I’m going to share with you some of my favorite images from the course of 2018. I am so unbelievably thankful thankful thankful to all the people who trusted me to document their lives this year. I know these moments are precious, I feel it in my bones, and I never take that responsibility lightly. I witnessed the very first day of many families, the additions of new life into the world and homes. I captured the momentous and also quite a bit of the everyday. With my camera I documented stories of love, hope, growth, waiting, beauty and joy. So much joy. What a beautiful year spent photographing some of the most beautiful souls. Thank you all.

It started off with Jessica + Ryan’s Hall of State wedding

Included a whole lot of families photographed in their homes (my favorite place to photograph families)

Shai + Brent made Dallas look real good for their engagement session.

My first ever round of mini sessions at The Lumen Room were so much fun that I planned a second round of mini’s just five months later. Here are some from the first round:

More state park weddings in 2019, please. I so enjoyed Adi + Julian’s relaxed and intimate Huntsville state park wedding.

I got the honor and privilege of photographing several previous brides’ and grooms’ welcoming new babies into their families!

I documented Jacob + Liz in their first home before they jumped into a brand new adventure together.

In April I flew to South Carolina for Emmaline + Nikita’s engagement session on Duke University campus.

Aanchal + Nick had two full days of wedding celebration complete with mariachi + barat!

Esther + Trevor’s SMU Perkins Chapel + Filter Building wedding day was a dream dream dream.

I so enjoyed shooting at The Darkroom studio for the first time for Taylor’s bridal portraits.

I don’t always get to do birth photography with my wedding schedule but it just so worked out for me to be at little Ella’s birth and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Taylor + Johnny’s Brik wedding with Cloud Creative Events + Everly Alaine Florals was dreamy as all get out.

Annnnnd then came the second round of mini sessions at The Lumen Room (shot while I was 32 weeks pregnant).

Emmaline + Nikita’s wedding was my first Russian Orthodox wedding ceremony to photography, which was so fun. I so enjoyed their portraits + reception at Hotel Crescent Court.

Jessica + Kolby’s Cliff House morning wedding was such an absolute delight.

And I wrapped up 2018 with Katie + Kyle’s Oklahoma wedding at Southwind Hills.

If you’re still reading, GOOD JOB! It’s a longgggg post, a whole year’s worth, in fact!

 To end, I could think of no better way to further illustrate how much I value documentation and preserving memories than by showing that I do the same for my family. This year we were so blessed by the addition of baby boy Jones Cedar to our family. Here are a few of my favorite images I’ve captured in my own home over the past couple months since his arrival.

It has been over a year since I’ve written a blogpost about a first look, so I asked Julieta and Phillip if they’d share their first hand impressions from doing a first look on their wedding day. For those of you who may not be familiar with what this is, a first look is when the bride and groom facilitate an intimate moment to see each other for the first time on their wedding day before the ceremony.

Similar to Tiffany and Trevor’s story, Julieta and Philip were not sold on the first look at our initial consultation. And that was okay. I always tell my clients that I talk about first looks to let people know their options, as some brides and grooms do not know that they CAN break tradition and see each other before the wedding ceremony without their marriage being cursed with bad luck. I want clients to know that they don’t have to see each other for the first time in front of 300 onlookers. I want clients to know that if they’d like naturally lit, sunny bride-groom portraits (you know, the ones you’ll actually frame and display in your home) AND an evening ceremony they CAN have both.

Here is a bit of Julieta and Phillip’s first look story, (told mostly by Julieta,  as she is the professional journalist of the two — Dallas Morning News, what!what!):

Julieta: “We wanted to go the traditional route and wait to see each other until the ceremony. Phillip and I were concerned it would detract from the sacredness of the walk down the aisle and the wait at the altar. We didn’t want to gamble with those moments.”

 “As the wedding approached and we worked out the logistics of the day, it became obvious that we would have little time to squeeze in our bride-and-groom portraits, wedding party shots and family portraits between the ceremony and the reception. I read every blog post and testimonial I could find about the first look. As I studied the first-look photos of other couples, I was moved by the joy and anticipation captured in those images. I also read that it helped some couples with wedding-day jitters, so I talked to Phillip, and we informed Jillian about our change of heart.”

Julieta: “When my brother drove me to the Stockyards for the first look, I had a pounding headache. It was anxiety, but it wasn’t about the first look; it was the weight of the whole day. But as I walked to Phillip with his back turned to me, I forgot about it all.”

Julieta: “It was rewarding to see his reaction to me up close and without the pressure of everyone’s eyes on us. Phillip and I are awkward and self-conscious photo subjects. Yet when Jillian asked us to smile, or laugh or kiss for our portraits [following the initial candid first look moments], I was just waiting for permission to unleash my giddiness.”

(Photographer insert: I believe this photo above shows the moment when Phillip said something along the lines of him feeling like he shouldn’t even touch her because she looked so perfect. Sweet, sweet Phillip.)

I was particularly glad that Phillip chimed in when it came to how the first look affected how he felt during the ceremony, as I feel like that might be what most groom’s are concerned about.

Phillip: “Seeing (Julieta) in the church was like the first look all over again. It was the same rush. I think it felt new again just because of the environment. Everyone was there and it was time to do this thing for real.”

Julieta:  “As I tightened the hook around my father’s arm and saw the chapel doors in front of us slide open, I was overwhelmed by love. That magic I was afraid we’d lose with the first look was very much still there.”

 Julieta: “I smiled wide all the way down the aisle, even when my train got hooked in one of the pews and a friend had to come to the rescue. I resumed the walk, and Phillip was smiling back at me. It was perfect.”

Phillip said he would definitely recommend a first look to others:  “I think it paid off greatly. They’re some of the best photos in our album.”

To see the full blogpost from Julieta and Phillip’s wedding day, click here. Thank you both for sharing your experiences with blog readers!

I am personally always giddy when couples decide that a first look is the right option for them.  I chose to do a first look when I was a bride and absolutely loved every second of it, especially James’ enthusiastic facial expressions and embrace upon first seeing me on our wedding day. Those up close and personal photos of James seeing me for the first time in my wedding dress in an atmosphere where his reaction could be completely uninhibited are my absolute favorites of my groom from our entire wedding day. It was a good choice for us.

I hope this post helps educate future brides and grooms on their wedding day options so that they can make informed decisions as to what sort of wedding day layout will be the best fit for their day — whether it be first locking eyes when the bride walks down the aisle or if it be in the midst of a first look set-up.

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