weddings

Ken + Allie | Dulaneys Overlook Wedding Frederick MD

"It felt very good to have him walking beside her."
Marilynne Robinson

"I feel like we are rather un-quirky. Like, so much so that when we first met, I literally thought 'I feel like he’s the one, but he’s so much like me. Can that work?'  We are both pretty independent people, and we would both say we are introverts." I loved reading these lines when Allison sent over the questionnaire part of the contract. Finding a real "match" not just a complement is special.

Allison's mom, Tracy, was my mom's best friend. They met while they were pregnant with their first children, born about a month apart. Sam in July, me in August. A large hunk of my childhood memories include riddles with Mr. Branchaw, losing at Battleship, playing Sardines and man-hunt in the neighborhood of Waring Station, hearing stories about secret Polish family recipes, getting another pretzel out of the giant pretzel bins, and being blissfully happy (and occasionally sneaky) with the Branchaw family. Once I asked my mom if she had any life advice for me and she said to find a friend like Tracy. "She's put up with a lot from me, and I've had to bite my tongue with her, but more than anything she has been loyal and with me. I know Tracy has my back. I can laugh with her, cry with her, tell her the truth, be told the truth by her, and we usually laugh again. You need friends like this to get through life." Tracy wasn't just this way to my mom... she's been "this friend" to dozens if not hundreds.

Tracy brought us dinner a few nights after Summer was born. It meant very much seeing as mom wasn't there to share this part of my life with me. Tracy showed up; was with me. I remember bringing her dinner with my mom when her babies were born. I also remember how she was on-call to have the Snyder kids when my mom was in labor. 

The wedding of these two similar, introverted, Maine-loving lovers was of gold; the finest quality of sweet joy. Tracy, and John, have spent their lives being faithfully, consistently, and eagerly "there" for their kids, friends, family (and "new friends," too!). Almost all the vendors at the wedding were family friends. The ones who weren't felt like it. Resplendent joy. Decades of friendships coming together to lavish on a pair who would never ask for all this attention. A teary-eyed daddy (who home-brewed all the beer for the wedding) and couldn't have been more proud of his daughter and new husband. Chatter creating an energy throughout the venue. Sniffles and dabs during toasts, uproarious laughter during the jokes, and a packed dance floor all night.

It doesn't get much better than nights like these.

It doesn't get much better than love like this. 

Ken wrote of Allie "She is a dream come true." Thank you for welcoming me into your dream for a few hours. I was filled with "the good stuff" by being able to simply observe the kindness and loyalty stretching back in history and launching into the future that your wedding day was.

You two have "a special something," bigger than yourselves and given to you for your joy. I hope that as the seasons of life bring what they may you'll never forget and always hold close the "not of this earth" happiness you've shared together! Thank you for having me there, it was a gift to me!

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(All these people. They probably don't know it to the extent that it's true... but if you're a part of the Branchaws, I'd go down for you. You all mean quite a lot to me.)

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Congratulations! What a perfect day, in every sense of the word!

Ps. Speaking of loyal... a HUGE shout-out to my friend, Ally, who came from California to shoot this wedding with me. Ally has made herself available for not just major moments of my life (like coming across the country alone for our wedding even though she didn't know anyone except me and helping host/decorate my little baby shower for Summer) but also taking on the major-parts of my friends' and my family's lives. She's photographed the other two Morris weddings with me, as well as a number of Morris engagement/baby shoots. She traveled to my best friend's wedding in Minnesota with me, helped pull off my friends' proposals (plural!), and sends sweet packages to us and even my friends' little kids in the mail. Heck, this year she HANDMADE FOUR MICKEY MOUSE STOCKINGS FOR US! Thank you for going out of your way to love on me, and anyone I love. So many of the best pictures of this wedding you took. One more "enormous life gift" you've given someone. Grateful for you, friend!

Year In Review 2015 | I'm Kristen Photography

2015 was a wonderful year behind my camera! I enjoyed shooting 15 weddings, plus second shot five weddings, and then three proposals and a couple dozen portrait sessions. This post is just a review of all the weddings I haven't blogged yet this year (Neill and Kate's wedding is here!). While some of my favorite pictures are certainly included, many of these represent favorite memories and moments of each wedding day. As I went through each day start to finish it warmed my heart to re-see the faces.

Pulling a segment from my website: "I don't take and present photographs because it's cute, but because I am a Note Taker, a Story Teller. You are the sonnet, you are a part of the play, and the times of your life matter. It is sincere delight for me to be allowed to walk into the doors of your world, tap into my heart, and let your joy become mine -- whether it be a wedding, a birth, a high school graduation, or a Christmas card portrait.  I know our sessions together aren't the whole story -- the nights without sleep, the gulp in your throat, the lost ones you miss, the insecurities, the numbness -- but I know our sessions are a real, that we are here logging history with a black box and light. It's magic.  I believe in family, marriage, parenthood, new starts, figuring it out, I believe in wholehearted relationship, I believe in lasting love and I know awfully sad things happen in those places. But I believe in fighting for the good, fighting to believe that the best is yet to come, that the struggle is worth it, that being known and loved -- and knowing and loving -- are what give us life and bring us the greatest joy. So, here's to the grand adventure and all the stories, and hope beyond tomorrow! *clink*" Happy Days Gone By, everyone, and thank you for letting me live parts of my life alongside yours.


| The Preparations |

| The Ceremony |

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| The Newlyweds |

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| The Celebrating |

A special thank you to all my second-shooters this year! Ellie Be, Elizabeth Baxter, Caroline Ruth, Elise Benjamin, Dom, Ally Michelle and the Mr. Morris himself. Thank you for working hard for my clients and me, for keeping track of the family shot lists, for keeping me hydrated, and for doing such beautiful work! 

DANIEL + ERIN TEASERS

"And we tore our dresses and stained our shirts,
But it's nice today,
Oh the wait was so worth it"
Jason Mraz

It's probably cheating to post an almost 20-image "teaser" but the rules bend for family, and now both of these wonderful people are indeed my family.  If you've followed along online you might know the gist of the story: Big family on the farm in Oklahoma with eldest twin boys. First twin meets and marries... me! and leaves the middle of the country for the east coast. Second twin, through a half-humorous half-serious matchmaking instagram post, meets a girl on the west coast. And they, as of last week, have married!  

This was a large family event, and we all looked forward to this time with Dan for many years. After the wedding we all chit-chatted about and soaked up the day by remembering our favorite parts. The three memories that came up the most often were their First Look, the ceremony - particularly the way the stories were told and just watching Dan and Erin together, and the toasts at the reception.  Since Ally Michelle (the light of my photography world and all-around Best Person nominee) and I took over 8000 frames, I get a little stuck when I want to post a "quick sneak peek!" It all means so much to me and it's hard to not lay it our in order and tell it all right.

But I'm settling for showing a few frames of some of our collective "family favorite" moments, and so much more is coming soon (including, hopefully, cousins for my son ;) Right guys?)

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We love you we love you we love you! And absurd amounts to follow shortly! Cousins!

Years In Review | I'm Kristen Photography 2014

β€œtime was passing like a hand waving from a train i wanted to be on."
  jonathan safran foer
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In the way "When are you due!" is the question when you're pregnant, "Are you still doing photography!" is the question when, well, you disappear from the internet and stop posting any current photography. (Yes, I am still doing and have been doing photography. Just, differently.)

The last 18 months have, with no exaggeration, been the "most" times of my life.  It has been much -- from that day in June when our firstborn was delivered, to that day in January when my mom was delivered (from earth), to that day in April when blood on toilet paper met our second-born was no longer with us on earth, to all those days traveling (usually with at least one or two children) and living with other people constantly, to the long slow days spent in the heat and the ice building our home with our own two hands.

Despite what any marketing class or business principle might say, I've somehow shot dozens of weddings, and dozens of other sessions (and hosted a workshop!), while doing relatively no "promotional work."  Getting clients their images in a (mostly) timely manner is the most important, and after that, I simply haven't had more to give my business.  I blogged 27 times this year, and 28 times last year as opposed to 130 times in a year before.  My facebook page hasn't seen many more followers, my online hits have dropped (as is the case when sites are neglected), my e-mail isn't filled with inquiries, I have a blog but not a website.  Everything should be pointing to financial 'failure' and damaged business.

Yet, as always, things just kind of... fell into place. (Huge special thanks for the support and relationship with the folks at Strong Mansion.  More than half of the weddings were set there, with Twins + Violins playing music.  You'll recognize a certain set of steps very quickly ;) It's been great working together so often.) And such deeply beautiful clients have come my way, welcoming me into their holy days, and showing me the power of connection weekend after weekend.

Photographing a wedding has become a thing of healing for me.  Some days it was very, very hard to show up with my "game face" and be a sparkling professional woman.  Preparing my tools the night before, putting on make-up, doing my hair, sometimes pulling my bloody big-girl panties on (as I shot weddings one week after giving birth to Rowdy, and one week after miscarrying Ryan), sometimes crying or staring blankly in the car on my way too and from, sneaking off to empty my body of milk-filled pain, wearing a pretty outfit, feeling so strong and confident each time I finish, proud of my mind and body, grateful for my current ability and health, depositing checks in the bank and taking the money out to hang drywall or see the sea, letting myself get lost in the bliss of others, the weird and hard and thrilling work of creating, reviewing photographs, giving newlyweds the story of that day.  It is healing.  It is healing to be sensory -- to see, taste, touch, smell, hear -- when often I've had emptiness or "nothingness" this year.  It quickens me.  Being able to live, and move, and have my being, while working for, through and with God on these days of heaven-and-earth, keeps my eyes wide open when I can want to squish them shut.

I was often drawn to the middle-aged and turning-elderly women.  Sometimes it was the mother of the bride or groom, but other times it was just a group of guests or unruly aunts.  I watched them.  I watched them just be moms -- they worried, fussed, finagaled, cried, glowed, stared adoringly, got a little tipsy, kissed cheeks, choked on joy.  One dear mama carried down the aisle a photograph of she and her now-groom-then-toddler-son cut into a heart.  They fed me and, without a doubt, I would release that uncomfortable, nostalgic feeling with some tears.    One lovely friend told me my photographs were "a spiritual act."  Her sentiments blessed me.  Similar to the way that praying both honors God and brings me peace, photographing honors the stories of these people and brings me happy hope.

It is hard mental, emotional and physical work to be present and involved in the details.  I'm so honored that, again, someone, some people, trusted me to do that work.  And as all good hard work is, it is an actual joy to create for them.  Here is a (tough, tough, tough to narrow down) vault of the places I've been, flavors I've tasted, faces I've met, and souls I've linked hearts with this last year and a bit.  From Montreal to the eastern shore, from Texas to twenty-minutes down the road from home; the six-figure events and the four-figure events; the humid hot days and cold rainy days; the baby flower girls and the century-old grandparents; the mothers and the fathers; and everything in between.  Thank you, from the fragile places of this woman's heart.  The amount of intense (though sometimes teeny) human history I witnessed is nothing less than medicine.
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ps. Thank you to my second-shooters this year: the spunky Ellie Be, winsome Hannah Nicole, and baby-daddy Caleb.

Hannah + Mike | Charlottesville, VA Wedding Photography

β€œAny time not spent on love is wasted.”
Torquato Tasso
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I'll never forget the effect Hannah and Mike had on me when I first met them for their engagement shoot.  Maybe it was part timing in my life, but it certainly was also part them.  Their "mushiness" wasn't annoying because something about they way they moved, talked and were together that was veritable.  I noticed their friendship more than anything.  It made me want to hang out with my husband, get back to him as soon as possible.  It's easy (and I would argue even good, when thoughtfully done) to compare and contrast yourself to the people and couples around you.  To feel like you have to prove something, to be affirmed outside about something inside, to tell others and yourself what you want life to be, not what it really is.  The effect of Hannah and Mike, however, was one where you left not really thinking about them but about the person you love. 
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On August 9, our two year wedding anniversary, I brought Caleb with me to shoot Hannah and Mike's wedding.  And we got to meet the reasons Hannah and Mike are who they are, and have what they have.  I was so moved from start to finish.  Hannah's sisters and best friends were draped on each other all day, and I caught a few of them on the back porch in tears, talking about all they loved about Hannah.  The ceremony worship was loud and booming, the affection in their faces, the rejoicing and random outbursts of dancing, cheering and clapping was simply overwhelming (in the best way).
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This wedding reminded me of videos of seen of old European celebrations.  The bride and groom are paraded through the streets with live music and hollering!  Townspeople close up shop and follow the parade in warm camaraderie!  It's about the couple and sharing in their joy, but it's about where they came from and where they're going and everything they together are being built into.  I felt the bonds of care and closeness between all these people, like I myself was a part of their heart.
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Thank you both for your high-energy kindness, bold tenderness and happy love.  I'm so glad you secretly crushed on each other for years and finally went to that diner to have a dinner that would change your lives.  You will probably bring more hope and good to this world than you know -- because you probably impacted me far more than you know.  And if it happened once, it'll likely happen again! 
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People feel like they lose something when they get married, but it doesn't have to be that way.
There is nothing more exciting than having a witness to your life
You know, everybody is not good at everything, it's okay to depend on someone -
it's actually what we are supposed to do, we are supposed to depend on each other.
And when you find the person that you trust and you love
and you feel is going to respect you, it feeds you.
It is the most powerful thing you can ever feel in your life."
Beyonce

The Salamander Resort | Virginia Wedding Photography

"I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad."
Sound of Music
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A few months ago I had the delightful chance to second-shoot for Mona Botwick at the prestigious new five-star luxury resort in the DC area, the Salamander.   Since the resort opened barely a year ago, this is its first "wedding season" and wow -- they knocked it out of the park!  The entire day was dripping with beauty yet had such an intimate, family-style sincerity.  Mona is an absolute gem and she not only worked her tail off, but was notably kind and charming throughout the full day.  (I hope to get to work with you again sometime soon!  I thoroughly enjoyed myself! Ps. Kate Triano -- it was lovely to finally meet you.  You're a sweetheart too.)  I don't second shoot very often, but I found myself loving the nitty-gritty work.  When the "pressure" is off to capture the main moments, it's creatively freeing and eye-opening to sneak around being a detail-hunter.

Amanda and Bill were a class act, with hearts full of laughter and welcoming.  In my recent memory, I can't recall a group of friends laughing all day long as much as I noticed at this wedding.  Thank you for having me, Mona!  This wedding day was good for the soul.
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(I'm not sure what was more jaw-dropping at The Salamander Resort: the venue or the food!)
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The Salamander's Ballroom is the perfect mix of romantic and modern.  Well done!
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Happy first day of marriage!  Here's to many more!





--- + --- + --- + --- + --- + ---

to contact i'm kristen
(especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, or oklahoma to dallas areas
... but anywhere in the world will do! i travel!)
E-MAIL ME HERE



Erica + Eric | Linganore Winery Carnival Wedding

out of the tree of life i just picked me a plum 
still, it's a real good bet, 
the best is yet to come
frank sinatra 
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(Linganore Winery was the dangerously gorgeous setting for this wedding day.  Oh I love this place.)

She's proven herself responsible, competent, independent.  Erica is an organized dental hygienist, and it makes complete sense.  She's not a hot mess.  She's not frazzled.  She's not "all over the place!" She's not quirky-goofy-silly-boppy.  She's kind.  She's kind.  She's focused.  She's a go-getter.  I could nearly imagine her as one of the first women graduating (at the top of her class) from a university in the 1930's.  (She'd be wearing pearl stud earrings.)
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I've been photographing the Smart Family for years, and Erica is Jessica (before marriage: Sherwood) Smart's little sister.  Last winter  their mom asked me to take a few pictures of the whole Sherwood clan and it was during said shoot that I met Eric, Erica's boyfriend.  He had accidentally slept in (and felt horribly about it), came screeching into the parking lot, and was finishing off his breakfast: a bag of Doritos.  Trimmed, neat, prompt (actually, early!) Erica was taking it in stride, and laughing.  Throughout the session the two of them seemed to wander behind or whisper during frames.  I hoped, right then in that moment, that this wouldn't be the last time the two of them were in front of my camera.  Eric had kind eyes, he seemed to walk hand-in-hand with Erica out of her comfort zone in healthy ways (minus the chemical chips), and seemed to respect her well-developed strengths.  Oh. And he made her laugh.  Thank goodness they decided on forever.
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When I took this picture the gentleman in the wheelchair, Erica's grandfather, was quite sick.  He sweetly enjoyed the wedding, but not soon after he moved worlds.  I care deeply, passionately, about my work and the high-honor it is to record families together on days like these.
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The gasps and responses to Erica making her way to Eric are some of my favorite in the history of my career.  Truly the definition of sweet.
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Along with the sounds of water, the smell of completely new babies, and the taste of fabulous cheese (especially melting) I think some of the best things in life is confidently, securely happy people who love to laugh.
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And... kiss.  Drew Barrymore shares a similar idea boldly: "Kissing - and I mean like, yummy, smacking kissing - is the most delicious, most beautiful and passionate thing that two people can do, bar none."
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My soul is fed when there is fun energy.  It's crystal clear when groups of people have an air of stuffiness, vanity, or superiority instead of carefree, happy fun.  Photographing these people was so easy because they were sincerely happy.  Every of of them.  Ah! That's another thing! Sincerity.  That's the word.  I've been writing this post trying to clock this nail on the head: they are sincere.  Good, sincere people.  You can see it in their eyes; their body language.
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Erica, with help from her guy and family, pulled off the perfect mix of "young fun" and "classy" with their carnival at the vineyard reception.
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Thank you for being best buds, and life-long teammates.  Thank you for having me photograph yet another special event in your family's life.  Thank you for getting married at Linganore (OH. MY. MY!) And thank you for being patient with my slow-blogging-new-mom year last year.  On that note: congratulations on your little guy on the way.  He's going to have a great life alongside the two of you. "The best is yet to come..."

Ps. This may be my favorite "Smart Family Shot" yet ;)
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--- | --- | --- | --- | --- | ---
to book me, "i'm kristen," for your wedding or family-story, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, new york/boston, or oklahoma to dallas areas
E-MAIL ME HERE
(i'll also be traveling around southern california + the lake tahoe/nevada areas in coming months.
actually! i'd love to travel anywhere! )

Allix + Trevor | Dallas Wedding

"alabama, arkansas;
i do love my ma and pa,
not the way that i do love you."
edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros
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It all started with a ruby -- a Trevor Ruby.  A son of gun, with a crooning smirk and doubly-dangerous dark eyes and dark hair; apparently a bit of a hand-full, a rascal.  A boy who sure who some growing up to do, but was nonetheless smart, charming, interesting, and loveable.  Years later, a few months before Toy Story hit the big screens, a second daughter was born in the deep, quiet country of Texas.  She was, and still is, the baby of the family.  A princess-loving, folktale-believing, sweet-gusto of all-stereotypical girl.  While Young Ruby was somewhere else in the world, being refined and shined, little Allix was, well, being little.  Playing, writing, reading, arithmetic, magic, grass fields, songs, and lipstick.
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But she grew up, too.  She didn't stay in her crib, or tiny shoes, or middle school.  She made best friends, started business, worked in an office, saved money, booked clients, and watched her life garden begin to grow.  Ever the romantic, her "somebody" was never far from her mind.  Ever social, she loved making new friends through her longtime friends.  Especially in a small sweet town like Bogata, it's refreshing to meet new faces and hear new voices and begin new friendships.  So it was an obvious "yes!" when Allix was invited to come along with her very-best-friend Rachel to a conference a few states north.  Isn't it wonderfully weird how one small "sure!" can change your life forever?
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Because, well, as is perfectly obvious in the context of this writing, she met a somebody at that conference, and not too many months later that somebody gave her a family heirloom ruby, and became her only.  Now, of course there is more to the story.  Of course.  The story about how and when and why he was scared and quickened into growing up.  The story about how awfully bashful he and she were in person.  The story about how when they began to talk and listen and ask.  The story about moving states to be together, buying a house to live in after the wedding, the first date to a taco shop, the first Valentines in a tree house, about her grandmother marrying at 14 years old, about holding each other in a pick-up truck and praying in-between tears.  Of course there is more to the story,
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And that's the clear wonder of a wedding day.  It's a stunning mark in the story, with hundreds leading up to it, and hundreds coming from it.  It's a story in and of itself, but it's a passage way for the future and the past.  It's a time where all those stories collide into one emotional, sincere, unforgettable date on a calendar.   It's a "the end" and a "once upon a time" and "therefore" and "yet to come."  It's where little women who have lived in the same house, in the same town, with the same people her whole life, put on some literal big-girl shoes and walk out the door into an brand new adulthood; where they hug their old life, their ma and pa, metaphorically good-bye and greet a new era of their existence.
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Wildflowers -- not quite perfect but absolutely perfect, and dead trees surrounded by living ones, and blind-folds, and sunshine, and running to each other -- it's a nice summary of marriage.
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More than any event or other emotion at this wedding, what most touched me was how loved Allix and Trevor are.  I don't know if it's because I'm a mother now and I think about "Someday when my son gets married..." or if it's because I myself have had a wedding and begun a marriage ("Oh, I remember how much and yet heart-warming it was to see all the people in my world come together to bless us on August 9th, almost two years ago! Wow. How special.") or if it's because I sharply miss my own mama, but I'll never forget the community -- near and abroad -- that has stabilized the storm.  We were made to love and be loved, to know and be known.  The Ruby Wedding was quite a testament to the power and joy of being loved.  I was one of very few hired vendors.  Nearly all my questions where answered with "a friend," "so-and-so in the family," or "my mom."  "Who is doing your hair?" "My friend!" "Who is doing the food?" "My aunt!" "Where are you getting the rentals?" "The church is letting us borrow them!" "Who is making the cake?" "My grandma!" Who is coordinating the day-of?" "My mom's friend!" "Who is making the decorations?" "My mom! And I! Together!"
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[I rarely post formal family photographs, but I needed to for a few reasons today.  First off, sometimes I get asked if I even take these pictures (the answer is: yes! absolutely.).  Second, it's a brief encouragement to future brides to have your formals done in a well-lit area (not necessarily the front of the alter.)  Lastly, and most importantly, I needed to find a way to sneak my baby boy into this post.  He was personally asked to be a picture with the bride and groom.  It's a big deal in his life, and I'm his mom so it's a big deal to me. (wink)]

Since my husband played his violin during the ceremony, we had to arrive early to the rehearsal to allow he and the rest of the musicians (friends! of course!) to practice.  I'm so glad I was able to see the space before friends and family got their hands on it. We pulled up to a sweet, small, white country home.  And that was it.  They had a beautiful yard, but after a big rain storm the night before there were mud puddles and strewn wooden limbs, and victim leaves about the property.  And no distinctly "wedding" anything.  And yet, between 3:00 pm on Friday and 3:00 pm on Saturday, magic -- and elbow grease -- happened.  At the handiwork of people who love, support, and celebrate Allix, this venue turned into a masterpiece; it went from "nice" to "marvelous."  The kitchen was piping, the grounds were cheering, the music was singing, and the love was overwhelming.  Down to the bunting -- the 550 yards of bunting - that wrapped this wedding in it's embrace.  Allix's ma made it out of her old  dresses, her mother's favorite napkins, her grandmother's best sheets (she remembers sleeping on them as a little girl.)  As family members admired the scene, they started to recognize small triangles: "The Easter napkins!" "Oh, Darla's graduation dress!" "Mom's tablecloth!"  Hearts were full, and the human connection was pouring over.  There is no better way to begin a wedding ceremony.
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Throughout the ceremony there were five hymns, drippy tears, a bold sermon, a small hook in wood that slightly tore her dress, and fascinatingly changing-light -- dark shadows with only spots of light, electric almost after-rain clouds, interrupting yellow, peaceful shade.  Again, not to over cliche' a setting, but it made for a powerful introduction to marriage with a picture of all these elements at the same time, while surrounded by a great cloud of adoring lineage and witnesses.  Happy, happy moment indeed!
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I will, in particular, never forget the kindness of Rachel, the maid of honor who just so happened to be the one responsible for Allix and Trevor meeting.  As soon as the wedding was finished she grabbed Allix, almost more excited than Allix herself, and waxed "Oh, that was the most natural thing in the world!  I stood there and watched and thought 'Why, yes! Why, of course they are getting married.'  I thought it might seem odd, but it wasn't! It was the most natural thing in the world!  I'm so happy for you!"  That vocal, soft, caring attitude was Rachel all day, all week, apparently all-friendship long.  But Rachel couldn't hog Allix for too much time -- there were so many others who wanted to exclaim and squeeze for the exact same reasons... And most of all of them, were the brand-new Ruby's.
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"Holey moley me-oh-my, you're the apple of my eye.  Man oh man, you're my best friend."
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They have a self-proclaimed Noah and Allie relationship -- drive each other up the wall ("Why are you being so annoying?!") and moments later they're snuggling and face-smooching.  Can't get enough.  He can't believe his best friend is such a princess-girly-girly-girly-girl.  She knows he's slightly (more than slightly?) on the short-attention-span side of things.  And she understands that brief increments of fast "get things done!" with frequent breaks in-between is the best route to take.  While he's rather stoic, she found the dopey-playful piece in him.  While she's rather dramatic, he found the steady piece in her.  Let me go home, let me go ho-ho-home.  To look into someone's eyes, and not just find them pretty or mesmerizing, but to find in them a steel-connection and knowledge of you, well, it's rare to come by.  And worth keeping forever.  As I've gotten to know these two, I've enjoyed hearing their descriptions of each other, and then seeing those words in real life.  "Oh wow, yes, that is exactly what he is like.  She knows him!" "Ha! Yes! Precisely! That's Allix for you."  Spending most of the day together, most days, helps that natural knowledge, no doubt.  But it is obvious that they have spent many hours talking about many things and those they have paid attention to the other person in the conversation.  Home is wherever I'm with you.
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Come! Let me go home! Home, home, home!

There is quite a wealth aside these two linked hands.  Business knowledge, creativity, daring, thoughtfulness, life-experience, life-naivete, passion, motivation, home-based careers, shared hobbies, different hobbies, commitment to the Lord (and thinking through, debating, even, and discussing convictions, truth and ideas), laughter, quiet, and, now, it is all united together.  In some ways these two remind me of my own parents.  My dad came to the Lord in his twenties, after quite a "past," while my mom was a "church mouse" who eagerly obeyed from toddlerhood.  They made quite a pair, and life was never boring.  Between the two of them -- one well traveled and one more of a town-body, one very comfortable in front of large groups and one more shy, one extremely creative and one extremely entrepreneurial, one blunt and direct and one sweet and sweet -- their skills pantry was full.  Together they had much to offer, together they could understand and identify with so many people, together they could collaborate and build with greatly complementary ideas, together they could help the other -- as they were so different, but such dear friends.  I love imagining would could be with you, Allix and Trevor.  What your paired visions, your paired hearts, your paired lives could do, and stand for, and create.  Have so much fun.  The best is yet to come!  And may you only multiply the kindness your loved ones have for you, as you set out on your own adventure.  While the digging may be hard, may the gems you find on your way be only brighter! better! and even more worth the effort.  Thank you for having me, you two Rubies.  It was a joy.


--- | --- | --- | --- | --- | ---
to book i'm kristen for your wedding or family-story, 
especially in the maryland/virginia/dc, new york/boston, or oklahoma to dallas areas
E-MAIL ME HERE
(i'll also be traveling around southern california + the lake tahoe/nevada areas in coming months.
actually! i'd love to travel anywhere! )

Nick + Becca | Walker's Overlook Wedding

"because same, no we’re not the same 
but that’s what makes us strong"
home -- dierks bentley 
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Becca was the little girl in my parent's church group.  Becca was the pretty little girl with enormous dimples in my parent's church group.  Becca was the pretty little girl with enormous dimples who loved to draw, paint, read and write in my parent's church group.  A modern-day, kind-of-country version of Belle.  And she grew up.  With a college degree and a diamond.  I'll never forget meeting with her before the wedding. "Tell me about you and Nick?  I don't know him aside from what's on Facebook, and I've never met him!" She paused for a moment, a smiled -- she always smiles -- "Well." Another pause.  It was if she had something she wanted to say, but was looking for an Option Two. With her hands gently crossed over well-postured torso she finally spilled the beans: "Nick and I are madly in love! I'm just, we're, well, we're crazy about each other.  I really didn't know it could be like this.  I'm so in love with him."  She physically saturated as she spoke: her eyes greener, her cheeks peachier, her lips raspberrier. 
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Becca didn't necessarily feel ready to be married.  She thrived in school, and is passionate about literature and great stories and diligent creativity.  Her china-doll appearance is wonderfully matched with her firm, yet gentle, resolve.  School, it was!  And then? Maybe teaching?  Maybe traveling?  Maybe more school?  Until... Nick.  He lived a few hours away and they met at an area conference.  She resisted the best she could but it was a brief resistance.  She snapped open like a pixie stick, and sweet wonder came pouring out.  With a couple of semesters left of college, a semi-long-distance-madly-in-love-relationship, and pending wedding -- marriage! lifetime! -- Becca had her work cut out for her.  And she rose to the magical, devoted challenge. photo becca_nick_maryland_wedding_photographer_walkers_overlook_wedding_photography6of166-2.jpg  photo becca_nick_maryland_wedding_photographer_walkers_overlook_wedding_photography5of166.jpg  photo becca_nick_maryland_wedding_photographer_walkers_overlook_wedding_photography16of166.jpg  photo becca_nick_maryland_wedding_photographer_walkers_overlook_wedding_photography15of166.jpg
I love, throughout each wedding day, when "it" catches up with a bride.  For me it happened at three times: mid-way through getting my make-up done, waiting to walk down the aisle, and driving away in the limo with my husband.  Each moment was just... there aren't words, there aren't descriptions.  I could try, but it would sound like naive, foolish gush-sauce.  The moments were other-worldly and moments that simply cannot be recreated or re-lived.  They happen and *poof* they are a bold memory.  Watching Becca as she saw herself in her dress for the first time took me back.  It was as close to re-living my moment as could be while I enjoyed her having her moment.  (Ps. Her crazy great mama did a little jig to try to make her laugh and stop crying.  Brilliant.)
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The day was everything it should have been.  Becca grew up in a white-porch-hugged country home, at the bottom of a grassy green valley in the first rural town outside of our suburban area.  As children we loved visiting their house -- go carts! creeks! the country store across the street! barefeet! dogs!  When I watched Becca, so lovely and so poised, wander around on the rolling green property of Walker's Overlook I was overcome with the scene.  It had an illustrious rightness. 
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If the buzz before a ceremony could be bottled and sold someone would be eternally wealthy.   The waft of perfumes as female guests arriving, newly primed, the loud cackle every few minutes that hushes into reverence, the clangling of earrings and bracelets and wrist watches and sunglasses, the final strums of a practicing musician, crriiick as humans bend into their seats, the flutter of green leaves, like a chime.  It took much time to arrive here, and yet! Here we are! The time is now and it can almost feel rushed -- natural, and right, and good -- but striking when it's "suddenly" the beginning of your wedding.
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As sweet as it was that Becca declared her mad-and-hard fall into love with Nick, it wasn't that she was in love that I remember as much as who she was in love WITH.  You see, in so many ways Nick is Becca's opposite.  I more and more find that couples personalities may be "opposite" but often they have a core of similarity.  But not so with Nick and Becca.  He his idea of a great night is wings and the game.  He loves his softball team and league.  He works hard with his hands, dances like a ninja racoon in the moonlight, and loves to entertain the crowd.  He's active, social, athletic, and friendly.  His sense of humor is impossible to miss and, well, he's just not the tortoise-shell-glasses-wearing, studious, book worm nerd we all always predicted for Becca.   And when I see pictures of her at huge Halloween parties dressed to the nines as a Marilyn Monroe, or at family reunions in the great outdoors pulling ropes in giant tug-a-war I just smile.  I love it.  I love the various and many interests and life tugs these two have.  I love that a powerhouse athlete turned his head for a shy poet.  I love that there was electricity, friendship, and unity.  I love that being married has meant brave steps (since they've been married for almost a year now!) I love that Becca has jumped headfirst into her art, building a handsome business.  And I love that she has the support and companionship in her dearly beloved opposite.
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(sweet memory: my parent's were guests at this wedding, and mom held two-week-old rowdy for me while i worked.  i loved going through to choose pictures for this post and coming across her in the background, chatting with friends or eating or holding my son.  i'm grateful for this special last wedding event together.)
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The entire day was a noticeably bright, festive, big-fat-great, especially smiley celebration.  These firecrackers have so much fun, new, and ever-different ahead of them.  I'll close with a few lines I read this morning from Seth Rogen, goofy-guy-next-door actor: "In movies they like to portray marriage like 'Oh, the wife and husband are always arguing and bickering. For me and my wife, the easiest part of life is [our] marriage. Like if everything was as smooth and easy and fun as my relationship with my wife then I would have a much easier time getting through the day. We really get along..."  I loved this sentiment, and it is my own personal experience.  I saw it fitting for Becca and Nick because -- despite the odds, the miles, the cheese nachos -- they just get along and sure are crazy about each other.  Happy (late!) Wedding Day!  It was an absolute blast, as I'm sure your marriage and life is as well! (ps.  Happy Birthday, today, Becca!)

Alan + Lisa | Billingsley House Wedding

they try and they try
but everything that they do
is the ghost of a trace
of a pale imitation of you
kathleen - josh ritter
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Our friendship began with an e-mail I received in the wicked throes of morning sickness.  I knew I should be working hard and blogging lots and preparing for next season and getting pumped with every inquiry in my inbox... but.  The only thing I could get remotely peppy over was Coke Slurpees from 7-11.  


"...My fiancee and I got engaged last Thursday, 
and my first thought after escaping her anaconda squeeze was
'First thing's first, contact Kristen Leigh!' 
I first found out about your work in 2009 through a friend...
Well, it's been been three years, two years with my girlfriend/fiancee, 
and we would both be honored to have you as our photographer. 
However, like your website says, we might not be the perfect fit...
So in an effort to see if we can all be friends, 
here is a brief look into the odd world of Lisa and Alan:

We love our faith 
and we love each other (I proposed in her closet).
She is a teacher. 
I am a graphic designer. 
I'm not wearing socks in this picture (she hates it when I do that).
Whenever she comes over, it's a real gem for us
 to catch my dad taking a nap mid work out 
(it should be noted he's wearing gardening gloves)."

Included in the e-mail were ridiculous photographs of a clearly well-humored couple and Alan's dad, asleep on the floor wearing gardening gloves.  We all became instagram friends and gave advice on the best food trucks in NYC.  We met on a rainy day to make things "official" and after we said good-bye they sent me a picture of themselves wearing fake beards.  Their deposit arrived in my mailbox with a hand-drawing of donuts eating each other.  And their contract arrived with laugh-out-loud stories and a vision for a "block party with fatty southern comfort food" reception.  Oh.  And their response when I told them I was due near (very near) their June 1 wedding date (I said so nervously because I didn't want to scare them away!) was "Awh! Kids! Go kids! We love kids!"  We are obviously a perfect fit because all three of us went gung-ho for the idea of working together at their June 1 wedding, while I had a pending June 6 Baby (who came a full eight days late! I knew he would be late!).  It was worth the risk and I'll forever be really glad I was the visual storyteller of this particular wedding.
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Pandora was keeping the mood just right all morning.  At one point the Michael Buble version of "Just Haven't Met You Yet" played.  Lisa's mom started calling and calling her from the front room in the hotel suite.  "LISA! Lisa! Listen Lisa!  It's your song!" 

Lisa laughed - not a disrespectful laugh, but a thoroughly entertained laugh.  "Lisa! Do you hear it? He came out of nowhere, into your life! Yah!"   Lisa looked over at me "When I was single, my mom always told me this was 'my' song. 'Thanks, mom.'  Isn't that what all parents say though?  And then I started dating Alan and she told me 'Now you HAVE met him yet!' 'Mom,' I'd tell her, 'I've known Alan for ten years! I met him a long time ago!' But she insists its our song."
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Their "friendship before loveship" stories is one of the great ones.  I love when companionship and jokes and trust doubles down and adds romance and commitment.  It's why I roll my inside-eyes when girls say "I could never marry him, he's like my brother."  And why would life be so bad with a person so close, they already feel like family, who you can pick their boogers and teeth, who tease you about your unimpressive ("but good effort!") punchlines, who you want to hang out with because it's always more fun and comfortable when they're around?  Who happen to have great lips for kissing? Alan and Lisa are no fools.
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Some of the best moments of your life are the ones right before the ceremony begins.  There is energy in breeze, hushed tones among the guests, tears and solemnity and a dashing heart and smiling hard because the happiness is so real it's like you can grab it off a tree and taste it's sweet apple fruit juice in your mouth.  It's a heart-whipping ride, those minutes, and one that can be only experienced, not described.
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