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5 Ways to Blend Families With Children at Weddings

Blended Families. Woven together by choice, strengthened together by love, tested by everything, and each uniquely ours.
— unknown

On November 5, 2016 I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding ceremony between Robert Hickman and Brandy Vincent.  This was much more than a wedding ceremony between a man and a woman that completely and utterly adore each other - this was also a union of a blended family.  

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You see, Robert has one son from a previous relationship and Brandy has two children, a daughter and a son, from a previous relationship.  I have known Robert for several years.  We first met when his son and my son played little league baseball together in Mart, Texas.  I later met Brandy through Robert at...you guessed it...through little league baseball!  From the very minute I saw Brandy, Robert, and the three children interacting, I knew they had something very special.  Something that not every blended family has - unconditional love for one another.  

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At the wedding rehearsal I wasn't shocked that their children were involved in the wedding ceremony.  Their two sons were groomsmen and their daughter was a bridesmaid.  But something else that happened made this a very emotional event for all of them!  During the rehearsal Brandy told her two children that THEY would be walking down the aisle to give her away during the ceremony!  I can't even begin to explain the emotions!  There were plenty of happy tears and even more hugs.  This very moment was the highlight of the entire wedding rehearsal.  

Throughout the entire wedding ceremony the children were included and I personally feel that including the children in the process helps them feel like they're part of the new family that is being created through the marriage.  Brandy and Robert did an excellent job at planning their wedding.  Everything was absolutely beautiful!  But the one thing that stood out to me was the way they used this ceremony to create a new family by including them in the blending process.  I came up with 5 ways to blend families with children at weddings.    

1.  If they are old enough to do so, let them help with the planning.  One way you can let your children help with planning the wedding is by letting them help pick some of the music for the reception.  Kids LOVE music!  Many girls also LOVE crafting!  If they do, let them help assemble decorations.  There are a gazillion ways your kiddos can help when it comes to planning the wedding.  You know your kids better than anyone else so give them a "job" and let them run with it.

2.  Let your children invite some of their friends to the wedding.  Being a part of a wedding as an adult can be stressful.  Being a part of a wedding as a child can be stressful as well.  If you let them invite their best friend, they will have their support system right there.  Obviously this is also dependent upon the age(s) of your children.  Having a friend there gives them someone to feel comfortable with...someone to talk to...dance with...and laugh with.

3.  Include the children in the actual wedding ceremony.  As I already mentioned, Brandy and Robert included all three of their children in the wedding ceremony.  It made them feel as if it was a family event rather than an event between the adults.  

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4.  Create an event during the ceremony that includes the children.  A popular event during the ceremony that includes the children is a sand ceremony.  Robert and Brandy chose to do a candle lighting ceremony which involved the children.  Creating an event during the ceremony that includes the children is in essence sharing the vows with the children.

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5.  Give the children a REAL role in the wedding ceremony if they would like one.  I touched on this point earlier when I discussed how Brandy asked her children to walk her down the aisle and give her away during the ceremony.  Depending on the maturity level of the children, allow them to have a REAL role if they'd like one.

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Celebrate the presence of children at a wedding where families are being joined and blended. Remember, you’re not just getting married and perhaps gaining some new children in the process or bringing a new spouse into your life — your children are gaining a whole new family through your marriage.
— S Malone
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Mart 12U Pantherettes: A Recap of the State Tournament

I do believe everyone in the city of Mart, Texas is SUPER proud of the 12U Girls Softball Team!  They were undefeated in the regular season which landed them a spot in the district playoff tournament.  They dominated the tournament and clenched the second place ranking.  Leon placed first after beating Mart twice for the championship.  Leon AND Mart were headed to the 12U State Softball Tournament in Rockdale, Texas!

During the week before the state tournament, Mart practiced hard and gave their team everything they had.  They worked on fielding, throwing, batting, specific plays, etc.  They've always played well together, but they have truly grown so much this past season!

Not pictured are three players that were picked up from Riesel.

Not pictured are three players that were picked up from Riesel.

Monday, Game 1:  Mart vs. Van  This was a GREAT game!  It was a close game!  But Van took the win with a score of 3-2.  Mart now entered the losers bracket.  Just one more loss would send them home.

Tuesday, Game 2:  Mart vs. McGregor  Both teams in the losers bracket from this point on so Mart had to win to stay alive.  Mart takes the win with a final score of 14-2.

Wednesday, Game 3:  Mart vs. Mildred  This game was at 4:00...in the dead heat of the day!  MISERABLE!!  Mart takes another win with a final score of 12-3.  

Thursday, Game 4:  Mart vs. Leon  This game was the first of three - potentially.  This game was also at 4:00, in the dead heat of the day once again.  Leon beat Mart twice in back to back games at the district tournament.  Mart WANTED to win this game!  And Mart did win!  Final score 5-3.  

Thursday, Game 5:  Mart vs. Lexington  Since Mart won, they had to play again at 6:00.  Out of the gate Lexington looked like a difficult team to beat.  They had VERY aggressive runners that clearly knew how to steal bases.  Mart ended up with the win again with a final score of 4-3.

Thursday, Game 6:  Mart vs. Lovelady  This would be the third game for Mart on this day at 8:00.  Mart girls were exhausted!  Back to back games in 100 degree weather, full sun all day long.  Lovelady ended up with the win with a final score of 5-12.  Mart takes fourth place at the state tournament.  Not bad at all for a team that lost their very first game and had to battle their way through the losers bracket.  

Photo from Mart Football Panther Facebook Page

Photo from Mart Football Panther Facebook Page

You can read more about the future of Mart Softball here.  Congratulations to the Mart 12U Softball Team!  And while we're speaking about state softball tournaments, it is worth noting that TWO other Mart teams made it to state tournaments so give another congratulations to the 6U and 10U Softball Teams!  Thank you to everyone - players, coaches, parents, and volunteers - that was involved for a GREAT season! 

Found at:  http://www.quoteslike.com/quotes-about-softball-teamwork-quotes/

Found at:  http://www.quoteslike.com/quotes-about-softball-teamwork-quotes/

Looking for 2017 Seniors!

Model Call!! 

Smith Family Photography is currently looking for guys and gals that are currently JUNIORS in high school! 

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When:  Saturday, February 20th, 2016 around 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Where:  The location has yet to be determined, but it will be in the Mart/Groesbeck area

What Will the Modeling Session Look Like:  All juniors that have secured their spots will meet at the location on February 20th around 4:00pm.  We will take several individual photographs of each junior.  My hopes are that every junior will begin their senior year of high school with some senior portraits and that they will also meet some new friends through this experience.

What Will You Receive:  Each participating junior will receive a FREE modeling session/experience and they will have access to the private online gallery where they will have a credit of $25 to use towards their choice of prints and/or digital images.  If they'd like to purchase more, they may certainly do so, however it is not expected.  Each participant will also receive a coupon for 20% off a FULL senior session - a $30 savings!   

Cost:  Participation in this event is FREE, however we do require a $25 commitment fee to secure your spot.  This fee will be returned to you in the form of a credit to use towards the purchase of prints and/or digital images of your choice in the private online gallery from the session.

How Do You Apply:  If you are interested in applying for this once in a lifetime opportunity, please message me at ajsmithfamilyphotography@gmail.com or contact us through the form on our website.

Mighty Mart Panthers - Times Two

The 2015-2016 school year is well underway and many seniors are now scheduling their fall senior portrait sessions.  Some seniors choose to wait until the spring season for their senior portraits.  Others prefer to have senior portraits taken year round.  This week's blog post is going to be all about two Mart seniors - Eric and Alyssa - that decided to have their senior portraits taken in the fall.

There's no buts about it...Mart is a HUGE football town!  Every Friday night during football season the town is literally dead.  Why?  Because everyone is either at the game or at home listening to the game.  Mart is serious about football.  This coming Friday is going to be especially eventful due to all the Homecoming festivities.  This Friday - Homecoming - is going to be a great day to be a Panther!

Meet Eric.  He is one of the football players that will entertain the crowd on Friday night.  He is a handsome young man with a bright future ahead of him.  He isn't quite sure where he is headed after high school just yet.  There are just so many things to consider.  After all, what's the rush?  He still has several months to narrow down his amazing plans.  One thing is for certain, he LOVES football!  He LOVES being a Panther!

Meet Eric.

Meet Eric.

Eric is always ready for gameday!

Eric is always ready for gameday!

Senior Portrait sessions with Smith Family Photography are fully customizable based on the specific memories that the senior would like to help capture.  For Eric, this meant the Mart Football Field.  For his mother, this meant the Mart Football Field and the grassy field behind the stadium to showcase his "country" side.  Many guys don't really care for the photographs to be taken.  They do it for their moms.  During Eric's session, he put his foot down and said he was staying on the football field - no grassy field photographs!  THAT is how much Eric loves football! 

I recently stated that I truly enjoy senior portrait sessions for several reasons, but most of all I enjoy interacting with the young adults and capturing their personality within the portraits.  As the session proceeds along, they start opening up more and more and finally they just seem to forget about the camera and just be themselves.  To me, that is when I capture the best portraits!  Things weren't any different with Eric.  At first, he was very attentive to what I was asking of him.  As the session progressed, he would wonder off to play football with his little brother, Alan.  He was relaxed and completely in his element.  He is a Mart Panther. 

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Let's take a look at another Mart senior.  Meet Alyssa.  She is one of the Mart cheerleaders that will entertain the crowd on Friday night.  She is an amazingly beautiful young woman with the whole world ahead of her!  She plans on heading off to college at either Baylor University or the University of Mary Hardin Baylor.  She plans on trying out for the cheer squad at both universities.  Alyssa LOVES cheerleading!  She LOVES being a Panther!

Meet Alyssa

Meet Alyssa

This year's Homecoming game is especially exciting for Alyssa!  She is nominated for the Homecoming Court!  I will be at the Homecoming game this Friday night to cheer on Eric and the Mart Panthers, as well as support Alyssa...and capture a few shots of her looking dazzling in her gown!

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Young women are typically less reserved in front of the camera than young men are.  They just seem to be more comfortable with having their photograph taken.  As their session progresses, their personalities shine through just the same.  However, with girls it seems to happen much quicker.  I think we have the era of new technology to thank - cell phones with nice cameras and selfies! 

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As Alyssa's session was nearing the end, she had a few requests.  One, she loved sweaters so she wanted to wear one during some of the shots.  Two, she wanted to take some photographs on the tire swing.  And three, she had to take a special photograph for her close friend, Sadie.  I absolutely LOVE it when the clients begin to take ownership in their photographs! 

Alyssa with her sweater.  She loves sweaters!

Alyssa with her sweater.  She loves sweaters!

Alyssa swinging on the tire swing!

Alyssa swinging on the tire swing!

Alyssa striking a pose for her close friend, Sadie.

Alyssa striking a pose for her close friend, Sadie.

Senior Portrait sessions are fully customizable based on the needs and wants of the senior.  After a session is officially booked, we begin collaborating on everything from locations, clothing, poses, themes, etc.  Senior sessions need to be authentic and really showcase the individual.  That is why it is so important that we work together to build a session that will let them shine and give them memories to last a lifetime.

If you are interested in booking a Senior Portrait session, you can message me or give me a call and I will give you more information.  Until next time, head over to Mart, Texas this Friday night (or any Friday night) and watch a football game!  It is an experience of a lifetime!

Sadie...the Senior Rep from Mart!

This is the first year for Smith Family Photography to have a Senior Representative Program.  Three high school seniors were chosen after careful consideration of their applications.  We chose seniors that were very involved in their school, community, and other hobbies or areas of interest.  It was difficult to choose, but in the end we could only choose three.  One of the senior reps (the only girl in the group) is Sadie from Mart, Texas. 

Each of the senior reps are rewarded for their time in assisting us with our advertising needs with cash incentives, product discounts, and freebies.  They each receive two sessions - a mini session and a full session.  The mini-sessions took place during the summer to ensure that their marketing items would be ready for the first day of their senior year.  The full session must be complete by November 1st, 2015.  This gives them plenty of time to show off their portraits.

The first senior rep to schedule the full session was Miss Sadie.  She is always a pleasure to work with!  She is truly beautiful inside and out. 

Sadie's magazine cover

Sadie's magazine cover

Sadie sent me a Facebook message and told me that she found the perfect spot for her senior pictures.  She loved the area at the bridge on Thompson Road in Mart, Texas.  I did not know what bridge she was talking about, but I was dying to find out what made this bridge so perfect.  My husband and I drove out to the bridge and we immediately knew why she chose this particular location - it was gorgeous!  The bridge was on a nicely groomed gravel road with large trees making a tunnel over the bridge.  Absolutely stunning and so peaceful!

Sadie had plenty of ideas of her own and according to her mom, Sadie LOVES to be photographed!  I believe mom because Sadie is so natural and comfortable in front of the camera.  She is so much fun to photograph!   

The bridge on Thompson Road in Mart, Texas is a great location for portraits!

The bridge on Thompson Road in Mart, Texas is a great location for portraits!

When I take senior portraits I prefer them to show a lot of personality.  Sometimes that involves some props if they want their session to be centered around a specific interest, such as football or softball.  Other times the session has very few props included.  It all depends on the type of portraits that the senior is wanting at that particular session.  As you can tell from the magazine article, Sadie's first session was focused on softball since she enjoys that sport.  However, this session was focused on her and her beautiful personality.  I brought two items to use as props - a suitcase and a vintage orange chair. 

Sadie using a vintage suitcase as a seat.

Sadie using a vintage suitcase as a seat.

Sadie using the vintage orange chair during her session

Sadie using the vintage orange chair during her session

We took several photographs on this bridge and then I suggested that we take some photographs at a nearby field that I've been longing to use for a session.  Sadie was up for taking more photographs! 

We arrived at the field just as the sun was going down and the light that was bouncing across the field was amazing!  We took several photographs in this beautiful location with gorgeous lighting and I had an idea for a pose using the vintage orange chair.  I asked my husband to get the chair out of the Suburban (aka Reliable Roger) for us and he brought us the suitcase!  I politely told him that we didn't need the suitcase, but we did need the chair.  He told us that we did not need the chair.  By the look on his face I knew that the chair was in trouble!  I asked him if my favorite chair was broken and he replied that it was in fact broken.  It was a sad moment in my life.  The photograph above is the last photograph for my favorite vintage orange chair.  So...if you have a similar chair, I am interested in purchasing it.

The sunset casted beautiful colors across the field

The sunset casted beautiful colors across the field

Sadie in the field with a Mart water tower in the background

Sadie in the field with a Mart water tower in the background

After we took several photographs in the field with the amazing sunset, we went back to the bridge for one last portrait.  I really wanted to get a photograph of her laying down on the bridge, but did not want her to be dirty from the gravel road for any remaining shots.  I have a feeling that we could have kept on taking photographs if the sun didn't set!

The last photograph of Sadie's session

The last photograph of Sadie's session

If you are interested in investing in senior portraits, you can always book directly through me or you can go through Sadie and receive extra savings! 

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