Welcome back!! And now for the full post from Emily & Tolga's stunning Branford House winter wedding! These two had an incredible day, with just the perfect amount of snow falling during the portraits to make everything feel like a dream! Between that and the candlelit ceremony and the Thai lanterns at the end, theirs was the kind of day people dream of! And we especially loved Emily's Vera Wang gown, those stunning & sophisticated bridesmaids dresses, and Tolga's bespoke tuxedo & velvet tie! Enjoy!!
Ahhhhh today is a GOOD day!! No, an INCREDIBLE day!! A fist-pump the air like Bon Jovi because Justin is from New Jersey and there is nothing like Jersey pride and hey wait a minute they also brought you Bruce Springsteen- kind of day. Word. :)
Because today we are SO honored to have Emily & Tolga's Branford House wedding featured on Martha Stewart Weddings!!! Which is our SECOND feature now with them! Whoop WHOOP!!! These guys had the most beautiful wintery CT wedding (completely with white, fluffy snow) and we are so grateful that the amazing Shira Savada at MSW loved their regal take on what a Winter wedding could be as much as we did! The fur wrap, the hand lettered sign, that Vanity Fair-esque bridal party! Ahhh so much fun!
So here is a little sneak peek of the feature and you can see the whole thing by going HERE! And then be sure to stay tuned for tomorrow, when we do our full post recap of the wedding!!
We are are just settling in back at home after an incredible two weeks in Germany & Austria. We're doing things like unpacking suitcases, going grocery shopping, and opening a TON of mail, all while battling the urge to take a nap every fifteen minutes from this crazy jet lag. It is SO good to be home, sleep in our own beds with our own pillows, have wifi & cell service wherever we go, and catch up with all of our favorite shows (Bones, Nashville, House of Cards) that are actually playing in...get this....ENGLISH!! Amen! For two weeks straight, everything we watched was dubbed in German, and the scary part is I was actually starting to follow along! So we are loving being back to everything we're used to at home, and at the very top of that list....Mr. Fluffball himself, Cooper!
In the mean time while we get back into the swing of things, we thought it would be fun to do a post of 12 things you might not know about us! Y'know, in addition to my ability to pick up German at super human speeds. danke very much :) Here we go...
1. Justin & I met through online dating. Match.com to be precise. He winked at me first & I winked back. That was on a Tuesday. On Thursday we met for coffee (which is how we told everyone we met, including our parents, for a solid year). On Sunday we went hiking (which is maybe not the wisest thing to do with someone you've just met on the internet...y'know go off to a secluded location). And that was pretty much it for us. We've been apart about a total of two weeks since then. In June that will be 10 years ago. The cool part of the story is that neither of us had ever internet dated before and we were the very first people we met in person. So yea, you could say it worked for us!
2. Justin does 85% of the cooking in our relationship. He's just way better at it. Even when we cook together, he pretty much keeps me to the boiling of water and the occasional chopping of vegetables. But nobody, and I mean nobody, can pour a glass of wine like I can!
3. My love languages are gifts and physical touch. Justin's is cameras.
4. We have a lunch spot. A place we got almost every day during the work week for lunch. It's a hot bar/salad bar where you make your tray & go up to pay. Every time we have this routine. Justin stays to weigh the food & pay and I grab two forks, two knives, and napkins and go to make our table. Every time I do it, I feel about 80 years old. And I imagine the wrinkly old us still doing this when we're that old.
5. Going to the movies is one of our FAVORITE things to do. Our favorite movie candy of choice is Junior Mints or Reeses Pieces paired with popcorn. We have to have the sweet/savory combo.
6. My favorite movies ever that I could watch over & over (or what we call "desert island movies") would have to be October Sky, The Rock, Armageddon, National Treasure and It's Complicated. Justin's would be Superbad, The Social Network, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Moneyball. That boy could seriously watch Moneyball everyday for the rest of his life and be happy.
7. Eight years ago if I had taken either of the offers at law firms in London or NYC, I would have been working in the "private client department" which basically means divorces & prenups. Instead, I became wedding photographer spending time with people on one of the happiest days of their lives. I can think of no other comparison that more aptly describes what those two diverging paths would have looked like in my life.
8. At our wedding, Justin & I named all the tables after photographers who inspire us (Cartier-Bresson, Brady, Avedon & Mark....as in Mary Ellen, which incidentally also happens to be my middle name).
9. Our first dance song was "These are the Days" by Van Morrison. Our cake was alternating layers of raspberry chocolate ganache & caramel apple cider cake. My dress was a ball gown Reem Acra that was so big that I actually couldn't fit down the aisle side by side with my Dad & he had to walk a little bit in front of me. Our getaway car was a 1952 Black Cadillac limo. Our cocktail hour had a fiddle player, cornbread, and blue & gold signature drinks (an homage to my WV roots).
10. The day that we went to get Cooper & I very first met him, I picked him up....and he bit my ear with his little baby puppy teeth. That's when we knew it was love.
11. One of our other absolute favorite things to do together is to go to the spa. We've been going since we first started dating and have probably been to 50 different spas at this point. Our favorite is still the Top Notch Spa in Stowe, VT.
12. Whenever we're going somewhere, Justin drives 99.9999999% of the time. And I'm just fine with that. It's not that I'm a bad driver or can't do it, he's just better at it. Plus we live in CT where the drivers are certifiably insane. And anyway, I would rather be in charge of the radio. :) But I do try to drive that .00000001% of the time, just so I don't completely forget how to do it.
Today we get to kick off the week with something extra fun! Recently we were contacted by the amazing folks at Align, our album design company, because a fellow photographer & Align user (the amazing Jenny Lee) was using them to design a book of the anniversary pictures we took for her last summer while we were all in London for our Walk Through workshop! Jenny had found out about them through that workshop, and the folks at Align thought it was such a cool example of the story coming full circle to now have her using them to design spreads for pictures that were taken while we were there. And we couldn't agree more!
We absolutely adore Align & outsourcing our album design to them was one of the hands down BEST decisions we've made for our business. Ever. This past month of crazy travel for conferences & speaking was such a PERFECT example of that! A few days ago we were out exploring a castle in the countryside of southern Germany....and when we got back to our hotel, I had an email from these guys that a new design was done. BOOM! Now that is building a business that works for you rather than always the other way around!
In December of 2012, Justin & I made a goal for ourselves that we would make our business "lean & mean"....Lol, not that we would actually start BEING mean, but that in every area we would trim the fat of our business. That we would work smarter not just harder. And that we would make a LIFE doing this thing that we love. That we would get back to HAVING a life again. And I have to say that I am SO in love with this season of our business & life now. I feel like we are accomplishing a TON but that we have more balance and time for us & adventures than we've ever had before. We owe SO much of that to companies like Align who work alongside us to build this business with us.
If you are looking to get out from under your workload of album designs this year & spend less time behind a computer and more time living your LIFE, we can't recommend these guys enough! Their spreads are clean, classic, and exactly how I would design them if I had the time to sit down & do them myself. And I can't think of a higher compliment to give a company than to say that they care about something in my business as much as I do! If you want to check these guys out, you can head HERE to get your first design for 50% off!
Also, speaking of the Walk Through a Wedding w/ J&M workshop, we are down to our last TWO spots for our May 13-14th one....who wants em?? :)
What I Wish I'd Known When We Were Getting Started
This past week as we traveled through four cities in Germany, talking to people who are just getting started in their businesses or are at a place where they feel like they are being forced to start over, it took me back to the early days of our business. This Fall will mark eight years of Justin & I being full time in our business, but I can still remember those early days as if it were yesterday. I can remember the struggle. I can remember the hunger. I can remember wanting it so bad I could taste it. I can remember buying that oversized champagne glass from Michael's to fill with Hershey's chocolate at our bridal show booth and thinking it was the most genius idea. Ever.
And when I think back on those days, more than a few times I've wished there was someone back then who would've been there to tell me a few things I should know. Things I now WISH I would've known when we were first getting started. If I could go back and talk to the me of the first few years of our business, I would say things like...
*A giant oversized champagne glass of Hershey's chocolates is NEVER a good idea. And while we're at it, there are FAR better ways to find your best clients than a bridal show. The way your clients find you, trains them on how to think about you. And the LAST thing you want them thinking is that a photographer is a photographer is a photographer. So just find the one who is offering the best deal.
*Be sure to keep your first business card. You will go to extraordinary lengths to find it just so you can laugh at it one day.
*Not everyone who acts like your friend actually is. And there will be people who turn their back on you when either things go bad or things go really GREAT. Reach out and be a friend anyway.
*Super glue. I'm just saying friend, carry it with you at ALL times. There was at least one Grandma's brooch that was saved this way without the bride ever knowing.
*While I'm at it, the silver 3M Command hook. We carry it with us to every wedding, so we can hang the dress on something classy when there's nothing else around.
*In this world there are speakers and there are teachers. There are celebrities and there are leaders. Spend your time with the teachers and the leaders, they won't lead you wrong. And if you aren't sure of the difference, just ask your gut. It always has a way of knowing.
*Apples and water are an absolute necessity on a wedding day. The best day of someone else's life is no time to get "hangry" (when you're so hungry you're angry) or "tirrational" (when you're so tired you're irrational).
*This little blog that you started over on Blogger for free and with no one reading, will turn into the driving force of your business. It will have millions of unique visits, thousands of comments, and most importantly, it will bring some of the most amazing people you've ever met into your life and take you to some of the most amazing places you've ever seen because of it. Keep writing. Pour your heart into it. Always be honest. And make it a way to serve others. The rest will work itself out.
*Comparison will steal approximately 11,622 hours of your one wild & precious life as you chase this dream. Just agree to stop doing that right now, ok? Stop comparing your middle of the way to someone else's ending.
*Always, always make room at the table for someone else. There is no cool kids table. And the people who think there should be will eventually find themselves sitting alone.
*Make a sample book and leave it at your favorite venue. That $400 investment has turned into approximately $65,000 in revenue over the past few years. Seriously, what are you waiting for?
*Learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable in this business. The more uncomfortable you are, the closer you are to the next big chapter.
*There might come a time when someone will steal from you, make a ton of money off of it, and then try to run YOUR name through the mud to cover up for it. Just wait patiently. Choose kindness. Definitely choose forgiveness. And keep sharing anyway. Sooner or later, everything in darkness comes to light.
*Open your hand. The BEST things that have happened in your business these past 8 years have not been the things that you cherry picked off the checklist of someone else's dreams & what success is supposed to look like. The BEST things have always been the things that were far too big & amazing for you to even dream of yourself. God loves to surprise you like that & He has far better things in store. But He can't do that if you're clinching your fist too tightly holding on to what you THINK it should look like. Trust me on this one, just open your hand.
*Stop opening every image individually to work on it. That's just craziness. There will come these tools called Photo Mechanic and Lightroom and Blogstomp. Buy them WAY sooner than you think you should. They will give you your life back!
*And while we're at it, go LIVE your life. Sit on the front porch with a glass of white wine, watch more sunsets, take long drives (for fun!) in the car, pet your dog more, chop basil and make homemade soup, decorate a corner of your world, spray the smell of lavender on your sheets, have long breakfasts in bed, sit in a cafe in a strange new corner of the world and watch in wonder, choose adventure, eliminate the word "Can't," write things on bucket lists and watch each and every one of them come true. And every single second of your day never ever forget....you could be sitting in an office somewhere right now getting yelled at for using too many exclamation points.
These years ahead will be some of the hardest, but most beautiful, rewarding, fulfilling, adventurous, unlimited, heart-filling years of your life. You are SO lucky that this is the path that laid out in front of you. Push the button friend. And be thankful every time you do. For this camera has opened up the whole world.