Engagement photos

Photography is so important to us.

Before we were even engaged, I attended a bridal show with my sister and a friend (whose wedding is next weekend — yay!) at the lovely Flora Corner Farm. There we immediately met Maggie and Betty, the dynamic mother-daughter duo behind Birds of a Feather Photography. I was so enamored with their soft, vintage-inspired photos and sweet personalities that I immediately came home to show Spencer their work. I felt a little silly, being as we weren’t “there” yet, but I just couldn’t contain my enthusiasm.

It was October, a good two months before he proposed, but we’d quietly gone to “check out” rings the weekend before. I figured it was the first of a few trips, maybe, and that we’d talk a few more times before really broaching the subject of marriage again. I got a funny, puckered look on my face every time we talked rings . . . mostly because I was afraid he wasn’t thinking rings.

But he was.

Unbeknownst to me, Spencer returned to the store days later for the ring I loved. We got engaged on December 16 — but you know that already! Though I’d vowed to wait until after Christmas to really start wedding planning, I couldn’t help myself. I was so excited and eager to start researching venues and colors and dresses, but I knew my first mission: getting in touch with Maggie and Betty.

We met with them just after the New Year, our first “official” wedding-related meeting, and they were the first vendor we booked. We signed our contract with them before we even officially had a venue . . . or a date, really. I just knew their photography spoke to me, and we had to have them. Thankfully, Spence felt the same!

Now just 198 days from the wedding (!), things are shaping up. And feeling really real. We had our official engagement shoot with the ladies back on a brisk day in March, and I was so thrilled with the whole thing that I barely felt chilled. I talked about choosing to keep my hair wavy, and that decision that still makes me smile. It was just a really fun evening!

And after seeing the results, I’m so thrilled we chose Birds of a Feather. The images are exactly what I was hoping for — ethereal; lovely; serene — and if these were so awesome, I cannot wait to see the pictures from our wedding! Though these expenses can be pretty intense, I know we will never regret a single cent spent on photography.

Pictures capture emotion, devotion, love. They encapsulate a day and preserve it in a way our memories, ever faulty, cannot. I’ve never heard someone lament, “Gee, I wish I didn’t have so many pictures of this once-in-a-lifetime event.” Because seriously? You can’t have too many pictures. There is a balance between documenting a day and really savoring it, but that’s why we’ve hired professionals. They will help us remember it forever . . . even as it passes in the blink of an eye.

Here are a few of my favorites from our engagement shoot, held at Jefferson Patterson Park in St. Leonard, Md. If you ever find yourself in Southern Maryland, first of all? Um, call me. We’ll go crab pickin’. And then I’ll direct you to this place, because it. is. gorgeous.


Keeping it curly

Spence and me

Photos by Birds of a Feather Photography

I’m a curly top.

Born with naturally wavy hair, my tresses and I have fought many a battle over the years. Prone to frizziness and just complete chaos, my hair has a mind all its own. Though I could use the same shampoo every day for a week (and often do), it will end up looking different after every wash. It’s just . . . its own beast, you know?

By my high school graduation, I’d learned to tame it into submission — occasionally. And always with the help of a flat iron. Like many a modern woman, that all-important straightening tool has gotten me out of some major binds. I’m convinced my “real” hair is fine for the day-to-day (and rarely “style” it any particular way for work), but on big occasions? Major occasions? Places where I know I will be photographed? I straighten it.

Or “straighten” it, I guess I should say. Even flattening my hair keeps it flat for, oh . . . an hour or so. Less if it’s summer, and barely any time at all if the humidity soars to 10,000 percent. (Which is any warm day in Maryland.)

But if that hour coincides with a major life event? Well, we’re golden. And my hair has been straightened for my senior photos in high school and college, my graduations, parties, celebrations . . .
and the list goes on. I just thought it looked better that way.

But I’m changing.

The thing is, straight hair isn’t me. My natural hair is crazy. It’s thick and unruly and unpolished, but it’s also just a part of my personality. While I don’t have truly curly hair like the lovely corkscrew-style ladies out there, it has enough body going on that it really can’t be tamed. And I’ve gotten tired of trying.

When Spencer and I scheduled our engagement shoot for a few weeks back, I wavered greatly on what to do with my locks. After finding my awesome dress and choosing appropriate heels, I was left picking the hairstyle to be immortalized in these shots forever. My go-to event look is usually the top-knot, given that it allows me to keep my hair out of my face and looks halfway polished, but I wanted something different. And for me, someone who straightens her hair for every big shoot?

Well, that meant doing the opposite of the norm. That meant keeping it curly.

Right up until the time we had to leave, my palms positively itched to grab the flat iron. The thought of having natural hair in these shots was seriously causing me anxiety. But every bit of advice given for these types of photos is, of course, be yourself. And if I’ve heard it once from family and friends, I’ve heard it a thousand times . . .

“You don’t look like you with straight hair.”

I was genuinely nervous to see the pictures from our photographers, convinced keeping my hair wavy was a terrible mistake. Other couples look so polished and sophisticated and grown-up in their shots, and I worried I’d looked like an unkempt lunatic next to my fiancé. (Who was totally bringing the cute that day, by the way.)

That was all completely irrational, of course. The photos are in . . . and they’re lovely. Authentic to us, ethereal and sweet. I’m in love with our photographers’ work and am so, so excited with the results, especially given that they captured us at such a wonderful time in our lives.

And best of all? For the first time in my illustrious big-occasion photo history, I actually . . . look like myself.

And she looks pretty happy.

Spencer and me 2

I’m glad I kept it real.

Invisible blossoms

Cherry blossoms not open

Oh my gosh, you guys — aren’t the cherry blossoms just beautiful?

And . . . invisible?

Before we got another few inches of snow (!) in the D.C. area on Monday, the cherry blossoms were a wee bit dormant. Despite my “final farewell” comment last week, winter has lingered into spring. I was downtown on a run-through for our upcoming Capital Photo History Tour on the monuments (yay!) — and though I wish we could have seen the blossoms on that adventure, I’ll admit to feeling partially relieved they were still asleep.

We’d planned to have our engagement photo session downtown for months. I imagined Spencer and I walking between the ancient trees, lightly walking through fallen petals, and pictured the Tidal Basin spreading out before us. I knew we were taking a gamble by scheduling our shoot so far in advance, but the blossoms had already peaked this time last year — and I figured that even if they weren’t at their height, they’d be doing something.


Days before our scheduled sunrise shoot, our photographers emailed to see about a Plan B. We relocated to a local park for the “golden hour,” moving between several spots on the grounds — beach, trees, barns — for our 90-minute adventure. I felt like I blinked and the time slid right by — and in the end? The park shoot is probably more visually-interesting than the blooms would have been.

And if we’d had to go downtown by 7 a.m. for our cherry blossom shoot . . . only to discover no cherry blossoms? Well, I would have been mighty cranky.

Not that it would have ever gotten to that point. I check the blossom cam, like, every two minutes.

So the engagement session we did have was phenomenal — and even though it was chilly, Spence had his arm around me often enough that I didn’t notice! And I was running on adrenaline. We ducked in and out of our cars (with heat!) as we moved around the park, taking shots in different locations, and the ladies at Birds of a Feather Photography are just fab.

Our “sneak peek” shot is up on their blog now — and ladies, check out that $6 dress! I know it’s uncouth to brag about costs, but really. I’ll be riding high off that bargain for the rest of the year.

If only I could have snagged a $6 wedding dress . . .