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February 17, 2020

FILED IN: Personal, Travel

The last time we were in Puerto Rico was 10 years ago and, though we did get to see some parts of the island (one of the most magical including the bioluminescent bay “Mosquito Bay” in Vieques! There are only 5 in the world, 3 of those are in Puerto Rico; Vieques is the most protected–and therefore, brightest–one in the world. Hurricane Maria caused a lot of destruction on the island as we know and it disrupted the delicate balance of the bay and the beloved Mosquito Bay went dark. But, to everyone’s surprise, the bio bay not only recovered, but they say it is brighter than it ever was in the past.) thanks to my sister and brother-in-law and their rental car, we spent most of the time at our resort. This time around, we had our own rental car and a few things we wanted to do in our free time that we hadn’t seen or done last time. We flew in on Thursday, arriving in the late afternoon. With an engagement session Friday afternoon, the wedding on Sunday, and a day after session on Monday afternoon, we planned out our pockets of free time to include what we missed before, starting with El Yunque bright and early on Friday.

El Yunque is the national rain forest that takes up a large chunk of land on the eastern side of Puerto Rico and it was probably a 45 minute drive from where we were staying in Ocean Park. This day of hiking and random rainstorms served a dual purpose since we were doing part of the engagement session that afternoon in the rain forest and I wanted to make sure I had specific spots scouted out beforehand. There were a few ideas I had in mind for photos based on internet research beforehand, but some areas, we found out, were still not accessible due to closed trails still under maintenance from Hurricane Maria. (Thankfully, the USDA government website was helpful with updated maps showing closed trails.) Unfortunately, one of the places I had really been looking forward to–La Mina Falls–was closed, but we found so many other really gorgeous spots that I wasn’t even sad about it.

Since we spent about six hours there prior to the session starting, we got to see so much of El Yunque! We started at Yokahu Tower and then went to Mt. Britton Trail, heading all the way up to Mt. Britton Tower. It was during this time that we got hit with our first torrential rainstorm. For a while, we tried to find shelter under some trees. With the rain blowing almost horizontally, it worked for a bit until the weather amped up and we decided to run back to a little camping shelter we had spotted earlier. We ended up staying there, waiting it out and within 15 minutes, the rain stopped, the sun came back out, and the humidity was back to 98%.

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We stayed in an AirBNB in Ocean Park with an easy little walk to the beach. We were also walking distance to some delicious restaurants, notably La B de Burro (we ate there on Thursday night after getting settled in and it was hands-down the most delicious Mexican food I’ve ever eaten), Kasalta (famous for serving Barack Obama  in 2011 and also, dishing up amazing quesitos, which are a Puerto Rican pastry stuffed with a cream-cheese or chocolate mixture–both equally amazing– coated in a sugary caramelized syrup and baked), and Pirilo Pizza Rustica (where we ordered a carry out pizza one evening and devoured the entire thing back at our house). Since we had a kitchen, we also loaded up on some basics at a nearby grocery store to make breakfasts and backpack lunches.
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February 5, 2020

Emily with Soiree texted me one afternoon a few weeks ago asking if I’d be available to help out with a styled shoot at Bella Sala and I was delighted to be able to join the quickly-collecting team of vendors! It was a really busy afternoon (I was utterly exhausted that night), but so much fun to be able to shoot all these setups.

We were graced with a gorgeous set of rings from M.C. Ginsberg Jewelers and the stunning oval solitaire diamond in particular was absolutely breathtaking. Allegra provided the paper suite and printed details and Borrow My Vintage was so kind to set up a beautiful lounge in the reception space. The florals–ahhhh, so perfect–were provided by Hydrangea Bloom and our models (hi, Katie and Derek!) brought their dog, Charlie, along who even got fitted with a floral collar! Hair & makeup was provided by Sugar Salon (makeup by Erin and hair by Stephanie) and the gowns and suits were fitted by The Bridal Shop by XOXO Bridal.

Bella Sala hosted us all so graciously and I’m especially excited to see their space after the remodel this spring! A whole wall of windows! New light fixtures! And, as you’ll see below, brand new chairs and tables that are so beautiful, they’ll make your heart go pitter patter.

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January 29, 2020

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

We got to shoot Laura & Matt’s snowy engagement session just 2 days shy of the one year anniversary of their first date. They had met online, but they both felt so drawn to each other, it was only a week later that they met in person at Pullman’s for lunch. “I knew I wanted to meet [her] in person, and soon. I was very happy she wanted to meet so soon too. I felt the butterflies even more than I normally felt when meeting a new woman and when Laura got there, the butterflies increased. She was even cuter in person! After we got past the normal meet and greet things, we kept talking about anything and everything that came to our minds and really got to know each other well. After three hours of fun, engaging conversation, it was time for Laura to leave. I didn’t want the date to end,” Matt said.

“I walked away knowing I would never have a first date again,” Laura recalled. “I called my mom and told her to get the invitations ready. I just knew. I had known about halfway through the date. I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is the man God created for me.’ I told him not even two months after being with him that I was going to marry him and he was over the moon. I still remember his grin.”

Once they knew they were going to get married, Matt’s first thought was to propose in Disney World. They were already excited to be going there for Laura’s work conference so it only made sense to him to propose too. “After I got the ring from our jeweler (which was a close call getting it done in time), I knew everything would work out. I planned to propose in front of Cinderella’s castle and have the Disney person taking our pictures.”

Laura knew it was coming–in fact, I had talked with them right before they left and I had told them to text me a picture afterwards!–but she said she was still surprised and overjoyed. “I cried with happiness because it was such a beautiful moment. I was bouncing and smiling and I just wanted to hug him. People were clapping for us and just writing this, makes me cry those happy tears again.”

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I love finding out what my couples admire most about each other. It’s always such an intimate look into their relationship beyond just “we love each other.” Laura said, “That he cares so much about what is important to him. His faith and the way he looks at and love me are what I really admire. He makes me feel very cherished and isn’t afraid to show emotion or talk about feelings.”

In turn, Matt said, “Out of all the attributes I love about her, the one I admire most is her drive. When she puts her mind to something, she will not stop until it’s done. I’ve learned a lot from her about this and feel like I’m becoming a more driven person because of her.” He also went on to add that she is the most loving person he knows and is sweet beyond measure.

They knew they wanted snow for their engagement session and so we had to reschedule from a few weeks ago when we were supposed to get snow, but instead got only ice. Thankfully, I was pretty sure that by the end of January we’d have snow and so rescheduling was pretty easy. It was definitely cold out (hello 30-degrees!), but they were such troopers and I just adore how their love shines through in all the photos!
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January 22, 2020

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

It was a quick little weekend trip down to Arizona for Alice and Abhijeet’s engagement session, but it was the loveliest time of year to do it! (My flight out of Iowa left in the morning just a couple of hours before ice and snow hit and I spent that afternoon hiking in the sunshine and high-60-degree weather.) As I’m writing this, I’m bundled up in a hoodie, drinking coffee, and my toes are cold.

Alice and Abhijeet met online. Their first date–at The Living Room, where we started their engagement session–was on a Sunday. “He picked me up at my house and we went to dinner. We sat and talked on the restaurant patio for 6 hours. Eventually, they closed and they had to ask us to leave. Even though we come from totally different cultures, we found that we have a lot of the same values. Three years later and we are finally engaged!”

As for the proposal itself, Abhijeet asked her to be his wife this past September. “We were supposed to go to India at the beginning of September, but we decided not to because of flight costs and the fact that I could only take a week off of work. Since we were not going anymore, my parents came to Phoenix for ten days to visit. Abhijeet and I had been talking a lot about how we wanted to move to the next step sooner rather than later. I knew he had a plan, but was getting antsy. We went to Sedona with my parents and rented an AirBNB. The morning we had to check out, he and I went on a hike. I could tell something was up because he was acting nervous and he brought a back pack with him. We were barely talking while we were walking. He stopped because he wanted to take a picture and then I was looking at a mountain and he got on his knee and said, “Well, Alice…will you marry me?” I have no idea what exactly I said, but I said yes at some point! We video-chatted his family on the way back and then when we got to the house, I didn’t say anything to my parents and waited for my mom to notice the ring. She saw it within 30 seconds of looking at me and started bawling. My dad wondered, “What’s wrong?” Then he also realized and said, “Do we have something to celebrate?” It was nice to share that moment with my parents. It was so so special.”

I was so excited to meet Alice and Abhijeet! We’ve been doing lots of email communication and planning for their wedding this fall in Iowa, where Alice grew up. And while they are from different parts of the world–Alice from Iowa and Abhijeet from India–they have both lived in the Phoenix area for many years and so I particularly love that for their engagement session, I could capture them in the place they call home! The other bonus to the location was that we could include their dog, Hilton, for a few photos.

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January 2, 2020

FILED IN: Personal

Happy birthday, my darling girl. 

How quickly you are changing from a toddler to a little girl. I have loved this past year with you. One year olds are so much fun. You have grown so much, but you are still “baby” enough to easily sit on my hip or climb into my lap and, while you talk in sentences all the time and use correct pronouns, you still mess up the “me” when you say, “Mama hold you.” I’ve never corrected you because it’s so cute and makes you still seem little.

With your birthday and Christmas being so close, you have been heaped upon with gifts and, while you do enjoy the presents, you will happily rip off the paper only to continue…playing with the paper. You like to rip each little piece into smaller pieces until there’s just a pile of tiny little wrapping paper pieces all over the floor. You are still obsessed with coloring (“do some art,” you’ll say) and some of your favorite gifts have been markers, coloring books, and Play-Doh. (I also recently let you play with kinetic sand because I had the time to sit down with you and make sure it didn’t get all over the floor and we played with that sand for 45 minutes straight!)

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You also got a scooter for Christmas and, thankfully, we had some really beautiful days where you could already put it to use. You have learned the basics quickly on it, but steering is your biggest challenge. You continuously say, “I need help!” but then yell “I do it myself!” when we try to help you. 

You love your brother and it has been a joy to watch you two together. Especially and mostly when you’re not fighting. Just last week, you guys made up a game that Henry named “slam dunk” where you would throw his puppy back and forth to each other and laugh and laugh. It made no sense to me, but I also joined in laughing because you guys were so being so cute together. You want to do everything Henry does, including go to school. Some days you even insist on taking your little backpack along to preschool drop off just because you’ll look just like the big kids. You’ve pitched more than one fit about not being able to stay with him at school and you get really excited when it’s time to go pick him up again. Next fall when he starts kindergarten, you’re going to have a tough adjustment having him gone all day every day. 

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November 25, 2019

After their engagement session on Friday in the rain forest and on the beach and their wedding on Sunday at Casa de España, we capped off our trip to Puerto Rico on Monday with a newlywed session at Castillo San Cristobal and in the streets of Old San Juan. Overall, from a photography perspective, it was so fun to be able to truly capture so many views of Puerto Rico in one trip. We got the rain forest, the beach, a fortress, the colorful Old San Juan streets, and, of course, the wedding venue right there in the midst of town.

While Casa de España is walking distance to Castillo San Cristobal and is right there in Old San Juan, the timeline of the wedding day didn’t allow us even 10 minutes to go off-site so this session, the next day, was a perfect choice! It was relaxed and fun with zero clock-pressure. And, as an added bonus, Nicole got to take portraits in her reception gown! (If you look at their wedding photos, she was wearing a Morilee gown, but changed for dancing later than night into this gown.)

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