alex.  "Uh oh."  After she got home, she went back and forth "Maybe I do? I don't know... maybe not? Ah!"  I know the turmoil ;)
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But at the right time, in God's right way, they started dating and quickly they were engaged.  And Lauren knew she liked - er, loved - this man.  She loved him. 
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(A lesson to all the boys out there? Perhaps? ;)
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Alex had patiently fought for her heart, and now he gets to marry the girl of his dreams.  Alex became a man worthy of following and Miss Lauren wants to be by his side forever.
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It's the best when best friends fall in love :D
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There is this natural, comfortable, "just fits" feeling about it.
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Alex and Lauren, I love seeing what God has done - it's so happy, so wonderful and so "YAY!"
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I'm completely rejoicing with you!
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Enjoy the slideshow and see you in a few days for the weddddding!







Kyle + Ashley {Frederick Engagement Pictures}

At long last love has arrived,
And I thank God I'm alive,
You're just too good to be true
lauryn hill - can't take my eyes off you
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Ashley was the new girl in the neighborhood.  Loving her city-side apartment, Ashley was looking forward to meeting new people.   Work was good, soccer was exciting and Ashley was happy.
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One day, in direct objection to her regular schedule, Ashley took her lunch break at home.  Why? Who knows.  But she did.
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Guess who lived above her.  And guess who had been itching to meet her.  And guess who was "sick" and home from work when Ashley unlocked then shut her apartment door. And guess who heard her rustling around right underneath him.  Guess! Guess!
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Yup.  Kyle had noticed Ashley, and was pretty sure she was pretty cool.
It was the perfect chance to make his move.
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Everyone loves "that" moment.  You have it all planned it in your head, maybe have a conversation starter or two.  You just have a feeling it's going to go smoothly.
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As Ashley walked out of her apartment, Mr. Big+Sauve+Collected made his grand entrance.
By thumping and tripping down the stairs. (I think he secretly planned that.  "I guess Ashley just *fell* for me!")





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Ashley laughed, and probably felt bad for him.  Or something.
Whatever had just happened worked, and he officially "caught Ashley's eye" too.
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Soon after, she brought "all her neighbors cookies," which led to staying at a certain neighbors house to eat cookies and watch TV one night.  One night turned into every night. 
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The best part of their day was coming home.  They'd order pizza, put on sweats and wander to each others couch for an evening of talking, laughing and tv-ing.  That casual "hang-out" time was the springboard to actually dating... and ladies + gentlemen, the rest is history.
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When I met Ashley the first time, we talked for almost two hours - and I don't think I even pulled out my little "first time meeting a bride schpeal."  I loved her.  And goodness she made Kyle seem like great fun.  She told me how much he made her laugh.  How much they goof around.  I couldn't wait to meet him and see them together.
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Here's an idea of how they are together:
Ashley: Oh! I brought these apples.  I thought they'd be a cute prop?
Kyle: Oh I'm hungry.
Ashley: Well, you can eat these after we use them.
Kyle: I want a steak.
Ashley: (laughs)
Kyle: (takes a bite of an apple) Mmmmm! Doesn't taste like steak.
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The rest of the shoot was me tossing a joke-pitch to Kyle, Ashley covering-his-mouth/pulling-his-sleeve/giving-him-a-'stern'-face to make sure he didn't say anything "inappropriate."  Next, he'd say his joke anyway, she'd laugh (and apologize to me), then he'd grin like a little boy on a school bus, and then kiss Ashley like a man.  
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"Kyle, Kristen likes us so far!  We have to be nice!  Don't blow it!"
I loved them so far.  And we had only just begun.
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There was much laughing ahead.  Much much much.
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And kissing.  Who can complain about that?!
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After we fully nailed the country-barn location, we changed clothes (er, Ashley changed clothes and of course Kyle had a very witty joke about that) and locations.
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We found ourselves wandering around historic Frederick, making quite a scene.
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Let me know if you ever find two happier people.  Ever.
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"Kyle, are you showing off your muscles?"

"Mmmhhm. Kiss me."
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I don't usually shoot in front of brick walls - I feel like it's kind of cheesy-typical-senior-portrait-y.   But once they were up there, they just were working it!  I didn't want them to move because they kept getting cuter and cuter! 
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THEY ARE SO CUTE!
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And, oh sheesh, the jokes got better.  Ashley's cheeks started to legit hurt.
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While I was setting up this shot, Kyle screamed.  And shrieked.
He ran like a girl, kicked up his feet, flailing his hands. Um. What?





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He saw a bee, and he's - apparently - very allergic to bees.  Swelling, no breathing, anaphylactic shock, epi-pen in five minutes, death... the whole nine yards.  Ashley laughed, so I assumed he was being funny.  He's so so funny.  We assured him that he hadn't gotten stung.  He was just fine.
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"But I felt something guys!"
Turns out he had gotten stung, very small sting, very small swelling and he made it out just fine.  And if we asked how he was doing he'd say "I'm not a punk, I can handle it." hahah
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But the whole bee-incident was very telling.  As soon as Ashley realized it was "real", she turned into "take care of my man" mode.  It was very sweet.  During the shoot, amidst all the jokes and laughing, Kyle took time to tell me about his necklace.  Ashley gave it to him, and it's a compass. He told me - "not to be cheesy, but it's true" - that his life really had direction once Ashley came into it.  He knows where he is going now.  She's changed it all. 
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It's the moments of complete sincerity and romantic description, that make the hours of laughing even sweeter.  These two are sincere, they are real and they are just incredibly happy together.  I'm so glad Kyle tripped down those stairs that day.  What a life he, literally, stumbled into.
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I can't wait for your wedding!  Enjoy the slideshow :D

Nathan and Jen {Damascus Engagement}

"On second thought, just the way you are
Is already drivin' me crazy
So baby, why don't we just dance?"
josh turner - why don't we just dance
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He was new in town.  And oh goodness was he causing a stir.  I actually remember multiple conversations that went something along the lines of "Have you seen 'American Eagle Boy' yet?" "He's like a cowboy.  And he likes country music."  Nathan was here and Nathan was single.
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Nathan was southern sweet with a farm-boy work ethic.

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And Jen liked country music.
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Well, actually, that was just the beginning of Jen.  Jen is also very sweet and bubbly - like a good Sprite (but not too annoying bubbly.  Because no southern gentleman would want that.)  She is smart, beautiful, light-hearted, fun and fits perfectly inside Nathan's hug.
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After meeting at a get-together, they became fast friends.  Nathan even told Jen she was his "best friend in Maryland." Hoollller! Um, I bet that was a skip-a-beat moment in Jen's heart. 
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Quickly and decisively Nathan took their friendship to the next level, and the last four years have been a whirlwind of laughter, long-distance, romance, waiting, falling in love and growing up together.
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After a super sneaky and ridiculously cute proposal at a local park, Nathan and Jen are finally getting married.  Jen has always been such an encouraging "fan" of my work, and we all have been so excited to shoot together!
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But on the day of the shoot, the skies ripped and the waters rained down.  It was rain that hurt when it hit you.  We decided to do what we could, and rocked the library and the over-hang in front of the town-favorite-ice-cream-stand, Jimmie Cone.

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I wasn't really sure what else we could do, so we were going to cut it short and take a few last shots in the rain.  But as they were giggling and dancing atop some tables, the rain stopped!  As fast as it had begun, it was finished.
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Even though it was quite wet and muddy, these two were game.  Because they are like little children.  Who love games.  And watching them play together is fantastic :D
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It did drizzle for a little bit, but I think it adds so much to the pictures!  LOVE this one.  They were dancing and singing to each other ;)
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I loved how romantic the humid post-rain air was. Aren't they babes?
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They got props for these shots: water, mud, thorns and ticks... but look at the result?  I love my couples ;)
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I seriously cannot wait for your wedding! 
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You guys are going to have a lifetime of beautiful fun together and it's just absolute, pure JOY to watch you two together.
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See you in a few weeks!


Bill + Bethy {West Chester Engagement}

"you steal away the rain and just like that:
you make me smile like the sun
fall out of bed, sing like bird
dizzy in my head."
smile - uncle kracker
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I met Bethy when I was a boy-ish, un-make-up-ed and very chatty 10th grader.  We hit it off well (though I was always jealous of her good looks and easy charm.)  Her family moved a whole three hours away to West Chester, PA.  And that, dear friends, is the city where she met and fell in love with Bill.

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We talked about Bill a lot the last five years.  Well, not Bill himself but "Bill" - the unknown man who Bethy would marry.  Who would he be and where would he come from? We didn't know.
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In a beautiful but simple small-town romance, they met at work.  Making sandwiches and soup together.  They liked each other, started dating and then loved each other.  Most of their relationship was spent in Bethy's house with her family.  Gathered around an episode of "Psych" or woot-wooting during a Red Sox game, they became inseparable. 
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Bethy was falling in love, her family adored the boy and he, well, he was quite smitten with the blonde, giggly, sandwich-maker beside him on the couch.
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So, how does the song go? "If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it! OhohOH!" On a cozy winter night, Bethy was summoned to run some family errands, and while she was gone Bill prepared the family room.  Candles, a slideshow to "their" song, and a video camera.  Bethy came home from errands to an empty but glowing room.  As the video started to play, she teared up and giggled and looked around for her man.  He finally came out from hiding with the ring, and as he asked her to be his wife they both burst into tears.  (I'm so glad they recorded it. The video is adorable.)
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And now they get to make sandwiches for each other forever ;)
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I've only met Bill a few times, but what I love the most about their relationship is how much they enjoy each other.  They don't bicker or mean-tease.  They just laugh and laugh and laugh.  Then cuddle and hug.  Then more laughing. 
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I want to be Bill-and-Bethy-happy when I get married.  They are annoyingly cute, sappy-gushy, young and care-free and I think it's rather wonderful.  Both of them have such solid foundations and have learned how to really serve someone else; to consider another more important then themself.  They give to each other as pure joy!  I love watching them interract.  New hobby! haha
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I hope you guys always look at each other that way:
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Bethy, I'm so happy you have him.
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And Bill, I'm so happy you get to marry her.
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Bill really is a man - even though he is young, he has some serious character.  He works hard, he takes roles seriously and he loves Bethy hard.  It's not easy to be a diligent, committed, honest man but Bill really is.
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And you won't meet a sweetheart more loveable then Bethy.  She loves God, family and funny stories.  I don't say this casually: I have never seen her in a bad mood.  She is consistently joyful and consistently serving.  That's hard as well. 
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Very impressive these two, verrrrry impressive ;D
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And we'll end with my personal favorite pictures:
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Enjoy the slideshow!  And enjoy your couch time tonight ;) I love you guys!





Merissa + Mike {Engagement Session}

"Gimme that girl with her hair in a mess
Sneaky little smile with her head on my chest"
joe nichols - that girl


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It was an ordinary youth group night and Mike (big macho friendly athlete Mike) walked into the church doors.  An adorable smile inside a happy face welcomed him.  "She is cuuuuUuute" Mike thought as he walked in.  Duh she was cute.  Little Miss Sophomore Athlete Darling Merissa was very cute :D
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Though their highschools were arch rivals, Mike and Merissa became acquaintance-friends and somehow through the rest of highschool and the first two years of college they kept in touch.  Ah, hold.  Remember the "athlete" part of them?  Both talented lacrosse players, they went to Division 1 colleges to play - Vanderbilt for her, Villanova for him.  So they kept in touch long distance... ah! Well done, wellllll done.
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Sophomore year of college ended and all the students were headed home for the summer.  Guys being guys were asking each other about any girls they wanted to see blah blah blah.  Mike announced that yes, yes there was a girl he wanted to see.  She was a cute one and he wanted to see her.
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He was looking forward to seeing if the solid friendship he and Merissa had developed could become a crushship.  Cause he was kind of crushin ;)
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Merissa, on the other hand, was not looking for a boy.  She was determined to stay single until she graduated.  No boys.  No drama.  No hurt.  Way to go girl!  She wanted to focus and enjoy college.  And she was ESPecially determined not to have a little summer fling while on break. Uh uh, nooo way.
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*Cue cute bubbly piano music*
Summertime hang-outs in Columbia, Maryland were exactly what summertime hang-outs should be.  Everyone was enjoying seeing each other and catching up.  Mike got his brave on and asked Merissa to ice cream.  Crush ice cream for him, friend ice cream for her.  During the ice cream date slash friend-catch-up (whatever the heck it was), Mike suggested to Merissa they should get dinner sometime.
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Ah! Finally.  That is clearly a date. And what did Merissa say...?
"Yah!  That would be so fun!  I'll invite some friends!"
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Ouch.
Guess who isn't crushin'!
But never fear, after hanging out in groups and kind of hinting more and more at the "I like you and don't treat other girls like this" angle, Mike asked Merissa to a movie!  For whatever reason this girl was in denial.  He doesn't like me.  I don't like him.  I don't want a boyfriend.  We don't like each other. Yadda yadda yadda ;)
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Merissa thought she was going out with a friend, and Mike thought he was going out on a date.  The dear guy.
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Everyone else seemed to think it was perfect!  Everyone else was a fan!  They were perfect together.  Great personalities, love for the Lord, awesome athletes.  Just lovely.
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So they get their snacks, find their seats, settle into the movie and Mike's nerves are finally settling down.  The last thing he was focusing on was the movie and he eventually got the guts to put his hand on his date's knee...
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... where she promptly wiped it off and laughed "What are you doing?! Haha we aren't dating!"
Re-telling this story Mike clenched his fists and put his head down and looked so rejected just remembering it.  Merissa really made him work :D
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But finally all the peices fell into place, and she finally "got" it.  She also finally admitted that maybe she did want a boy - if it was this one.  Maybe she could like someone over the summer - if that someone was Mike.   He finally knew she liked him one night at a friends.  He tried to put his hand on her knee again - and she let him.  He did it!
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Now these two little loveheads are planning a wedding.  I love them.  The only picture Merissa specifically asked for was one of them hugging in sweatshirts.
"That's my favorite," she expained.  "It's so snuggly. I just love hugging him."  So they hugged snuggly for a bit and I snapped away.  I love them hugging.
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I think it's too cute how Mike just wants to kiss and wrap around Merissa.
I think it's so sweet how they act like 10th grade kids during summer together.
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It's cute how perfect they fit together.
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And it's cute how when I tell Mike to "look at her!" he has to bend all the way around and look right into her eyes.
There was even one point in their story-telling when they both looked straight at each other, totally stopped talking, smiled, muttered some lines about a friend of a friend, and just gave each other a quick squeeze.
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They distract each other and it's very sweet.
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I am exciting for their big day!  It's coming in just a few months - and Mike will officially be the husband of the cute, knee-swatting, lacrosse-playing Merissa! Yay!
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Enjoy the slideshow :D