Stephanie & Michael – Elkridge Furnace Inn

This wedding will always have a special place in my heart. I adore these two so much and just in their brief time together already they have encountered so much and it is incredible how they lift one another up and support each other when they need it. I have known Michael since I was in middle school and I have always known he would marry someone absolutely incredible, someone sweet, caring and so kind, which is exactly what everyone thinks of him. Thank goodness for the internet, these two met on Stephanie actually messaged him and Michael responded but Stephanie, tired of first dates and meeting new people, didn’t respond again. The good news is that Michael was persistent and didn’t let her not respond, he continued messaging and they finally set up a first date. And when the first date day came, Stephanie admits she was fussy, throwing a mini temper tantrum because everything was wrong that day – she didn’t have any clothes (how often do we ladies stare into a closet full of clothes and say I have nothing to wear), her hair wasn’t cooperating, and she was tired and grumpy (aka probably starving because this is me when I am hangry), but she realized it was too late to cancel, threw on some jeans and put her hair in a ponytail and met Michael for dinner. Something about that ponytail and jeans must have worked because everything turned out amazing. The wedding day could not have been more beautiful, the day after the 4th of July, with red, white and blue everything, it was absolute perfection.

How to Prepare for Your Family Photo Shoot

I have had a lot of questions lately about what to wear to an engagement session or how to prep for shoots so I decided I would go ahead and start talking about it so I can refer people to a handy blog post. First up is family sessions!!! Yay!

1. Make sure to tell your kids, no matter their ages, about the shoot about a week in advance. This way it will get them excited or if they are really dreading it, it will at least make them aware that the impending doom is happening no matter what and they should change their thinking about it. If I were the parents, I would get them excited by having them have a say in their outfits, maybe some ideas for things they want to incorporate or do, and ave fun practicing smiles in the mirror together.

2. Make sure everyone is happily fed. I cannot stress the importance of this one. I am the worst version of myself when I am hungry. I am a hangry mess. Guess what? So are you! And your spouses! And your kids! So gosh darnit, don’t come hungry! Or everyone will be cranky hot messes. Don’t say you want to look thin for the photos so you’re not eating, just eat something. I promise it will go so much smoother. Also, drink a lot of water! Hydration is important, especially in the summer months.

3. Dress for weather and comfort. When it comes to family shoots, I like when there is a coordinating theme that brings everyone together. Maybe one color, or a color palette so everyone sorta matches without matching perfectly. Because let’s get real, matching is awkward and you don’t want to end up on Awkward Family Photos. I’m going to ask you to sit, most likely in the grass, so keep that in mind and avoid clothes with restrictions. I might ask kids to do even stranger things, like go run in the sand, go climb those rocks, none of this is out of the norm.

4. Bribery is 110% ok in this case. The truth is that your kids are in charge of this session. Yes, we get to tell them what to do, but for the most part, our job is to keep them happy. And if that means you are getting pizza for dinner, or Tutti Frutti after the session to celebrate, then definitely tell them that. I want smiles. I want them to be happy. I want them to get what they want from the shoot too. Trust me, the 5-15 year olds already know what they want for their pictures and I am going to listen to them as long as they want me to shoot them.

5. Don’t stress, don’t yell at your kids, and throw away your expectations. Focus on this being fun, let your kids be kids. I have seen enough meltdowns, fits, the works. Do not be embarrassed and do not get upset at your kids in front of me. I am a very go with the flow person and I want you to feel the same that day. And guess what? Your kid is probably not going to sit still. And they will want to get up and run around. And they will not want to let go of their favorite stuffed animal. But won’t you look back on these photos and think,  remember that stuffed animal he could never let go of? And wouldn’t you want to look back on the family portraits and see your kids running, skipping rocks, being kids? Trust me, let them do what they want first, let me capture them being their natural selfs and then let’s ask them to sit nicely and smile into the camera. Oh, and pleaseeeeee don’t ask them to say cheese. Then I get monster smiles.

Katie & Oliver – St Augustine, Florida

Love really does bloom everywhere and anytime. Katie and Oliver met in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the middle of a war. Katie tells this story so well, that I am writing her version here. But it truly shows, just like one of the bridesmaids said, if you put a group of really awesome people in the most terrible place in the world, that place really isn’t so bad anymore and anything can happen. So to be surrounded by all of these amazing people, now in this beautiful place that have obviously supported and loved these two for years, was truly emotional and heart warming. Hope you all love these photos as much as I do!!! Sorry if it is slight photo overload. I am just so in love!!! Also, while you look through these, you should play this song.

I was in Kandahar, Afghanistan and already almost 10 months into my deployment and working in my spare time as a coach at the post CrossFit gym. At this point in the deployment I was tired, grumpy, ready to get home, and didn’t want to make new friends. However, Oliver started coming to my class one day wearing super short shorts and didn’t say a word to anyone. He smashed the workout beating everyone by a lot and then left. He did this for a few days, however, I cant forget to mention his horrible calf high white socks. Anyways, this caught my attention that this quiet UK soldier kept destroying everyone in my class and yet he dressed like a crazy person. After lots of failed attempts to talk, I realized that this was going no where. Later that week we advertised the Canadian Gyms closing competition where we encouraged all of our guys to go compete. Oliver showed up with his friend and actually started chatting to me and I was absolutely shocked that he could talk! Still, I could only make out about half of what he was saying but just nodded like I understood him…..

Anyways, after the competition, I was looking for him and he was no where to be found. Turns out he rowed so hard to try to impress me that he rowed himself sick and was to embarrassed to talk to me afterwards. However, at that point the ice was broken and we followed up with a coffee on the board walk, in the middle of December, when it was freezing, and Oliver had his big thick issued coat and of course our Army wanted us to freeze and not give us jackets, so there I was, drinking coffee (which I NEVER drank then) and freezing my butt off trying to make sense of this thick Belfast accent. We continued to hang out until it was time for me to leave which fortunately worked out great as my end of tour leave and his mid tour leave was at the same time and we went skiing in France.

THIS, is a great story. It was our first time meeting each other out of a combat zone and where I could actually be a girl with normal clothes, my hair down, and makeup on. I was a nervous wreck on my way to see him thinking what if he hates me. By the way, I’m from Florida. I didn’t see snow fall until I was 19. So lets just say my snowboarding skills are a bit……sub par, where as Oliver thinks of himself as a professional skier. This was off to a great start…….but after plenty of falls and go pro footage of him laughing uncontrollably at me whenever I fell, there was no denying that we were perfect together and the rest is history:)

Only Katie would have her bridesmaids re-pierce her ears on the day of her wedding.

Remember Lizzy?? Crazy muscles! She is the cousin of the bride!!

This is the fort where Oliver proposed. Seemed fitting to go back for a few shots that day.