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They walked down the aisle together as husband and wife and we whisked them right outside to document the “WE-ARE-MARRIED-THAT-IS-AWESOME” high. Seeing my brides and grooms experience and really feel that crazy wave of emotion instead of letting it pass them by locked up in a room by is my favorite, favorite, favorite. I believe so strongly that people should take the time to feel their wedding day in those moments. Don’t resist it because your make-up might run if you cry (p.s. if you hire a good make-up artist then you don’t have to worry about that anyway), or because you are trying to remember what comes next after this or any other reason.

Stop and breathe and feel and relish the sweetness.

I promise you won’t regret it if you do.

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This is who I’m looking to work with — brides and grooms who are on board to feel all the feels and want me there beside them the whole way to document it unfolding.

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Hi, hi! Something about this cloudy afternoon and this darling Houston couple in their dapper threads just begged for me to bust out my tilt-shift lens a lot this shoot. I certainly don’t hate the results.

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So pumped to meet back up with Rebecca and Drew tomorrow for their Fort Worth wedding day at Marty Leonard Chapel and Stonegate Mansion — woo!

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In my last post I shared some of my favorites from Sam + Dustin’s Seattle engagement session (if you haven’t seen those yet, check them out here). This blogpost will pick up where that one left off and show some moments from the following day spent touring the city, followed by many grand adventures in Bend.

Day 1 // Seattle

I say “moments” instead of “highlights” because looking back at these photos I didn’t document all of my favorite things — like the DELICIOUS brunch where sweet Sam met up with us that was so much fun that I never wanted it to end. My dear friend Allison was in Seattle shooting a wedding the same day I was there for Sam + Dustin’s shoot so we got to MEET UP AND HANG OUT IN SEATTLE TOGETHER SO HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!?! Life is awesome. And her friend/room-mate, Natalie, was there too because she had second-shot with Allison the day before so I finally got to meet this girl that Allison had been raving about for months. Win-win. You’ll be able to tell we’re all photographers from the following photos because there are a lot of portraits — we just couldn’t help ourselves.

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The hands pictured above are mine — I couldn’t very well leave coffee out of a blogpost about a trip to Seattle. Photocred to Allison . . . or Natalie . . . either way WOO MILSTEAD & CO!

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The next leg of my trip was actually in pretty little Bend, Oregon to see the area where Allison had been living for the past year after she moved out that way for grad school. I had SO MUCH FUN on all the outdoorsy outings Allison took me on particularly because James is not a fan of the great outdoors, so while in Oregon I took every single opportunity I could find to breathe in the grandeur that is the Pacific Northwest.

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This morning was actually super-relaxing. I dropped Allison off at one of her grad school classes and then explored in town a bit on my own, got me some amazing breakfast and laid in a hammock drinking coffee reading Valley of Vision until it was time to pick Allison back up. For a small business owner whose work literally never stops, this was divine. Later that afternoon we met up with Allison’s boyfran Johnny to go belay down a waterfall. Just your average day in Bend.

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Below is my nervous laughter like I’m totally cool with the fact that my life was going to be in the hands of a guy I’d just met that day. (For the record, it turns out Johnny is pretty trust-worthy.)

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Day 3 // Smith Rock State Park

So the trees in Bend were suuuuuuuuper yellow (yes, all 8 of those ‘u’s are necessary) and we spent most of the morning marveling at this fact. The rest of the afternoon was spent at Smith Rock State Park which I really cannot state emphatically enough how beautiful it was. We hiked up Misery Ridge and you’ll notice there aren’t that many photos of our route up because I was panting too much to take photos, but the views were seriously so great I would do it again in a heartbeat next time I get the chance.

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Okay so there is a funny story that goes with the next two pictures. We were walking along the trail deep in conversation when we pass this 3-4 foot snake and Allison just walks right past it like it’s no big deal and I’m all “Ummm, shouldn’t we acknowledge this sizable snake with some sort of exclamation at the very least??”

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Not ten minutes later we’re still walking and talking and all of a sudden Allison lets out a full-fledged scream . . .

. . . AT THIS TINY 6 INCH BARELY-EVEN-A-SNAKE.

To this day I refuse to stop giving her a hard time about her inappropriately proportioned reactions.

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Day 4 // Proxy Falls

OH ME OH MY this was the day I saw the most beautiful site I’ve ever seen — Proxy Falls. We stopped for coffee in Sister’s and I looked every single person I passed in the eye just to check and see if any of them were Rainn Wilson (none of them were, but it didn’t hurt to make sure), then we set out on the most glorious road trip. First we drove through the lava fields (those were made of lava). Next, just picture this scene with me: winding mountain roads lined with massive trees filled with yellow and orange leaves, perfect fall weather, Sigur Ros playing on the radio, and your arm hanging out the window while you take it all in. I think if the ride to Proxy Falls had not been that momentous I might have straight up dropped dead when I first saw the falls but at least this way I had a bit of a warm up.

It was a little hike to the falls, during which we ate our delicious, home-made sandwiches that Allison concocted (but really, Allison, send me that recipe please) and before we knew it we there there.

Proxy. Falls.

Just . . . wait until you see the photos and see if you still think I’m making too big a deal out of this. Actually, the pictures really don’t do it justice, but at least they’re something.

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Obviously any of the photos that I’m in (other than this one below) were taken by the lovely Allison Harp.

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And as if one waterfall per day were not enough, we ended the day at Sahailie Falls.

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The next day I didn’t take any photos because my super-gracious host and I were out of the house by 6 a.m. to get me to the airport. That right there is the mark of a good friend.

Allison, let’s do this all again ASAP, mmkay? Thanks.

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Looking through these photos and remembering meeting up with Sam and Dustin in Seattle this past October basically makes my heart want to burst with warm, mushy feelings.

If I’m being honest though — the start to the shoot was actually pretty far from perfect. It would be easy to blog these photos and pretend like this day went off without a hitch but the fact of the matter is that sometimes it helps to remember that plans can go out the window and that winging it sometimes ends up better than the original plan and that clients who are okay with all of these things are the bees knees.

I had photographed a wedding in Dallas the day before, got home around midnight and left the house by 6 a.m. to catch my flight to Seattle the day of Sam and Dustin’s engagement shoot. By 11 a.m. I had landed, picked up a coffee and got in my rental car to scout the areas Sam and I had been e-mailing excitedly back and forth about for months — e-mails from Sam are always golden and hilarious and my absolute favorite — which would leave me about four hours to hit all the locations before meeting up with Sam and Dustin to get started. That early afternoon exploring Seattle was absolutely glorious. I spent so much time hiking around the jaw-droppingly gorgeous Discovery Park looking for the perfect spots for our shoot that before I realized it, 2.5 hours of my scouting time had been used up (over-zealous much, Jillian?). This was going to make it tight to scout as thoroughly as I had planned to peruse the other two sites, but it wasn’t going to be impossible. That’s where the not-so-perfect part of the day started. On my way to the second location my GPS decided to take me in a 6-mile loop off course that I was dumb enough to drive twice before I stopped and GAVE THAT GPS A PIECE OF MY MIND. I make it to Volunteer Park and the place is so jam-packed that there isn’t a parking space in sight. I give it as much time as I can possibly allow hoping for a spot to open up before I decide, ain’t no thing, I’ll just scout from my car, thank you very much! Afterwards I have just enough time to make it over to Capitol Hill to explore a bit before heading over to Sam and Dustin’s place when I realize that I won’t have any extra time to stop and pick up lunch before we start. This might not be as big a deal for some people but 1) I’m not a meal-skipper 2) I had basically hiked like 4+ miles that day and hadn’t eaten since before my 8 a.m. flight and 3) I’m just not a meal-skipper. In my predicament, I decide Sam would totally be cool with me asking to commandeer some pb & j from her kitchen so I text to see if I was correct in this assumption. Fresh out of peanut butter, she tells me she just put a pot of water on the stove to make me some macaroni and cheese and that it will be ready for me when I arrive. Now that is love, my friends. I pull up to their neighborhood right in the nick of time, get overly excited about meeting Sam and Dustin in the flesh for the first time (up until the point I had flown across the country and shown up at their front door we had only skyped/e-mailed), inhaled my mac and cheese that Sam had so graciously prepared for me, and then hit the road to get this shoot started! We were a few miles out from their house when I realize I had left my phone on their table (the phone that held all the dropped pins for the locations I had scouted earlier that day) but I convinced myself that I would recognize the locations if we just got close enough to them. YEAH, EXCEPT FOR NOT, I found out a few minutes later as we’re driving around based off of my vague, wishy-washy directions. I really cannot stress enough how gracious and kind and chill Sam and Dustin were in this process as I was quietly biting my nails and stress-sweating in their back seat hoping for something to look familiar. Finally I have us pull over at a spot we were passing that I deemed would be our starting point (although I hadn’t seen it before that moment), and we just went with it. And you know what, the second we got started I felt 8-million times better, I honestly believe that the spots we ended up working with for this portion of the shoot were better than the ones I had chosen beforehand anyway, and I was able to reunite with my phone halfway through for the outfit change to finally feel in control of time again.

See, far from perfect?

But I would honestly do it all over again to spend as wonderful an afternoon with Sam and Dustin in their new city, wingin’ it.

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After an outfit change (and can we just pause and take a second to marvel at how wonderful Sam and Dustin’s outfit choices were?) we decided to skip Volunteer Park altogether because helllloooooooooo Discovery Park is miles and miles of magical wonderland, which I would know because I had accidentally spent almost three hours there that morning. But the light when we arrived that evening was even better than I could have possibly imagined. I like to think such beautiful sunshine was a gift for Sam and Dustin for feeding me lunch and being so kind as to not openly roll their eyes when I was all “I’m pretty sure we’re close to the spot I chose earlier . . .” at the beginning of the shoot.

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Sam and Dustin, getting to photograph a couple as great and lovely and fun as you two in a place like this is basically what my photographer dreams are made of. I will always treasure this day, your graciousness, and getting to document this sweet season of your life. Reuniting for your wedding day this summer has got me all kinds of excited and I promise to make absolutely certain that I eat lunch before I arrive.

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