Taylor + Isabel / Love + REI Wedding in Fairbanks, Alaska by Jessica Lawson

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Isabel is the most REI bride I’ve ever had. Her wedding shoes were white Chacos. Her gifts to her bridesmaids were Hydroflasks bought with her groom’s REI discount. She effortlessly tromped in a birch forrest on her wedding day — dress and veil included. And if all of that wasn’t enough, her and her groom, Taylor, spent days before their wedding showing some non-Alaskans Denali National Park.

However, trendy outdoor products aside, what made Taylor + Isabel’s day so special is their three-fold love — for God first, for each other, and for their people. That might seem like a statement you would hear about everything wedding … no. I can’t say I see that at every Christian wedding. Not that I’m trying to knock other couples, but I want to convey that this wedding was in fact special. It’s worthy of that word.

Taylor is the Children’s Pastor of their church and it was truly a church family affair. These two met at this church, fell in love with each other at this church, and got married at this church. Isabel has served in the Children’s ministry since first got involved and evidence of this being a God match for amazing ministry partners can be seen towards the end of their reception. (Towards the end of the blog.)

Fun Fact! I met Isabel back in 2012 at a small Christian camp off the island of Kodiak. She was a junior in high school and it was my first summer working as a camp counselor. That week of camp Isabel ended up accepting Jesus as her Lord and Savior which was amazing to get to talk with her and become friends walking through our faith journeys together, near and far. (Side note: I’m not from Alaska… at least not yet ;) )
Isabel was then in my cabin the next year — Cabin Joy!! — honestly, one of my favorite cabins I ever had. And then the next year she was a counselor alongside me. It’s been such a sweet thing to watch her grow up spiritually and now become such a force to be reckoned with for the kingdom of God.

Anywho! Wedding Day!

Their preceremony prayer was located at the exact spot where they first met. Tears were free flowing all day from everyone close to them. Cameron even said, “The photo’s from the grand entrance are some of the sweetest we have taken.”

Taylor and Isabel have been LOVED by God, each other, and others to the degree that they were unapologetically themselves. They did not choose wedding traditions because they had to, they choose their wedding day around who they are.

After the ceremony the couple shared an amazing meal with their closest family and friends — the rest of the guests were invited to a reception later in the day. For dinner, they served bacon rapped jalapeno poppers and corn chowder. Taylor insisted that Jan (name check me, Norris’) from their church cook the food. He said after he tried her cooking years ago, he asked her if she would cook his wedding day meal. She did! And she did it with such joy. Isabel’s stand-in and spiritual dad cut holes into a garbage bag so she wouldn’t get her dress dirty. It was awesome.

Taylor and Isabel hosted their reception at a ski lodge. We went off into the forest while the guests played yard games and while friends from their church set up the reception. Frolicking in a forrest of Alaskan birch with your tribe of people is absolutely necessary from now on.

Their reception held lots of laughs, lots of dancing, and lots of tears. These are some lovingly loved people and I think it’s time I set you loose to see their day. Thanks for the read. And thank you Isabel and Taylor. It was such an honor documenting you being yourselves.

Love,
Jess + Cam

TIPS FOR BRIDES + GROOMS

If You’re Getting Married at Your Church:

Not all churches are designed with the perfect backdrops in mind for wedding photos. We scouted out the church with Taylor (the Groom) days before the wedding to see what kind of lighting we were dealing with, what kind of backgrounds, etc. It might not seem like that when you’re saving hundreds if not thousands of dollars on a venue but if you have a pro photographer they will definitely know what to use and what to avoid. Since women typically have more things to document with getting ready we switch the rooms that the guys were originally going to use. The guys would not have used that awesome barn door except for like maybe 1-2 shots. We also like to attend rehearsals for churches so we can see the lighting. One time at a church wedding, we scouted it out the day of, saw it was all good, the lighting was rough, but thats okay. Until during the ceremony they turned on this AWFUL projector that projected over the bride and groom. They were literally 5 different colors in every photo. Praise God for black and white converters.

In short, if you want to save some money and get married at your church (which praise God you have great values for how to start your marriage), consider losing fluorescent lighting. Consider going offsite for some of the bride and groom portraits, or your bridal party photos. And lastly, consider choosing meaningful spots at church for meaningful moments. Oh and maybe consider giving us a call. ;) We love marriage. And we love the Church. Cheers! Happy planning!

Dennis + Christina / Classy AF Winery Wedding by Jessica Lawson

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I first met Christina three years ago for senior portraits. Her mom came along which is isn’t super unusual, but it seemed like they did everything together ... They were both fantastic. Truly kind, truly excited. I had started freelancing full time a few months before, but even more so, I had just started driving after I broke my arm almost two months before. So I was very excited to be shooting. But Christina was so enjoyable to get to know. We laughed about stupid things about our college. We came up with some great ideas for poses. We walked all over downtown and then finished with sunset magic back on campus. Her mom shared with me while Christina was changing outfits that she was adopted and that her dad had passed away a number of years ago. These two, were genuinely best of friends. Over the next three years, I got to photograph these two hugging, smiling, laughing, and loving each other quite a bit. And this Dodd family became the first family that chose to let me into their lives continually (not just for one shoot). And at Christina’s wedding I realized this is what I want to offer people— a lifelong friend + photographer. Granted this family is so special to me. The way they have cheered for me back as I cheered for them. Christina said on her wedding day, “if you didn’t shoot our wedding you would of been invited” and my heart soared. Photographers get to come into your lives for a moment, take pretty pictures, and hope you hire them for their next mini session day. Friends root for you. They let you into their lives too. And I’m going to give myself permission to be more of myself and let more and more folks into my life. Because Christina and Teri and Dennis showed me how wonderful and easy it can be. These are incredible people. They love hard. And I want to be more like them. By the way a little bit about Dennis … he comes off as a tough guy. He is a great cop. A strong dad. But you see him become so gentle and sweet with Christina.
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So there were a few moments I wanted to share with y’all where my heart soared and my eyes leaked a bit.

Terri mouthing “I love you” to her daughter before they walk down the aisle.
His reaction to seeing his bride for the first time was like a little kid on Christmas. It was SO beautiful to witness. There was a point where he might of started tearing up and Christina pointed it out and he literally ran away for a moment 😂 and I might of bawled. I LOVE these two.
Lastly, during their last dance of the night. I have never seen either of them look so elated. They were filled with joy and love. It was beautiful. These are special people. Please enjoy their wedding.

TIPS FOR BRIDES + GROOMS

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First Look Tips
If you want special people at the most intimate moment of the day, please please talk to photographer ahead of time. There were wild shadows in this situation and we NEEDED the bridesmaids and family to be backed up. Not to exclude them, but so Tam’s shadow doesn’t end up on the dress! Do your wedding day how you want to! But tell your vendor team! We can help execute it better. 

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Pro-tip. Tell your photographer what your colors are when you’re thinking about picking them. You may check the color a million times, but you don’t know how our editing will make them work. Let us be involved! I personally LOVE helping with the whole planning process.

Eric + Marissa / Urban Farm Anaheim Wedding by Jessica Lawson

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One of the proudest accomplishments of our wedding year for 2018, which I’m sure as you note the date we are a smidge behind, was this wedding for Eric + Marissa. They only hired us for 3 hours. This was all in 3 hours. And the reason this was such a success and worth bragging about on our side of the camera is because Eric + Marissa were unapologetically themselves, and you can see it. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves …

It’s honestly incredible to me the caliber of photographs we all walked away with because of the external personalities of the couple and the philosophy we hold as wedding friends/photographers/artists. As a wedding photographer you have to be able to bring out the best in people, encourage them to be themselves, and then CHEER for those selves. Cheer for their silly limes in their mouths. Cheer for the groom’s idea to use his motorcycle. Cheer for the bride’s request to document the blending of three families, not just two. Cheer for the quirks of the couple that make them unique from any other couple you’ve photographed that year. And choose to love them and celebrate them whether they are dear friends, or acquaintances.

Please enjoy your wedding day.

I’m flabbergasted how special some of these images are. To any future brides and grooms, please enjoy your wedding day. Part of how you do that is mentally prep to enjoy it. You CHOOSE to accept how things happen. You CHOOSE to enjoy the people around you. You CHOOSE to enjoy your new spouse. AND you CHOOSE to enjoy yourself. Take a moment or two on your wedding day to yourself. Take a walk. Spend time with the Lord for you Christians. Or if you’re more extroverted like me, choose some quality time with less people. Have the quiet moment so you can be present and enjoy the big moments.

Cheers to Eric + Marissa for being one of the best examples of being yourselves.
LOVE YOU!