Intimate Eno River Engagement Session

I first met Allie and Mike at  Bittersweet in Raleigh. We bonded over craft beer, and wine, and  all the amazing plans they have for their wedding. We made plans for a beautiful and intimate eno river engagement session. And in early October, just as the leaves were beginning to turn, we met up and made these images. And I love them.

Mike Proposed to Allie with a book he hand crafted in a lab at NC State from wood. It tells their story, and at the end, there’s a small space where he hid the ring. When he brought out this book at the session, I was blown away. The bespoke quality of the piece was amazing. The love that went into it was evident, and Allie and Mike were both so proud of that moment they’d shared.

Like many of my other couples, Allie and Mike are outdoorsy, adventurous people. They love camping, hiking, traveling, and when they’re not working, they’re making plans and then making those plans happen. So when I suggested that we head over to the Eno and hang out in the river, I was a little hesitant. Not everyone is excited at the suggestion of fording a river, but Mike and Ally said, “Let’s do it!” and I was thrilled.

The Eno River was quiet that day. The water was low, the river made it’s way past us as we hiked around and waded over it. As the sun set, we made our way over to the suspension bridge and the log cabin, and we ended there, making our way home to an enormous full moon making it way over the trees and across the sky. I’m really thankful for couples like Allie and Mike, who look for natural and intimate photos, and an engagement session that really brings out what they love when they’re with the one they love. Being part of their lives and photographing their weddings is an honor, one that I don’t take lightly.

Enjoy the highlights of Mike and Allie’s Intimate Eno River engagement session.

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Messy Family Relationships and weddings

The universal truth that you can choose your friends but not your family, is especially poignant when it comes to messy family relationships and weddings.  More than one of my couples in the past has dreaded it, and I’ve been making it a point to find out beforehand if there’s any dynamics I need to be aware of. It’s hard for me too. My family doesn’t have a ton of drama, but what drama does exist is rather stressful. So I hear you. I get that family formal pictures, choosing who’s going to walk you down the aisle, or whether or not to have a dance with your mom or dad can become a ride on the struggle bus.  How do you choose and make everyone happy?  A lot of times you can’t. And you default to the best option among a lot of crappy choices and you decide to make the best of it. If that’s you, these words and my imperfect thoughts are for you. 

messy family relationships and weddings

There’s no easy answer for how to navigate these situations. They frankly suck. I hurt along with the couples who share hard things with me. One thing I do to ease the tension is that when it comes time for different people with hard pasts to be in a picture together, I simply just ask them to gather around the couple, so that people can stand where they’re comfortable. I avoid excessive posing because I want to keep the focus in the moment, on the newlyweds. Another thing that has helped in the past is to gently ask if there’s any stress I need to be aware of, and reiterate that families need to be themselves on the day, and that I will do whatever I need to to ensure everyone comfort as I move things along.

messy family relationships and weddings

One thing that I can say, even if you come from a family that’s seen its share of stickiness, is that if you had a parent who was supportive no matter what, always there for you, always, no matter what in your corner, that’s a strong relationship. And that bond will appear show up in your pictures. Some of the most powerful images I’ve taken have been between moms and daughters who made a life together, or between a father and son after the death of a much loved spouse and mother. I think that’s the beauty of documenting emotional connection between people on wedding days. These moments are made so much more sweet and poignant because of the experiences that lead up to them. I’ve learned not to shy away from making images of these moments because they are so powerful and become treasured pieces of personal history. Images like these bear witness to the strength that so many of us gain through our lives.    

On a positive note, in the last several years, I’ve had couples with rocky relationships with their families, where people don’t hold warm or positive feelings towards each other the other 364 days of the year. But on the day of the wedding, there’s more often than not an agreement that they’re going to get along for the day. Sometimes that means they don’t talk. Sometimes it means they greet each other with hug and let it be. But I overheard once a father of the groom remark to the mother of the groom that the groom was the best they thing they ever did together. I think that’s a beautiful place to land, and a perfect way to express it. A wedding day has the remarkable capacity to hand grace to people who’ve had hard experiences in life because if nothing else, they have YOU, and their love for you is immense. I hope that for your family on your wedding day, there is such grace. 

messy family relationships and weddings

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Elegant Howard House Wedding Photos.

It’s time for some beautiful, elegant Howard House wedding photos! I’m so glad I can share these today!

When I first chatted with Janie about these Howard House wedding photos, I was really excited. Janie has a beautiful sense of classic, elegant style and she had a particular vision for her wedding. She enlisted Dara, or Dare to be different events to execute that style. When Janie and Alex’s wedding day arrived, it was a beautiful, sunny cool day. Spirits were high, and anticipation was palpable. Janie was calm, collected and beautiful, and Alex and the groomsmen were busy setting up chairs, running errands, enjoying the day. Dara,  was setting up a glorious set of table scapes in the event tent next door.

As the day progressed, it got better and better. Their ceremony was beautiful, everything went off without a hitch. You can’t ask for a more beautiful day than a Howard House wedding. Lauren commented several times on how wonderful everyone was.

Photographers, if you ever have the opportunity to make Howard House Wedding photos, you’ll be a happy camper.

Brides, the Howard House has tons of space. Some old houses are small and a little cramped. But the Howard House has huge windows and open rooms. There’s so much space to spread out in and enjoy your day. The area where the house is quiet. Natural light abounds, you have plenty of beautiful spots nearby to photograph in.

I read once that a house isnt a home until it’s had a birth and wedding in it. And one thing I love about estate weddings is that they’re silent witnesses to the joy of so many families. And in old houses especially they’ve seen many many things. It’s one of the things I love most about shooting weddings there- the stories that exist in and about the house. The wedding that I’m photographing that day is just one part of the history.

 

howard house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photoshoward house wedding photosDress: Maggi Bridal

Shoes: Badgley Mishka

Venue: The Howard House

Bridesmaids style: Davids Bridal

Photography: One Crazy Love

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On the intimacies and interdependence of marriage

I hadn’t been married long when I made some off handed comment to my mother about how I thought she should do more for herself. She’d asked my dad to do something mundane, something I would just do myself. I don’t even remember what it was or where they were living at the time. I just remember her response sort of shut me up because she didn’t respond to me like she normally does, which is something I actually can’t explain. She’s not mad or intense, but when she retorts there something about her voice that makes me both roll my eyes, and feel slightly nervous, but also cared for. But when she responded to me this time, it was just simply said. “At this age, I’m not dependent. We’re interdependent. We need each other differently now than we used to.”

Naturally, as an arrogant twenty something oldest child, I thought this was dumb. But now that I’m several years down the road in experience and marriage, I’m starting to get it. I saw it in this image I don’t even remember taking. It appears right before a ceremony, and instead of marking it as a cast off, I saw something in it. His eyes, her hands. It was that connection my mom was talking about. I’m starting to feel it with Alex, like how I need him in different ways than I used to. Sometimes I need him at weird times, like the time I went to shoot in the cold at the river, and he came with me.  His hand on my shoulder speaks volumes to me when I need it. We’re becoming interdependent in some ways. It takes time to know it’s happening. I didn’t really start to see it until this year. It think it came upon us gradually, and quietly. Someone calls it working shoulder to shoulder. But I think that any couple with an enduring marriage experiences it. It’s sort of like the umami moments of marriage. It’s all the types of moments at once. Support, happiness, hope, despair, determination, commitment. It’s all the things that make up love.

It’s hard to express that this is something I want for all the couples I meet, whether or not they book with me. I wish I could give them a glimpse of what their lives will look like in 15 years. But the best thing I can do in this moment is to show you what it looks like. It’s a look, and brush of a hand as you move away for a few minutes. It’s a moment here and a touch there, made up of a lifetime of these intimate quiet moments. These are the images you want some day.

 

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