A Glamorous Grand Central Affair: The Wedding of Grace & Patrick

It’s wedding season! EEEEEEEEEE!

~Saturday, July 18, 2015~

~Saturday, July 18, 2015~

I had the privilege to document the totally glamorous wedding of Grace & Patrick this past July. The setting(s)? The posh,ย  Waldorf Astoria Hotel, followed by the glammed-out Oyster Bar, thenย  the ever-so-opulent Grand Central Station, to the streets of Gowanus, and finally down to the pearl of Brooklyn: Gowanus Loft.ย  Twelve hours of non-stop love and celebration, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Grand Central Station, where bride & groom will say I DO in just a couple short hours!

Grand Central Station, where bride & groom will say I DO in just a couple short hours!

All photos shot from my ever-so-faithful Sony A99 SLT with Carl Zeiss f1.4 50mm and f.2 16-28mm plus funky f2.8 12mm fisheye. I used a bounce flash only here and there during the reception, otherwise everything uses available light (my fav!).

The ceiling is breathtaking... next time you visit, re!ember to LOOK UP~

The ceiling is breathtaking… next time you visit, re!ember to LOOK UP!

If you’re getting married, and considering the getting ready, and first-look shots, I HIGHLY recommend arranging for your photographer to capture them. These moments are key in narrating the story of any wedding…

The amazing Grace

The amazing Grace

Patrick Jr. + Patrick Sr.

Patrick Jr. + Patrick Sr.

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Our Bride

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Our Groom

She's getting excited!!

She’s getting excited!!

Final details...

Final details…

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Grace putting her shoes on to go and get the groom down the hall :)

Getting ready to meet that groom of hers!

Handsome groomsmen!

Handsome groomsmen!

Cheers!

Cheers!

Ok, ok I'm ready to see my (almost) wife!

I especially loved the reactions Grace and Patrick had when they first saw each other. First Look Shots are really the best!

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They’re really too cute ๐Ÿ™‚

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Cocktail Hour took place at Grand Central’s Oyster Bar. Just a quick stroll from the Waldorf Astoria, so I took advantage of the glowy afternoon light in the city on our walk over.

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The ceilings in the Oyster Bar created a super classic, romantic vibe. The Bride & Groom greeted close friends and family for the first time of the day…

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My favorite mother-son photo!

My favorite mother-son photo!

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It’s wedding time! THANK YOU APPLE STORE for letting us gather on your mezzanine and THANK YOU GRAND CENTRAL STATION for letting us take over the central terminal. Because we did ๐Ÿ™‚

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Wow – what a feeling to have the entirety of Grand Central Station pause, become nearly silent, and witness Grace & Patrick exchanging their vows. It felt like the entire city turned out for these two love birds. Who wouldn’t?

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Now for… THE RINGS!

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And then they said “I DO!” Cueย  the tears, where are my tissues?!ย  Grand Central lit up in a roar – it was ridiculously amazing to hear hundreds hundreds of voices rally in celebration! I absolutely love mom & dad’s expressions in the next photo.

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ย And now for my favorite series of group photos of all-time. Grand Central Station is super crowded, so we knew there would be challenges with managing the crowds, corralling the wedding party, etc. But we managed to pull it off!

The fresh-off-the-press newlyweds!

The fresh-off-the-press newlyweds!

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And then just some of the two lovebirds, before we depart for the festivities in Brooklyn!!

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Ok, time to go!

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Patrick whisks his bride away, and off we go to… Gowanus.

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That dress though…

When guests arrive at their destination in Gowanus, they’re greeted with a full brass band. Because it’s essential to parade around the neighborhood to celebrate!

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And after parading around Gowanus for a bit, it’s time to party at The Loft!

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Gowanus Loft, in all her glory, was brimming with light for the reception. We danced, we ate, we laughed, we sang, we cried. Bust mostly, we laughed ๐Ÿ™‚

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Amazing art installation pieces by Sarah Brook

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A special thank you to Grace & Patrick for including me on their incredible wedding. I had the absolute time of my life and was reminded why I love wedding photography so much. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness and joy.

They made it to Gowanus, Brooklyn!

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Geology Rocks: A Trip to Enchanted Rock

Great news! I’m starting a new job next week as a Senior Project Environmental Scientist, meaning you can expect more exciting reports from the field as I take NYC by storm in the coming months!

With impending full-time employment looming in the near future, I naturally took a trip to the lovely state of Texas to visit my awesome siblings. They’re in San Antonio – a city with more Walmart’s and HEB’s per capita than anywhere else in the world, but also home to an incredibly rich history and vibrant culture unlike any other city in the south. Oh, and AMAZINGLY authentic barbecue!

The reason I visit San Antonio at least 2x per year - my hilarious family!

The reason I visit San Antonio at least 2x per year – my hilarious family!

My latest discovery in the San Antonio region is Enchanted Rock. My brother and sis-in-law had visited a half-dozen times, and were more than happy to take the geologist of the family (aka me!) along for the hour drive this past trip.

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There she is! Enchanted Rock. Humans for scale.

Here she is in all of her geologic glory – Enchanted Rock! I had to keep my siblings in the frame so you could get a grasp of it’s size.

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I’m totally in my element here at the base of the trail…

Enchanted Rock stands 425 feet above the base elevation of the park, and is 1,825 feet above sea level. According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, climbing Enchanted Rock is like climbing the stairs of a 30- or 40-story building. The meandering route my sister and I took in-between taking selfies broke things up nicely, and was a leisurely little climb. Wear good shoes!

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Geology Lesson 101: Around 1,000,000,000 years ago, magma rose from beneath the Earth’s crust and pushed up the overlying rock surface. The magma then cooled VERY VERY slowly and turned into a granite dome/ pluton/ batholith (take your pick!). The overlying sedimentary rock crumbled away over millions of years of chemical and physical erosion – Granite is a very hardy rock and is able to “weather the storm” against erosion, and that’s why it’s here today!

From below, looking up.

From below, looking up.

Enchanted Rock is just the tip of the iceburg – it covers an area appx. 62 square miles with most of it remaining underground. Maybe in a few million years we’ll be able to climb on more of it!

My brother Edwin and wife Jenna run up the rock face like it's no big deal.

My brother Edwin and wife Jenna run up the rock face like it’s no big deal.

Another neat thing to note about Enchanted Rock is that it’s technically classified as an exfoliation dome – it’s not completely immune to erosion, and it can be seen breaking apart in many areas similarly to the structure of an onion.

Exfoliation: We all benefit from a bit of some!

Exfoliation: We all benefit from a bit of some!

Why does this happen? Well, after the overlying sedimentary rock eroded away from the surface of the granite dome, it began to expand just a little bit due to the lack of pressure bearing down. This expansion caused fracturing of the granite along its “curve”, resulting in a “peeling away” appearance. Enchanted Rock continues to exfoliate today!

My sister Amanda looks like she's on the surface of Mars (except the sky would be a more hazy-brown color!).

My sister Amanda looks like she’s on the surface of Mars (except the sky would be a more hazy-brown color!).

So if you’re looking to get out of the city (that is, San Antonio!), I highly recommend a drive to Enchanted Rock. The drive itself is almost surreal: beautiful winding roads through hills, endless acres of woods, vast grazing fields home to many happy cows, and even a couple wild bobcats (!).

View looking down: vast open landscape of central TX.

View looking down: vast open landscape of central TX.

And the vistas from the top of the rock – so gorgeous and expansive! I especially loved the mini oasis that grew in the center of the dome… it’s incredible how resilient nature is and how determined some species of plants are to live!

Little sister, little oasis.

Little sister, little oasis.

The climb is very kid/ dog/ family friendly. If you have bad knees, the walk down could be a bit intense without hiking poles. And definitely don’t roll or run down unless you don’t mind seriously busting your face open! I took my sweet ol’ time and soaked in the warm sun as much as possible.

Climbing the mini rocks is safe though! The granite had excellent traction!

Climbing the mini rocks is safe though! The granite had excellent traction!

Ah yes, another week done, making the start-date to the next chapter even closer. Sure, I won’t have endless open days to hang out with family and waste away on my Netflix queue, but I’ll definitely have a more structured life/ routine! Stay tuned for more lady-engineer-scientist adventures from NYC… I’m so excited ๐Ÿ™‚

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All photographs taken with my Sony A99 Full Frame SLT Camera ๐Ÿ™‚

Ten Things I Learned Living on a Tiny Island

This past fall, I found that living in social isolation (on a 15-square mile island) with nothing but a good book and long hours of work will really force you into a state of introspection. Add that to 2 months of living back home in Brooklyn with loads of free time, and you’ve got a pretty excellent elixir for reflection.

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Clouds over Cayman Brac.

What did I discover?

1. I accept who I am: my strengths, weaknesses, and I have so much to offer the world.

2. Humans are a social species. We need a tribe. It may change from time to time, expand and contract – but our inner desire to connect with others is directly linked to our natural ability to love others.

3. The core of my tribe is my family. And I ride the ebb and flow of its continual expansion and subsequent waning.

4. Loss is an essential part of the Human experience. It reminds us that we are not in control and must press on forward: continue living and thriving. If we don’t, the world will leave us behind.

5. Heartbreak is inevitable. There are many forms, but ultimately it strengthens the heart, mind, and soul. It should not be avoided, for evasion means you are not living life to its fullest – you are closing yourself to experience and growth.

6. You are your best advocate. You know who you are, what you stand for, and what is best for you. The only person truly looking out for your best interests is you. Others will eventually learn to know the needs and ways of your heart, but until then, you know best.

7. Do not seek approval and love from others in order to be happy. Does this dress make me look fat? I feel like all of my friends have forgotten about me. I just want to be in a relationship with someone. I need his love to feel happy, secure, and complete. Stop. If you read Lesson 1, you already accept yourself. It’s hard, and will never be easy. But you’re worth it. You will always have YOU.

8. You need to do something. Humans are built to survive, and in 2015, that means work. You will always find a way to complain about your job, where you live, who you work with, etc. But we need to continue enriching our lives. Our brains, bodies, and inner beings were not built for stagnant waters. That makes for an early grave.

9. Find balance in all you do, and establish priorities – and accept that they will change with time. What is important to you? What is truly essential in your life right now that serves the highest levels of your inner happiness? (Right now, mine are finding fulfilling work that satisfies my desires to make New York City a cleaner and healthier place to live, continue to open my heart again to love and trust in that love, balance the material necessity of a healthy paycheck with the wishes of using that monetary resource for experiences to enrich my life and the loves of my life.)

10. Change is the truest form of the Human experience. With all the lessons learned (above), you will be a champion of yourself with the ability to live and breathe in the flow of life. Accept change. Embrace change. It leads us closer and closer to the ultimate lesson of life: Transformation.

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Live, Breathe, Transform, Transcend.

-This post is dedicated to my dad. Today would have been his 70th Birthday. His passing was the deepest form of loss I have experienced thus far in my lifetime, and I am truly grateful for the love and memories my dad and I shared. Thank you, dad, for giving me life and the inspiration to make it a great one. I love you, to Pluto and back.
Happy Birthday Daddy

Tuesday Inspiration – Happiness

โ€œNo single decision you ever made has led in a straight line to where you find yourself now. You peeked down some roads and took a few steps before turning back. You followed some roads that came to a dead end and others that got lost at too many intersections. Ultimately, all roads are connected to all other roads.โ€

-Deepak Chopra

Footpath on Cayman Brac

Footpath on Cayman Brac

I am entering my second month of unemployment, or what I’d like to call “fun-employment”. Don’t feel bad for me – it was a path I chose for the well-being of my body and heart, and I took all precautions in preparation for the monthly income drop.

It’s been an incredible experience to literally hit the pause button on life, to reconnect with myself, and deepen relationships with the ones I love. I have also learned a few important lessons on happiness…

My friend Keino and I on Cayman Brac's bluff edge.

My friend Keino and I on Cayman Brac’s bluff edge.

You know how all philosophers, prophets, and parents say, “Happiness comes from within”? We hear this over and over again, and with such repetition we often accept it with blind faith as we trudge through our everyday lives. We allow ourselves so few opportunities to actually experience this inner bliss, so much so that we ultimately forget how to recognize it when it’s staring us in the face. The straight A’s, the fancy apartment, the fat bonus, the dozens of friends, the luxurious vacations, the handsome boyfriend, the newest iPhone, the size 2 dress… We’re still unhappy.

Carib Sands Dock, Cayman Brac

I’m not perfect, and have just skimmed the tip of the iceberg on tapping into this inner resource of happiness. It’s taken me 25+ years, a few broken hearts, hopping the globe from the Caymans to Iceland to Morocco, living on a relatively excellent paycheck to having $2.00 to my name, and feeling completely alone in the wilderness to realize that happiness can really only be expressed. Not ours for the taking and holding inward, but truly reaching from within ourselves and giving it back to others. It’s as if we’re each holding a little sun within ourselves – a bright resource that regenerates over and over again. The more we give, the happier we are. It’s a pretty simple science.

Growing, giving, light

Growing, Giving, Happiness.

It’s just not easily duplicated because of all the superfluous garbage in the material worlds we live in. Add an inner frustration to the mix as we perpetually put ourselves down, saying we don’t deserve happiness for all the terrible things we’ve done… What have I done to deserve this? Exist. Don’t let the question be, Why Me? – More like, Yes, Me!

Be Happy :)

Be Happy ๐Ÿ™‚

There are many paths I have yet to take, but having come from one that was equally as exciting as it was intensely challenging, I’m ready for what lies ahead. I’m thinking of going back into the environmental field – whether it be working at a consultancy or state department, you can’t take the science out of me ๐Ÿ™‚

Besides, I’m fully entitled to change my mind at any moment in time and hop onto another path! I just have decided to chose happiness over all. And the next time I’m feeling down, it’s time to take a good look at myself in the mirror and truly ask why. Life is pretty simple, and I truly believe we are all predisposed to living in a state of bliss. Again, I’m far from perfect, and the occasional trip to Anthro and frequent bowl of ice cream can bring some (temporary) happiness.

Be calm, be happy my friends!

-ps this entire post is my way of procrastinating in preparation for my interviews this week… back to it!

Danielle & Tony – A Late Summer Wedding

This post will hopefully pull you all from the pre-winter gloom especially on the freezing, wet, day it is today in Brooklyn. Wrapped up in a knit blanket, sipping ginger tea and gazing out the windows as the rain pelts the glass, I remember how much I’ve missed writing and sharing my photographic stories.

As you can see from the absence of posts since mid-August, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from the blogging world. Alas, on this frigid day in New York, I am finally catching up. More on that hiatus later.

My first order of business: the lovely Danielle and Tony. You were first introduced to them in their engagement shoot this past spring, and on a beautiful late summer day in August, they finally tied the knot! DSC03612 - Version 2

Danielle and her wedding party, consisting of mum, sister and future sis-in-law all got ready at her parent’s colonial home in Plymouth, MA. The atmosphere while getting ready was serene: no stress, no sense of urgency, but relaxed and totally blissed-out.

DSC07845Almost every aspect of the wedding had some form of hand-made love incorporated into it. Mum and Danielle had picked the bright hydrangea flowers that morning for the wedding bouquets, and hand-assembled them minutes before heading off to the venue.

DSC08021Boutonnieres, handmade by Danielle’s co-worker, smelled of lavender and matched the groom’s swag quite perfectly.

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And now for the dress reveal. Classic, timeless, and uniquely hers, Danielle was stunning in her champagne lace ballgown. The lace train extended beyond the satin skirt of the dress and created quite a dramatic illusion at the venue (see below!!)

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I just love Danielle’s reaction when she finally put her dress on! This is the real deal!

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This regal bride-to-be is ready to go! Mixing the soft and subtle make-up with blusher and simple updo make Danielle one heck of a classic beauty. Would you agree?

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The Venue: Southers Marsh Golf Club (http://weddings.southersmarsh.com/) in Plymouth, MA. Panoramic views of open green fields, hills, and tall pines created quite the dramatic backdrop for the wedding.

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Need I say more? The venue also came complete with a gorgeous tent for the reception.

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Back to the nuptials. Close friends and family gathered under the bright sun and big blue sky in the late afternoon on August 31st, 2014. The beautiful Bridesmaids prepare to make their way down the aisle…

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Both mum and dad walked Danielle down the aisle, arm-in-arm. She’s the first of the brood to tie the knot! Can you tell they’re all just a little excited?

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And finally, everyone’s here! Danielle and Tony exchanged their vows in a touching, short and sweet ceremony.

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And they sealed their love with a kiss… (it’s so so cute I can barely take it!)

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Following the ceremony, the bridal party was whisked away in individual golf carts (I recklessly drove mine ahead of the group to get a head start on portraits) up to the 10th hole. Let the stunning group photos commence!

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Just Married!!

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Now for some one-on-one shots of our bride and groom.

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And my favorite…. what I call the “Victory Kiss”

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The night was followed with delicious food, first dances, hilarious toasts, unforgettably romantic moments, crazy line dancing, and cake.

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Danielle, Tony, and their friends & family danced and partied into the early hours of the morning. I am so grateful to have witnessed the love in the room – it buzzed and buzzed away all night long, and from what I can tell, will continue to buzz for the entirety of their lives together. Danielle, Tony, congratulations on finding each other and opening your hearts to a life full of love and happiness. Happy life to you two!

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Mary-Reid & Mike – Wedded Bliss

This may very well be the longest and most heart-felt post in the history of this blog, even though its history is fairly brief.

Let’s go back to the year 1998 – I am 9 years old and our family of 6 had just moved to Framingham mid-way through September from the tiny woodsy town of Madison, NH. I was that fourth grade new-girl-on-the-block, essentially. The awkward shy one, no less.

My clearest memory of that first September day at school was entering Mrs. Carbeau’s classroom: everyone was seated in a small circle in the center of the room, hushed with all bright eyes on me. I quietly took my seat in a perfect little open spot within the circle and I was slowly introduced to each student. I looked around and saw Mary-Reid, Joanne, and Hannah for the first time and said to myself, “these are going to be my best friends”.

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That’s us! From left, Joanne, Myself, Hannah, and Mary-Reid

Fast-forward to 2004: We’re still together and yup, the very best of friends.ย  However, at some point amongst our teenage wanderings, Mary-Reid meets Mike. Their love was both effortlessly poetic and passionate and one couldn’t help but smile when you saw the two of these love birds together. They were the epitome of true classic high-school sweethearts. I mean look at the photo from prom!

Mary-Reid and Mike: Senior Prom 2007. For real people!

Mary-Reid and Mike: Senior Prom 2007. For real people!

And then in early March of 2013, I receive a phone call at 1:00pm from Mary-Reid… there’s a certain distinguishable tremor of excitement in her voice, and then the famous words I’ll never forget: “Mike Proposed!!!!!”. I can’t say I was terribly surprised – it was really just a matter of time before Mike made the best decision of his life ๐Ÿ™‚

Fast forward once more my dears to August 16th, 2014. The most absolutely crisp-yet-perfectly-balmy August morning. The wedding day. Location: Mary-Reid’s family home on Prospect Street. We spent years and years running around the big historic colonial and jumping into the pool on summer days, and now it was time for it to be the perfect setting for Mike & Mary-Reid’s wedding!

The setting: Family Home on Prospect Street

The setting: Family Home on Prospect Street

This wedding was truly like no other in that so many family and friends poured their hearts in to making this day perfect for the bride and groom. From catering all of the food themselves in the barn, to placing perfectly crafted fondant flowers on the 3-tiered cake, to hand-altering her daughter’s wedding gown, to growing wildflowers all summer long for the bouquets, to setting tables and pressing linens, and everything in between that you could possibly imagine. They got it done!

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Just shy of 4:00pm, every little detail finally falls in to place…

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After spending hours running around lighting hundreds of tea lights, hanging dozens of lanterns, setting each plate just-so, and tying together the bouquets, we ladies finally enjoyed some well-deserved pampering!

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And now for a bit about the gown. Mary-Reid’s wedding vision stemmed mainly from Anthropologie’s wedding off-shoot, BHLDN. Short for “Beholden”, they offer ethereal and whimsical wedding inspirations from cake toppers to stunning hand-beaded gowns. In the winter this of this past year, Mary-Reid and I essentially camped out in a nicely heated car (beginning at 4:00am no less) at their first-ever trunk show in Philly. We had no idea what to expect, but we were determined to find the one. Long story short, we did! And oh my goodness, is she a thing of beauty!

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Bridesmaid dresses were key additions to Mary-Reid’s inspiration for a romantic garden wedding, and fortunately for us ladies, we too got to don some gorgeous BHLDN gowns!

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Again, thank you Mary-Reid for selecting these gorgeous gowns for us to wear! I think you can see that we loved wearing them…

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From the left: Joanne, Xenia, Mary-Reid, Hannah, and Myself. Note the drawn curtains to keep sneaky peekers from peeking!

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For having pulled off planning an entire wedding, Mary-Reid looks absolutely serene and peaceful just moments before walking down the aisle. We had a few moments to glance through this window to see the groomsmen make their way down first…

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And before you know it, I had to drop my camera (couldn’t possibly have hid it behind my bouquet now!), and walked down the aisle of my dearest friend’s wedding. The ceremony was nothing short of incredibly intimate and exceptionally beautiful – there truly wasn’t a dry eye in the garden!

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That’s right ladies, He put a ring on it! Below are some of my favorite shots of my favorite two love birds…

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If this isn’t true electric love then I don’t know what is ๐Ÿ™‚

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And of course some group photos of the ladies and gents up by the barn…

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And the obligatory bling ring shot with Hannah…

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And more importantly, the cake! Crafted by the exceptionally talented hands of Mary-Reid’s aunt, maid of honor Hannah, and the bride herself. See the connection between the design on the wedding gown? Thought so!

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Sometimes I have a difficult time expressing my love in words, and I often find that actions speak volumes when it comes to doing so. Not only was this wedding a pure manifestation of love between two souls, but a perfect example of how far humans will go for the ones they love. Each and every person in attendance found a way to lend a hand (or two!) to the bride and groom to ensure their day was overflowing with joy, bliss, and love.

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To my dearest friends Mary-Reid and Mike: you have already built a wonderful life together these past 9 or so years, but this is just the beginning of a most beautiful thing. I admire your strength, unconditional love and support for each other, and am certain your marriage will light the whole earth. Through thick and thin the two of you have grown into an unbreakable pair of lovers, friends, and true partners. I know you will have nothing but a lifetime rich with love and happiness. Thank you for having me be a part of this unforgettable moment in your lives!