Fun Fact! I grew up half in the Deep South (Mobile, Alabama) and half in Kansas City, Missouri.
This means three things. One! I don’t have much of an accent unless I am super tired, surrounded by my Southern family, or in a Southern State. Two! Fayetteville is the perfect home for me because, along with being supremely (yes! supremely!) creative, it’s got this cozy vibe that’s a total mix of Southern and Midwestern charm. Three! I grew up an hour from Gulf Shores and, after we moved, we returned every summer and the whole place still feels like home. Like, I can still navigate Mobile and Gulf Shores and Orange Beach with my eyes closed and the air just feels right. I love it!
When I booked this beach house, I had no idea how much I would need a vacation in the Spring of 2017. The last year has been a flurry of crazy and change for so many reasons but mostly I needed a vacation because my body totally wore out in 2016. It went like this: In May 2016, I had surgery for a pregnancy related, belly button hernia. The hernia was most likely brought on from my pregnancy with Henry (I was HUGE!!) and, in February 2016, it started to annoy me. In April 2016, it became super painful and, a few weeks later, I found myself in the most ridiculously awful pain of my life – and y’all, I’m no sissy. Like, I got up and walked within six or seven hours of both of my C-Sections and I’ve shot several sessions with a sprained ankle. The recovery from the surgery was supposed to be simple but, for me, recovery did not go well. I was in near-constant pain from May 2016 to March 2017 and, while I can now sometimes go weeks without much pain, sometimes it still flares up. Photography is my heart – it was my very first love – but shooting weddings in 2016 nearly destroyed my body. I was in and out of the surgeon’s office for months, had to wear a bandage over my stomach until August 2017 and, worst of all, I was sick for, like, ever. I somehow managed to keep it together while I was shooting but, as soon as I got into the car after weddings my stomach would be on my fire, my body would start shaking, and Andrew would hand me medicine and a huge bottle of water and, if I hadn’t stopped shaking before we got home, he’d hold me until my body calmed down and, after that, I’d download and backup all of my wedding images. I mean, I’ll be honest: I was kind of a badass during this time period. A 29 year old wedding photographer badass with a bandage on her stomach.
And honestly? I REALLY needed this vacation. We had so much fun!
During our vacation, we ate ice cream and doughnuts and hamburgers and crab cakes (my fave!). We saw dolphins swimming every single morning and saw a brand-new baby dolphin on a sunset cruise. Our kids swam for six hours at a time with every floatie known to man: An enormous flamingo and a gigantic duck; a shark and a turtle and tons of swim rings, too. We told ghost stories and ate s’mores and witnessed the most massive (and gorgeous!!) thunderstorms. We saw extended family and alligators and pastel sunsets and we spent a wonderful day with my Aunt Jo and Uncle Dave who live in Mobile and we walked all over Downtown Mobile and perused the best used bookstore, too. It was the perfect six day vacation and I just love all these people so much. Here’s some photographs!!
^^ I mean, could he be any cuter?! Andrew is seriously everything – he spent an entire morning blowing up pool floats and then spent his entire vacation making sure that everyone (especially me!) had an awesome time and I’m just so lucky that this guy is my husband. Cannot believe that we’ve been married for eight YEARS! He’s amazing, even when he makes lame faces for photographs. ^^
I just can’t get over these sunset photographs. Sunset (or sunrise!) walks on the beach are my very favorite – I don’t even care that it’s a cliche! – and I totally make Andrew take strolls with me every time we visit a beach. I don’t even know how many beaches we’ve been to together in the past eight years but it’s at least nine or ten and this beach stroll was one of my top two favorites – my other favorite was a sunrise stroll we took at Huntington Beach in California. I was pregnant with Max, I carried a homemade purse that I’d made from a vintage sheet I’d found at a thrift store, and we talked about love and our future and our hopes and dreams for our life together and, as nice as those hopes and dreams and plans were, the reality we’ve been given has been way better than either of us ever imagined and that does two things to me. One, it totally makes my heart burst. Two, it makes every beach walk even sweeter. Andrew and I have always worked really hard on our relationship but, mostly, I just feel like we have gotten really lucky and I adore him more every passing week and month and year. The man’s my soulmate! And I didn’t even believe in them before we met!
On our most recent beach stroll, we walked until it was totally dark and we talked about the past year and each other and how, in thirty years, I hope we’re as happy as we are now but mostly we just talked about how I was really, really excited to be at the beach and feel salt water run through my hair and I’d say that Andrew laughed at me but, really, he just smiled and and held my hand said that he was happy, too. And, y’all? Those are the moments that are really the best moments. Life is good.
And since I just got real sappy? Let’s take a break and talk about a few of our very favorite things to do at Gulf Shores! Here’s my family’s tried-and-true go-to’s!
Restaurants: Oyster House, LuLu’s, GooRoo’s Grill (in Summerdale), and Papa Rocco’s (I’m not the most enormous fan of this place but my dad is so obsessed that he takes us there, like, every single time we visit). Al’s Hot Dogs and Other Fine Foods in Mobile is a must-visit as well! Their red beans and rice are amazing! // Ice Cream: Matt’s Ice Cream (by Oyster House) and TCBY because their parfaits were my childhood. // Souvenir Shops: Souvenir City. I mean, who doesn’t want to walk through a fake shark mouth?! // Tourist Atractions: The Fun Boat Dolphin Tours, Alligator Alley in Summerdale, and Burris Farmer’s Market (they have the BEST pies!)
Also, Andrew’s Space Jam tank top is from Amazon. You’re welcome.
EDIT: Andrew got his Space Jam tank top from Wal-Mart, not Amazon, and, since he works for the Home Office and they are the best (free two day shipping and free in-store pickup!), he asked me to make a note. Also, check out Online Grocery Pickup! He worked on that forever and we totally used it to stock the Beach House. (Good enough plug for ya, babe?! I think yes!)
And YES!! We saw a baby dolphin on the Fun Boat Dolphin Tours and it was AMAZING.
Ah! I love this place so much! We stayed in the most beautiful neighborhood of beach houses and I just loved every minute. Can you even get over how beautiful this beach is?! I can’t!
And last but not least! Before we drove home, we stopped by Alligator Alley in Summerdale, Alabama and it was such a blast. I am terrified of alligators – when I was four, I went to the park, fed a duck, the duck swam off, and, five seconds later, an alligator’s jaws snapped out of the water and the duck got eaten (!!!) – and I was super hesitant to make this stop. I wasn’t sure how safe the park would be and I have mixed feelings about zoos anyway but, y’all, this place was so well put together, the staff was so nice (we chatted with one of the alligator experts for a good twenty minutes!) and it was so fun. Definitely take your kids here! It’s been two months and Henry still brings it up at least once a week! It was the perfect end to the perfect week and my kids were so obsessed!! That’s a win, y’all!
And also? Thanks for such a fun trip, Bogart Fam! We love you!!
Weddings | Engagements | Seniors | Families | Personal
Just a head’s up! I might have gotten a little carried away with this blog post.
It went like this: Yesterday, we shot the loveliest wedding in Oklahoma. Today, we took our kids on an epic walk around the University of Arkansas and Dickson Street and, after that, we drove around town to location scout for a super fun water shoot I have planned for next week (and we found the best spot!). Once we came home, the boys sprawled on the couch to play Minecraft, Andrew crashed on the bed in my office (the heat got to him!) and I sat down at my desk, turned on my very favorite Jane Austen adaptation – the 2009 version of Emma! – and started to edit photographs for this blog post and, before I knew it, I was halfway through the third episode of Emma and, instead of editing 10 or 15 photographs, I’d edited so many photographs that picking the sneak peeks for the blog post became, like, way harder to do than usual. And y’all!! I’m so excited to share these!
Jessica and Scott were married on June 20th, 2017 at First Christian Church in Fayetteville with a reception at the Fayetteville OPO and their wedding was so beautiful and so fun and so gosh darn happy that I can’t even take it. These two are so in love and so kind and cheerful and happy (have I mentioned fun and happy yet?) and their wedding was the bee’s knees.
Here’s three things I loved about their spectacular wedding day!
One: This First Kiss
I have taken thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?) of kissing photographs over the years but this just-married First Kiss photograph just totally gets me in the feels. Jessica and Scott were surrounded by so many family and friends on their wedding day – there was so much love! – and I love that, when they were pronounced husband and wife, their loved ones were able to stand and support them and their love. It was such an amazing moment and the whole room felt electric.
Two: The Bubbles!
Bubble exits are my favorite because they are so bright and bubbly and lively and happy and also because Andrew and I totally had a bubble exit on our wedding day, too. This one was so fun!!
Three: Jessica and Scott’s First Dance
I keep saying it but Jessica and Scott’s wedding was SO HAPPY and so emotional and full of love and, as expected, their First Dance was incredible. These two just radiate life and I love it so much!
And BONUS! So many of my brides were there!
Kylie, Claire, and Carrie were all at Jessica and Scott’s wedding and it made the day feel like a reunion. ALL of these brides are so amazing and it was so wonderful to see their lives intersect! Jessica was Kylie’s Maid of Honor at her wedding – she even caught the bouquet! – but I had no idea that she grew up with Claire and that Carrie worked with Scott and, while Jessica and Scott’s day would be considered joyous by anyone who stepped into their wedding accidentally, it made the joy of their wedding that much more apparent and amazing and everything.
THANK YOU for having me as your wedding photographer, Jessica and Scott! Y’all are amazing!
And these wedding vendors? They pulled together the perfect wedding!
Wedding Dress: David’s Bridal // Tuxes: Menguin Tux // Wedding Rings: Romance Diamond // Flowers: Mary Grace McCauley // Hair: Callie Gephart at Dead Swanky // Makeup: Hannah Simpson at Crown Beauty Bar // Videographer: Michaela Hedges // Catering: Arsaga’s (!!!) // DJ: Thomas Cochran // Wedding Ceremony Venue: First Christian Church in Fayetteville // Officiant: Suzanne Stoner // Reception Venue: The Fayetteville OPO at Fayetteville Square
Weddings | Engagements | Seniors | Families | Personal
Y’all!! I hope you are having the most amazing Fourth of July!
The Fourth of July is one of my very favorite holidays. Swimming, Summer, Awesome Food, Fireworks, and Family? It is the BEST! And a few weeks ago? I had the most wonderful time shooting the All American Sweetheart clothing line for Shop Impressions. This shoot was seriously so much fun – there were so many creative people involved in this! – and, by the time I put these photographs together for this blog post, my cheeks felt like I’d been laughing for, like, five hours. This clothing line is so bright and happy, these girls are so bubbly, and I’m so excited to share these photographs with y’all! They feel like a celebration and I so love how they turned out!
I’ve been holding onto these babies so that I could share them today and I’m so thrilled it’s time!
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY, FRIENDS!
Ashley is the most amazing girl boss ever and, while she owns Shop Impressions (no big, right?!), she also designs their Merrit Clothing Line. I LOVE this clothing line – I wear their maxi dresses all of the time! – and it was so fun seeing so many new pieces. I’m super impressed with all the new styles (and colors!) Shop Impressions constantly puts forward and so are so many of my brides, too! Abby even wore one of their floral maxi dresses for her engagement photographs this spring!
Seriously, dying over all the florals and stripes in their collection right now!
See what I mean? These photos are so happy and I love every single one!
After shooting on Fayetteville Square, we moved to a nearby city park for sparklers, smoke bombs, and the cutest picnic setup. Thanks so much for having me take these photographs, Ashley! I had so much fun shooting with all of y’all and I can’t even wait to shoot with y’all again in the future!
P.S. These adorable mason jar mocktails? Read how to make them here!
P.P.S. See more from Shop Impressions HERE! Their clothes are so girly and flirty and perfect.
Weddings | Engagements | Seniors | Families | Personal
I totally fell in love with Lindsay and Jess the first time I met them.
They are the real deal and, as I went through their wedding photographs – first to cull the gallery, then to do the basic edits, and then to fine tune everything (I have a system, y’all!), so many photographs stopped me because, as soon as I saw them, my face broke into the most massive and ridiculous grin. Like, my face hurt when I finished editing their photographs and I’m sure I looked hilarious as I sat editing into the early morning hours with a huge grin plastered on my face. I couldn’t help it!! Jess and Lindsay are so full of heart and, together, they make such a lovely and warm couple and I am so, so happy for them as they start this new adventure together. They are everything!
Congratulations, Lindsay and Jess!! Y’all are incredible!
Let’s get to the good stuff!!
I went back and forth a bit on whether or not to blog Lindsay and Jess’ wedding as one post or two but, in the end, I decided to stick with one. So! First up! Lindsay and Jess’ wedding ceremony at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock was so full of love. Being a sentimental person myself, I absolutely love that Lindsay and Jess married one another in front of a small group of friends and family and, honestly, I felt so lucky to be there to witness their wedding. Their vows totally choked me up – they were perfect! – and the room was full of so much love for this amazing couple. They seriously have the most amazing family members and everything about their wedding was beautiful!
You don’t have to take my word for it, though! See for yourself!
Here’s a bit of vendor information from Jess and Lindsay’s Wedding Ceremony! Y’all did so good!!
Wedding Dress: Low’s Bridal and Formal Wear // Jess’ Suit: J. Crew // Flowers: Tanarah Luxe Floral // Musicians: Arkansas Symphony Members // Painter: Jane Weir // Videographer: Jason Shivers // Hair and Makeup Artist: Lori Werner // Rings: Underwood’s Fine Jewelers
Lindsay and Jess were married on May 6th. And on May 20th? They were celebrated!!
Lindsay and Jess’ wedding reception was so much fun. The setup was incredible, the atmosphere was so full of energy, the lights were bananas (in a good way!) and the flowers by Tanarah Luxe Floral were so amazing. I totally mentioned this on Instagram a week or two ago but, right before her wedding ceremony, Lindsay looked at me and said something like this: “I never thought of myself as much of a flower person but, after this, I totally am!”. And after Lindsay’s wedding celebration? I think that EVERY person there is now a flower person. Their wedding was so top notch and wonderful!
P.S. Be sure to keep an eye out for the painting by Jane Weir! This was my first time seeing a painting done at a wedding (though not my last – Claire and Chad included her in their wedding as well!) and I loved it so much. Like, I can’t imagine anything better than having an awesome painting of you and your loved one on your wedding day. It’s just the most fantastic idea and I’m so excited for y’all to see the painting! Amanda sent me an update or two before the celebration and it was SO fun to see it come together and to see it at the wedding celebration! You are so talented, Jane!
THANK YOU for having me as your wedding photographer, Lindsay and Jess! Y’all are one for the books and I feel so grateful that I’ve got to spend so much (amazing!) time with y’all and your family for the past year! I could not have asked for a better couple to spend two wedding weekends with!
And also one for the books? All these Arkansas wedding vendors!
Planning: Amanda Reed Weddings // Hair and Makeup Artist: Bo Senesomxay // Wedding Cakes: Shelby Lynn’s Cake Shoppe (she is ON FIRE this year!!) // Flowers: Tanarah Luxe Floral // Band: SquadLive // Setup: Bohemian Geeks // Catering: Catering Unlimited // Bar: Koon’s Saloon // Caricatures: Jon Huckeby // Helicopter: Arkansas Helicopters
See Lindsay and Jess’ Engagements Here + Lindsay’s Bridals Here + Their Wedding Sneak Here!
Weddings | Engagements | Seniors | Families | Personal
Y’all! This is what June has looked like for me and my boys!
First Up! We had swimming lessons everyday the first two weeks of summer. My kids are both total fish – I swear I just got Henry out of a swimsuit for the first time in, like, three weeks – and it is SO fun to see them swim like little party animals. Max and Henry have done swim lessons at Wilson Park since they were itty bitty and, when I signed them up for classes this year, I thought that ten in the morning would be the perfect time (spoiler: I am still laughing at myself about this). When I signed them up for morning classes, I thought the boys would wake up on their own time, we would lazily eat homemade breakfast, swim, picnic in the park, and then swim again with the pool pass that we were definitely going to by this year. Like, life was basically set up as a summer montage because my kids were going to be cheerful every morning – joyous even! – and summer is my very favorite time of year.
I forgot two things when I planned this: Henry sleeps in for-e-ver whenever he is given the chance and, as soon as summer starts, both of our boys adopt our night owl tendencies and often don’t fall asleep until 10pm or later. Like, they’ll be in their rooms and all but they stay up for ages because it’s bright outside and they’re little kids thrilled with life. Additionally, my kids believe that every summer morning should include a breakfast feast so getting out the door at 9:40 in the morning somehow became harder than getting out the door at 7:15 every morning during the school year. And yes! I absolutely realize how ridiculous this sounds even as I write it out. Ha!
Still! We still took lots of time to visit the Farmer’s Market and burn everyone’s new favorite candle.
Second! Life EXPLODED the week of June 12th. It was one of those crazy weeks where literally everything that could happen did happen: Andrew had to be at the Home Office every day, my mom and brother came in for Noah’s college orientation, we got an infestation of fruit flies in our kitchen (eek!!), quarterly taxes were due, Victoria had to go on pain meds after a bench (and two boys!) fell on top of her, we welcomed a second babysitter into our family, we ate out at least once a day because I never got around to making freezer meals to prep for the madness of June, I got completely eaten by mosquitos and chiggers at a shoot on Wednesday, Henry had an allergic reaction to a quesadilla on Thursday and, on Friday, all Max wanted to do was create glow in the dark crystals and all I needed to do was edit and write blog posts and do laundry because I’d been so busy – and having so much fun! – shooting that editing fell a bit to the wayside (as it always does this time of year). Like, our first week of summer was the kind of week where my kids slept on a mattress on our bedroom floor every night, I wore the same shirt for two days in a row (twice!), and I ran on no sleep and a ton of coffee and, as I went through the days, I mindlessly belted out songs all week long (which, by the way, Max says is “really annoying, Mom”) and, while doing these things, I kept forgetting that I needed to write like three articles until I sat down on a Sunday and pounded them all out.
Truth be told, it was kind of glorious and, so, so fun.
And then! THEN!! Henry came down with strep throat for the third time in a two months and, after a few days jam packed with awesome meetings all over Fayetteville (can’t wait for y’all to meet my 2018 brides!!), I came down with THE worst sinus infection of my entire life and we did absolutely nothing from June 22nd to June 26th except sleep and watch TV – Outlander for me; Phineas and Ferb for the boys. And honestly? That was kind of glorious too… even if my face still hurts a little.
And after that a huge ol’ wall of scatterbrained text? Y’all deserve some photographs! Here are some awesome photographs of life the past two months. Most of these are iPhone, lots of them are hot messes and, most of all, all of them are ridiculously full of all kinds of love. So grateful for this happy – and messy! – season of life with my boys! XOXO.
Actually! I lied! A little more text!! In May, my baby brother graduated high school and my real, actual firstborn baby graduated kindergarten. I cried at both and, afterward, hugged both of them so hard that I embarrassed them both and that made them take like 300 photographs. #noregrets
I mean, could either of them be any cuter?! I’m crying all over again!
^^ Literally my heart personified. He turns SEVEN this weekend and my heart might explode. ^^
Speaking of growing, how about this next photograph of Sir William Henry? He is everything and, at nearly five, I still can’t believe he’s mine and I want to squeeze him all the time. Also, I didn’t mean to pepper this post with so many photographs of flowers. It just happens, y’know?
P.S. Yes! Totally obsessed with this new kitchen rug even though it already has BBQ stains.
Last but not least! Andrew and I celebrated EIGHT years of marriage this past weekend and, as cheesy as it sounds, I love this man of mine more and more everyday. He is so good and so kind and so supportive and amazing and dreamy and, hands down, the best kisser I’ve ever kissed.
He doesn’t do too bad with anniversary flowers, either! Love these wild blooms from ZuZu’s Petals!!
Love you, Hubbykins! You make my life magic and I am so grateful for you.
Weddings | Engagements | Seniors | Families | Personal