A few weeks back Danielle and Christian flew down from Chicago for their engagement session. Christian is a pilot and the two of them dated long-distance for a while – flying back and forth to New York City where Danielle was living at the time. It was only appropriate that these jet-setters hopped on a plane for their engagement session as well.

We had the best time showing Danielle and Christian around Charlotte, taking them to a few of our favorite places, and even exploring some new ones together. We picked them up from the airport, enjoyed lunch and coffee at the Seventh Street Public Market, soaked up the sunshine on one of our first truly beautiful spring days, explored the Sleepy Poet antique mall, tried out the delicious gelato at Va Da Vie, and took some photos to round out the day before dropping them back off at the airport in the evening.

We’ve never had a whirlwind engagement session quite like this one, and it was such a joy to spend the whole day with these two. We cannot wait to photograph and film their day in Chicago this fall!

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It’s true. These two met on Instagram. But don’t let that fool you. Just saying that Elisa and Craig were “meant to be together” might be true, but it kinda sounds cheesy and it doesn’t actually express the depth of their relationship and their love for one another.

Sometimes when we meet couples we simply know we’re meant to tell their story. Elisa and Craig are two of those people. We Skyped with them one Sunday afternoon – us in dreary NC and them in sunny California. We heard their story and fell comfortably into conversation. The entire next week we couldn’t stop telling people about this amazing couple we’d met – how she attended the Passion conference in Atlanta and started following one of the pastors she’d heard speak over on Instagram, how she got curious when Craig commented on a photo she liked, and she hopped over to his feed and started following him too. How Craig followed her back (who wouldn’t?!) How their Instagram friendship eventually turned to a Facebook friendship, messaging and chatting, eventually exchanging numbers, FaceTiming from opposite sides of the country, and then meeting in person in NYC where Elisa was interning at the time.

“When did you know Elisa was the girl you were supposed to marry?” I asked Craig during their engagement session. “On the second day. We were in Chipotle. I looked across the table at her and I had that feeling people talk about. This is it.” Craig described it as one of those things that’s hard to put into words, and yet he told us one of the most beautiful comparisons I’ve ever heard. If you’re a person of faith, this will make sense to you – it just scratches the surface at explaining what love is. He said realizing Elisa was “the one” was like realizing that God is real. You know He is real. And you feel that He’s real. But explaining that to another person – putting it into words – leaves you feeling extraordinarily inadequate. You know the truth. It’s something you feel and believe, but words just don’t do it justice.

That’s also how I feel trying to sum up Elisa and Craig’s story – words don’t do it justice. When we met up in Durham for their engagement session last fall, Tim and I both felt like we’d been friends with them for years. We are beyond excited to be photographing and filming their day in just a few weeks!

PS – if you like that sweet key Craig is wearing, check out The Giving Keys! Elisa works for them in LA – they do incredible work providing jobs for the homeless and creating products that spark conversations and invite you to share your own story and be a part of someone else’s.

A few weeks after Lee and Meredith’s wedding, they wrote us a sweet note thanking us for photographing their day. We’d only delivered a few “sneak peeks” for them to enjoy, and in the note they reminded us of something they told us about their photos on their wedding day. “Take all the time you need. We’re in no rush. We’ll have them for the rest of our lives.”

This brought me to tears when I read it. These two get it. Those words perfectly sum up Lee and Meredith’s character to me. They are genuine and they love deeply. They’re fully present with and truly care for those around them. They make a point of making each person feel important and loved, although I don’t know if they even realize it’s something they do. It’s simply a part of who they are.

Just to prove my point – Lee and Meredith wrote mini biographies of every single wedding guest that attended their celebration. Every. Single. One. Us included. These tiny bios described each person, their connection to Lee and Meredith, and some fun facts about them. Just take a moment to imagine the time and care that went into that.  These biographies were hung on bunting all around their wedding reception, and many of us found ours and took it down to keep at the end of the night. What an incredible way to make your guests feel so loved and appreciated. A thousand times better than any wedding favor. Although Lee and Meredith’s favors were also awesome.

They had a friend create a beautiful logo for their wedding invitations – three crowns to represent Sweden, a place that is extraordinarily special to Meredith, and the place Lee proposed to her. And oars and the ocean waves to remind them of the sea kayaking trip they took right before he proposed. For the wedding they had the logo printed on beer glasses for each of their guests to use for the night and keep afterwards – they were a huge hit. Lee and Meredith met at Half Acre, the Chicago brewery where they both work. So beer glasses were the perfect favor to share with their guests.

This is really just one of those wedding days we look back on and say – seriously?? We got to capture that? Lee and Meredith chose us to capture their day? Man oh man do we love our job. Between the unique venue, the insanely delicious food (that appetizer table!), Lee’s college band – Tim Dennison and the Creepers playing at the ceremony and reception, and the dancing – ALL the dancing, this was a celebration beyond what we could have imagined!

One of my favorite moments of the whole day was toward the end of Lee and Meredith’s first look. Tim and I always like to create a space for our couples to reflect and really soak up the depth and beauty and sacredness of the day. Lee knew Meredith was on “Mission Don’t Cry,” so when he saw sweet tears welling up in her eyes, he did everything he could to keep her from crying. References were made to the Sahara as well as Prohibition, as Lee tried his best to make Meredith laugh instead of cry. If you know Lee, you can hear his distinct voice, “Girl! Your eyes are so dry – it’s like the Sahara Desert up in here!”

It’s truly an honor when dear friends invite us not only to be wedding guests, but to be fully present on their day, capturing it for them to remember for years to come. In the days approaching their wedding, Lee urged Tim and I to not just “work” their whole wedding day, but to truly enjoy the celebration. Did we ever. If these photos can capture just a fraction of the intense joy and the amazing celebration that was Lee and Meredith’s day, then our job is done here.

Grab a beer (a Half Acre one if you’ve got it) and enjoy this sweet sweet day.

Vendors:

Venue: Co-Prosperity Sphere

Hair/Makeup: Hannah Williams, bridesmaid

Dress: BHLDN

Flower Crown: Fleur

Officiant: Josh Hiben

Meats & Cheeses Appetizer: Publican Quality Meats

Beer: Half Acre

Coffee: Intelligentsia

Pot Pies: Pleasant House Bakery

Pies: Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits

Band: The Creepers

Jordan and Matthew. My heart is so happy thinking back to your early morning engagement session on the lake and dreaming about your wedding this coming spring. It’ll be the first wedding we’ve photographed back where Tim and I got married. I can’t imagine photographing anyone but you two in a place that is already so special to us.

Jordan and I went to high school together – she was one of those girls I admired from afar. She embodies grace and beauty and confidence. And she always has – even in high school when most of us were trying to figure out who we were, Jordan already seemed to be so rooted. She is just as beautiful on the inside, and if you know Jordan, you know the depth of her love and care for all those around her. You know that she is one-in-a-million – genuine to her core. And somehow she and Matthew found one another. Matthew – if it’s even possible – matches her deep, loving, gentle character.

Together they love deeply. They breathe life in and soak it up with every fiber of their being. It’s rare to find a couple that lives life as wholeheartedly as Jordan and Matthew. These two are something special. We are so very grateful we get to tell their story.

We arrived at sunrise to Jordan’s grandparents’ little lakeside cabin. We sipped coffee and enjoyed the foggy morning together. We laughed and chatted and took photos. Then Matthew and Jordan made breakfast for us. And we drank lots of coffee. And ate so much good food. And then we went to church and worshiped together – at the church where Jordan and Matthew met. It was a privilege to worship alongside them in a place that is such a huge part of their story.

Jordan and Matthew – we are so grateful for you two. Thank you for inviting us into your lives and into your story. It’s hard to express how excited we are about your wedding this spring without sounding like little kids anticipating Christmas morning. It is such an honor that we get to walk alongside you through this beautiful and sacred season.

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We are so thrilled to announce that we are participating in the Weddings for Freedom SET | RAISE | MATCH campaign this month. We are teaming up with wedding vendors across the United States to raise awareness for and combat human trafficking right here in our own backyards. If you don’t think modern day slavery has anything to do with you, we urge you to read on.

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Why should I care?

Reason #1:  At least 100,000 children are sold into sex trafficking every year in the United States

Reason #2:  There are fewer than 250 beds available for underage victims

Reason #3:  13 is the average age of entry into prostitution in the US

Reason #4:  The United States sex trade is a $9.8 billion industry

Reason #5:  The average American lives within 19 miles of daily sex trafficking

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So how does it all work?

We have SET a goal of $1000 to be raised for Wellspring Living, an organization in Atlanta that provides safe housing and holistic restoration programs for victims of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. We’re asking you to help us RAISE that money and reach our goal through various means (read more below). And we are personally going to MATCH each donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $1000 for a final total of $2000 (or more!) in support of Wellspring Living.

How can I participate?

Give directly! Go to the Weddings for Freedom website to learn more and give to Wellspring Living with us. Every dollar helps, so whether you can donate $10, $50, or $500, we so appreciate you taking a stand alongside us. Don’t forget that each dollar you donate will be matched by us until we reach $1000!

Book a wedding! For the month of February, we’re giving each couple that books with us $100 off their wedding deposit if they’re willing to make a $100 donation to Wellspring Living. It’s a win-win!

Spread the word! Use the hashtags #weddingsforfreedom and #setraisematch to spread the word and take a stand with us. Know other wedding vendors who might like to start their own SET | RAISE | MATCH campaign?? Send them to www.weddingsforfreedom.com to learn more and sign up!

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Photos courtesy of Paper Antler