I often hear people talk about how much weddings have changed even over the last 50 years, with much more elaborate decor and food and parties, but I love that today's weddings bring a greater appreciation for fading arts that were once commonplace. The slow process of building a hand tied bouquet or meticulously crafting delicate desserts gets lost in the name of utility and instant gratification. While y'all know that I adore the moments that happen in real weddings, the pure artistry displayed this Brides of Austin inspiration shoots made me happy too!
Each time I shoot a wedding, I feel like a detective, searching for clues that will help me tell a couple's story. Those little hints show up in the surprises that the bride plans for her dad, the songs that a grandmother sings during the ceremony, the Juan in a Million tacos served for dinner, and of course, the words spoken during toasts. Wedding toasts are often cast as cliches or a chance to tell embarrassing stories, but in my experience, they give a rare opportunity for people to publicly express their love for their family & friends. During Dilia & Matthew's reception, their siblings spoke of Dilia's kindness and generosity and Matthew's ability to squeeze every bit of life out of each moment. I have no doubt that those words resonated with all of the guests who have known the bride and groom for years, but it didn't take much detective work for me to notice the same things on their wedding day.
"Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.” – Don McCullin
Most people give speeches with words to communicate their love, joy, and pride on a wedding day, but Michael shared photographs of his daughter. Audible gasps echoed around the room as each new photograph came up on the screen. When the people you photograph are the people you have loved, the force of that love in indelibly imbedded in those photographs. It helps that Michael is a talented and renowned photographer, but in that moment, he was just a proud dad showing his love in the best way he knew how. Having known Owen since our brothers started playing soccer together more than a decade ago, I find it only fitting that these two adventurous and well loved people got married outside on a misty day with stretches of wild land behind them and almost 20 dear friends beside them, not to mention the hundreds of family and friends there in support.
I tell every couple I meet with that they should do whatever they want for their wedding and not fall prey to the hype that can steal attention away from the most important thing about a wedding: marriage. With Rachel and Casey, that advice wasn't really necessary. It didn't take long to realize that they already live their lives that way, pursuing what brings them joy, which is how we ended up with a couple of friends at Chapel Dulcinea in Driftwood for a super intimate and completely secret elopement. If you love good design, tiny weddings, or Harry Potter proposals, check out their excellent website announcing their elopement!
Having just finished their first dance as husband and wife, complete with the romantic dip at the end, Ashley requested the microphone and looked out at all the people gathered around her and Ryan. She then explained that since her father had passed away years ago, in place of a father-daughter dance, she wanted to dedicate a dance to her mom. Ashley spoke of the strength and dedication her mom had shown while raising her three daughters and then of the song, Rise, by Andra Day, that she'd heard at ACL just a few weeks before. As they danced and the music swelled, I don't think that anyone even tried to hold back tears, myself included. I looked over at Ryan, as he stood arm in arm with his family and couldn't help but marvel at the beauty of love. It's so much bigger than a wedding, yet so few times in life allow us the space to pay tribute to that love in the way it deserves, and for that, I'll always thankful for weddings.
Every wedding unites two people with different childhood experiences, family traditions, and hometowns. In Katie & Marco's case, that includes two continents, two languages, and two cultures. I loved walking around during cocktail hour hearing the mix of Spanish & English as Bolivians and Minnesotans became one family in the beautiful hill country of Texas
In my 5 years of being a wedding photographer, I've learned that everyone expresses their love differently. At the risk of sounding super creepy, I've been delighted to discover those unique ways that couples demonstrate their love for one another. I equally adore my quietly sweet clients and vivaciously affectionate ones. But I tell you what, I'm pretty pumped to share these ridiculously fun photos of Kevin & Ashelyn being their joyful, exuberant selves. They are pure magic together. The location was pretty magical too, and after seeing the light stream over the mountains at the Ingalls Creek Enrichment Center, I almost didn't come back to Texas!
For 11 months and a few days, I anxiously awaited July 23rd, 2016 because it would mark my first mountain wedding that (hopefully) wouldn't involve torrential rain and 3 inches of sleet. Each email from Ali involved some exciting detail (Ceremony in front of Tomichi Dome! Working horse ranch! Reception in a 100 year old barn! Hot Springs!) that made me more and more anxious for July to arrive. It didn't hurt that my oldest childhood friend would be playing music during the ceremony, either. But all my expectations for an adventurous wedding at the gorgeous Waunita Hot Springs Ranch didn't prepare me for the sweetest part of the wedding- Ali & Hunter's devotion to each other. Their love shone so brightly that we wouldn't have needed to be in an amazing location for the wedding to be captivating!
If you head west from Austin, pass through Dripping Springs and go all the way to Fredericksburg and then keep going west, you'll end up in Kerville. But if you drive a little further, you'll pass through the little town of Hunt and then find yourself in the deep, true Texas Hill Country. You'll also find yourself at Mo Ranch, a camp along the towering banks of the Guadalupe. After the long drive, arriving at Mo Ranch for Audrey & Mitch's weekend of wedding festivities felt like an escape from reality: beautiful views, canoes, water slides, and little to no cell service. But while it might have felt that way for the guests and myself, Audrey & Mitch already live a life that is adventure and travel. They don't need to escape because exploring interesting places with the people they love is normal. Maybe we should all aspire to make our weekends (and weekdays!) so vibrant that wedding weekends can be a continuation of a life we love already.
Being a proud nerd, I'm not ashamed to declare my love for science fiction & fantasy novels, so I couldn't have been happier when the best man's speech at Emily & Zak's wedding involved parallel universes. He pointed out that every decision we make means another decision we forego, one of the biggest being marriage. Emily & Zak decided to bind their lives together at the Chapel Dulcinea on a day that should have rained, but didn't, and then partied the night away with friends and family at the Palm Door amid twinkling lights. That decision to become husband and wife sets them down a path together for the rest of their lives and eliminates a million other paths. But as Kellan pointed out, the fear of not know what you're missing pales in comparison to the joy of choosing a path with the one you love.
P.S. That stunner of a cake is courtesy of the amazing Coco Paloma.
I could insert an inspiring quote about how important it is to marry your best friend or be with someone who makes you smile, but all you really need to know about Jessie & Jason's wedding comes from something Jessie said. Halfway through laughing our way through couple's photos (and right before a bird pooped on me), she looked at Jason and said, "well, life will never be boring with you!" And that's how they begun the great adventure of marriage together. That and a honeymoon in a treehouse on an island. I think their smiles will say everything else!
I think if you asked Sarah & Patrick what their perfect day would be, it would probably involve camping, Tacodeli, and hanging out all day with their favorite people in a riverside park on a gorgeous Austin spring day. And shouldn't your wedding basically involve all your favorite things? So that's how on a sunny spring morning, we all ended up on the banks of the Colorado River at Emma Long Park eating tacos, playing lawn games, and cheering on Sarah & Patrick's brand new marriage. The wedding was infused with their passions and personality, with recycling reminders and tents and Patrick's colorful art. If you ever need encouragement to just do whatever the heck you want for your wedding, just come back and look at these photos!
As Brianna & Josh's friends & family scurried around Mercury Hall on the afternoon of their wedding, I commented on how hard they were working to make everything perfect. Several people replied with total sincerity, "They deserve it. They would and have done the same for all of us." That spoke volumes about the kind of people Brianna & Josh are. They love well and are loved well in return. That love even extends to their sweet pup, too, who faithfully followed them around all day, never in the way, but always present. She even brought them the actual rings, during the ceremony! As always, it was an honor to witness and document such a heartfelt celebration of love!