Oct 02, 2013 | posted in Weddings | 22 comments

I frist met Stephanie (co-founder of the exciting new site/service Traveling Spoon- shameless [and totally unsolicited] plug) via telephone as she and I discussed the details of her sister Alexis’ Annisquam, MA wedding. Steph and I were fast friends (same with Alexis), but I could never have anticipated just how intertwined our lives would eventually become. I have since shot Kellin’s wedding on Oahu, Mei’s wedding in Cape Cod, and I’ll be shooting Annie’s wedding in Ojai this coming weekend (all bridesmaids/sister-friends of Alexis and Steph). Each of these girls has become such a beautiful and treasured part of my life. They aren’t clients, they’re family, and working with them over the years continually reminds me of why I started shooting weddings in the first place. The passion and joy these girls continue to ignite in me surrounding all things love and marriage (and friendship, and family, and LIFE) have blessed my life in countless ways.

The night before Stephanie and Craig’s big day, Steph’s brother-in-law, JP (Alexis’ husband—because I know you’re trying desperately to keep track of all of this), asked me if I felt pressure to perform (I’m paraphrasing) seeing as Stephanie was the one who had initially reached out to me and thus initiated this wonderful string of weddings and life-long friendship. I thought honestly before answering, and I share my response here simply because I can’t think of a more concise or genuine way to illustrate my love for Stephanie (and Craig).  ”No. I don’t feel pressure at all,” I said. “But I do feel such deep sense of love, respect and gratitude as a result of simply having Stephanie and Craig in my life, that I am absolutely devoted to showing up tomorrow and giving them nothing less than my whole soul.” (Again, paraphrasing.) So there you have it. . . Stephanie, Craig, I love you. Thank you for your cherished friendship, your remarkable example and your unfailing love.

Enjoy.

The first two images were shot on my drive from Oakland to Guerneville (Dawn Ranch). Talk about setting the stage for something magical. Wow.

THIS DRESS. I gasped when I saw it on the hanger, gasped when she put it on, and it still takes my breath away every time I look at it. Absolutely timeless. Sigh. Perfection. (Because it’s hard to tell, L-Front and R-Back.)

This peek-a-boo shot of the shoes makes my entire heart smile. I adore it.

Something you need to understand about Stephanie: she is a self proclaimed, “serial creator.” (She also has better style than Jackie O and more creativity than Martha Stewart.) Basically EVERY detail you will see here, she created herself—right down to taking a letter press course, making the mold and hand pressing her own invitations. . .

Steph nannied for this darling little flower girl. . . the ring bearer too.

Below: favorite shot of the day? Darn close.

A zillion forevers ago (which basically means it could have been last month or 3 years ago, I don’t know), Stephanie’s Hasselblad was stolen while she was visiting China. As a surprise, Craig emailed me a few months before the wedding to discuss purchasing her a new one to gift her on their wedding day. The night before, he dropped it off to me (MINT CONDITION, friends, I was drooling), I loaded the film and wrapped it up to give to her before their “first look” the next day. (He really did think of every perfect detail, right down to the bicycle card. . . which I’ll explain shortly.)

A little more about Craig. Someone as exceptional as Stephanie is bound to find someone with equal proportions of exceptionality, yes? This is certainly the story of Stephanie and Craig. The attention to detail and commitment to meaning Craig exhibited through his groomsmen gifts. . . was . . . well, pretty exceptional.

He even gave them some fancy James Bond pen that I SERIOUSLY thought one (or all) of the groomsmen’s heads was (were) going to explode over. . . and more, more, more. The gifts were never ending and ever amazing.

Albus got fancy, too.

First look. . . I LOVE Craig’s expression—absolute love!!!

I promise to explain the “bicycle thing” soon.

Below. . . (included in the ceremony even) are the mysterious bicycles, and here is the story of the magic behind them.

You’ve never been loved until you’ve been loved by a Lawrence. Anyone who knows this beautiful family would agree.

Confession, I got misty while shooting the dyad above. Don’t know that I’ve seen a brother love his sisters this much. . . not since I watched the way my Gavin loved me. . .

Below, right. Favorite.

Now keep in mind. . . Stephanie did allllll of this herselllllllf. . .

I think the people we choose to surround ourselves with say a lot about the kind of people we are. . . Judging by the quality of the toasts as well as the sincerity of the people delivering them, I’d wager (again, as if I needed further convincing) that Stephanie and Craig are pretty darn special.

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” Marcus Aurelius

I love you Stephanie and Craig, and I just know you’ll be running together through the stars . . . forever. xx, N

 

 

Baby girl,

When did this happen? Like lightening, really. You are ONE. An entire year has passed since that magical night when we first met!

I’ll never forget the joy on your momma and daddy’s faces. They were smitten, head-over-heels in love.

We all love you so much Haddie, and we thank Heavenly Father every day that you are in OUR family. We won the lottery with you, little one. Yes.we.did.

Happiest first birthday!

Love,

Aunt Nat

. . . and Uncle Richie, and  Raleigh, Cardon and Lincoln, and Grandma and Grandpa, and all your other aunts and uncles and cousins. . . we all love you, Hadley, times a hundred-million-zillion.

 

 

Sep 18, 2013 | posted in Weddings | 36 comments

I sat here a solid five minutes mulling over how to best describe Leo and Mei. How do you adequately paint a picture of their love for one another, their absolute loyalty and devotion to the friends in their lives, their passionate appreciation and adoration of their family. . .?

The only words that keep coming to mind are not my own, so they’re posted here compliments of Mr Johnny Mercer (hear Etta James perform them for you here):

I’m gonna love you like nobody’s loved you come rain or come shine
High as a mountain and deep as a river come rain or come shine
I guess when you met me it was just one of those things
But don’t ever bet me cause I’m gonna be true if you let me

You’re gonna love me like nobody’s loved me come rain or come shine
Happy together unhappy together and won’t it be fine?
Days may be cloudy or sunny
We’re in or we’re out of the money

But I’m with you always, I’m with you rain or shine

I’m gonna love you like nobody’s loved you come rain or come shine
High as a mountain deep as a river come rain or come shine
I guess when you met me it was just one of those things
But don’t ever bet me cause I’m gonna be true if you let me

You’re gonna love me like nobody’s loved me come rain or come shine
Happy together unhappy together and won’t it be fine?
Days may be cloudy or sunny
We’re in or we’re out of the money

But I’ll love you always, I’m with you rain or shine

I hope you enjoy looking at these images even 1/10th as much as I enjoyed shooting them. Enjoy.

Family, family, more family (and abundant love) for miles.

Friendship that knows NO bounds.

 

 

The forever, no matter what, kind of love.

“I’ll love you always, I’m with you rain or shine.”

The wedding was catered by Mei Mei’s Street Kitchen. Yes, Mei is co-owner of this Boston treasure—named Boston’s Best Meal on Wheels!

Then began the most hilarious series of toasts . . . of all time.  (Sincerely.)

Complete with a cheese portrait of the bride and groom. . .

I’m tempted to get married again, simply so that these girls could sing a parody at the event. . .

 

In lieu of cake…

I love you Mei and Leo. Thank you for not only inviting me but EMBRACING me as a part of such a wonderful day in your lives!

Good morning. Good night.

“You look awful!”

He steps in to get a better look.

“Like, (perplexed pause), you look like you are about to die!”

He leans in even closer.

But before he can find a way to further articulate his horror, we both burst into side-splitting laughter.

“This is what I need him for,” I think, as I look down and realize that I’m still in my pajamas at 7:30. . . PM.

There is a pile of wrappers that used to contain the canister full of dinner mints that have sustained me all day long.

This was . . . a day. Ya know? And if I’m being totally honest, I’ll say that I have a lot of days like this. I’m not the mom who wakes up and has her make-up on before she gets the kids out of bed in the morning. I’ll never be that mom. I wish I were that mom. But guess what? Reality: I’m lucky if I get my make up on before our semi-annual family photo session, forget the drop off line at school. And that’s ok with me. (Sort of. . . . Well, most of the time. OK. A good percentage of the time. Like say, 35%.)

On days when I’m feeling particularly spread thin and frazzled, I remind myself that I’m a part of something. Something that matters. In fact, I’m a part of a lot of somethings that matter, and I get to live them out every day, with my entire soul. That means something to me. It really does. So yes, I’m still in the stars and stripes that I put on at 10:30pm . . . yesterday. And no, I’m not ashamed (I’m a little ashamed) to be admitting that out loud. (Actually, you know what? I did it on purpose. It makes going to bed again a cinch.)

______________________________

Dear, sweet, strong, brave, bat-freaking-crazy, zombie face Natalie,

Every day, as you break up fist fights between your children, stop and look at them (but not for too long, or there will be blood). Stop and really look at them, and remember that they are yours. You made them. And you get to keep them, forever. That’s a something to be proud of. 

As you look at the pile of dishes that is stinking up not only the kitchen but is sneaking it’s way into your living space as well, remember, you survived on dinner mints today because you wanted to, not because you didn’t have enough food to eat. You have a kitchen full of dishes and a pantry full of food to put on them. Why you chose to subsist on dinner mints is a mystery of the free world. But every girl needs to keep a little mystery in her life. So, good on ya! This is all a something to feel very grateful for. 

When your husband tells you you look like the walking dead, wrap your arms tight around his neck, because if it weren’t for him, you would drive yourself right into the ground with how hard you work every day, and you know it. His love and hilarity are the solitary reasons you stay sane and keep your head square upon your shoulders. That is a something to cry tears of joy about.

When you are starting to doubt the wisdom of your 3 month long email strike as you see unanswered messages spilling out the front door and onto the neighbor’s lawn, remember— each one of those emails (except the stupid ones from Living Social and K-Mart) represents one of God’s children that you get the absolute honor of loving on for a few measly minutes of your big bad day. That is a something you need to appreciate as a gift. That is a something you need to remember to love.

When you are losing your mind trying to coordinate all the logistics of your crazy-beautiful life, just look around at all the SPECTACULAR people who are constantly rising up to help, to encourage, to support and to sustain your efforts. YOUR life is FILLED TO OVERFLOWING with not only somethings but someones who love you fiercely. . .far more than you deserve.

 

Above: Discussing Metta (loving kindness) Meditation with Mom after a particularly hard night.

 

 At the end of a long day of hustling like your life depended on it, when your 10 year old asks you to come and not only listen to him practice his drums, but sing vocals for him as well (WHAT?!), remember, migraines.are.awesome. (That’s not a something. It’s just torture, by the way. But it is evidence of a life full of love and belonging. . . and THAT is a something you could never live without.)

And when you didn’t get dinner on the table, and your house is nearing disaster status, and your laundry is taking over the bathroom, and said bathroom smells like number one, and you are exhausted on a cellular level, and despite going a million miles an hour—all.day.long—you really aren’t sure what you even accomplished . . . remember, you have opposable thumbs, and that is neat.

Hang in there, sister. Your life is beautiful.

xo,

Self

PS Want to join me in an upcoming something that I’m incredibly proud to be a part of? Come see me and two of my most treasured and respected friends (Tamara Lackey and Jen Bebb) in Brooklyn, Nashville or LA for a day of encouragement, straight talk and practical, sustainable application that is sure to get you from where you are now (10:45pm in yesterday’s pajamas?), to where you truly want to be (10:45 pm in yesterday’s pajamas, but eating ice cream too??).

All joking aside*, this event is not to be missed. Find (real) information here: What If Conference | The Day Camps.

*Note: this is my last scheduled speaking engagement of 2013.

When you really love something, when you really, truly, madly, deeply, passionately LOVE something, it’s always shocking to wake up one morning and realize how long that thing has been gone from your life—how far away it feels—how foreign—how . . . irretrievable. When you finally find the courage and resolve to go after what you’ve lost, when you finally realize that life without it is worse than the horrifying reality of what will be required to get it back, there’s a part of you that believes that once you “jump back in,” you’ll be simply overwhelmed by the utter rightness of it all. “I’m home!” your spirit will cry!

Here’s the truth that I have found: It will hurt, this process of righting wrongs, of chasing our bliss, of restoring what was lost, of building what we hope has the potential to be. Once you’re in the thick of all the searching, it will be hard, and it will hurt. You’ll feel clumsy and unsteady, insignificant and small, and the journey will feel very, very long and unyielding. To paraphrase Robert Frost—the woods will seem dark and deep and there will be miles and miles (and miles) to go before you’ll sleep.

But where there is love, there is light. And light, my friends, is ALWAYS worth fighting for. Once you get back in the ring, the entire universe will begin to conspire together for your good—in absolutely miraculous ways. And out of nowhere, you’ll start receiving signs. Trust them. These signs will validate the stirring in your heart, and they will give every ounce of the courage you need. My sign was delivered to me by a stranger. In the exact moment my heart needed it the most:

“Please come back to the web. If only you knew all the people that you were encouraging, lives you were touching, the way that God uses your pain to shape others lives, to comfort those who feel the same. I know you will probably never know the depths of the way that God is using you, your story, your writing, your talents, your gifts, your trials, your sufferings….but I do hope and pray that you come back and process more with us. There needs to be more hope and truth out here on the internet….and more voices like yours. Thank you for all you have done here…you are a gift and a blessing and a teacher and a mentor and even in a way, a friend. Thank you.”

I’ll be back to writing (blogging) tomorrow (well, and today, as it would seem).

(Deep inhale, soft smile.) I’ll see you soon.