Monday, March 24, 2014

Our Wedding Invitations : personal // northeast, tx wedding and lifestyle photographer

Heeeey, friends! So it's been forever since I've blogged. I must admit I was always one of those people who looked at frazzled brides and was like, "Yeah, if you would've prepared better..." or "Just chill out and enjoy yourself!" or "My goodness, she is waaay too up tight/anxious/emotional/unfocused/distracted/etc." and thought that when it was my turn to step up to the bride plate, I would handle it so.much.better.
I make me laugh.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
So! Here I am! Drowning in my wedding planning! Sure, it's fun, frilly, pretty, exciting, surreal, overwhelming, scary, hard, stretching, sanctifying, losing-tons-of-sleep, painfully wonderful....yeah, way too many adjectives to wrap my tired brain around. Maybe this wouldn't be quite so difficult if I wasn't so indecisive.
I make me cry.
Weep. Sob. Bawl.
I obviously don't want to be the Bridezilla type but people have been begging me to be more assertive and just call the shots already! Whatever I say goes! I'm honestly not good at any of it. But! In the end, I'm not overly worried. As I was sitting at the table today, still hand addressing invitations, it gave me chills to think that this is all really happening. I'm inviting friends and family to come watch me marry Trevor. Too many thoughts to tell. Heart full.
Moving on! Something I've always, always, always loved and wanted when it came time to me planning my own wedding was hand addressed wedding invitations. That was something I didn't have to be indecisive about. I didn't quite know how tedious it would be, but I truly don't regret it. Putting the first batch in the mail, I felt a twinge of what mothers that send their children off to their first day of school must feel. ;) I put so much into them, it was a bit sad to see them go. The mailman actually came to gather the mail right before I dumped them in. He brought out a big bin and told me to "Just drop 'em in!" I gingerly began to rest them gently into the bin in groups of 5. He kinda chuckled and said, "Really...just drop 'em in!" I nervously smiled back at him and bravely raised the groups from 5 to 10. He tried not to seem irritated as he said, "You know, these are going to be through a lot by the time they're delivered. Sorting, mail trucks, stamping...the works!" (and one last time) "Just go ahead and drop 'em off in here!" By this time I only had a few I gathered them like the last handful of pixie dust left in the world and sprinkled them in softly. The man smirked and walked away to his truck. I might've gotten slightly attached to them. Maybe...a little.

Which is why, before I left the house to send them away, I wanted to document them to share with all of you. :)

(And! Fun Fact! The Skinners that you see above just got maaaarried last weekend and I shot their wedding. :) SUCH a joyful gorgeous day that I can't wait to share with y'all. Aaand I'll be shooting another wedding this weekend as well! So for all of you who thought I fell off the face of the working photography world...ha, I'm back baby. ;) To whet your appetite, here's a preview of Colin +Tori's loveliness....

I know it's hard to move on after that, but heeere we go....
Each detail was very important to me. I wanted them to be as cost effective and as pretty as they could be. Instead of buying specialty envelopes, I got plain white ones and glued in glitter gold inserts to each one using the cheapest gold glitter scrapbook paper I could find. My mother and grandmother graciously cut out the triangles and I glued them all in. {Trevor did one or two for fun. ;)} 

I was picky about having pretty stamps instead of just the standard ones. These weren't any more expensive...they just looked better. ;)

And for sealing! We bought a heart-hole-punch and punched these out of all different shades of green paint sample swatches. :) Good thing those are free. ;)

Instead of full size wedding invitations, I got postcard size and saved A TON! Like...they were a third of the price of normal sized invites. It was totally completely worth it. And because I ordered 250 they threw in the white envelopes for only $11!!
For the one side of the invitation I really wanted a good picture of us so that if people wanted to keep it or put it on their refrigerator, they could! Without it having all the wedding info all over it. And those fonts...ha! I guess that was another thing I was picky about...good fonts. I scoured the whole internet it seemed before I found some that I liked. I wanted hand calligraphed fonts...several different ones that all corresponded. I was happy to find several by Emily Conners. :) My future mother-in-law laughed when she heard about my grand search and teasingly called me a font snob. ;)

Designing the double-sided invitations and RSVPs was quite an adventure on Photoshop. In the end, I knew the main elements I wanted were "Green, glitter gold, watercolor, good fonts, and elegant but still fun."

When it came to hand-addressing, I wanted them, again, to be very elegant but not overly formal. So I played around and personalized them as much as possible...Some have Mr. + Mrs., some I wrote out their names, I tried to include the names of the children if it was at all possible to fit them on the envelope...if not I just said "+ family." For some I added little embellishments to disguise my lack of skill at perfectly spacing things. ;) They are very amateur, very hand-done, and very imperfect. And yet I loved them. :)

I can whole-heartedly say I'm no calligraphy expert. I was literally winging it. But these were fantastic to work with!

I used the .05 to write them. The Brush to fill in to make it look more like it was done with a calligraphy nib. (Ha. Fake it til you make it.) And then the .01 was for the fine details like the "Kindly deliver to" and any other detail work that the Brush was not precise enough for.

And last, the map! Trevor and I are getting married on my Aunt and Uncle's land out in the country so we knew our guests would need a little extra navigation down the back roads. My mother did the sketch, I took a picture of it, and edited the rest on Photoshop! :) I love the "E.H. Shepard's illustrated map from Winnie the Pooh" feel that it ended up with. When Trevor saw it he immediately said, "It reminds me of you. Of stuff that you really love. It's very you." YES! Exactly what I love to hear. I'm so excited that my guests will be receiving things that show them a little part of me and what I like. :)

And just to show closer detail...I edited an image I found on Pinterest so that it would look more like my dress and Trevor's suit...and so it would look more like me and him in general. The finished product was quite a proud moment for me. ;)

Let's face it. I'm a font snob and a self taught Photoshop nerd.
And I'm getting married in less than 7 weeks. LESS THAN 7!

~Through Christ's Love  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Why I don't regret getting engaged young : personal

Today marks three months until the day I wake up, put on an ethereal floor-length white gown, and look in the mirror to see a bride. Three months until I will become one with a man that God spent 27 years preparing for me. Which is pretty awe-inspiring when you take into account that I've only been alive for 18 years. But that's what is so marvelous about God's sovereignty. I didn't have to be born yet for God to already be preparing my groom for me! Everything He does is absolute with its own level of certainty and unique purpose. 
When I become Mrs. Ruby I will be about 2 weeks away from my nineteenth birthday. When I turn twenty-one I will have been a wife for 2 years already. I vividly remember when I was younger hearing my Mam-maw (my maternal grandmother) tell me about how she fell in love with a man in his twenties at the age of 14 and how she was blown away to find he returned her feelings! They corresponded romantically through letters the whole year that she was 15 while he lived in the state of Washington and she was over 2,000 miles away in Texas. That Christmas break, when she was not even three months past her 16th birthday, he came back to her little town and asked her to marry him. By New Years Eve they were headed back to Washington in his new car as husband and wife! That timeline always blew my mind...not only was it SO.FAST., all I could think of was how young she was! Wasn't she afraid? Did she wonder if he was the right one? She didn't even have enough time in her life to know! She was a baby! Howww??!! She would always just smile with a look of love that spoke far louder than words. Though his death cut their marriage short after just 28 years, you can still feel the love she had (has) for him after 30 years later. There is no doubt that, were he still here, I would have grandparents that had been happily married and head over heels in love for almost 60 years. If she ever did answer my questions with words it was always something quite simple and straight forward; somewhere along the lines, "We had love and we figured out the rest. The Lord took care of us. "
And now, here I am. Engaged before I'm twenty to a man several years older than me. And all at once those same questions are being fired all around but now they're pointed in my direction. I suddenly understand why her answers were so simple! Because it is that simple. Here...let me break it down so you can see what I mean.
I am by no means advising everyone run out when they're 16 and start actively looking and expecting a man to sweep them off their feet and propose to them. Please don't think that! I know how discouraging singleness can be without those kinds of expectations so I don't want to plummet anyone any farther down! I've been right where you are, wondering, "WHEN WHEN WHEEEEN WILL MY PRINCE CHARMING COME?!" at the age of 16. Most people would've laughed but it was a real pain and I don't ever want to discount anyone who is dealing with that same pain. But I would advice that you take that pain before the Lord. Because, I will assure you, all the protection, love, affirmation, companionship, and completion you're yearning for really can't be fulfilled fully by another person...only Jesus Christ. But! In the same breath I want those that turn their noses up or drop their jaws when someone like me is excited about getting married early to hear me out because this is the true bone I'm trying to pick. The question of, "But what about your life? You haven't even gotten to live your life yet and now you're going to be tied down to a husband!" My number one response? Yuck. That really does make my stomach turn. What life? College? Sexual Baggage? Drunken parties? Heart Ache? Confusion? Loneliness? What life am I losing by becoming one with a man that the Lord placed directly in my life...a process that brings me to tears because it bears the fingerprints of God all over it. Every bit of life that both of us have lived apart was fashioned to fit us together in the perfect time.
 People will tell me that I haven't loved Trevor long enough to know for sure that I want to love him forever. That's an interesting concept to me. Hey, I'm all for really discerning the Lord's will in a relationship and not jumping into something that is not glorifying to Him. That's why I would stress having other older married couples and your pastors involved in discussions and over-seeing what the Lord is (or is not) doing in the lives of two people who have feelings for one another. But when the Lord is clearly knitting two people together and they both clearly desire marriage and see that that is what appears to be God's intention for their relationship (and this feeling is increasingly felt by those around them) you really think staying in that state of limbo is the wisest decision?
Okay. So let's say we waited. Put a five year minimum on our "dating status" before taking the step towards engagement. Because being passionately in love with someone that you desire to be married to but continuing in a state of casual dating is the smartest option...(I apologize for my sarcasm...this subject really gets to me.) Can I turn to Scripture for a moment? 1 Corinthians 7:9 "It is better to marry than to burn with lust (or passion.)" I know that verse has, no doubt, been countless times wickedly used out of context to justify couples in foolish, rebellious, "against wise council" relationships. But let me apply this to my situation personally and honestly. I am thankful for boundaries, and Godly council, and the inward working of the Spirit, and the Lord who chastises those whom He loves and hedges them about with protection because I will tell you plain and joyous, and celebratory, and exciting, and lovely as engagement is a battle. We are two fallen sinners, redeemed by the blood of our Savior, living in a corrupt world that blurs all the lines of right and wrong, purity and deceit, wholeness and emptiness. The world says its "okay" and "loving" to give yourselves to one another before or without marriage altogether. But the Word of God tells me and Trevor as redeemed individuals that to do so would grieve our Father. The flesh works against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh and it. is. hard. Even knowing how close 3 months is, I can see how some trip and fall and do not finish the race. I am deeply sorry for those couples because I know that when they seek too soon to fulfill what they believe to be beautiful desires, they are disappointed to find themselves feeling very ugly on the other side of things. Couples truly do burn with lust. Scripture wouldn't have said it if it weren't true. The word burn indicates a fire. Thinking about that this week the Lord laid upon my heart the verse in Lamentations that says, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed." Which then made me think of the verse that says, "Our God is a consuming fire." SO! Tying together all of our context clues...Lust burns like a fire. God is also a burning, consuming fire. What keeps us from succumbing and being consumed by the fire of lust? It can surely be only one thing, the Lord's mercies! If left to our own selves without the Lord's mercies, those fiery passions could easily engulf any couple...including Trevor and I. So thankful to not be alone!! So thankful to have Trevor just as dedicated to saving ourselves for marriage as me! So thankful that when we do struggle together we run to prayer together! It is an invaluable fountain of grace that we find there at the throne and those mercies, that are new every morning, truly do keep us from being consumed. To those in the Lord who do wait years and years loving one another deeply before getting married, I'm sure you can echo my thankfulness and attribute your triumphs to His protection and I commend you for your strength...I can't imagine but I praise God for you. 
Another aspect of these questions that hurts me right to my core...that marriage is less than other exciting parts of life that I could experience. That traveling to Europe, living on my own, going to college, dating lots of other people to get my "feel" of the male-kind before settling down and marrying would make my life that much more complete. Having been with Trevor for the last year, I couldn't imagine anything being more of an adventure than loving him has been! And I trust when I turn twenty-one and my teen years are behind me and I will have settled into newly wed life I prayerfully will not think that anything could be more wonderful than having him come home to me everyday...being my provider, protector, my lover, my other half, and my best friend. Proverbs tells us "He who finds a wife finds a good thing." My prayer is that Trevor may be able to say that all the days we are married just as he says it now while we are engaged. :) Marriage, when orchestrated by, entrusted to, and focused on the Lord I believe will be far more satisfying to me than whatever life others think I'll be missing. Others' stories will not have a spouse written into the plot and that's okay. The Lord writes a different story for everyone. For some He withholds until later in life. For some, He gives other things besides married love. I am personally grateful that my story includes a man for me but I do not feel like it is the perfect dream for everyone. 

"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving."- 1 Timothy 4:4

Yes. There is a plethora of things that "normal" teenagers experience that I won't. But such is life. Every story is different. Let's not hate on each other's pages. Let's praise the Author for His wisdom and creativity in giving everyone their own chapters. I am thrilled to be counting down to my wedding day at the same time as others my age are counting down to other exciting parts of their life such as getting into their dream college, flying to New Zealand, shooting their first wedding (shout-out to all my photogs!)....whatever you're looking forward to, I rejoice with you if you are receiving it with thanksgiving to God! I won't have worn several fancy prom dresses when I slip my wedding dress will be the only gown I will have ever worn up to that point. And I'm giddy that that will be so. And I do hope to travel one day...and what fun it will be to have such a gift at my side to adventure with! I do not feel robbed of a life that I didn't get to have. I feel humbled to have a life that I don't deserve. 
~Through Christ's Love  

Thanks to Ellie Be and Rachel Leigh for the pictures in this post. <3

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sarah + Josh : wedding // longview, tx wedding and lifestyle photographer

So many mysteries
I wanted to unravel
If I could travel the world
But I had hardly seen a thing
Until I gave a golden ring
To the one who gave her heart to me
That's the day I hit the road
'Cause I walked the hills of the human soul
Of a tender girl
She opened the gate and took my hand
And led me into the mystic land
Where her galaxies swirl.

-andrew peterson || world traveler
I can vividly remember the night I met Sarah. Both of us young teenagers at a mutual friend's birthday party...shy, quiet, polite girls with big unseen futures ahead of them meeting for the first time. Fast forward several years of becoming closer friends with her and I have come to appreciate this girl as a dear sister in Christ with a heart full of beautiful thoughts and a desire to be completely in love with her Lord. So I was thrilled to hear of the news that she had fallen in love with "a dentist boy" who just happened to become the man of her dreams. (Their story is soso precious. Check it out if you want >>> here.)When I saw the pictures, and the changed relationship status notifying me she was getting married I did pause to think about how loooovely it would be to be her wedding photographer! (I mean...let's admit it, she's super gorgeous and it was oooobvious that she was gonna be a stunner bride.) Which leads me to the squeals of delight when I got "that text" from Sarah asking me...(dun dun DUN) to shoot her wedding!! It was a beautiful day, focused on joy and praising God for His sovereignty. So thankful to have been a part of it.
Pre-wedding excited texts between the bride and groom? Cuuute. ;)

Bridal "It's my weeeedding daaaay!" instagrams of course. ;)
Sarah being a concert pianist made this a "must" shot of the day. :)
Her big brother Joshua coming in to see the bride :) 
Can anyone guess who we have to thank for lunch? ;)
Her little brother Joseph helping with reception prep. :)

The choice to rock a plum lip on a fall wedding day? Perfect! :)

Sister-in-loves. :)
Kaitlin is Josh's sister....

....and Keri is (newly) married to Sarah's older brother. :)

Sarah was a wow-wow-wowza bride!!

She took a moment to coach her parents on the best way to look natural when smiling. ;)

Dapper little brothers. :)

After I had finished photographing the guys I was coming back to see what the girls were up to and instead I found Sarah huddled with her parents as her dad was praying for her. It was beautiful. As he said "Amen", he and Debbie lifted their heads and were about to pull away when Sarah pulled them in closer and began praying...Thanking God for the day, for His guiding hand, for Josh, for disappointments that had lead to God's true purposes, and especially for the faithfulness of her parents throughout the years. It was a really powerful moment that brought me to tears.

Another precious moment! Sarah crept up to one of the the side doors to the sanctuary because she wanted to hear the music and see people ushered down that she would've missed otherwise. :)

This glance between her parents. Chiiiills.

Maid of honor tears. <3

Aaaaand FIRST KISS!! (period. not just first kiss as husband and wife. first everrr. exciting, eh?  *giggles and such*)

Mr. and Mrs. de Graffenried everybodyyyy!! :D

So much love! So much hugging! So much happy! :)

Sarah's mom was RADIANT with joy all day long. Absolutely Thrilled Mama stunning. :)

Did I hear hallelujah choruses just now? I'm pretty sure I did.

When asked what he loves about Sarah, Josh told me

"She is beautiful and brilliant! Her love of theology and sense of color are such cheerful and precious character qualities. 

I love to hear her think. She's so deep and loves to ponder the great things about God. 

And she is yet alive and and cheerful and in love with the world around her. 

She has such a serious joy that makes her an untradable treasure."

And when I asked Sarah what she loved about Josh she said,

"He's always in tune to what's around him. 

His heart is always alive towards me. 

He is sold to pursuing God's glory in all of life and operates around his vision and God-sent goals with a focused intensity. I love that he's my steady place, my rock, my happy zone -- 

a brilliant stability at all times. 

He is convinced of God's sovereignty, and a profound thinker. He has a brilliant mind. He is constantly selfless, sincere, deep, and sacrificial in his interaction with me. 

What a profound picture of Christ's love he shows me everyday!

When I asked them things they like to do together they said,\
"Read, Talk God, life, culture, eat great foods, Go to conferences/learn together, Play tennis, be involved at church, star gazing"

Reception time! :)

hey yo, watch the veil! (laugh out loud for real. even these kinda moments were so real and perfect.)

This truly is the age of technology ;)

And even when the happy couple is gone, the beautiful moments don't stop. I will forever love this moment...The Mother of the Bride, shedding some bittersweet tears after her little girl drove away newlywed, being comforted by her Daddy. Proof all the way around that, no matter how old you get, you will always be your parents' baby.

All the little unforgettable moments of this day are treasured up in my heart. Love you guys! I'll be honored always to say I was blessed to capture your day. Happy married life! :) xoxo

~Through Christ's Love  
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