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wedding photographer

Strong As An Oak

September 22, 2018 was the first official day of fall. The PERFECT day for a wedding - especially for a bride that loves all things fall! And the weather on this particular day definitely felt like fall! It was very cool, with a light breeze. The sky was filled with clouds, but the rain stayed away. It felt like a crisp, fall day at Vintage Oaks Ranch in Axtell, Texas.

When I first met Tobie and Chad at their engagement session in November of 2017 I knew they were meant for each other. They just had “that” connection.

I could instantly tell how they felt about one another.  They genuinely love each other on a deep level.  They have the type of love that is full of compassion, support, respect, and encouragement.  When I asked Tobie to tell me their "story," she explained this very type of love. - With You I Am, blog about their engagement session

A collage of images from  Tobie and Chad’s engagement session.

Their wedding day was filled with just as much love for one another! I don’t know how else to explain it other than contagious. You just look at them and you can’t help but smile.

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The ceremony took place at Vintage Oaks Ranch in Axtell, Texas and began at 6:30 pm. And just as you would imagine, it was filled with emotions…which included happy tears.

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Mr. and Mrs. Walker!

Mr. and Mrs. Walker!

Even Tobie’s grandmother was included in the day in a very special way.

Even Tobie’s grandmother was included in the day in a very special way.

Tobie and Chad, I am beyond honored that you asked me to help capture the memories on your special day. Marriage is a journey that goes much further than your beautiful wedding. This was just the beginning of the path you’ll travel together as you overcome obstacles and weather the storms together - forever. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness!

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Vendor Credits

Venue: Vinatge Oaks Ranch, Axtell, Texas

Coordinator: Kaylen Dunks

Florist: Penny Lenamon- owner of Rusty Rose

Cake: Simply Delicious Bakery

DJ: Johnathan and Christina Price

Makeup and hair : Susana Rocha and Laura

All dresses: Georgio’s 

Tuxedos: Men’s Wearhouse

Officiant: Jimmy Cotton

Invitations: Flatt Stationers

Special thanks to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting me in capturing the memories for Tobie and Chad!

All Eyes On Us

The week leading up to the wedding of Jack and Bailey on Saturday, September 15, 2018 was filled with tons of rain. The forecast was even calling for high rain chances for that Saturday. As the week crept by, those high rain chances slowly begin to decrease. As everyone continued to cross their fingers, Saturday arrived and those rain chances were pretty much gone. The sun was shining and it was a perfectly calm day. It was a picture perfect day - literally!

That Saturday at 6:30 pm, under clear skies, Jack and Bailey would say, “I Do,” at the beautiful Wind Dancer Retreat in Bryan, Texas.

Jack and Bailey first met...

...in Corpus Christi at work.  Bailey was working as an office manager and Jack was one of the vendors.  He delivered goods to her workplace for a month or two and he would always ask Bailey what there was to do in Corpus.  Bailey noticed that Jack was always very polite.  Bailey's best friend noticed (and insisted) that Jack was interested in Bailey, however Bailey just thought that Jack was being professional by creating small talk.  This continued for several weeks until one day he was in his truck and asked Bailey if he could take her to do dinner.  Bailey told him that he could IF, and only if, he could remember her phone number and she shouted her number to him as he sat in his truck.  

Bailey did not expect Jack to remember her phone number.  He was sitting in his truck and she shouted it to him rather than writing it down for him or allowing him to write it down. But Jack did remember her number!  He sent Bailey a text about an hour later which said, "You owe me dinner ma'am."  

That same evening Bailey replied to Jack's message and told him that she was caught up at work and would not be able to make time for dinner with him, even though she was actually at home.  

The following week Jack showed up to deliver goods at Bailey's workplace and he asked her if she would make time for dinner with him.  Again, Bailey said that she would.  However this time she actually did go to dinner with him.  They drove to three different places before finding a restaurant with good customer service.  They enjoyed dinner and laughed...a lot!  

Over the next few months they continued talking casually.  One weekend Bailey decided to travel with Jack for a weekend trip to visit his parents.  They met his parents at Texas Roadhouse (THEIR place to eat) and then went to the family ranch, where Jack showed Bailey around.  Jack had Bailey put on some torn up dirty overalls and they began working on the ranch.  Bailey had a great time!  It was completely different than her life in Arizona.  

Eventually Jack asked Bailey to move in with him and ever since they have been inseparable.  

One day Jack surprised Bailey…

with a shopping trip for a fancy dress.  Jack would not tell Bailey why she needed the fancy dress.  The next day Jack told Bailey that they were going to dinner that night and she had to be ready at 5:00 sharp...and she HAD to wear the new fancy dress.  Bailey joked about dressing up for dinner at Texas Roadhouse!  Jack laughed and told her to get ready.

At 5:00 Jack told Bailey that it was time to go and she headed to the garage as she normally did.  Jack told her to just use the front door.  After all, "It's easier," he said.  Bailey questioned Jack about this as she walked out the front door and saw a limo waiting for them.  Bailey was so excited and began to get tears in her eyes.  They enjoyed the limo ride to Del Friscos Steakhouse in Houston, a beautiful restaurant with an amazing view.  They enjoyed a delicious dinner, even though Bailey noticed that Jack was acting...different.  Jack told her that he loved her and would continue to love her forever and he would do everything he had to in order to give their family a good life.  He went on to say that it was not the right time to get married because they weren't stable enough yet, but he just wanted her to know that she was his world.  

When they finished their meals, they decided to order dessert.  Bailey ordered cheesecake since that is their favorite dessert.  Jack left to the restroom and was gone for awhile.  When he returned Bailey told him that she didn't know it took 20 minutes to bring out dessert.  About this same time the dessert arrived...and it said, "Will you marry me?" Bailey began to panic because she was sure that the waiter brought them the wrong plate!  She looked at Jack to tell him how embarrassing it was that they brought the wrong plate to their table and saw Jack on one knee with a ring.  Bailey jumped into his arms as she cried and said, "YES!"  She gave him her right hand instead of her left hand!   

You can read more about Jack and Bailey’s engagement here.

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Special Note to the Newlyweds

Jack and Bailey, I wish you both a lifetime of happiness. The amount of love and respect you both show each other throughout your words, as well as actions towards one another is so calming to all those that surround you. You both have tons of love and support from your families and that is absolutely priceless. Kaden is truly blessed to have such wonderful parents and grandparents in his life!

Vendor Credits

Venue: Wind Dancer Retreat, Bryan, TX

Coordinator: Shana Wells

Florist: University Flowers

Linens: Party Time Rentals

Cake Artist: Dianna Brannan

Caterer: C & J Barbeque

DJ: Downtown Entertainment

Make-Up and Hair Artist: Naturally Flawless

Bridesmaids Dresses: David’s Bridal

Bridal Gown: VIP Bridal

Tuxes: Men’s Wearhouse

Officiant: Floyd Stanley

Special thanks to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting me in capturing the memories for Jack and Bailey!

Miracles

September 1, 2018 was a beautiful day for a wedding for William and Victoria! After a very long, dry summer in Central Texas, the area suddenly began receiving rain. Isolated showers were in the forecast and the clouds began to build, but the clouds parted which gave way for the sun to shine brightly for their outdoor ceremony at the Knob Creek Chapel in Temple, Texas.

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Victoria and William met online and had their first date on January 16, 2015 at the Farm House Restaurant in Mexia, Texas. After dinner the two laid under the stars in a pasture as they listened to music and enjoyed each others company.

They continued to get to know each other over the next few months and then something unexpected happened. On July 7, 2015, at the young age of 22, William had a brain aneurysm. He was in a coma for two weeks in the Intensive Care Unity at Temple Baylor Scott and White Memorial. Slowly he healed by the grace of God, family support and the dedication from the medical staff.

After nearly a month, on Victoria’s birthday, William spoke for the first time since the aneurysm. William told Victoria that he loved her! One week later he was discharged to Austin Neurological Rehabilitation where William had to learn how to walk, talk, write and eat again since he lost the ability to do these activities after he suffered multiple strokes from his brain injury.

In October of 2015 William finally returned home. Each day he continues to improve. He now attends Texas State Technical College and is enrolled in the Aviation Mechanics Program. Victoria was inspired to become a nurse so she enrolled in the McLennan Communtiy College Nursing Program. She graduated in May of 2018 and now works at Baylor Scott and White Hillcrest in Waco.

William proposed on June 3, 2017 outside of Leakey, Texas by the Frio River in front of the mountains. Victoria would soon become a stepmother to William’s five year old daughter, Alaya, and she couldn’t wait! Victoria says that Alaya is a blessing to both of them and it is a true blessing to have her in their lives.

William and Victoria continue to further their education and commitment to each other…and to Alaya.

Special thanks to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting me in capturing the special details and memories on this extraordinary day!

Better Today

Zach and Harlee said, "I Do," on July 7th, 2018 in Groesbeck, Texas at the Groesbeck Convention Center on a day dotted with isolated thunderstorms that completely cleared out by the time of their ceremony.

Meeting you was fate. Becoming your friend was a choice. But falling in love with you was beyond my control.
— unknown

Zach and Harlee met through work.  Harlee told me that meeting Zach was that day was the "craziest thing" since it was during an intubation.  Harlee works at the local hospital and Zach is a paramedic.  After this crazy meeting, she told her coworkers that the she thought he was SO cute!  

Fast forward a few weeks and these two saw each other yet again at a local convenience store.  They talked a little bit and decided to hang out with each other that night - nothing fancy, just sitting around a fire at Zach's house where they literally talked about everything until 3:00 in the morning.  As the night progressed, a horrible storm came in and Zach invited Harlee to stay the night rather than driving home in the storm.  Zach gave Harlee his bed while he slept on the couch.  That morning he woke Harlee up with an amazing breakfast complete with French Toast, bacon and eggs.  

Harlee told me that this "date" wasn't a typical first date, but nonetheless this was their first date and she had a tremendous amount of respect for Zach after this date because he treated her with respect by watching out for her during the storm and taking care of her as well.  

That December Zach proposed.  They went to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and during one of the days they decided to get on a bus to take a helicopter tour.  The helicopter took them on a trip over the Grand Canyon.  During this trip Zach pulled out his phone and asked Harlee to watch a video.  The video was a video of his three children asking Harlee to be their stepmom.  It was the sweetest thing she ever saw!  Zach then showed Harlee a ring and asked her to be his wife.

Harlee's bridal session

Harlee's bridal session

I first met Harlee at her bridal session where I learned a lot about her, however I did not meet Zach at this time.  I knew he had to be someone special because it was obvious that Harlee adored him!  When I first met Zach at the wedding, he was extremely calm and almost always had a smile on his face.  Seeing Zach and Harlee together was a beautiful thing, but what made it even more beautiful was seeing Zach and Harlee together with Zach's three children.  They each looked at Harlee so lovingly throughout the entire wedding day, especially during the ceremony!  Harlee expressed how much she loved Zach's children when she told me that when when she married Zach she also took on a huge commitment of parenting as well.  She now has three beautiful children that she loves with everything within her!

Mr. and Mrs. Barkouskie with their three children.

Mr. and Mrs. Barkouskie with their three children.

I am always in awe at each and every wedding (and this wedding was no exception).  Every wedding is completely different.  Every wedding has a different feeling about it.  Every interaction between the bride and groom is different.  During the ceremony, Zach and Harlee symbolized their bond with a Unity Braid Cross.  These can be purchased online, however Harlee's father made it for them.  In fact, he made many of their decorations for the wedding.  There was so much meaning behind all the details!

Unity Braid Cross made by Harlee's father

Unity Braid Cross made by Harlee's father

Always keep God in your relationship. Choose to love each other even when you struggle to like one another. Always make time for one another, even when it seems impossible. Surround yourself with friends that will support your relationship and strengthen it. Learn to listen to understand, not just to respond. Put old relationships in the past, and don’t compare it to y’alls relationship. And never keep secrets or lie to one another.
— Zach and Harlee Barkouskie
Mr. and Mrs. Barkouskie

Mr. and Mrs. Barkouskie

Harlee and Zach, I always find a song to dedicate to newlyweds.  Finding your song made me really think!  I wanted to find a song that talked about the love for you two have for each other, but I wanted something that went above and beyond that - a song that could also depict the love that you both have for your children.  I listened to song after song, but none of them felt right until I stumbled upon this one.  It was completely new to me!  I played it over and over, just to make sure that it was "the one."  And it definitely is "THE ONE!"  Harlee and Zach, I hope you always remember that you are each "Better Today" because you have one another in your lives each and every day, and even more so because you are blessed with three beautiful children each and every day.  

Special thanks to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting me in capturing the special details and memories on this extraordinary day!

Vendors

Ceremony and Reception:  Groesbeck Convention Center

Coordinator:  Glenda Bennett (mother of the bride that did an EXCEPTIONAL job)

Florist:  Penny Lenamon at Rusty Rose Flower Shop in Groesbeck, Texas

Cake Artist:  LaNei Cadenhead at Butter Cup Bakery in Centerville, Texas

DJ:  Colby Blacknall

Makeup Artist:  Shelby Ellison (sister of the bride)

Hair Artist:  Meredith McClinton, Hubbard, Texas

Bridesmaids Dresses:  Georgio's Bridal

Bridal Gown:  David's Bridal

Tuxes:  Bealls

Officiant:  Clint Mello (ordained/uncle)

Invitations:  Shutterfly and Walmart

Security:  Limestone County Sheriff's Department

This Is It

Keith and Karen said, "I do," on June 16th, 2018 at the First Baptist Church in West, Texas with a reception immediately following the ceremony at Cottonwood Hall, also in West, Texas.  The church was absolutely beautiful, complete with stained glass windows!  And Cottonwood Hall was the perfect venue for the reception with a large dance floor and bar.  

Keith and Karen met each other at the beach while they were both on vacation.  They were introduced by a mutual friend, Tina (also the matron of honor).  Neither one was looking for a relationship, but they were encouraged to meet on a friend level rather than a relationship level.  They ended up exchanging numbers and reluctantly arranged a first date hiking and searching for fossils in a creek bed.  It was such an adventure...literally!  They encountered a snake and a hornet's nest complete with four stings on that first date!  Keith asked Karen to go on a second date.  This time they would go...fishin'.  They've been seeking adventures, fishing, and just enjoying spending time with each other every since.  

Exactly one year later, Keith proposed while they were on a family vacation at the exact same beach where they first met each other.  They were surrounded by all of Keith's family.  Keith and Karen were officially ENGAGED!!

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Keith and Karen love spending time outdoors together, going on adventures and fishing.  Their honeymoon was actually a fishing trip to Rockport, Texas where they caught lots of trout and red fish.  That is a trip that definitely fits their personalities!  After all, Keith's ring is actually made with fishing line!

Keith's ring is actually made with fishing line!

Keith's ring is actually made with fishing line!

As we photographed the wedding and captured special moments between them we quickly noticed that they were always surrounded by family.  They have such an amazing support system with wonderful role models!  The way that Keith and Karen look at each other is something from a fairy tale.  It is difficult to describe, but can be felt by everyone around them.  They have so much love and respect for one another.  

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June 16th was not just Keith and Karen's wedding day.  June 16th was also Keith's parents wedding day 45 years earlier!  I was not aware of this until the ceremony when Tommy and Sara were asked to stand by Keith and Karen.  

Tommy and Sara being recognized for 45 years of marriage.

Tommy and Sara being recognized for 45 years of marriage.

Forty-five years!  That is such a commitment of love!  Tommy later told me that they have been through it all - richer and poorer, sickness and health, better and worse - and every single bit of it was (and continues to be) worth it.  Such an inspiration!  Keith and Karen even included them in the reception with a cake to celebrate their anniversary, the original cake topper from their wedding cake 45 years ago, a jar for anniversary wishes, and a special dance for them.  I have to admit, it made me tear up!  

Tommy and Sara celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary.

Tommy and Sara celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary.

You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.
— Desmond Tutu
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Keith and Karen, as I captured special memories of your beautiful wedding day I was deeply touched by the fact that you have an AMAZING family that surrounds you both and supports you both.  While this was beautifully amazing, what was even more amazing was that you both appreciated this rather than taking it for granted.  You truly do have something special.  

A special THANK YOU to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting me in capturing the beautiful memories from Keith and Karen's wedding day!  

Vendors

Ceremony Venue:  First Baptist Church, West

Reception Venue:  Cottonwood Hall, West

Coordinator:  Ann Marie Dennis

Florist:  Michele’s house of Flowers, West

Cake Artist: Jennifer Sulak Gerik, Hillsboro 

Band/DJ: DJ Michael G, West 

Make-Up Artist:  Brenna (personal friend), Houston 

Hair Artist:  Basy from Salon Posh, Waco

Bridesmaids Dresses:  David’s Bridals 

Bridal Gown:  JoAnns Bridals 

Tuxes:  Squires 

Officiant:  Shea Gutierrez, Elm Mott

Just Come With Me

I first met Jack and Bailey... 

...in April of 2017 when they asked me to photograph their family at Jack's family ranch near Kosse, Texas.  Bailey's parents were also visiting from Corpus Christi so they would be included in the session, as well as Jack's parents.  Their ranch is a beautiful place with lush green pastures and mature trees.  Even though I just met them, it was obvious that Jack and Bailey had a special bond.  

Bailey and Jack with their parents in 2017.

Bailey and Jack with their parents in 2017.

Jack and Bailey ALWAYS look at each other with love in their eyes!  

Jack and Bailey ALWAYS look at each other with love in their eyes!  

Jack and Bailey first met...

...in Corpus Christi at work.  Bailey was working as an office manager and Jack was one of the vendors.  He delivered goods to her workplace for a month or two and he would always ask Bailey what there was to do in Corpus.  Bailey noticed that Jack was always very polite.  Bailey's best friend noticed (and insisted) that Jack was interested in Bailey, however Bailey just thought that Jack was being professional by creating small talk.  This continued for several weeks until one day he was in his truck and asked Bailey if he could take her to do dinner.  Bailey told him that he could IF, and only if, he could remember her phone number and she shouted her number to him as he sat in his truck.  

Bailey did not expect Jack to remember her phone number.  He was sitting in his truck and she shouted it to him rather than writing it down for him or allowing him to write it down. But Jack did remember her number!  He sent Bailey a text about an hour later which said, "You owe me dinner ma'am."  

That same evening Bailey replied to Jack's message and told him that she was caught up at work and would not be able to make time for dinner with him, even though she was actually at home.  

The following week Jack showed up to deliver goods at Bailey's workplace and he asked her if she would make time for dinner with him.  Again, Bailey said that she would.  However this time she actually did go to dinner with him.  They drove to three different places before finding a restaurant with good customer service.  They enjoyed dinner and laughed...a lot!  

Over the next few months they continued talking casually.  One weekend Bailey decided to travel with Jack for a weekend trip to visit his parents.  They met his parents at Texas Roadhouse (THEIR place to eat) and then went to the family ranch, where Jack showed Bailey around.  Jack had Bailey put on some torn up dirty overalls and they began working on the ranch.  Bailey had a great time!  It was completely different than her life in Arizona.  

Eventually Jack asked Bailey to move in with him and ever since they have been inseparable.  

Meeting you was fate, becoming your friend was a choice, but falling in love with you was beyond my control.
— unknown

Are You With Me?

One day Jack surprised Bailey with a shopping trip for a fancy dress.  Jack would not tell Bailey why she needed the fancy dress.  The next day Jack told Bailey that they were going to dinner that night and she had to be ready at 5:00 sharp...and she HAD to wear the new fancy dress.  Bailey joked about dressing up for dinner at Texas Roadhouse!  Jack laughed and told her to get ready.

At 5:00 Jack told Bailey that it was time to go and she headed to the garage as she normally did.  Jack told her to just use the front door.  After all, "It's easier," he said.  Bailey questioned Jack about this as she walked out the front door and saw a limo waiting for them.  Bailey was so excited and began to get tears in her eyes.  They enjoyed the limo ride to Del Friscos Steakhouse in Houston, a beautiful restaurant with an amazing view.  They enjoyed a delicious dinner, even though Bailey noticed that Jack was acting...different.  Jack told her that he loved her and would continue to love her forever and he would do everything he had to in order to give their family a good life.  He went on to say that it was not the right time to get married because they weren't stable enough yet, but he just wanted her to know that she was his world.  

When they finished their meals, they decided to order dessert.  Bailey ordered cheesecake since that is their favorite dessert.  Jack left to the restroom and was gone for awhile.  When he returned Bailey told him that she didn't know it took 20 minutes to bring out dessert.  About this same time the dessert arrived...and it said, "Will you marry me?" Bailey began to panic because she was sure that the waiter brought them the wrong plate!  She looked at Jack to tell him how embarrassing it was that they brought the wrong plate to their table and saw Jack on one knee with a ring.  Bailey jumped into his arms as she cried and said, "YES!"  She gave him her right hand instead of her left hand!   

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Jack and Bailey are engaged!

Jack and Bailey, this song is for you!  I am beyond excited for you two!

You're Still the One

On Saturday, May 26, 2018, Brooke and James made each other a promise in front of their family and friends - a promise to love each other forever.  

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Brooke and James were married on a rather warm and sunny day in Thornton, Texas at the new Thornton Civic Center.  Their wedding was actually the first wedding to take place there and everything was absolutely perfect!  Brooke stated that the venue was so much better than she expected and I must say that I completely agree with her.  The lighting in the building is incredible!  There is so much natural light that pours in through the windows and completely fills the very neutral colored space.  I LOVE the way the city of Thornton used parts from the old Thornton School building in their new civic center!  

The new Thornton Civic Center

The new Thornton Civic Center

James and Brooke first met when they were high school students at Groesbeck High School in Groesbeck, Texas.  James was a junior and Brooke was a freshman.  Brooke was dating James's best friend when they first met, however after a few months that high school relationship ended.  James and Brooke soon began dating.  Their first "official" date was going to a high school play that school year.  This date led to many more wonderful dates over the years.

Eventually, James decided to propose to Brooke in the driveway of the house he grew up in at Old Fort Parker State Park.  But this wasn't his original plan.  His plan was to actually propose to Brooke down by the water at the lake, but there was a problem.  There was construction going on at the state park and they were in the process of building a new boat ramp at this time so James had to improvise.  The driveway would have to do!  

James had a white Chevrolet pickup truck in high school and still to this day he owns and drives this truck.  After all, it is his baby!  James picked up Brooke on this particular day and drove to the driveway.  He got out of the truck, ran to the front of the truck and opened the hood.  Brooke had no idea what he was doing so she waiting in the truck patiently for James to finish looking at this truck.  He finally walked back to the driver's side of the truck and leaned over to kiss Brooke...and then proposed!  Brooke was completely surprised and answered, "YES," without hesitation!

From the minute I met Brooke and James, I could tell they loved each other and were completely comfortable around each other.  They were both very laid back and nothing seemed to stress them out at all.  After years of high school and the years after high school, they are still so in love and respect each other.  The way they look at each other is truly breathtaking!

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Love is when you look into someone’s eyes, and suddenly, you go all the way inside, to their soul...and you both know, instantly.
— unknown

Family is very important to both Brooke and James and so it was vital that they were included in the details of the wedding day.  Brooke's mom and cousins made the cakes and cupcakes.  The cake stand was truly unique!  It was a custom, one of a kind, cake stand made from pieces of wood that was built by Brooke's cousin.  All of the wood that was used throughout the wedding (cake stand, guest book, table decor, etc) came from their family land near Bremond and Kosse.  They will truly be keepsakes for generations to come!

Custom wood pieces built by family using wood on their family land.

Custom wood pieces built by family using wood on their family land.

Do what you want. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to do this or that. It is your wedding day and you can do what you want.”
— James and Brooke Davey

Brooke and James, I have a wedding wish for you.  Love is best when shared.  Together you are stronger because together you are ONE.  Here's to a happily every after!  Thank you for allowing me to capture some of the memories from your beautiful wedding day!

Special thanks to Angela Bailey and Angela Bailey Photography for assisting me in capturing the beautiful memories from Brooke and James's wedding day!

Vendor Credits

  • Venue:  City of Thornton - Thornton Civic Center, Thornton, Texas - Kenny and Pam Capps
  • Cake Artist:  Jennifer Lloyd (mom) and Jamie McCaleb (cousin)
  • Make-up and Hair Artist:  Vanessa Coatney (sister)
  • Bridesmaids Dresses:  Pat's Gowns, Waco, Texas
  • Bridal Gown:  David's Bridal, Waco, Texas
  • Officiant:  Ricky Joe Waller, First Baptist Church, Kosse, Texas

 

...and they lived HAPPILY ever after

I love weddings!  Each and every wedding I have photographed over the past three years has been completely different.  No two weddings have been the same.  The details are all different even though they might be the same in theme.  Each ceremony "feels" different.  I'm not sure how to explain this aspect of a wedding since it's just something one experiences.  Some feel more serious, while others feel more casual.  

I first met Brittany and Andrew in October of 2016 when we met in Hillsboro, Texas for their engagement session.  I knew their wedding was going to be very special based on their interactions with one another at this session.  I'll never look at a fire truck the same way again!

"Burning Love" by Elvis Presley

On October 7, 2017 I photographed the wedding of Brittany and Andrew at The Eagle Historic Warehouse in Hillsboro, Texas.  During the entire event, I couldn't help but smile.  There was so much happiness!  It just felt...different.  As the evening progressed, I had a conversation with the other photographer, Angela, and we actually discussed how HAPPY everyone was.  They smiled...a lot!  They laughed...a lot!  And they loved...a lot!  

The secret to a happy marriage is to choose LOVE everyday.
— unknown
The bride and groom showing off their FUN personalities before their wedding!

The bride and groom showing off their FUN personalities before their wedding!

More laughs by the happy couple!

More laughs by the happy couple!

I absolutely LOVED the cake images!  These images sum up their relationship perfectly!  Always having fun and laughing.

I absolutely LOVED the cake images!  These images sum up their relationship perfectly!  Always having fun and laughing.

It's official!  Game over.

It's official!  Game over.

Special thanks to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting in capturing the memories of the Raley Wedding.

Happily Every Masters

#HappilyEverMasters  

That was the catch phrase for a beautiful day in September.

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On September 30, 2017 McKenzie and Harlie were married at the Thornton Rodeo Grounds in Thornton, Texas.  Everything about their wedding was GORGEOUS!  I heard SO many guests compliment her dress, which was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!   

Harlie received so many compliments on her stunning wedding dress!

Harlie received so many compliments on her stunning wedding dress!

When I meet engaged couples I like to hear "THEIR" story - how did they meet, what was the first date, how did he propose, etc.  I first met Harlie and McKenzie at their engagement session in February of 2017.  At that moment I just knew their wedding was going to be spectacular!  They just had a chemistry together that others can see and feel.  It's difficult to explain, but can definitely be experienced.  

Engagement Session - February 2017

Engagement Session - February 2017

At their engagement session I learned that they were high school sweethearts and both attended Groesbeck High School.  McKenzie was one grade above Harlie, but they were both in the same Spanish class while she was a freshman and he was a sophomore.  While they knew each other at this time, they weren't dating.  However, just as the summer began they did start dating.  One of their most memorable early dates was after Harlie's sister's softball game.  McKenzie picked Harlie up so they could hang out.  McKenzie was driving his 1992 Ford single cab pickup with a standard transmission.  While they were on the way back to Harlie's house, McKenzie said he wanted her to try to drive his truck.  Harlie, being the go-getter she is, jumped at the chance.  She stalled the truck about four times and blinded herself when she accidentally turned on the bright LED lights on the gear shifter!  She jumped out of the pickup and said she would never drive that truck again and they laughed the rest of the way to her house!  

Nearly six years later, McKenzie proposed to Harlie in their living room just a few days before Christmas in 2016.  It was a quiet proposal with just the two of them in the living room.  Harlie said is was sweet and romantic.  Just the two of them.  In their living room.  With their ugly oversized Christmas tree they chopped down a few days earlier.  It was definitely not the envisioned proposal (public with someone photographing the event), but it was definitely the perfect proposal!

This Christmas tree was the perfect backdrop for the proposal!

This Christmas tree was the perfect backdrop for the proposal!

Harlie and McKenzie informed me that it was great being high school sweethearts for a lot of reasons, but mainly because they learned so much about each other through those high school years.  They never had to introduce those awkward puberty days to each other because they were experiencing them together!  They went on to say that it makes them feel accomplished in their relationship when they look back and see how far they've come in relation to all their friends' relationships that have ended.  They've made it this far because they communicate with each other.  COMMUNICATION IS KEY!  Harlie explained that McKenzie is terrible at communicating at times so she has to make sure she is asking questions and updating him throughout the day to keep the line of communication open.  

As I write this at the age of 39, Harlie's words are running through my mind, "Communication is key."  When McKenize is not communicating as well as she'd like, she picks up the slack and makes sure she takes the active role of initiating the conversation.  This is so important!  It's so easy to sit back when your partner is sitting back.  But we all know when both people in a relationship sit back and no one takes the wheel, a wreck is inevitable.  

So today I challenge you to take the active role in your relationship and COMMUNICATE!  

Special thanks to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting with capturing the memories from this special day.

Jessica and Matt's Love Story

Jessica and Matt...soul mates.  

Some people believe in love at first sight.  Others believe in the idea of soul mates.  Jessica and Matt are soul mates.

Jessica and Matt

Jessica and Matt

I've photographed their family on multiple occasions over the past few years and when they asked me to photograph their wedding on August 12, 2017 I was honored...and surprised!  Surprised because I honestly thought they were already married!  

Jessica and Matt's love story began with an online dating service, Christian Mingle.  Matt's profile said he lived in Waco, Texas and he caught Jessica's eye.  She's been hurt in the past so she was cautiously, yet optimistically, looking for her Prince Charming.  They began talking on the phone and she realized that he did not live in Waco after all, he was actually living in Wisconsin where he was born and raised.  Jessica admits that at that moment she thought to herself, "Great, I finally meet someone that seems nice and normal and I've actually been catfished."  But Matt was not being deceitful.  In fact, he said he lived in Waco because he was moving to Waco in the near future as he already put in a job transfer to the Waco area.  He originally wanted to move to Waco to be closer to his two daughters.  Meeting Jessica was just one more reason to make the move.

Before Matt was transferred to Waco, he spoke to Jessica daily for several months.  Both of them explain their relationship as a "good friendship."  

Matt eventually moved to Waco and Jessica helped him get situated into his new place.  She helped him unpack and get him settled into his duplex.  Jessica even showed Matt around Waco.  She took the time out of her day to make sure he knew how to get to his office, as well as other places he would have to go to.  Matt admits that he couldn't believe how thoughtful she was during this time.  He found himself not being able to take his eyes off of her.  She was absolutely beautiful and he was mesmerized by her gorgeous smile.  He knew he was starting to fall in love.

Over time, Matt earned Jessica's trust and friendship.  Eventually he also earned her heart.

As time went on, Matt knew he wanted to ask Jessica for her hand in marriage.  He asked her three children for their blessing and with their approval, he began planning.  During their family vacation in Wisconsin, Matt would put his plan into action.  He gathered all the children onto one side of his parents house and he got down on one knee.  They all called for Jessica and when she walked to the side of the house, she said, "YES!"  

Jessica and Matt decided to take the engagement slow.  Neither one saw a need to rush into marriage.  That is until Jessica became ill.  She was hospitalized and Matt was her angel through the entire ordeal.  She realized that Matt was her Prince Charming and she didn't want to wait any longer to become Mrs. Leonardelli.  They began planning their perfect wedding.

The details of the wedding were absolutely stunning!  Everything was so thought out.  Jessica planned out everything meticulously and credits Google and Pinterest for all the ideas.  Everything worked with the venue, Castle Heights Bijoux Events Center, perfectly!

Jessica's favorite part of their wedding day was having her dad there to walk her down the aisle and hearing the vows Matt wrote to her, as well as saying her vows to Matt.  Matt's favorite part of their wedding day was also the vows.  

Quotes From the Bride and Groom

Ladies, wear waterproof mascara! You WILL cry!
— Mrs. Jessica Leonardelli
There’s a belief that soul mates are tied together by a cosmic string. One way or another, they will always find each other. From Wisconsin to Texas, our string pulled us together.
— Mr. Matt Leonardelli
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Special thanks to Angela Bailey with Angela Bailey Photography for assisting in capturing memories at Jessica and Matt's wedding on August 12, 2017.

Wedding Day Photography Timeline

We have several upcoming weddings and with that comes many questions from the bride concerning the timeline for certain photographs during the day.  So here it is....

How much time do we need for wedding day photographs?  Here is a rough guide to answer this question. 

  • Getting Ready:  30-45 minutes with both the guys and the girls.  I always stay with the bride and the second shooter always goes with the guys.  Some choose to skip photographing this time, but you can really get some great shots with lots of emotion!  
  • Bride and Bridesmainds/Groom and Groomsmen:  30 minutes, before the ceremony if possible.  Again, this is just one chunk of time since there are two photographers.  This time is great for getting many of the wedding party shots out of the way so guests don't have so long to wait for your arrival to the reception.  
  • First Look:  30 minutes with just the bride and groom, typically right before the ceremony begins.  The first look is completely optional.  Some couples like to keep things traditional and not see each other before the ceremony.  Either way is perfectly fine...it's YOUR day!  If you do decide on a first look, I highly recommend keeping this to just the couple.  Use this time to enjoy each other before the wedding ceremony.  The actual first look only takes about 10 minutes so you'll have plenty of time to have other photographs taken of you two as a couple.
  • Whole Wedding Party:  30 minutes if you've already taken the bride/bridesmaids and groom/groomsmen photographs earlier.  If not, you should plan for about 45 minutes here.  Again, this varies based on the number in the wedding party as well.
  • Immediate Family:  15 minutes, but this can vary based on how many groups you want to have photographed.  It typically takes one and a half minutes per small group and three minutes per large group.
  • Details:  Detail shots are taken throughout the day so we don't actually "plan" for those.  We just work those in as we can.  Often times we do these if we finish early with the getting ready photographs or even during the reception.

Now knowing this, when should you ask us to arrive?  I suggest you figure out what time the ceremony will start and then work your way through the suggested timeline above to ensure you have enough time for us to capture all the moments you'd like photographed on your wedding day.  Most of our clients opt for a "fake send off."  They are able to have the send off photographed, but then come back into the reception to continue enjoying the company of their guests.  This saves them money by not having a photographer stay the entire length of the reception, but ensuring that they capture all the big events from the day.  

Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.
— John De Paola
Going To The Chapel Of Love By: The Dixie Cups

 

 

Andrew & Brittany

Each and every wedding inquiry I receive makes me feel very blessed that a special couple has considered me for their wedding photography needs.  My pricing structure is different from other many other photographers and I realize that it does not fit every couples needs.  Wedding photography is something to be valued.  After all, you only get one shot at capturing THAT day.  It is important that you choose a photographer that you "click" (haha) with.  Some couples just hire me for their wedding.  Others hire me for their engagement session and/or bridal session, as well as their wedding.  Neither way is right or wrong.  As I said, each couple has different needs.  

With that being said, there are definitely HUGE perks to hiring one photographer for all of your wedding portrait needs.  One such perk is that the photographer and couple get to know each other pretty well.  That makes the portraits feel much more comfortable and genuine.  The photographer gets to know the couple and often times, their families.  This bond that is created also provides the couple with consistent portraits from engagement, to bridals, and finally the wedding.  The style is the same since they decided to use one photographer for the entire wedding.  The photographer can design their Save the Date cards and wedding invitations as well, which saves the couple time and allows them to spend time with one another and their families and friends rather than designing invitations.  

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Andrew and Brittany are one such couple that decided to hire one photographer.  We met for the first time on October 14th in Hillsboro for their engagement/family session.  Brittany has two beautiful daughters that they wanted to include in the session.  We all had so much fun!  As the session progressed, everyone became more comfortable with one another and the session became so much more relaxed and the laughs came pouring out!

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At the beginning of the session we were able to get some very posed shots and I REALLY had to work at getting some smiles from the girls.  (In case you're wondering, I won!).  

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After several posed shots, the girls were super excited for portraits with just them...and even came up with their own poses!  I love it when kids get so involved with the session that they ask to do certain poses.  That is a sure sign that they are enjoying themselves!

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From there we moved on to the couples portion of the session.  Andrew and Brittany brought some wedding decorations that they are going to use at their upcoming wedding.  During one of these poses, a Hillsboro Fire Department truck drove by with the sirens going.  At the moment the truck was passing, I randomly had a joke that entered my mind...which I blurted out...because that's what I do :)  I said something like, "Hold that pose right there.  With the fire truck in the background it will be like they are coming for you two because your love is on fire!"  Laughter!  Genuine laughter, which created genuine smiles!  

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Andrew and Brittany soon joined in on the jokes when they began laughing hysterically during the next pose because Andrew made a comment about their bellies touching!  Again, genuine laughter!  LOVE IT!!  

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From this 45-minute session we all learned about each other.  When I arrive at their wedding, I have already met the bride and groom.  I know what type of personality they have and what makes them smile.  And their beautiful girls will already know me and will most likely not take long to warm up to the camera.  The portraits that I will capture on their wedding day will be genuine and full of emotion.  

Needless to say, I am super excited for next October!!

The First Look

Love is when you look into someone’s eyes and see everything you need.
— unknown

A wedding day can be described as beautiful, timeless, romantic, fun, exciting, precious, emotional, traditional, and memorable.  Some might add that a wedding day can be chaotic, stressed, busy, frantic, and nerve-wracking.  And for that very reason, some couples choose to partake in a First Look Photograph Session either before their wedding day or on the day of their wedding.  

On October 1, 2016 I had the pleasure of photographing the wedding of Kenley Crowe and Joanna Richardson at Common Grounds in Waco, Texas.  They opted for the First Look Session before their wedding...and it was an amazing experience!  Seeing the look on both of their faces as the anticipation built as Joanna slowly walked to meet Kenley was priceless - almost as priceless as seeing the look on his face when he saw Joanna in her beautiful wedding dress for the very first time.  So much emotion.  It was just those two...at that moment...on a day when so many others would be around them on their special day.  

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Some might say that a First Look Session ruins the anticipation of the groom seeing the bride for the first time as she's walking down the aisle.  However, I can attest that this is not the case.  Even if the groom sees the bride at a First Look Session, he is still overcome with emotions as he watches his bride walk down the aisle on her father's arm.

I decided to compile a list of the five reasons couples would choose a First Look Session.  Keep in mind, these are just a few of the reasons why some choose this type of session.  Ultimately, each couple knows what they want on their wedding day.

1.  Convenience and Time.  Traditional weddings usually do the bridal party photos, as well as bride and groom photos, right after the ceremony.  They are often rushed as they don't want to keep their guests waiting too long to begin the reception.  The First Look Session allows the bridal photos to be taken before the ceremony so guests do not have to wait for the bridal party to arrive at the reception.

2.  Alone Time.  Wedding days are filled with friends and family members surrounding the bride and groom.  The First Look Session gives the bride and groom a small amount of time to just be with each other before the ceremony begins. 

3.  Reception.  First Look Sessions allow the wedding to run smoothly from the ceremony to the reception.  There is not any downtime due to bridal photos.  This is more pleasant for guests.  Traditional weddings typically have guests waiting an hour or so while the bride and groom are having bridal portraits taken.  

4.  Better Photos.  As a photographer, I feel that First Look Sessions allow me to spend more time with the bridal party.  Therefore, the photos are not as rushed which in turn makes for better portraits.  

5.  Family and Friends.  The First Look Session allows the bridal party to spend more time with family and friends during the reception since they aren't missing out on this precious time after the ceremony taking bridal photos.  

I'd love to hear from you!  What are some other pros of having a First Look Session?

- Special thanks to Kaitlynn Phillips with Kaitlynn Phillips Photography for assisting with the Crowe-Richardson Wedding -