Thu. Jul 10, 2014 by Mary    Life with J&M

The Hydrangea Chronicles

My favorite flower is the blue hydrangea.

Sure, the pink peony rings in a close second. And I will always have a special affection for the, well, lilac colored lilac. And standing in fields of lavender last summer is a moment I never want to forget.

But the simple fact is, the blue hydrangea has always been first in my heart.

We had blue hydrangeas at our engagement party. I had hydrangeas in my wedding bouquet. I think they are, simply put, the prettiest of all the flowers.

Four years ago when we bought our house, there were those who, shall we say, thought we had lost our fool minds. And, for a second there, they could have almost been right. Having been built in the 1880s, it was nearly 130 years old. It was run down. It had mold in it. Oh, and the ceiling and the walls were falling in from the 20 feet of water it had been under when a pipe burst on the third floor. And the only way they caught it was when they saw water pouring out of the second floor window.

Yea. It was not the obvious decision to say the least.

And yet.

And yet, from the second I walked through the front door, moldy air and all....I knew it was ours.

I can't explain it. I just get these gut feelings on things. And at this point in my life, I have just learned to run with them. No really, run with them. Full on sprint, lungs burning, legs on fire, side stitches RUN with them. Because they have always led me to the best things in my life. It was a gut feeling that said I should put off going to law school for a year, and I ended up studying in London and having one of the best year of my life instead. It was a gut feeling that said I should get in my car & go meet up with a brown eyed boy at a coffee shop, and I ended up marrying him. :)

And it was a gut feeling when I walked through the front door of this big old white colonial and side stepped a huge chunk of ceiling, that told me we should put in an offer on a certifiable disaster area (did I mention that the same people who cleaned up Katrina were the ones we had to bring in to make our house actually livable? yea, amazing.) And... it ended up becoming the beautiful place we now get to call home.

The day that we closed on the house, we weren't able to go inside because they were still making it, y'know, breathable. So we did what any new homeowners would do....we started working on the yard! The front of the house had been completely overgrown with these huge weeds every time we had gone to visit, so we set about doing the work of cutting them back. Machete in the jungle style, we hacked it all back. And guess what. When that all fell away to reveal what was behind, what did we find hiding that we never knew was there?

Two beautiful, big, blue hydrangea bushes that just keep getting prettier every year.

Which we keep right there front & center as a reminder to always trust our gut. To be brave. To be willing to take the long way around and do the work. To start with what we have and build from there.

No matter who might think we're crazy. No matter who can't see what we see. No matter how messy things might look in the beginning.

For there are far, far more beautiful things just on the other side. If you'll just have the courage to step through that door.

Rock it out friends!

*Yea. You could say we were happy.

Wed. Jul 9, 2014 by Mary    The Latest

Equipped: A Photography Workshop for Wedding Creatives!!

Today is such a fun day & a BIG announcement!!

It all started with an email from our friend & amazing florist Carrie Wilcox after she did the flowers for our last Walk Through a Wedding workshop (and who will also be helping us out on our upcoming August Nantucket Walk Through!)

She wrote to ask our advice on buying a camera, what to look for, and how best to go about photographing her arrangements before sending them out to the weddings. And then she typed the words that put everything else into motion. Basically, she asked if we would ever consider teaching a photography workshop to non-photographers! Would we be willing to put together a workshop that taught the basics of photography to other creatives- people like florists, planners, bakers & makeup artists- and show them how to get awesome pictures of their work when there isn't a professional photographer to grab some great shots for them (which would always of course be the first choice!)

Now the truth is, we've had a TON of people email us in the past to ask for camera recommendations & to see if we would ever put together a class for amateur photographers who just wanted to get to know their cameras better. And it always seemed like such a great idea, but one that we just haven't had time for before now. But I think there was just something so powerful about the idea of helping other creatives document & market their brand that really got me fired up enough to make it happen this time!

Because let's face it....we are living in a visual world! And SO much of building a successful brand & online presence comes back to having the beautiful imagery to support it. And SO many other types of wedding creatives just don't have access to a ton of beautiful images to put on their websites or images of their latest & best work... so their website aren't doing them justice! Also, if I were a planner or florist or any of the other creatives listed above, not only would I want great images of my work, I would also want some behind the scenes shots to be able to showcase myself in action & put a face and personality to the brand. And the fact is, most of the time, all of that behind the scenes action happens before the photographer even arrives to the reception... so those shots never happen. Even though they would be SO great to have on a website and to post on Facebook & Instagram, to show potential brides what they look like in action!

Add to that fact that sometimes a creative's best work might happen when it isn't for an event at all, but just playing around in the studio trying new things. And so you create this incredible thing (a bouquet, tablescape, cake design, beauty look, etc) that you are incredibly proud of....but then there's no one around to take a picture of it! And it would just be nice to know that whatever happens, you have the ability- in other words, you are equipped -to grab some great shots for yourself!

And now here's the BIG announcement part!! We are SO excited to announce today Equipped: A Photography Workshop for The Wedding Creative!!!

We just love this idea so much because we have such a heart for all kinds of small businesses, not just photographers. We first fell in love with teaching other kinds of creatives a few years back when we first took our "Spread the Love" business workshop to 20 cities across the country in 2010, and we were lucky enough to have a bunch of different kinds of creatives and small business owners (planners, florists, even realtors!) at every stop we did. And then again last year with our What's Next tour when the same thing happened! We've been lucky enough to teach business to other creatives for several years now... and SO much of what we do with marketing, building, pricing, and growing an audience for our own business also translates to those other kinds of businesses. But for whatever reason the idea of actually teaching them photography and what a NEED that fills in the industry right now didn't really sink in until Carrie's email! So C, thank you SO much for that!

Equipped will be held at our home in New Haven, CT on August 5th from 1pm-6:30pm! And just a few of the things we will be covering include:

*The basics of photography & how to get a well-exposed image
*Understanding the different settings & how they work together (introducing the exposure triangle)
*Light and the power it has to really show off what you've worked so hard to create
*The 5 rules of shooting details
*The 3 adjustments that will instantly give you better images
*How to get amazing Instagram worthy photos without using your iPhone
*What brides & editors are really looking for: putting your best foot forward
*Creating a visual brand & leveraging social media
*Growing your audience & gaining raving "Lovemark" fans for your business
*Creating a client experience worth talking about
*Portfolio & brand reviews
*and more!

So that's it!! The BIG announcement is here!! For the first time EVER, we are offering a photography workshop to non-photographers! If you are a wedding creative who is ready to get great images of ALL of your best work & rock out a visual brand worth following, then we would LOVE to have you join us for over 5 hours of awesome learning & amazing networking with fellow creatives! We can't WAIT to see you there!

Seats for Equipped will normally be $350, but for the next 48 HOURS you can grab the Early Bird rate of $295 with the code "earlybird" at check out. Click HERE to reserve your spot!

Happy Wednesday friends!

Tue. Jul 8, 2014 by Mary    Weddings

Samoset Resort Maine Wedding: Baylor & Larry

Baylor & Larry got married on an absolutely perfect Maine day right by the water. Those are like three of my absolute favorite things all rolled in to one sentence! We are SO lucky in that we're getting to shoot a TON in Maine this year (four times & countIng!) And I have to say that we don't mind that one bit! We absolutely LOVE going up there, shooting by the water, everyone dressed in the best preppy outfits & hey, if we get to eat some lobster in the process then that's definitely a bonus! :)

Their day was warm & breezy and filled with sea salt air. The details were absolutely stunning (and pink!), including some of the prettiest flowers we've ever seen! And we got to work with one of our all time favorite planners, Miss Sarah Goodwin of Daisies & Pearls!! So yea, it was amazing!

The day started out just relaxing in the bridal suite with Baylor, her mom, and one of the cutest little flower girls ever, Baylor & Larry's daughter Freya. We had plenty of time to shoot all of those gorgeous bridal details including Baylor's Tiffany jewelry and amazing birdcage veil, before heading off for a beautiful ceremony at the Camden Ampitheater (this stunning historic house with the most amazing stone steps).

Afterwards we grabbed some portraits by the harbor & then headed back to the Samoset Resort to get the party started! It was such a fun night, complete with good food, great friends, and tons of laughter & happy tears. At the end, Maine gave us the most incredible light & sunset, so we headed down to the Rockport Jetty to grab a few last portraits before the night ended.

Baylor & Larry, we can't thank you enough for having us there with you on your day! And Sarah, we can't thank you enough for recommending us and putting the day together flawlessly! If we could work with you every day we would! We love all of you guys!

So much love!

Sun. Jul 6, 2014 by Mary    Life with J&M

J&M Summer Bucket List: 4th of July!

When I was little, it was the big thing to do to have a "bonfire."

All you had to do was say the word bonfire, and news spread through the neighborhood quickly. I mean, "neighborhood" is a relative word I suppose. We were just the 15 or so little shacks & houses that lived on the top of Fenwick Mountain in rural West Virginia. Bound together by a row of red & blue mailboxes and one gravel road. We weren't much. But when a bonfire was involved, we could have given even the best suburban block party a run for their money.

The women would get right to work on slicing watermelon and making their potato salad (and it better be yellow, thankyouverymuch). And the men would throw pretty much anything that wasn't nailed down on top of the biggest pile of brush the world had ever seen, its wooden branches reaching upward, upward- always heaven bound. When they lit it up, it popped and cracked and made a million sparks fly. They floated up on the hot July air and rested there awhile, as if suspended for a moment while time marched on. And then they lit up the night sky like a drumbeat of fireflies.

The light from the fire served like a beacon. And the neighbors would pour into our yard from all around, armed with their covered offerings. When the hot dogs were roasted and the marshmallows were burnt, that's when the real show began. Fifty or so controlled explosions of color, probably bought the previous Summer on the family vacation to Myrtle Beach. And held in safe keeping until the time had come.

My favorite were the ones that rained down little parachutes. Did you ever have those? Sometimes they had little soldiers attached to them, sometimes they were just metal weights. But they floated down from a purple, smokey sky and made you feel like you were witnessing magic in its purest form. I can still remember running around in bare feet, trying to beat all the neighborhood kids to see who could find more of them. For whoever did, held the summer's prize.

I think for me, that's why the 4th of July always does feel like witnessing magic.

It's a reminder that wherever you came from, wherever you started, wherever you might be now....we are lucky enough to live in a country where there is no limit to where you might one day go.

And it's a reminder that you might one day get to go a million miles from home and love every minute of it.....but come to realize that you still love home the best.

It's a reminder to look up at the night sky in awe more often. And to be so thankful for the beauty that is always around.

It's a blue and white striped blanket with red cherries and friends that feel like family.

It's two arms around your waist and a strong chest to rest back on. A strong chest where you always find your rest. And the words "i love you" whispered under a kaleidoscope sky.

It's freedom. And the cost of being free.

It's summer. And making space to live your life. And to breathe. And to walk around in bare feet.

It's realizing that the real prize is the memory. And actually being present enough in your own life to make one. And it has absolutely nothing, nothing to do with having more than someone else or being the one who is always running the fastest.

It's in the pausing. It's being suspended while time marches on. It's floating up on a hot July breeze and staying there a while, just being a light in this world.

It's your grandma's yellow potato salad. And holding on so tight to the things that matter most that I promise you will one day be gone. So hold tighter while you can.

This is the 4th of July for me. I hope you had an amazing one friends.


Me & the adorable Miss Tiffany Farley!!

Fri. Jul 4, 2014 by Mary    Life with J&M

J&M Summer Bucket List: Maine Adventures

Happy 4th of July friends!

I hope you are all off for a weekend of fun and fireworks and barbecues and rest and what matters most!

We're off to enjoy it ourselves & just wanted to hop on real quick to post some pictures from our most recent J&M Summer Bucket List items marked off: adventures in Maine! Last weekend we got to spend four days in this gorgeous state & while we were there, we were able to mark off: brunch in Portland, having Jordan's Pond House pop overs & lobster in Bar Harbor, and spending a day wandering around Kennebunkport. In addition to that, we also had the best ice cream we've EVER had at Rococo's in Kennebunkport, got to take a sunset sail out of Camden, got to see the Rockport jetty lighthouse, and watched a pretty incredible sunset over Bar Harbor.

In short, it was an amazing trip! Here are a few of our favorite pictures!

Here's to summer friends!

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