During my own wedding week, my wedding coordinator (aka my maid of honor’s awesome mom), kept reminding me not to use the word “perfect” when talking about the wedding day because I kept looking around and saying, “EVERYTHING IS PERFECT!” and she didn’t want me to get my hopes set on nothing going wrong the day of. I completely understand where she was coming from and while there are a few things I would adjust looking back (for example, eating more of the wedding food/getting a solo photo with my mom and with my dad/being more present in general) it felt pretty close to perfect while I was living it. All that to say, I try to steer clear of describing weddings as perfect because of what dear MaryLynne Hodson taught me. After all, the perfection of the day itself isn’t nearly as important as the fact that two separate people are becoming one new family.
BUT THEN CAME EMMA AND COLLIN’S WEDDING DAY.
And you know what? I think their day was an exception to the rule. I watched as they soaked up every little moment with their closest friends and family. I was there when Emma teared up when she walked into the room where she would don her wedding dress. When Collin couldn’t stop laughing with his groomsmen. And then when he couldn’t stop tearing up when his bride walked down the aisle. When they so beautifully integrated each of their family members into their wedding ceremony (that one of Emma’s brothers officiated). Even when things “went wrong” and music played when it wasn’t supposed to during the ceremony they just laughed and danced until it stopped! When the Texas-in-June weather felt 80-something degrees, just unimaginably perfect. When the sunset was more golden than I’ve seen before. When the fireworks went off during their exit and COMPLETELY SURPRISED Emma.
Oh man, you guys. For what it’s worth, it certainly felt perfect to me.
Storytelling days — those are my favorite. The ones that tell a real narrative, the ones with deep feelings and, yes, the ones when things don’t go perfectly according to plan but it’s always alright because DANGIT, YOU GET MARRIED ANYWAY.
Rachel and Dan’s Barr Mansion wedding was one of those days. They had planned for a beautiful outdoor ceremony but starting that morning the rain came pouring. The rain did not act like it cared even a little bit about their beautiful outdoor ceremony plans — so rude. But that wasn’t about to keep Rachel and Dan from enjoying their Austin wedding day.
Come ceremony time, guests were ushered in under umbrellas, rain drop marks on their wedding clothes, into the reception space where the floral archway had been moved indoors. This space would just have to make due.
Until the rain stopped.
Everyone was looking out windows to confirm again and again that indeed that was sunshine they were seeing. Then came the scramble — Reassemble the archway outside! Wipe down those chairs! Everyone make your way back out to the garden because this here was meant to be an outside wedding!!
Rachel and her father walked down the aisle to the tune of “Here Comes the Sun” (a choice made well before the forecast would prove how unbelievably appropriate a song that would be in that moment) and Dan’s beaming smile was without doubt giving the sun a run for it’s money. Afterwards they dined slowly, sharing conversation, food and hugs with all their treasured guests.
Yes, storytelling days are my favorite.
Thank you so much, Rachel and Dan, for entrusting me with your wedding day.
And thank you also to my little bro and second shooter on this day, Jacob. Not only did he do some strong storytelling with his images, but he also did most of the driving to and from Austin that day. You da real MVP.
You know those people who are almost shockingly warm, personable and all-around wonderful? Yeah, those people are Jamie and Ben.
Go ahead and take ALL THE POSITIVE WORDS IN THE WORLD and that just about describes Jamie and Ben.
From our very first meeting over coffee (when they were like, “Oh, let us come to you!” and then WOULDN’T LET ME BUY MY OWN COFFEE AT MY OWN BUSINESS MEETING??) I’ve been floored by their kindness and with every interaction since then have understood more and more how very privileged I am to be the photographer they chose to document their engagement and wedding.
And then Jamie changed into this adorable lace romper and I just about died.
When you go into the kids’ room in the morning before the sun is all the way up and brother has climbed into baby sister’s crib.
When cooking waffles as a family means wiping batter off of quicker-than-you-remembered baby hands and was that egg in Beckham’s hair?? How did that even get there . . . ?
Grabbing a dry waffle in your hand so that you can set up paints for your two-year-old to keep him busy. When mom and dad tag team eating because you can’t both really sit down at the same time for very long with two kids this little.
When a bath is required after breakfast because there is food all over just about every inch of that babe’s body.
When daddy makes sure to kiss everyone goodbye before leaving for work.
When you’re finishing your now cold coffee after laying your baby down for a morning nap. When you pull your firstborn into your lap for his first one-on-one momma time for the the day.
It certainly isn’t the easiest or most glamorous of life seasons. But DANGIT if there isn’t so much sweetness in it that it hurts sometime? This is what I’m passionate about capturing. Real family moments. Because as cute as those posed photos of everyone smiling at the camera are (and I mean that, they can be so cute!), what do they actually tell you about that particular season of life in your family? In the short (and yet long?? and absolutely wonderful and yet completely imperfect??) nine months that I’ve been a mom, I’ve been finding myself thinking “Oh, I wish I had a photo from all of us snuggling in bed together early in the morning” because that time is so, so sweet to me. Or “I wish I had a photo of how giggly Juni gets on her changing table when she’s sleepy but still happy before bedtime.” These are the things I’ve found myself wishing I could have documented. So when I think of cute baby bed head and a family trip to the donut store or those towel-wrapped cuddles after bathtime and yeah, even those moments right after time-out when you’re having to lovingly explain why it’s not okay to hit — it’s in all of that that I see a lot of real and sweet moments just waiting to be chronicled.
Keep in mind I’m not proposing this naively. As I write this post as my 9-month-old plays with books she’s ripped the pages out of and climbs over empty print boxes and packaging materials she’s scattered on my office floor. My husband had to get up out of bed to rock her back to sleep three times the night before last. I have a constant underlying fear that she’s going to eat a bobby pin off the floor that’s fallen out of my hair. One day that won’t be what life looks like anymore. And that’s well and good but I don’t want to forget a bit of it.
When I first pitched Darby the idea of coming to their home before the kids were even awake and documenting a morning in their home without posing or “okay now everyone smile here!” she said: