Kate + Ford’s Romantic DC Wedding Day
Every Washington, DC wedding I capture is so unique. A DC wedding can be modern, intimate, urban, traditional, historical, romantic, or any of the many other ways to describe this amazing city. Each event is as diverse as the city itself, and I think that may very well be my favorite part of being a photographer in this area!
Kate + Ford planned an elegant, intimate, candlelight wedding ceremony and reception in a location that has great importance to them: Carmine’s. Ford is the Executive Chef at the DC location, and if you’ve never tasted the food there, you are missing out on one of DC’s greatest restaurants! Before even arriving, I knew that the menu was going to be amazing, and the atmosphere cozy, welcoming, and romantic.
Kate prepped at their home, surrounded by her family and friends. When I arrived, everyone was relaxed, laughing, and enjoying their day. I couldn’t help but think, “This is how the start of your wedding day should be!” After spending about an hour with the ladies, it was time to join the guys for a few portraits, and they were just as laidback and fun! After a short walk through Chinatown and some quick portraits of the groom, it was time to head back to the restaurant for the ceremony!
I have to say, out of all the wedding decor I’ve seen over the years, candlelight has to be my favorite. And, it is typically less expensive than tons of flowers! The warm glow was so romantic and elegant, and perfectly suited to an indoor ceremony. The simply elegant decor carried over into their reception as well, with more candles, gold chargers and other exquisite touches on the tables!
We had a brief time for portraits in a nearby courtyard, but it was still so perfectly urban and sweet with just the two of them. Soon it was dusk, and time to dance the night away!
Congratulations, Kate + Ford! I hope every day is as happy and filled with joy as this day!
Jen + Josh’s DAR Constitution Hall Wedding
Jen + Josh chose the amazing and iconic DAR Constitution Hall as the perfect location to exchange their vows with their close friends and family in attendance. Winter is not always a popular time of year for weddings. The weather is chilly, the days are shorter, and the trees have lost their splendid fall color. But there is so much to love about an evening wedding in Washington, DC in December! The hustle and bustle of the holiday season and the gorgeous lights, for example. I confess that despite being a DC-area resident for the better part of the last 10 years, I had never visited the National Christmas Tree. Well, now I have!!
Washington, DC has always held a special magic for me – I’m sure many others feel the same way. The buildings, the history, the elegance all comes together to create a different vibe than any other city I’ve ever experienced. DC has a very unique personality and energy that is both traditional and modern. Personally, it’s such a joy to capture weddings in the District, because of that energy. Kelli joined me as a lighting assistant for the evening, and we met up with Jen at The Willard Hotel where she was getting ready. Jen looked absolutely stunning in her lace-overlay gown and birdcage veil, and a fur stole for outside. Old-world elegance with a modern twist! I could have worked with her all day and night, she made such a gorgeous bride in an amazing location.
It was a little tricky getting to Constitution Hall, where the wedding would take place. We had to coordinate so that Josh wouldn’t see Jen before we arrived, but we did it! The look on his face when he saw her was priceless! Their ceremony on the steps was sweet and short, and we followed with some family photos before taking the newlywed couple around Constitution Hall, The Willard, and the National Christmas Tree/White House for some portraits. I have to admit, they were such good sports, considering how cold it was getting! (And so was Kelli, whose poor fingers were holding a metal light pole! Thank you for helping!!!)
I don’t know if I can pick favorites from their wedding portraits, because they’re all just so perfectly DC. I love night portraits, too! Congratulations, Jen + Josh! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and that 2016 is a beautiful year for you both!
Happy New Year!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, you’ve seen someone you know posting all about their 2016 goals. It’s all over social media, particularly among wedding photographer friends and those I follow. I’m seeing so many pretty posts with their 2015 recaps (and don’t worry – mine is coming) and their goals for the New Year. I closed my studio down for two weeks for the holidays, partially to spend time with my beloved family who never sees me, and partially so I could reboot and reset myself for 2016. In the last several days of soul-searching, planning, and digging really deeply into my heart, I realized something: I hate goals and I just won’t set them anymore. I also realized, my “goal” list was looking more and more like a long-term “to-do” list, which is not the purpose at all!
You’re probably thinking, “What wedding photographer doesn’t have goals?!?” Well, this one. From today forward. But let me explain to you why. The word “goal” and all of the connotations that accompany it just don’t fit well into my perspective of a healthy personal and professional mindset, and I’m truly just understanding why. For years, I didn’t know why I hated that goal-setting process at the beginning of every year, or why when I finally did set my goals, I was either not fully satisfied when I met them, or deeply critical of myself when I failed. With the help of a book called The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte (more on that later), I started digging into what would really make me feel fulfillment, and picking apart those things that I did out of obligation or because I thought it was the right thing to do. Like goal-setting.
Wow…just looking at that definition in black and white on my computer screen makes me all squirmy. No pressure there. None at all. /end sarcasm Thinking about it, I realized a goal is concrete, limited to two outcomes: success or failure; a goal is very tricky to set and assess, and not very open-ended. That doesn’t sound like something fun, or that I want to pursue as either a person or a wedding photographer. I also feel deeply that setting goals is not the same as setting yourself up for success. No one reaches every goal the first time they try, or the second, or even the tenth. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, and the impact of failure can be devastating.
I started thinking about other ways that I could phrase the desires and dreams that fuel me (again, personally and professionally). I had a “goal” last year to live my life “more intentionally.” I thought I knew what that meant, but I really was clueless. However, what I’ve been searching for has been right under my nose for over a year now….the word:
And there it is. I don’t want to work towards a goal. I want to be flexible, allow plenty of room for growth and adaptation when my needs and dreams change; I needed the freedom to evolve with an open-ended intention.
Now I want you to pause for a moment and really mull over the two words – goal and intention. Say them outloud. Think about the feelings you get from each one. It doesn’t matter if you’re a wedding photographer, an accountant, a student, or a stay-at-home parent. I bet those two words evoke a pretty powerful reaction when you take the time to think about them.
A Wedding Photographer, Without Goals, Without Hesitation
Back with me now? Awesome! Why do I want to create intentions for 2016? I want the potential for limitless personal and professional growth, that doesn’t have to fit into a mold or a preconceived idea of the things that are best for me and my career. I want flexibility – the ability to scale back or grow when needed. I want to get to the true core needs and wants that drive me as a woman, a mom, a wife, an entrepreneur, a member of society, and strive towards becoming that person I envision. Intention allows me to realize when something isn’t working, and to revamp without giving up, or give it up entirely when I realize it isn’t the best thing for me, possibly just for the present, but maybe forever. I don’t need to feel failure; intentions are empowering us to maintain control, even when things don’t go the way we had hoped or planned.
I came across a second definition that moved me as well:
intention (n): a process or manner of healing of incised wounds. Merriam-Webster.com
Ok, so I’m taking a little more artistic liberty here, but I thought about my personal wounds: my preconceptions, my failures, everything I could have done differently last year, the comparison game, and so on. Healing those wounds, or at least administering some serious first aid is a huge priority for me. The Desire Map helped me identify those true needs within myself. I’m not completely through the program, but I’ve already learned so much about myself and what drives me to be better. If you’re into a quick, great read, with far-reaching benefits for yourself and those who surround you, I highly suggest you check it out!
I look forward to this journey of intention, and know it won’t be something that takes 12 months to accomplish, and I’m ok with that. Abandoning my goals and setting myself up for success is the first step. I’m excited to share more of my journey with you all, and will start something of a personal series. Next time, I’ll tell you more about why I’ve chosen the word “connection” to drive my thoughts, actions, and even intentions for 2016. And, because life is better with a pretty picture, here’s a sneak peek at a holiday wedding from a few weeks ago. I’ll be sharing the full post soon!
Things are about to become really personal, and potentially interesting, here on the blog. Stay tuned in 2016 for more of my journey as a mom, wedding photographer, wife, Gen X-er and more!
A Boulder Ridge at Liberty Mountain Wedding
For some of us, when we think of Liberty Mountain, we think of a skiing, snow tubing, and even golfing at this small resort located near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Personally, I imagine snow, cabins, toasty fireplaces, and watching the ski lifts through the lodge windows overlooking the runs. (I don’t ski. Ask anyone who has ever tried to take me, and it’s a total disaster. I do enjoy tubing, however!) Alyssa + Sean envisioned a perfect fall wedding at Boulder Ridge, and it was most certainly perfect! I actually had been to Boulder Ridge for snow tubing just this past March, so it was a little difficult for me to imagine it transformed from winter lodge to wedding reception, but oh, it was amazing!
Just driving to Liberty Mountain was beautiful. Mid-October is probably my favorite time of year to begin with, and when you add in rolling hills and lots of farmland in the foothills of the mountains, it’s spectacular! I often use my drives to a wedding to go over timelines, think about getting creative with some new poses or techniques, or to simply relax and enjoy my wedding playlist. (No, I won’t share the songs on my playlist, because it’s downright embarrassing!) The weather was perfect, especially considering that October can be a bit unpredictable. It was just the right amount of chill in the air, and exactly the right number of clouds in the sky.
Alyssa + Sean did not have a first look, but Alyssa did have a first look with her dad, which might have been my favorite moment of their day! It was very sweet, and there were lots of happy tears all the way around – even from the bridesmaids who were sneaking a peek out of the lodge windows! From the lodge, the wedding party traveled to nearby Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church for the ceremony, which was followed by a bubble send off!
Back to Liberty Mountain for the cocktail hour and reception, and lots of time for portraits! I love when I have lots of time for both the wedding party and couples portraits, and we had plenty before the sun would be going down. Liberty Mountain has so many amazing views, I really loved it! I knew we’d get some great shots, but the end result was even better than I had hoped – lots of variety and perfect little spots for wedding portraits. I apologize in advance, but I could not narrow these down, so you might have to scroll for a while to see all the amazing moments from their wedding day!
The reception was complete with some amazing toasts to the new couple, a great DJ, delicious food, lots of dancing, and a special piece of advice during the anniversary dance. (I confess that I really loved the coffee-themed favors and placecard display!) I think Alyssa + Sean are all set for a lifetime of love and laughter, and from now on, I will always think of it as a Liberty Mountain Wedding, not Winter. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. K! Thank you for inviting me to your be your wedding photographer!